Welcome to the Friday edition of the Pick Six newsletter!
Let me start things off here by saying that if we learned one thing from Thursday night's game, it's that you should never turn off a Vikings game until it's actually over and although I think we actually learned that earlier this year, it's definitely a rule that we all need to now live by. At one point in last night's game, the Vikings led 29-0 and if any other team was playing, I would have gone to bed, but if there's any team in the NFL capable of blowing a 29-0 lead, it's definitely the Vikings and it almost happened.
The Vikings had to hold on for dear life in the fourth quarter, but they ended up coming away with a 36-28 win, which is good news for Mike Zimmer, because I'm 75% sure he would have been fired immediately after the game if the Vikings had lost.
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1. Today's show: Recapping Minnesota's wild win over the Steelers
In one of the wildest games you'll ever see, the Vikings almost blew a 29-0 lead, but they ended up holding on for a 36-28 victory. The only thing wilder than the game was the podcast that I recorded afterward with Ryan Wilson and Will Brinson.
Here are a few key aspects of the game that we touched on:
- Dalvin Cook dominates. Three hours before Thursday's game kicked off, it wasn't even clear if Dalvin Cook was going to play and I'm guessing the Steelers wished that he hadn't played and that's because he absolutely steamrolled Pittsburgh's defense. Not even a shoulder harness could stop Cook as he rushed for 205 yards and two touchdowns on 27 carries. Cook did most of his damage in the first half, rushing for 153 yards, which set the Vikings franchise record for most rush yards in a first half. Cook also had one catch in the game and it was a huge one: He caught a 17-yard pass on third-and-9 late in the fourth quarter that gave the Vikings a pivotal first down. The third-down conversion forced the Steelers to use all of their timeouts before the two-minute warning.
- Steelers almost pull off improbable comeback. With three minutes left in the third quarter, the Vikings were leading 29-0 and the game basically looked like it was over, but this is the Vikings we're talking about, so you know know things got crazy. In a wild sequence that started at the 2:11 mark of the third quarter, the Steelers scored three touchdowns in a five-minute span that cut the Vikings' lead to 29-20 (The Steelers went for two on their third touchdown, but didn't get it). The Steelers' comeback was helped by the fact that Kirk Cousins threw two interceptions in the second half. The Steelers had a chance to tie the game on the final play after driving down to Minnesota's 12-yard line, but Harrison Smith broke up a pass from Ben Roethlisberger that was intended for tight end Pat Freiermuth. The ball was IN Freiermuth's hands, which you can see by clicking here. If the Steelers had pulled off the comeback, it would have been the largest regular-season comeback in NFL history.
- Steelers' playoff hopes on life support, Vikings in a good spot. With the loss, the Steelers fell to the 10th seed in the AFC and at 6-6-1 it feels highly unlikely that they're going to get in the playoffs. The AFC is so stacked that it seems like it's going to take 10 wins to get in and for the Steelers to hit that number, they'd have to go 4-0 down the stretch, which won't be easy because they close the season with the Titans, Chiefs, Browns and Ravens. As for the Vikings, they're now just a half game out of the final two wild card spots in the NFC with San Francisco (6-6) and Washington (6-6) ahead of them. The Vikings feel like a team that can beat anyone, but they also feel like a team that could LOSE to anyone, so it's hard to predict whether they'll end up in the playoffs. If I had to make a pick now, I'd say yes.
2. Today's show Part II: Best bets for Week 14
The best part about Friday -- besides the fact it's Friday -- is that you get two episodes of the podcast in your feed. After the recap of the Steelers-Vikings game, Brinson politely asked me and Ryan Wilson to leave so that he could bring on R.J. White and Pete Prisco for a discussion about their best bets for Week 14.
The three guys spent nearly 60 minutes going over the best bets for every single game, and we're going to cover three of each person's picks below.
Pete Prisco (1-2 last week in picks featured here)
- Lions (-8.5) to cover against the Broncos
- Packers (-12.5) to cover against the Bears
- Bills at Buccaneers OVER 53.5
Will Brinson (2-1 last week in picks featured here)
- 49ers (-1) to cover against the Bengals
- Washington (+4) to cover against the Cowboys
- Lions at Broncos UNDER 42
R.J. White (0-3 last week in picks featured here)
- Saints (-5) to cover against the Jets
- Giants (+10) to cover against the Chargers
- Cardinals (-2.5) to cover against the Rams
The guys also have a parlay they like.
