Welcome to the Friday edition of the Pick Six newsletter!
I'd like to start off here by apologizing to the Patriots. I thought for sure that last night's game was going to be the most unwatchable NFL game of the year, but instead, the Patriots put on a show during their 21-18 win. For most of the first half, I wasn't sure if I was watching Bailey Zappe or Tom Brady at quarterback for New England. He looked like Zappe, but he played like Brady, so who knows.
We'll be grading both teams from the game in today's newsletter, plus we'll be making some picks and bold predictions for Week 14.
As always, here's your daily reminder to tell all your friends to sign up for the newsletter. Actually, you don't even have to tell all of your friends, just tell one friend and I'll be happy. To get them signed up, all you have to do is click here. Let's get to the rundown.
1. Today's show: Best bets for Week 14
If you're a regular listener of the "Pick Six NFL" podcast or a regular reader of this newsletter, then you know what we do on Fridays: We make picks. And then just when you think there's no way we'll make any more picks, we make more picks.
For today's show, host Katie Mox was joined by Will Brinson along with R.J. White and Alex "PropStarz" Selelnick -- two of our gambling gurus over at SportsLine -- and the three of them offered some of their best bets for Week 14.
The crew spent an entire hour handing out picks, and we're going to go over a few of their best bets here. The crew has been on fire over the past two weeks with a combined record of 14-5-1.
Will Brinson (2-1 in picks we shared here last week, 20-18-1 on the season)
- Ravens (-7) to cover against Rams
- Panthers (+5.5) to cover against Saints
- Colts (-1.5) to cover against Bengals
R.J. White (1-2 in picks we shared here last week, 19-19-1 on the season)
- Falcons (-1.5) to cover against Buccaneers
- Raiders (+3) to cover against Vikings
- Chiefs (-1.5) to cover against Bills
Katie Mox (3-0 in picks we shared here last week, 18-17 on the season)
- Broncos (+2.5) to cover against Chargers
- Cowboys (-3.5) to cover against Eagles
- 49ers team total OVER 28.5 points against Seahawks
As for PropStarz, he handed out a few of his favorite props for the weekend, because when your nickname is PropStarz, that's what the people expect.
- Bills at Chiefs: James Cook OVER 44.5 rushing yards
- Colts at Bengals: Zach Moss OVER 68.5 rushing yards
- Panthers at Saints: Chuba Hubbard OVER 12.5 rushing attempts
PropStarz went 2-1 with his picks last week and is now 20-16 on the season.
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 episode on YouTube here.
2. Thursday night grades after the Patriots' wild 21-18 win over Steelers
The Steelers are officially imploding. Going into Week 14, the Steelers held the fifth spot in the AFC playoff race, but they're now down to eighth after losing a shocker to a Patriots team that had nothing to play for. As a matter of fact, from a draft standpoint, this win was actually a bad thing for the Patriots, because it hurts their chances of earning the No. 1 overall pick.
Here are our grades from the game:
PATRIOTS GRADE: B
After an offensive drought that lasted nearly a month, the Patriots finally snapped out of it and they did it with the help of Bailey Zappe and Ezekiel Elliott. Zappe's performance was arguably the biggest surprise of the game, especially during a first half where he helped the Patriots jump out to a 21-3 lead by throwing three TD passes (One of the TD passes came on a 24-yard dart to Hunter Henry that you can see here. It was arguably the best throw made by either QB on the night). Henry hauled in two of Zappe's three touchdown passes. The Patriots offense also got some huge help from Elliott, who totaled 160 yards and a touchdown on 29 touches. Defensively, the Patriots put together another strong performance that included two sacks along with an interception by Jabrill Peppers that set up a first quarter touchdown. The defense also came up with two key fourth down stops in the second half, including one that came on fourth-and-2 at New England's 8-yard line in the third quarter. The Patriots' might have an ugly record this year, but this team definitely hasn't quit on Bill Belichick.
- Zap attack is back. With his performance against the Steelers, Bailey Zappe became the first Patriots QB since Tom Brady in 2018 to throw three TD passes in a first half. The 21 points scored by New England was also the most that the Patriots have scored in ANY half all season.
