NFL wild card recap, plus dissecting the Cowboys’ inexplicable last play and making picks for Cardinals-Rams – CBSSports.com

Welcome to the Monday edition of the Pick Six newsletter!It has been nearly 24 hours since the Cowboys lost to the 49ers and I still have no idea what they were thinking on their final play. It’s fitting that the game was on Nickelodeon, because the only way to explain that play call is that the Cowboys let kids across the country vote on which play they should call. Next year, the Cowboys should definitely be in the Nickelodeon game again, except this time, they should let SpongeBob SquarePants coach the team because there’s no way he could do any worse than what Mike McCarthy did against the 49ers. We’ll be dissecting the entire play in today’s newsletter, plus we’ll be recapping every game from the weekend and previewing Cardinals-Rams, so let’s get to the rundown. As always, here’s your weekly reminder to tell all your friends to sign up for the Pick Six newsletter. To get your friends to sign up, all you have to do is click here and then share this link with them. Getting your friends signed up is a great way to help them start 2022 off on the right foot.  1. Today’s show: Full recap of Super Wild Card Weekend Getty Images It’s Monday, which can only mean one thing: I stayed up until 3 a.m. last night recording a podcast with Will Brinson and Ryan Wilson that touched on everything you need to know about Super Wild Card Weekend, and let me just say, it’s probably for the best that you listen. It was a wild weekend that saw the Bengals end a 31-year playoff drought, the Chiefs likely end Ben Roethlisberger’s career and the Cowboys no longer using common sense.  Here’s a brief look at the topics we touched on from each game: Bengals 26-19 over Raiders. The Bengals ended their 31-year playoff drought, but things definitely got dramatic before that happened. The Bengals’ win wasn’t clinched until Derek Carr threw an interception from Cincinnati’s 9-yard line with 12 seconds left in the game. In his first playoff start ever, Joe Burrow threw two touchdown passes, while kicker Evan McPherson set a franchise record for playoff field goals in a single-game with four. This game was marred by bad officiating — with the Bengals scoring a TD on a play where there was an inadvertent whistle — but in the end, it feels like the team that played better on Saturday ended up winning. Bills 47-17 over Patriots. The Bills handed the Patriots a historical beatdown in a game that was never close. The Bills scored a touchdown on each of their first seven possessions, which is something that had never been done before by any playoff team in the Super Bowl era. The Bills’ offensive blitzkrieg was led by Josh Allen, who threw for 308 yards and five touchdowns on a night where the Bills totaled 482 yards. Buccaneers 31-15 over Eagles. The Buccaneers jumped out to a 31-0 lead in this game and never looked back. Tom Brady threw two touchdown passes and then Tampa Bay’s defense did the rest with two interceptions and two sacks of Jalen Hurts.49ers 23-17 over Cowboys. The 49ers looked like they were on their way to a blowout win with a 23-7 lead in the fourth quarter, but then things took a dramatic turn after the Cowboys mounted a furious comeback to cut the lead to 23-17. However, the comeback fell just short with the Cowboys’ final drive of the game ending at San Francisco’s 24-yard line. It ended in dramatic fashion when Dallas made one of the most head-scratching play calls that you’ll ever see in a playoff game, which we’ll be covering more in our next section. Chiefs 42-21 over Steelers. In what was likely Ben Roethlisberger’s final game, the Steelers jumped out to an early 7-0 lead after scoring getting a defensive touchdown from T.J. Watt, but it was all Chiefs after that. Patrick Mahomes threw for 404 yards and five touchdowns as Kansas City rolled to the win.Not only did we go over each game, but we also took a very early look at the divisional round. To listen to today’s episode — and to subscribe to the best daily NFL podcast out there — be sure to click here. You can also WATCH today’s episode on YouTube by clicking here.  2. Dissecting the Cowboys’ inexplicable final playThe Cowboys decision to call a QB draw on their final play was so bad that we’re taking an entire section of the newsletter to walk through it. Let’s review how it all