Welcome to the Tuesday edition of the Pick Six newsletter!
I'm not sure how it happened, but we are now just two days away from an actual professional football game being played. In just over 48 hours, the Rams and Bills will be opening the 2021 NFL season with a game in Los Angeles, but before that happens, we have about 300 more season predictions to get through, so we better get started.
For today, we have the return of Pete Prisco's Power Rankings, and in what might be the biggest surprise, he doesn't have the defending Super Bowl champs ranked as his top team. Also coming today, I'll be unveiling my picks for Week 1, and in what is not a surprise at all, I'm picking the Bengals to win. That's what happens when you let a Bengals homer make NFL picks. Alright, let's get to the rundown.
Actually, before we get to the rundown, here's a quick reminder to anyone who missed yesterday's newsletter. For our Labor Day edition, we predicted the final record for all 32 teams and you can check that out by clicking here. Alright, now let's really 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.
1. Today's show: Final preseason mailbag
During the NFL offseason, we like to spice things up each week on the Pick Six Podcast by adding a listener mailbag every Monday. As everyone knows, though, the mailman doesn't deliver on Labor Day, so we couldn't do a mailbag yesterday, which is why you're getting our final Monday mailbag of the offseason on a Tuesday.
Anyway, our mailbag episodes are pretty simple: We read listener questions during the show and then answer as many of those questions as possible. Questions can be about literally anything. I mean, I'm pretty sure someone once asked us if one-ply toilet paper is actually worse than two-ply. (The answer to that is definitely yes.) If we'll answer that, trust me when I say that we'll answer almost anything.
Anyway, if you want to submit a question, all you have to do is go to Apple Podcasts (click here) and leave a five-star review that includes your question.
Here's one question that Ryan Wilson, Will Brinson and I answered for today's show.
Q: If the Bills make it to the Super Bowl and lose, would the season be considered a success or failure?! What about a loss in the AFC Championship?
Since the Bills are playing this week and since they're also viewed as the Super Bowl favorite in Vegas, we decided that right now was the perfect time to answer this question.
The Bills haven't been to a Super Bowl in 29 years, so if they end up making it that far, then I think they'd have to consider the season a success whether they win or lose the game. Unless you're an unstoppable dynasty -- like the Patriots were for nearly 20 years -- any trip to the Super Bowl should be considered a successful season. That being said, if the Bills do make it to the Super Bowl and end up losing on a last-second field goal that misses wide right, then I might have to reassess everything I just said about the season being a success.
As for an AFC title game appearance, if they get that far and don't win, I think you would have to call the season a failure. The Bills have arguably the best roster in the AFC, they're the favorite to get to the Super Bowl and they've already been to an AFC title game under Sean McDermott. If they get back and lose, it's going to leave a sour taste in everyone's mouth, especially if that loss is to the Chiefs.
If you want to listen to the rest of the mailbag, be sure to click here. You can also watch today's episode on YouTube by clicking here.
2. Prisco's Power Rankings heading into Week 1
After spending the entire NFL offseason on a vacation where no one was allowed to contact him, Pete Prisco has finally returned to civilization this week just in time for start of the NFL season and just in time to unveil his first power rankings of the season.
Here's a look at Prisco's top five teams heading into Week 1, and in a surprise, the defending Super Bowl champions are NOT at the top:
I'm not going to spoil the rest of the power rankings here, but I am going to give you a few nuggets. Here's what has changed since Prisco's last power rankings, which came out in early May after the draft ended.
- The biggest jump in the power rankings went to the Saints, who might have actually just made the biggest jump in the history of the power rankings. Not only did the Saints move up 16 SPOTS (from 22nd overall to sixth overall), but Prisco has them ranked ahead of the Buccaneers, who are seventh. Prisco is clearly on the Jameis Winston hype train, which is not a train I want to be on.
- The biggest tumble went to the Broncos, who fell NINE spots from eighth to 17th. Prisco thinks the Broncos are the worst team in the AFC West this year. As someone who picked the Broncos to win the Super Bowl, I find Prisco's ranking insulting and I'm probably going to let him know that on Twitter.
