The only thing worse than a tie in the preseason is overtime, right? While an 18-all tie between the Eagles and Browns didn't exactly kick off Week 2 of the preseason with a bang, I don't mind that the NFL eliminated overtime in the preseason. It also didn't hurt that I had Browns +4, so I went to bed with a few more pennies in my pocket (at least someone won!).
Happy Friday, fellow football fans! It's Tyler Sullivan here to get you to the weekend and help out with the Pick Six Newsletter yet again as our buddy John Breech enjoys his break before he gets to watch his Bengals make a Super Bowl bid this season. Honestly, I'm happy Breech was on vacation for last night's game because our kicker-loving fanatic might have straight-up quit if he was forced to watch .
Of course, we'll get to all that happen in last night's tie and get you caught up on all the need-to-know news of the NFL in short order. Before we do, however, make sure you're signed up to receive this newsletter every day so that you are fully in the know throughout the upcoming season.
Alright, let's get to it:
1. Browns, Eagles kick off Week 2 of the preseason with a tie
As I noted in the intro, it wasn't exactly the most thrilling way to start Week 2 of the preseason, but it did get underway Thursday night with an exhibition between the Browns and Eagles that ultimately resulted in an 18-18 tie. Neither Jalen Hurts nor Deshaun Watson played in this game, and they were both sorely missed. Zero touchdowns were scored in the first half, and while things did pick up a bit in the second half, it wasn't a masterclass of offense.
Jeff Kerr (who was at Lincoln Financial Field) and I had the duty of breaking down this gamel, and Kerr had multiple takeaways from the contest, including one bright spot on offense.
Austin Watkins shines: "No matter what Eagles cornerback was covering Watkins, the Browns wide receiver continued to find ways to get open. Dorian Thompson-Robinson and Kellen Mond each found Watkins for big gains throughout the evening, as the undrafted free agent from UAB finished with seven catches for 139 yards and a touchdown -- a 32-yard score in the third quarter where he made a bobbling reception. Whether it was Zech McPhearson, Eli Ricks, or Kelee Ringo, Watkins found a way to get open and have a big catch."
Marcus Mariota struggles again: In what has been an inconsistent training camp for Mariota, that inconsistency carried over to the second preseason game. Getting the start due to Jalen Hurts and the first-teamers having the night off, Mariota and the Eagles offense struggled to get anything going. He was 9 of 17 for 86 yards and an interception (42.8 rating) as the offense tallied 102 yards, scored three points and fell victim to a safety in the first half. The Eagles offense moved sufficiently better when Tanner McKee, a rookie sixth-round pick, was in the game. The Eagles have their backup quarterback, but Mariota's play is a cause for concern.
It was also a poor showing for Browns kicker Cade York, who missed two field goals that would have put Cleveland ahead inside two minutes. The 2022 fourth-round pick said after the game thatfollowing these misses, however.
To read Kerr's full takeaways from the matchup, click here.
2. Five long-shot bets to make for the 2023 season
If you like a Hail Mary, you've come to the right place. Our Jordan Dajani has been scouring through the odds on various futures for the 2023 season and has cooked upwith an unlikely MVP, a Super Bowl winner, and a breakout Offensive Player of the Year who is currently 125/1. Here's a look at one of his top long-shot plays for the upcoming year.
Most regular season receiving touchdowns: Mark Andrews (+4000). "Here's an interesting one. In 2019, Andrews caught 10 touchdowns in 15 games played, which tied for second that year. He caught just five touchdowns last season while Lamar Jackson missed five games, but 2023 could be a huge year for one of the best tight ends in the game. With the arrival of new offensive coordinator Todd Monken, many are expecting the Baltimore Ravens to pass the ball more. Odell Beckham Jr. and Zay Flowers are intriguing wideouts, but Andrews could be Baltimore's red zone stud. He has that kind of potential."
3. Commanders name Sam Howell Week 1 starter
Ron Rivera, naming second-year quarterback Sam Howell the team's Week 1 starter. This decision comes after Rivera watched Howell in the preseason opener and throughout this week where he realized "Sam's our guy."
"He basically met the challenge that we talked about, and that was seeing the growth and improvement from OTAs and minicamp and then talked about going into training camp: continue to grow, show us what he's capable of, and we've been very pleased with it to the point where I decided yesterday that we were gonna name him the starter going into the regular season."
Howell was a fifth-round pick of the Commanders in 2022 out of UNC. His lone start last year came in the regular season finale against Dallas when he was able to lead Washington to a 26-6 victory. In that game, Howell completed 11 of his 19 throws for 159 yards and a touchdown while rushing for 35 yards and another score. In the preseason opener against Cleveland last week, Howell was 9-of-12 for 77 yards and a touchdown.
4. What to watch for in each Week 2 preseason game
It's another jam-packed weekend of preseason football, which includes two games Friday, four nationally televised games Saturday, and a game apiece Sunday and Monday night. Our Jeff Kerr has combed through each one of these upcoming matchups andas they gear up for the regular season.
What to watch for with Giants (vs. Panthers on Fri. 7 p.m. ET, NFLN): "Jalin Hyatt has been making plays in training camp, but he had just one catch for -4 yards in his preseason debut. Stats aren't an indicator of how performances are measured in the preseason, yet it would be beneficial for Hyatt to rack up a big play or two against Carolina's secondary. Hyatt adds a vertical presence to the Giants passing game."
What to watch for with Cowboys (at Seahawks on Sat. 10 p.m. ET, NFLN): "Jake Ferguson looks to be the No. 1 tight end in Dallas, as the rookie had an impressive debut. He caught all three targets for 38 yards, which included an impressive 26-yard reception from Cooper Rush -- a highlight-reel snag. The Cowboys have an intense battle on the depth chart for tight end, but Ferguson is the leader in the clubhouse."
What to watch for with Ravens (at Commanders on Mon. 8 p.m. ET, ESPN): Zay Flowers didn't have a catch in the preseason opener, yet the rookie wideout made an impact on the game -- drawing two pass interference penalties on a potent Eagles secondary. Flowers should play a bit this week with the joint practices, as he'll get the opportunity to catch passes from Tyler Huntley in a game for the first time.
5. Latest from Jets training camp: Rodgers not concerned about O-line ... yet
The Jets continue to be a lightning rod throughout the summer, with plenty of folks intrigued with how far this team could go with Aaron Rodgers now at the helm. One thing that could prove to be their demise, however, is the offensive line, which has been a bit spotty throughout the summer. The O-line on the most recent episode of "Hard Knocks" for its struggles against the Buccaneers during a joint practice.
Of course, Rodgers was asked whether or not.
"I don't get concerned about things I don't have a huge role in -- yet," Rodgers said. "That might change. At some point, I might say, 'Hey, I need the five who are going to be in there to be in there with me for a solid week,' but I don't think we're at that point ... because I don't think there are five guys that have earned those spots. So, I have some patience."
Meanwhile, New York is ushering in its latest weapon in Dalvin Cook. The Pro Bowl back why he decided to join forces with Rodgers after the two had previously gone toe-to-toe as division rivals in the NFC North when he was with the Vikings and Rodgers was leading the Packers.
"Being on the other side of that for the last six years, you know, I couldn't be on the other side no more," Cook said. "I got the chance to go join them and help them win … that was a big thing to come over here."
6. Extra points: Joe Mixon found not guilty of aggravated menacing
Oh, you wanted even more news heading into the weekend? Say no more: