Welcome to the Thursday edition of the Pick Six newsletter!
If you love preseason football, then this is going to be your favorite NFL weekend in history. For the first and only time all year, the NFL will be giving us FIVE STRAIGHT DAYS of football. Personally, I’ll be lucky if I watch one preseason game this weekend and that’s mainly because I’ll be at a bachelor party. If there’s no newsletter on Monday, it’s because I didn’t survive.
Anyway, the preseason fun starts tonight with the Bears traveling to Seattle (8 p.m. ET, ESPN). After tonight, there will be three games on Friday, followed by eight games on Saturday, three games on Sunday and one game on Monday. Again, that’s FIVE STRAIGHT DAYS.
If you don’t feel like sitting through 16 games over five days, I have some good news for you: We’ll be ranking the most watchable Week 2 preseason games in today’s newsletter. Oh, and we’ll also be TALKING ABOUT THE DESHAUN WATSON SETTLEMENT. I promise you, I didn’t forget about that. You know what, I’m going to stop talking now so we can 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: Nine bold predictions for the 2022 NFL season
According to my lawyer, I’m never supposed to be in the same room as Will Brinson, but we decided to ignore that edict for today’s episode of the Pick Six podcast. Normally, when Brinson, Ryan Wilson and I record a podcast, we do it over Zoom because we’re all located in different cities. However, that wasn’t the case today. For today’s episode, the three of us were in Nashville and we decided to celebrate that fact by coming up with some bold predictions for the 2022 NFL season.
We each came up with three predictions, which means we gave out nine total prognostications on the show.
Here’s a look at all nine:
Not only did we make predictions, but we also graded each prediction that we made and let’s just say that Brinson is not a professor you ever want to have in your life (He gave one of Wilson’s predictions an ‘F’).
2. Deshaun Watson reaches settlement with NFL
The Cleveland Browns finally know how many games Deshaun Watson will miss this season after the quarterback reached a settlement with the NFL on Thursday.
Here’s everything you need to know about the settlement.
- Watson agrees to 11-game suspension. The Browns have bye in Week 9, which means this suspension will keep Watson out for the first 12 weeks of the season. Watson won’t be eligible to return until Nov. 28, which is one day after Cleveland’s Week 12 game against the Buccaneers.
- Watson’s return game will come with a twist. The first game Watson will be eligible to play in this year will come against the HOUSTON TEXANS. That’s right, the NFL agreed to a settlement that will allow Watson to travel to Houston. That game is currently scheduled to be played Dec. 4 at 1 p.m. ET on CBS.
- How the 11-game suspension impacts the Browns. Watson will be missing several key games that he wouldn’t have missed under his original six-game suspension. Here are the five new games he’ll be missing now that five extra weeks have been added to his suspension: at Ravens, Bengals, at Dolphins, at Bills and Buccaneers.
- Hefty fine also included in settlement. Not only will Watson be serving an 11-game suspension, but he’ll also have to pay a $5 million fine. The Browns quarterback will also lose out on roughly $630,000 in salary, which means the suspension will cost him a total of $5.63 million.
With Watson out until December, the Browns will now have to decide what they’re going to do at quarterback. Browns coach Kevin Stefanski has said that the team is planning to start Jacoby Brissett in Week 1, but it will now be interesting to see if that’s still his plan. The Browns don’t have many options right now, but they could try to make a trade for Jimmy Garoppolo, which is something the team has apparently been thinking about over the past few weeks.
3. Baker Mayfield expected to be named starter for Panthers
The Panthers were planning to wait until after their second preseason game before deciding on a starting quarterback, but apparently coach Matt Rhule has already seen enough. According to The Athletic, the team has decided on Mayfield as the Week 1 starter, although no official announcement has been made.
- Baker’s first start for Carolina will be a revenge game. Naming Mayfield the starter for Week 1 makes a lot of sense because the Panthers are playing the Browns and there is no human being alive who wants to beat the Browns more than Baker Mayfield. From a football standpoint, Mayfield ended up being collateral damage in the Deshaun Watson deal. After trading for Watson in March, it was clear that the Browns were going to move on from Mayfield and that’s exactly what they did in a July trade with the Panthers.
- Mayfield was asked about the QB competition this week. During a press conference on Wednesday, Mayfield didn’t seem too concerned about when the Panthers were going to name their starter. “To be honest with you, I haven’t been worried about when the decision is going to be made or any of that, timeline-wise,” Mayfield said, via the team’s website. “I’ve just tried to put my head down and handle it one day at a time, and that’s been the mindset for both Sam and I.”
- Mayfield says he’s getting more comfortable with the playbook every day. Mayfield has spent training camp trying to learn the team’s offensive play book, which was designed by Ben McAdoo, who’s in his first year as Carolina’s offensive coordinator. After barely a month in the system, Mayfield seems to be getting more comfortable. “It’s no longer thinking and processing as much,” Mayfield said. “It’s more second nature, going through progressions, and when the play-calls come in, really understanding what coach McAdoo is wanting to get accomplished when he calls certain plays, and getting that relationship and that rapport together…. I’m at the point now where it feels really, really comfortable for me. Yeah, I’m in a great spot.”
Mayfield was banged up for most of the 2021 season, so it will be interesting to see what he can do now that he’s healthy. Last year, he injured his shoulder in Week 2 and then he tried to play through that injury for 16 straight weeks, which ended up not working out so well. If a healthy Mayfield can play like he did in 2020, the Panthers might be able to surprise some people this year.
