Welcome to the Tuesday edition of the Pick Six Newsletter!
With the regular season officially behind us, that means there are now only two thing to focus on today: The playoffs and the playoffs. OK, so that’s only one thing, but I listed it twice because I think I was trying to make a point: We’re going to be talking a lot about the playoffs in today’s newsletter.
Not only do we have playoff picks, but we’re also going to rank each playoff game by watchability. Also, Pete Prisco will unveil his final regular season power rankings and we’ll be ranking the attractiveness of each coaching job. Personally, if I could be hired by any team that has an available job, I would make my decision solely based on locale, so hello Dolphins, please give me a call. Alright, let’s get to the rundown, but also, seriously, call me Dolphins.
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. Getting your friends signed up is a great way to help them start 2022 on the right foot.
1. Today’s show: Ranking the open coaching jobs
For the past 18 weeks, the Tuesday morning podcast was pretty simple: It was Ryan Wilson, Will Brinson and I rehashing the Monday night game. However, with no Monday game this week, that means we had to come up with something else to talk about and that’s exactly what we did.
Since our favorite thing to do during the offseason is to rank things, we decided to rank the coaching vacancies. This is our collective rankings based on our combined votes. If you want to know our individual rankings, you’ll have to listen to the podcast.
- 1. Jaguars. The biggest upside of coaching the Jaguars is that there’s almost no pressure involved. If you just win four or five games in your first season, most people will view that as a success, which can’t be said for the four other teams. Also, the other big upside of this job is that you already have a franchise quarterback in place with Trevor Lawrence. Half the challenge of building a competitive team in the NFL is getting a QB in place and the Jaguars have that.
- 2. Broncos. On paper, the Broncos are probably the most talented team on this list and it feels like all they need to compete in the AFC West is a talented QB. This job becomes enticing, because if you can get that QB, there’s a good chance this team could become a playoff contender during your first year on the job.
- 3. Vikings. The Vikings have been on the cusp of making the playoffs in each of the past two years, which makes them an attractive job. One thing to like about the Vikings job is that once Aaron Rodgers retires (or leaves the Packers) it feels like the NFC North will be wide open for the foreseeable future. As a new coach, it will be a lot easier to win the division when Aaron Rodgers is no longer in it. The Vikings also have key offensive pieces in place like Justin Jefferson and Dalvin Cook.
- 4. Dolphins. The biggest problem with taking the Dolphins job is that there will be a lot of pressure to succeed early. If the new coach only wins six or seven games in Year 1, you’ll look like a failure for not matching Brian Flores’ win total. Also, the Dolphins will look bad for firing Flores. One other thing about this job is that if you take it, you better be a Tua Tagovailoa fan because it looks like the front office is determined to succeed with him.
- 5. Bears. This team is in total disarray right now. Although Matt Nagy struggled in 2021, the fact of the matter is that he went to the playoffs two times in four years, which means expectations are going to be high. Any coach who takes this job will be expected to contend for the playoffs right away, which might not be easy to do with the current roster that this team has.
Note: We didn’t rank the Raiders opening because we all agreed that they should probably just go ahead and give the job to Rich Bisaccia.
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 today’s episode on YouTube by clicking here. Also, our Jordan Dajani did his own ranking of the coaching jobs — and he even included the Raiders — and you can check out his list by clicking here.
2. Prisco’s Final Regular Season Power Rankings
The best part about this week’s Power Rankings is that Pete Prisco finally admits what he was wrong about this year, which is big news, because Prisco never admits when he’s wrong. For instance, Prisco had the Titans ranked 21st in his first power rankings, but they’re now third overall after winning the top seed in the AFC. Speaking of the Titans, they’re the only new team in this week’s top five, replacing the Rams.
With that in mind, here’s a look at Prisco’s top five teams heading into the playoffs:
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 Titans. After clinching the No. 1 overall seed in the AFC with a win over the Texans, Prisco moved the Titans up three spots from sixth to third.
- The biggest jump in the NFC went to the 49ers, who also jumped up three spots. Following their upset win over the Rams, Prisco rewarded them by moving them from 14th to 11th.
- The biggest overall tumble in the rankings went to the Rams. Going into Week 18, Prisco was high on them, but after watching them blow a 17-0 lead to the 49ers, he dropped them SIX SPOTS, from second down to eighth.
- In the AFC, the biggest drop went to the Chargers, who fell four spots from 11th down to 15th following their 35-32 loss to the Raiders. Basically this is Pete’s way of telling us that he thinks the Chargers are the best team that didn’t make the playoffs. That’s quite the honor.
