Welcome to the Friday edition of the Pick Six newsletter!
I’m writing today’s newsletter from Cincinnati. There’s no NFL game here this weekend, but my brother’s wedding is being held here on Saturday, and as the best man, I thought I should probably show up.
It’s kind of fitting that I’m in Ohio because that’s where last night’s game was played with the Browns beating the Steelers 29-17. If the Thursday night game was the first time this season that you’ve gotten a chance to see the Steelers offense play, you now know to avoid watching it at all costs. Watching their offense is depressing. The less you watch, the happier you’ll be in life.
Anyway, we’ll be recapping the Browns’ win today, plus taking a look at the company that is now sponsoring the Super Bowl halftime show.
As always, here’s your weekly reminder to tell all your friends to sign up for the Pick Six newsletter. To get your friends to sign up, all you have to do is click here and then share this link with them. Alright, let’s get to the rundown.
1. Today’s show: Recapping the Browns’ win over the Steelers
Not only did the Browns beat the Steelers on Thursday night, but they rubbed the victory in by scoring a defensive touchdown on the final play, which gave the Browns a 12-point win (29-17). After that final play, Ryan Wilson and Will Brinson got together to record a podcast about the game and you’re definitely going to want to listen because Wilson is a homer Steelers fans who had to relive every second of the game, which was basically torture for him.
If you missed the game, here’s a quick rehash of what happened and what they talked about on the podcast:
- Browns’ balanced offense smashes Steelers. Heading into Week 3, the Browns led the NFL in rushing and they showed the Steelers why on Thursday night. The Browns totaled 171 yards on the ground with 123 of those coming from Nick Chubb, who averaged 4.9 yards per carry on 23 rushes. A 36-yard run by Chubb in the first quarter set up Cleveland’s first touchdown. The problem for the Steelers is that they couldn’t go all-in to stop the run, because Jacoby Brissett actually did a good job throwing the ball, totaling 220 pass yards and two touchdowns. Amari Cooper was an unstoppable weapon, catching seven passes for 101 yards and a touchdown. Cooper is now the first Browns receiver to go for 100 yards and at least one touchdown in consecutive games since 2013.
- Casino Kevin: Browns coach gambles big and wins on fourth down. One big difference in this game is that Kevin Stefanski was willing to take risks and Mike Tomlin wasn’t. Overall, the Browns went for it on fourth down a total of four times and the gambling paid off for Stefanski, because they converted three of them. The first fourth-down conversion came in the first quarter on a fourth-and-1 with the Browns at their own 49. Not only did the Browns convert with a 3-yard run by Brissett, but they ended up scoring a TD three plays later on an 11-yard pass from Brissett to Cooper. As for Tomlin, he took zero risks in the game. At one point, he punted with under 4:30 left in the game even though his team was trailing by two scores (23-14).
- Steelers offense still looks stagnant. With Mitchell Trubisky under center, the Steelers offense has looked sluggish through the first two weeks and not much changed about that on Thursday. Although the Steelers did take a few shots down field in the first half, the offense absolutely disappeared in the second half with five of their seven drives going for under 7 yards. Things were so bad for the Steelers that their offense got outscored by the Browns defense (6-3) in the second half. The Steelers especially struggled on third down, converting on just 1 of 9 attempts. Despite the offensive struggles, Tomlin said he’ll be sticking with Trusbisky heading into Week 4.
- George Pickens makes the catch of the year. The Steelers offense didn’t have a lot of bright spots, but there was definitely at least one and that was George Pickens making what might go down as the best catch of the year. Yes, it sounds crazy to say that when there are 15 weeks left in the season, but you have to see this catch. Not only was it a one-hander that was comparable to Odell Beckham’s famous grab, but Pickens had to contort his body while trying to make the grab. It was an insane catch and you can check it out by clicking here.
If you want to hear our entire recap of the game, be sure to click here. You can also watch today’s episode on YouTube by clicking here.
2. Today’s show Part II: Best bets for Week 3
The best part about Friday — besides the fact that it’s Friday — is that you get two episodes of the podcast in your feed. After recording the postgame podcast with Wilson, Brinson kicked him to the curb so that he could record his weekly picks show with Pete Prisco and R.J. White.
