Friday, August 19, 2022

Tom Brady on the cusp of an improbable record, plus ranking the top 30 NFL players over the age of 30

Welcome to the Tuesday edition of the Pick Six newsletter!

According to my Tom Brady birthday tracker, the Buccaneers quarterback will be turning 45 YEARS OLD exactly three weeks from tomorrow (Aug. 3). If you’re wondering why I’m bringing up Brady’s age today, there’s actually a legitimate reason for it: It’s because we’re going to be focusing a lot on how old players are in today’s newsletter. 

Not only will we be ranking the top 30 players over the age of 30, but we’ll also be putting together an All-Star team that consists only of players under the age of 25. If you’re an NFL player between 26 and 29, sorry, we don’t care about you today. With that in mind, 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: The five NFL teams that improved the most this offseason

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After taking a two-week vacation to Italy, Ryan Wilson is finally back on the podcast. Although I think we can call agree that vacationing in Italy is way more fun than hanging out with Will Brinson for an hour, Wilson at least pretended to enjoy himself during today’s episode of the podcast. 

During the show, Wilson and Brinson covered several topics, which included giving their thoughts on the new name for Heinz Field, which is now known as Acrisure Stadium. The two guys also revealed who they thought ended the offseason as the five most improved teams in NFL. 

Here’s a look at their list: 

Both guys love what the Colts did this offseason, and the move they loved the most was the addition of Matt Ryan. That’s the big reason why Wilson has the Colts as one of his most improved teams. 

“It makes too much sense,” Wilson said of including them on his most improved list. “You have Matt Ryan, who’s an obvious upgrade over Carson Wentz. I think this team is going to be better. I think they’re the best team in the [AFC South].”

As for Brinson, he thinks Matt Ryan might end up surprising some people this season. 

“Matt Ryan is going to be behind a really good offensive line,” Brinson said. “He’s going to return to — I don’t want to say elite form — but he’s going to return to top-10 form. People are going to stop crapping on Matt Ryan [after the upcoming season].”

Personally, I couldn’t agree more. Over the weekend, I did a video explaining why I think the Colts are one of the most improved teams heading into 2022 and you can see that video by clicking here

As for today’s show, if you want to listen to the rest of the episode, you can do that by clicking here. You can also watch today’s episode on YouTube by clicking here.

2. Ranking the top 30 NFL players over the age of 30

Although football is usually viewed as a sport that younger players thrive at, there are plenty of older guys in the league who are wildly successful, so we decided to list them all out today. The guy who handles the Wednesday newsletter around here, Cody Benjamin, decided to rank the top 30 NFL players over the age of 30. 

Here’s a look at the top 10 players on the list, and in news that won’t surprise you, Tom Brady is on top. The age listed next to their name is how old they’ll be when the season starts. (For instance, Brady is 44 right now, but he’ll be 45 by the time Week 1 rolls around.)

1. Tom Brady, Buccaneers (45)

2. Aaron Rodgers, Packers (38)

3. Aaron Donald, Rams (31)

4. Russell Wilson, Broncos (33)

5. Trent Williams, 49ers (34)

6. Travis Kelce, Chiefs (32)

7. Cam Heyward, Steelers (33)

8. Matthew Stafford, Rams (34)

9. Zack Martin, Cowboys (31)

10. Khalil Mack, Chargers (31)

Brady has now been on this list for 14 straight years. To put Brady’s absurd situation into prospective: He turned 30 the same year Calvin Johnson got drafted (2007). Johnson played nine years, retired and is now in the Hall of Fame after going through the five-year waiting period … and Brady is still playing. 

When Brady turned 30, only one player on the list above was in the NFL already (Rodgers), and he had never even started a game. Anyway, if you want to see the full list of 30 players, be sure to click here so you can check out Cody’s entire story

3. Tom Brady could break an NFL record that once seemed impossible for him to break

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Since we were just talking about Tom Brady, I figured we might as well just continue talking about Tom Brady and that’s what we’re going to do now. The Buccaneers quarterback has broken a lot of records in his NFL career and he could add another one this year. If he breaks this one, it would be especially impressive, because it’s a record that didn’t even seem possible for him to break just two years ago. 

So what’s the record?

By the end of the 2022 season, Brady could set the record for most playoff wins by a starting quarterback against NFC teams. Brady has only been playing in the NFC for two full seasons, and somehow, he’s on the cusp of breaking the record.

Here’s a look at the quarterbacks who have the most playoffs wins against NFC teams: 

Brett Favre: 12

Joe Montana: 10

Aaron Rodgers: 10

Tom Brady: 10

Of Brady’s 10 wins, six of those came in the Super Bowl while he was playing for the Patriots. Since signing with the Buccaneers in 2020, he’s added four more postseason wins against NFC teams. Now that he has 10, Favre’s record is in reach. If the Buccaneers once again reach the Super Bowl in 2022 with a run that starts in the wild-card round, then Brady would tack on three more wins against NFC teams. That would give him 13 for his career, which would break Favre’s record. 

The man spent TWENTY YEARS in the AFC and he might break the record for most playoff wins against NFC teams. That’s bonkers. The most interesting twist here is that if the Packers play the Buccaneers in the NFC title game this year, we could get a situation where the winning quarterback becomes the record-holder. (This could only happen if the Packers and Buccaneers both start their playoff runs in the wild-card round.)

Overall, Brady has 35 playoffs wins in his career. Not only is that the NFL record, but it’s also more than double the next quarterback on the list. (Joe Montana has 16 total wins when you count his victories over both AFC and NFC teams.) 