- The battle for the bottom spot in the Prisco’s rankings actually got pretty heated this week. The Jaguars have been there for the past six weeks and even though they pulled off the biggest upset of Week 18, Prisco kept them in the cellar. The New York teams were just in front of the Jaguars with the Jets at 31st and the Giants at 30th.
If you want to know where your favorite team ended up in Prisco’s final regular season 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 picks for Super Wild Card Weekend
It’s Tuesday, and that can only mean one thing: It’s time for my weekly picks.
Before we get to my playoff picks, I would like everyone to know that I finished with the top straight-up picks record here at CBSSports.com. Actually, that’s a lie. The truth is that I choked in Week 18 as badly as the Colts choked against the Jags. I had a two-game lead and LOST IT to fantasy guru Dave Richard, who claimed the regular season title over me by ONE GAME. I also lost last year’s title by one game. I’m guessing this is a sign that I’m only going to get one of my picks right in the wild-card round.
With that in mind, here are three of my picks for Super Wild Card Weekend.
- Las Vegas at Cincinnati (-6): The Bengals‘ playoff losing streak started on my birthday in 1991 and my dad (Jim Breech) scored the last point in a Bengals playoff win, so this playoff drought is kind of a touchy subject in my family. The streak started against the Raiders in January 1991 and I’m going to say it comes full circle on Saturday with a win for Cincinnati. PICK: Bengals 30-23 over Raiders.
- New England at Buffalo (-4): Not only do I think the Bills are the better team, but also, the Patriots will be starting a rookie at quarterback and let me just tell you, a rookie is the last person you want to be starting at QB in a playoff game. Since 2010, rookie quarterbacks are 2-6 in playoff games and the only two wins came in games where a rookie was starting for both teams so a rookie had to win. A rookie is not starting for both teams in this game. I feel like the only way the Patriots win is if they run the ball 51 times, which they might actually do. That being said, I’ll take the Bills by a touchdown. PICK: Bills 24-17 over Patriots.
- San Francisco (+3) at Dallas: We’ve been talking about the offensive struggles of the Cowboys, but Dallas has also had some struggles on defense. Since Week 9, they’ve surrendered more than 130 yards per game on the ground and that’s not a number you want to see when you’re about to face one of the best rushing attacks in the NFL. The thing about the Cowboys is that I’m just not sure how good they are. They went 12-5, but they went 6-0 in divisional play, which means they went just 6-5 against non-divisional opponents. I think the 49ers can pull off the upset here, so that’s what I’m going to pick. PICK: 49ers 27-24 over Cowboys.
4. Ranking each playoff game by watchability
We’ve already ranked the coaching openings plus gone through Prisco’s Power Rankings, so why not add one more ranking to today’s newsletter by ranking the watchability of each playoff game.
1. (6) 49ers at (3) Cowboys, 4:30 p.m. ET, Sunday (CBS/Nickelodeon): Is this game on the top of my list because it’s on CBS? No, but it certainly helps. I also like the fact that we’re seeing the these two teams play each other because they have one of the best postseason rivalries going in NFL history. This game is also fascinating because it features Dan Quinn’s defense in Dallas trying to slow down Kyle Shanahan’s offense. Quinn and Shanahan have an interesting history together, most notably: They were both on the Falcons‘ coaching staff when Atlanta blew a 28-3 lead in Super Bowl LI (Quinn was head coach and Shanahan was offensive coordinator).
2. (5) Cardinals at (4) Rams 8:15 p.m. ET, Monday (ABC/ESPN): This game is spicy for multiple reasons. For one, we’ve got a quarterback who’s never won a playoff game (Matthew Stafford) going up against a QB who’s never started a playoff game (Kyler Murray). These two teams split their season series and now, they have to play a winner-take-all rubber match. If the Rams lose, Stafford will officially be entering Andy Dalton territory when it comes to playoff success.
3. (5) Raiders at (4) Bengals, 4:30 p.m. ET, Saturday (NBC): As a Bengals homer, I’m probably ranking this game too high, but I think it deserves to be here because neither of these teams have won a playoff game in over 15 years. If the Raiders win, it will mark their first playoff win since January 2003. If the Bengals win, it will mark their first playoff win since January 1991. Plus, the Bengals have one of the most exciting offenses in football and they have to face a hot Raiders team that’s won four in a row. Also, there’s nothing more exciting than watching a snow game in the playoffs and we might get that in Cincinnati.
