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Welcome to the Friday edition of the Pick Six newsletter!

For most of the past two decades, if you mentioned the words "Browns" and/or "playoffs" in the same sentence, you'd get laughed out of whatever room you were in, but now, Cleveland is getting the last laugh. The Browns decided to end 2023 with a bang on Thursday night by clinching a playoff spot. 

With the Browns officially in, that means seven of the NFL's 14 playoff spots have been clinched. That number could shoot up to 13 this weekend and we'll be going over the scenarios that could get us there. Also, we'll be making some Week 17 picks and handing out some bold predictions today. 

Alright, it's time to get to the final newsletter of 2023. And just as a reminder, there will be no newsletter on Monday. The first newsletter of 2024 will be coming at you on Tuesday, Jan. 2. 

Although we won't have a newsletter on Monday, we will be recording a new podcast on New Year's Eve where we'll be recapping all the action from Week 17. If you want to join us, be sure to head here and subscribe to the NFL on CBS YouTube page. Also, just as a friendly reminder, don't forget that there is an NFL game on Saturday with Lions at Cowboys kicking off at 8:15 p.m. ET on ABC/ESPN. 

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 17

Philadelphia Eagles v Dallas Cowboys

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 Will Brinson was joined by 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 17.

The crew spent an entire hour handing out picks, and we're going to go over a few of their best bets here. 

Will Brinson (2-1 in picks we shared here last week, 23-24-1 on the season)

R.J. White (1-2 in picks we shared here last week, 20-25-3 on the season)

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. 

PropStarz went 2-1 with his picks last week and is now 27-18 on the season (Prop Starz started the season 2-7, so he's 25-11 since Week 4). 

To hear what the rest of the best bets are for Week 17 -- 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 recap: Grading the Browns' 37-20 win over Jets

For the second time in four years, the Cleveland Browns are headed to the playoffs. The Browns punched their postseason ticket on Thursday night with their win over the Jets. The game had a wild first half, before turning into a defensive struggle over the final two quarters. As matter of fact, it was the first game in NFL history where two teams combined for at least 50 points in the first half, but zero touchdowns in the second half. 

Alright, let's get to the grades: 


For the first 16 weeks of the season, the Jets had one of the best passing defenses in the NFL, but they got exposed by Joe Flacco during the first half on Thursday night. The Jets got diced up by Flacco during a first half where they surrendered a total of 367 yards. The defense was especially bad on third down, letting the Browns convert on five of six attempts in the first two quarters. Jermaine Johnson did come up with a pick-six late in the second quarter, but by then, it was too little, too late. Offensively, Breece Hall was the lone bright spot for the Jets, totaling 126 yards and a TD on 22 touches. The Jets didn't get any help from coach Robert Saleh, who made the decision to punt twice while in Cleveland territory in the second half, despite the fact that his team was trailing 34-17. When you have a bad defense for two quarters, a bad offense for four quarters and questionable coaching, it's tough to win in the NFL and that's what the Jets had on Thursday night. 

Jets notes

  • Jets crash-and-burn on defense. The Jets defense went 33 games without allowing an opposing QB to throw for 300 yards, but that streak ended on Thursday on a night where Flacco finished with 309. The Jets streak was the second longest over the past 20 seasons. Since 2003, only the Colts (2005-08) went longer without allowing a 300-yard passer. Flacco had more passing yards at halftime (296) than the Jets had given up in an ENTIRE game all season (The previous high was 280, which was done by Jalen Hurts back in Week 6). 


Joe Flacco faced his biggest defensive test of the season on Thursday and he aced it. Going into Week 17, the Jets had the second-best pass defense in football, but that didn't faze Flacco, who threw for 309 yards, including 296 in the first half alone (He also threw all three of his TD passes in the first half). Flacco caught fire during the first two quarters and he did most of his damage while throwing to David Njoku, who had 128 yards in the first half. Flacco slowed down slightly in the second half, but that didn't matter because the Jets couldn't move the ball on the Browns defense. Ronnie Hickman came up with the biggest defensive play of the game with a first quarter pick-six that essentially put the game away. With the Browns now headed to the postseason, they suddenly look like one of the most dangerous teams in the playoffs. If Flacco keeps playing like this, he might be able to lead the Browns to their first Super Bowl.