4. Ranking the best offensive players under the age of 25 

After going through all the old guys in the NFL with the 30-and-over list above, it’s now time to take a look at the up-and-coming stars in the league. However, instead of ranking the top players under the age of 25, we basically decided to create an all-star team, and today, we’re going to unveil the offense for that team. 

CBSSports.com’s Jordan Dajani was in charge of putting this team together, and he only had two rules for this list: Rookies don’t qualify and a player can’t turn 25 before the start of the 2022 season. (Any player who is 24 or younger on Sept. 8 qualifies, so this eliminates a player like Kyler Murray, who turns 25 on August 7.) 

Top offensive players under the age of 25

QB: Justin Herbert, Chargers

RB: Jonathan Taylor, Colts

WR: Justin Jefferson, Vikings

WR: Ja’Marr Chase, Bengals

WR: CeeDee Lamb, Cowboys

TE: Kyle Pitts, Falcons

LT: Rashawn Slater, Chargers

LG: Alijah Vera-Tucker, Jets

C: Creed Humphrey, Chiefs

RG: James Daniels, Steelers

RT: Tristan Wirfs, Buccaneers

The Chargers were the only team that had multiple players on the list. (The only team with multiple players on last year’s list was the 49ers, and they made it all the way to the NFC title game last season.) Dajani also made a second team, which featured two players from the Seahawks. You can check out the entire list by clicking here

5. Ranking divisions by running back talent

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Over the past few days, we’ve ranked each NFL division by quarterback talent and receiver talent, and now, we’re switching things up and ranking each division by running back talent. CBSSports.com’s Jordan Dajani had the honor of putting this ranking together, and it definitely wasn’t easy. For instance, the AFC South has arguably the two best running backs in the NFL in Jonathan Taylor and Derrick Henry, but that division isn’t ranked first here because there’s a big drop off after that. 

So which division did rank first? Glad you asked, let’s get to the answer.  

Here’s a look at how Jordan’s rankings broke down. along with a short list of some of the best running backs in each division:  

1. AFC North (Nick Chubb, Kareem Hunt, Joe Mixon, Najee Harris, J.K. Dobbins)

2. NFC North (Dalvin Cook, Aaron Jones, A.J. Dillon, D’Andre Swift, David Montgomery)

3. AFC South (Jonathan Taylor, Derrick Henry, James Robinson, Travis Etienne, Marlon Mack)

4. NFC South (Cordarrelle Patterson, Christian McCaffrey, Alvin Kamara, Leonard Fournette)

5. NFC East (Ezekiel Elliott, Saquon Barkley, Antonio Gibson, Miles Sanders

6. AFC West (Austin Ekeler, Josh Jacobs, Clyde Edwards-Helaire, Melvin Gordon, Javonte Williams)

7. NFC West (James Conner, Elijah Mitchell, Jeff Wilson, Rashaad Penny, Cam Akers)

8. AFC East (Devin Singletary, Chase Edmonds, Sony Michel, Michael Carter, Damien Harris)

If you want a full explanation for his ranking, be sure to click here so you can check out Dajani’s entire story. 

6. Rapid-fire roundup: Texans will wear red helmet for one game in 2022

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. 

  • Texans unveil new red helmet. For the first time in franchise history, the Texans will be wearing a helmet this season that’s not blue. The new helmet will be worn for one game (Week 9), and you can check out the flashy new look by clicking here.
  • Marion Barber III’s death caused by heat stroke. According to the Collin County medical examiner’s office, the former Cowboys running back died of heat stroke. Barber was found dead in his apartment on June 1 after police were called to do a welfare check on him. The 38-year-old spent seven seasons in the NFL after the Cowboys selected him in the fourth round of the 2005 draft. 
  • Baker Mayfield already has Week 1 circled on his calendar. The Panthers new QB will be holding his first press conference today in Carolina. Before that, though, he sat down with the team’s official website and admitted he’s already looking forward to playing the Browns in Week 1. “I’m not going to sit here and be a robot and tell you that’s not one I’ve marked on the calendar already,” Mayfield said. You can check out more of Mayfield’s comments by clicking here
  • Acrisure is paying big money for naming rights to Steelers’ stadium. After 20 years, the Steelers’ stadium will no longer be known as Heinz Field. The reason Heinz gave up naming rights is because Acrisure was willing to pay top dollar. According to one report, the company is paying $10 million per year for stadium naming rights. To put that in perspective, Heinz had been paying $2.85 million per year over the past 20 years. 

  • Seahawks have had conversations about adding Jimmy Garoppolo. The Seahawks might have given up on acquiring Baker Mayfield, but they haven’t necessarily given up on adding another QB to their roster. According to ESPN, the Seahawks have had discussions about adding Garoppolo. Although the 49ers might not be willing to trade him to a division rival, they could change their minds for the right offer. Also, the 49ers could reach a situation where they’re forced to cut Garoppolo and at that point, the Seahawks could swoop in and sign him. 
  • Former Lions coach Gary Moeller dies at age 81. Although Moeller was mostly known in the football world for his time as the head coach at Michigan, he also spent some serious time in the NFL. The Ohio native was an assistant coach with both the Bengals (1996-97) and Lions (1997-2000). During the 2000 season, he was named interim coach in Detroit after Bobby Ross shockingly resigned midway through the season. Moeller went 4-3 in his only seven games as head coach, which allowed the Lions to finish 9-7 that year. Moeller’s NFL coaching career also took him through Jacksonville (2001) and Chicago (2002-03). He was also a two-time Big Ten Coach of the Year while at Michigan. 

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