Welcome to the Tuesday edition of the Pick Six Newsletter!
The Packers got an early Christmas present on Monday night and that present is that their playoff hopes are still alive. I'm not saying they're going to get in, but after watching the way the Patriots lost on Sunday, I'm not going to rule out anything ever again.
We've got a full newsletter today where we'll be talking about the Packers' playoff chances, plus we'll be taking a look at Pete Prisco's latest power rankings and I'll be unveiling my early picks for Week 16. Also, we just unveiled a new NFL podcast here at CBS Sports and I'll be giving you the details on that.
Here's your weekly reminder to tell all your friends to sign up for the Pick Six newsletter. To get them to sign up, all you have to do is click here and then share this link with them. Alright, let's get to the rundown.
1. Today's show: Packers keep playoff hopes alive
The Packers needed a win in the worst kind of way Monday night, and although they only led by four points at halftime, they steamrolled the Rams in the second half of what ended up being a 24-12 win.
Here are three key things from the game that Ryan Wilson, Will Brinson and I covered during our postgame podcast:
- Packers dominated the Rams on a bitter cold night. The Packers let the Rams hang around for one half, but then they kicked the door open with a dominant second half. The Packers offense simply wore down the Rams with a constant barrage of runs and short passes. Aaron Jones (16 carries for 87 yards) led a rushing attack that totaled 138 yards and two touchdowns on 35 carries. Aaron Rodgers was also sharp in the second half, completing 12 of 15 passes. Rodgers took advantage of the return of Romeo Doubs, who caught a team-high five passes for 55 yards. Before Monday, Doubs hadn't played since Week 9 due to injury. Defensively, the Packers defense beat up on Baker Mayfield to the tune of five sacks, with two of those coming from Preston Smith.
- Rams offense sputters with Baker Mayfield. This game marked Baker Mayfield's first start for the Rams and being forced to make your first start in 15-degree weather isn't exactly ideal. With Mayfield running the show, the offense sputtered for most of the night. The offense did show sparks of life at times, but the Rams simply got overwhelmed by a Packers defense that sacked Mayfield five times while limiting the Rams to just 156 yards of total offense, which is the lowest total ever under Sean McVay. Cam Akers, who totaled 100 yards on 15 touches, was one of the few bright spots for the Rams. With the loss, the Rams are officially eliminated from playoff contention, which ties them with the 1999 Broncos for the earliest that a reigning Super Bowl champion has ever been eliminated.
- Packers keep faint playoff hopes alive. If the Packers want to have any shot at the playoffs, they had to win this game, and that's exactly what they did. At 6-8, the Packers are now 10th in the NFC and they'll have to move up to seventh if they want to get in the postseason. The first thing they'll need to do is win out, which won't be easy with games against the Dolphins, Vikings and Lions. However, the Dolphins are on a three-game losing streak and those final two games are both at Lambeau in January, where the Packers have a huge home-field advantage. If they do win out, getting in becomes a realistic possibility. The 7-6-1 Commanders currently have the seventh-seed, but they still have to play the Cowboys, 49ers and Browns, so getting to nine wins will be tough for them. The 7-7 Seahawks are playing the Chiefs this week and that could mean an eighth loss for them. As for the 7-7 Lions, if they lose to the Packers in Week 18, that means they can't do any better than 9-8. It's a long shot, but the Packers are certainly still alive.
We talked about those three things and to be honest, we spent most of our time talking about that last thing and whether the Packers actually have a shot at the playoffs. If you want to listen to the rest of our recap, 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 16
The AFC is taking over Prisco's Power Rankings this week. With the Cowboys falling out of the top five, the AFC now has three of the top four teams in the rankings.
With that in mind, let's check out Prisco's top five heading into Week 16:
- Chiefs (up from No. 4 last week)
- Bengals (up from No. 5 last week)
- 49ers (up from No. 6 last week)
Dropped out: Cowboys
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 last week:
- The biggest jump this week went to the JACKSONVILLE JAGUARS. Following their wild win over the Cowboys on Sunday, Prisco vaulted them up SEVEN spots from 24th to 17th. The Jags (6-8) have put themselves in a position to steal the AFC South from the Titans (7-7), who are ranked 13th.
- The biggest jump in the NFC went to the New York Football Giants. After watching the Giants beat the Commanders, Prisco moved them up five spots from 16th to 11th. If the Giants can win just one time in over the final three weeks, they'll become a near lock to make the playoffs.
