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Welcome to the Thursday edition of the Pick Six newsletter!

I have some bad news to start off with today: Tonight marks the final Thursday night game of the NFL season, which means no more Thursday football until SEPTEMBER. 

That's bad news for me because I'm not sure what I'm going to do with my Thursdays from here on out. I do have 12 Hallmark Christmas movies on my DVR that I promised my wife that we would watch, so I guess I'll be doing that for awhile. On the other hand, I could start using that extra free time to try and come with up some landing spots for Russell Wilson now that he's been benched. We'll take a look at what's next for him in today's newsletter, plus we'll be previewing tonight's game between the Browns and Jets

As always, here's your daily reminder to tell all your friends to sign up for the newsletter. To get them signed up, all you have to do is click here. Let's get to the rundown. 

1. Today's show: Two former NFL players break down the latest NFL news

For today's episode of the "Pick Six NFL" podcast, we brought on two former NFL players to break down all of the latest NFL news: Brady Quinn and Leger Douzable

Host Will Brinson joined them during Thursday's show, and the three of them had an interesting conversation about the Broncos' decision to bench Russell Wilson. Although they're very aware that this was a financially motivated decision, they were still surprised to see it happen. 

For Quinn, he was surprised because he thought the Broncos should have let Wilson play until they were eliminated from postseason contention.  

"I would have thought they would have made this move AFTER they were eliminated from the playoffs," Quinn said. "I know they have like a 1% chance, but still, it hits a little different when they still have a chance of getting in."

As for Douzable, he doesn't think it's fair for Wilson to take all the blame for the offensive struggles when the Broncos offense has actually been much better than it was last year. 

"If you look at their offense from where they were last year, they're better and they've been middle of the pack [in 2023]. It's not like you're getting bottom-third football on the offensive side of the ball," Douzable said. "They haven't been explosive ... and maybe that's why Sean Payton feels this way, that they're just too generic and he can't take that next stop with the current roster they have right now, more specifically the quarterback position."

In the end, Quinn doesn't think the marriage between Payton and Wilson was ever going to work if Payton was looking to turn Wilson into the next Drew Brees. 

"I think the hardest thing for Sean Payton is that if you look at his track record of offensive success with Drew Brees and the Saints, he can not run that offense with Russell Wilson the way he could with Drew Brees," Quinn said. "And I just think that it doesn't fit with what Sean Payton wanted to do and it probably doesn't play with the strengths of what Russell Wilson can do."

If you want to hear their full thoughts on the situation, then be sure to click here so you can listen to today's episode. The three guys also made some predictions for tonight's game between the Jets and Browns. If you prefer your podcasts in video form, you can also watch today's episode on YouTube by clicking here

2. Thursday night preview: Prepping you for Jets at Browns


There's a good chance everyone in Cleveland will be watching the game tonight and that's because the Browns can CLINCH a playoff berth if they win. That would give them two postseason appearances in four seasons, which is something the team hasn't accomplished since 1989. 

My good buddy Jared Dubin put together CBS Sports' deep-dive preview for this game, and here's how he sees things playing out:

  • Why the Jets can win: The Jets don't have a great offense and they're going up against one of the best defenses in the NFL, so it might seem like a long shot that they can win, but there is a path to an upset. For one, the Jets can run the ball. The Jets are 3-0 this year when they rush for more than 110 yards and if there is one place they might be able to attack the Browns defense, it's on the ground. If Breece Hall has a huge game, the Jets might be able to pull off the upset. The Jets are also 6-2 this season when they score 13 points or more, so if the offense can give the defense just a little help, New York might be able to escape with a win. 
  • Why the Browns can win: The Browns have a much better roster than the Jets so they should be able to win this game as long as they don't make any huge mistakes, which means Joe Flacco is going to need to cut down on the turnovers. Although Flacco has put up huge numbers in his four games as a starter, he's also thrown seven interceptions. The 10-5 Browns are 2-4 this year when they turn the ball over three or more times and 8-1 when they have two turnovers or less. The Browns' passing attack has been on fire, but it won't be so easy this week with Flacco going up against a Jets secondary that includes Sauce Gardner, D.J. Reed, and Michael Carter. As long as Flacco plays smart football, the Browns should be able to win. 

You can get a full preview of the game from Dubin by clicking here.

