Thursday, May 26, 2022

Ranking the NFL’s 7 undefeated teams plus picking a winner for Panthers-Texans on ‘Thursday Night Football’

Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to the Thursday edition of the Pick Six Newsletter. 

After taking Wednesday off, I am now refreshed and ready to roll for tonight’s game. If you’re new to these parts, I’m never around on Wednesdays because I hate Wednesdays, which is why Cody Benjamin is in charge of what you read here every Wednesday. (Also, my work week is Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday. You have a weird work week when you cover football for a living.)

For my day off yesterday, I took my 17-month old daughter to the zoo and we checked out the Panthers, which was her way of prepping for tonight’s game. She doesn’t know any numbers yet, but based on how many times she waved at the Panther, I think she’s predicting Carolina by 14. 

Anyway, we’ll be covering the Panthers-Texans game extensively in today’s newsletter. We’ll also be ranking the seven undefeated teams in the NFL from best-to-worst, and I would just like to let Broncos fans know that you probably aren’t going to like that ranking. 

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. Alright, let’s get to the rundown. 

1. Today’s show: Panthers-Texans betting preview

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CLEVELAND, OHIO – SEPTEMBER 19: Davis Mills #10 of the Houston Texans plays against the the Cleveland Browns at FirstEnergy Stadium on September 19, 2021 in Cleveland, Ohio. Cleveland won the game 21-31. Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

If you’re planning on betting any money on tonight’s game, then you’re going to want to make sure to listen to today’s episode of the podcast before you place any bets. For today’s show, Will Brinson brought on CBSSports.com writer Tyler Sullivan, and the two went into full gambling mode. 

Here are several props they like for the game: 

  • Sam Darnold OVER 6.5 rushing yards (-120). The Panthers QB rushed for seven yards against the Saints last week, and this number is so low that he might be able to hit the over with just one scramble.  
  • David Johnson OVER 16.5 receiving yards (-115). With a rookie QB going up against one of the best defenses in football, the Texans are likely going to be running a lot of plays that call for him to get rid of the ball quickly. If that happens, that could mean a lot of targets for Johnson. 
  • Mark Ingram OVER 36.5 rushing yards (-115). With the Panthers leading the NFL in sacks, the Texans will probably try to take some pressure off of Davis Mills by running the ball. The only scary thing about this prop is that Carolina has only allowed 46.5 yards rushing per game through the first two weeks.  
  • LONG ODDS PROP: Houston’s first drive ends in a turnover (+420). With a rookie QB going up against one of the best defenses in football so far this season, it wouldn’t be surprising if Houston’s first drive ends with an interception or a lost fumble. And at these odds, this seems like a solid bet. 

For more props and their actual prediction for tonight’s game, be sure to click here so you can listen to today’s episode and subscribe to the best daily NFL podcast out there. 

2. “Thursday Night Football” preview: Prepping you for Panthers at Texans

On paper, this game might seem like a mismatch — the Panthers are favored to win by eight points — so if you need a reason to watch, I have one: Every Thursday night game this season has been bonkers. The season started off with a wild 31-29 win by the Buccaneers over the Cowboys and then was followed by Washington’s crazy 30-29 victory over the Giants. If this game is just half as exciting as those two, then it will definitely be worth watching. 

My good buddy Jared Dubin put together our deep-dive preview for this game here at CBSSports.com, and here’s how he sees the game playing out:

  • Why the Texans can win: There’s a reason the Texans are a huge underdog, and most of it has to do with the fact that they have a rookie QB (Davis Mills) under center going up against what is currently the best defense in football. If the Texans are going to pull the upset, they’re going to need a huge game from Mills and they’re going to need their stable of running backs — David Johnson, Mark Ingram and Phillip Lindsay — to produce big time, which will take pressure off Mills and help the Texans control the flow of the game. 
  • Why Panthers can win: Let’s forget a second about Carolina’s offense, because if they didn’t show up tonight, the Panthers could probably still win thanks to their defense. The Panthers defense has given up the fewest points in the NFL this year, the fewest yards AND they’ve recorded the most sacks. Now, they get to go up against a rookie quarterback and a first-year head coach on a short week, which is basically a defense’s dream. 

You can get a full preview of the game from Dubin by clicking here.

Dubin’s pick: Panthers 27-13 over Texans.

My pick: Panthers 30-17 over Texans. 

If you’re thinking about betting on the game, Tyler Sullivan put together a full gambling preview. 

  • ONE PROP TYLER LIKES: D.J. Moore OVER 5.5 receptions (+110): “Moore leads the Panthers in targets (19), recording six catches in Week 1 and eight in Week 2.”
  • ONE PROP I LIKE: Panthers to score a TD on their opening drive (+235): The Panthers have a stacked offense, and with a national TV audience watching in primetime, I feel like they’re going to want to show America just how good they are. They’re going to do that by driving down for a TD on their first drive of the game. Also, at +235, I love the odds here compared to a first-drive punt (+113), field goal (+360) or turnover (+500), although the field goal prop is also tempting. (If you bet both, you would win money no matter what as long as the Panthers score on their first drive.)

You can check out Sullivan’s full gambling preview by clicking here.

3. Quarterback clarity: Update on QB injuries heading into Week 3

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Sep 19, 2021; Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA; Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger (7) passes the ball against the Las Vegas Raiders during the second quarter at Heinz Field. Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

There are a lot of question marks around the NFL surrounding the quarterback position this week, and with just three days to go until Sunday, not many of those questions have been answered yet. 