- Buccaneers (-3.5) to cover against the Bills
- Washington (+4) to cover against the Cowboys
- Titans (-9.5) to cover against the Jaguars
- Raiders (+9.5) to cover against the Chiefs
If it hits, that parlay would win $1,228 on a $100 bet.
To hear what the rest of the best bets are for Week 14 -- and there are quite a few -- be sure to click here so you can listen to the entire episode of the podcast. You can also watch the trio give out their picks on YouTube by clicking here.
3. Demaryius Thomas dies at age 33
Former Broncos star Demaryius Thomas tragically died on Thursday, just 16 days shy of his 34th birthday. Thomas, who was one of the most underrated receivers in NFL history, spent nine years in Denver after the Broncos selected him with the 22nd overall pick in the 2010 NFL Draft.
Here's what we know about the situation.
- Thomas' death appears to have been caused by a seizure. One of Thomas' close relatives told the Associated Press that Thomas had regularly been dealing with seizures over the years. The family believes that he had a seizure while showering on Thursday at his home in Roswell, Georgia.
- Thomas had just retired. After spending 10 seasons in the NFL, Thomas had just officially announced his retirement in June. The receiver was such a big part of the Broncos organization that the team honored him on Sept. 26 prior to a game with the Jets. Thomas played for both the Jets and the Broncos during his career.
- One of the most prolific receivers in Broncos history. In just nine seasons with the team, Thomas etched his name into the Broncos' record book. Thomas finished his Broncos career with the second-most receiving yards (9,055) and receiving touchdowns (60) in franchise history. He also has the third-most receptions in team history.
- Unprecedented run of success. Peyton Manning's arrival to Denver in 2012 jump-started Thomas' career. In four years with Manning, Thomas topped 90 receptions and 1,300 yards in each season, making him just the fourth receiver in NFL history to top those two numbers in four consecutive seasons (Marvin Harrison, Jerry Rice and Torry Holt are the only other three to pull that off). Thomas also went to the Pro Bowl four times in his career.
- Thomas was on the receiving end of one of the most iconic plays in Broncos history. Before the arrival of Manning, Thomas had Tim Tebow as his quarterback and the two helped pull off one of the wildest postseason plays ever. In a game where the Broncos were a 7.5 point underdog, Denver was able to upset the Steelers thanks to an 80-yard TD pass from Tebow to Thomas in overtime that sealed the win. You can see a replay of Thomas' TD by clicking here.
- Condolences pour in from around the NFL. Thomas was clearly a beloved guy and you can tell based on how many players around the league offered their condolences after his death. Everyone from Tom Brady to Russell Wilson to Tim Tebow expressed their sorrows. You can read about the reaction from around the NFL by clicking here.
For more details on the Thomas situation, you can read our full story on CBSSports.com by clicking here.
4. NFL Week 14 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 six ounces of creamer into four ounces of coffee this week, so I know I'm good at cramming.
With that in mind, we've got some Week 14 picks coming your way and those will be coming from Will Brinson, Tyler Sullivan, Jordan Dajani and CBS Sports NFL insider Jonathan Jones.
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.
- Will Brinson: Panthers 17-14 over Falcons (Carolina covers -2.5). "Neither of these teams are good, and yet both are "in the hunt" in the NFC playoff race! Atlanta's defense ranks dead last in both pressure percentage and sacks this season. Their -116 point differential is the worst by a 5-7 NFL team since the 2013 Jets and fourth-worst in the NFL this season. Detroit has a better point differential than Atlanta. That's not good. I'll take the Panthers." For the rest of Brinson's Week 14 picks, be sure to click here.
- Jonathan Jones: Cowboys over Washington (Dallas hits -190 moneyline). "Ron Rivera has a history of having his teams play their best ball down the stretch (see: 2020 Washington and 2014 Carolina.) Cowboys coach Mike McCarthy put out some unnecessary bulletin board material earlier this week with the guaranteed win. I want to pick against Dallas, but coming off their mini-bye, I can't." For the rest of Jones' Week 14 picks, be sure to click here.
