This is a huge week for John Breech. Andy Dalton, his beloved red-headed hero, has a shot at returning to the playoffs and logging that elusive first postseason victory. You’ll have to excuse John, then, for taking some extra time off this morning to prepare his nerves for Sunday’s action. Don’t worry, though. In the hands of Wednesday fill-in Cody Benjamin, you’ll still get all the NFL news you need.
This is the Pick Six Newsletter. And I am your guide. Now let’s get to it. (And please, do yourself a favor and make sure you’re signed up to receive this newsletter every day! You don’t want to miss our daily offerings of everything you need to know around the NFL.)
We’ve got Week 17 picks, playoff projections, head coaching buzz and a whole lot more:
One year after Washington drafted him 15th overall, Dwayne Haskins is on the street. Not a single team attempted to claim the quarterback on waivers this week, so it’s anyone’s guess as to what the future holds for the ex-Ohio State standout. On Wednesday’s Pick Six NFL Podcast (listen and subscribe right here!), Brady Quinn and Will Brinson projected the best landing spots for the QB.
“He would be great in that (Saints) system with Sean Payton,” Quinn said, so long as Jameis Winston doesn’t remain the No. 2. Another established home that could make sense: The Seattle Seahawks. Quinn believes Haskins and current Seattle backup Geno Smith are physically comparable, while the former would offer a cheaper developmental option. “It’d be interesting to see how he’d compete or work within that system for Brian Schottenheimer,” he said.
Quinn also sees the New England Patriots as a potential suitor, especially considering the likelihood they’ll move on from Cam Newton. “Anywhere there’s an established starter” could be in play, he explained. The guys also discussed the Dolphins‘ QB dilemma and the real MVP.
It’s Week 17, which means there’s only one more regular-season round of Pete Prisco’s game-day predictions. How sad, not only for Pete, who’s still trying to amend a midseason slump, but for all of us, who relish in his boldest proclamations. At least he’s got some extra spicy picks for this week’s action, including Green Bay eliminating Chicago and the Cowboys somehow winning the NFC East:
Packers (-5.5) at Bears
The Bears might need this to get into the playoffs (they can still get in if the Cardinals lose), while the Packers need it to lock up the top seed. Green Bay is rolling right now, which will make it a major challenge for the Bears defense. Aaron Rodgers will lock up the MVP with a big-time performance in this one.
Pick: Packers 30, Bears 21
Cowboys (-3) at Giants
The winner of this game will need Washington to lose later in the day to win the NFC East. The Giants have been struggling in a big way the past few weeks, while Dallas has come alive on offense with Andy Dalton. I think it stays that way as Dalton and the Cowboys win it.
Pick: Cowboys 30, Giants 20
3. Insider notes: CFL coach among nine dark-horse candidates for NFL jobs
Anyone can identify the hottest offensive coordinators or defensive geniuses as likely head coaching candidates. But CBS Sports NFL insider Jason La Canfora has done some deeper digging to list some of the more anonymous possible hires ahead of 2021’s coaching-change season. The top candidate on his roundup: Orlondo Steinauer, a “mastermind” who’s made his mark in Canada.
Some I know very well with deep CFL ties, whose acumen I trust beyond reproach, tell me this is an impact NFL coach in the making. Steinauer, 47, is a master tactician as a defensive coordinator who has a unique ability to bond and connect with players. Has been coaching in CFL since 2010, became a head coach in 2019 and recently signed a contract extension … but NFL teams should investigate. “Everyone who has ever worked with him absolutely raves about him,” said one longtime CFL exec. “He should be in the NFL already.”
4. QB Power Rankings: Rodgers overtakes Mahomes as No. 1
The wait is over. Our final edition of regular-season QB Power Rankings is here. And what better way to close the year than with a last-minute change atop the entire leaderboard? That’s right, folks. Aaron Rodgers isn’t just the presumptive 2020 MVP; he’s also the QB we’d take over literally any other right now, including the reigning MVP himself. Here’s a look at the latest top 10:
- Aaron Rodgers (+1)
- Patrick Mahomes (-1)
- Josh Allen
- Russell Wilson
- Deshaun Watson
- Lamar Jackson (+3)
- Kyler Murray (+1)
- Ryan Tannehill (-1)
- Tom Brady (+1)
- Justin Herbert (+1)
Do you hear that? It’s the sound of the NFL playoffs. I think I can smell them, too. They’re so darn close. But we’ve still got several spots up for grabs ahead of Week 17, which is why our trusty John Breech collected all the latest projections from Stephen Oh and the number-crunching SportsLine team. Who’s in? Who’s out? Here’s a look at the entire projected playoff field, taking into account Week 17 simulations from Oh’s super-computers. Notable notes: The Dolphins are on the outside looking in, and the Bears are set up for an improbable entry thanks to a projected Cardinals loss to the Rams.
6. Teaser pick rankings: Trust Chiefs backups to take care of business
Feeling good heading into the new year? Then feel free to try out your luck with some teaser bets in Week 17. Betting expert R.J. White has dropped his latest teaser pick rankings, and he’s all over the AFC-leading Chiefs this week:
Chiefs (+9.5) at Chargers
Yes, I’m aware that Patrick Mahomes and several other key players are going to rest with Kansas City having nothing to play for. But to that I say, so what? This is still a coaching matchup of Andy Reid vs. Anthony Lynn, and if the Chargers haven’t managed a double-digit win against anyone other than the Jaguars this year, what makes you think they’ll get it done against Chiefs backups?