I hate to do this coming out of the weekend, but I have to start off today's newsletter with some bad news: For the 31st straight year, EA Sports will not be putting a kicker on the cover of its latest Madden game.
I have no idea who is going to be on the cover, but EA released a teaser video today and after watching it 19 times, I'm now 99.9% sure that the player (or players) on the cover this year will not be a kicker. The teaser video features two goats and I'll let you do the math to figure out who it's going to be.
You know what, I like math, so I'll go ahead and do it: goat = G.O.A.T = Greatest Of All Time = Tom Brady is going to be on the cover. However, there are two goats in the teaser video, so I'm assuming there will be two players on the cover or maybe two versions of Brady: one for the Buccaneers and one for the Patriots.
Anyway, the cover of the game will officially be coming out on June 17, not that I care though, since a kicker won't be on the cover. Alright, that's enough video game talk, let's get to the rundown.
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1. Today's show: Monday mailbag
During the NFL offseason, we like to spice things up each week on the Pick Six Podcast by adding a listener mailbag every Friday and since we didn't actually do one this past Friday, we did one for today instead.
Our mailbag episodes are pretty simple: We read listener questions during the show and then answer as many of those questions as possible. Questions can be about literally anything. I mean, I'm pretty sure there was one time where we spent the entire podcast debating which baseball rules would work in football. If you want to submit a question, all you have to do is go to Apple Podcasts (click here) and leave a five-star review.
Here's one question that we answered in today's mailbag:
Q: If you could create a 'super team' but using only players from one division, which division would you choose? Only rule: You have to take an even number of players from each of the four teams and not just the top team. Bonus question: If all 8 divisions did this what division would win a 'super team' style playoff tournament?
A: If I am asked to create an NFL team, I don't care what the rules are for creating that team, the first player I'm going after is Patrick Mahomes, which means that for this question, I'm taking the AFC West. An active NFL roster has 53 players and as noted in the rules of the question, each AFC West team has to have at least 13 players on the divisional super team. To make my super team, I'm basically going to take the Chiefs entire offense, then use the Chargers and Broncos for the defense. After that, I'll use my 14 Raiders players for special teams purposes and to fill the backend of the roster. As for who would win a divisional super tournament, Will Brinson made a strong case for the NFC West and although I like my AFC West super team a lot, I think he might be right.
To listen to the rest of the mailbag -- and to follow the podcast -- be sure to click here.
2. Packers CEO keeps saying odd things about the Aaron Rodgers situation
Less than 10 days ago, Packers CEO Mark Murphy wrote on the team's website that when it comes to the Aaron Rodgers situation, "the less both sides say publicly, the better." Apparently, Murphy has decided not to take his own advice because he seems to have something new to say about Rodgers every time he opens his mouth in public.
- On June 5, Murphy said that the Rodgers situation is dividing the team's fan base. If you're trying to get on someone's good side, that's definitely not how you do it.
- Over the weekend, Murphy called Rodgers a "complicated fella" because former Packers general manager Ted Thompson used to call him that. If you're trying to get on someone's good side, quoting someone who passed away in January probably isn't the way to do it (Thompson died on Jan. 21 at age 68).
CBS Sports NFL Insider Jason La Canfora has been watching this situation closely and he thinks that the Packers are being petty AND acting in poor taste.
Here's JLC on the Packers from his column today:
"It's almost like they feel as if somehow each silly statement and misstep is going to shift public opinion in their favor. It's like they keep doubling down on a losing bet, going out of their way to further alienate one of the most storied members of their iconic franchise precisely at the time when this already-sensitive situation is headed to its most delicate stage.
It's like they think their fans and "shareholders" are fools. It's like they can't help themselves, getting in their little shots and playing their little passive-aggressive games and providing fodder and fuel at a time when they should be showing grace and class, behind the scenes and in front of the camera. Is this some kind of game for Murphy? Is the Packers president and CEO enjoying this far too much? Fair questions to ask after the latest antics out of Green Bay."
