Welcome to the Thursday edition of the Pick Six newsletter!
I hope you don't have any plans tonight, and if you do, you might want to go ahead and cancel them because we have a huge Thursday night game. After forcing us to watch Bears-Panthers last week, the NFL is more than making up for it by giving us an AFC North showdown between the Bengals and Ravens.
The Bengals arrived in Baltimore on Wednesday, which isn't usually notable, but Joe Burrow got off the plane with a brace on his hand. It might not be anything at all, but the team did delete a video that showed him wearing the brace, which means it could be something. As such, I am putting myself on "Joe Burrow brace watch" for the next 24 hours.
Speaking of tonight's game, we've got a preview coming in today's newsletter, plus we have some playoff projections that Bengals fans are going to hate.
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
Host Will Brinson joined them during Thursday's show, and made some midseason predictions about who's going to win each division. Here are their predictions for the four division winners they disagreed on:
If you want to hear their predictions for each division, then be sure to click here so you can listen to today's episode. The two also talked about the Browns' QB situation now that Deshaun Watson is injured, plus they made some predictions for tonight's game between the Bengals and Ravens. 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 Bengals at Ravens
The 11th week of the NFL season will be starting off with a bang tonight with the Bengals traveling to Baltimore for a monstrous AFC North showdown with the Ravens. With the Bengals sitting at 5-4 and the Ravens at 7-3, a loss by Cincinnati will almost certainly crush any chance the team has of winning the division this year. On the other hand, a win by the Bengals will throw a wrench into an AFC North race that has already gotten pretty crazy through the first 10 weeks.
Anyway, 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 Bengals can win: If the Bengals are to pull off the upset, they're likely going to need a huge game from Joe Mixon. Although the Ravens have one of the NFL's best defenses when it comes to stopping the pass, they haven't been as good at stopping the run. The Ravens are 0-2 this season when giving up more than 130 yards on the ground, but 7-1 when they don't. Also, the Ravens have also struggled to stop passing plays to players coming out of the backfield, which means if Mixon has a huge game, then the Bengals should be in a good position to walk out of Baltimore with an upset. Also, the Bengals' magic number has been 20 this season: They're 5-0 this year when their defense holds the other team to 20 points or less, so a big defensive performance feels like something the Bengals will desperately need, especially after giving up 544 yards to the Texans on Sunday.
- Why the Ravens can win: On paper, the biggest mismatch in this game will be Baltimore's rushing attack against the Bengals defense. The Ravens are averaging 154.9 yards per game on the ground this year, which is the most in the NFL, and because of that, they're likely going to be licking their chops while facing a Bengals defense that ranks 30th in stopping the run (they're surrendering 136.2 yards per game on the ground). The Bengals are also giving up 5 yards per carry, which is an absurdly high number that ranks 31st in the NFL. If the Ravens get their ground game going, it could be a long night for the Bengals.
You can get.
If you're thinking about betting on the game, here's one prop I like:
- ONE PROP I LIKE: Justin Tucker OVER 6.5 points (-145). You probably can't go wrong betting the OVER on either kicker in tonight's game, and Evan McPherson (+105) actually has better value, but I feel way more comfortable taking Tucker in this situation. The Ravens kicker has gone over 6.5 points in five straight games and he's also averaging eight points per game over the course of the season. Tucker is the NFL's best kicking weapon and John Harbaugh is never shy about using him.
My prime-time prop record is 14-8 this year.
Finally, if you're wondering who we're picking, here's who we have tonight in a game where the Ravens are favored by 3.5 points:
Jared's pick: Ravens 23-17 over Bengals
My pick: Bengals 23-20 over Ravens.
You can see who all of our experts are taking over on our CBSSports.com picks page.
3. NFL playoff projections heading into Week 11
Although tonight's game is big for both teams, it's especially big for the Bengals and that's mostly due to the fact that they're currently sitting on the outside of the playoff picture. Heading into Week 11, the Bengals are eighth in the AFC, which is a problem for them, because only seven teams make the playoffs
So will they be able to sneak into the postseason? That's what we wanted to know, so we did some playoff projections for this week. To figure out who's going to make the playoffs this year, we had Stephen Oh of SportsLine simulate the rest of the season. We then used those simulations to project the 14 teams we expect to make the playoffs.
Here's how our projection breaks down for both conferences:
The Texans getting the fifth seed in the AFC would be absolutely wild considering they finished with worst record in the conference last year. If you want more details on the projections, including what the playoff chances are for all 32 teams,.
