Welcome to the Tuesday edition of the Pick Six Newsletter!
First, I’d like to start things off here by congratulating anyone who stayed up to watch the entire Monday night game. Anyone who watched all four quarters definitely deserves some sort of prize, and that’s mostly because it was arguably the worst primetime game in the history of football. However, if you did stay up, you got to witness NFL HISTORY BEING MADE, which I guess was the prize.
With the 20-3 win, the Dolphins are now on a seven-game winning streak, making them the first team in NFL history to have both a seven-game losing streak and a seven-game winning streak in the same season. We’ll be going in-depth on that game in today’s newsletter, plus we’ll be taking a look at Jimmy Garoppolo’s injury and I’ll be giving some picks for Week 17, so let’s 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. A Pick Six subscription makes an excellent and also inexpensive end-of-year gift.
1. Today’s show: Recapping Miami’s dominating win over the Saints
Back on Nov. 1, the Dolphins looked like a team that was going to be in a battle with the Lions and Jaguars for the No. 1 overall pick. Since then, they’ve won seven straight games, including Monday’s dominating 20-3 win over the Saints.
The only thing crazier than Miami’s seven-game winning streak was the podcast Ryan Wilson, Will Brinson and I recorded after the game. Here are three key things from the game that we touched on during the podcast:
- The “Teal Curtain” dominates the Saints. I have no idea if the Dolphins defense has a nickname yet, but if not, I think we need to go with the “Teal Curtain” after the way it played in New Orleans. The defense showed the Saints no mercy, and that started with a pick-six by Nik Needham on New Orleans’ opening possession. The Dolphins also had eight sacks to go along with that, with two of those coming from Emmanuel Ogbah. Although Miami’s offense has been steadily improving, it’s the defense that has been carrying the team and that was the case Monday night. Offensively, Jaylen Waddle was really the only bright spot for Miami. The rookie receiver caught 10 passes for 92 yards and scored the Dolphins’ only offensive touchdown.
- Saints were horrible on offense, but not so bad on defense. The Saints were missing multiple starters due to COVID and they played like a team missing multiple starters due to COVID. With Taysom Hill and Trevor Siemian both on the COVID list, New Orleans was forced to start Book, and his first-career start was nothing short of a disaster. He threw a pick-six on his second-career pass and things only got uglier from there. The Saints totaled just 164 yards and didn’t convert a single third down in the game (0-for-12). This score could have actually been uglier, but the Saints defense kept that from happening. It sacked Tua Tagovailoa twice, picked him off once and held Miami’s offense to just 13 points.
- Playoff implications. Thanks to their winning streak, the Dolphins now control their playoff fate. Miami is currently sitting in the seventh slot in the AFC and if the Dolphins win out, they’re guaranteed a playoff spot. However, winning out won’t be easy and that’s because they close the season with the Titans and Patriots. As for the Saints, they’re currently in the 10th spot in the NFC, so they’re going to need some serious help to get in.
Besides those three things, we also spent significant time looking at the overall playoff picture. To listen to today’s episode — and to subscribe to the best daily NFL podcast out there — be sure to click here. You can also watch Monday’s episode on YouTube by clicking here.
2. Prisco’s Power Rankings heading into Week 17
There’s not much excitement in the top five of Prisco’s Power Rankings this week and that’s because every team is ranked exactly where they were last week. However, there is some excitement in the top 10 and that’s because we have TWO new teams this week.
With that in mind, here’s a look at Prisco’s top-five teams heading into Week 17:
I won’t spoil the rest of the Power Rankings here, but I will give you a few nuggets. Here’s what has changed since last week:
- The biggest jump this week went to the Eagles, who moved up five spots thanks to their dominating win over the Giants. Prisco moved them up from 21st to 16th.
- Three different teams tied for the biggest jump in the AFC as the Colts, Bengals and Dolphins all moved up three spots. The Colts and Bengals are both now in the top 10 thanks to their big jumps. On the Bengals’ end, they went from 11th to eighth for beating the Ravens. As for the Colts, they went from 12th to ninth after knocking off the Cardinals. In Miami, the Dolphins jumped from 20th to 17th for winning their seventh game in a row.
