Buccaneers coach Bruce Arians announced early Friday afternoon that Brown WILL NOT play in Sunday's NFC Championship game against the Packers. Brown missed practice on Wednesday and Thursday this week with a knee injury and Arians never sounded too optimistic about the receiver's chances of recovering in time for the game. Brown caught three passes for 59 yards and a touchdown in Tampa Bay's first two playoff games. However, it's worth noting that he didn't play against the Packers back in Week 6, which is a game Tampa Bay won 38-10 without him.
As for Mahomes, players in concussion protocol can only take part in NON-CONTACT training drills at practice, which is why he's been a limited participant this week. Of course, nearly everything is non-contact for a starting quarterback at practice, so it's likely not much has changed for him. If Mahomes is a full participant in Friday's practice, that's a pretty good sign that he'll be cleared to play. You can check out the Chiefs' injury report by clicking here, but it won't be updated with Friday's practice information until some time Friday afternoon.
Alright, that's enough injury talk, let's get to the rundown. As always, here's your daily 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: Best bets for conference title games
If it's Friday, that can only mean one thing: It's time for our weekly best bets podcast. If you're new to these parts, the best bets podcast involves Will Brinson giving $100 in hypothetical money to his three guests -- R.J. White, Kenny White and Pete Prisco -- and asking them to bet it on this week's slate of games. The original plan was for Brinson to give them all $100 in real money, but Brinson is way too stingy for that.
Anyway, here are some of the bets the guys decided to place with their hypothetical money:
$20 on Packers (-3.5) to cover against the Buccaneers
$50 on Bills at Chiefs OVER 54 points
$10 on Chiefs lowest scoring team on Sunday ($10 bet wins $34)
$21 on Bills (+3) to cover against the Chiefs
$22 on Buccaneers at Packers OVER 51 points
$50 on Bills (+3) to cover against the Chiefs
$50 on Packers (-3) to cover against the Buccaneers
If you want to know how each guy spent their entire $100 allotment in the conference title round, be sure to click here so you can listen to the entire episode of the podcast.
2. Eagles find their coach
After 10 days of searching, it appears the Philadelphia Eagles have found their new head coach. Although the team hasn't officially announced anything yet (that could come at some point today), Eagles executive vice president Howie Roseman confirmed to ESPN.com that the team has hired Colts offensive coordinator Nick Sirianni to take over for Doug Pederson.
On one hand, I'd be a little nervous taking this job and that's because the last guy got fired just three years AFTER WINNING A SUPER BOWL. On the other hand, this seems like the perfect job for Sirianni, who will now be tasked with trying to develop/fix Carson Wentz.
Here's a quick look at the hiring:
- If anyone can help Wentz, it's Sirianni. During his three years in Indy, he successfully oversaw an offense that had three different starting quarterbacks during his three seasons (Andrew Luck, Jacoby Brissett, Philip Rivers).
- He's the seventh-straight coach the Eagles have hired who will be going into the job without any prior NFL head coaching experience. The Eagles apparently love to hire younger guys -- Sirianni is 39 -- who can learn on the job. The last time the Eagles hired a coach who actually had head coaching experience came in 1983.
- This isn't going to be an easy turn-around for Sirianni. To make Wentz better, he might need a few more weapons, but it's not going to be easy to add people and that's because the Eagles are projected to be $53.5 million OVER the cap when the 2021 league year starts. That's the second-most in the league behind only the Saints, according to Over the Cap.
This isn't going to be an easy fix, especially for someone who's never even called plays as a coordinator at the NFL level.
On a completely unrelated note, let's hope Sirianni's introductory press conference is half as entertaining as Dan Campbell's. If you missed it, the Lions new coach promised that his team is going to be biting kneecaps off this year (Click here for video). I don't think biting off kneecaps is legal in the NFL, but I'm definitely intrigued, so I'll absolutely be watching a few Lions games in 2021.
