I'm not sure how it happened, but we are now officially less than 24 hours away from an actual NFL playoff game. Under the old playoff format, we had to wait until 4:30 p.m. on Saturday for the first wild-card game, but this year, we're getting SUPER WILD CARD WEEKEND (that's what the NFL is actually calling it) and for SUPER WILD CARD WEEKEND, the first game starts at 1:05 p.m. ET sharp.
I don't own a clock anymore because I've had no reason to keep track of time since the pandemic started, so if one of you guys could let me know on Twitter when the Colts-Bills game starts, that would be amazing.
Since the playoffs are starting tomorrow, I've stuffed today's newsletter full of playoff-related items. From playoff picks to playoff fun facts to a full ranking of the 14 playoff teams, it's all in today's newsletter. We'll also take a detour from playoff chatter to talk about Deshaun Watson and whatever it is that's going on in Houston.
With that in mind, let's get to the rundown. As always, here's your weekly reminder to tell all your friends to sign up for the newsletter. All you have to do is click here and then share the link.
1. Today's Show: Playoff picks for the Super Wild Card round
With the playoffs upon us, we decided to get crazy and switch up the format for our weekly "best bets" podcast that comes out every Friday. There will still be best bets this week, but it will be coming with a twist: Brinson and his three guests -- R.J. White, Kenny White and Pete Prisco -- were all given a hypothetical $100 to bet with this weekend (When I say hypothetical, I'm not sure I actually mean hypothetical because I'm 90% sure Brinson will be betting at least $100 on games this weekend).
Anyway, here are some of the bets the guys decided to place with their hypothetical money:
$20 on Colts (+6.5) to cover against the Bills
$30 on Titans (+3.5) to cover against the Ravens
$20 Browns at Steelers UNDER 47.5 points
If you want to know how each guy spent their entire $100 allotment, be sure to click here so you can listen to the entire episode of the podcast. Next Friday, I'll let you know how each guy did.
2. Deshaun Watson not happy with Texans
When you give a guy a $156 million contract like the Texans did with Deshaun Watson, you'd think you would do everything in your power to keep him happy, but for some reason, the Texans have decided to do the opposite with Watson. The Texans quarterback is apparently ignoring phone calls from team management because he's unhappy with the organization over the way the general manager hiring process played out.
According to multiple reports, Watson met with team owner Cal McNair multiple times over the past few months and the QB was assured that he would have some input in the hiring of both the general manager and new coach. Not only did the Texans ignore his input and not interview his preferred candidates, but Watson found out about the hiring of Nick Caserio through social media. The team also hasn't interviewed Watson's preferred coaching candidate, Eric Bieniemy.
If anyone ever writes a book on how not to run a sports franchise, they could definitely feature the Texans for a large chunk of the book. Although the Texans would be crazy to trade Watson, they've made plenty of bad decisions before, so it wouldn't be surprising if they eventually pull the trigger and deal him away. With that in mind, your favorite Wednesday newsletter writer, Cody Benjamin, put together a list of landing spots of teams that should think about trying to make a deal for Watson if he can't mend things with the Texans.
Here are the top five:
Cody actually listed a total of 12 landing spots and if you want to check those out, be sure to click here.
3. Ranking every playoff team
After someone wins Super Bowl LV in four weeks, we'll officially know who the best team in the playoffs this year. However, if you can't wait that long to find out who the best team is, I have some good news for you and that good news is that CBSSports.com NFL writer Patrik Walker decided to rank all 14 playoff teams.
Since I don't want to spoil everything, I'm only going to give you the top half of his rankings here:
As you may or may not have noticed, there are only six division champions listed there and one team that didn't crack the top 7 was the 12-4 Seahawks. I'm not sure where I would personally put the Seahawks, but they would almost certainly be in my top 7. To check out the rest of Walker's rankings, be sure to click here. If you're a Seahawks fan and you want to yell at Walker, you can do that on Twitter by clicking here.
4. Five fun facts to know about the playoffs
If you're a regular listener of the podcast, then you know that one of my favorite things to do every time I'm on the pod is to share a fun fact. For some reason that probably has something to do with my childhood, I'm obsessed with fun facts and I share them whenever possible.
With that in mind, here are a few fun facts about this year's playoffs
- Crazy streak: The NFL is a league of parity and nothing proves that more than the fact that this is the 31st straight season where there has been at least FOUR new teams in the playoffs who didn't make it last year. (The new faces for this season are the Bears, Browns, Colts, Rams, Buccaneers, Steelers and Washington). That's the most the most new teams in one season since 2017 when eight new teams made it.
- Washington goes from worst to first: One other thing that proves the NFL's love of parity is working is the fact that the Football Team was able to go from last place in 2019 to first place in 2020. Thanks to Washington, there has now been a worst-to-first team in 16 of the past 18 NFL seasons.
