Welcome to the Thursday edition of the Pick Six newsletter!
Today is a special day because football is finally back! I repeat, football is finally back. This is not a drill, people. There is going to be actual NFL football on TV tonight and I don't want to say I've been counting, but it's been 172 days since the last time there was a game (Super Bowl LVII). OK, so I've been counting.
It's also a special day because it's TOM BRADY'S birthday, and like most of us, he celebrated his big day by getting himself a present: A European soccer team. We'll reveal which team he bought in today's newsletter, plus we'll take a closer look at the Hall of Fame Game.
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: Breaking down the Seahawks offseason and predicting how they'll do in 2023
After more than a month of our "All 32" series, we are finally down to our final three teams, and this time, I actually mean it (I said the same thing last week, but as we all know, you can't trust anything I say from a week ago).
Anyway, we have another episode of our "All 32" series coming at you, and today, and we'll be taking a look at the Seahawks. To talk about how things are going in Seattle, we brought on Michael-Shawn Dugar, who covers the Seahawks for The Athletic.
Here are two topics that Katie Mox and Will Brinson covered today with Dugar:
- Can Geno Smith be as good in 2023 as he was in 2022? The Seahawks' success this year is going to depend on the play of Smith. One reason Seattle was such a surprise team in 2022 is because Smith was such a surprise, but he won't have that element of surprise this season. So how good can he be in 2023? "I think he can replicate some of what he did last year," Dugar said. "He was really accurate, even when his numbers started to fall off during the second half of the season with more interceptions. ... If you look, he was still throwing the ball on target, still led the league in completion percentage. It wasn't that he wasn't making horrible decisions." Dugar thinks Geno can be just as good as he was last season, which would be good news for the Seahawks.
- Can the Seahawks win the NFC West? The Seahawks didn't win the division last season, but they did shock almost everyone by making the playoffs as a wild card team. Dugar thinks they could sneak into the playoffs again, but he doesn't think they'll be able to top San Francisco for the division title. "I'd probably just take the Niners," Dugar said of who he would pick to win the division. "Their roster is just way too deep. ... They're just so impressive, they have All-Pro players at every level of the defense and I'm not sure how many teams can say that."
Dugar spent more than 25 minutes talking about the Seahawks, and if you want to hear everything he had to say, you can listen to today's show here. You can also watch today's show on YouTube by clicking here.
Since most starters won't be playing tonight, we're not going to do a full preview of the game, but it is the first NFL action of the 2023 season, so we have to give you something.
Here are a few things to watch out for tonight:
- Storyline to watch for the Jets: Mekhi Becton trying earn a starting job on the offensive line. For the most part, the Hall of Fame game is for players at the bottom of the roster, but the Jets will have at least two former first-round picks on the field tonight and one of them is Becton. The offensive tackle, who was selected 11th overall in 2020, has already said that he's going to treat tonight like a "regular-season" game. The reason Becton is going to do that is because he's trying win a starting job at right tackle or left tackle and he's willing to do whatever it takes to win that job after missing most of the past two seasons due to injury (He's only played in one total game since the start of the 2021 season).
- Storyline to watch for the Browns: Jim Schwartz takes over as defensive coordinator. After sticking with Joe Woods for three seasons, the Browns finally kicked him to the curb in January. Woods has been replaced by Schwartz, who won a Super Bowl with the Eagles in 2017 during his last stint as a defensive coordinator. In terms of his defensive schemes, Schwartz won't be revealing much tonight, but it will be interesting to see how the defense looks in its first game under its new coordinator.
- Player you will be keeping an eye on for the Jets: Zach Wilson. Last year, Wilson started nine games for the Jets and although he struggled for the most part, that might not be the case in this game, because he'll be facing a lot of backups and inexperienced players, which means there's a chance that he could go off.
- Player you will be keeping an eye on for the Browns: Cedric Tillman. You might not know his name, but everyone in Cleveland does and there are two reasons for that: One, he was the Browns' first pick in the 2023 NFL Draft. The Browns didn't make their first pick until the third round and they used it to select Tillman. The other reason he's already made a name for himself is because the former Tennessee wide receiver has had an impressive training camp and it won't be surprising if he makes a big play or two tonight.
Breech's pick: Jets 20-13 over Browns (Jets cover -1.5). As weird as it sounds, Robert Saleh coaches to win in the preseason and that's all I need to know. Since taking over as the Jets head coach in 2021, Saleh has gone 5-0-1 straight-up in preseason games and I'm NOT going to pick against that. He's going to have several experienced players on the field -- like Wilson and Becton -- and the same can't really be said for the Browns. I think the Jets sneak away with the win.
If you want to watch tonight's game, itwith Mike Tirico and Cris Collinsworth on the call. It should be a fun weekend for Collinsworth, who will see one of his former teammates, Ken Riley, inducted into the Hall of Fame on Saturday (We'll be covering all the inductees tomorrow).
If youabout tonight's game.
3. Alvin Kamara likely to be suspended
There's a good chance that Alvin Kamara is going to be spending the first few weeks of the 2023 season at home. The Saints running back is expected to be punished by the NFL for the role he played in .
Here's a quick look at the situation:
- NFL likely to suspend Kamara. The Saints running back met with Roger Goodell on Wednesday, and according to NFL.com, a suspension is almost guaranteed to happen with Ian Rapoport saying he "expects" a suspension for Kamara.
