Saturday, May 21, 2022

Predicting NFL division winners and 2022 playoffs teams, plus ESPN’s Monday night doubleheader is revealed

Welcome to the Monday edition of the Pick Six newsletter!

After three months of waiting, my favorite week of the NFL offseason is finally here: The 2022 schedule is being released this week.

Sure, some people like free agency, and yes, some people enjoy the draft, but not me. The only offseason tent pole event I care about is the release of the schedule and that will be coming on Thursday at 8 p.m. ET, so be sure to clear your calendar. I’ve had my calendar marked for three years and yes that means I mark it three years in advance for each schedule release. I TOLD YOU NO ONE LOVES THE SCHEDULE RELEASE MORE THAN ME.

The best part of the schedule release this year is that the NFL is milking this thing out over the entire week, which means we’ll be getting new game announcements every day between now and Thursday. Today’s announcement was the unveiling of ESPN’s Monday doubleheader for 2022, and we’ll be covering that in today’s newsletter. We’ll also make some predictions on who’s going to win each division and who’s going to take home the Rookie of the Year awards.

The full 2022 NFL Schedule will be released on Thursday, May 12, at 8:00 PM, ET on NFL Network, NFL.com and the NFL app. NFL GameDay View: Schedule Release will stream that night at 8 p.m. (ET) on Paramount+, NFL.com, the NFL app, YouTube and the NFL Channel.

As always, here’s your weekly reminder to tell all your friends to sign up for the newsletter. All you have to do is click here and then share the link. Alright, let’s get to the rundown.

1. Today’s show: Quarterbacks go big in our 2023 NFL mock draft

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With the NFL draft now over, it’s almost time for our draft gurus to go into hibernation. But before they do that, they decided to take over Monday’s edition of the Pick Six Podcast so that they could unveil their mock draft for 2023. That’s right, even though the 2022 draft hasn’t even been over for 10 days, we’ve already moved on to 2023. 

Monday’s show featured three of our draft experts — Ryan Wilson, Chris Trapasso and Josh Edwards — and if the three of them agreed on one thing, it’s that 2023 is going to be the revenge of the quarterback. After watching only one QB go during the first round of the 2022 draft, the guys are expecting as many as SIX quarterbacks to get taken during the first round next year. If that happens, it would mark the first time since the famous 1983 draft that six quarterbacks were taken in the first round. That draft, which produced guys like Dan Marino, Jim Kelly and John Elway, was one of the most famous QB drafts in NFL history. 

Here’s a look at the six quarterbacks expected to go in the first round, according to our draft experts:  

3. Lions: C.J. Stroud (Ohio State)

5. Giants: Will Levis (Kentucky)

7. Panthers: Bryce Young (Alabama)

9. Seahawks: Tyler Van Dyke (Miami)

27. Dolphins: Spencer Rattler (South Carolina)

31. Buccaneers: Phil Jurkovec (Boston College)

If you’re wondering why the Lions are picking so high or how the draft order was made, it was determined using SportsLine’s Super Bowl odds, but in reverse order.

If you want to know how the rest of the first round shakes out, then be sure to click here so you can listen to today’s podcast. You can also watch today’s episode on YouTube by clicking here

If you’re more of the reading type, you can check out Wilson’s full 2023 mock draft by clicking here. If you want to read Trapasso’s mock, you can check that out here.

2. Predicting NFL division winners and playoff teams

With the 2022 NFL schedule coming out this week, now seems like the perfect time to start making some predictions for the upcoming season, so that’s exactly what CBS Sports NFL Insider Jason La Canfora did today. 

Although La Canfora wasn’t quite ready to make a Super Bowl pick this early, he did make a prediction about who would in each division. He also predicted which 14 teams would be making the playoffs in 2022. The most surprising thing about JLC’s predictions is probably the fact that he doesn’t have the Packers winning the NFC North this year. Green Bay is one of three teams who won their division last year that won’t be repeating as champs, according to La Canfora.   

