Hello, everybody, and welcome to the last Wednesday before we know the final two teams who will be squaring off in Super Bowl LVI. John Breech is so desperate for the Bengals to be one of them that he took the day off and dedicated the next 24 hours to handwriting encouraging notes for Joe Burrow and the rest of the roster. That’s why you’ve got me, Cody Benjamin, here to deliver all the latest from around the NFL.
This is the Pick Six Newsletter. Now let’s get to it. (And please, do yourself a favor and make sure you’re signed up to receive this newsletter every day! You don’t want to miss our daily offerings of everything you need to know around the NFL.)
We’ve got Championship Sunday predictions, buzz on big-name QBs, the latest on Sean Payton, and more:
Today’s show: What’s next for Tom Brady, Aaron Rodgers?
Brady Quinn joined Will Brinson on Wednesday’s “Pick Six NFL Podcast” to run through all the hot topics around the NFL. While four teams fight for a chance to go at it in Super Bowl LVI, a slew of big names are weighing uncertain futures. Those names include longtime Saints coach Sean Payton and ageless star quarterbacks Tom Brady and Aaron Rodgers.
While the guys agree Payton is headed for a star turn on TV, Quinn feels fairly confident that both Rodgers and Brady will be in new homes in 2022, with A-Rod departing from Green Bay and Brady heading for retirement.
“I had heard from someone in the organization that there was a lot of people (close to Brady) who weren’t normally there before the (Buccaneers’ playoff) game,” Quinn said. “So even before the game, he was contemplating if this indeed would be it.”
Catch the entire episode (and subscribe for all kinds of daily NFL talk) right here.
Pete Prisco went 4-1 with his Best Bet predictions for the divisional round of the playoffs. Now he’s back with picks for Championship Sunday. Who does he like? Who does he love? Take a look:
Chiefs 34, Bengals 32: This will be another game about the two quarterbacks. Both will have success throwing it and both will roll up big numbers. In the end, the Chiefs are the better team, but it will be close. It will go down to the wire, but Kansas City will be moving on.
49ers 24, Rams 21: The Rams are the star-studded team, but the 49ers are the more physical team. The last time a team won three games, including a conference title game on the road, against the same team in the same season came in 1999. That will happen here. The 49ers will continue their run to a title with a tough, physical victory.
3. Sean Payton leaves Saints: Fallout, next steps, 2022 plans
After days of speculation regarding his uncertain future in New Orleans, the longtime coach announced Tuesday that he is officially stepping away from his job after 16 years running the Saints. Check out all of our coverage:
4. Insider notes: Where Sean Payton could land in 2023
The Cowboys make sense as suitors for Payton, if and when the former Super Bowl champion returns to the sidelines. But CBS Sports insider Jason La Canfora is certain Payton is telling the truth about staying off the field for at least a year. Team owners “will be flirting with Payton aggressively by the middle of next season … and perhaps one will succeed by 2023.” When that time comes, La Canfora sees these franchises as the most logical destinations:
Cowboys: “We all know all the ties and connections by now. And we know that Mike McCarthy is hanging on for dear life as Cowboys coach as it is. … It would be shocking if (Jerry) Jones did not attempt to trade for Payton from the Saints by 2023.”
Panthers: “Matt Rhule’s future in Carolina looks pretty bleak. Owner David Tepper is frustrated and mulled firing him last year. He is desperate for a face of the franchise and someone to finally solve his quarterback riddle. Payton would do both.”
Seahawks: “There is very strong mutual admiration between Payton and Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson. Wilson would have coveted playing for him last year had the Saints had the cap and payroll flexibility to make a bold move like that.”
Jets: “Payton in the Big Apple, where his mentor, Bill Parcells, became an icon, just feels right. He could handle that media market and Jets owner Woody Johnson hasn’t been able to get much right to this point with any major decisions.”
Cardinals: “Kliff Kingsbury’s second halves of seasons continue to leave much to be desired, Kyler Murray hasn’t taken any new bold steps forward in his development and this offense tends to run out of ideas — and productivity — by Thanksgiving. Let’s just say none of this is lost on ownership.”
Chargers: “Spending big for a head coach hasn’t been in this team’s DNA in the past, but they also haven’t had a generational QB talent like Herbert in a long, long time, either. Winning something of note while he is on his rookie contract is imperative.”
5. Aaron Rodgers on NFL future: ‘Everything is on the table’
Tom Brady has been noncommittal on his future in Tampa Bay, issuing a thank you to Bucs fans and teammates via Instagram Tuesday but declining to elaborate on his 2022 plans. Rodgers is in a similar boat, but he spent more than 10 minutes talking specifically about his thought process in an interview on the “Pat McAfee Show.” The biggest takeaways: Rodgers intends to decide on his next steps before free agency — perhaps as soon as February — and those steps could be any number of things. While he insisted he’s in good standing with the Packers, he left the door open to retire, return or relocate.
6. Rapid-fire roundup: Super Bowl odds, new GMs hired