- Jordan Dajani: Bengals 27-24 over 49ers (Cincinnati covers +1). "I'm wary of Joe Burrow's injuries, but I'm more wary of Jimmy Garoppolo. He struggled last week against the Seahawks, throwing two interceptions and he took a safety. The 49ers are at their best when they are running the ball and playing good defense, but it looks like Elijah Mitchell is banged up with a couple different issues, Deebo Samuel's status for this week is still unknown and the defense is dealing with multiple injuries." For the rest of Dajani's Week 14 picks, be sure to click here.
- Tyler Sullivan: Browns 27-24 over Ravens (Cleveland covers -2.5). "The Ravens are just really hard to trust at the moment, as their offense under Lamar Jackson looks completely disjointed. Over the last three weeks, Baltimore's offense is averaging just 4.2 yards per play, which is the third worst in the NFL during that stretch. Meanwhile, they get a Browns team that needs a win to keep its season alive and is well-rested after getting the Week 13 bye." For the rest of Sullivan's Week 14 picks, be sure to click here.
5. Mike McCarthy guarantees that the Cowboys will beat Washington
Cowboys coach Mike McCarthy raised some eyebrows around the NFL on Thursday when he basically guaranteed that his team is going to beat Washington on Sunday in a huge NFC East showdown.
Here's what McCarthy had to say along with reaction to his comments.
- McCarthy is confident in Cowboys. "We know what people think of us. We love that. We're comfortable who we are, where we are. I'm excited about what's in front of us. We're going to win this game. I'm confident in that, just the prep that's going into it."
- Ron Rivera calls the comments a mistake. "I think that's the big mistake, because as far as I'm concerned, you know you do that for a couple of reasons," Rivera said in an interview with team executive Julie Donaldson. "One is you want to get in our head, and so I've told our players, 'That's interesting [but] it's not important. What's important is our preparation getting ready to play on Sunday.' Secondly, he's trying to convince his team, you know, so again I think that's another mistake because he's made it about him and what he said."
- Dak has McCarthy's back. Cowboys QB Dak Prescott defended the comments made by McCarthy. "It doesn't put us in a bad spot. I mean, obviously if you're preparing for this game and you're a Dallas Cowboy, if you're a fan, you expect to go in and win each and every game. I don't think he's said anything different than everyone in this building's thoughts. He just voiced it. Now we have to make sure we're accountable for our words. I think that's all that is, the coach setting the tone for the week and first day back, making sure everybody understands where his mind is and the team's mindset is."
Every coach thinks his team is going to win every week, the big difference here is that most coaches don't actually come out and say it because they don't want to give the other team bulletin board material. Well, it's too late for that, because Washington is already using it for bulletin board material. Of course, if Washington needs bulletin board material to get amped up for a huge divisional game, then Rivera probably needs to work a little on his motivational techniques because the opposing team's coach isn't going to be giving you bulletin board material every week.
6. Rapid-fire roundup
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.
- Davis Mills will finish the season as Houston's starter. Texans coach David Culley has announced that Mills will be the starting QB going forward. The rookie quarterback made six starts while Tyrod Taylor was injured earlier this season and he's now going to get to close the year as Houston's starter. Barring injury, this means Mills will start the Texans' final five games, which are against the Seahawks, Jaguars, Chargers, 49ers and Titans.
- Randall Cobb out multiple weeks. The Packers receiver won't be playing for the next few weeks after undergoing core muscle surgery during the bye, according to ESPN.com. Due to the surgery, there's a chance that Cobb could miss the rest of the regular season.
- Titans add veteran linebacker Zach Cunningham. It didn't take long for Cunningham to find a new team to play for. The former Texans linebacker, who was cut by Houston this week, has landed in Tennessee in a signing that will reunite him with Mike Vrabel. The Titans coach was the defensive coordinator in Houston during Cunningham's rookie year in 2017.
- Russell Wilson denies trade report. After a report leaked this week saying that Wilson would be open to a trade to the Giants, Saints or Broncos, the Seahawks QB shot down the rumor by saying that he wants to play in Seattle for the next "20 years in my career." Of course, this doesn't mean Wilson won't change his mind and demand a trade once the offseason starts, but for now, he's apparently happy in Seattle.
- Saints continue to be hit by COVID. The Saints have already added two players to the COVID list this week --Mark Ingram and Cameron Jordan -- and they added a third on Thursday with Ty Montgomery going on the list. Montgomery has had nine catches over the past two weeks.