Those three guys spent nearly 60 minutes going over the best bets for every single game being played in Week 3 and we’re going to cover three from each guy below. All three guys finished Week 2 with a winning record, so you’re definitely going to want to check out their best bets for Week 3.
To hear what the rest of the best bets are for Week 3 — and there are quite a few — be sure to click here so you can listen to the entire episode of the podcast.
3. NFL Week 3 picks
This is the final newsletter of the week, which means I feel morally obligated to cram as many picks as possible into this space. I once crammed 12 ounces of a Pumpkin Spice Latte into an eight ounce cup, so I know I’m good at cramming.
With that in mind, we’ve got five more Week 3 picks coming your way and those will be coming from NFL senior writer Pete Prisco, along with Will Brinson, Jordan Dajani, Tyler Sullivan and myself.
Here’s how things are going to work: I’m going to give you one pick from each guy and then direct you to the rest of their picks. That way, if you like their pick, you’ll be able to read the rest of them, but if they pick against your favorite team, you can ignore the rest of their picks and move on.
- Pete Prisco: Packers 21-20 over Buccaneers (pick’em). From Prisco, “This is the likely the last Aaron Rodgers-Tom Brady game unless they meet in the playoffs. Those games are always a treat. The Tampa Bay offense isn’t playing well with a lot of injuries, and this will be a tough game to try to get it going.” For the rest of Prisco’s Week 3 picks, be sure to click here.
- Tyler Sullivan: Bengals (-4.5) 30-21 over Jets. From Sullivan, “I picked the Jets to win last week, but I’m fading them here in what could be a letdown performance against a very desperate Bengals team.” For the rest of Sullivan’s Week 3 picks, be sure to click here.
- Will Brinson: Texans (+2.5) 24-17 over Bears. From Brinson, “The Texans like to *hang around* and make things awkward. The Broncos could have easily lost in Week 2 and the Colts should have lost in Week 1. I have no interest in fading them against a Bears team with a questionable roster, a very questionable offense all the while facing a Lovie Smith Revenge Game.” For the rest of Brinson’s Week 3 best bets, be sure to click here.
- Jordan Dajani: Raiders (-2) 27-20 over Titans. From Dajani, “As the resident Titans writer here at CBSSports.com, I can tell you that Tennessee is in serious trouble. Ryan Tannehill hasn’t been great, Derrick Henry hasn’t looked like himself, offensive coordinator/play-caller Todd Downing is quickly becoming the most disliked man in the Music City, left tackle Taylor Lewan may be lost for the year, the run defense has taken a major step backward from last season, the cornerback play is worse than people realize and the pass rushers are banged-up. Should I just stop there? I’m taking the Raiders.” For the rest of Dajani’s Week 3 best bets, be sure to click here.
- John Breech: Bills (-5.5) 37-27 over Dolphins. The Bills have won seven straight games in this rivalry and those seven wins have come by an average of 19.3 points per game. Also, Josh Allen has thrown multiple touchdown passes in EVERY game he’s ever played against the Dolphins. Some quarterbacks just excel against certain teams — We’ve seen Aaron Rodgers dominate the Bears, Ben Roethlisberger dominate the Browns and Tom Brady dominate the Bills — and I feel like that’s what we’re getting with Allen and the Dolphins, which means I will be picking the Bills over the Dolphins until Miami actually convinces me that it can slow down Josh Allen. For the rest of my Week 3 picks, be sure to click here.
4. Super Bowl halftime show has a new presenting sponsor
Someone at NFL headquarters was up late last night we know that because the league decided to make a big announcement at midnight: Apple Music will be taking over as the sole sponsor of the Super Bowl halftime show.
Here’s everything we know:
- Apple Music takes over as sponsor of the Super Bowl halftime show. The NFL has announced that Apple Music will be taking over as the title sponsor of the Super Bowl halftime show. Pepsi had sponsored the show since 2012, but decided to bow out after Super Bowl LVI. The Apple deal is worth an estimated $250 million over the next five years, according to the Sports Business Journal.
