Welcome to the Thursday edition of the Pick Six newsletter!
I don't know how it happened, but the 2023 NFL season is officially halfway done. There are 18 weeks in the season, and nine of them are already in the books.
Since we're at the halfway point, we decided we're going to celebrate that today by making some midseason Super Bowl predictions. We're also going to take a look at who has the most difficult remaining strength of schedule, and we have some playoff projections. Basically, we have a busy day, so let's get to the rundown.
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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. Usually, those two players are Brady Quinn and Leger Douzable, but Quinn decided to take the day off, so we brought on two-time Super Bowl champion Bryant McFadden in his place.
Host Will Brinson joined them during Thursday's show, and the three of them made some predictions about what might happen during the second half of the season.
First, they had to name one team that's in the playoff hunt right now that won't make the postseason:
- Douzable: "I don't think the Bills make it," Leger said. "You got Miami, the Jets, Philly, Kansas City and Dallas [as five of their final seven games]. If they lose four of those, that gives them eight losses. I think it's going to he hard-pressed for the Bills to make the playoffs this year."
- McFadden: "It's the Cleveland Browns," McFadden said. "The reason I feel like the Browns won't make it is because they're already 1-2 in the AFC North. ... They're already behind the ball in the division. ... We haven't seen a lot from their offense, and their defense has been carrying them."
If you want to hear McFadden and Douzable hand out more predictions for the second half of the season, then be sure to click here so you can listen to today's episode. The two also talked about whether Aaron Rodgers will actually return this year, plus they made some predictions for tonight's game between the Panthers and Bears. 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 Panthers at Bears
For the fourth straight game, it's going to be the Tyson Bagent show in Chicago. Justin Fields (thumb) did practice this week, but he hasn't been medically cleared to play, which means we're getting an undrafted rookie (Bagent) against the No. 1 overall pick in the 2023 NFL Draft (Bryce Young). If Young gets outplayed by Bagent, that would be a horrible look for the Panthers and their rookie QB.
This is an exciting game for Bears fans, and that's because the Bears are going to win no matter what happens tonight. The Bears own Carolina's first-round pick in the 2024 NFL Draft, so if the Bears win tonight, that will put Chicago one step closer to getting the No. 1 overall pick. On the other hand, if they lose, the Bears still have their own first-round pick in 2024, and the draft position for that pick will improve.
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 Panthers can win: When it comes to stopping the pass, the Bears have been one of the worst defenses in the NFL this year, so if Carolina can take advantage of that, it might be able to pull off the upset. The Bears are surrendering 256.9 yards per game through the air, which ranks 27th in the NFL. This means that Bryce Young is going to have to come up big, but there's no guarantee that's going to happen. The Panthers have struggled on the road this year, going 0-3, and Young has thrown four interceptions while averaging just 203.3 passing yards per game in those losses.
- Why the Bears can win: If the Bears have done one thing well this year, it's run the ball. They're averaging 135.9 yards per game on the ground through nine weeks, which ranks fourth in the NFL. That bodes well for tonight since Chicago will be going up against a Panthers defense that has struggled to stop the run and will also be missing one of its star players with Brian Burns already ruled out.
You can get.
If you're thinking about betting on the game, here's one prop I like:
- ONE PROP I LIKE: Eddy Pineiro OVER 5.5 points (-110). The Panthers kicker has gone over this number in six of his past seven games, and the only time he didn't came in a game where he could have hit the over, but he missed a field goal. Also, opposing kickers are averaging eight points per game against the Bears this season, which makes the Pineiro over feel like a solid bet. The other prop I'd consider is D.J. Moore OVER 4.5 receptions. It's a revenge game for the former Panthers receiver, and I think Tyson Bagent will be targeting him early and often.
My prime-time prop record is 12-7 this year.
Finally, if you're wondering who we're picking, here's who we have tonight in a game where Chicago (2-7) is favored by 3.5 points over Carolina (1-7):
Jared's pick: Bears 20-16 over Panthers
My pick: Bears 20-13 over Panthers
You can see who all of our experts are taking over on our CBSSports.com picks page.