went down: The situation. After a 9-yard catch by Dalton Schultz took the Cowboys down to San Francisco’s 41-yard like, the craziness officially started. Schultz got out of bounds with 14 seconds left, which meant the Cowboys had 14 seconds to go 41 yards and they were going to have to do it with no timeouts. However, they did catch a break, because right before they called their next play, the 49ers actually called a timeout, so Dallas had some extra time to think about their play call. The call. Apparently, the extra time they got to think things over went to total waste, because the Cowboys called a QB DRAW. In one of the most inexplicable decisions of all time, the Cowboys decided to run the ball even though they were out of timeouts. If you have not seen this play, I implore you to stop whatever you’re doing and click here so you can watch it right now. The outcome. As you can imagine, this didn’t work out too well for the Cowboys. After Dak Prescott slid down, there was barely enough time to get off another snap. According to the official scorer, Prescott did get off the next snap, but the clock hit 0:00 before his spike hit the ground. The entire play was a failure of epic proportions by everyone on the Cowboys’ offense. Why it was such a horrible call. Although Mike McCarthy said it was a great call, let me just say that he’s definitely wrong. When you make a call like this, you have no margin for error, if one thing goes wrong, you lose the game and that’s what happened to the Cowboys. On Dak’s end, he probably should have gone down sooner, which is something that the coaching staff should have emphasized. Also, Prescott should have KNOWN that the umpire has to spot the ball before the next play. That’s on the coaching staff for once again not emphasizing something (Remember, the Cowboys had a full timeout to hash things out before running this play, so there was plenty of time to relay any and all critical information). The ref’s run. McCarthy claimed his team practices this play all the time, and that’s probably true, but do they practice it with the officials in their proper positions? One problem with the play is that official who spots the ball — the umpire — was a full 25 yards away from the ball when the play ended (You can click here to see how far away). The umpire lines up in the same spot on every play and the Cowboys should have known that it would take him a few seconds to spot the ball. The reason the umpire barreled into Prescott and Cowboys’ center Tyler Biadasz is because he was running at a full sprint for 25 yards to get the ball spotted. What the Cowboys should have done. If the Cowboys really wanted to get 10 or 15 extra yards, all they had to do was throw the ball. If you watch the play again, you’ll notice that the 49ers left the middle of the field wide open. Dak could have simply thrown a quick 15-yard pass with the receiver immediately falling down so Prescott could spike the ball on the next play. The Cowboys could have also taken two shots to the end zone from 41 yards away, but they clearly didn’t like that option. Cowboys throw the refs under the bus. McCarthy basically blamed the official for not getting the ball spotted even though it would have been much easier for the official to do his job if Dak had simply handed him the ball, which is something he should have been coached to do. “The execution between us and the official spotting the ball obviously wasn’t in tune,” McCarthy said after the game. “We shouldn’t have had any problem getting the ball spotted there: is that the quote you’re looking for?” Prescott also said “credit to them” when he found out fans were throwing things at the officials as they walked off the field. Basically, the Cowboys blamed everyone but themselves for a poorly executed play that would have been a bad call even if it had worked. Running the ball with 14 seconds left in a game where you have no timeouts is asking to lose and losing is what the Cowboys did.  The loss means that the Cowboys have now gone 11 straight playoff appearances without reaching a conference championship game, which is the longest streak in NFL history.  