4. (6) Patriots at (3) Bills, 8:15 p.m. ET, Saturday (CBS): This game marks the first time ever that Bill Belichick’s Patriots have to go on the road in the wild-card round and if they’re going to advance, they’re going to have to pull off a monstrous upset. The Patriots couldn’t stop the Bills offense the last time they played, but Belichick is defensive genius and it will be interesting to see what he has planned for Buffalo this time around. The weather report also adds an interesting element to this game with a possibility of snow and temperatures expected to be under 15 at kickoff.
5. (7) Philadelphia at (2) Tampa Bay, 1 p.m. ET, Sunday (Fox): This game has Tom Brady, so you’d think it would be higher on my list, but it feels like a bad matchup for the Eagles. The Eagles led the NFL in rushing, which is usually a good thing heading into the playoffs, but they’re stuck playing a Buccaneers team that is literally built to stop the run. The one thing I will say is that things usually get pretty crazy any time Brady faces an NFC East team, so it’s completely possible this game ends up being wild.
6. (7) Steelers at Chiefs (2), 8:15 p.m. ET, Sunday (NBC): Back in Week 16, Kansas City absolutely destroyed the Steelers 36-10 in a game where I’m not sure the scoreboard even did justice for how badly the Chiefs dominated. For one, Travis Kelce didn’t even play due to COVID, which means the Steelers lost by 26 points even though the Chiefs offense wasn’t at full strength. They might win by more on Sunday.
5. NFL schedule news: Home-and-away opponents for 2022
With the 2021 regular season officially in the books, now seems like a good time to start talking about the 2022 season and thanks to the NFL scheduling formula, we can actually do that because we now know who the 17 opponents will be for all 32 teams.
Here are 10 of the biggest games that will be on the 2022 schedule:
- Chiefs at Buccaneers
- Bengals at Cowboys
- Bills at Chiefs
- Packers at Bills
- Patriots at Packers
- Ravens at Patriots
- Packers at Buccaneers
- Titans at Chiefs
- Raiders at 49ers
- Chargers at Rams
Of course, those Packers games won’t be as exciting if Aaron Rodgers leaves and those Buccaneers games will lose some luster if Tom Brady retires. One note about 2022 is that each NFC team will get nine home games while AFC teams will play nine on the road.
If you want to see the home-and away opponents for all 32 teams, then be sure to click here. The dates and times of each game will be released at some point during the spring.
6. Rapid-fire roundup
It’s been a busy 24 hours in the NFL — especially when it comes to coaching interviews — and since it’s nearly impossible to keep track of everything that happened I went ahead and put together a roundup for you.
- Brian Flores has already landed an interview. The fired Dolphins coach might not be unemployed for long. The Bears have requested to interview Flores, which would be his first interview since being let go. The Bears have also requested to interview Dan Quinn. If you want to keep track of all the interviews that are going down with every team, be sure to click here so you can follow our tracker.
- Doug Pederson in high demand. The Super Bowl winning coach has already interviewed with the Jaguars and it appears he also has several other interviews scheduled. CBS Sports NFL Insiders Jason La Canfora has reported that the former Eagles coach is expected to interview with the Bears, Vikings and Broncos as well.
- Dolphins owner shoots down Jim Harbaugh rumors. After the Dolphins fired Flores, there was some speculation that they did it so they could hire Jim Harbaugh, but owner Stephen Ross denied that rumor on Monday.
- David Culley assumes he’ll be the Texans head coach. One coaching position that’s still in flux is David Culley’s spot in Houston. Although there was some speculation that he might be fired, he said on Monday that he’s “moving forward” with the belief that he’ll be the team’s coach. This isn’t something he should have to have a belief in, the team should just tell him whether he’s staying, but that hasn’t happened, because this is the Texans.
- Geno Smith arrested for DUI. The Seahawks backup QB was arrested early Monday on suspicion of DUI. On Monday night, Smith took to Twitter to ask people to reserve judgement about his case. For more details on the case, be sure to click here.
- Hall of Fame receiver Don Maynard dies at 85. The four-time Pro Bowler spent 13 of his 15 NFL seasons with the New York Jets franchise. He was actually the first player ever to sign with the team in 1960 at a time when the Jets were still known as the Titans. Mayard finished in the top-three of receiving yards a total of six times in his career, including 1968 when he helped lead the Jets to a 16-13 win over the Colts in Super Bowl III. Maynard caught 633 passes over his 15 seasons and the crazy part is that he averaged 18.7 yards per catch in his career.