- The biggest overall tumble in the rankings went to New England. After watching the Patriots lose their second game in a row, Prisco dropped them four spots from sixth to 10th.
- In the NFC, the biggest drop went to the Cardinals, who are in a total free fall right now. After suffering their third straight loss, the Cards fell from eighth to 11th.
- In news that probably won’t come as a surprise to anyone, the Jaguars are dead last for the fourth straight week. The Jaguars had a chance to get out of the cellar Sunday when they played Prisco’s 31st-ranked team (the Jets), but they couldn’t even win that game.
If you want to know where your favorite team ended up in Prisco’s Week 17 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 17 picks
It’s Tuesday, and that can only mean one thing: It’s time for my weekly picks.
Last week, I got a Christmas miracle by nailing almost every single one of my picks. Not only did I go 12-4, but I correctly predicted that the Patriots would lose at home to the Bills. However, I did not predict that we would get the most awkward postgame question ever during Bill Belichick’s press conference, which you can see by clicking here.
With that in mind, here are three of my picks for Week 17.
- Kansas City at Cincinnati (+5.5): This is a huge game for the Bengals because they can clinch the AFC North with a win and if they do that, it would end the NFL’s second-longest playoff drought. There’s a 50% chance I’m going to regret this pick by this time next week, but I think the Bengals can keep pace with the Chiefs in a shootout, and I think they can also pull off the upset. PICK: Bengals 34-31 over Chiefs.
- Miami at Tennessee (-3): I know the Dolphins are on a seven-game winning streak, but let’s be honest: they haven’t exactly been tested with wins over teams like the Texans, Giants, Panthers and Jets (TWICE). The Dolphins struggle against good teams and the Titans are a good team. Also, I will never pick a team from Florida to win a game if the forecast is calling for cold weather, especially if that team is the Dolphins. Since the start of the 2017 season, the Dolphins are 1-11 straight-up and 2-9 against the spread in games where the kickoff temperature is under 50 degrees. (It’s expected to be about 40 at kickoff.) PICK: Titans 22-19 over Dolphins.
- Arizona at Dallas (-5.5): The Cardinals have lost three straight games and their season is spiraling totally out of control, so there’s basically no way I can take them in this spot. The Cowboys have the better offense, the better defense, they’re 9-1 against NFC teams this year and they’re averaging 38.4 points per game at home this season. I’ll take the Cowboys in a blowout. PICK: Cowboys 38-24 over Cardinals.
4. One thing we learned about each team in Week 16
Now that all 16 games from Week 16 have been played, CBS Sports’ Cody Benjamin decided to wade through the aftermath to figure out what we learned about each team.
Here’s a look at what we learned about five teams:
- Cardinals: Kliff Kingsbury teams always collapse. “The Cardinals started 7-0, but have now lost five of eight. They are now the ninth straight team coached by Kingsbury to start strong and close with a whimper. The NFC West is no longer theirs.”
- Panthers: Matt Rhule’s job should not be safe. “Yes, program-building takes time, but Rhule has consistently whiffed on his QB gambles. Rotating Sam Darnold and Cam Newton? It almost literally could not be worse..”
- Seahawks: They need help all over the field. “Who knows if Russell Wilson will be back, but boy does their defense need reinforcements. The entire unit was gassed by the end of a battle with Nick Foles and the Bears offense (!)”
- Titans: They are a Derrick Henry return away from a surprise run. “Somehow, they won’t die under Mike Vrabel, even as their lineup has been decimated by injuries, COVID and veteran disappointments. A power ground game would set them back on course.”
- Browns: Kevin Stefanski needs to rethink the Baker Mayfield situation. “Stefanski stayed committed to No. 6 earlier this year even when the QB was limping through bad outings. He then inexplicably kept dialing up passes on an awful night for Mayfield in Green Bay.”
If you want to see the one thing we learned about every other team, you can check out Cody’s entire story by clicking here.
5. 49ers hit with QB problem heading into Week 17
The 49ers might be forced into making a quarterback change this week and that’s because Jimmy Garoppolo is dealing with a thumb injury.
