Happy National Aaron Rodgers Day!
OK, so that's not an actual holiday, but it probably should be, because you're going to be hearing a lot of the reigning NFL MVP today. For one, he's got a huge golf match at 5 p.m. ET today on TNT. In the match, which is taking place in Montana, he'll be teaming up with Bryson DeChambeau to take on Tom Brady and Phil Mickelson.
If Rodgers is smart, he'll convince Brady to gamble away one of his Super Bowl rings: "Hey Brady, if I beat you on three, I get a ring." Brady is arguably the most competitive person on the planet, so there's a 93% chance he'd say yes to that.
After the match is over, Rodgers will probably be on the hunt for the largest television in Montana so that he can watch Game 1 of the NBA Finals. The quarterback is actually a part owner of the Bucks and I'm guessing he probably doesn't want to miss a single minute of the game, considering it's Milwaukee's first finals appearance since 1974. If the Bucks win it all, Rodgers will be getting an NBA championship ring, which means he would have as many NBA title rings as Super Bowl rings and I'm not sure if that's good or bad.
As if I haven't already talked about Rodgers enough, we'll be covering Rodgers some more in today's newsletter, so let's get to the rundown.
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1. Today's show: Ranking the top 10 coaches in the NFL
If you read this newsletter every day, you've probably noticed that we've been ranking every position group in the NFL over the past few weeks. Well, today, we decided to throw position groups out the window so that we could rank head coaches instead. The man in charge of ranking all 32 coaches was Cody Benjamin and he joined the Pick Six Podcast on Tuesday to discuss his list with Will Brinson. Also, I was on the show, but I'm 97% sure I was only invited on because our producer was afraid Brinson might not return from his vacation and if that had happened, I probably would have had to host.
Anyway, according to Benjamin, the top three coaches in the NFL heading into the 2021 season are:
Benjamin made sure to note that the coaches weren't ranked on career accomplishments, because if that had been the case, then Belichick would have been an easy No. 1.
During the podcast, we had two big debates and neither revolved around Reid being ranked over Belichick. The first debate came up because Cody left Kyle Shanahan out of the top 10 (Shanahan was ranked 11th). Brinson thought he should have been ranked higher, but I wasn't on the same page with him (We're never on the same page). Bill Parcells once said, "You are what your record says you are," and that's how I view Shanahan. He might be an offensive genius, but the fact of the matter is that he's had three losing seasons in four years as a coach. Shanahan is 29-35 in those four seasons. To put that in perspective, the Titans would have to go 0-16 next year for Mike Vrabel to fall to 29-35 in his coaching career.
The other debate revolved around who should be ranked No. 3. Brinson made the case for Sean Payton while I made the case for Sean McVay.
To listen to today's episode -- and to hear all of these debates -- be sure to click here. You can also check out Cody's entire coaching list by clicking here and you're probably going to want to do that because he ranked all 32 coaches.
2. Predicting how the Aaron Rodgers situation will play out
The Green Bay Packers will be kicking off training camp this year on July 27, which is exactly three weeks from today and even though that date is just 21 days away, the team still has no idea if Aaron Rodgers is going to show up.
CBS Sports NFL Insider Jason La Canfora has been following this situation closely over the past few months and here's how he sees everything playing out.
"Rodgers is enjoying having his foot on the neck of the Packers brass. This has been about making Mark Murphy and Co. feel what Rodgers felt himself when they ambushed him to move up and draft Jordan Love a year ago. This is about blowing up their timeline for a peaceful transition of power and trying to win a Super Bowl somewhere else.
I don't expect to hear anything out of Rodgers' camp until the start of camp, and maybe not even then. He isn't worried about fines – he will be made more than whole whether that ends up in a redone deal in Green Bay or a new contract as part of a trade. I suspect he will let Cheesehead Nation get a nice look at what this offense looks like without him this summer – it will only end up strengthening his position – and then perhaps he will change his tune and come in on a horse made of Cheddar cheese to save their season."
Basically, La Canfora believes that Rodgers will skip the beginning of training camp to put a scare into the Packers. If Rodgers does that and Jordan Love struggles during the early portion of camp, then Rodgers is going to have all the leverage. On the other hand, if Love plays well, the team might feel more comfortable trading Rodgers.
Verdict: Don't look for Rodgers to show up to training camp on time.
3. Predicting every game on the Packers' 2021 schedule
Now that the summer is here, that means the dead part of the NFL offseason is upon us and although things can get kind of boring during this 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, which is actually about to happen. After 30 days of doing this, we're down to our final two teams -- Chicago and Green Bay -- and we'll be knocking the Packers off that list today.
Our Patrik Walker went through Green Bay's entire schedule and picked out all the games the Packers are going to win and all the games they're going to lose. Obviously, the elephant in the room is the Aaron Rodgers situation. We have no idea if Rodgers is going to play and it's nearly impossible to make a season prediction for the Packers if you don't know who their quarterback is going to be.
With that in mind, we decided to do this prediction under the assumption that Rodgers WILL be in Green Bay. Will that assumption end up backfiring on us? Probably, but we're doing it anyway.
Here's a look at how Walker sees the Packers doing in three key games, along with the final record he sees them ending up with:
- Week 1: Packers at Saints. "Without Drew Brees at the helm, and assuming Aaron Rodgers still is in Green Bay, the Packers should enter this game with plenty of firepower to dispatch fairly easily with a Saints team led by either Jameis Winston or Taysom Hill." Prediction: Green Bay 31-17 over Seattle.