There are multiple teams who currently have an injured starting QB, so let’s take a look at where things stand with about 24 hours until the final injury reports come out.

DEFINITELY PLAYING

  • Derek Carr is ready to roll. At the beginning of the week, Raiders coach Jon Gruden said Carr would be questionable for Sunday, but apparently the Raiders QB heals faster than Wolverine from the X-Men, because he’ll definitely be playing against Miami. Gruden said Wednesday that Carr is “good to go.”

PROBABLY PLAYING

  • Roethlisberger dealing with injured pec. The Steelers quarterback didn’t practice Wednesday due to an injured left pectoral, but he did say he’s “going to do everything” he can to make sure he can play Sunday against the Bengals. Big Ben has spent half his career on the injury report, so it will be a total shock if he DOESN’T end up playing. 

NOT PLAYING

  • Andy Dalton is out, Justin Fields is in. Bears coach Matt Nagy announced that Dalton (knee) won’t be healthy enough to play this week against the Browns, which means Fields will make the first start of his NFL career in Ohio, which also happens to be the state where he made quite the name for himself in college. 
  • Tua Tagovailoa ruled out for Week 3. The Dolphins quarterback definitely won’t be on the field for Sunday’s game against the Raiders. Coach Brian Flores has already announced that Jacoby Brissett will get the start. This game will mark Brissett’s first start since December 2019. 

STILL UP IN THE AIR

  • Colts still have no idea if Carson Wentz is going to play. The Colts QB said this week that he’s “throwing the kitchen sink” at his injured ankles, which probably isn’t the analogy I would have used, but he’s saying that he’s doing everything possible as far as treatment is concerned. The Colts are clearly worried that Wentz won’t be able to play because they’ve given first-team reps to multiple quarterbacks this week. Not only has Jacob Eason been working with the first-team, but practice squad QB Brett Hundley took the majority of the starter reps Wednesday, which means we could see him if Wentz can’t go. Hundley hasn’t started a game since the 2017 season. 

In other injured QB news, the Texans have placed Tyrod Taylor (Hamstring) on injured reserve, which means he’ll miss at least three games. 

4. Ranking the NFL’s seven undefeated teams

The NFL loves to see parity on the field, which means the league is probably loving the 2021 season, and that’s because there’s parity everywhere. Through the first two weeks, we’ve already seen 25 of the league’s 32 teams get dealt at least one loss, which means we’re down to just seven undefeated teams. (To put this in perspective, there were 11 undefeated teams through two weeks last season.)

At the rate things are going, we might not have ANY undefeated teams left much longer, which is why we need to rank them right now, so that’s exactly what Cody Benjamin did. 

Here’s our ranking of the seven teams that are still 2-0: 

1. Buccaneers

2. Rams

3. Cardinals

4. Panthers

5. 49ers

6. Raiders

7. Broncos

We’re going to find out really soon just how accurate Cody’s rankings are because the top two teams on this list will be facing each other Sunday. If you want to know why Cody ranked each team where he did, make sure to click here so you can check out his entire story. 

5. Pro Football Hall of Fame announces nominees for Class of 2022

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BALTIMORE, MD – JANUARY 15: Wide receiver Andre Johnson #80 of the Houston Texans runs the ball during the AFC Divisional playoff game against the Baltimore Ravens at M&T Bank Stadium on January 15, 2012 in Baltimore, Maryland. The Ravens defeated the Texans 20 to 13. Rob Tringali/SportsChrome/Getty Images

The induction ceremony for the Pro Football Hall of Fame’s next class is still 11 months away, but the process has already begun to figure out who’s going to be a part of that class. On Wednesday, the Pro Football Hall of Fame announced the 122 modern-era nominees for 2022, which includes several big-named players who are eligible for the first time.  

Here are a few of those names: 

You can check out the entire list of nominees by clicking here

The announcement of the nominees is just the beginning of the process. The HOF will narrow down this list to a group of 25 semi-finalists who will be announced at some point in November. After that, a group of 15 finalists will be named in January. The 2022 Pro Football Hall of Fame class is expected to be announced during Super Bowl week in February.

6. Rapid-fire roundup

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. 

  • Antonio Brown placed on COVID-19 list. The Buccaneers receiver tested positive for COVID-19, which means there’s a chance he’s going to miss Sunday’s game against the Rams. Brown could still end up playing if he records two negative tests at least 24 hours apart. He’ll also need to be asymptomatic. 
  • Sean McVay misses practice. The Rams coach had to miss practice Wednesday due to an illness. Fortunately for the Rams, their coach didn’t test positive for COVID and is expected to be on the sideline for Sunday’s showdown with the Buccaneers.
  • Odell could make his 2021 debut on Sunday. After sitting out the first two weeks of the season, we might finally see Odell Beckham Jr. on Sunday. The receiver was a full participant in practice Wednesday and is trending toward playing. Beckham hasn’t played since tearing his ACL in Week 7 last season. On Thursday, Beckham said that everything “feels good” and “we’ll see” about playing. 
  • Bradley Chubb placed on injured reserve. The Broncos pass-rusher is expected to undergo surgery on his injured ankle. The surgery means that Chubb will likely be out for an extended period of time. Right now, the estimate is that he’ll miss six to eight weeks. 
  • Lions trying to trade Jamie Collins. Apparently, Dan Campbell has decided that he has no use for the linebacker. The Lions coach confirmed Thursday that his team is trying to deal Collins away. 

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