I hate starting the newsletter with depressing news, but I'm going to start it with depressing news: For the first time in 20 weeks, there will not be an NFL game played over the weekend. You are actually going to have to hang out with your family or go outside or talk to people on Zoom. I recommend none of these.
Of course, I'm a glass-half-full kind of guy, so I should remind that there is actually some football on this weekend. If you like watching people play video games, then this weekend is basically going to be your Super Bowl because the Pro Bowl is happening and it's going to completely consist of NFL players going up against one another in a game of "Madden NFL 21."
Deshaun Watson, who has basically only been doing one thing this offseason and that's ignoring phone calls from the Texans, will finally get to do something else and that's because he's slated to take part in Sunday's Pro Bowl activities.
All the details on the Pro Bowl plus everything you could ever want to know about the Super Bowl are in today's newsletter, so let's get to the rundown. As always, here's your daily reminder to tell all your friends to sign up for the newsletter. All you have to do is click here and then share the link.
1. Today's Show: Super Bowl Mailbag
During the offseason, we generally do a weekly mailbag on the Pick Six podcast, but we haven't done one in nearly three months, which means the questions have been piling up in our mail room and the only way to fix that problem was to have an impromptu Super Bowl mailbag, so that's what we did on Friday (The mailbag podcast won't be available until Saturday morning).
We answered questions from dozens of listeners and here's a quick sample of what we got asked.
- If you were at the Super Bowl blackout in New Orleans, what was your "in the moment" reaction? The Super Bowl between the Ravens and 49ers back in February 2013 was actually the first NFL event I ever covered for CBSSports.com and if you thought you got tossed into the fire at your job, you'll want to hear us talk about this. Ryan Wilson and Will Brinson were at the game and I was covering it from home, so yes, I was the only one with working electricity at the beginning of the second half.
- Best Super Bowl party food that's not wings? My personal favorite would be mini corndogs. Very underrated.
- What's your least favorite Super Bowl you've seen and why? My least favorite is Super Bowl XXIII and that's mostly because Jerry Rice stole the MVP award from my dad (Bengals kicker Jim Breech). My dad hit three field goals and put the Bengals up 16-13 with three minutes left, but then Joe Montana led a game-winning TD drive and Rice ended up winning MVP. I hate the 49ers.
- What's an embarrassing story we may not have heard yet to happen to each of you when late night shenanigans happen during Super Bowl week? I can't share embarrassing stories in writing, so you'll have to listen to the podcast.
The panel answering the questions featured me, Wilson and Brinson and if you want to know how we answered every question, be sure to click here so you can listen to the entire episode of the podcast (Remember, the mailbag drops on Saturday morning). In the meantime, take a listen to Friday's episode below, and be sure to tell everybody you know that you can watch Super Bowl LV live for free on the CBS Sports App.
2. Big Ben apparently doesn't care about how much he'll be paid in 2021
For the most part, whenever an NFL player is negotiating a new contract, they try to squeeze every last dollar away from their team. However, it seems that Ben Roethlisberger has decided to go the opposite route with his negotiating strategy this offseason and that's because it's starting to sound like he'd be willing to play for free in 2021.
The Steelers have made it clear that bringing Roethlisberger back for 2021 on his current deal just isn't going to be possible. For the upcoming season, Big Ben has a $41.25 million cap hit and that's going to have to go down if Roethlisberger is going to play and it seems he doesn't care if that number has to go down.
"I don't care about my pay at all this year," Big Ben told the Athletic.
Unfortunately for Ben, the Steelers do care about his pay and team president Art Rooney II has made that clear to Roethilsberger's camp.
"I think we've been up front with Ben in letting him know that we couldn't have him back under the current contract," Rooney said. "I think he understands we have some work to do there."
Basically, it sounds like Roethlisberger is going have to re-do his contract if he wants to stick around one more year. The only question is whether his renegotiated contract will constitute a pay cut or a simple restructure (Under a restructure, Roethlisberger's cap hit would go down, but he would make the same amount of money).
"I want to do everything I can and made that very clear to them from the very beginning that it was my idea to basically help the team however I can this year," Roethlisberger told The Athletic.