- The biggest drop this week went to the Patriots. Prisco doesn't like watching undisciplined football and what the Patriots did against the Raiders on Sunday might have been the most undisciplined football of all-time. Following their shocking loss, Prisco dropped them five spots, from 15th to 20th.
- As for the bottom of the rankings, the Texans are in the cellar this week, but just barely. If they had been able to upset the Chiefs in Week 15, Prisco might have moved them out of last place, but instead, Davis Mills fumbled away the game on the Texans' first possession of overtime, which wasn't overly surprising, because that's exactly what a team ranked last would do in that situation.
If you want to know where your favorite team ended up in Prisco's 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.
If you want more rankings, we also ranked the top NFC wild-card contenders and you can check that out by clicking here.
3. Breech's Week 16 picks: Jets and Giants both get big wins
If it's Tuesday, that can only mean one thing: It's time for my weekly picks.
Last week, not only did I correctly predict that the Lions would beat the Jets, but I also predicted the exact final score of the game (20-17) in what I will just assume was some sort of Christmas miracle. Speaking of Christmas, most of this week's games will be played on Christmas Eve (Saturday, Dec. 24). There will only be three games played on Sunday due to Christmas, so mark your calendars accordingly.
Anyway, here are three of my picks for Week 16:
- Jaguars at Jets (Pick'em) (Thursday, 8:15 p.m. ET, Amazon Prime): The Jaguars are 0-10 since 2018 in games where the kickoff temperature is under 50 degrees, and it's supposed to be 47 degrees on Thursday night. I said this last week when the Dolphins played in Buffalo and I'm going to say it again this week: I don't trust Florida teams in cold weather, especially when they've lost 10 straight games in cold weather. PICK: Jets 23-20 over Jaguars.
- Giants (+3) at Vikings (Saturday, 1 p.m. ET, Fox): If the Vikings have had one Kryptonite this year, it's the NFC East. In 14 games this year, Minnesota is 1-2 against the NFC East and 10-1 against everyone else. Also, in all three of their losses this year, the Vikings have surrendered at least 130 yards rushing, and that's a number the Giants could easily hit thanks to Saquon Barkley and the fact that they have one of the NFL's top rushing attacks. I'm taking the Giants in an upset! PICK: Giants 27-24 over Vikings.
- Raiders (+2.5) at Steelers (Saturday, 8:15 p.m. ET, NFL Network): The Steelers are 4-0 against NFC South teams this year and 2-8 against everyone else. If the Raiders were an NFC South team, I'd pick the Steelers to win, but the Raiders are not an NFC South team. The 6-8 Steelers have beaten up on one bad division, but struggled against everyone else. PICK: Raiders 24-20 over Steelers.
To check out the rest of my picks for Week 16, be sure to click here.
4. NFL Week 15 overreactions and reality checks
Everyone on the internet loves to overreact to things, and that's especially true when we're talking about the NFL. With that in mind, Jeff Kerr decided to take a look at several things that happened around the NFL in Week 15 to decide if we're all overreacting.
Statement: The Cowboys won't win a playoff game.
Overreaction or reality: Overreaction. "Can this team win a playoff game in a month with the way they are playing? Certainly this isn't a formula to do it -- playing subpar against an under .500 team from the AFC South (Jaguars). But, barring an epic collapse by Dallas, the Cowboys will get the NFC South winner in the first round of the playoffs and despite how they've looked the last two weeks, they should beat whichever team that is."
Statement: The Jaguars will win the AFC South.
Overreaction or reality: Reality. "Not only are the Jags just one game behind the Titans for the division lead -- with three games to play -- but Jacksonville also currently has the head-to-head tiebreaker over Tennessee. The Titans and Jaguars will square off in Week 18, with Tennessee facing Houston and Dallas prior to that matchup. Jacksonville faces the New York Jets on a short week, followed by Houston, before the regular season finale. The Jaguars still need some help, but their path to the playoffs is there. With the way the Titans are playing, this division may be Jacksonville's to lose."
Statement: The Bengals will be the No. 1 seed in the AFC.
Overreaction or reality: Overreaction. "The Bengals sit in first place of the AFC North, one game behind the Bills and Chiefs for the top seed in the conference. There is a path for the Bengals to get the top seed in the AFC, which comes in Week 17 vs. the Bills. If Cincinnati wins that game, the Bengals will have the head-to-head tiebreaker over the Bills and the Chiefs. The Bengals need to accomplish plenty to get the No. 1 seed, needing some help in the process (Kansas City would have to lose one of its final three games). This can be done, but it's not the most likely result."
