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Happy New Year everyone!

This is the first newsletter of 2021 and I am celebrating by giving you the longest newsletter in Pick Six history. I didn't do that on purpose, but that's what happens when we get 24 hours of absolute craziness in the NFL. 

Here's what has happened since the season ended yesterday: 

  • Three coaches have already been fired
  • Giants fans hate Doug Pederson more than they normally hate Doug Pederson
  • The Browns are in the playoffs for the first time since 2002

We'll be covering all three of those things plus plenty more in today's newsletter, so without further adieu, let's get to the rundown. By the way, if you're still trying to think of a New Year's resolution, I have an idea: You can share this newsletter with everyone you know. Just click here to grab the link and then send that link to everyone on your email list or just sign them up without telling them, and if you do that, then we'll all have a fun 2021. 

1. Today's Show: Week 17 winners and losers plus full recap


It's Monday, which can only mean one thing: I stayed up until 3 a.m. last night recording a podcast with Will Brinson and Ryan Wilson that touched on everything you need to know about Week 17, and let me just say, it's probably for the best that you listen. Actually, I'll be honest, we didn't touch on everything you need to know, because we got carried away and started talking a lot about the playoffs at the expense of games that didn't mean anything like Broncos-Raiders.  

One thing we do every week is hand out our weekly winners and losers from Sunday's action. For our winners this week, we did the obvious thing: We all picked a team that made the playoffs.   

Ryan Wilson

  • Winner: Browns. If you end an 18-year playoff drought, you're automatically a winner and that's exactly what the Browns did on Sunday. Who cares if they beat the Steelers backups? That doesn't matter. The only thing that matters is that they're headed to the postseason for the first time since 2002, when they lost to the...  you know what, I'm not going to mention who they lost to, because they don't need that kind of negativity in their life right now.      
  • Loser: Giants. I'm not sure what it feels like to be tortured for three straight hours, but I'm sure the Giants now know after being forced to watch the Eagles tank against Washington in a game that would have given New York the NFC East title if Philadelphia had won.

Will Brinson

  • Winner: Colts. Week 17 could have been a disastrous one for the Colts, but it turned into a week of celebration thanks to the Dolphins. After Miami's loss to Buffalo, that meant all Indy had to do to get into the playoffs was beat the Jaguars and let's be honest, it's not that hard to beat the Jaguars. 
  • Loser: Dolphins. It's not often a team goes 10-6 and finishes the season on the losers list, but that's exactly what's happening here. No only did they miss the playoffs, but their quarterback situation is a total mess. Tua Tagovailoa doesn't really look like the team's QB of the future, which is not what you want to hear about a guy you just spent a top-five pick on. 

John Breech

  • Winner: Rams. The Rams were put in a rough situation last week when they found out that Jared Goff wouldn't be able to play against the Cardinals on Sunday, but despite that setback, they still managed to beat Arizona. The Rams defense basically carried L.A. to the playoffs by outscoring the Cardinals 9-7 on their own.  
  • Loser: Mike McCarthy. It's a good thing Doug Pederson embarrassed himself in front of a national television audience on Sunday night, because if that didn't happen, people would probably be talking about McCarthy's multiple bad decisions. Not only did he fail to go for two at a point in the second half when he probably should have, but he also refused to challenge a catch by Dante Pettis in the fourth quarter that set up a Giants' field goal that basically decided that game. McCarthy has been a below-average coach all year and the loss to the Giants basically epitomized everything he's done wrong all season.  

Not only did we list our winners and losers, but we also recapped every game from Sunday. If you want to listen -- and you definitely should -- you can click here

2. Did Doug Pederson tank to cost the Giants a playoff spot? 

As we all know, Giants fans are naturally unhappy people, so you're probably not going to be surprised when I tell you that they were not happy with how Doug Pederson coached on Sunday night. 

With the Eagles trailing 17-14, Pederson decided to bench Jalen Hurts in favor of Nate Sudfeld during the second half of a game that the Giants needed Philadelphia to win. If the Eagles had been able to beat Washington on Sunday night, the Giants would have made the playoffs, but the Eagles did not win and that's mostly due to the fact that Pederson made some of the worst decisions in the history of coaching. We can debate whether he made those decisions on purpose, but let me just say this: The Giants didn't get wronged here.

For one, benching your starters in Week 17 is something that's done every year in the NFL and the Giants weren't the only team that got screwed over on Sunday. The Dolphins would have made the playoffs if the Steelers would have beaten the Browns, but that didn't happen, because Pittsburgh rested its starters in a 24-22 loss. I didn't not see Dolphins fans all up in arms on Twitter, but that also might be because they got the third overall pick in the draft as a consolation prize (more on that later).

Also, if Pederson is returning to Philadelphia in 2021 -- and by all accounts he is -- then he has to look at the big picture. The big picture here is pretty simple: If you win the game, your draft pick in 2021 drops to ninth overall. If you lose the game, you get the sixth overall pick. If you're the Eagles, would you rather have the sixth pick or the ninth pick? That's easy. 

