One more week.
That's all that stands between us and the start of the 2021 NFL season. Between now and then, I plan to have a "Hard Knocks" marathon so I can get a better idea of how many points I'm going to pick the Cowboys to lose by next week. Just kidding, Cowboys fans, I'm not going to pick you to lose. Actually, I am. You know what, you'll just have to wait until next week to find out.
With the NFL season just one week away, we'll be going over our favorite MVP bets in today's newsletter. We'll also be going over the reasons why the Saints decided to move their opener to Jacksonville and why the Steelers -- yes, THE PITTSBURGH STEELERS -- might be a dark-horse team to get to the Super Bowl, but for now, I'm going to stop teasing the stuff that's going to be in the newsletter so we can actually get to the newsletter.
As always, here's your weekly reminder to tell all your friends to sign up for the Pick Six newsletter. To get your friends to sign up, all you have to do is click here and then share this link with them.
1. Today's show: Best teams to bet on to win the Super Bowl
It's officially "Gambling Week" on the Pick Six podcast, which means if you want to win money betting on the NFL this year, then you're going to want to listen to every episode that we put out this week.
For today's show, Will Brinson was joined by Brandon Guptill of Gup's Corner and the two of them broke down who you should bet on for all the major NFL awards this year (MVP, Offensive Rookie of the Year and Defensive Rookie of the Year). Not only did they talk about the obvious favorites, but they also went over a few value picks and even some long shots that could make some sense.
Since we'll be looking at MVP candidates further down in the newsletter today, we'll skip over that part and look at who Brinson and Guptill like to win the Offensive Rookie of the Year award.
"I think he's the best situation now," Guptill said. "They've got a really good defense -- they have a lot coming back especially with opt outs -- and he's surrounded by a lot more weapons. We know that offensive system can work. I think he'll be very successful in that offense and they'll do well. If they go back to the playoffs this year and he has a good year, I think it's a really good bet."
The two guys don't love Trevor Lawrence and Zach Wilson as much because of the talent they have around them. As for the other two first-round quarterbacks, it's a big risk to bet on either Trey Lance or Justin Fields, because it's not clear how much they're going to play this year.
To listen to today's episode -- and to subscribe to the best daily NFL podcast out there -- be sure to click here.
2. Saints opener against Packers is being moved to Jacksonville and there are some amazing reasons why
With the city of New Orleans still recovering from the aftermath of Hurricane Ida, the Saints have been forced to move their regular-season opener out of New Orleans. The NFL announced on Wednesday that the Saints game against the Packers will now be played in Jacksonville.
If you're wondering how the game ended up in Jacksonville of all places, there's actually kind of a funny story behind it. The original plan was to put the game in Dallas, but there's a concert there on Sept. 15, so that option was quickly ruled out. After that, the state of Florida became the next option with Miami, Tampa Bay and Jacksonville in the running.
The Saints loved the idea of playing in Florida because Aaron Rodgers has historically struggled there. In seven career games, Rodgers is just 3-4 with a QB rating of 78.1. The Saints also feel like they have an advantage in Florida due to the high humidity, which they're used to thanks to the fact that they practice in New Orleans.
The Saints loved the idea of Jacksonville because they thought it would keep Packers fans from taking over the stadium. They didn't want Miami because it's a destination spot, which probably would have led to Packers fans taking over the stadium. As for Tampa Bay, the Buccaneers are a division rival, so the Saints thought Bucs fans might show up just to cheer against the Saints, which left them with Jacksonville as their best option. According to NOLA.com, one other upside to picking Jacksonville is that the Saints actually did some research and they found that Jacksonville would be the most expensive and difficult city for Packers fans to get to.
The pettiness of this is so perfect that I'm almost rooting for the Saints to win.
3. Who's going win MVP this year? Here are our staff picks
Between now and the start of the NFL season, we're going to be bombarding you with NFL picks and predictions here, so please get mentally prepared. For today's prediction, we rounded up 10 or our writers here at CBSSports.com and asked them to predict who's going to be voted NFL MVP this year.
After going through all the votes, I noticed that the only position we voted for was quarterback, which I guess makes sense since the MVP has been won by a quarterback for eight straight years (Adrian Peterson in 2012 was the last non-QB to take home the award).
With that in mind, here's a look at our pick for MVP (Next to each player's name, you can see their odds for winning the award and how many votes they received):
Everyone on this list has at least one MVP award under their belt except for Josh Allen. My vote went to Allen and that's mostly because I think he's going to be better than he was last year when he finished second in the MVP voting. I also like Allen's odds, if you bet $100 on him, you'll make a $1200 profit if he ends up winning the award.
If you want to see everyone's full explanation for their vote, you can check that out by clicking here.
4. Three reasons why the Steelers will win the Super Bowl
If there's one division champion from last year who's being overlooked heading into the 2021 season, it's definitely the Pittsburgh Steelers. After starting 11-0 last year, the Steelers completely collapsed and because of that, they've basically been written off by a lot people (Oddsmakers in Vegas have the Browns and the Ravens as the two favorites to win the AFC North).
