Hello and happy Wednesday to all. John Breech is busy shopping for new Bengals gear, so you’ve got me, Cody Benjamin, to guide you through all the latest from around the NFL. This is the Pick Six newsletter. Now let’s get to it.
We’ve got QB rankings, win-total projections, top bets for 2022, and more:
- Today’s show: Ranking 2022 QBs by tiers
Ryan Wilson and John Breech joined Will Brinson on Wednesday’s “Pick Six NFL Podcast” to break down this year’s starting quarterbacks, assigning veterans to different tiers — from bona fide stars to replacement-level stopgaps. Some highlights:
- The guys are confident both Joe Burrow and Justin Herbert belong in the “face of the franchise” tier, though Wilson would take Herbert if given the choice between the two: “I’m taking (him) just for the athleticism.”
- Brinson is adamant that Matthew Stafford belongs in the top tier as well, especially fresh off his Super Bowl run with the Rams.
- Breech believes Kirk Cousins and Ryan Tannehill are squarely in the middle tier of starters, calling a playoff appearance their ceiling. Wilson, however, insists he’d rather have Derek Carr, a similarly productive QB, over both: “There’s a remarkably huge difference. Kirk Cousins plays on some average to above average teams every year. If I’m the Steelers, I would much, much, much rather have Derek Carr than Kirk Cousins.”
Catch the entire episode (and subscribe for all kinds of daily NFL talk) right here.
2. Over/Under bets: Nine win-total projections for 2022
Caesars Sportsbook has win-total projections for all 32 teams now that the schedule is locked and loaded. But which teams are primed to exceed expectations? And which ones are doomed to log fewer victories than expected? We’ve got nine early Over/Under bets for you, including these three:
- Cowboys Under 10.5: When is the last time Dallas delivered on preseason hype? Mike McCarthy may be on thin ice after an early 2021 playoff exit, Dak Prescott’s weapons — while still solid — look a little different, and the O-line still has questions. They should be competitive, no doubt, but the Cowboys haven’t had back-to-back double-digit winning seasons since the 1990s.
- Steelers Over 7.5: Pittsburgh has a tough schedule. In the first half alone, they get the Bengals, Patriots, Browns, Bills and Buccaneers. There will inevitably be growing pains for rookie QB Kenny Pickett, too. And yet Mike Tomlin is the coach who can never be counted out; he’s still never had a losing season in 15 years.
- Falcons Under 5.5: This might be the safest bet of the whole bunch. As if it weren’t enough that Atlanta is basically back to square one of its rebuild post-Matt Ryan trade, the Falcons also have a brutal schedule; six of their first seven are against projected playoff contenders, and they don’t get a bye until Week 14.
3. Insider notes: Wilson for MVP, plus more 2022 futures bets
With the schedule in place and the season drawing closer, CBS Sports NFL Insider Jason La Canfora has identified six futures bets for the 2022 campaign, from a surprise rushing leader to Comeback Player of the Year. You can check out his entire preview at SportsLine, but here’s a snippet of his pick for MVP — new Broncos QB Russell Wilson:
Wilson is on a first-ballot Hall of Fame trajectory, and if he is at his best, he will lead the Broncos franchise to terrain they have not seen in quite some time. And if he does it with a rookie head coach, and with essentially all the same pieces around him that were there a year ago languishing with Drew Lock and Teddy Bridgewater, that starts to feel like an MVP campaign to me.
4. Eagles surging: Projected record, big-name news, simulations
It’s a good time to be an Eagles fan, it seems. On Wednesday, the team continued its impressive offseason by signing former Giants Pro Bowl cornerback James Bradberry, who will pair with Darius Slay in their secondary. Even before that, CBS Sports’ Jeff Kerr ran through every single one of their games on the 2022 schedule, predicting a whopping 12-5 finish for the Birds. And SportsLine simulations are just as optimistic, boosting the Eagles’ playoff chances to 68.9% thanks to their offseason.
5. Ranking five must-see Cowboys games of 2022
If the Eagles are gaining steam in the NFC East, America’s Team is still a national draw. Resident Cowboys expert Patrik Walker has ranked the five games on Dallas’ schedule that’ll define the season, and the first one on the list kicks off the year:
1. Week 1 vs. Buccaneers
What’s better than a battle with the GOAT? A rematch with him, and after he ends a brief retirement. … This time the battle is in Texas, and once again the Cowboys will have a chance to send a message to start their season; and only months after Brady retired and then unretired, followed by Bruce Arians leaving his head coaching role to allow Todd Bowles to take over. With no shortage of headlines in this one, it’ll define the Cowboys season early, and in a major way. Dallas has never defeated Brady in his illustrious 22-year career (he’s 6-0 against them). Does that streak end in 2022?
6. Rapid-fire roundup: Injury news, Steelers legends returning
Hungry for more headlines? You came to the right place:
- Ex-Bears standout Tarik Cohen reportedly tears Achilles: The running back hasn’t played since 2020
- Bucs don’t have timetable for Chris Godwin return: The receiver is recovering from ACL surgery
- Colts sign Phillip Lindsay: Another complement for Jonathan Taylor in Indy
- Vince Wilfork to Patriots Hall of Fame: The two-time Super Bowl champ gets his due
- Steelers to bring back legends on Christmas Eve: For the 50th anniversary of the “Immaculate Reception”
- Ideal salary range for Super Bowl-winning QBs: Data indicates there is, in fact, an “optimal” range