3. Midseason Super Bowl predictions: Six experts pick six different winners
With the NFL season officially at the midpoint, we've decided that now is the perfect time to hand out some Super Bowl predictions. We've been able to watch each team play for nine weeks, and after watching all 32 teams, it seems we can't really agree on who's going to win it all.
We had six experts make a midseason Super Bowl prediction and we picked six different teams to take home the Lombardi Trophy. That's how wide open things are this year. Let's take a look at our predictions:
If you want to check out our entire prediction page, which includes the six of us predicting each division winner and all 14 playoff teams, then.
If you click over, here are some quick nuggets you'll see:
- Unanimous playoff participants. The six of us unanimously agreed that the Dolphins, Ravens, Bengals, Jaguars, Chiefs would make the postseason out of the AFC. In the NFC, we unanimously agreed on six of the seven playoff spots with the Eagles, Cowboys, Lions, Saints, 49ers, and Seahawks all making it.
- No one knows who's going to win the NFC South or the AFC East. Although we agreed on six division winners, we didn't agree on who would win the NFC South or AFC East. The Bills and Dolphins both got votes in the AFC East while the Falcons and Saints both got votes in the NFC South.
- No dark horses in this race. Only one team that's currently under .500 got picked to make the playoffs and that's the Falcons (4-5). Last year, a total of two teams (Jaguars and Buccaneers) ended up making the playoffs despite being under .500 heading into Week 10.
If all of our predictions are wrong, make sure to save them so you can throw them in our faces at the end of the season.
4. NFL strength of schedule: Ranking every team's remaining slate of games
If you're trying to figure out who's going to make the playoffs this year, one way to make an educated guess is to look at the remaining strength of schedule for each contender. That's exactly what Bryan DeArdo did this week.
For instance, although the Ravens are currently in first in the AFC North, it's not going to be easy for them to stay there and that's because they have the second-most difficult remaining strength of schedule. Seven of Baltimore's final eight games will come against teams that are currently at least two games over .500.
With that in mind, here's a look at the five teams with the most-difficult remaining schedules:
1. Bengals (.632)
2. Ravens (.591)
3. Raiders (.580)
4. Bills (.574)
5. 49ers (.545)
Here's a look at the five teams with the easiest remaining schedules:
1. Falcons (opponents have a .362 combined winning percentage)
2. Saints (.406)
3. Buccaneers (.427)
4. Lions (.442)
5. Colts (.448)
For a full look at DeArdo's story,.
5. NFL playoff projections heading into Week 10
Now that we're officially halfway through the season, I think that means we're allowed to talk about the playoffs, so that's exactly what we're going to do today.
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 craziest thing about these projections is that 13 of the 14 teams that currently hold a playoff spot are projected to get in. The only team team that got left out was the Steelers. Pittsburgh is currently fifth in the AFC, but Oh has them missing the playoffs altogether with the Bills making the postseason.
According to Oh's projections, the Eagles are currently the team favored to win it all. If you want more details on the projections, including what the playoff chances are for all 32 teams,.
6. Extra points: Travis Kelce headed to Argentina
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.
- Kelce hints at big trip during Chiefs' bye week. With the Chiefs off this week, it sounds like Travis Kelce is going to fly to Argentina so he can attend a few Taylor Swift concerts. You .
- Vikings open Justin Jefferson's 21-day practice window. The Vikings star will likely be back on the field before the end of the month. The Vikings , and now, they have to activate him by Nov. 29 if he wants to play this year. That means Jefferson could be back on the field in game action as early as this week against the Saints (that probably won't happen) or as late as Dec. 10 against the Raiders. (The Vikings have a bye in Week 13, so if Jefferson gets activated on Nov. 29, he couldn't play until Dec. 10.)
- College underclassmen now allowed to participate in college all-star games. The NFL : All draft-eligible underclassmen will now be allowed to participate in several different postseason all-star games. The new policy opens the door for non-seniors to play in the East-West Shrine Bowl, HBCU Legacy Bowl and/or the Senior Bowl.
- Ravens star was convinced that Derrick Henry trade was going to happen. The Ravens were apparently so close to getting Derrick Henry that Marlon Humprey was 85% sure that the trade was going to happen. You can .