I hate doing this, but I'm going to have to start today's newsletter with some bad news. Actually, it could also be viewed as good news, but I guess that just depends on how you feel about me.
Anyway, here's the news: Today will be my final newsletter.... until May 24. And that's because I'll be out all next week. Although I'm a firm believer in the Bill Belichick motto of "no days off," my wife is not, so I'll be out on vacation. Since I'll be out for the week, that means Cody Benjamin will be taking over for all five days. I once spent three hours with Cody at a CBS meeting in Florida and let me just say that by the end of next week, there's a 100% chance you guys will be using words like "golly" and "howdy-do." Plus, there's also a 75% percent chance that he'll brainwash you into becoming an Eagles fan. I'd like to apologize in advance.
Alright, let's get to the rundown.
As always, here's your weekly reminder to tell all your friends to sign up for the newsletter. You should definitely tell them to sign up if they like the Eagles. All you have to do is click here and then share the link.
1. Today's show: Friday Mailbag
During the NFL offseason, we like to spice things up each week by adding a listener mailbag every Friday. Our mailbag episodes are pretty simple: We read listener questions during the show and then answer as many of those questions as possible. Questions can be about literally anything. I mean, I think we once spent 10 minutes debating the best breakfast food (The answer is French toast). Anyway, if you want to submit a question, all you have to do is go to Apple Podcasts (click here) and leave a five-star review.
For today's mailbag, the questions were all over the place. Here's a small sample:
- If you guys were starting up a team and could choose one set of NFL brothers to play for you, who would you pick? Travis and Jason Kelce, Joey and Nick Bosa or T.J., Derek and J.J. Watt? Not only is this a fantastic question, but I have to say, I don't think I realized how many sets of brothers are in the NFL. Not only do you have the three listed above, but you also have the Griffins (Shaquill and Shaquem), the McCourtys (Jason and Devin), the Kendricks (Mychal and Eric) and the Edmunds (Tremaine, Terrell and Trey). Since there are three Edmunds brothers, I would probably lean toward them. The Kelces are getting up their in age and I'm not sure how much longer J.J. Watt is going to be good, so those two families are out. Also, now that I've given this some deep thought, I've decided that I'm going with the Harbaughs. If I'm starting a team, I'm starting it with a coaching staff that includes John and Jim as co-head coaches. This will either end with them winning a Super Bowl or killing each other by Week 8, but either way, it will be highly entertaining.
- If Odell Beckham retired right now, would he be in the Hall of Fame? Not only did Odell's career get off to a fantastic start, but he also made one of the most iconic catches of all time. However, if iconic catches got you into the Hall of Fame, then Jerome Simpson would be in (He did a somersault catch back in 2011 and you can see that by clicking here). Ryan Wilson, Will Brinson and I all agreed that Odell is not a Hall of Famer right now, but he could get in with three or four more highly productive seasons.
To listen to the rest of the questions from today's mailbag -- and to follow the podcast -- be sure to click here.
2. Tom Brady reveals two things we didn't know about him
The fact that the Buccaneers won the Super Bowl last season should now be viewed as a minor miracle considering everything that Tom Brady was going through in 2020. During a recent appearance on Hodinkee radio, Brady revealed two very interesting things about himself that makes Tampa's Super Bowl run seem that much more impressive.
Brady's knee was messed up
Remember that knee surgery Brady had back in February? At the time, it was described as a simple "clean-up," but according to Brady, it was a actually a pretty serious surgery and he had to have it done after playing on a bad knee for part of the year.
"I had a pretty serious knee surgery this offseason, which is the first surgery I've had in about 12 years," Brady said, via the Tampa Bay Times. "I was really interested to see how it was going to go, because last year it just took a lot. Every week I was kind of tending to my knee, and I thought I would love to see a season where I can focus on some other strength stuff that I want to do, some other technique stuff where I'm not just focused on protecting my knee all the time... So It's been pretty intense this offseason from that standpoint, because it's been six-and-a-half weeks that I've been dealing with the rehab process."
It's unclear when Brady's knee started bothering him, be he does say that he was tending to it "every week," so it's possible it was bothering him before the season even started.
Basically, Brady led the Buccaneers to a Super Bowl win even though he was playing on a bad leg, and the craziest thing about that is that it might not even be the craziest thing he admitted this week. The other thing? Let's find out.
Brady still didn't know the playbook midway through the season
Not only was Brady playing on a bad knee last season, but he also didn't know the playbook.
"Midway through the year, I was still trying to figure out how to call the plays," Brady said of Arians' playbook, via JoeBucsFan.com. "I just read [the plays] off my wristband and tried to visualize what was going to happen."