The Eagles don't owe the Giants anything. If the Giants wanted to make the playoffs, maybe they should have won more than six games. For instance, if the Giants hadn't blown a 21-10 lead in the final five minutes against the Eagles back in Week 7, then they would be in the playoffs. 

The only people who should be upset about Pederson's decision-making are the players in the Eagles locker room. They put their team in a position to win, but Pederson undermined their effort by benching Hurts and putting an XFL-level quarterback (Sudfeld) in the game. If those guys are fine with the situation, then everyone should be. 

All that being said, I do think the NFL will make one minor rule change going forward regarding Week 17. In 2010, the league changed its rules so that the final week of the season would only consist of divisional games. This time around, I think they'll change the rule and require both teams to have something on the line if a game is going to be flexed to Sunday night. The only one that would have fit that bill on Sunday was Cardinals-Rams, but the NFL decided to go with Eagles-Washington. 

3. Ranking the wild-card games


If you use the internet at all this week, you're going to be reading a lot about the playoffs, so I thought I'd get things started here by ranking the six wild-card games. This season marks the first time in NFL history that six games will be played on Wild Card Weekend. From 1990 to 2019, there were only 12 teams in the playoffs, which meant there was only a need for four wild-card games. However, with the expansion to 14 playoff teams, the NFL had to schedule a triple-header for both Saturday AND Sunday to fit everything in. 

1. (7) Indianapolis at (2) Buffalo, 1:05 p.m. ET, Saturday (CBS): Is this game on the top of my list because it's on CBS? No, but it certainly helps. The Bills haven't won a playoff game since 1995 and to end that drought, they're going to have to beat one of the best defenses in football. Usually the NFL saves the best for last, but I guess they decided to do the opposite here.

2. (5) Baltimore at (4) Tennessee, 1:05 p.m. ET, Sunday (ABC/ESPN): Lamar Jackson has never won a playoff game (0-2) and the pressure is going to be on him big time here. Not helping things is the fact that the Ravens are 0-2 against the Titans over the past 12 months. These are two of the highest scoring teams in the league and I'm fully expecting a shootout. 

3. (7) Chicago at (2) New Orleans, 4:40 p.m. ET, Sunday (CBS): This game is going to be simulcast on Nickelodeon, which is half the reason I'm excited for it. Although the Saints are the biggest favorites of Wild Card Weekend, I'm not sure why they're favored by 9.5 points. The Bears and Saints actually played one of the craziest games of the season back in Week 8 -- a 26-23 overtime win for New Orleans -- and I'm fully expecting another crazy game this week.

4. (6) Cleveland at (3) Pittsburgh, 8:15 p.m. ET, Sunday (NBC): I just saw this game in Week 17 and the Browns were barely able to beat the Steelers backups, so I'm not feeling so confident about their chances against the Steelers starters. That being said, I am excited to see the Browns in the playoffs for the first time since 2002. Those were such innocent times. 

5. (5) Tampa Bay at (4) Washington, 8:15 p.m. ET, Saturday (NBC): After watching Washington play in primetime on Sunday night, I've decided I'd prefer not to be subjected to another primetime game involving the Football Team. That being said, this could be an interesting game and that's because Washington has the kind of defense that can slow down Tom Brady

6. (6) Rams at Seahawks (3), 4:40 p.m. ET, Saturday (Fox): This game could be an offensive bore. I have no idea if Jared Goff is going to play and on the Seahawks' end, their offense has looked dead over the past three weeks. On the other hand, nearly every Seahawks game ends up being bonkers, so let me just say that I've actually surprised myself by having this game ranked last on this list. 

If you're wondering about the Chiefs and Packers, they both got a bye, which means they won't be playing until the divisional round. 

4. NFL coaches getting canned

There's a reason the day after the regular season is known as "Black Monday" around the NFL and that's because it's the one day every year where at least one head coach gets fired. On a completely unrelated note, I also like to think it's called "Black Monday" as an homage to "Black Friday" since teams will now be shopping for a new head coach. I bet the Chargers try to get one on sale. That seems like something they'd do. 

The NFL season ended less than 24 hours ago and there have already been three firings, so let's go over those real quick: 

