Welcome to the Friday edition of the Pick Six newsletter!
Andy Dalton doesn't sponsor this newsletter, but he might as well, considering he threw two pick sixes last night during the Saints' 42-34 loss to the Cardinals. There is nothing we love writing about more in the Pick Six newsletter than actual pick sixes, so thank you, Andy.
Although Dalton's team lost, you could argue that he was actually the big winner last night and that's because no one is going to remember his pick sixes due to the fact that they were completely overshadowed by the Panthers' decision to trade CHRISTIAN MCCAFFREY to the 49ers.
We'll be going over the details of that blockbuster trade today, plus breaking down the Cardinals' win, so let's get to the rundown.
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1. Today's show: Recapping Andy Dalton's meltdown against the Cardinals.
It took nearly a month, but we finally got a wild Thursday night game. After watching only two touchdowns total over the past two weeks on Thursday night, the scoreboard basically exploded during Arizona's 42-34 win over the New Orleans with a total of nine touchdowns getting scored.
The only thing crazier than the scoring in the game was the podcast we recorded afterward. If you missed the game, here's a quick rehash of what happened and what we talked about on the podcast:
- Andy Dalton melts down at end of the first half. Going into Thursday, Andy Dalton had lost an NFL-record 11 straight prime-time road games and that streak continued against the Cardinals due to the fact that Dalton totally melted down early in the game. Dalton essentially gave the game away with three interceptions in the first half, including two pick sixes that came just 64 seconds apart with less than two minutes left to play in the second quarter. One pick six wasn't Dalton's fault -- it bounced off of Marquez Calloway's hands -- but the other one was an embarrassing throw that ended up right in the hands of Cardinals linebacker Isaiah Simmons (You can check it out by clicking here). Dalton also threw a costly interception in the end zone in the first quarter after the Saints had driven all the way down to Arizona's 10-yard line. Dalton wasn't completely horrible on the night -- he threw for 361 yards and four touchdowns -- but he made way too many huge mistakes and those mistakes were why New Orleans lost.
- DeAndre Hopkins looks solid in return. After being suspended for the first six games of the season, Hopkins finally made his debut on Thursday night and you could tell that Kyler Murray was glad to have him back. The Cards quarterback targeted Hopkins early and often on a night where the receiver finished with 10 catches for 103 yards. The Cardinals offense is much better when Hopkins is on the field -- during his time with the Cardinals, Arizona has averaged eight points per game MORE when he's out there vs. when he's not -- and it showed on Thursday night.
- Kyler and Kliff get into sideline spat. Kingsbury and Murray continue to be a dysfunctional couple and if one thing has been clear this season, it's that they don't always get along. If you need proof, just consider what happened during the first half on Thursday night: An irate Murray walked off the field screaming at Kingsbury. The QB appeared to yell "Calm the f--k down!" at Kingsbury. Things got so bad that DeAndre Hopkins had to step in to try and calm Murray down (You can see a clip of everything here). Both of these guys get frustrated when the Cardinals are struggling on offense and there have been a lot of struggles this year. Yes, the Cardinals won on Thursday, but if they struggle going forward, it's hard to see these two coexisting together for the long term (Kingsbury is under contract through 2027 and Murray is under contract through 2028 and it doesn't seem likely that they're both going to last that long TOGETHER in Arizona).
If you want to hear our entire recap of the game, be sure to click here. You can also watch today's episode on YouTube by clicking here.
2. 49ers pull off blockbuster deal for Christian McCaffrey: Full trade details, plus grades
The NFL trade deadline is still 11 days away, but we've already got our first blockbuster deal of the season: The 49ers made a trade with the Panthers to land Christian McCaffrey. Since arriving in San Francisco in 2017, John Lynch and Kyle Shanahan have made it clear that they're not afraid to make a big trade. Over the past five years, we've seen them make deals for Jimmy Garoppolo (October 2017), Emmanuel Sanders (October 2019) and Trent Williams (April 2020). They also obviously made a huge trade before the 2021 draft so they could trade up to grab Trey Lance.
To make the McCaffrey deal happen, the 49ers had to send four draft picks to Carolina.
Here's a look at the trade details of their latest deal:
- 49ers receive: Christian McCaffrey
- Panthers receive: 2023 second-round pick, third-round pick and fourth-round pick, 2024 fifth-round pick
- McCaffrey's contract: McCaffrey is under contract for just the veteran minimum in 2022, which means the 49ers will owe him less than $700,000 for the remainder of the season. McCaffrey's contract runs through the 2025 season, but he has NO guaranteed money remaining. With a salary of $11.8 million due in both 2023 and 2024, plus $12 million in 2025, the 49ers could look to renegotiate his contract after the season.