There are plenty more overreactions from Week 15, and if you want to check those out, be sure to click here.
5. Meet the newest NFL podcast on CBS Sports: 'With the First Pick' is here just in time for draft season
Draft season hasn't officially kicked off yet in the NFL, but with five teams already eliminated from playoff contention this year, there are a lot of fan bases already wondering what their favorite team should do in the draft. To help answer that question (and all draft questions), we're kicking off a new podcast here at CBS Sports: With the First Pick (Listen and subscribe here)
- The show is co-hosted by Ryan Wilson and former Vikings general manager Rick Spielman. If you're a regular listener of the Pick Six Podcast, then you already know Wilson. He's the guy who keeps the podcast afloat with his common sense. If you've followed football at all over the past decade, then you already know Spielman, who was the Vikings GM for 10 years. He also played a big part in constructing the current version of the team.
- On 'With the First Pick,' you'll get draft stories galore. For instance, on one of the first episodes, Spielman explained what it was like to be in the Vikings war room in 2020 and he revealed the one team that he thought was going to steal Justin Jefferson from Minnesota (You can see the clip here).
The podcast is recorded every Monday afternoon, and for their latest episode, the two guys talked about whether Bijan Robinson should be a first-round pick. The Texas running back, who won the Doak Walker Award, is arguably the top running back in the class.
- Spielman thinks Robinson will have a highly successful NFL career. "Most explosive overall playmaker coming out in this year's draft," the former Vikings GM said. "I do think he can be a game-changer for you on offense"
- NFL comparison for Robinson. "He's as close to Saquon Barkley as any running back that has come out in recent memory," Spielman said. "If it was back 10-15 years ago, I would have no question that this guy would be a Top 5 pick." The comparison to Barkley is definitely notable, considering how good the Giants running back has looked this season with a competent coaching staff calling the plays in New York.
During the latest episode, the two guys also talked about what it really means if a player has character concerns while also covering some under-the-radar prospects.
If you want to listen or subscribe to the podcast, you can do that here and I would highly suggest you do so.
6. Rapid-fire roundup: Zach Wilson to start for Jets, Jalen Hurts unlikely to play in Week 16
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.
- Zach Wilson to get second straight start. Robert Saleh announced Tuesday that Zach Wilson will be the team's starting QB for the Jets' Thursday game against Jacksonville. With the Jets playing on a short week, it didn't seem like there was much of a chance that we'd see Mike White. Wilson threw for 317 yards in a 20-17 loss to the Lions on Sunday, but he also struggled with his accuracy and threw a back-breaking interception. Of course, if Wilson leads the Jets to win over the Jaguars, it will be interesting to see who gets the starting nod for the team's Week 17 game in Seattle.
- Hurts might miss Cowboys game. The Eagles QB is dealing with a shoulder injury that could cause him to miss the Cowboys game on Saturday. "He is attacking his rehab," Sirianni said on SportsRadio 94WIP Tuesday. "We'll see what happens this week." The upside for the Eagles is that the game doesn't mean much to them. If they can win just ONE of their final three games, they'll clinch the No. 1 overall seed in the NFC, so losing to Dallas won't hurt their chances much.
- Cam Robinson out for the season. The Jaguars offensive line took a huge hit this week with the loss of Robinson. The Jags' starting left tackle is out for the season after tearing his meniscus against the Cowboys on Sunday, according to NFL.com.
- Matthew Stafford definitely not retiring. The Rams QB has dealt with multiple injuries this year and now that he has a Super Bowl ring, there was some speculation that he might hang up his cleats for good following the 2022 season. However, that won't be happening. Stafford jumped on his wife's podcast this week just to clarify that he has no plans to retire.
- Willie McGinest arrested on assault charges. The former Patriots star is facing one charge of assault with a deadly weapon after an altercation on Dec. 9 that took place at a nightclub in West Hollywood. For more on this case, be sure to click here.
- Packers cut Sammy Watkins. With Romeo Doubs returning to the lineup on Monday night, the Packers decided they didn't have any more room for Watkins. The former No. 4 overall pick in the NFL Draft was released just hours before Green Bay kicked off against the Rams.
- Chargers corner arrested. J.C. Jackson spent some time behind bars on Monday after being arrested in relation to a nonviolent family issue, according to Boston.com. Local authorities didn't offer any details on the specific issue that led to the arrest.