If you're thinking about betting on the game, here's one prop I like: 

  • ONE PROP I LIKE: Riley Patterson OVER 6.5 points. Well, this is it guys: We've finally reached my final prime-time prop of the regular season. Heading into tonight, I've had a .600 hit rate, and if you're wondering what I've done with all of my profits, I think my wife spent them all at Target. Anyway, my final pick of the regular season is Patterson going over 6.5 points. This will actually be the first game he's ever kicked in for the Browns (He's filling in for an injured Dustin Hopkins), and I think he could put up big numbers. The Jets defense is solid and I won't be surprised if the Browns settle for two or three field goals tonight and if that happens, he should go over this number easily. Also, opposing kickers have scored an average of 8.2 points per game against the Jets this season, which is another reason why I feel good about the over. 

My prime-time prop record is 21-14 this year. 

Finally, if you're wondering who we're picking, here's who we have tonight in a game where the Browns are favored by 7.5 points: 

Jared's pick: Browns 16-10 over Jets
My pick: Browns 27-17 over Jets

You can see who all of our experts are taking over on our picks page

3. MVP Watch: Lamar Jackson looking like the prohibitive favorite

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With just two weeks left to play in the regular season, it doesn't look like the MVP race will be going down to the wire, at least if our MVP poll here at CBS Sports is any indication. 

To figure out who has the upper hand right now, we rounded up 13 writers and had them vote on who they think will win the MVP. Under the new voting rules that were implemented last year, the 50 media members who vote on the award will each get to name up to five players on their ballot, so that's exactly how we handled the voting here.  

Here's a look at our top five heading into Week 17, along with each player's point total. (A player got five points for a first-place vote, four points for a second-place vote and so on.)

1. Ravens QB Lamar Jackson (62 points)
2. 49ers RB Christian McCaffrey (44)
3. Bills QB Josh Allen (27)
4. Dolphins QB Tua Tagovailoa (20)
5. Dolphins WR Tyreek Hill (16) 

After leading the Ravens to a blowout win over the 49ers on Monday, Lamar Jackson has officially taken total control of the race. Not only is he 18 points ahead of McCaffrey, but he also received 11 of the 13 first-place votes that were handed out (McCaffrey got the other two). Jackson was also the only player who was named on all 13 ballots. 

As for the quarterback he beat on Monday night, Brock Purdy fell from second in last week's poll to sixth place this week.  

Overall, a total of 10 players received at least one vote. If you want to see a full list of every player who got a vote, then be sure to click here

Although Jackson is at the top of our MVP poll, he's NOT at the top of this week's QB rankings. If you want to know who beat him out, you'll have to click here

4. Russell Wilson gets benched: Ranking possible landing spots for the Broncos QB

Russell Wilson won't be starting for the Broncos this week and he probably won't be starting for them ever again after the team shockingly decided to bench him for the rest of the season in favor of Jarrett Stidham. This same exact situation happened to Derek Carr last year and in a wild coincidence, Carr was also replaced by Stidham. 

As for Wilson, he had thrown for 3,070 yards and 26 touchdowns through 15 games this season while leading the Broncos to a 7-8 record, but he's still being sent to the bench and that's a decision that was made mostly due to his contract situation. 

Here's what you need to know about Wilson's bench

  • The decision was financially motivated. Wilson has an injury guarantee of $37 million for 2025 that would kick in if he were to suffer any sort of injury over the final two weeks that would prevent him from passing a physical in March. The Broncos are already on the hook for $39 million in guarantees for the 2024 season and they clearly didn't want to add to that total.  
  • Broncos staring at unprecedented cap hit. Wilson has a no-trade clause in his deal, which means this situation is almost certainly going to end with the QB getting cut after the season. Once they release him, the Broncos will have to take an $85 million dead cap hit. The small silver lining for the Broncos is if they designate Wilson as a post-June 1 release, they can divide that hit over the 2024 season ($35.4 million) and 2025 season ($49.6 million).  
  • Sean Payton says he wanted an offensive spark. Although Payton did admit that economics did play a part in his decision to bench Wilson, he also said he made the move because he's trying to spark the offense. "Sure, in our game today there are economics and all those other things," Payton said Wednesday, via ESPN. "But the No. 1 push behind this -- and it's a decision I'm making -- is to get a spark offensively." With Wilson running the show, the Broncos ranked just 25th in passing yards per game (187.5) and 16th overall in scoring with 21.8 points per game. 
  • Wilson responds to benching on social media. About an hour before midnight on Wednesday, Wilson responded to the benching on social media with eight words, "God's got me. Looking forward to what's next." 