- Besides the Saints, the biggest surprise in this week's power rankings is probably the Dolphins. Although they had a huge offseason, they still weren't able to crack Prisco's top 15. Miami checked in at No. 18 this week.
- For most of last season, Prisco had one of two AFC South teams (Jaguars and Texans) at the bottom of his rankings, but that's not the case going into 2022. For his first power rankings of the year, Prisco has the FALCONS ranked dead last.
If you want to know where your favorite team ended up in Prisco's Week 1 Power Rankings, be sure to click here. If you want to argue with Prisco over his rankings, you can do that on Twitter by clicking here. I argue with him all the time about everything.
3. Breech's Week 1 picks: Vikings upset Packers, Baker Mayfield gets revenge on Browns
If it's Tuesday, that can only mean one thing: It's time for my weekly picks.
If this is your first season with us, here's how the formula works around here: I stay up until an insane hour every Monday night so that I can give you my picks every Tuesday morning. The newsletter will feature three of my picks, and then if you feel like reading the rest of them, you can click through here and check them out. I get paid 7.3 cents every time someone clicks through, so I encourage you to click through early and often.
With that in mind, here are three of my main picks for the week, starting with the NFL opener on Thursday:
- Buffalo (-2.5) at L.A. Rams: Sean McVay has never lost an opener as a head coach, which makes me want to pick the Rams, but I'm not going to do it. The Rams have a lot of key players who are banged up and that worries me. Whether it's Matthew Stafford's elbow or Jalen Ramsey's shoulder, it just seems like they're hurting in key spots. I think this ends up being close, but in the end, I feel like the Bills will "Escape from L.A." with a win. PICK: Bills 30-23 over Rams
- Green Bay at Minnesota (+1.5): There were reports last season that Kirk Cousins and Mike Zimmer didn't get along, which I'm only bringing up because I think we're going to see a rejuvenated Cousins now that he's playing for a coach who doesn't hate his guts. Not only does he have a new coach, but it's an offensive-minded coach in Kevin O'Connell, who should be able to take the Vikings offense to new heights. As for the Packers, I like their roster and they're my pick to get to the Super Bowl out of the NFC, but I think it's going to take a week or two to adjust to life without Davante Adams, so I'm taking the Vikings in an upset. PICK: Vikings 26-23 over Packers
- Cleveland at Carolina (-2.5): I don't normally put a lot of stock into revenge games, but I'm completely buying the revenge angle in this game. I mean, I don't think there's ever been anyone who wants to beat their former team more than Baker Mayfield wants to beat the Browns. The crazy thing is that he might be able to do it because the Panthers roster isn't that bad. Not only did they make some huge upgrades on the offensive line with Bradley Bozeman (center), Austin Corbett (guard) and Ikem Ekwonu (tackle), but Christian McCaffrey is also healthy. Plus, Mayfield actually has some solid targets in D.J. Moore and Robbie Anderson. I think Baker gets his revenge. PICK: Panthers 19-16 over Browns
To check out the rest of my picks for Week 1, be sure to click here.
4. NFL records that could be broken in 2022: Russell Wilson, Tom Brady and Patrick Mahomes could all make history
Every season in the NFL, we see multiple records get broken, and this season won't be any different. Our Jeff Kerr spent the weekend hunkered down in his man cave so that he could find all the records that might get broken this year.
Here's a list of five records that made Kerr's list:
- Tom Brady needs at least 40 touchdown passes to become the first player in NFL history to record 40 touchdown passes in three consecutive seasons. Brady can also become the first player with at least 40 touchdown passes in four different seasons.
- Russell Wilson needs 13 wins to surpass Tom Brady (125) for the most playoff and regular season wins by a starting quarterback in his first 11 seasons. Wilson has won 113 games since 2012.
- Patrick Mahomes needs 2,264 passing yards in his first 12 starts this year to surpass Matthew Stafford (21,254) for the most passing yards ever by a player in his first 75 career starts.