STEELERS GRADE: D
The was a total and complete disaster by the Steelers, who looked they forgot that a game was being played on Thursday. In the first half alone, the Steelers defense got gashed up for 21 points by a Patriots team that had not scored 21 points in its past three games COMBINED. Although the defense improved immensely in the second half, that didn't really do much to help a Steelers team that was undone by poor quarterback play and poor coaching. With Kenny Pickett out, the Steelers turned to Mitchell Trubisky, who threw an ugly interception in the first half that gave the Patriots' the ball at Pittsburgh's 11-yard line (The Patriots would score a TD two plays later). As for the coaching, the Steelers made several questionable decisions with the most bizarre one being the fact that they decided to throw it deep on fourth-and-2 with the game on the line in the fourth quarter (You can see the play here). This was an embarrassing loss for a Steelers' team that's suddenly on the outside looking in on the playoff race.
- Steelers make unwanted history. By losing to the 2-10 Cardinals and the 2-10 Patriots in consecutive weeks, the Steelers became the first team in NFL history to be over .500 and lose two straight games to teams that were both at least eight games under .500. Both losses were embarrassing and with the Colts, Bengals, Seahawks and Ravens still on the schedule, it's looking highly unlikely that the Steelers are going to make the playoffs.
If you want to check out more of our takeaways from the game, be sure to click here.
3. Bills coach apologizes for 9/11 analogy that he made in 2019
In what almost certainly qualifies as the most bizarre NFL story of the week, Bills coach Sean McDermott had to apologize on Thursday after some comments became public that he made about 9/11 back in 2019. The comments came out because writer Ty Dunne released a long-form story about McDermott that you can read here (You can read about half the story for free, but you'll need a subscription to read the whole thing).
Here's what you need to know about the situation:
- McDermott chose a very poor metaphor for teamwork. During training camp in 2019, the Bills coach was trying to emphasize the importance of teamwork. "He told the entire team they needed to come together," Dunne wrote in his story. "But then, sources on hand say, he used a strange model: the terrorists on Sept. 11, 2001. He cited the hijackers as a group of people who were all able to get on the same page to orchestrate attacks to perfection. One by one, McDermott started asking specific players in the room questions. 'What tactics do you think they used to come together?" It was a bizarre reference and it was made even worse because it came during a 2019 season where the Bills opened the year against the Jets (Week 1) and Giants (Week 2) in New York.
- McDermott offers his explanation for the speech. The Bills coach held an unscheduled press conference on Thursday where he explained why he used the reference."My intent in the meeting that day was to discuss the importance of communication and being on the same page with the team," McDermott said. "I regretted mentioning 9/11 in my message that day, and I immediately apologized to the team. Not only was 9/11 a horrific event in our country's history, but a day that I lost a good family friend."
- McDermott not in hot water over comments. The coach's remarks came back in 2019 and at this point, they're "old news" to the organization, according to The Athletic. As a matter of fact, The Athletic even notes that the comments have "become a running interoffice joke."
McDermott might not be in hot water right now, but If the Bills miss the playoffs, it will be interesting to see if the Pegulas bring him back for an eighth season in Buffalo.
4. NFL Week 14 picks: Eagles beat Cowboys in NFC East showdown
I hope you're not burnt out on picks yet, because we have even more of them coming at you right now. This batch will be coming from NFL senior writer Pete Prisco and Will Brinson, along with Jordan Dajani, Tyler Sullivan and myself. After a rough patch during the middle of the season, we have now gone .500 or better in five straight weeks.
We went 3-2 against the spread last week, which means that heading into Week 14, we now have a 34-28-2 record against the spread with our picks that have been featured in the newsletter.
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: Buccaneers (+2.5) 23-20 over Falcons. From Prisco: "This is a big division game. Yes, you read that right. The Falcons lead the division, but the Bucs stayed more than alive by beating Carolina last week. This has the look of a lower-scoring game, with the Bucs pulling off an upset on the road." For the rest of Prisco's Week 14 picks, .
