Hello, boys and girls! Ready for playoff football? It’s only three days away now. You can surely understand why John Breech isn’t here to deliver the NFL news today. His Bengals play very soon, you see, and word on the street is he’s busy leaving encouraging messages in every player’s voicemail. Fortunately, you’ve got me, Cody Benjamin, to pick up the slack here.
This is the Pick Six Newsletter. Now let’s get to it. (And please, do yourself a favor and make sure you’re signed up to receive this newsletter every day! You don’t want to miss our daily offerings of everything you need to know around the NFL.)
We’ve got Super Wild Card Weekend predictions, buzz on coaching vacancies, and much more:
- Today’s show: Are Broncos the top destination for coaches, QBs?
At least seven different teams have head coaching vacancies ahead of the 2022 offseason, and as many as a dozen could be exploring the starting quarterback market. Joining Will Brinson on Wednesday’s “Pick Six NFL Podcast,” Brady Quinn argued that one team stands above the rest in terms of preferred landing spots for both coaches and QBs:
“Denver is the most attractive vacancy,” he said. “They have a defense, they have a running game, they have (people) to throw to. What everyone’s gonna see on the outside (is), ‘Yeah, but you have to play Patrick Mahomes twice a year and Justin Herbert twice a year and Derek Carr twice a year.’ (But) a quarterback in the NFL doesn’t give an eff. That’s how every quarterback thinks. They all feel that way and think that way. … That’s the most attractive position for a quarterback or head coaching vacancy, in my opinion.”
Catch the entire discussion, including best bets for the playoffs and much more, right here.
Pete Prisco struggled with predictions in Week 18, but he assures us now he was resting his starters for the playoffs. And his season record is still solid: 168-103-1 in straight-up picks. So be sure to check out all of his projections for Super Wild Card Weekend, including these:
- 49ers 24, Cowboys 23: The 49ers are the team nobody wanted to see in the playoffs. They are built to make a run. … The Dallas offense got back on track against the Eagles‘ JV team last week, but this is a much tougher challenge. … The 49ers will use their run game and pass rush while taking a few explosive shots to move on to the next round.
- Bills 30, Patriots 17: This is the third game featuring these two this season, with each winning on the other’s field. … The Patriots haven’t been the same team on the road, especially quarterback Mac Jones. Look for the Bills to take away the run and dare him to beat them. He won’t. The Bills will be moving on.
- Chiefs 28, Steelers 23: It was in Week 16 when the Steelers were blown out, 36-10, by the Chiefs. They are healthier now and have a coach in Mike Tomlin who knows how to win in the playoffs. … The Steelers will hang around, but the Chiefs will win it.
3. Insider notes: Defensive head coaches could make a comeback
Whenever the head-coach hiring cycle begins, up-and-coming offensive minds tend to be all the rage. But CBS Sports NFL insider Jason La Canfora wouldn’t be surprised if defensive coaches are more appealing this time around:
Winning eight of his final nine games wasn’t enough for Brian Flores to keep his job in Miami, but it was enough to get the attention of other front offices, and he will get an audience with several owners, too. Chicago has always been a defensive kind of town, and former Bear Leslie Frazier would be a great fit there. Todd Bowles may well be the next coach in Tampa should Bruce Arians step aside, and I could also see him in Minnesota, where he was the runner-up to Mike Zimmer eight years ago. Or Las Vegas, if that opens up. Vance Joseph, who had a brief tenure as Broncos head coach, has (also) done a great job with the defense in Arizona and would likely be better as the head man the second time around.
4. Giants fire Joe Judge after just two seasons on the job
Despite reportedly ending the 2021 season with the intention of retaining Judge, the Giants reversed course Tuesday night, announcing the head coach’s dismissal — and marking the third time in six years New York has axed its coach after just two seasons on the job. Judge went 10-23 after taking over in 2020, and with general manager Dave Gettleman retiring, New York says it will turn the hiring process over to its new GM, whenever he or she is identified.
The early candidates to replace Judge in the Big Apple? Bills offensive coordinator Brian Daboll, Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh and Cowboys offensive coordinator Kellen Moore figure to be among names on the Giants’ radar.
5. Ranking the 14 playoff QBs: Tom Brady headlines the list
Throughout the season, we ranked all 32 starting QBs each week. Now, the postseason is here, so we’re trimming the list to focus just on the playoff starters. Who has the best signal-caller going into the dance? You could probably guess. But here’s the full rundown of 1-14 entering Super Wild Card Weekend:
- Tom Brady (Buccaneers)
- Aaron Rodgers (Packers)
- Patrick Mahomes (Chiefs)
- Josh Allen (Bills)
- Joe Burrow (Bengals)
- Dak Prescott (Cowboys)
- Kyler Murray (Cardinals)
- Matthew Stafford (Rams)
- Derek Carr (Raiders)
- Ryan Tannehill (Titans)
- Jalen Hurts (Eagles)
- Jimmy Garoppolo (49ers)
- Mac Jones (Patriots)
- Ben Roethlisberger (Steelers)
6. Rapid-fire roundup: MVP watch, Broncos ownership, more
- Rodgers a slight favorite to win MVP: Our staff has him edging out Tom Brady
- Broncos set to have new owner before 2022: A legal ruling cleared the way for a potential sale
- Vikings coaching tracker: Doug Pederson and Lane Kiffin are among rumored candidates
- How to fix the Bears: Developing Justin Fields is the top priority
- How to fix the Ravens: It starts up front in the trenches
- Head coach and GM tracker: Keep tabs on all the reported interviews right here