4. NFL Preseason Week 2: Ranking the five best games to watch
With Week 2 of the preseason starting tonight, you might be wondering which games you should be paying attention to this weekend. Between now and Monday, there are a total of 16 games on the schedule.
If you don’t want to watch all 16 games, I have some good news: We now know which games to focus on this weekend because Shanna McCarriston made a list of the five most watchable games. You can check out three of the games on her list below:
- Saints at Packers (Friday, 8 p.m. ET). “Earlier this week, Aaron Rodgers got candid about the team’s young wide receivers, criticizing them for dropped balls and missed routes. I’m now curious to see how the receivers respond and how they look this week after some missed plays in their last game.”
- Steelers at Jaguars (Saturday, 7 p.m. ET). “The quarterback competition between Kenny Pickett, Mitch Trubisky and Mason Rudolph is one we will get more clarity on this week. As for the Jags, it’s hard to pinpoint just one area to watch, but this week I will be looking closely at their defense. They added many pieces, including No. 1 overall pick Travon Walker, to their squad in hopes of improving this season.”
- 49ers at Vikings (Saturday, 7 p.m. ET). “These teams had joint practice this week and the Niners defense had some highlight moments, including George Odum intercepting Kirk Cousins and Nick Bosa, well, doing Nick Bosa things. As expected, how many snaps quarterback Trey Lance gets and what he does with those snaps is something I will be watching for.”
5. Seniors finalists revealed for the Pro Football Hall of Fame
The Pro Football Hall of Fame won’t be announcing its class of 2023 until February, but we did get a small taste of what the class could look like after the Hall unveiled the names of its three senior finalists on Wednesday.
Here’s are the three players and a brief look at their career courtesy of our resident historian, Bryan DeArdo.
- Chuck Howley (Bears 1958-60, Cowboys 1961-73). “The only Super Bowl MVP from a losing team, Howley picked off two passes in Dallas’ 16-13 loss to the Colts in Super Bowl V. He had another interception in Super Bowl VI, as the Cowboys defeated the Dolphins to win their first Super Bowl. Howley was named to six Pro Bowls and was a five-time All-Pro.”
- Joe Klecko (Jets 1977-87, Colts 1988). “A member of the Jets’ defense from 1977-88, Klecko earned Pro Bowl nods at defensive end, defensive tackle and nose tackle. He led the NFL with 20.5 sacks in 1981 while serving as a valuable member of the Jets”http://www.cbssports.com/”New York Sack Exchange” defense.”
- Ken Riley (Bengals 1969-83). “A career Bengal, Riley’s 65 career interceptions are tied for the fifth most in NFL history. In 1983, his final season, Riley picked off eight passes while returning a league-high two for touchdowns. Riley would join Anthony Munoz as the only Bengals player enshrined in Canton.”
As a lifelong Bengals homer, I’m thrilled to see Riley possibly get in. Not only did he finish his career with 65 picks, but he did it in an era when everyone was running the ball, which means interceptions weren’t easy to come by. There are only seven players in NFL history with more than 64 interceptions, and as of today, six of those players are in the Hall of Fame. Riley will make it seven if he gets inducted.
These three guys won’t find out if they made it or not until February. During the week of the Super Bowl, the 49-person Hall of Fame selection committee will vote individually on each player and anyone who earns at least 80% of the vote will become a member of the class of 2023.
6. Rapid-fire roundup: Brother of Bills tight end Dawson Knox dies at age 22
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.
- FIU linebacker Luke Knox dies. Florida International announced on Thursday that Knox has passed away at the age of 22. A cause of death wasn’t announced. Luke was the brother of Bills tight end Dawson Knox. “Tough morning, our hearts go out to Dawson and his family,” Bills coach Sean McDermott said Thursday. “We love him and we support him. Tragic news.”
- Joe Burrow had a ruptured appendix. The reason Burrow was out more than two weeks after undergoing an appendectomy is because his appendix had ruptured. During his time off, Burrow lost more than 20 pounds, and right now, he’s doing everything he can to get that weight back on before the start of the season. For more details on Burrow’s recovery, be sure to click here.
- Colts rookie out for season with torn ACL. The season hasn’t even started and Matt Ryan has already lost an offensive weapon. According to multiple reports, tight end Drew Ogletree suffered a torn ACL this week and will miss the rest of the season.
- Kenneth Walker undergoes procedure. The Seahawks rookie running back underwent a surgery on Wednesday to fix a hernia. Seattle is hoping that Walker will be able to play in Week 1 against the Broncos, but right now, there’s no guarantee that will happen.
- Titans makes trade with Raiders. The Titans have acquired safety Tyree Gillespie after making a deal with the Raiders. In exchange, the Raiders will receive a conditional seventh-round pick in the 2024 NFL Draft.
- Panthers starting center out multiple weeks. The Panthers might know who their QB is going to be in Week 1, but it’s not clear who their center will be after Bradley Bozeman injured his ankle this week. Panthers coach Matt Rhule thinks Bozeman will miss two to three weeks and if that’s the case, there’s a chance he could be back in time for Week 1, but there’s not guarantee just yet.
- De’Andre Swift wants to do the near impossible. The Lions running back has a goal to finish the season with 1,000 receiving yards AND 1,000 rushing yards. I’m not going to say that’s impossible, but I definitely would not bet any money on it. Only three players in NFL history have accomplished the feat: Roger Craig (1985), Marshall Faulk (1999), Christian McCaffrey (2019).
- Antonio Brown calls out Tom Brady. Every three months or so, there seems to be a story about Antonio Brown calling out Tom Brady, and we got another this week. If you want to know what Brown had to say about the Buccaneers QB, then you’ll want to check out the full story by clicking here.