Hello, all of you fine folks! Week 18 is right around the corner, which means playoff football is, too. That's why John Breech isn't here to deliver the news today; he's currently hopping from store to store to clean out all of the Bengals gear for Wild Card Weekend. Hopefully he's got a good credit card. Anyway, I'm Cody Benjamin, and I'm here with 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 Week 18 predictions, playoff picks, MVP buzz, QB rumors and more:
- Today's show: Predicting Baker Mayfield's future in Cleveland
Brady Quinn joined Will Brinson on Wednesday's "Pick Six NFL Podcast" to discuss the Browns' quarterback situation. Even though Baker Mayfield is signed through 2022, will he remain Cleveland's starter? And is there any scenario where Kevin Stefanski and Co. could try to cut ties with the former first-rounder this offseason?
"I think you let it play itself out (and) see what this offense looks like with a clean slate moving forward, (because) they've got maybe a top three roster in the NFL when they're healthy," Quinn said. "The question now becomes, can they upgrade? But I think (Baker's) better than any of the prospects in the draft. And I don't think an Aaron Rodgers or Russell Wilson or Deshaun Watson will want to go there, even though it's one of the best rosters."
Stefanski "needs to take a hard look in the mirror," Quinn added, before making any big moves with Mayfield. Brinson, meanwhile, thinks it's all but a lock Baker will be back in 2022, under his fifth-year option.
Catch the entire episode (and subscribe for all kinds of daily NFL talk) right here.
Pete Prisco is heating up just in time for the playoffs, going 12-4 in both straight-up and against-the-spread picks, as well as 6-1 in his Best Bets, for Week 17. Now? He's back with predictions for every single Week 18 matchup. Here are some big ones:
- Ravens 28, Steelers 21: Any time these two get together, it's a physical battle. They don't like each other. That's why I think the Ravens will find a way to pull this game out to end the Steelers' season, especially with the Steelers on a short week.
- Rams 27, 49ers 20: The 49ers need this to get into the playoffs, while the Rams need it to win the division. The 49ers under Kyle Shanahan have gotten the best of the Rams and Sean McVay ... (but) Matt Stafford will play well here. Rams get it.
- Chargers 31, Raiders 23: This is a playoff game. The Raiders surprised many by beating the Colts on the road, and they did it with their defense. That unit will be challenged here by Justin Herbert. I think the Chargers get to the postseason.
3. MVP watch: Aaron Rodgers on track for second straight crown
Jared Dubin has been compiling staff picks for 2021 NFL MVP for weeks now, and with the season all but wrapped up, a clear favorite has been determined: Rodgers, the reigning MVP himself. Eleven different experts cast votes for their top five MVP choices, and this is how the leader board shook out:
- Packers QB Aaron Rodgers (52 points)
- Buccaneers QB Tom Brady (43)
- Colts RB Jonathan Taylor (19)
- Rams WR Cooper Kupp (16)
- Bengals QB Joe Burrow (14)
- Bills QB Josh Allen (10)
- Chiefs QB Patrick Mahomes (10)
- Steelers OLB T.J. Watt (1)
4. Playoff projections: Chargers, 49ers clinch in Week 18
John Breech has been collecting SportsLine simulations to forecast the final playoff picture, and the computers lean Los Angeles ever so slightly in the Chargers' do-or-die matchup with the Raiders. San Francisco, meanwhile, could still miss out on the playoffs with a loss to the Rams, plus a Saints win over the Falcons, but the simulations have the Niners advancing. Here's a look at the full projected playoff field entering Week 18:
5. QB Power Rankings: Red-hot Joe Burrow leaps into top five
We rank all 32 starting QBs from first to worst every week, and with the regular season coming to a close, the Bengals truly appear to have one of the best young signal-callers in the game. Joe Burrow made a big leap into the top five entering Week 18, while guys like Carson Wentz and Tua Tagovailoa took small tumbles farther down the board. Here's a peek at our latest top 10:
- Aaron Rodgers
- Tom Brady
- Patrick Mahomes
- Josh Allen
- Joe Burrow (+1)
- Justin Herbert (-1)
- Dak Prescott (+1)
- Matthew Stafford (-1)
- Russell Wilson (+2)
- Kyler Murray
6. Rapid-fire roundup: MVP watch, Super Bowl odds, more
Hungry for more NFL headlines? Good, because we've got more right here:
- One MVP voter vows not to vote for Rodgers: Because the Packers QB is a "jerk," apparently
- Packers edge Chiefs as Super Bowl favorites: Oddsmakers still like the Buccaneers, too
- Baker Mayfield landing spots: A look at where the Browns QB could end up in 2022
- Where could Antonio Brown play next? Forecasting the receiver's future beyond 2021
- 2022 mock draft: Chris Trapasso has the Giants taking a big swing at QB in this one
- Is Jalen Hurts the next Donovan McNabb? Jeff Kerr compares the past and present Eagles QBs
- Derrick Henry set to return to practice: And here comes Tennessee!
- Bud Dupree charged with assault: The Titans LB is facing a misdemeanor