As the 2022 NFL regular season winds down, fantasy owners are in the postseason, and league bottom feeders are slowly being eliminated from playoff contention one-by-one.
Here are some winners and losers for Black football Monday from the week of Dec. 25.
Cobie Durant, Los Angeles Rams: The rookie cornerback from the 2021 Celebration Bowl champion South Carolina State Bulldogs had himself a day on Christmas against the Denver Broncos. Durant reeled in two interceptions, including one he returned 85 yards for a touchdown.
“More glory,” Durant tweeted after the game.
— LIGHT ON COLLEGE SPORTS (@LightOnSports) December 26, 2022
Justin Jefferson, Minnesota Vikings: The 23-year-old star wide receiver broke Randy Moss’ franchise record for most receiving yards in a season during Minnesota’s 27-24 win over the New York Giants on Christmas Eve. Jefferson finished the game with 133 receiving yards and a touchdown on 12 catches. He now has 1,756 receiving yards on the season, more than Moss’ 1,632 mark, set in 2003.
Devonta Smith, Philadelphia Eagles: The former Heisman Trophy winner and Alabama standout reeled in eight catches for 113 receiving yards and two touchdowns in the Eagles’ 40-34 loss to the Dallas Cowboys on Christmas Eve.
Cleveland Browns: In the offseason, the Cleveland Browns took one of the largest risks in NFL history when the team traded for quarterback Deshaun Watson. To get Watson to agree to the deal, Cleveland offered him a $230 million contract, which has been described as the most guaranteed money an NFL player has received “by far,” Cleveland.com wrote. The deal happened in the face of 24 civil lawsuits filed against the quarterback with accusations of sexual assault. Bringing in Watson led to the team trading former starting quarterback Baker Mayfield to the Carolina Panthers, and the Atlanta Falcons starting a full rebuild by trading Matt Ryan to the Indianapolis Colts after reports of the team heavily pursuing Watson as well. The NFL suspended Watson for 11 games at the start of the 2022 season, and after all of the aforementioned events to bring the star in, the team was eliminated from playoff contention after a 17-10 loss to the New Orleans Saints on Christmas Eve.
For reference, Cleveland made the playoffs and advanced past the wild card round in 2021.
Atlanta Falcons:While the team was rebuilding on paper, one star veteran was not happy about the franchise missing the postseason for a fifth-straight season.
“Same s—, different year,” Pro Bowler Grady Jarrett told Fox 5 after Atlanta’s loss on Christmas Eve.
— Justin Felder (@Justin_FOX5) December 24, 2022
Las Vegas Raiders: The Raiders fell to 6-9 on the season with a 13-10 loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers on Christmas Eve. After the game, Josh Jacobs shared a similar frustration as Jarrett for the Falcons.
“For me, in the last four years the result hasn’t been there,” Jacobs said. “Quite frankly, I don’t know what else to do.”
— Vincent Bonsignore (@VinnyBonsignore) December 25, 2022
Denver Broncos: The Broncos, who were eliminated from playoff contention on Dec. 11, suffered another embarrassing loss in a 51-14 decision against the Rams. Quarterback Russell Wilson’s season-long struggles continued in the loss as well, throwing three interceptions to a single touchdown, and completing 15 of 27 pass attempts.