- Length of suspension is up in the air. It's not clear yet how long the suspension will last, because that will depend on how Kamara's meeting with Goodell ended up going. "What's going to determine whether it's two games or four games or six games is, what was behind [the altercation]? Why did Alvin Kamara do what he appears to have done," Rapoport said. "The altercation he was in, in that video, is there something that he can talk to with Goodell to make him have at least some understanding and realize what led to that altercation?" Basically, the length of the suspension is going to come down to how Goodell feels about Kamara's explanation of the situation.
- Why Kamara a longer suspension might happen. The biggest problem for the running back is that there's video of the incident, which shows Kamara and his group kicking and punching the victim (TMZ obtained the video in November and you can see it here). Although Kamara was originally charged with a felony in the case, he eventually , but that might not help him in the eyes of Goodell, due to the existence of the video.
The Saints have clearly been bracing for the possibility of a Kamara suspension, which is likely why they signed Jamaal Williams while also selecting a running back (Kendre Miller) in the third round of this year's NFL Draft.
4. Biggest question each NFC team is facing
Every team in the NFL has a few questions that they need to answer before the start of the season and with the first game of the preseason being played tonight, we thought now would be a good time to take a look at some of the biggest questions that still remain for each team.
Jeff Kerr went through the NFC and came up with one question that each team needs to answer before the start of the season.
- Cowboys: Do they have enough depth on the offensive line? "Dallas has a very good starting offensive line on paper: Tyron Smith, Tyler Smith, Tyler Biadasz, Zack Martin and Terrence Steele, in that order. Here's the problem. Tyron Smith has played just 15 of the 34 eligible games over the last two seasons while Steele is coming off a torn ACL that required surgery. Will Steele be ready for the start of the regular season? The Cowboys could be down both their starting tackles if Smith can't get through camp."
- Saints: Will Michael Thomas ever be Michael Thomas again? "Injuries have ruined Thomas' path to greatness, as the wide receiver has just 56 catches for 609 yards and three touchdowns over the last three seasons -- playing in just 10 games. This was after Thomas won the 2019 Offensive Player of the Year honors for a record-setting season that saw him make NFL history by catching 149 passes."
- Vikings: How will Brian Flores put his stamp on the defense? "Hiring Flores was a major move for the Vikings. Flores turned the Dolphins defense around in two seasons and helped the Steelers defense to top 10 rankings in opponent points per game, opponent rushing yards per game, passes defended and interceptions. The fix in Minnesota won't be a quick one, but Flores can certainly pull it off."
For all look at all 16 questions in the NFC, be sure to.
5. Best bets for offensive and defensive rookies of the year
After giving us his favorite bets for offensive and defensive player of the year earlier this week, Will Brinson is back with another round of best bets. For those of you who don't know, Brinson never sleeps. Instead, he spends 24 hours per day coming up with best bets. I'm not even sure he eats.
Last year, before the season started, Brinson picked the Eagles and Chiefs as his best bets to make the Super Bowl (I'm not even making that up, you ).
Anyway, for today, Brinson is handing out his best bets for both Offensive Rookie of the Year and Defensive Rookie of the Year.
Brinson has a best bet and a long shot bet for each award, so let's check those out now:
- Best bet for OROY: QB Bryce Young, Panthers (4-1). "The Panthers were a slightly below-average NFL team in a bad division last year. They went from Matt Rhule to Frank Reich (you have NO IDEA what an upgrade this is but wait until the season starts). They picked first overall despite not being the worst team and got the best quarterback in the draft. Tom Brady left their division for retirement. If Young and the Panthers win 8+ games and he looks good he probably wins this award."
- Best long shot bet for OROY: RB Tank Bigsby, Jaguars (50-1). "If anything happens to Travis Etienne and the rookie quarterbacks aren't good, Bigsby is a real good lottery ticket."
- Best bet for DPOY: CB Emmanuel Forbes, Commanders (22-1). "Very tough DROY class and the market reflects it. Forbes is the pick here because he has very elite ball skills plus very, VERY elite "take the ball to the house" skills (six in a season for Mississippi State). If you want to back a defensive back for this award, you back one who can house a few turnovers."
- Best long shot bet for DPOY: LB Marte Mapu, Patriots (100-1). "New England will be better than people think and Mapu is getting a touch of warmth during training camp. If you don't want to hit triple digits on a third-round Sacramento State linebacker for DROY pick while the entire world is fading Bill Belichick then you don't want to live."
For a full look at all of Brinson's best bets,.
6. Extra points: Tom Brady is now the part owner of a soccer team
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.
- Tom Brady buys a minority stake in European soccer team. The seven-time Super Bowl winner is now a soccer owner after buying a minority stake in Birmingham City Football Club. Brady will also become Birmingham City's new chairman of the advisory board. For more details on his latest move, .
- Cooper Kupp likely to be sidelined for most of August. The Rams got some good news and bad news about their star receiver over the past 24 hours. The bad news is that Kupp, who , is likely out the next few weeks, but the good news is that he IS currently expected to play in the team's Week 1 opener against the Seahawks.
- NFL will consider XFL kickoff rule. The kickoff could soon be undergoing a major change. The NFL is apparently thinking about making a switch to the XFL kickoff rule and you you can see one here. . If you've never seen an XFL kickoff and want to know what that looks like,
- Joe Mixon explains why he agreed to a pay cut. The Bengals running back said he agreed to a pay cut of more than $4 million because he thinks his team has a great shot of winning it all this year. "I felt like this year was the year to sacrifice on the Super Bowl team we can potentially be," Mixon said, via the team's official website.