If you're like Wilson and you're wondering what's next, we have you covered. Cody Benjamin decided to put together a list of landing spots that might make sense for the veteran QB. Here's what he came up with: 

  • Falcons. "Atlanta hasn't fielded a sustainable QB since Matt Ryan's unceremonious exit, so regardless of Arthur Smith's fate as head coach, they'll be in the market."
  • Giants"Wait, what? Yep, you read that right. New York just paid Daniel Jones big bucks last offseason, but he regressed in a big way before suffering a torn ACL amid a battered supporting cast. Tommy DeVito and Tyrod Taylor faring better in relief suggests Jones could be out of a job regardless of his rehab"
  • Commanders"Ron Rivera and Co. are tracking toward an exit under Washington's new ownership, so it's unclear how a new regime might view Wilson as a short- and/or long-term option. But QB is a definite need after Sam Howell's turnover-riddled debut as the full-time starter, especially with Howell now sidelined indefinitely in favor of Jacoby Brissett."

Cody ranked a total of seven teams who might be interested in signing Wilson and you can check out his full list here. If the Broncos do end up cutting Wilson, their decision to trade for him AND give him a new contract will certainly go down as two of the worst personnel decisions in NFL history. 

5. Pro Football Hall of Fame finalists revealed

NFL: Los Angeles Chargers at Kansas City Chiefs

The Pro Football Hall of Fame has officially taken one giant step closer toward revealing its next class. The finalists for the class of 2024 were announced on Wednesday night

Here's a look at the 15 finalists who are now just one step away from induction: 

To be inducted, a finalist needs to receive at least 80% support from the 50-person selection committee, and the committee is only allowed to induct up to five modern-era finalists per year, so 10 of these guys definitely won't be getting in this year. There are also four other finalists: Randy Gradishar, Steve McMichael and Art Powell are the senior finalists while Buddy Parker l is the coach/contributor finalist. Those four will have their own separate committee vote with each guy needing at least 80% support to get in. 

As for the 15 modern-era finalists, Antonio Gates and Julius Peppers are finalists in their first-year of eligibility. On the other hand, Eric Allen has waited nearly two decades to become a finalist. The cornerback was voted a finalist for the first time in his 18th year of eligibility. And let's not forget about Darren Woodson, who is in his 16th year of eligibility, but still has yet to get in (This is his second time as a finalist). 

As for the other guys on this list, Holt and Wayne have been named a finalist the most times (5), which means those two have gotten one step away from induction on FIVE different occasions without getting in. 

The next step in the process will come in February when the HOF selection committee actually holds its vote to determine who gets in. That vote will come during the the week of Super Bowl LVIII and the official class will be announced on CBS at the NFL Honors ceremony on Feb. 8. 

6. Extra points: Packers star hit with bizarre suspension

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. 

  • Jaire Alexander suspended for one game. The Packers starting corner has been suspended for this week's game against the Vikings and he was suspended for one of the most bizarre reasons ever. Alexander made the decision to go out for the coin toss in Week 16 even though he wasn't a team captain. He didn't ask anyone, he just did it and that Packers were NOT happy about that. You can read more details about this crazy story here
  • Jaylen Waddle could play this week. Although the Dolphins receiver is dealing with a sprained ankle, coach Mike McDaniel isn't ready to rule him out for this week's showdown with the Ravens. "He's one of -- if not the toughest -- fast guys I've been around," McDaniel said, via the South Florida Sun Sentinel. "Him being that way, it's tough to rule him out for this week. ... I wouldn't put anything past him." Having Waddle on the field would obviously be huge for Miami's offense. 
  • Travis Kelce blames everyone for Chiefs struggles. If you're wondering whose fault it is that the Chiefs have been struggling, Travis Kelce answered that question on the latest episode of his "New Heights" podcast. "It's not just one guy," Kelce said, via ESPN. "It's not just me playing like dog shit. It's not just us not being able to get the run game going. It's not just us not being on the same page, passing-wise. Everybody's in this f---ing thing together. Everybody at some point isn't being accountable." The Chiefs are in the midst of their worst December since 2013. 
  • Commanders turning to Jacoby Brissett. Sam Howell is officially headed to the bench. Washington announced on Wednesday that Brissett will be the starter for this week's game against the 49ers. The Commanders were hoping that Howell would play well enough this year to earn the starting QB job going forward, but now his future with the team is up in the air. We took a look at what the Commanders might do with Howell and you can check out their options here