In other hiring news, Washington fooled everyone this week by not hiring Marty Hurney as the team's GM. Despite initial reports that Hurney would get the job, the Football Team went in another direction and hired former Lions GM Martin Mayhew to fill the same position in Washington. Not only did Mayhew spend eight seasons as the Lions GM (2008-15), but he also played for Washington for nine seasons. Although Hurney didn't get hired, he'll still be joining the team in a senior personnel role (Executive Vice President of Football and Player Personnel).
3. AFC and NFC title game bold predictions
As you may or may not have noticed, we love making bold predictions here. Yesterday, you got bold predictions from the podcast crew, but since we're wrong 50% of the time, we thought it would make sense to find someone smarter than us to also make some bold predictions, so I rounded up Cody Benjamin. Cody writes the Wednesday newsletter here and since I trust him to write that, I also trust that his bold predictions will pan out. Of course, if they don't, we'll find someone else to write the Wednesday newsletter.
Here are Cody's four bold predictions for the championship round:
1. Bills upset Chiefs
2. Stefon Diggs hits 200 yards receiving
3. Tom Brady loses a conference title game for the first time since the 2015 season
4. Aaron Rodgers throws 4 TD passes after throwing zero in the first meeting with Tampa Bay
I think that fourth prediction might be my favorite and that's mostly because because my bold prediction was that Rodgers would have twice as many TD passes as Brady. If you'd like to read Cody's explanation for each of his predictions, be sure to click here.
4. AFC and NFC title game picks
In case you haven't noticed, we love to make picks here at CBS Sports. As a matter of fact, I even love to make picks about who's going to have the best picks each week. Last week, the man with the best picks was CBS Sports NFL Insider Jonathan Jones, who went 3-1. He would have gone 4-0, but he talked himself out of picking the Bills over the Ravens at the last second. If I've learned one thing about making picks, it's that if you talk yourself out of something at the last second, there's a 100% chance it's going to be wrong. However, since Jones did so well last week, we're going to take a look at both of his picks for the conference title games.
- Buccaneers at Packers (-3.5). Last week, Jones was on the Buccaneers bandwagon, but this week he's decided to jump off. Home-field advantage has been almost non-existent this year due to the fact that fans haven't really been allowed to attend games, but if any team is going to get home-field advantage, it's the Packers playing at Lambeau Field in mid-January. Jones' pick: Packers over Buccaneers (Packers money line: -180).
- Bills at Chiefs (-3). As long as Patrick Mahomes plays, Jones is sticking with the Chiefs. However, if Mahomes doesn't end up playing, he's going with the Bills, which kind of sounds like my exact plan for picking this game. The good news for the Chiefs is that Mahomes has already practiced twice this week and it's looking more and more like he's going to play. Jones' pick: Chiefs over Bills (Chiefs money line: -170).
If you'd like to read Jones' explanation for each of his playoff picks, be sure to click here. If you click over, you'll also get Jones' story that fully explains just how much pressure the Texans will be facing to get their coaching hire right.
5. NFL finalizes Super Bowl attendance number
With the Super Bowl just over two weeks away, one of the biggest questions that still hadn't been answered about the game was how many fans would be allowed to attend Super Bowl LV, which is being held in Tampa, Florida.
If there was no pandemic, the Super Bowl would be sold out this year, just like it is every year. However, with the nation still dealing with the COVID-19 outbreak, the NFL has cut down on attendance for the game. The league announced on Friday that a total of 22,000 fans will be allowed to attend Super Bowl LV (Raymond James Stadium has a capacity that's right around 66,000).
Although most Super Bowl tickets generally end up going to rich people, season-ticket holders of the two teams in the game and/or league partners, that won't necessarily be the case this year and that's because the league is going to give 7,500 tickets to vaccinated health care workers around the country. That means 34.1% of the tickets will be going to people who have been keeping the country afloat this year.
If you want to see a video of Roger Goodell surprising some health care workers with tickets, be sure to click here.
Of the 7,500 tickets, most will be given to health care workers who come from hospitals and health care systems in the Tampa and central Florida area. However, Florida health care workers won't be the only ones attending the game as all 32 teams will also be giving out four tickets to health care workers in their area.