- Brady and Gronk trying to make history: Tom Brady and Rob Gronkowski have connected on 12 postseason touchdown passes in their careers, which is tied with Joe Montana and Jerry Rice for the most all-time. If Brady and Gronk can connect on just one TD pass this postseason, the record will belong to them.
- Ravens-Titans rushing rarity: Baltimore and Tennessee ended the season as the top two rushing teams in the NFL, which makes their game on a Sunday a rarity. The last time the top two rushing teams met in the playoffs came all the way back in January 1989 when the 49ers beat the Bengals in Super Bowl XXIII. That game is notable around my house because my dad (Jim Breech) kicked three field goals and probably would have won MVP if Joe Montana didn't throw a TD pass with 34 seconds left. I hate Joe Montana.
- Baker Mayfield could join exclusive club: There are a lot of expectations that come with being the No. 1 overall pick, but something top picks haven't been too good at over the course of NFL history is winning their debut playoff game. Mayfield will be playing in his first ever postseason game on Sunday and if the Browns somehow win, he'll join Alex Smith, Michael Vick, Troy Aikman and Steve Young on an exclusive list of top picks who won their first playoff game. In the Super Bowl era, only eight top picks have ever pulled it off and plenty of guys -- like Peyton Manning, Carson Palmer, Eli Manning, Matthew Stafford, Cam Newton and Andrew Luck -- weren't able to win their first career playoff game.
Now I just need to find someone to sponsor these fun facts.
5. Bills and Saints biggest losers in new playoff format
After going 30 years with the same playoff format, the NFL finally switched things up this year by expanding from 12 teams to 14 teams. Like everything in life, there are winners and losers to this format change and this year, the Saints and Bills are definitely the two biggest losers.
Under the old format, both the Saints and Bills would have received a bye to the divisional round, but instead, they now have to play during the opening week. The rough thing here is that both teams could have absolutely used an extra week off. On the Saints' end, they have Michael Thomas coming back from an ankle injury and Alvin Kamara coming back from COVID and if they had earned a bye, both guys would be coming back at full strength next week. As for the Bills, both Cole Beasley and Stefon Diggs are questionable for Saturday's game and you have to think if they had been given a bye, both receivers would be 100% ready to roll in the divisional round.
The new format is definitely a good thing for the two top seeds (Kansas City and Green Bay), but all the sudden, there's not much advantage to getting the two-seed.
6. NFL's 2020 All-Pro team announced
Getting voted to the Pro Bowl has kind of lost its luster over the years, but one honor that definitely hasn't lost any luster is being named a first-team All-Pro. The same 50 voters who pick the NFL MVP each year also vote on the NFL's annual All-Pro team and that team was officially announced by the Associated Press on Friday.
Here's a quick look at the team:
QB: Aaron Rodgers (Packers)
RB: Derrick Henry (Titans)
WR: Stefon Diggs (Bills)
WR: Davante Adams (Packers)
WR: Tyreek Hills (Chiefs)
LT: David Bakhtiari (Packers)
LG: Quenton Nelson (Colts)
C: Corey Linsley (Packers)
RT: Jack Conklin (Browns)
RG: Brandon Scherff (Football Team)
TE: Travis Kelce (Chiefs)
DL: DeForest Buckner (Colts)
DL: Aaron Donald (Rams)
EDGE: T.J. Watt (Steelers)
EDGE: Myles Garrett (Browns)
LB: Darius Leonard (Colts)
LB: Fred Warner (49ers)
LB: Bobby Wagner (Seahawks)
CB: Xavien Howard (Dolphins)
CB: Jalen Ramsey (Rams)
S: Tyrann Mathieu (Chiefs)
S: Minkah Fitzpatrick (Steelers) -- Budda Baker (Cardinals)
Note: There was a tie between Baker and Fitzpatrick for the second safety spot
Glad to see the AP finally put a long snapper on the team.
The Colts and Packers each had four selections this year, which was tied for the most in the NFL. Only two players were unanimous choices and those two were Aaron Donald and Travis Kelce.
7. The Kicker!
When you're watching the wild-card round this weekend, one thing you shouldn't be expecting is a bunch of long field goals. Due to the cold weather that hits in January, most coaches tend to shy away from long kicks. To put that in perspective, just consider this: There have only been 11 field goals EVER attempted in the wild-card round from 55 yards or further and kickers went a combined 4-of-11 on those attempts.
Of the four kicks that made it, two of them were kicked indoors, which means the biggest kicking advantage this week will go to Wil Lutz (Saints) and Cairo Santos (Bears), who both get to kick in the Superdome.
When it comes to the wild-card round, every kick over 50 yards is basically a crapshoot as NFL kickers have combined to hit just 52.6% of their field goals from 50 or longer in the first round of the playoffs. Anyway, hopefully you guys enjoyed at least 52.6% of today's newsletter.
Have a fun weekend and see you on the flipside (In this case, the flipside is Monday).