This trade marks the first time in nine years that a running back has been traded for a second-round pick or better. The last time it happened came in 2013 when the Colts acquired Trent Richardson from the Browns.
If this trade proves one thing, it's that the 49ers are all in on the 2022 season. The 49ers seem to be embracing the Rams' strategy of 'F them picks,' which is how L.A. won the Super Bowl last year. The Rams were willing to give up draft picks to acquire star players and that's what San Francisco did here. In a twist, the 49ers were actually competing WITH the Rams to land McCaffrey and you can read more about that by clicking here.
The biggest winner is arguably Kyle Shanahan, who now has a new chess piece to work with. The 49ers running back room has been a revolving door since Shanahan arrived -- the 49ers have had five diffrent leading rushers in his first five seasons -- but if McCaffrey can stay healthy, he should be a huge weapon for the 49ers coach. Remember, McCaffrey is healthy, he's one of the most electrifying players in the NFL. He's one of just three players in NFL history to have 1,000 rushing yards and 1,000 receiving yards in the same season, which he accomplished in 2019.
Whenever there's a trade, there's 100% chance we're going to hand out grades for that deal and that's exactly what we did in this situation.
The McCaffrey trade was graded by CBSSports.com's Josh Edwards and here's what he came up with:
- 49ers grade: B-. "From an on-field perspective, the move is an act of desperation. It did not feel as though they were in a closing Super Bowl window and McCaffrey does not come across as the missing piece for that offense. With that being said, fans should appreciate a front office willing to make a splashy move in an effort to compete for the ultimate prize. The acquisition of McCaffrey could be the jolt that the team needs but the Niners sacrificed future assets in the process."
- Panthers grade: A-. "It is hard to call the team parting with a player as talented as McCaffrey a winner, but that is the case for Carolina. The reality is that they will soon be starting over with a new head coach and could be staring down a significant overhaul. Holding on to a running back who has missed 23 games since the start of the 2020 regular season does not help; nor does having his contract on the books, but it does help to have draft picks and that's what Carolina got here."
You can check out Edwards' full explanation for each grade by clicking here.
Personally, I love this deal for the Panthers. Getting four draft picks for a player who has missed 24 games since the start of the 2020 season seems like a win for Carolina. As for the 49ers, I think this all comes down to whether they get to the Super Bowl this year. If they're playing for the Lombardi Trophy in February, then this trade was absolutely worth it and they get an "A+." However, NFL history is littered with failed running back trades and if this team doesn't end up in the Super Bowl, then the deal feels like a failure.
If you want more on the Christian McCaffrey trade, we recorded an emergency podcast about the deal on Thursday night and you can listen to it here or watch the action on YouTube by clicking here.
3. Today's show Part II: Best bets for Week 7
The best part about Friday -- besides the fact that it's Friday -- is that you get two episodes of the podcast in your feed. After recording the Thursday night postgame podcast with Wilson and myself, Brinson kicked us to the curb so that he could record his weekly picks show with Pete Prisco and R.J. White.
Those three guys spent nearly 60 minutes going over the best bets for every single game being played in Week 7, and we're going to cover three from each guy below.
Pete Prisco (2-1 last week in picks covered here, 11-7 on the season)
Jaguars (-3) to cover against the Giants
Seahawks (+6) to cover against the Chargers
Steelers (+7) to cover against the Dolphins
R.J. White (1-2 last week in picks covered here, 9-8-1 on the season)
Ravens (-6.5) to cover against the Browns
Chiefs (-2.5) to cover against the 49ers
Buccaneers at Panthers UNDER 40.5 points
Will Brinson (1-2 last week in picks covered here, 7-10-1 on the season)
Titans (-2.5) to cover against the Colts
Buccaneers (-11) to cover against the Panthers
Falcons at Bengals OVER 47.5 points
To hear what the rest of the best bets are for Week 7 -- and there are quite a few -- be sure to click here so you can listen to the entire episode of the podcast. You can also watch the episode on YouTube by clicking here.
4. NFL Week 7 picks: Titans beat Colts, Jets 'upset' Broncos
This is the final newsletter of the week, which means we will be cramming as many Week 7 picks as humanly possible into this space.
With that in mind, we've got four more Week 7 picks coming your way and those will be coming from NFL senior writer Pete Prisco, along with Will Brinson, Jordan Dajani, Tyler Sullivan and myself.
