Hello, folks! It's Wednesday, which means we're officially at the midway point between Super Wild-Card Weekend and the Divisional Round. In other words, more playoff football is very much upon us. Wednesday also means our resident Bengals fan and newsletter man John Breech is taking his weekly chance to reflect on why Cincinnati is not in the postseason. So you've got me, Cody Benjamin, the man with two first names, instead. And boy, do we have quite a bit to get to around the NFL.
This is the Pick Six Newsletter. 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 Divisional Round predictions, postseason quarterback rankings and much more:
- Today's show: Is Aaron Rodgers the best bet to win it all?
We've got eight QBs left in the playoffs. (You might actually say nine, if you're counting both Jared Goff and John Wolford for the Rams, but if we're being honest, they probably only deserve one slot anyway.) Which of the remaining signal-callers is best suited to lead his team to a Super Bowl title? That was the center of discussion between Brady Quinn and Will Brinson on Wednesday's Pick Six NFL Podcast (listen and subscribe right here!), and there was a difference of opinion at the top of the list.
"If you're basing it on the here and now," Quinn said, he'd take Aaron Rodgers over reigning title-winner Patrick Mahomes. Brinson, on the other hand, declared Mahomes his safest bet to win it all, pointing to this week's Packers matchup as a potential slip-up for the presumptive 2020 MVP: "With Rodgers, the only concern I would have is, this Rams defense could give the Packers some problems."
The guys weren't as divided on the rest of the QBs, hailing Josh Allen as the third-best of those left and hyping up Lamar Jackson's chances of making a deep run. Catch their entire breakdown, plus discussions of the National Championship and its NFL Draft implications, on the podcast.
2. Prisco's Picks: Bills edge Ravens, Saints sweep Buccaneers
Can Buffalo advance to the AFC Championship? Can Tom Brady finally beat the Saints this season? Can the Rams stun the Packers to return to the NFC title game? Great questions, guys. Fortunately, Pete Prisco is here to forecast the entire Divisional Round. In his weekly predictions, he's got a couple of bold projections on tap. Among them: A Saints sweep of Bruce Arians' Bucs, and an ultra-tight Bills victory over the Ravens. Here's a sneak peek at his thoughts on the latter matchup:
This will be a battle of two star quarterbacks, one who runs it as well as anybody ever has from the position in Lamar Jackson, and the other in Josh Allen, who has been outstanding throwing it this season. The Ravens will make no bones about what they want to do on offense, which is to pound it. They are averaging 262 rushing yards a game in their last six games. The Bills have improved against the run from earlier in the year, but this will be a big challenge. The strategy from coordinator Leslie Frazier will be something to watch in terms of trying to keep Jackson contained. The Ravens defense is back healthy now, which is why they impressed last week against the Titans. But this is a bigger challenge in facing Allen. This will be a close game, but in the end I think Allen will make the game-winning plays late to pull it out -- but it will be razor-thin close.
Pick: Bills 27, Ravens 26
3. QB Power Rankings: Tom Brady, Lamar Jackson crack top five
QB play is one of the biggest determinants of a team's title chances. So you might want to check out our latest rundown of the starting QBs still on the field. In our Divisional Round rankings, it's a really good bunch from top to bottom, with even some of the lower QBs -- like Drew Brees, at No. 6; and Baker Mayfield, at No. 7 -- warranting plenty of respect ahead of this weekend's action. Maybe the most notable inclusions are that of both Tom Brady and Lamar Jackson in the top five. They couldn't be more different in terms of age and play style, but they both present some serious challenges to opponents the rest of the way. Here's a peek at our latest top five:
- Aaron Rodgers
- Patrick Mahomes
- Josh Allen
- Tom Brady (+1)
- Lamar Jackson (+1)
4. Ranking Divisional Round games: Brady vs. Brees tops the list
Let's be honest: Every game on the schedule is worth a look this time of the year. But thanks to our own Tyler Sullivan, you don't have to waste any time trying to figure out which of the Divisional Round matchups is the most anticipated of the week. In ranking all four second-round showdowns, he's identified the clear-cut game to watch: Bucs vs. Saints.
To me, you just can't get any better than Brady vs. Brees. This is likely the last time we'll see these two legends square off against one another with the Saints quarterback possibly leaning towards retirement at the end of this year. This will also be the first time ever that two quarterbacks over the age of 40 will face off in the playoffs, which Brady seems well aware of ... The overall magnitude of a showdown between two of the greatest quarterbacks the league has ever seen is must-see TV and a perfect way to send the divisional round off.
5. Playoff power rankings: Chiefs remain clear-cut favorites
Which of the eight remaining teams deserve the most respect ahead of the Divisional Round? Patrik Walker has issued a full pecking order of all the remaining contenders, and his No. 1 -- surprise, surprise -- just happens to have a recent Lombardi in their trophy case:
- Kansas City Chiefs
The only concern here will be potential rust, but then again, Mahomes has proven he's not necessarily human. He and Tyreek Hill lead an aerial assault that is nearly impossible to halt, and running back Clyde Edwards-Helaire could potentially return to anchor the ground attack. All the defense has to do is match serve, and the Chiefs will be/remain the frontrunner to hoist the Lombardi in February. But that begins with trying to keep a surging Browns team at bay, a task they might find more difficult than others presume.
6. Mock draft: Texans draft QB, trade Deshaun Watson to Dolphins
For all you folks with favorite teams out of the playoffs, don't fret. Because our own Chris Trapasso is busy churning out 2021 mock drafts to tease what could be coming this offseason. In his latest projection, he's got all kinds of bold picks -- none bigger than in Houston, where he has the Texans trading Deshaun Watson to the Miami Dolphins, acquiring Tua Tagovailoa in the process, and then spending the No. 3 overall pick on BYU QB Zach Wilson. Check out his projected trade terms below, and be sure to give the entire mock a read for more fun predictions ahead of the offseason.
Texans get: No. 3 overall, No. 18 overall, 2022 second-round pick, Tua Tagovailoa
Dolphins get: Deshaun Watson, 2022 fourth-round pick