- Josh Allen needs five rushing touchdowns to join Cam Newton as the only quarterbacks with at least five rushing touchdowns in five consecutive seasons. Newton hit that mark in seven straight seasons from 2011 thru 2017.
- Derrick Henry needs two games with at least 200 rushing yards to surpass Adrian Peterson (six games) and O.J. Simpson (six) for the most games with 200 yards or more in NFL history.
To check out the full list of records that could be broken this year, be sure to click here.
5. One player from each NFL division who could shift the balance of power in 2022
It's hard to imagine just one player shifting the balance of an entire division, but that could happen this year, at least according to CBSSports.com's Jordan Dajani, who went through each NFL division to find the player who could have the biggest impact.
Here's a look at the players from the AFC who could shift the balance of power:
- AFC East: Tyreek Hill (Dolphins). "Out of all the wild wide receiver drama we saw this offseason, Tyreek Hill being traded may have been the most surprising move. The perennial All-Pro has taken his talents to South Beach and will add a unique element to Mike McDaniel's offense."
- AFC North: Odafe Oweh (Ravens). "After a rookie season where he notched 33 combined tackles, five sacks and three forced fumbles, it feels like Oweh is poised for a huge campaign. Pass-rusher is a premier position, and the Ravens having a star there will help in their pursuit to go from worst-to-first in the division."
- AFC South: Michael Pittman (Colts). "Pittman had a rather impressive second NFL season, catching 88 passes for 1,082 yards and six touchdowns, and that was with Carson Wentz. With his talent and what is perceived to be an upgrade at quarterback, we could see better numbers from Pittman in 2022. Jonathan Taylor may be the MVP of this offense, but Pittman being a legitimate No. 1 wideout could mean the Colts win the division."
- AFC West: Justin Herbert (Chargers). "The former NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year upped his game this past season, as he finished second in the NFL with 5,014 passing yards and third in passing touchdowns with 38. He feels like someone who is going to be in the MVP conversation all year, and I also think he's a player who is just gaining confidence."
To check out the players on the NFC side of Jordan's list, be sure to click here.
6. Rapid-fire roundup: Steelers finally decide on a starting QB
It's been a busy 24 hours in the NFL, and since it's nearly impossible to keep track of everything that happened, I went ahead and put together a roundup for you.
- Mitchell Trubisky named Steelers starting QB. Mike Tomlin announced Tuesday that Trusbisky will be the team's starter against the Bengals on Sunday. Not only was Trubisky voted a team captain, but he also was listed atop the team's depth chart at QB for the game. First-round rookie Kenny Pickett will serve as the backup with Mason Rudolph being QB3.
- James Robinson to play against Commanders. Less than nine months after tearing his Achilles, Robinson is expected to be back on the field for the Jaguars. Doug Pederson announced Monday that the running back would definitely be playing this week against the Commanders. The announcement was somewhat surprising because it can sometimes take players up to 12 months to recover from a torn Achilles.
- Packers star tackle expects to play vs. Vikings. David Bakhtiari has only played in one game since tearing his ACL in December 2020, but it looks like he might finally be ready to return to the field. The Packers star tackle told the media Monday that he expects to play this week in Minnesota.
- Brian Daboll won't call plays for Giants. During his time as offensive coordinator in Buffalo, Daboll was the one calling plays, but he won't be calling plays to start the season in New York. The Giants coach revealed this week that offensive coordinator Mike Kafka will be the one in charge of play-calling Sunday against the Titans.
- Patriots set to sign former first-round pick to practice squad. The Patriots will be adding some receiving depth this week in the form of Laquon Treadwell, who's expected to sign with New England's practice squad, according to ESPN. The Vikings made Treadwell the 23rd overall pick in the 2016 NFL Draft, but he only lasted four seasons in Minnesota. Treadwell was most recently with the Jaguars, but he was cut last week.
- Johnny Manziel appears to be getting a documentary on Netflix. It looks like Johnny Football is getting a documentary. There aren't many details known about the project, but Netflix did released a 10-season teaser for the documentary this week. If you want to check it out, be sure to click here.