Welcome to the divisional round edition of the Pick Six newsletter!
Although every round of the playoffs is fun in the NFL, I've always liked the divisional round the best and this year's divisional round might be the best ever.
Not only do we have three Super Bowl winning quarterbacks playing this weekend, but we also have a team playing on Saturday that hasn't been to a conference title game in 31 years. That team is the Bengals and they're apparently bringing so many fans to Nashville that the Titans literally changed their playoff ticket policy in an effort to keep Bengals fans out. However, I'm not sure that policy is working because as someone who lives in Nashville, I've seen so many Bengals fans over the past 24 hours that you could have easily convinced me that I was actually in Cincinnati.
Anyway, we'll have more on the Titans' new ticket policy in today's newsletter, plus we'll be giving you some best bets for the divisional round and ranking the best Super Bowl matchups that could still happen.
With that in mind, let's get to the rundown.
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1. Today's show: Best bets for the divisional round
For today's podcast, Will Brinson rounded up R.J. White and Pete Prisco so they could argue about who's going to win every game being played this weekend, and of course, it's an especially big weekend since it's the DIVISIONAL ROUND OF THE PLAYOFFS.
The three guys spent nearly 60 minutes going over the best bets for every single divisional game, and we're going to cover three picks from each person below. None of them picked the Bengals, which means I'm sadly no longer friends with any of them.
Pete Prisco (Prisco went 1-2 with his wild-card picks featured here).
- Titans (-3.5) to cover against the Bengals
- Rams (+3) to cover against the Buccaneers
- Rams at Buccaneers OVER 48 points
Will Brinson (Brinson went 3-0 with his wild-card picks featured here)
- 49ers (+6) to cover against the Packers
- Rams (+3) to cover against the Buccaneers
- Bills at Chiefs OVER 54 points
R.J. White (White went 1-2 with his wild-card picks featured here)
- Chiefs (-2) to cover against the Bills
- Titans (-3.5) to cover against the Bengals
- Elijah Mitchell UNDER 75.5 rushing yards
To hear the rest of the best bets for the divisional round -- 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 trio give out their picks on YouTube by clicking here.
2. Divisional round playoff picks
This is the final newsletter of the week, which means this is the newsletter where I'm going to give you more picks than you can possibly handle. Over the past 48 hours, we've had multiple writers make their picks for the divisional round, and I'm going to share those picks with you right now.
The picks below will be coming from Tyler Sullivan, Tom Fornelli and Jordan Dajani, along with CBS Sports NFL insider Jonathan Jones. Once again, none of them picked the Bengals, which means I'm sadly no longer friends with any of them. I'm feel like I'm starting to run out of work friends.
As always, 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.
- Jonathan Jones: Titans over Bengals (Tennessee -190 moneyline). "I've gotten burned picking against the Bengals all season. I'll be the first to admit I thought they were pretenders for most of the year, and even down to the final play last week I thought the Raiders would win. This game is sort of the Underrated Bowl, and I'm going with the team that's overachieved the last several years instead of the team that's just overachieved this year." For the rest of Jones' divisional round picks, be sure to click here.
- Tom Fornelli: Packers 27-24 over 49ers (San Francisco covers +6). "I love betting on the 49ers and Kyle Shanahan as underdogs. Since taking over in San Francisco, Shanahan's 49ers teams have gone 25-17 ATS as underdogs, compared to 16-24-1 as favorites. Taking it a step further, as road dogs, the Niners are 17-10 ATS. As road dogs outside the division, they're 11-6. Aren't these wonderful trends?" For the rest of Fornelli's divisional round best bets, be sure to click here.
- Jordan Dajani: Rams 29-24 over Buccaneers (Los Angeles covers +3). "The Buccaneers are dealing with several notable injuries -- including two starting offensive linemen who could be out -- which we all should keep an eye on as we inch closer to kickoff. Also, Matthew Stafford has won two of his last three starts against Brady. He's going to have to play turnover-free football, but I have the Rams upsetting the Bucs this week. " For the rest of Dajani's divisional round picks, be sure to click here.
- Tyler Sullivan: Chiefs 30-26 over Bills (Kansas City covers -2). "Andy Reid's team has been stellar at home as of late, going 5-0 ATS in their previous five games at Arrowhead. The Chiefs are also 6-1 ATS in their last six home playoff games." For the rest of Sullivan's divisional round picks, be sure to click here.
3. Ranking the eight remaining playoff quarterbacks
As far as quarterback talent goes, this year's divisional round of the playoffs feels like one of the best ever. Not only do we have a seven-time Super Bowl winner playing this weekend in Tom Brady, but we also have two other Super Bowl winning quarterbacks in Aaron Rodgers and Patrick Mahomes. (All three of those guys are also former MVP winners.) Not to mention, we also have one QB who's been to the Super Bowl over the past two years (Jimmy Garoppolo) and another who played in a conference title game just two seasons ago (Ryan Tannehill).
With so many good quarterbacks still in the playoffs, we decided to rank all eight of them for the divisional round. Cody Benjamin was given the job of ranking the quarterbacks and here's the list he came up with:
You can check out Cody's full explanation for his rankings by clicking here. If you want to argue with Cody about his list on Twitter, then feel free to click here.