Due to the pandemic, Super Bowl LV will be the lowest attended Super Bowl in NFL history. Before this year, the lowest-attended Super Bowl in NFL history was the first one, when 61,946 attended the Packers' 35-10 win over the Chiefs at Los Angeles' Memorial Stadium. In a twist of fate, there's a chance that the Packers and Chiefs could end up meeting against in this year's Super Bowl.
One interesting note about the Super Bowl this year is that the NFL will be handing out KN-95 masks to all people who attend the game, according to Peter O'Reilly, the league's Executive Vice President of Club Business and League Events (You can read our full interview with him by clicking here).
6. Tom Brady is going to get a BIG bonus if Buccaneers win
Tom Brady is so rich that he probably won't notice if there's an extra $1.75 million in his pay check this week, but that's exactly what's going to happen if the Buccaneers beat the Packers.
When Brady signed his two-year, $50 million deal with the Buccaneers back in March, that contract included a huge postseason bonus for winning the NFC title game. If Brady can lead the Bucs to a win over the Packers, he'll get $1.75 million in bonus money, which is quite the bonus when you consider that each player on the field will only make $59,000 for playing in Sunday's game (Unlike the regular season, all players make the same amount in base pay for playoff games. So Brady and all his teammates will all get a $59,000 check before bonuses are factored in).
Brady's bonus can actually get bumped up even more if he leads the Buccaneers to a Super Bowl win. In that case, the team will tack on an extra $500,000 to his NFC title game bonus and cut him a check for $2.25 million.
If Brady wins this week, he won't just get a big bonus, he'll also make NFL history and that's because a win would send the Buccaneers to the Super Bowl, which would make the Bucs the first team ever to play a Super Bowl in their home stadium
The Super Bowl has existed for 54 years and in that time, no team has ever gotten to play the game in their home stadium. Including the Buccaneers, there have only been nine instances in NFL history where a team made the playoffs in a season where their stadium was hosting the Super Bowl and none of the previous eight teams made it to the NFL's biggest game. As a matter of fact, only the 2017 Vikings even made it to the conference title game.
So if the Buccaneers win, Brady is going to make history and he's going to get paid handsomely while doing it. Sounds like a typical day for Brady.
7. The Kicker!
I'm not a meteorologist, but based on what I've seen from the weather reports heading into the weekend, we could be in for some ugly kicking weather during the AFC and NFC title games. If you're wondering what ugly kicking weather looks like: Cold is bad (Ball doesn't travel as far) and wet is even worse (rain weighs down the ball), so cold and wet is a horrible combination.
With that in mind, here's the current weather report for each game:
Bills at Chiefs
Projected weather: Cloudy with occasional rain showers
Projected temperatures: 44 degrees (high), 32 degrees (low)
Chance of rain: 50%
Winds: NNE 5-10 mph
If the temperature is under 40 degrees and it's raining, that's a recipe for disaster in the kicking game, which means Harrison Butker and Tyler Bass could be in for a long day. Not coincidentally, those two were at the top of my meltdown rankings yesterday.
Buccaneers at Packers
Projected weather: Snow showers with peeks of sunshine
Projected temperatures: 29 degrees (high), 22 degrees (low)
Chance of snow: 50%
Winds: SSE 5-10 mph
There's a reason people vacation to Florida in January and not to Green Bay. No one wants to spend three hours outside in 29 degree temperatures in January. That temperature is notable, because the Buccaneers are 1-17 all-time in games where the kickoff temperature was 30 degrees or below. Tom Brady might be fine with the cold, but we don't know how the rest of the Buccaneers are going to respond.
After this weekend, there will only be one game left in the NFL season, so please cherish these conference title games.
Have a fun weekend and remember, if you want to hang out on Sunday night, the Pick Six Podcast will be going live on YouTube, Twitch and Periscope during the fourth quarter of the Bills-Chiefs game. If you feel like checking us out or joining, you can click here for the link.