According to Brady, trying to learn a new playbook can get pretty complicated.
"It's like learning a completely new language," Brady said. "You've spoken English for 20 years and someone goes, 'Hey man, let's speak some Spanish.' And you are like, 'Huh? That makes no sense to my brain.'"
As someone who got a C- in Spanish in college, I can definitely empathize.
The scary part here for other teams around that NFL is that despite the fact that Brady was hurt and despite the fact that he didn't know the playbook, the Buccaneers still won the Super Bowl. Now that he's healthy and has been in Arian's system for a year, it's actually kind of scary to think about how good the Buccaneers might be in 2021.
The Chiefs have been one of the busiest teams in football this offseason and it appears they're not done adding players. If Kansas City still is lacking depth in one area, it's in the secondary, which might explain why they decided to pull off a trade on Thursday for Vikings corner Mike Hughes.
To make the deal happen, the Chiefs sent a 2022 sixth-round pick to Minnesota in exchange for Hughes and a 2022 seventh-round pick. The trade is a low-risk deal for Kansas City that could come with a high reward.
Hughes is a former first-round pick (30th overall in 2018) who hasn't really made his mark in the NFL yet, but that's mostly due to injuries. Hughes missed 10 games in his rookie season after tearing his ACL and then he followed that up in 2020 by missing 12 games due to a neck injury. When he's been healthy, Hughes has been somewhat productive, but he just hasn't been able to stay healthy (He's played in a total of 24 games over three seasons and has totaled 80 tackles, two interceptions, three forced fumbles, and 13 passes defensed during his time on the field).
Right now, the starting corners in the Chiefs secondary will likely be Charvarius Ward and L'Jarius Sneed, but after that, it's a little dicey. The team also has Deandre Baker, but he broke his leg in Kansas City's 2020 regular-season finale and it's unclear when he'll be ready to get back on the field. The Chiefs could also re-sign Bashaud Breeland, who started 11 games for them last season, but they haven't made a decision there and he's still a free agent.
One thing about Hughes is that his contract is a bargain, which means he definitely comes at a cheaper price than Breeland would. Hughes is going into the final year of his rookie deal, which will pay him just $1.83 million in 2021.
4. Winners and losers on the 2021 NFL schedule
There are 272 games on the NFL schedule this year and since it was impossible to cover everything Thursday, we have even more schedule coverage today and we're going to start off with some winners and losers.
Cody Benjamin went through every schedule and here's the list of winners and losers that he came up with.
- Cowboys: "The opener against the reigning champion Buccaneers won't be easy, but after that, they've got eight straight teams who missed the playoffs in 2020."
- Chiefs: "The early slate is tough: The Browns, Ravens, Chargers and Bills are four of their first five opponents. But K.C. can afford an early-year hiccup or two. It's the latter stages that really benefit them. Here's their lineup after a Week 12 bye: Broncos, Raiders, Chargers, Steelers, Bengals, Broncos."
- Patriots: "They don't rest until a Week 14 bye, but seven of their first nine are against non-playoff teams from 2020. Throw the Saints in there, a club that could take its lumps while transitioning to Jameis Winston, and New England has a feasible path to an early-season rebound."
- Eagles: "They don't get on a plane after Week 10, they never play a team coming off a bye, and their last six games are against either the Jets or NFC East rivals."
- Ravens: "After a home game against the Vikings in Week 9, they've got five of their next seven on the road, including showdowns with Miami, Pittsburgh and Cleveland."
- Bears: "Andy Dalton in prime time against the Rams in Week 1? Tough. Not a single stretch of back-to-back home games? Tougher. And listen to this midseason slog between Weeks 6-11: Packers, Bucs, 49ers, Steelers, Ravens."
- Raiders: "Try opening with this slate: Ravens, Steelers, Dolphins, Chargers, Bears. Would anyone be surprised if they started 1-4 or 2-3 there? The back half isn't any prettier, with two Chiefs games and a Week 14-18 stretch that goes Chiefs, Browns, Broncos, Colts, Chargers."
- Steelers: "A Week 7 bye means they'll have 11 straight to finish the season. And from Week 11 on, they're up against the Chargers, Bengals, Ravens, Vikings, Titans, Chiefs, Browns, Ravens. The home stretch looks awfully daunting for a playoff run."
If you want to check out Cody's full story, be sure to click here.
5. Five under-the-radar games for 2021
If you've been reading about the NFL schedule over the past 48 hours, there's good chance you've read at least one list that covers all the best games of 2021. Tom Brady's return to New England in Week 4? An AFC title game rematch between the Chiefs and Bills in Week 5? An Aaron Rodgers against Patrick Mahomes matchup if Rodgers doesn't leave Green Bay?