Between Deshaun Watson and Matthew Stafford, I feel like we already have enough QB situations to keep an eye on this offseason, but I guess we now have to add Roethlisberger to the list.
3. Pro Bowl details
Just because the Pro Bowl got canceled due to the pandemic doesn't mean there's isn't going to be a Pro Bowl this year. As a matter of fact, not only is there going to be a Pro Bowl, but it's going to be at Deshaun Watson's house (This is actually half-true).
The showdown between the AFC and NFC is going to happen virtually when the two sides face each other in Madden NFL 21 on Sunday. In a normal season, the Pro Bowl would feature 88 players -- 44 from each conference -- duking it out on the field, but this isn't a normal season. Instead of having 44 players from each conference trying to play a game of Madden, the NFL has selected four people who will represent each team.
The AFC team will be led by Deshaun Watson, Derrick Henry, Snoop Dogg and Keyshawn Johnson while the NFC team will be led by Kyler Murray, Jamal Adams, Bubba Wallace and Marshawn Lynch. Each player will supposedly be taking part in the game from their own house, which is why the Pro Bowl is going to be partly played from Deshaun Watson's house, which I think is still in Houston, unless he's already sold it.
The format for the game will be simple: Each of the four guys will get to play one five-minute quarter of the Pro Bowl. The NFL didn't announce which guys would be facing each other, which means the first quarter might be Snoop Dogg vs. Kyler Murray or it could be Deshaun Watson against Marshawn Lynch or something else entirely.
If you want to watch all this craziness go down, here's how you can do that:
TV: NFL Network
Time: 8 p.m. ET (Sunday), 12:30 a.m. ET (Monday morning)
Date: Jan. 31 (and Feb. 1)
The showings on NFL Network will actually be re-airings of the event. If you want to watch the virtual game live, it will be streaming on Sunday, Jan. 31 at 5 p.m ET on the NFL's official YouTube, Twitter and Facebook pages along with the EA Madden NFL Twitch page.
4. 55 things to know about Super Bowl LV
Earlier this week, I gave you guys 10 facts to know about Super Bowl LV and let me just tell you, that was a small appetizer compared to what Cody Benjamin has for you guys today. Apparently, Cody has been locked in a room for the past 72 straight hours, because that's the only way to explain how he found the time to write 55 things to know about Super Bowl LV.
I would cover them all here, but your scrolling finger would break off, so I'm going to list seven here and if you want to read the other 48 things to know, you can click here.
- This will be the Chiefs' fourth Super Bowl appearance. Before winning it all in 2019 against the 49ers, they played in Super Bowl I (a loss to the Packers) and Super Bowl IV (a 23-7 win over the Vikings).
- This will be the 17th Super Bowl hosted in Florida. The city of Tampa will be hosting its fifth this year, while Miami (11) and Jacksonville (one) have also held the big game in previous seasons.
- Andy Reid and Bruce Arians have only coached two games against each other, with each claiming one win. Both games were three-point contests.
- This will be Arians' first Super Bowl appearance as a head coach. He made the big game three times with the Steelers, first as wide receivers coach (2005) and then as offensive coordinator (2008, 2010). Pittsburgh went 2-1 in those Super Bowls.
- Reid will be making his fifth Super Bowl appearance and third as a head coach. He won with the Packers in 1996 as an assistant offensive line and tight ends coach, then appeared in Green Bay's return bid in 1997 as quarterbacks coach and assistant head coach. He narrowly lost to the Patriots as the Eagles' head coach in 2004, then won his first as a head coach with the Chiefs in 2019.
- After 53 years of Super Bowls that featured at most only one team with red as a primary uniform color, Super Bowl LV marks the second straight championship in which both teams primarily wear red. Don't get the teams mixed up and make sure to pick a red team to make the Super Bowl next year.
- The fact that the Buccaneers are the first team to play a Super Bowl at their home stadium might not actually be much of an advantage. The Buccaneers went 5-3 at Raymond James Stadium -- the site of the game -- this season. The Chiefs went 8-0 on the road. Advantage: Chiefs.