- Tyler Sullivan: Eagles (+3.5) 28-24 over Cowboys. From Sullivan: "While they've put together some impressive wins by how they've blown out some of their opponents, I don't think the Cowboys are battle-tested. They were able to get a win against Seattle last Thursday (their first win against an above .500 team), but it was by the skin of their teeth. And the Seahawks might not even be that great of a team. The Eagles are much more trustworthy in my mind even after their blowout loss to the Niners at home on Sunday." For the rest of Sullivan's Week 14 picks, .
- Will Brinson: Browns (-1) to beat Jaguars. From Brinson: "The Jaguars are likely without Trevor Lawrence and C.J. Beathard is on the injury report as well.... Jacksonville's defense struggled against Joe Mixon on Monday and with a short week moving from Florida to Cleveland it's not hard to imagine them ceding some runs to Jerome Ford and Kareem Hunt. Anytime you can back Joe Flacco as a three-point home favorite in the year 2023 you have to do it." For the rest of Brinson's Week 14 best bets, .
- Jordan Dajani: Bengals (+1) 23-21 over Colts. From Dajani: "There's no doubt the Colts have impressed as of late, as they are on their first four-game win streak since the Andrew Luck days. But this is the second road game in as many weeks for Indy. I'm going to ride the Bengals wave." For the rest of Dajani's Week 14 best bets, .
- John Breech: Chargers (-3) 23-16 over Broncos. From me: "We have officially reached the part of the season where the Chargers start playing just well enough to save Brandon Staley's job. I'm not actually sure if they will be able to save Staley's job this year, but I do think they win this game." For the rest of my Week 14 picks, .
5. Bold predictions for Week 14: Bills and Bears both pull off major upsets
Since you're probably tired of picks at this point, we're going to spice things up by giving out some bold predictions, which are like picks, except spicier. Garrett Podell has five bold predictions for Week 14, and we're going to share three of them below. Last week, Garrett boldly predicted that Jordan Love would lead the Packers to an UPSET win over the Chiefs and that's exactly what happened.
Let's see what Garrett has in store for us this week.
Bold predictions for Week 14:
- 1. Bills upset Chiefs, putting Kansas City on its first losing streak since 2021.
- 2. Bears shock Lions.
- 3. Khalil Mack becomes fourth player in NFL history to record multiple sacks in four straight games.
Garrett actually has five bold predictions for Week 14, and if you want to see each prediction, you.
6. Extra points: NFL could soon add four more international games
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.
- NFL owners likely to approve more international games. For the past two years, there have been a total of five international games, but that number could soon jump to nine, according to the Sports Business Journal. The NFL owners are getting together in Texas next week and that will be one of the measures that gets voted on. If the proposal passes, it will likely open the door for Brazil and/or Spain to start hosting games along with London, Germany and Mexico City.
- Lawyer for former Jaguars employee has explanation for $22 million theft. There's been another twist in this case. The lawyer for Amit Patel, the man accused of stealing $22 million from the Jaguars, said that "approximately 99% of the misappropriated funds" were gambling losses. The lawyer also told ESPN that Patel has a gambling addiction. Patel's first court appearance is scheduled for Dec. 14.
- Tua is leading the Pro Bowl vote. The NFL has released the numbers from the first round of fan voting for the Pro Bowl and Tua Tagovailoa is on top. The Dolphins QB got 59,680 votes, which was well ahead of the next two names on the list in C.J. Stroud (44.095) and Christian McCaffrey (43,331). You .
- Trevor Lawrence will be game-time decision for Jaguars. It looks like there's a chance that Lawrence could play this week in a game that will come just six days after he injured his ankle. Lawerence's availability will depend on how he handles practice Friday, according to coach Doug Pederson. If I were the Jags, there's no way I'd play Lawrence. Sending him out to play in bad weather on the road against a Browns defense that has been one of the best in football this year seems like a recipe for disaster. I'd give him another week to heal and make sure he's ready for the Jags' Week 15 showdown against the Ravens.