Without Rodgers, La Canfora thinks the Packers are a six-win team at best. If you want to check out his entire scathing take on how Green Bay has handled the situation with Rodgers, be sure to click here.
3. Kyler Murray has a hilarious explanation for why he's not a Cowboys fan
Cardinals quarterback Kyler Murray was born and raised in Texas, which means if you had to guess who his favorite NFL team was while he was growing up, you'd probably assume it was the Cowboys. However, that is not the case.
"They were always ass," Murray said.
Very blunt, but also very accurate. Murray was born in 1997 and in his lifetime, the Cowboys only have three playoff wins and they've NEVER played in an NFC Championship Game in that time period. As a matter of fact, the TEXANS have more playoff wins (four) in Murray's lifetime than the Cowboys, so if he was going to be a fan of a team in Texas, it probably would have made more sense to choose Houston (For the record, Murray was a Vikings fan growing up).
Of course, if you listen to another quarterback (Dak Prescott), this might be the year where the Cowboys aren't ass. In a recent interview, Dak said that two key Cowboys players are looking good so far this offseason.
- On Ezekiel Elliott: "Zeke looks great. He's in the best shape of his life -- looking fast. Everybody's seen the clips of him working out independently with his running back coach. His cuts, just how explosive he is."
- On CeeDee Lamb: "My expectations are super-high. I'm so excited for CeeDee... He's a special playmaker that we're privileged to have and he'll be big-time and definitely have a breakout season."
By the way, my favorite part of this entire Kyler situation is that the Cowboys and Cardinals actually play each other this year. The two teams will be meeting up in Dallas in Week 17 and at that point, we'll find out if Dak was right about his teammates or if Kyler was right about the Cowboys always being ass.
4. Predicting every game on the Browns' 2021 schedule
Now that the month of June is here, that means the dead part of the NFL offseason is almost upon us and although things can get kind of boring during that period, we're going to keep things spicy around here by going through and predicting every game on each team's 2021 schedule.
There are 32 teams and we'll be doing one team per day until we make it through every team. Today, we're going to continue our run through the AFC North by taking a closer look at the Cleveland Browns.
Our Patrik Walker went through Cleveland's entire schedule and picked out all the games the Browns are going to win and all the games they're going to lose.
Here's a look at how Walker sees the Browns doing in three key games:
- Week 1: Browns at Chiefs. "If the rematch is as explosive as the original, the NFL is in for a treat. This time around, it's the Browns figuring out how to finish what they nearly did in January." Prediction: Cleveland 34-31 over Kansas City (Note from Breech: The Browns haven't won a game in Week 1 since 2004).
- Week 8: Steelers at Browns. "This is a big, big game. The Steelers are looking for revenge for basically being bullied at Heinz Field in the playoffs, but they won't land it in the first meeting with the Browns" Prediction: Cleveland 30-24 over Pittsburgh.
- Week 12: Browns at Ravens. "This is the first of two consecutive games the Browns will play against the Ravens and they'll drop the first matchup on the road before avenging themselves after the bye -- when they're rested and reloaded." Prediction: Baltimore 24-20 over Cleveland.
Overall, Walker is predicting that the Browns will end the season with an 11-6 record and if that happens, they'll easily be headed to the playoffs for the second year in a row, which would be kind of a big deal in Cleveland, because it would mark the first time since the 1988 and 1989 seasons that they've made the postseason in consecutive years.
"They're definitely a contender, without a doubt," Kelce said of Cleveland, via the Akron Beacon Journal. "I think the Browns and Chiefs are definitely neck and neck."
Someone who doesn't agree with Walker's assessment is the guy who bet $700 on the Browns to have the worst record in the NFL this year (Seriously, someone made that bet and if it hits, he'll make a $175,000 profit).
If you want to see Walker's prediction for each game, click here to check out his entire story. Coming tomorrow, we'll be finishing up our run through the AFC North by predicting every single Bengals game.
5. Under-the-radar players in the NFC who could be 2021 stars
Every year in the NFL, we see multiple players break out and become huge stars. One thing that's not easy is trying to predict who those breakout stars are going to be, but our Patrik Walker attempted to do that anyway.