- Pepsi sponsored the show for the past 10 years. Pepsi signed a 10-year deal to sponsor the Super Bowl halftime show in 2012, but the soft drink company decided to drop the sponsorship following Super Bowl LVI. Pepsi officially announced in May that it wouldn’t be returning as the title sponsor.
- Who will be the performer at the Super Bowl LVII halftime show? The NFL didn’t announce who will be taking the stage during the halftime show in Phoenix, but the early speculation is that it will be Taylor Swift. The big reason for this guess is because the NFL uncharacteristically announced the Apple partnership at MIDNIGHT (After the Thursday night game was over). The NFL never releases announcements that late. Swift is known for releasing songs at midnight and even has an upcoming album called “Midnights,” which has led many to believe that the midnight announcement was the league’s way of hinting that Swift would be the performer at this year’s show.
Swift’s next album will be released on Oct. 21, so it wouldn’t be crazy to see an announcement at some point around that date. The NFL announced last year’s halftime show on Sept. 30, 2021, so no matter who the performer (or performers) are this year, there will likely be an announcement from the league in the next few weeks.
5. Dolphins are on one of the most bizarre streaks in NFL history
If I run across a bizarre NFL-related fact on the internet, there’s a 100% chance I’m going to share it with you guys and this one definitely counts as bizarre. Someone on Reddit noticed this crazy fact about the Dolphins: Since January 2021, the Dolphins are 11-0 when playing against a quarterback who has the letter ‘o’ in their last name, but 0-9 when playing against a quarterback who does NOT have the letter ‘o.’
Since Week 17 of the 2020 season (a game that was played in January 2021), here’s what the list looks like:
- Quarterbacks who have beaten the Dolphins: Josh Allen x 3, Derek Carr, Carson Wentz, Tom Brady, Trevor Lawrence, Matt Ryan, Ryan Tannehill.
- Quarterback who the Dolphins have beaten: Mac Jones x 3, Lamar Jackson x 2, Tyrod Taylor, Joe Flacco, Cam Newton, Mike Glennon, Zach Wilson, Ian Book.
Since this is way too big of a sample size to be a coincidence, I will obviously be picking against the Dolphins this week — they’re playing Josh Allen — and any other week where the opposing quarterback doesn’t have an ‘o’ in his name.
6. Rapid-fire roundup: Tom Brady dealing with injured finger
It’s been a busy 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.
- Tom Brady’s ring finger is bothering him. During his podcast on Monday, Brady revealed that he injured his ring finger against the Saints, “I banged it up pretty good, but it didn’t affect me at all in the game,” Brady said, via ESPN.com. “Just going to be sore throughout the week.” Although Brady said Thursday that the finger feels “great,” his ability to grip the football will definitely be something you’ll want to keep an eye on if you watch the Packers-Buccaneers game on Sunday.
- Jason Pierre-Paul to sign with Ravens. After staying at home for the first two weeks of the season, the free agent pass rusher is expected to sign with the Ravens, CBS Sports NFL insider Josina Anderson has reported. According to NFL.com, JPP will be getting a one-year deal worth up to $5.5 million. Although he only had 2.5 sacks last season, JPP is only two years removed from a 2020 season where he recorded 9.5 sacks.
- Jerry Jones would welcome a QB controversy. The Cowboys owner somehow manages to make a headline almost every time he talks and this week was no different. During an interview Thursday, Jones said he would be more than happy to have a QB controversy in Dallas because it means that Cooper Rush played well while Dak Prescott was out. If you want to see all of Jones’ comments, be sure to to click here.
- Sean Payton open to an NFL return. The former Saints coach said over the summer that he might return to coaching in 2023 and he reiterated himself this week during an interview with NewOrleansFootball.com, “If the right situation presented itself, I would definitely be interested. And there’s no utopia, if you will, when it comes to teams, but if I felt like it was the right situation, I would have an interest in that,” Payton said, via PFT. Over the summer, it was reported that Payton would have interest in the Cowboys, Chargers or Dolphins jobs. If none of those are available, it will be interesting to see if he’s willing to take something else.