3. Eleven crazy facts from Super Wild Card WeekendEvery Sunday night, I get an email from our research department here at CBS Sports, and every Sunday, that email always includes some amazingly wild facts about the games that were just played. With that in mind, here are 11 crazy facts about Super Wild Card Weekend Patriots get pounded. New England’s 47-17 loss to the Bills marked the third time in Patriots history that they have lost a playoff game by at least 30 points. The other two came in Super Bowl XX (lost by 36 to the Bears) & the 1963 AFL Championship Game (lost by 41 to the Chargers). The loss also means that Bill Belichick’s three worst losses as Patriots coach have come at the hands of Buffalo. Bills offense was unstoppable. The Bills are the first team in the Super Bowl era to score a TD on each of their first seven drives of a playoff game, which is an absurd record when you consider that no team had ever even scored on their first FIVE drives before Buffalo did it against New England. Bengals end third-longest playoff drought in NFL history. The Bengals win over the Raiders was their first playoff win since January 1991. At 31 years, 9 days, it’s the third-longest span between playoff wins in NFL history behind only the Cardinals (51 years, 5 days) and Lions (34 years, 7 days). Kickers paradise. In the Bengals’ 26-19 win, the two kickers in the game — Evan McPherson and Daniel Carlson — combined to make a total of eight field goals, which tied the NFL record for most combined field goals in a postseason game. Super Samuel. Deebo Samuel’s 72 rush yards against the Cowboys were the most in a playoff game by a wide receiver in the Super Bowl era, surpassing the previous mark held by Pro Football Hall of Famer James Lofton.  Gronk chasing Jerry. Rob Gronkowski recorded his 15th career postseason receiving touchdown on Sunday, which is the second most in playoff history behind only Jerry Rice (22). Gronk finished the game with 94 career playoff catches, which moved him past Reggie Wayne for the third most on the all-time list. Goulden foot. After hitting three clutch field goals against the Cowboys, Robbie Gould now holds the NFL playoff record for most field goal attempts without a miss. In his postseason career, Gould is 18-for-18 and he moved past Steelers kicker Chris Boswell, who has hit 16 playoff field goals without missing.  Mahomes keeps rewriting the record book. The Chiefs QB became the first quarterback in NFL history to throw for 400 or more yards with five touchdown passes in a playoff win. This game also marked the second time in his career that he’s thrown five TD passes in a postseason game, which is tied with Kurt Warner and Daryle Lamonica for the most in NFL history. Kelce is a jack-of-all-trades. The Chiefs tight end became the third player in NFL postseason history to have both a receiving TD and a passing TD in the same game, joining Marcus Mariota and Nick Foles (He was the first non-quarterback to pull off the feat). Not so Steel Curtain: By surrendering 42 points to the Chiefs on Sunday night, the Steelers became first team in NFL history to allow 35 or more points in four consecutive playoff games.  Tom Brady keeps winning. The Buccaneers’ win over the Eagles marked the 35th playoff win of Tom Brady’s career. That means he now has more playoff wins than 28 of the NFL’s 32 franchises. The only ones with more are the Patriots (37), Packers (36) and Steelers (36). The Cowboys are tied with Brady (35). If Brady wins another Super Bowl, he could have more playoff wins than every team in the NFL. I should probably keep that Brady stat handy since he’s never going to retire, which means he’ll probably be winning games every year for the rest of time. 4. Monday preview: Prepping you for Cardinals at Rams  Getty Images The final game of Super Wild Card Weekend will be going down tonight with the winner earning a trip to Tampa Bay to take on Tom Brady and the Buccaneers in the divisional round. The Rams and Cardinals split their two meetings during the regular season with the visiting team winning each game. Here’s a quick preview of the game:Why the Cardinals can win: J.J. Watt is coming back at the perfect time because the Cardinals pass rush could be the key to winning. The best way to throw off the Rams’ offense is to pressure Matthew Stafford. There were seven games this season where he was sacked multiple times and in those seven games, the Rams went just 3-4. Also, the Cardinals will need “good” Kyler Murray to show up. The quarterback has been wildly inconsistent this year. In the seven games where Kyler threw one or zero touchdowns, the Cardinals went 2-5. Murray