Our Bryan DeArdo hasn't written the Steelers off and I know that for a fact because he wrote a story today giving us three reasons why the Steelers can win the Super Bowl.
Here's why DeArdo think the Steelers could be a dark-horse Super Bowl team:
- Ben Roethlisberger is now healthy. Last year, Big Ben was coming off major elbow surgery and he seemed to fade down the stretch. This year, Roethlisberger is healthy and his arm should be strong enough to keep the Steelers offense running at a high level all year.
- The offense should be more balanced. If you watched the Steelers last year, it was almost like they forgot the run existed. With first-round pick Najee Harris now on the team and new offensive coordinator Matt Canada expected to run a more balanced attack, the offense should be much more unpredictable this year.
- The defense should still dominate. The Steelers had one of the best defenses in the NFL last year and that likely won't change in 2021.
If you want a full explanation on DeArdo's three reasons, be sure to click here. On the other hand, if you don't care about the Steelers and you want to know why the Bills might be able to win the Super Bowl instead, then you're definitely going to want to click here to check out our story on three reasons why Buffalo can win it all.
5. 49ers might not ever officially announce a starting QB
Despite the fact that the 49ers' regular-season opener is just 10 days away, the team still hasn't officially named a starting quarterback, and apparently, it's going to stay that way. During an interview on Wednesday, 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan didn't sound like someone who planned on officially anointing a starter before Week 1.
"I don't need to announce the quarterback, I don't think I need to announce the starting punt returner, either, but I bet you guys could figure it out," Shanahan said, via NFL.com.
Normally, I'd say this is dumb and that Shanahan is being crazy, but I actually like the strategy in this situation. The 49ers opponent is now going to have to prepare for Jimmy Garoppolo and Trey Lance, which isn't going to be easy, because the two quarterbacks have completely different skill sets. That being said, I think we'll see Jimmy get the start in Week 1 against the Lions. After that, I think we'll get a taste of Lance at some point in the game, but only if he's fully recovered from his finger injury, which isn't a given.
Shanahan admitted that Lance's injury could linger into next week, which would potentially knock the rookie out of the opener.
"I mean, anytime you've got a small chip, it could linger," Shanahan said. "I hope it doesn't, I'm hoping he's back there next Monday. He seems positive about it. But we gotta be smart with it, too. Sometimes when it's a real little thing like that, it's hard to believe it's still hurt. But we gotta make sure he doesn't go back out there and have a setback right away, too."
Texans don't officially have a starting QB either
The 49ers aren't the only team that hasn't named a starter, the Texans haven't either! I assumed that Tyrod Taylor was going to be the starter, but apparently no one has let him know yet if that's the case.
"I haven't been told that officially, but I've never necessarily looked for that confirmation," Taylor said this week, via USA Today. "My mindset doesn't change and it hasn't changed since I've been drafted. Ever since I've started playing football, it's to prepare as a starter, lead like a starter and let the coaches make the decisions that they make."
The Texans not telling their starter that he's the starter pretty much sums up the 2021 Texans in a nutshell.
6. Rapid-fire roundup
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.
- Carson Wentz has been taken off the COVID list. With 10 days to go until the start of their season, Wentz can finally get back to practice. The quarterback missed multiple weeks due to foot surgery and then missed five more days after being placed on the COVID list. The Colts will definitely be hoping that he doesn't miss any more practice between now and the opener.
- T.Y. Hilton to miss at least three games. The Colts receiver was placed on injured reserve after undergoing surgery on his neck. The IR move means that Hilton will have to sit out at least three games at the minimum.
- Tyrann Mathieu tests positive for COVID. The Honey Badger could miss up to 10 days, which could put him in jeopardy for playing in the opener. However, that would be the worst-case scenario. Since Mathieu is vaccinated, he can return to the team if he registers two negative tests 24 hours apart.
- Vikings tight end out for the season. Irv Smith was supposed to be a big part of the Vikings offense this season, but that won't be the case anymore. The tight end had surgery on his meniscus this week and is now expected to miss the entire year. To make up for the loss, the Vikings traded for Jets tight end Chris Herndon this week.
- Giants to retire Michael Strahan's number. No one in the Giants organization will ever be able to wear No. 92 again and that's because the Giants are retiring Michael Strahan's old number. The ceremony is going to take place on Nov. 28 when the Giants host the Eagles.
- N'Keal Harry to miss multiple weeks. The Patriots are going to be down a receiver to start the season and that's because Harry has been placed on injured reserve due to a shoulder injury that he suffered during the preseason. Harry is expected to be back in a "few weeks," but will definitely miss at least three games.
- Lions finally have a kicker. The Lions were left with ZERO kickers on their roster after cut day, but it looks like they've finally found someone to handle the job. The team has signed Austin Seibert, who was cut by the Bengals after losing a training camp competition to rookie Evan McPherson.
- Five-time Pro Bowler Jurrell Casey retires. After 10 years in the NFL, Casey has decided to call it quits. The 31-year-old's career started in 2011 when the Titans selected him in the third round of the NFL Draft. Casey went on to play nine years in Tennessee and one year in Denver. Casey racked up five or more sacks in seven of the past eight seasons.