When Nuke LaLoosh regurgitates Crash Davis' clichés to a reporter in Bull Durham, one line gets me every time:
"Sometimes you win, sometimes you lose, sometimes it rains."
Who knew how applicable that would be for Week 13 of the 2020 NFL season?
Here are our big winners and losers from the first Sunday in December, Schein Nine style:
1) Baker Mayfield
What happened on Sunday in Nashville was a huge deal. The Cleveland Browns -- and most importantly, Baker Mayfield -- showed they can beat top-notch competition in a 41-35 win over the Tennessee Titans.
Coming into this season, I thought Baker was poised for a major bounceback, the kind of campaign that would rekindle the excitement that surrounded his rookie campaign. For the better part of three months, that just wasn't the case. But in Week 13, Mayfield offered up his best and most significant performance of the year.
Instead of being a hood ornament on the 8-3 ride, Baker was the engine for gigantic victory No. 9. He is the second player in Browns history to throw four touchdown passes in the first half of a game, joining the immortal Otto Graham -- and staking Cleveland to a shocking 38-7 halftime lead. Mayfield finished with a season-high 334 passing yards, joining Frank Ryan as just the second passer in franchise history with 330-plus yards, four-plus touchdowns and zero interceptions in a game. Mayfield rocked steady off play-action and had his way with the Titans (8-4) on third down, as the Browns converted 10 of 16 opportunities.
And this win helps bust the myth that Cleveland can't be a great team. These Browns are making the playoffs, currently holding the AFC's top wild-card seed with the third-best record in the conference. First-year coach -- and legit Coach of the Year candidate -- Kevin Stefanski deserves so much credit for changing the culture of failure and coaching up Mayfield.
2) New York Giants
New York beating Seattle in the Great Northwest with Colt McCoy at quarterback? If you would've called my SiriusXM Radio show last week and predicted this, I would've laughed and laughed and laughed you off the air. Here's the thing, too: There was nothing fluky about the 17-12 result -- the Giants mauled the Seahawks for four quarters.
Joe Judge deserves so much credit for weathering the early storm of his first season in the big chair. The Giants could've folded after an 0-5 start, but they continued to compete, week in and week out. Now they're riding a four-game win streak, sitting atop the NFC East at 5-7. Credit offensive coordinator Jason Garrett, too, for calling a solid game with McCoy under center, riding the hot legs of Wayne Gallman (135 yards on just 16 carries).
Of course, the defense is what truly won this game for New York. Coordinator Patrick Graham has done a brilliant job with this unit all season, with no opponent eclipsing 20 points during this four-game win streak. DL Leonard Williams was again unstoppable up front, racking up 2.5 more sacks, while CB James Bradberry and LB Blake Martinez continue to significantly reward the Giants' free agency spending.
This might've been the most stunning outcome so far this season, but the better team on Sunday won.
3) Las Vegas Raiders
My goodness. This had unacceptable debacle and season finisher written all over it. You cannot lose to Adam Gase's Jets in consecutive years. That's illegal in most states. You cannot flush your promising season down the drain by losing in consecutive weeks to lowly Falcons and winless Jets. But staring humiliation in the face, Derek Carr threw a majestic and miraculous 46-yard touchdown pass to rookie Henry Ruggs III with five seconds left to secure a 31-28 win, save the season and keep the playoff hopes very much alive.
What on Earth was Jets defensive coordinator Gregg Williams thinking, calling a zero blitz on that fateful third-and-10 play? Good question. It was completely nonsensical -- and ultimately cost Williams his job. But the Raiders deserve praise for capitalizing on the head-scratching decision and delivering a pulsating and improbable finish. Wow.
And I can't leave this blurb without giving major props to Darren Waller. The tight end was unstoppable all day, racking up 13 receptions for 200 yards and two touchdowns. What a weapon.
4) New York Jets
Jets lose! In other words ... Jets win!
Already eliminated from playoff contention last month, Gang Green's clearly in rebuilding mode at 0-12, with significant changes in the offing. In fact, as I mentioned just above, the changes have already begun, with Gregg Williams losing his job on Monday morning. No huge surprise there -- when you inexplicably dial up an all-out blitz in the waning seconds when the opposition needs a touchdown, you're not going to stay employed long. But Williams' baffling blunder actually benefits this franchise in the long run.
No one wants to go 0-16. No doubt about it. But seriously, how much better would 1-15 feel, if that one win costs you a potential generational talent at quarterback? With the loss, New York remains in position to nab Clemson's Trevor Lawrence, should he choose to enter the 2021 NFL Draft. Consequently, New York wins by losing.