Browns notes

  • QB carousel pays off for Cleveland: By punching their ticket to the postseason, the Browns became the first team in NFL history to make the playoffs in a year where FOUR different quarterbacks made multiple starts for the team. The game against the Jets was Flacco's fifth start of the season. Besides him, Cleveland also had Deshaun Watson start six games along with Dorian Thompson-Robinson (three starts) and P.J. Walker (two starts). With 309 yards against the Jets, Flacco has now throw for 300 yards in four straight games, making him the first QB in Browns history to accomplish that. Flacco now has as many 300-yard games in five starts this year as Patrick Mahomes, Josh Allen and Dak Prescott have over the course of the entire season. 

If you want to check out more of our takeaways from the game, be sure to click here

3. NFL playoff picture: Six teams could punch their postseason ticket in Week 17


With just 31 games left in the regular-season, the NFL playoff picture is starting to take shape. The Browns became the seventh team to punch their playoff ticket this year and by the end of the weekend, 13 of the 14 playoff spots could be taken. 

Here are the the playoff-clinching scenarios for Week 17, starting with the AFC:


  • Can clinch AFC South and playoff berth with: Jaguars win over Panthers combined with Colts loss to Raiders AND Texans loss to Titans

CHIEFS (9-6)

  • Can clinch AFC West and playoff berth withChiefs win over Bengals OR Raiders loss to Colts combined with Broncos loss to Chargers

BILLS (9-6)
The Bills have 14 SCENARIOS where they could clinch a playoff berth this weekend, but they're all complicated, so we're going to take a look at the easiest one. 

  • Can clinch a playoff berth with: Bills win over Patriots combined with Bengals loss to Chiefs and Steelers loss to Seahawks.

The Bills will also be playing for the AFC East title in Week 18 if they beat the Patriots and the Dolphins lose to the Ravens. If the Dolphins lose, that will also allow the Ravens to clinch the top seed in the AFC. On the other hand, if the Dolphins win, they'd clinch the AFC East and stay alive for the No. 1 seed. 

Alright, let's check out the clinching scenarios in the NFC: 


  • Can clinch playoff berth and NFC South title with: Buccaneers win over Saints.

RAMS (8-7)

  • Can clinch a playoff berth withRams win over Giants combined with Seahawks loss to Steelers OR Rams win combined with Vikings-Packers tie.


  • Can clinch a playoff berth withSeahawks win over Steelers combined with Vikings-Packers tie. 

In the NFC, the Eagles could clinch the division title with a win over the Cardinals plus a Cowboys loss to Detroit. Also, the 49ers could clinch the No. 1 overall seed with a win over the Commanders combined with a loss by BOTH the Eagles and Lions. 

Remember, this just represents the easiest clinching scenarios for each of these teams. For a look at every possible playoff-clinching scenario, be sure to click here

No matter what happens this weekend, there will be at least one spot up for grabs heading into Week 18 and that would be the seventh-seed in the AFC, which can't be clinched this week. 

If you're scoring at home, here's a list of the teams that have already clinched: 

AFC (3 of 7): Ravens, Dolphins, Browns
NFC (4 of 7): 49ers, Eagles, Lions, Cowboys (Detroit and San Francisco have clinched their division title)

Although seven playoffs spots are locked up, all seven seeds in each conference are still wide open since none of them have been clinched, which should add some serious drama to the final two weeks of the regular season. 

4. NFL Week 17 picks: Cowboys destroy Lions, Bengals upset Chiefs

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. 

Santa wasn't the only one who delivered on Christmas weekend. The five of us came through with a 5-0 record against the spread in Week 16, which means that heading into Week 17, we now have a 44-32-3 record against the spread with our picks that have been featured in the newsletter.

