Thursday, January 27, 2022

Prisco’s Week 17 picks, plus remembering NFL legend John Madden, QB Power Rankings and new COVID protocols

Hello, boys and girls! Week 17 is upon us, which means we are ever so close to the playoffs. If your team is on the way in, congratulations. If not, I sincerely hope this newsletter can brighten your day anyway. John Breech isn’t here, unfortunately, as he takes a day to custom-make Bengals postseason apparel. But I, Cody Benjamin, am happy to guide you through all the latest.

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 important COVID updates, Week 17 predictions, John Madden tributes, and more:

  1. Today’s show: Which playoff teams are the scariest?

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Getty Images

Brady Quinn joined Will Brinson on Wednesday’s “Pick Six NFL Podcast,” and the guys explored the current playoff field: which teams would you not want to face in January? Here are a few highlights:

  • Will thinks the Bills and Chiefs are automatic front-runners in the AFC, regardless of seeding, saying he wouldn’t be the least bit surprised to see Buffalo make a Super Bowl run.
  • Of the lower seeds, Brady believes the team to watch is the Colts, assuming Carson Wentz is healthy and under center. “The running game, what they can do defensively, they’re just more well-rounded.”
  • Both Will and Brady are buying into the Bengals, too, as the “young group that doesn’t know any different.” Joe Burrow has the coolness of a veteran, Brinson noted, without the pressure of finally getting over the hump.

Catch the entire episode (and subscribe for all kinds of daily NFL talk) right here.

2. Prisco’s picks: Ravens stun Rams, Steelers upset Browns

Papa Pete Prisco went 11-5 in straight-up picks last week. Now he’s back with predictions for every single Week 17 matchup. Here are some of the most notable forecasts:

  • Chiefs 33, Bengals 31: This is the game of the week. This has all the makings of an offensive shootout, with Joe Burrow trying to match Patrick Mahomes. It will be a treat to watch. It will be close, too.
  • Ravens 27, Rams 26: The Ravens have been crippled by injuries and COVID and hardly look like the same team we saw seven weeks ago. But they will be getting guys back this week, and one should be Lamar Jackson at quarterback.
  • Steelers 24, Browns 20: These two still have playoff hopes, but the loser is dead. The Browns will be getting a lot of guys back off the COVID list, which will help … (The Steelers) being back home against a rival means they will play much better.

3. Insider notes: Chiefs, Bucs still belong as Super Bowl favorites

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Getty Images

Jason La Canfora has a bunch of juicy nuggets in his latest column, including notes on under-the-radar coaching candidates and the NFL’s new COVID protocols (more on that below). He also combed through playoff teams to identify real contenders:

It’s no surprise the Chiefs are now the Vegas favorites. They are balanced and very hot with a Super Bowl pedigree and a dynamic head coach/QB combination. They are relatively healthy and fortified and they are locking in on the top seed in the AFC. They are at the top of this list for me, with the Bucs a close second. It’s still Tom Brady, it’s still a Super Bowl roster, and while the secondary gives me some pause, you have to be really silly to bet against Tom Brady this time of year.

I don’t like the Rams’ overall depth, but you have to love the top blue-chip talent. They seem to be quite healthy and playing their best ball. They know exactly who they are and they live in 11 personnel and dare you force them out of it; most defenses can’t. Sean McVay has been to a Super Bowl and is a master tactician and motivator. Don’t discount their chances. Aaron Donald could take over the postseason.

4. John Madden dies at 85: Remembering an NFL legend

The NFL lost an icon on Tuesday with the unexpected passing of John Madden. Here’s our latest, in remembrance of the former Hall of Fame coach and broadcaster:

5. QB Power Rankings: Joe Burrow, Josh Allen climb top 10

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CBS Sports Graphic

Every week, we rank all 32 starting QBs from first to worst. COVID and injuries have jumbled quite a few spots in the bottom half, but there’s no shortage of talent up top. Aaron Rodgers still reigns supreme in our Week 17 edition, but here’s the full top 10:

  1. Aaron Rodgers
  2. Tom Brady
  3. Patrick Mahomes
  4. Josh Allen (+1)
  5. Justin Herbert (-1)
  6. Joe Burrow (+3)
  7. Matthew Stafford (-1)
  8. Dak Prescott (+3)
  9. Lamar Jackson (-1)
  10. Kyler Murray (-3)

6. COVID updates: New protocols, key players in question for Week 17

In the wake of further COVID spread across the league, the NFL on Tuesday night adopted brand-new COVID-19 protocols. The biggest change: Anyone who tests positive for COVID — vaccinated or not — can now return to work after five days instead of 10, if asymptomatic. This falls in line with recent CDC guidance regarding COVID quarantines. It also significantly impacts the availability of several key players and coaches who just landed on COVID reserve. Some examples:

  • Colts QB Carson Wentz, who landed on COVID reserve Tuesday and is unvaccinated, would’ve been forced out of Week 17 vs. the Raiders under previous protocols, assuming he tested positive. Now, he’s still eligible to suit up. The Colts would’ve otherwise turned to sixth-round rookie Sam Ehlinger with a playoff spot on the line. (Or called old friend Philip Rivers.)
  • Buccaneers WR Mike Evans, who is also battling a hamstring injury, joined COVID reserve Monday and appears unlikely to be ready for Sunday’s game against the Jets. Coach Bruce Arians, meanwhile, tested positive for COVID on Tuesday and technically has time to return ahead of Week 17. Harold Goodwin has taken over as acting head coach in the meantime.
  • Find complete updates on every team’s COVID situation right here.

7. Bonus content: Jags coaching search, 2021 MVP watch

What?! A seventh section? Well we are just a few days removed from Christmas, so I thought we’d be generous. Get your fix of extra NFL news right here:

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