That is just a taste of what Cody has put together and if you want the full meal, you'll have to click over to his story.
5. Pandemic causes change in Super Bowl travel plans for Chiefs
When the Kansas City Chiefs made it to Super Bowl LIV in Miami last season, they traveled down to South Florida a full week before the game and if they were following that same travel timeline this year, that means they'd be headed down to Tampa on Sunday (Jan. 31). However, that won't be happening due to the pandemic.
With the NFL trying to keep the teams as safe as possible between now and the kickoff of Super Bowl LV, the league is taking every precaution and that includes keeping the Chiefs in Kansas City until NEXT WEEK. As a matter of fact, the Chiefs won't be flying to Tampa until the DAY BEFORE the game.
The Chiefs will be landing in Florida on Feb. 6, just one day before they play the Buccaneers in Super Bowl LV. The change in the schedule will allow the Chiefs to keep the testing routine they've been following all season to prevent the spread of COVID-19. If the Chiefs had flown down a week early for the game like they did last year, they would have been in a new city where they likely would have run into hundreds of strangers, which isn't something you want to deal with during a pandemic.
If you're wondering what means for things like Super Bowl Opening night (Media Day), the biggest difference this year is that there's not going to be an event to attend in-person. Instead, like every interview next week, the entire thing will be done virtually, which means the Chiefs will easily be able to take part from Kansas City.
6. Chiefs trying to pull off something no AFC team has ever done before
The Chiefs have a chance to do something on Super Bowl Sunday that no AFC team in NFL history has ever accomplished: They could beat an NFC team twice in one season.
The Chiefs beat the Buccaneers back in Week 12 and if they beat them again on Super Bowl Sunday, they'd become the first AFC team ever to pull off the two-game sweep. If you're thinking, "Surely, this can't be possible," I also had that same thought at first, but I checked with Snopes and this fact does check out (Just kidding, I didn't check with Snopes, I checked with the CBS Sports research team, which is like Snopes on steroids).
The Chiefs are the fifth AFC team that has gotten to play a team in the Super Bowl that they beat during the regular season and for the previous four teams, things didn't work out so well.
Super Bowl XXVIII
Bills beat Cowboys 13-10 in regular season
Cowboys beat Bills 30-13 in Super Bowl
Super Bowl XLII
Patriots beat Giants 38-35 in regular season
Giants beat Patriots 17-14 in Super Bowl
There you have it, AFC teams are 0-4 when going for the sweep and that includes the 2007 Patriots, who finished as the only team in NFL history to make it undefeated through a 16-game regular season schedule. The Chiefs are either going to end this ugly streak for AFC teams or the AFC is going to drop to 0-5.
By the way, this game is actually the 14th one in Super Bowl history that is a regular season rematch. In the previous 13 games, the team that won during the regular season has gone 6-7 in the Super Bowl, which also isn't good news for the Chiefs.
7. The Kicker: Monstrous Super Bowl bet
With the threat of COVID-19 hanging over the Super Bowl, I probably won't bet anything on the game until late next week. Knowing my luck, if I bet on the Chiefs today, Patrick Mahomes would come down with COVID and be ruled out for the game.
Despite that threat, someone decided to make a monstrous bet on the Super Bowl today and by monstrous, I mean more than $2 million. According to BetMGM, someone in Las Vegas dropped $2.3 million on the Buccaneers to cover as a 3.5-point underdog. If the Bucs cover, our bold gambler will go home with $4.3 million ($2 million in winnings plus his original $2.3 million bet).
If I had $2.3 million to bet, I would probably bet it on the coin toss, which probably explains why that guy has $2.3 million and I don't. Also, there's a 50% chance he made that money over the past 24 hours by investing in Dogecoin.
Finally, here is one last reminder that if you're desperate for football this weekend, you can always watch the Pro Bowl. I'll see you guys Monday for the START of Super Bowl week. On a related note, since I don't get to sleep during Super Bowl week, I will be sleeping for the next 48 hours straight so please don't tweet me or poke me on Facebook.