4. Ranking the best possible Super Bowl matchups
With eight teams still left in the NFL playoffs, that means there are a total of 16 Super Bowl matchups that are still possible (It took me way more math than I care to admit to figure that out). With that in mind, Patrik Walker decided to rank the five sexiest possible Super Bowls that could still happen.
And just for reference, Patrik is a noted Cowboys homer, so let me just say that we're lucky he was able to write anything this week after being forced to watch their debacle in the wild-card round.
Anyway, let's check out Patrik's rankings:
4. Titans- Buccaneers
The only game not listed here that I definitely would have included is Chiefs-Packers. I think most of America would be on board to watch Patrick Mahomes and Aaron Rodgers duke it out for the first time ever.
If you'd like to check out Patrik's explanation for his rankings, be sure to click here.
5. Titans trying to keep Bengals fans out of Nissan Stadium
With the Titans getting set to host just their second playoff game over the past 10 years, the team is doing its best to make sure Nissan Stadium isn't overrun by Bengals fans on Saturday.
The Titans actually changed their ticket policy for the playoffs in hopes of limiting the number of Bengals fans who might buy tickets.
Here are a few details on the situation:
- The new policy. Under the adjusted policy, tickets can't be transferred to anyone who purchases them until 24 hours before the game.
- The Titans' explanation. The team's vice president of ticketing, Brooke Ellenberger, literally admitted that the Titans implemented the new ticket policy to keep Bengals fans out of the stadium. "We want Nissan Stadium to be two-tone blue," Ellenberger told News Channel 5 in Nashville. "And so by limiting this transfer window, it also limits the number of visiting team fans that we'll have in the stadium."
- Why this policy might keep Bengals fans out. Since a potential buyer won't have tickets in hand until late Friday afternoon at the earliest, that makes it harder for opposing fans to plan their weekend. It also could scare some opposing fans away since they might think they're being scammed if the seller tells them they can't send them the tickets until Friday. Basically, once the 24-hours transfer window opens at 4:30 p.m. ET Friday, there could be a mad rush to buy tickets.
- Titans not the first team to try and keep out opposing fans. Back in January 2016, the Broncos limited all ticket sales for the AFC Championship Game to fans who lived in the Rocky Mountain region (Colorado, Montana, Nebraska, New Mexico, South Dakota, Utah, western Kansas and Wyoming). If you didn't have a zip code from that area, then you couldn't buy tickets, which limited the amount of Patriots fans who were able to attend.
The Titans are clearly at least somewhat worried that Bengals fans might take over Nissan Stadium, and their concerns are definitely valid. Not only is Nashville just a four-and-a-half-hour drive from Cincinnati, but Bengals fans are definitely eager to attend the team's first divisional round playoff game in 31 years. If the Bengals win, they would also advance to the AFC title game for the first time since the 1988 season. That 33-year drought is the longest active conference title drought for any team in the NFL.
I am related to roughly 50 Bengals fans, and most of them are planning to attend Saturday's game. I think what I'm trying to say here is that I won't be surprised if Bengals fans make up roughly 40% of the crowd.
6. Rapid-fire roundup: Giants make a GM hire
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.
- The Giants have found their general manager. After nearly two weeks of searching, the Giants have decided to hire Joe Schoen as their GM. The team interviewed him for a second time and clearly, they loved what they heard from Schoen, who is currently the Bills' assistant general manager. Schoen has also worked for both the Panthers and Dolphins. The 42-year-old will have an immediate chance to make a huge impact on the Giants due to the fact that his new team has two of the top seven picks in the 2022 NFL Draft. For more details on the hiring, be sure to click here.
- Dak Prescott hit with $25,000 fine for comments about officiating. The NFL has hit Prescott with a major fine for his comments following the team's wild-card game against the 49ers. After losing the game, Prescott commended Cowboys fans who were throwing things at the officiating crew, and the NFL definitely was not a fan of that, which is why he was hit with a $25,000 fine.
- Michael Irvin calls out Cowboys stars for not showing up to play in playoff game. There's been Cowboys drama every day this week and today is no different. In an interview on the "Stacking the Box" podcast, Irvin said the Cowboys lost because their stars didn't show up for the game. "Every team you look at, the stars of the team showed up and played," Irvin said, via PFT. "You can't win in this game if your stars don't show up and play. It's Dak Prescott, 69 passer rating. Ezekiel Elliott, 31 rushing yards. CeeDee Lamb, 21 yards on one reception."
- Packers activate Randall Cobb off IR. Aaron Rodgers is likely going to have one of his favorite weapons back Saturday and that's because the Packers have activated Randall Cobb off of injured reserve. Cobb, who underwent core muscle surgery, hasn't played since a Nov. 28 (Week 12) win over the Rams.
- Chiefs sign former Raiders first-round pick Damon Arnette. The cornerback was cut in November after a disturbing video surfaced on social media that showed Arnette waving multiple guns around and threatening to kill someone. Despite his legal troubles, the Chiefs have decided to sign Arnette to a futures contract.
- Texans interview former NFL QB Josh McCown for head coaching job. For the second straight year, the Texans have interviewed McCown for their head coaching job. Despite having zero NFL coaching experience, the Texans continue to be interested, which makes this a fascinating situation to watch. To keep tabs on all the coaching interviews that have gone down, be sure to check out our interview tracker by clicking here.