Walker went through every NFC roster and then did his best to pick out one under-the-radar player who could become a star in 2021. Let's check out a few players from his list:
- Cowboys: DE Randy Gregory. "Gregory is essentially the starter opposite DeMarcus Lawrence, setting him up to finally be what the Cowboys wanted when they used a second-round pick on him... Toss in a contract year in 2021 and Gregory is basically standing in a pool of gasoline while holding a lit match in his teeth."
- Packers: QB Jordan Love. "I'd be remiss if I ignored the fact Aaron Rodgers was absent from mandatory minicamp and appears dug in on never taking another snap in Green Bay. That means, unless he budges, it's the Jordan Love show in 2021, and while the verdict is out on if Love can be a franchise QB in the NFL, he's getting the offseason reps and has weapons like Davante Adams and Aaron Jones to help set him up for success."
- Buccaneers: WR Scotty Miller. "With so many starters returning in 2021 to defend the championship earned in Super LV, it's not easy figuring out who might break out for the Buccaneers this coming season, but Scott(y) Miller definitely fits the bill. A sixth-round pick in 2019, Miller was tasked with sharing the load with talent like Antonio Brown, Mike Evans, Rob Gronkowski, Chris Godwin and despite that, he was still able to carve out a niche for himself en route to producing 501 receiving yards with three touchdowns -- a 300-yard increase in production over his rookie season."
If you want to see the rest of Walker's list be sure to click here. If you want to check out Tyler Sullivan's list of under-the-radar AFC players who could have a breakout season, be sure to click here.
6. Rapid-fire roundup
It was a busy weekend 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.
- Stephon Gilmore skipping minicamp. It's not often you hear about a Patriots player skipping mandatory minicamp, but that's exactly what Gilmore is doing this week. So why is he a no-show? The corner is headed into the final year of his contract and he apparently wants a new deal. Gilmore is also rehabbing from a partially torn quad. The Patriots are allowed to fine Gilmore up to $93,085 if he skips all three days of minicamp.
- Eagles add another QB. Nick Mullens is headed to Philadelphia after being signed to a deal on Monday. The former 49ers QB will join Jalen Hurts and Joe Flacco in the Eagles' QB room. Mullens started eight games last year for the 49ers and went 2-6 in those games.
- Le'Veon Bell is beefing with Andy Reid. Bell is apparently upset with Reid for some reason that he won't reveal. Over the weekend, Bell wrote on Twitter that he would rather retire than ever play for the Chiefs coach again. For the latest details on this spat, be sure to click here.
- Dolphins LB lands $39 million extension. It was a good weekend for Jerome Baker, who signed a three-year, $39 million extension with Miami on Sunday. The 24-year-old's contract includes $28.4 million in guaranteed money. The 2018 third-round pick has quietly put together a solid career in Miami, which includes leading the team in tackles in each of the past two seasons.
- Rams new stadium seems to have one major problem. The Rams finally got a taste of what it's going to be like to have fans in their new stadium and it didn't taste good. Apparently, getting out of SoFi Stadium was a traffic nightmare for the 30,000 fans who attended the team's minicamp last week. Due to the pandemic, this was the first time the stadium had hosted that large of a crowd. Whoever's in charge of the traffic situation in that area is going to want to get something figured out before the season starts.
- Packers threw everything at Jordan Love at minicamp. If Love has to play this year, the Packers want to make sure he's ready. During minicamp, Matt LaFleur threw his quarterback straight into the deep end by making Love run the entire playbook. "We installed our offense and kind of threw everything at him," LaFleur said. Love took all the first-team reps at minicamp and he could end up getting all the reps at training camp if Aaron Rodgers doesn't show up.
- Jets want Jamison Crowder to take a monstrous pay cut. The receiver is scheduled to make $10 million in 2021, but the Jets want him to cut that in half, according to ESPN. None of Crowder's salary is guaranteed, so if he doesn't agree to the pay cut, there's a good chance the Jets will end up dumping him. As of right now, it appears Crowder has decided to accept the pay cut, according to NFL.com.