4. Nothing makes sense in the AFC: 15 stats showing just how crazy the conference is this year
If you're a fan of an AFC team, then you may have noticed that things have gotten kind of crazy this year in that conference. If you're not a fan of an AFC team, well, let me just tell you that that entire conference has gone bonkers.
To give you an idea of how crazy things have gotten, CBS Sports Research editor Doug Clawson came up with 15 stats that show just how wild things have gotten in the AFC this year and we're going to cover six of them below.
1. Everyone is winning. There are 14 AFC teams with at least four wins, tied for the most in a conference through Week 10 since 1970 (The AFC also had 14 teams with at least four wins in 2002).
2. Browns should just run the Wildcat. The Browns are 6-3 despite owning the worst passer rating in the NFL. Only one team since 1970 had a better record through Week 10 despite owning the worst passer rating in the NFL. That was the 2015 Super Bowl champion Broncos. So there you have it, the Browns are winning the Super Bowl this year.
3. Bills are doing the impossible, but in a bad way. The Bills have a score differential of +78, but they're somehow not above. 500. It's the second-highest score differential for a team in NFL history that's not above .500 through 10 weeks, trailing only the 1981 Falcons, who were 5-5 with a +88 score differential.
4. AFC East needs November to end. The AFC East is 0-7 in November, making it the only division that doesn't have a single win this month.
5. The Broncos might actually be good. The Broncos have the longest active win streak (three) in the AFC, which includes wins over the Chiefs and Bills. They have the best scoring defense in the NFL since Week 6 after having the worst scoring defense from Weeks 1 through 5.
6. The Chargers are still chargering. The NFL's 32 teams are a combined 34-4 this year when scoring 34 points or more. That breaks down like this: The Chargers are 0-2, the other 31 teams are 34-2.
If you want to check out all 15 crazy stats, be.
5. Ranking first-round draft picks: Texans won the draft in April and they're still winning it now
With C.J. Stroud looking like one of the best quarterbacks in the NFL right now, Josh Edwards thought it would be interesting to rank how every first-round pick has played through the first 10 weeks. Thanks to Edwards' rankings, we can see who looks like a smart pick so far and who looks like a bust.
Here's what his top 10 looks like:
1. Texans QB C.J. Stroud (Actual draft slot: Second overall)
2. Eagles DT Jalen Carter (Draft slot: Ninth overall)
3. Seahawks CB Devon Witherspoon (Draft slot: Fifth overall)
4. Texans EDGE Will Anderson (Draft slot: Third overall)
5. Vikings WR Jordan Addison (Draft slot: 23rd overall)
6. Patriots CB Christian Gonzalez (Draft slot: 17th overall)
7. Lions RB Jahmyr Gibbs (Draft slot: 12th overall)
8. Falcons RB Bijan Robinson (Draft slot: Eighth overall)
9. Ravens WR Zay Flowers (Draft slot: 22nd overall)
10. Bills TE Dalton Kincaid (Draft slot: 25th overall)
Obviously, Stroud is looking like the best pick in the draft right now, but if you're looking for a team that got a steal, it seems like the Vikings got one with Jordan Addison, who ranks as the fifth-best first-round pick despite being taken 23rd overall. And since you're probably wondering, Bryce Young is ranked as the 22nd-best first-round pick out of 31 players.
If you want to see where everyone else ended up, you'll.
6. Extra points: Mac Jones appears to be losing the locker room in New England
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.
- Patriots players turning on Mac Jones. The Patriots are on a bye this week and one thing they have to do is figure out who their QB will be for Week 12. If Bill Belichick wants to start Jones, that could be an issue, because 80% of the locker room "is out on Jones," according to the Boston Herald.
- Browns QB options with Deshaun Watson out. The Browns will definitely be adding a QB soon, general manager Andrew Berry revealed on Wednesday. If they want to make a splash, they could call Tom Brady. However, there are also several more realistic options. I took a look at seven possibilities, including Brady, and .
- Tommy DeVito set to get second straight start. Despite struggling against the Cowboys in Week 10, DeVito will get another shot and that's mostly because the Giants don't have any other options at this point. Coach Brian Daboll announced that DeVito will be the team's starting QB on Sunday against the Commanders.
- Denzel Perryman suspension gets reduced. The Texans starting linebacker, who was hit with a three-game suspension earlier this week, will only have to serve two of those games . Perryman will miss games against the Cardinals and Jaguars.
- Frank Reich to call offensive plays for Panthers. After giving up play-calling duties earlier this year, Frank Reich is . At this point, it almost feels like the Panthers are just rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic, but who knows, maybe this change will actually work. ... but probably not.