Welcome to the Friday edition of the Pick Six newsletter!
The only thing better than a normal Friday is a Friday right before a holiday weekend and that’s what we have today. For most people, that means a three-day weekend and since things that come in threes are usually awesome, we’ve decided to celebrate that fact by ranking the top offensive triplets (QB-RB-WR) heading into the 2022 NFL season.
Besides that, we’ll also be looking at five potential dark-horse teams for the upcoming season, so let’s get to the rundown.
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.
1. Today’s show: AFC West win totals
We’ve spent this entire week going over regular-season win totals and that theme will continue today with a run through the AFC West. Now that the schedule is out, we know the Over/Unders for each team and we’ll be going through each of those Over/Unders for the next few days.
Jordan Dajani joined Will Brinson for Friday’s episode of the pod, and they debated whether each team would go over or under their win total.
Chiefs over/under: 10.5
Dajani’s prediction: UNDER
Chargers over/under: 10
Dajani’s prediction: OVER
Broncos over/under: 10
Dajani’s prediction: OVER
Raiders over/under: 8.5
Dajani’s prediction: UNDER
If I learned one thing from today’s podcast, it’s that no one likes the Chargers this year more than Dajani. Not only does he view them as a playoff team, but he thinks they’re going to win the entire AFC West and he thinks this is going to happen because they’re going to get off to a hot start.
“I like the Chargers to win the division so I think I have to lean over with them,” Dajani said. “I think it could be possible that they’re 4-1 to start the year through the first five weeks.”
One AFC West team he isn’t so high on is the Chiefs. Dajani has them going under their 10.5-win total mark.
“I’m not going to bet the Chiefs to win the division,” Dajani said. “I still think they’re a legitimate playoff team even if that comes in the form of a wild card.”
Dajani thinks the other teams in the AFC West improved much more than the Chiefs did this offseason.
Anyway, to see what Brinson and Dajani had to say about the rest of the AFC West win totals, be sure to click here. You can also watch today’s episode on YouTube by clicking here. By the way, you should definitely watch on YouTube so you can see how closely Dajani resembles Giants coach Brian Daboll.
2. Colin Kaepernick update: Raiders impressed by QB, Josh McDaniels downplays workout
For the first time in five years, Colin Kaepernick got to work out with an NFL team and although his workout hasn’t led to a contract, it appears that things did go well for the former 49ers quarterback.
Here’s a look at everything we know about the workout:
- Kaepernick impressed the Raiders. According to NFL.com, not only did the workout go well, but the Raiders came away impressed. According to ESPN.com, the team was specifically impressed with his arm strength and overall conditioning.
- Josh McDaniels refused to talk about Kaepernick. With the workout going so well, the obvious next question is whether the Raiders will sign him. Right now, no one has any idea because McDaniels refused to talk about the topic when asked about it on Thursday. “We will only talk about the people who are on our team,” he said, via ESPN.com. “[We] have worked out tons of guys this spring and we really don’t make comments about the evaluations that we made or what they looked like, what they didn’t look like, strengths and weaknesses, those kinds of things are kind of private obviously for us as we look at things to try to make decisions to make the team better.”
- McDaniels emphasizes that the Raiders are Derek Carr’s team. The Raiders coach made it clear that Kaepernick’s workout had nothing to do with Carr, who just recently signed an extension with the team, “I mean, I think Derek’s pretty comfortable with where he’s at,” McDaniels said. “I think he knows who he is for us and I know he knows how I feel about him, how we feel about him. I don’t think that’s really a big thing to Derek at this point.” If Kaepernick does sign with the Raiders, he would be competing with Jarrett Stidham, Nate Mullens and Chase Garbers for the right to be Carr’s backup.
- Kaepernick was being eyed by other teams. If things don’t work out with the Raiders, don’t be surprised if Kaepernick gets a shot somewhere else. According to Pro Football Talk, there were at least two other teams interested in potentially working out Kaepernick before he ended up working out with the Raiders on Wednesday.
Although Kaepernick’s workout with the Raiders might not lead to a deal in Las Vegas, it opens the door for him to make an NFL return. Over the past five years, it didn’t seem like we were ever going to see a team give him a workout, but the fact that it has now happened could make other teams more comfortable with the idea of bringing him in for a workout. If I’m the Seahawks or Panthers, I’d definitely think about giving him a call at some point over the next few weeks.