Anyway, you know the drill here: 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: Bears (-3) 25-19 over Falcons. From Prisco: "The Bears have come alive in recent weeks, serving notice they are a team to watch for next season. The Falcons are still alive in the playoff chase. This will be a tough task, though, against a team playing loose. Look for Justin Fields to outplay Taylor Heinicke to win it." For the rest of Prisco's Week 17 picks, be sure to click here.
  • Tyler Sullivan: Cowboys (-5.5) 33-21 over Lions. From Sullivan: "Dallas has been an absolute monster at home. The Cowboys are 6-1 ATS and have an average margin of victory of 24.4 points. They also have plenty of motivation coming into this contest, looking to stay in the NFC East race and snap a two-game losing skid. Look for Dak Prescott to have a big game through the air against a Lions secondary that is allowing 7.0 yards per pass attempt this season." For the rest of Sullivan's Week 17 picks, be sure to click here.
  • Will Brinson: Bills (-11) to cover against Patriots. From Brinson: "I will not be taking my chances with Bill Belichick and the Pats going on the road against a very hungry Bills team thinking about the playoffs... Sean McDermott's team is undefeated since a controversy-filled bye week and the Bills would love to put the final nail in Belichick's proverbial coffin here. McDermott and the Bills have shown a proclivity for running up the score against the Pats and other division rivals late in the season and I wouldn't be surprised if they did so here." For the rest of Brinson's Week 17 best bets, be sure to click here.
  • Jordan Dajani: Eagles (-10.5) 30-17 over Cardinals. From Dajani: "Philly has already clinched a playoff spot, but the Eagles still have to compete for the division crown and the No. 1 seed in the conference -- which is invaluable. There's motivation to get back to playing elite ball before the playoffs start, and that mission begins this week in front of their home fans." For the rest of Dajani's Week 17 best bets, be sure to click here.
  • John Breech: Bengals (+7) 27-24 over Chiefs. From me: "The Chiefs offense is falling apart: The receivers can't get open, the offensive line can't protect Mahomes and their running game is nearly non-existent (They're averaging just 70 yards per game on the ground over the past three weeks). Since Zac Taylor took over as coach, the Bengals have faced the Chiefs four times and although the Chiefs have been favored in every single one of those games, the Bengals have gone 3-1. The Bengals' season is on the line, so I'm going to get crazy here and take them." For the rest of my Week 17 picks, be sure to click here

For more Week 17 NFL picks, you can check out out our CBS Sports picks page here

5. Bold predictions for Week 17: Mason Rudolph leads Steelers to second straight win


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, but on steroids. Garrett Podell has five bold predictions for Week 17, and we're going to share three of them below. Last week, Garrett boldly predicted that Joe Flacco would throw for at least 300 yards against the Texans and that's exactly what happened. 

Let's see what Garrett has in store for us this week. 

Bold predictions for Week 17:  

1. Jordan Love throws for 300 yards in upset win over Vikings. The Packers QB has only hit the 300-yard mark ONE time this year, but the prediction here is that it happens again in Week 17. Not only that, Garrett thinks the Packers are going to pull off the upset in the NFL's final game before the calendar officially flips to 2024.  

2. Mason Rudolph leads Steelers to upset win over Seahawks. After leading the Steelers to a big win over the Bengals in Week 16, Garrett thinks that Mason Rudolph is going to stay hot and lead the Steelers to an upset win in Seattle this week.

3. Panthers hold a fourth quarter lead against the Jaguars. This might not sound like a bold prediction, but trust me, it is and that's because the Panthers have not held a fourth quarter lead in ANY game this season. Carolina is the only team in NFL history to make it to Week 17 without holding a fourth quarter lead at any point. 

Garrett actually has five bold predictions for Week 17, and if you want to see each prediction along with his explanation for each prediction, you can check those out here

6. Extra points: Vikings make QB change

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. 

  • Jaren Hall to start for Vikings. After two weeks of watching Nick Mullens, Vikings coach Kevin O'Connell has decided to make a switch at QB. Jaren Hall will be the starter this week against the Packers. It will be the rookie's second start of the season. He also started back in Week 9 against the Falcons, but he got knocked out of the game in the first half after making an impressive debut that included going 5 of 6 for 78 yards.   
  • C.J. Stroud set to start for Texans. After missing two weeks due to a head injury, the rookie QB has finally cleared concussion protocol and is expected to start on Sunday against the Titans. It's huge that Stroud is returning, because the Texans currently control their playoff fate. If they win their final two games against the Titans and Colts, that will put them in the playoffs. 
  • Jaylen Waddle out this week. On Friday afternoon, Dolphins coach Mike McDaniel confirmed that Waddle won't play against the Ravens. The wide receiver will miss Sunday's game due to the high-ankle sprain that he suffered in Week 16 against the Cowboys.
  • Former Commanders minority owner sues over sale of team. Believe it or not, there is more drama involving former Commanders owner Dan Snyder. Former minority owner Robert Rothman is suing Bank of America because he thinks he got the short end of the stick when he sold his share of the team to Snyder in 2021. It's an interesting case and you can read more about it here. 

Happy New Year to everyone and thanks for reading this newsletter! Don't do anything dumb this weekend and see you in 2024!