  • Jaguars: Coach Doug Marrone was axed in Jacksonville after a season where the Jaguars finished 1-15 to earn the top overall pick in the 2021 NFL Draft. CBS Sports NFL Insider Jason La Canfora previously reported that if Marrone were to get fired that the Jags would give some serious thought to hiring former Ohio State coach Urban Meyer. According to NFL.com, Meyer and current OSU coach Ryan Day will both be considered for the open Jaguars job. The job in Jacksonville might be the most enticing one out there this offseason and that's because they have the top pick in the draft, they have a lot of salary cap space and of course, there are no state income taxes in Florida. As someone who lives in a state with no state income tax, my advice for the Jaguars would be to make that your top selling point. 
  • Jets: In the least surprising move of the offseason, the Jets fired Adam Gase on Sunday. Gase tried to save his job with two big wins over the Rams and Browns at the end of the season, but that wasn't enough to convince the Jets to keep him. Gase was fired after just two seasons with the team where he went 9-23. With Gase out, don't be surprised if the Jets look to the college ranks. When the job came open two years ago, they interviewed multiple college coaches before hiring Gase and it won't be surprising if they interview several more candidates from the college ranks this time around. CBS Sports NFL Insider Jason La Canfora has reported that the team could potentially end up showing interest in both Northwestern's Pat Fitzgerald and Florida's Dan Mullen.
  • Chargers: Although Lynn led this team to the playoffs in 2018, the past two seasons weren't kind to the Chargers head coach. Not only was he 11-21 over the past two years, but the Chargers have also had the most one-score losses over that span and a lot those have come because of questionable end-of-game coaching. With Justin Herbert on the roster, this is going to be a coveted job and one name to watch is Brian Daboll. The Bills offensive coordinator went to high school with Chargers general manager Tom Telesco and it won't be surprising if Telesco reaches out in the near future.

By the time you read this newsletter, there could be another firing added to this list. One coach who won't be getting fired is Zac Taylor in Cincinnati. Taylor got a vote of confidence from Bengals owner Mike Brown on Monday and will definitely be returning for 2021. 

5. Jared Goff's health up in the air, Browns lose Vernon

One of the biggest questions heading into Wild Card Weekend is whether Jared Goff is going to be able to play for the Rams. Goff underwent surgery on his injured right thumb on Dec. 28, which caused him to miss the team's Week 17 win over the Cardinals. I'm not a doctor, but it seems like asking him to play after less than two weeks of recovery might be a bit much, especially when you consider that the thumb injury is on his throwing hand. 

Rams coach Sean McVay was asked about Goff's status on Sunday and didn't really have an answer

"I'm not sure on that right now," McVay said. 

If Goff can't go, the Rams will once again be rolling with John Wolford, who totaled 287 yards (231 pass, 56 rush) in his team's 18-7 win over Arizona. Considering this was the first start of Wolford's career, McVay came away impressed. 

"I thought he did a great job today," McVay said. "He made plays."

Although Wolford did play well, the fact of the matter is that he only led the Rams offense to nine points (The defense scored the other nine) and that number isn't going to cut it in the playoffs.

In other injury news, the Browns will be without Olivier Vernon for the rest of the postseason. Vernon, who finished second on the team with nine sacks, is done for the year after tearing his Achilles against the Steelers. 

6. NFL Draft order partially set: Top 18 picks are locked in


With the NFL season now over, that means we now know who will be getting the top 18 picks in the 2021 NFL Draft (The other 14 spots will be figured out after the playoffs). From a draft perspective, the biggest winner from Sunday's action was the Dolphins, who were simultaneously also the day's biggest loser because they couldn't beat a Bills team that let their backups play for an entire half. 

If you ignore that though, the reason the Dolphins are a winner is because they're getting the third overall pick in the draft thanks to their trade with the Texans back in August 2019 that sent Laremy Tunsil and Kenny Stills to Houston. One thing Miami got in return was the Texans' 2021 first-round pick.

That pick means the Dolphins will now have two of the top 18 picks in the draft this year.  

With that in mind, here is the official order the top 18 spots in the draft: 

1. Jaguars (1-15)
2. Jets (2-14)
3. Dolphins (4-12) (via HOU)
4. Falcons (4-12)
5. Bengals (4-11-1)
6. Eagles (4-11-1)
7. Lions (5-11)
8. Panthers (5-11)
9. Broncos (5-11) 
10. Cowboys (6-10)
11. Giants (6-10)
12. 49ers (6-10)
13. Chargers (7-9)
14. Vikings (7-9)
15. Patriots (7-9)
16. Cardinals (8-8)
17. Raiders (8-8)
18. Dolphins (10-6)

One thing to note here is that if the Eagles had won on Sunday night, they would have dropped from the sixth overall pick to the ninth overall pick, so I guess it kind of does make sense now why Doug Pederson was tanking. 

7. The Kicker!

I feel like I don't talk about the Lions enough in this newsletter so I thought I'd throw them a bone today by mentioning their kicker, Matt Prater. During Detroit's 37-35 loss to the Vikings on Sunday, Prater hit a 54-yard field goal, which is notable, because it means he now holds the NFL record for making the most field goals beyond 50 yards. 

Going into Sunday, Prater was tied with Sebastian Janikowski with 58 kicks of 50 or more yards, but he now holds the record after hitting his 59th. Prater also holds the NFL record for longest field goal ever (64 yards), which he set back in 2013 while playing for the Broncos. 

Prater also won free beer for the entire city of Detroit. For details on how that happened, be sure to click here

If you need me, I'll be trying to convince my wife to move to Detroit so we can get the free beer. I feel like I need it after surviving 2020.