Alright, let’s get to the predictions: 

AFC East: Bills

AFC North:
Bengals

AFC South:
Colts

AFC West:
Chiefs

AFC wild card teams: Broncos, Chargers, Ravens

NFC East: Eagles

NFC North:
Vikings

NFC South:
Buccaneers

NFC West:
Rams

NFC wild card teams: Packers, Saints, Cardinals

One thing you almost always have to consider when making predictions is that the NFL has had at least four new playoff teams in every season since 1990 and there’s no reason to think that lengthy streak is going to end this year.  JLC actually has six new teams getting in with the Colts, Broncos, Chargers, Ravens, Vikings and Saints all making it after missing out in 2021. 

To check out La Canfora’s full explanation for why he picked the division winners that he did, you’ll want to check out his entire story and you can do that by clicking here

3. NFL schedule: ESPN reveals teams and dates for Monday night doubleheader

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After a one-year hiatus, the NFL will be bringing back the Monday night doubleheader in 2022 and it’s coming back with a twist: For part of the night, the two games will be airing at the same time. 

Under the old doubleheader format, one game would start at 7:15 p.m. ET and the second one would start at 10:15 p.m. ET, but this year, the second game will be kicking off at 8:30 p.m. ET, which means the two games will be airing simultaneously for roughly 90 minutes. 

The doubleheader will be played in Week 2 (Sept. 19), and here are the teams who will be playing

7:15 p.m. ET: Titans at Bills

8:30 p.m. ET: Vikings at Eagles 

This means we now know two games on the Vikings schedule. Minnesota also has a Week 4 game in London against the Saints. 

As for the Bills, the fact they’re playing in this game likely means they won’t be playing in the NFL opener against the Rams on Thursday night in Week 1. (Over the past five years, the NFL has never given a Monday night game in Week 2 to a team that played in the Week 1 opener.) 

With the NFL schedule coming out Thursday, the league has decided to add some hoopla to the event over the course of this week by letting each network announce at least one game in advance. ESPN got the spotlight today, and that will be followed by CBS, which will get to announce a game tomorrow. On Wednesday, Fox will follow suit and announce a game of its own. 

With three days to go until the 2022 schedule is released, the NFL has already officially announced the times and dates of eight games. Besides these two, we know when the five international games will be played (click here to check out) and we also know that the Chargers will be playing at Kansas City on Thursday night in Week 2 in what will be the first game of Amazon’s new Thursday night package. 

4. Raiders president claims he was fired for bringing to light allegations against Mark Davis

Raiders owner Mark Davis could soon be in some hot water due to allegations that were recently made by former team president Dan Ventrelle.

Ventrelle was fired by the Raiders on Friday, and just hours after he was canned, he released a lengthy statement explaining why he was let go and it’s a statement that definitely doesn’t reflect well on Davis. 

  • Ventrelle’s claims against Davis. According to Ventrelle, there were “multiple written complaints” made by various Raiders employees centered around the fact “that Mark created a hostile work environment and engaged in other potential misconduct.”
  • Ventrelle says he was fired after he confronted Davis. According to Ventrelle, he confronted Davis about the complaints, but the owner basically ignored him, “(He) did not demonstrate the warranted level of concern. Given this, I informed the NFL of these issues and of Mark’s unacceptable response. Soon thereafter, I was fired in retaliation for raising these concerns.”
  • Ventrelle says some of the accusations were made by female employees. Although Ventrelle didn’t specify what the accusations are, he did say that some of them involved female employees. “I firmly stand by my decision to elevate these issues to protect the organization and its female employees,”
  • The NFL is now investigating. The NFL released a statement Friday about the situation: “We recently became aware of these allegations and take them very seriously. We will promptly look into the matter.”

Ventrelle had been with the organization for nearly 20 years, so the fact he was willing to lose his job over this doesn’t seem to paint a great picture for Davis. If the NFL finds that there was any wrongdoing, the league could fine Davis or even force him to sell the team if the accusations are serious enough and end up being true. 

5. Predicting which rookies will be the best in 2022

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Not only did Ryan Wilson, Josh Edwards and Chris Trapasso host today’s podcast, but they also decided to make some predictions about how well this year’s rookie class will play. Our draft gurus were asked a handful of rookie-related questions — like who’s going to win Rookie of the Year — and here were the answers they gave. 