3. Five dark-horse teams to watch out for in 2022
If there’s one thing that’s guaranteed to happen in the NFL every year, it’s that there are going to be several teams that will end up being much better than anyone expected. For instance, after an ugly season in 2020, the Bengals came out of nowhere to win the AFC in 2021.
It wasn’t just the Bengals who unexpectedly made the playoffs, though, there were also teams like the Eagles, who were better than most people though they would be. Last season, the Eagles managed to make the postseason despite most people feeling they didn’t have much of a chance under first-year coach Nick Sirianni.
With that in mind. Jordan Dajanji came up with a list of five teams that will be better than anyone expects in 2022:
- 1. Dolphins. “I understand Tagovailoa is a big question mark and it’s no sure thing Mike McDaniel hits the ground running, but this Dolphins team may be the second-best club in the AFC East”
- 2. Saints. “Even with the loss of Sean Payton, this Saints team is going to be better than you anticipate if it can stay healthy.”
- 3. Vikings. “The Vikings weren’t a “bad” team in 2021. They went 8-9, and it’s very possible they just needed new leadership to really shake things up. O’Connell already has a rapport with quarterback Kirk Cousins, he also possesses one of the best running backs in the league in Dalvin Cook and Justin Jefferson is a rising star. Throw in the possibility that the Green Bay Packers could regress a bit, and this Vikings team could be better than you expect in 2022.”
- 4. Steelers. “Mike Tomlin has never registered a losing record in 15 seasons as head coach of the Steelers, but apparently Vegas is expecting that in 2022. … I don’t see Pittsburgh as a dark-horse Super Bowl contender this year, but I do see the Steelers potentially being better than people expect.”
- 5. Raiders. “The Raiders are going to be hurt by having to play the AFC West, but they should be improved compared to last season. Carr impressed me by throwing for a career-high 4,804 yards (fifth in the NFL), and adding Josh McDaniels as head coach could potentially help him.”
If you want to know why each of these teams made the cut, you can check out Jordan’s full explanation by clicking here.
4. Ranking the NFL’s top sets of triplets (QB-WR-RB)
When you think of the NFL’s most famous offensive triplets, the first ones that usually come to mind are the ones that played for the Cowboys in the 1990s (Michael Irvin, Emmitt Smith and Troy Aikman). Fittingly enough, the Cowboys have one of the top set of triplets heading into the 2022 season and we know that because our Jared Dubin teamed up with the other NFL writers here at CBSSports.com to rank all 32 teams based on their three best offensive skill players.
Although the Cowboys ranked in the top 10 — they checked in at seventh overall — they didn’t crack the top five, which we’re going to reveal below. Before we get to the top five, though, I’m going to quickly note two things:
- The Packers fell hard after losing Davante Adams. The Packers TOPPED the rankings last year, but after losing Adams, they dropped all the way down to 13th.
- Chiefs were hurt by the loss of Tyreek Hill. Like the Packers, the Chiefs also dropped after losing their star receiving. Unlike the Packers, though, the Chiefs didn’t drop by much. In 2021, the Chiefs were ranked second overall, but after losing Hill, they fell to just fourth overall.
With that in mind, here’s a look at the top five sets of triplets in Dubin’s rankings:
- 1. Chargers (Justin Herbert, Austin Ekeler, Keenan Allen). “Herbert’s remarkable first two seasons, Ekeler’s breakout as maybe the league’s best pass-catching running back, and Allen’s year-to-year consistency are likely what earned Los Angeles just a single more first-place vote than Cincinnati, and made the Chargers the No. 1 team in this year’s Triplets Rankings.”
- 2. Bengals (Joe Burrow, Joe Mixon, Ja’Marr Chase). “The Burrow-Chase connection figures to be one of the NFL’s best for a long time, and was nearly enough to nab Cincinnati the top spot in our rankings”
- 3. Bills (Josh Allen, Devin Singletary, Stefon Diggs). “Allen still has some head-scratching games every once in a while, but man, when he puts it all together it is absolutely exhilarating. His performance down the stretch of the season and especially in the playoffs was remarkable, and he has firmly solidified himself as one of the few quarterbacks who can seemingly sustain a top-flight offense all on his own.”
- 4. Chiefs (Patrick Mahomes, Clyde Edwards-Helaire, Travis Kelce). “This is the first time Kansas City is outside the top two since 2018, Mahomes’ first season as the starter.”