Here's how things are going to work: I'm going to give you one pick from each guy and then direct you to the rest of their picks. That way, if you like their pick, you'll be able to read the rest of them, but if they pick against your favorite team, you can ignore the rest of their picks and move on.
- Pete Prisco -- Titans (-2.5) 28-20 over Colts. From Prisco: "The Titans, who are coming off a bye, beat the Colts three weeks ago. The Colts won a tough division game against the Jaguars last week, but now head off to face a team that loves power football with Derrick Henry. The Titans will win again here to take a big hold on the division." For the rest of Prisco's Week 7 picks, be sure to click here.
- Will Brinson -- Jaguars (-3) 24-17 over Giants. From Brinson: "It doesn't feel good to lay points with the struggling Jaguars against a well-coached group of G-Men, but this could be a big breakout game for Travis Etienne, so I'm taking the Jags." For the rest of Brinson's Week picks, be sure to click here.
- Tyler Sullivan -- Jets (+2) 23-21 over Broncos. From Sullivan: "Russell Wilson is even more banged up than he was heading into Week 6. Even if Denver turns to a backup, it's hard to have much confidence in this group." For the rest of Sullivan's Week 7 picks, be sure to click here.
- Jordan Dajani -- Chiefs (-2) 24-17 over 49ers. From Dajani: "The Chiefs have been prone to slow starts this year, which does give me pause, but Patrick Mahomes has lost back-to-back games only four times in his career, and it feels like he'll do whatever it takes to win after losing to Buffalo in Week 6." For the rest of Dajani's Week 7 best bets, be sure to click here.
- John Breech -- Packers (-5.5) 17-13 over Commanders. The Packers have looked pretty bad over the past few weeks, but not bad enough to lose to the Commanders. For the rest of my Week 7 picks, be sure to click here
5. QB news: Dak says he's starting this week, Mac Jones might play
With less than 48 hours to go until the Sunday games kick off, there are still quite a few starting quarterback situations that are up in the air.
Here's the latest on each of those QB situations:
- Dak says he's starting. The team still hasn't officially announced if Dak Prescott will be starting, but Dak seems pretty confident that he'll be under center on Sunday, so we should probably go ahead and assume he'll be making his first start since Week 1.
- Steelers staying with Kenny Pickett. The rookie QB had to leave the game in Week 6 after suffering a concussion, but he has now cleared concussion protocol and he's expected to be the Steelers starter on Sunday against the Dolphins. There had been some speculation that Mitchell Trubisky might start considering how well he played in Pittsburgh's upset win over the Buccaneers, but it doesn't appear that will be happening.
- Mac Jones might play this week. The Patriots QB apparently told teammates that he's ready to play this week. However, he was listed as limited in practice on Thursday and if he continues to be limited, the most likely scenario is that the Patriots roll with Bailey Zappe for at least one more week. Even if Zappe plays on Monday against the Bears, though, Jones will eventually get his job back once he's healthy, according to The Athletic.
- Russell Wilson's status is still up in the air. The Broncos QB injured his hamstring in Week 6 and because of that, Brett Rypien has been taking extra snaps with the first team this week. Rypien would be the starter if Wilson can't go against the Jets on Sunday.
One other QB who's expected to start is Tua Tagovailoa. As long as he didn't suffer any setbacks this week, the Dolphins QB was expected to start on Sunday and it appears he hasn't suffered any setbacks.
6. Rapid-fire roundup: Jets receiver wants to be traded
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.
- Elijah Moore asks Jets to trade him away. The Jets receiver isn't happy with his role in the team's offense. Due to a reduce role, Moore has made a trade request. Although it's unclear if the Jets are actually going to trade him -- right now, they say a trade isn't going to happen -- but we do know that they will be keeping him off the field this week. Jets coach Robert Saleh announced today that Moore won't be playing on Sunday against the Broncos.
- Tom Brady not retiring anytime soon. With Tom Brady looking so disinterested at times this season, there's been some speculation that he might retire before the season even ends. Brady shot down that rumor on Thursday by emphatically saying that there's "No retirement in my future."
- Gruden wins some victory in court. The NFL tried to get a stay on its case with Gruden, but that stay has been denied, according to Pro Football Talk. For right now, this means the case will move forward, and with the discovery process coming up next, that could make things interesting since the league could be forced to hand over things to Gruden's legal team that it probably doesn't want to hand over.
- Three Eagles player releasing a Christmas album. If you love Christmas music as much as I do, then you're definitely going to want to buy this Christmas album, which is being recorded by Jason Kelce, Jordan Mailata, and Lane Johnson. If you want to see the trio sing "Santa Claus is coming to town," then be sure to click here. The album will be released on Dec. 23.