Who will win Offensive Rookie of the Year? 

  • Wilson: Kenny Pickett, QB, Steelers. “Kenny Pickett is the easy choice so we’ll go with that. He has to beat out Mitch Trubisky, and if he can’t perhaps that’s reason enough for concern since Pickett is almost 24 and unlike, say, Malik Willis, is probably pretty close to his ceiling.”
  • Trapasso: Treylon Burks, WR, Titans. “The Titans have to replace 67% of their targets from 2021, which is the highest rate in the league. Sure, they’re going to run it a ton with a presumably 100% healthy Derrick Henry, but Burks does have Brown-esque qualities after the catch and down the football field.”
  • Edwards: Kenny Pickett, QB, Steelers. “I was torn between Pickett and Burks so I will split the difference. Although the wide receiver should be fed targets lost in the A.J. Brown trade, quarterback has the upper hand when it comes to winning awards.”

Who will win Defensive Rookie of the Year?  

  • Wilson: Kayvon Thibodeaux, EDGE, Giants. “Kayvon Thibodeaux, because it would make for a great story in light off all the nebulous off-field concerns which, as best we can tell, had to do with ‘his brand.’ On the field, the dude can ball, especially as a pass rusher, and we wouldn’t be surprised if he approached double-digit sacks as a rookie.”
  • Trapasso: Kaiir Elam, CB, Bills. “With Tre’Davious White set to return from a torn ACL, Elam will see his fair share of targets, and Sean McDermott’s defense is very conducive to quality cornerback play.”
  • Edwards:  Jermaine Johnson II, EDGE, Jets. “There are positions that stand a better chance to take home honors. Defensive Rookie of the Year often goes to an edge rusher who has at least nine sacks. Do I see that from any of this year’s rookies? Not necessarily, but Johnson is stepping into a good situation.”

Who is the most impactful selection outside of the first round?

  • Wilson: Sam Howell, QB, North Carolina. “Sam Howell lasted until the fifth round, and while we know some teams wished he had returned to school, he’s now in a pretty good spot in Washington.”
  • Trapasso:  Logan Hall, DT, Houston. “Hall was almost a first-round pick, but I’ll go with the first selection in Round 2 because of his pairing next to Vita Vea in Tampa Bay’s defense.”
  • Edwards: Skyy Moore, WR, Western Michigan. “There are a lot of mouths to feed in that offense, but Moore is the most dynamic player on that roster. With his route-running, Patrick Mahomes should be able to trust him early and that is going to lead to yards after the catch opportunities in Andy Reid’s offense.”

The guys actually answered a total of eight questions and you can check out each one of those questions by clicking here

6. Rapid-fire roundup: Dallas mayor wants a second NFL team

It was a wild weekend 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. 

  • Mayor of Dallas wants to add another team. Dallas already has the Cowboys, but apparently Mayor Eric Johnson wants to add another team. If you want to know why he thinks the city deserves one or why he thinks Jerry Jones would be on board with that idea, you can check out the entire story by clicking here.  
  • Aidan Hutchinson signs rookie deal. The second overall pick is now officially under contract after signing a four-year deal with the Lions that will pay him a total of $35.7 million. 

  • Richard Sherman nearing deal with Amazon. After 11 years in the NFL, Sherman might be done playing. According to NFL.com, the cornerback is nearing a deal with Amazon to become part of the internet company’s Thursday night football coverage. Sherman said he’s going to stay in shape in case an NFL opportunity comes along, but for now, he’s likely headed to the broadcast booth. 
  • Antonio Brown rips Colin Kaepernick. Antonio Brown definitely isn’t a big fan of Kaepernick. The receiver ripped into the former NFL quarterback during a lengthy rant and you can read what he said by clicking here.  
  • Tom Brady hanging out with Michael Jordan. The Buccaneers quarterback definitely seems to have had a fun weekend. Not only did he attend the F1 race in Miami, but he also found some time to hang out with Michael Jordan, David Beckham and Lewis Hamilton. The foursome took a picture together and you can check it out by clicking here

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