- 5. Buccaneers (Tom Brady, Leonard Fournette, Mike Evans). “If Tom Brady had decided to stay retired, the Bucs likely would have been in the bottom half of these rankings, but with the GOAT back under center, the Bucs have a top-five triplets group.”
This is only the top five, but remember, we ranked ALL 32 teams. To see the top half of the rankings, which features the top 16 teams, you’re going to want to click here. To see the bottom half, you’re going to want to click here. (Spoiler alert: The Falcons ranked at the bottom followed by the Seahawks and Bears.)
5. One burning question for every team in the NFC East
With all the roster changes that have happened around the league this offseason, there are plenty of questions that each team will need to answer before we know if they’ll actually be good in 2022.
With that in mind, we’ve been going through each division to look at the biggest question for each team heading into the upcoming season, and today, we’re going to cover the NFC East.
Here’s one burning question that Patrik Walker has come up with for each team.
- Cowboys: Is this Mike McCarthy’s swan song? “Despite a 12-5 finish to last season, an embarrassing loss in the playoffs adds to an offseason full of items that are unfavorable to McCarthy’s chances of staying on in 2023, and a deep playoff run that likely also includes an appearance in the next NFC Championship might be the only thing that keeps him in Dallas after 2022”
- Eagles: Is Jalen Hurts truly the QB of the future? “With the team having invested so much in the receiver unit, you can bet Howie Roseman will begin reconsidering his stance on his young QB if he doesn’t improve in 2022. After all, it’s not as if he hasn’t recently doubled down on a QB1 before sending him packing after drafting his eventual replacement. One need only ask Carson Wentz for details.”
- Giants: Can a shiny new regime revitalize Big Blue? “The team parted ways with longtime general manager Dave Gettleman and replaced him with former Bills front office star Joe Schoen and, double dipping into Buffalo by hiring former Bills offensive coordinator Brian Daboll as head coach to replace the strange and wildly unproductive era of Joe Judge. Daboll and Schoen have already infused some electric energy into Big Blue, and that includes an impressive haul from the 2022 NFL Draft, but while it all sounds and looks good — football isn’t played in a notebook. Daboll will have to show what he can do with Schoen’s acquisitions.”
- Commanders: Is this the last dance for Carson Wentz? “Carson Wentz is becoming the living embodiment of ‘second chance’, as he’s now on his second second chance after being given a second chance with the Colts last season. If he doesn’t prove himself, the Commanders will be back in the market yet again for a starting QB in 2023, and Wentz, who may have run out of chances at that point, will have to begin considering backup roles around the league.”
To read Walker’s full answer for each question, be sure to click here.
6. Rapid-fire roundup: Andy Reid defends Eric Bieniemy
It’s been a wild 24 hours 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.
- Andy Reid defends Eric Bieniemy after unprompted attack from LeSean McCoy. The Chiefs coach defended his offensive coordinator this week after some interesting comments from McCoy. The former NFL running back said there’s a reason teams aren’t hiring him to be a coach (without actually mentioning the reason). Reid shot back that the NFL can be tough on an older veteran and that McCoy might not have been equipped to deal with the coaching Bieniemy was giving. You can read Reid’s comments by clicking here.
- Amazon wants a McAfee-cast. With Amazon taking over the Thursday night package this year, the streaming giant wants to go all-out. Not only has it hired Al Michaels and Kirk Herbstreit, but Amazon now wants Pat McAfee to host a McAfee-cast for each game, according to Front Office Sports. McAfee definitely has the personality to carry something like this, so it will be interesting to see if he accepts the offer.
- Saints hope to have Michael Thomas back by training camp. After watching Thomas miss the entire 2021 season due to an ankle injury, the Saints are hoping that he can return to the field for training camp, but there’s no guarantee that will happen. Coach Dennis Allen admitted on Thursday that Thomas still is “not ready yet,” but he sounded optimistic that Thomas will be available at some point during camp.
- Roster cut day finalized. If you want to know when the NFL’s roster cuts will be this year, you can go ahead and officially mark your calendar: They will be coming on Aug. 17 (Cut down to 85), Aug. 23 (Cut down to 80) and Aug. 30 (Cut down to 53).
- Cardinals GM thinks Kyler Murray deal will get done. The Kyler Murray drama could be coming to an end in the next month or two. Cardinals GM Steve Keim said this week that he thinks the two sides will “be able to get something done this summer.” Murray has been demanding a new contract since February and hasn’t been attending the team’s offseason training activities and because of that, it sounds like Keim wants to put all the drama behind him before the start of training camp.