Here’s what we know about the situation:
- Garoppolo has a torn ligament in his thumb. According to multiple reports, Garoppolo tore the ulnar collateral ligament on his right thumb, which is important because that’s his throwing hand. Right now, the quarterback is considered day-to-day, and he’ll be re-evaluated Wednesday with the 49ers hoping that he’ll be available against the Texans. According to Kyle Shanahan, Garoppolo suffered the injury during the first half of San Francisco’s loss to the Titans.
- How long will the injury keep Garoppolo out? Although the 49es are insisting that Garoppolo is day-to-day, it would be shocking to see him play this Sunday. The last QB to suffer a similar injury was Drew Brees, who tore his UCL in 2019. In that situation, Brees was forced to undergo surgery, which caused him to miss five games. Matthew Stafford also dealt with a UCL injury in 2020 and although he played through it, his UCL was only partially torn. If Garoppolo’s injury is closers to Brees’, it’s hard to imagine him coming back to play during the regular season. The fact that the 49ers are calling him day-to-day could just be Kyle Shanahan’s way of making the Texans prepare for two quarterbacks.
- Trey Lance will likely be starting Sunday. Fans of the 49ers have wanted to see Lance get another start all season and now, they might finally be getting their chance. If Garoppolo can’t go, that means Lance will be under center against the Texans. The third overall pick in the 2021 NFL Draft has only made one start this season and that came back in Week 5. In that 17-10 loss to the Cardinals, Lance struggled with his accuracy, going 15 of 29 for 192 yards along with one interception. However, he did do some serious damage with his legs, rushing for a game-high 89 yards.
The guess here is that we see Lance starting Sunday, and it won’t be surprising at all if he also ends up starting in Week 18 against the Rams. Garoppolo struggled after injuring his thumb against the Titans, so it wouldn’t make much since to put him out there against Houston if he’s still injured, especially if the 49ers have a completely healthy QB on the bench who is supposed to be the team’s QB of the future.
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 — especially in the COVID department — I went ahead and put together a roundup for you.
- NFL hit hard by COVID. The NFL was once again ravaged by COVID this week as multiple playoff contenders, including the Patriots, Colts, Chargers, Bengals and Titans, all placed players on the COVID list. The most notable names include Patriots starter Matthew Judon along with Titans starters Julio Jones and Bud Dupree. The Chargers also added two corners and a safety, including Chris Harris Jr. The Colts added five players, including right tackle Braden Smith. As for the Raiders, they put half their linebackers on the COVID list. To keep track of every player placed on the COVID list, you can click here to bookmark our COVID tracker.
- Cardinals to sign Bashaud Breeland. The former Vikings corner is headed to Arizona. Breeland was supposed to sign Monday, but tested positive for COVID, according to NFL.com, so now the signing won’t happen until he’s been cleared.
- Jaguars plan to retain GM Trent Baalke. The Jags might have fired Urban Meyer, but they don’t plan on dumping Baalke. According to NFL.com, Jags owner Shad Khan has decided to keep Baalke on board for another season.
- Darrell Henderson out, Cam Akers in for Rams:. The Rams will be losing one running back this week, but gaining another. Henderson is done for the rest of the regular season after injuring his MCL. The running back has been placed on injured reserve and could return for the playoffs. The good news for the Rams is that they could be getting back Akers, who is coming off a torn Achilles that he suffered in July.
- Miles Sanders‘ hand injury will keep him out of Week 17. The Eagles running back will miss this week’s game against Washington after breaking his right hand. Eagles coach Nick Sirianni said Monday that the team isn’t planning to put Sanders on IR, which means they’re hoping he can be back on the field within three weeks.
- Clyde Edwards-Helaire likely to miss Week 17. The Chiefs running back bruised his shoulder in Week 16, which will most likely keep him out of this Sunday’s game against the Bengals. CEH is considered week-to-week, according to ESPN.com.
- Buccaneers down two key players. The Buccaneers likely won’t have Mike Evans this week after he was placed on the COVID list. Of course, Evans was already battling a hamstring injury, so there was no guarantee he was going to play even if he wasn’t on the COVID list The Bucs will also be down a key defensive player after Shaq Barrett was placed on IR due to a sprained MCL and ACL. The move means Barrett won’t be back until the playoffs at the earliest.