- Week 4: Steelers at Packers. "Unlike Aaron Rodgers, Ben Roethlisberger isn't getting better with age. After helping to lead the Steelers to an 11-0 start last season, the wheels came off for him and the offense in what ultimately became an implosion at home in the playoffs. Keeping Roethlisberger around for at least one more year might not have been the smartest move, and it'll likely cost them in this game when they visit the hostile confines of Lambeau Field." Prediction: Green Bay 30-27 over Pittsburgh.
- Week 9: Packers at Chiefs. "The Chiefs have completely revamped the offensive line in front of Patrick Mahomes, and he's already looking good in his recovery from a foot injury that hampered his abilities in the Super Bowl loss to the Buccaneers." Prediction: Kansas City 45-28 over Green Bay.
Overall, Patrik is predicting that the Packers will end the season with an 11-6 record, which is interesting, because that's their record WITH Aaron Rodgers. If Rodgers doesn't play, the Packers might end up being just and eight or nine win team.
If you want to see Patrik's prediction for each game, be sure to click here so you can check out his entire story.
Coming tomorrow, we'll be finishing things up in the prediction department when we predict the 2021 record for the 32nd team on our list: The Chicago Bears.
4. Ranking players most likely to have a bounce-back season
The 2020 season ended up being an ugly one when it comes to star players going down with injuries. From Dak Prescott to Odell Beckham to Saquon Barkley, there were nearly a dozen big names who missed serious playing time last year.
The good news for those players is that they're all expected to be healthy this year, which means the 2021 season could end up being a big bounce-back year for them, and with that in mind, we decided to rank the players most likely to have a bounce-back season in 2021.
Players most likely to have a bounce-back season
1. Odell Beckham, Browns
2. Danielle Hunter, Vikings
3. Julio Jones, Titans
4. Christian McCaffrey, Panthers
5. Nick Bosa, 49ers
6. Carson Wentz, Colts
7. Joe Mixon, Bengals
8. Saquon Barkley, Giants
9. Dak Prescott, Cowboys
10. Jimmy Garoppolo, 49ers
5. NFL's most underrated teams heading into 2021
Every year in the NFL, there are a few teams that fly under the radar heading into the season. Last year, no one thought the Dolphins were going to win 10 games, not many people were picking the Browns to make the playoffs and almost no one picked Washington to win the NFC East. However, all of those things happened.
So which unheralded teams should you be keeping your eye on heading into 2021? Glad you asked.
Cody Benjamin helped us answer that question by putting together a list of the most underrated teams.
- Colts. "How in the world can a team fresh off 11 wins -- a team that's won 28 games and made the playoffs in two of Frank Reich's three seasons as coach -- be underrated? For one, the national buzz is still lagging. The Buccaneers, Chiefs and Packers all have more firepower as Super Bowl favorites, but considering Reich's track record, Indy deserves more love."
- Vikings. "Kirk Cousins has more motivation (hello Kellen Mond), the offense has bona fide play-makers (Dalvin Cook, Justin Jefferson) and, best of all, Zimmer's defense is both deeper and healthier (welcome back, Danielle Hunter!) after an uncharacteristically porous year. They may not win the division, but the Vikings have the makings of a sneaky contender."
- Broncos. "Neither Drew Lock nor Teddy Bridgewater is a surefire top-15 starter, but between Courtland Sutton, Jerry Jeudy, Noah Fant, Bradley Chubb, Kyle Fuller and a healthier Von Miller, they've got play-makers on both sides of the ball. Potentially adding Aaron Rodgers would put them over the top."
- Eagles. "Almost no one, from a national perspective, seems to be buying the possibility of new coach Nick Sirianni surprising out of the gate, with young Jalen Hurts under center. But couple the fresh staff with Hurts' mobility, a healthier offensive line, a new No. 1 wideout in DeVonta Smith and some decent veterans on "D," and a late challenge for the always-open NFC East title isn't nearly as crazy as it sounds."
For a more in-depth look at this list, be sure to click here.
6. 49ers might add a red helmet
When the NFL decided to scrap its "one-helmet" rule last week, the policy change came with one big catch: If any team wants to add an alternate helmet to their wardrobe for the 2022 season, they have to let the league know by July 31.
Basically, this means that each team has less than four weeks to figure out if they want to add an extra helmet. Due to the short turnaround time, there probably won't be a ton of teams who take advantage of the rule in 2022, but one team that might get an alternate helmet is the San Francisco 49ers.
During a recent interview with CBSSports.com, 49ers chief marketing officer Alex Chang revealed that the team is considering the possibility of adding a red helmet for the 2022 season. The 49ers will be wearing a throwback uniform in 2022 -- they'll also be wearing the throwbacks this season -- and when the throwbacks were originally worn back in 1955, the team wore a red helmet with them.
"There's really two options for us," Chang said. "Stick with the '94 helmet, which we're already using today and we love that look — or a 1955 helmet which was a red helmet with a silver stripe and face mask. We're looking at both."
I don't think the 49ers are going to count my vote, but if they are, I vote for the red helmet. Again, the 49ers only have until July 31 to make this decision, so we'll soon know whether they're going to bring back this blast from their past.