doesn’t have to be perfect, but he does have to play above average football for the Cardinals to win and he definitely wasn’t above average in his last game against the Rams, throwing two interceptions in a 30-23 loss. Why the Rams can win: Although the Rams’ offense generates most of the headlines, if they’re going to win tonight, it’s likely going to be because of their defense. When the Rams’ defense has been able to shut down its opponent, Los Angeles has been unbeatable and if you need proof, just consider this: The Rams are 12-0 this season when surrendering 24 points or less. Matthew Stafford also needs to avoid turning the ball over, which won’t be easy for a QB who’s thrown eight interceptions over the Rams’ past four games. The Rams are currently a 3.5-point favorite for the game, which will be played at SoFi Stadium in Los Angeles.   My pick: Rams 34-31 over Cardinals.Pete Prisco’s pick: Rams 20-17 over Cardinals.  Tyler Sullivan’s pick: Cardinals 28-26 over Rams. I included Sullivan’s pick because he’s the ONLY person I could find at CBSSports.com who’s picking the Cardinals to win. Also, Prisco, Sullivan and I are all 5-0 straight up with our picks, which means someone’s perfect record will be going down the toilet tonight. Let’s hope it’s not mine.  5. Divisional playoff schedule is out Even though the wild card round isn’t even over yet, we already know that divisional round schedule and that’s because the NFL announced it on Sunday night. The two teams that didn’t play over the weekend — the Packers and Titans — will both be playing on Saturday with Tennessee hosting the early game and Green Bay hosting the nightcap. With that in mind, here’s a look at the playoff schedule for the divisional round.  Saturday, Jan. 22(4) Bengals at (1) Titans, 4:30 p.m. ET (CBS). The Bengals are in the divisional round for the first time in 31 years and they’ll be playing a Titans team that will likely have Derrick Henry on the field for the first time since October. Point spread: Titans favored by 3.5. (6) 49ers at (1) Packers, 8:15 p.m. ET (Fox). Aaron Rodgers gets a chance to beat the one team he hasn’t been able to knock off in the playoffs. The Packers quarterback is 0-3 all time in the postseason against the 49ers, but he did lead Green Bay to a 30-28 win over San Francisco back in Week 3. Point spread: Packers favored by 5.5. Sunday, Jan. 23(5) Cardinals/(4) Rams at (2) Buccaneers, 3 p.m. ET (NBC). Tom Brady and the Buccaneers won’t know who they’re facing until after Monday’s game. The Bucs didn’t play the Cardinals this season, but they did lose to the Rams 34-24 back in Week 3. (3) Bills at (2) Chiefs, 6:30 p.m. ET (CBS). In the most anticipated game of the divisional round, we’ll be getting a rematch of last season’s AFC title game. Although the Chiefs won that one, the Bills won the most recent game between these two 38-20 in Kansas City back in Week 5. Point spread: Chiefs favored by 2. The 49ers and the Bengals are the only two remaining teams that can’t host a conference title game. For the other six teams, that’s something that’s still on the table depending on how each game this weekend shakes out.  6. NFL Draft order is partially set: Top 22 picks are locked in Getty Images With five more teams out of the playoffs, that means five more teams now know where they’ll be drafting come April. The most intriguing team added to the list this week is the Eagles, who are going to have THREE first-round picks this year with all three coming between the 15th and 19th picks. With that in mind, here is the official order for the top 24 spots in the draft:  1. Jaguars 2. Lions 3. Texans 4. Jets5. Giants6. Panthers 7. Giants (via Bears) 8. Falcons 9. Broncos 10. Jets (via Seahawks)11. Washington12. Vikings 13. Browns 14. Ravens 15. Eagles (via Dolphins)16. Eagles (via Colts)17. Chargers 18. Saints19. Eagles20. Steelers21. Patriots22. Raiders23. Cardinals or Lions (Detroit gets the pick if the Rams lose on Monday) 24. Cowboys One twist with the draft order is that the Lions will definitely be rooting for the Cardinals tonight. The Lions will be getting the Rams’ first-round pick thanks to the Jared Goff trade and that pick will be the 23rd overall if the Rams lose. However, if things get crazy and the Rams end up winning the Super Bowl, the Lions could get stuck with a pick as low as 32nd overall. 

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