Those are exciting, but you know what's more exciting? The sneaky good games that no one is really talking about and that's where our Bryan DeArdo comes in. DeArdo went through the entire schedule to find five under-the-radar games that should be good in 2021.
1. Jaguars at Bengals (Week 4), 8:20 p.m. ET, NFL Network: "A Thursday night atmosphere will be the backdrop for this matchup showcasing the last two No. 1 overall picks: Joe Burrow and Trevor Lawrence."
2. 49ers at Bears (Week 8), 1 p.m. ET, Fox: "If Trey Lance is the starter, it sets up a pretty epic showdown between Lance and Justin Fields, the quarterback the 49ers passed on with the No. 3 overall pick."
3. Steelers at Packers (Week 4), 4:25 p.m. ET, CBS: "Given the uncertain future of both players, this could very well be the final game between Ben Roethlisberger and Aaron Rodgers. Believe it or not, this would be just the third meeting between the future Hall of Fame quarterbacks."
4. Ravens at Rams (Week 17), 4:25 p.m. ET, Fox: "Sean McVay has not suffered many lopsided losses during his time on the Rams sideline. McVay's most lopsided defeat, however, came at the hands of Lamar Jackson and the Ravens during Week 12 of the 2019 season. McVay's Rams -- the defending NFC champions at the time -- had no shot against the visiting Ravens, who streaked out to a 28-6 halftime lead en route to a 45-6 victory."
5. Patriots at Dolphins (Week 18), 1 p.m. ET, CBS: "Barring the unexpected, Cam Newton will likely be the Patriots starting quarterback when New England hosts the Dolphins in Week 1. But by Week 18, it could very well be rookie Mac Jones under center when New England faces Miami in the final week of the regular season. If this scenario plays out, Jones would finish his rookie regular season against his former teammate at Alabama, Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa."
To check out the rest of DeArdo's story, be sure to click here.
You can also check out our list of best revenge games by clicking here. In news that won't surprise you, Tom Brady vs. Bill Belichick tops that list.
6. Predicting all eight division winners
With the 2021 schedule officially out, now seems like the perfect time to start making some predictions for the upcoming season, so that's exactly what CBS Sports NFL Insider Jason La Canfora did today.
My understanding is that La Canfora locked himself in a room for 24 straight hours so that he could go through all 272 games on the schedule. After going through the games, La Canfora sent in his division predictions.
The best thing about JLC's predictions is that he added a twist this year: Not only did he predict which team would win each division, but he also added how confident he is that each prediction will pan out.
Alright, let's get to the predictions and as you'll probably notice, La Canfora's predictions are listed from his most confident pick to his least confident pick.
NFC South: Buccaneers (Confidence level: 9.75)
AFC West: Chiefs (Confidence level: 9.5)
AFC East: Bills (Confidence level: 9.0)
AFC South: Colts (Confidence level: 7.0)
NFC East: Washington (Confidence level: 6.5)
AFC North: Browns (Confidence level: 6.0)
NFC West: Rams (Confidence level: 5.0)
NFC North: Packers (Confidence level: 1.2)
To check out La Canfora's full explanation for why he picked the division winners that he did, you'll want to check out his full story and you can do that by clicking here.
7. The Kicker: Aaron Rodgers returns as 'Jeopardy!' host, but with a twist
It's still not known if Aaron Rodgers is going to get the permanent hosting job for "Jeopardy!", but he did get to return to the show this week as the host, only he wasn't technically hosting the show. Instead, Rodgers had a cameo on "The Connors" this week where his role involved the QB playing himself as the host of "Jeopardy!" I hope that makes sense. If it doesn't, you can click here and watch the cameo.
By the way, I guess we now know why Rodgers hasn't yet commented on his situation with the Packers and that's because he's been too busy filming cameos. It happens to the best of us.
As for the hosting gig, Rodgers should find out pretty soon if he's going to land the "Jeopardy!" job. The show is planning to name the next host by late July, which could create an interesting situation for Rodgers if he gets the job.
The show will start filming shortly after naming a host and the problem for Rodgers is that "Jeopardy!" will be filming new episodes while training camp is happening. Whether he's playing for the Packers or a new team, there's a chance he would have to miss a small portion of training camp to host the show.
Basically, even if one chapter of the Rodgers drama ends with the QB leaving Green Bay, we could see more in August if he has to leave training camp to host "Jeopardy!"
By the way, if Rodgers gets traded while I'm on vacation, can someone please let me know on Twitter?