Wednesday, January 19, 2022

Cowboys vs. 49ers tops Wild Card Weekend must-watch games, plus ranking the 14 coaching staffs in postseason

Hello, boys and girls! You can rest easy knowing that we’re a mere two days away from the first playoff football of the year. John Breech is feeling so confident about the Bengals‘ chances (more on that in a bit) that he decided to take the day and leave the newsletter duties to me, Cody Benjamin. And boy do we have some good stuff to discuss.

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 bold Wild Card predictions, a weekend viewing guide, coaching rankings and much more:

  1. Today’s show: Bold predictions for Super Wild Card Weekend

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Ryan Wilson and John Breech joined Will Brinson on Thursday’s “Pick Six NFL Podcast” to make some bold predictions for the opening round of the playoffs. Some highlights:

Want more bold Wild Card predictions? Check out four others right here.

Also, catch the entire “Pick Six” episode (and subscribe for all kinds of daily NFL talk) right here.

2. Wild Card viewing guide: Cowboys vs. 49ers is top matchup

Every playoff game brings plenty of drama, but if you’re trying to decide which matchups to prioritize this weekend, Tyler Sullivan has you covered. His Super Wild Card Weekend viewing guide ranks all six games on the schedule. The top showdown:

49ers at Cowboys: The Cowboys come into the playoffs with an offense that can hang 50 points on a given day and a defense that ranks atop the league in almost every meaningful category. While Dallas has a ton of firepower, the 49ers also have some grit to them, as they jammed their way into the playoff picture after winning seven of their last nine games … You also have two of the NFL’s more storied franchises with a rivalry that goes back to the 1970s. Dallas had three playoff wins (including two NFC Championship Game victories) in the early ’70s, while the 49ers own a last-second win over the Cowboys in the 1981 NFC Championship Game thanks to Dwight Clark hauling in “The Catch” from Joe Montana. Now, we’ll get the latest chapter in this historic rivalry. 

3. Ranking the 14 playoff coaching staffs: Chiefs are No. 1

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On Wednesday, we ranked all 14 starting QBs entering the playoffs. On Thursday, Jared Dubin turned his microscope to the coaching staffs. Which postseason contenders are best equipped on the sidelines? Which head coaches have championship-caliber coordinators? Here’s a sneak peek of his rundown — the top five:

5. Buccaneers (HC Bruce Arians, OC Byron Leftwich, DC Todd Bowles)

4. Bills (HC Sean McDermott, OC Brian Daboll, DC Leslie Frazier)

3. Packers (HC Matt LaFleur, OC Nathaniel Hackett, DC Joe Barry)

2. Patriots (HC Bill Belichick, OC Josh McDaniels, LBs Jerod Mayo, Steve Belichick)

1. Chiefs (HC Andy Reid, OC Eric Bieniemy, DC Steve Spagnuolo)

4. Flores, Judge out: Ranking Bill Belichick’s coaching tree

With the Dolphins and Giants firing Brian Flores and Joe Judge, respectively, Bill Belichick’s vast coaching tree no longer has any active head coaches around the NFL. Flores, of course, is poised to land a new job soon, but in the wake of his dismissal, we reevaluated Belichick’s entire crop of assistants-turned head coaches. You might be surprised by No. 1 on the nine-man list:

1. Bill O’Brien Texans (2014-2020)

Career record: 52-48 (2-4 playoffs)

O’Brien helped leave the Texans in their present state of ruin, seizing personnel power and even an official general manager while shipping Pro Bowl stars like DeAndre Hopkins and Laremy Tunsil out of town. But he at least brought toughness and respect to an organization long mired in mediocrity, guiding four playoff runs and two 10-win finishes in just over six seasons.

5. Raiche becomes first female GM candidate for Vikings

NFL: Minnesota Vikings at Chicago Bears

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The Vikings have vacancies at head coach and general manager, and they might end up turning to Philadelphia to fill both of them. After reportedly targeting ex-Eagles coach Doug Pederson for a future interview, the team has requested to interview Eagles executive Catherine Raiche for its GM opening. Raiche, 33, is the first known female GM candidate in NFL history. She’s spent the last three years in Philly and served an executive role for two CFL teams prior to that. She’d also be the youngest active GM, if hired, behind only the Browns‘ Andrew Berry, another product of the Eagles’ front office.

6. Rapid-fire roundup: Rodgers injury update, plus how to fix the Colts, Saints

Hungry for more headlines? We’ve got some more right here:

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