5) Justin Jefferson
There are still four weeks to go in the regular season, but for this Associated Press voter, the worm has turned in the Offensive Rookie of the Year race. With all due respect to Justin Herbert, Justin Jefferson has been the most dominant, most consistent rookie in 2020.
With nine catches for 121 yards and a touchdown in Minnesota's overtime win over Jacksonville, Jefferson became the fifth player in the Super Bowl era to eclipse 1,000 receiving yards in his first 12 career games. Three of the previous four (Randy Moss, Anquan Boldin and Odell Beckham) went on to earn Offensive ROY honors. (Marques Colston finished second to Vince Young in the 2006 voting.) Vikings GM Rick Spielman deserves so much credit for stealing the LSU star with the 22nd pick, making him the fifth wide receiver off the board.
6) Los Angeles Rams
Sean McVay publicly critiqued Jared Goff after the Week 12 loss to the 49ers -- and rightfully so, as the quarterback's irresponsible turnovers doomed the Rams. So, how did the former No. 1 overall pick respond in Week 13?
Spectacularly! In a 38-28 win over the division rival Cardinals, Goff completed 78.7 percent of his passes for 351 yards and a touchdown -- with zero turnovers. Oh, and he added a rushing touchdown for good measure.
This was one of those games where L.A. looked like a true contender. Robert Woods (10 catches, 85 yards) and Cooper Kupp (eight catches, 73 yards) did their usual damage in the passing game, while Cam Akers and Darrell Henderson piled up 121 yards and two scores on the ground. Meanwhile, the Aaron Donald-led defense flummoxed Kyler Murray and Co.
7) Matt Nagy and Ryan Pace
Bears fans got really mad at me when I kept calling this team a fraud during its 5-1 start. Welp, Chicago hasn't won since. Six straight losses. And this latest one was mind-blowingly frustrating.
Blowing a double-digit, fourth-quarter lead at home to a Lions team that just blew out its head coach and general manager? Yep, feels like a new low for the Nagy/Pace Bears. And it could be the unofficial dagger on this regime.
The critical play was fitting, too, with all-time draft bust Mitchell Trubisky getting strip-sacked deep in Bears territory with less than two minutes remaining to set up Adrian Peterson's go-ahead score. What a sad, apropos snapshot of the Pace/Nagy era. Did you know they took Trubisky over Patrick Mahomes and Deshaun Watson??!
8) Anthony Lynn
According to NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport, no head-coaching change is imminent for the Chargers, who'd prefer to evaluate everything at the end of the year. But let's be honest: What are they waiting for? What do they still need to evaluate?
At 3-9, the 2020 Chargers have largely been defined by fourth-quarter chokes and one-score losses. Lynn's coaching job has been marked by unacceptable and grotesque game management. And Week 13's effort -- or lack thereof -- was the most jarring development yet.
The Chargers entered Sunday's game against the Patriots with the better roster, records be damned. But instead of fighting to defend their home field and maintain a semblance of pride, the Bolts rolled over and played dead. 45-0, the worst loss in franchise history. Los Angeles was outplayed in every area, especially special teams, which Lynn's crew essentially took off, yielding a punt-return touchdown and blocked-kick TD. Just a stunning display of ineptitude from start to finish.
Tom Telesco's Chargers have talent. The coaching job is a great one. Los Angeles needs an attitude cleansing and a new sheriff on the sideline.
9) Philadelphia Eagles
Philadelphia is an unmitigated, three-win disaster. We've called for Carson Wentz to be benched for weeks now. Doug Pederson finally had no choice Sunday in Green Bay, with Wentz's indecisiveness (and Philly's porous offensive line) digging the Eagles into a 20-3 hole. Taking four more sacks -- Wentz has now been sacked three-plus times in 10 straight games -- the Eagles' QB1 completed just six of his 15 passes for 79 yards before getting replaced by Jalen Hurts midway through the third quarter. The rookie second-rounder did provide a bit of a spark, but Philadelphia still wound up losing, 30-16.
Wentz was on the verge of superstardom a few years ago, but this season has been nothing short of horrendous. The quarterback appears broken, and Pederson doesn't appear able to fix him. The coach is still spinning his wheels over the game's most important position, unsure of which way he'll turn as of Monday morning. Consequently, in an outrageously winnable NFC East, Philadelphia keeps gravitating to the cellar. Pederson will always be celebrated for winning the Eagles' first and only Super Bowl, but in 2020, this team's a dumpster fire -- with culpability on the personnel side, too.
Remember when I crushed the Eagles' draft back in April? First guess: They should've drafted Justin Jefferson over Jalen Reagor. First guess: The Hurts selection will screw with Wentz's psyche. Eight months later, the Eagles are 3-8-1 with Pederson fielding numerous hot-seat questions in every press engagement.