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NFL divisional round playoff picks, plus 10 Eagles coaching candidates and ranking all four playoff games – CBS Sports

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Eagles owner Jeffrey Lurie clearly doesn’t read this newsletter, otherwise he wouldn’t have fired Doug Pederson 30 minutes after the newsletter came out on Monday, which meant there was no Pederson news in here yesterday. Lurie needs to start showing some compassion for us newsletter writers. All firings need to happen before 1 p.m. from now. 

Although Pederson got fired yesterday, there’s still plenty to talk about on the subject — like who the Eagles might hire next and where Pederson might end up — so we’re going all-in on Pederson today. And of course, we’ll also be talking about the playoffs. Actually, there’s a lot of things to cover, so 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. If you personally know Jeffrey Lurie, please be sure to sign him up and let him to know that if he’s going to fire someone, he should do it BEFORE the newsletter comes out for that day so we can be sure to include it.  

1. Today’s Show: Doug Pederson gets fired 

When a coach gets fired, the Pick Six Super Friends get together for an emergency podcast, which means we all dropped what we were doing on Monday afternoon when we heard the news about Doug Pederson.

For the emergency pod, Will Brinson, Ryan Wilson and I managed to talk about the Pederson situation for nearly an hour and the main reason we were able to talk that long is because there was a lot to dig into. For one, the Eagles have a lot of questions going forward. What does this signal about the future of Carson Wentz and the future of Eagles general manager Howie Roseman? 

Roseman is going to have a lot of pressure on him with this next coaching hire and Wentz is going to have even more pressure on him, because if he flops next year, Eagles fans aren’t going to be happy that the team kept Wentz over Pederson. 

So why did Pederson and the Eagles mutually part ways? Pederson reportedly wasn’t happy that he was always being bossed around and the fact that he had basically no say in the team’s decision-making process. With Pederson leaving Philadelphia, we talked about where his next potential landing spot might be. The former Eagles coach has ties to Jets general manager Joe Douglas, so that’s a move that could happen. Also, the Chargers job would be a good one for him and if Pederson’s not interested in that, he should be. 

With seven jobs now open, we also talked about where the Eagles fit in on the ranking of best jobs available. 

To listen to the episode — and subscribe to the podcast — be sure to click here.   

And also be sure to listen to Brinson and Jonathan Jones break down the latest coaching buzz in today’s latest episode below.

2. Eagles coaching job: 10 candidates Philadelphia should consider

The problem with firing your coach eight days into the offseason is that it means you’re eight days behind every other team in the process of hiring a coach. The NFL currently has seven open coaching jobs with the Jaguars, Falcons, Chargers, Texans, Lions, Jets and Eagles all currently looking for a new head coach. If the other six teams are smart, they’ll make their hire in the next few days so the Eagles can’t poach their guy. 

So who should the Eagles look at? Our resident Eagles homer Jeff Kerr put together a list of guys the Eagles should think about hiring (On a somewhat related note, we have way more Eagles fans working at CBSSports.com than you could ever imagine. You’d think we were based in Philadelphia).

Top 10 coaching candidates

1. Eric Bieniemy (Chiefs offensive coordinator)
2. Arthur Smith (Titans OC)
3. Brian Daboll (Bills OC)
4. James Urban (Ravens QB coach)
5. Lincoln Riley (Oklahoma coach)
6. Jim Caldwell (Ex-Lions coach)
7. Mike Kafka (Chiefs QB coach)
8. Robert Saleh (49ers defensive coordinator)
9. Brandon Staley (Rams DC)
10. Duce Staley (Eagles assistant head coach)

If you want to hear Kerr make a case for each candidate, be sure to click here to check out his story. 

3. Ranking the divisional games by watchability 

 

After watching roughly 20 straight hours of football over the weekend, the NFL is giving us a break in the divisional round. Instead of six games, there will only be four games, but they’re all juicy games, so I’m not going to complain. 

With that in mind, here’s my ranking of the divisional round games based on their watchabiilty:  

1. (5) Baltimore at (4) Buffalo, 8:15 p.m. ET, Saturday (NBC): Even though the divisional round schedule is loaded with with big names like Tom Brady, Aaron Rodgers, Patrick Mahomes and Drew Brees, this is my favorite game of the weekend. I had Colts-Bills in my top spot for most watchable game last week and some of you guys laughed at me on Twitter, but then they totally justified their spot by playing the most exciting game of the weekend. I’m expecting this game to be even better in than that game, if that’s even possible. 

2. (5) Tampa Bay at (2) New Orleans, 6:40 p.m. ET, Sunday (Fox): Usually, I don’t enjoy watching people in their 40s play sports, but I’m going to make an exception in this case. This game is giving us Tom Brady (43) vs. Drew Brees (42 on Jan. 15) for the first time ever in the playoffs. They’ve actually played each other seven times during the regular season with Brees leading the series 5-2.

3. (6) Cleveland at (1) Kansas City, 3:05 p.m. ET, Sunday (CBS): This game could be the biggest blowout of the weekend or the Browns could pull off another shocker. Basically, I don’t know what’s going to happen in this game, but I do know that I will be parked in front of my television set for three straight hours watching and since the game is on CBS, I will also intently be watching the commercials because they pay the bills. Thanks commercials!

4. (6) L.A. Rams at Green Bay (1), 4:35 p.m. ET, Saturday (Fox): The early Saturday slot is where the NFL usually tries to stick the weakest game of the week, which means, even the NFL agrees with me that this is the weakest game of the week. Sure, this could end up being a good game, but I’m not going to count on it, especially since we’ll be getting a Rams team that’s dealing with some major injuries with Aaron Donald, Cooper Kupp and Jared Goff all banged up heading into Saturday. 

4. Breech’s NFL divisional playoff picks

If it’s Tuesday, that means it’s time for my weekly picks. However, before I give you my picks this week, I have to be honest about something: My picks were garbage last week. Actually, that’s an insult to garbage. They were worse than that. I went 2-4 straight-up and 0-5-1 against the spread. That 0-5-1 could be 1-5, but I refuse to take the cover that Washington gave me. I don’t deserve it. I don’t even deserve to be making picks this week, but I’m going to and that’s mainly because I went 4-0 straight-up and against the spread in the divisional round last year, so I have a streak to keep alive. 

With that in mind, here are two of my main picks for the week. 

  • Ravens at Bills (-2.5): If you watched the Ravens at all this season, you may have noticed that they’re the most one-dimensional team in the NFL. They led the league in rushing, but they finished dead last in passing yards and I think what I’m trying to say here is if the Bills can stop the run, they can win this game. Actually, they don’t even have to stop it, they just need to slow it down. And spoiler alert: I think they slow it down. PICK: Bills 34-31 over Ravens. 
  • Buccaneers at Saints (-3.5): When two division rivals meet in the playoffs, I don’t usually pay attention to what happened during the regular season, but in this game, it’s kind of hard to ignore. The Saints blew out the Buccaneers twice this year with wins of 34-23 and 38-3, and yes, that first score counts as a blowout because it was 34-17 late in the game until the Buccaneers scored a garbage-time touchdown. I hate picking against Tom Brady, but I’m going to pick against Tom Brady. PICK: Saints 31-24 over Buccaneers. 

To check out the rest my other two picks for the divisional round, be sure to click here. 

5. Cowboys hire Dan Quinn as defensive coordinator

If you watched the Cowboys play this year, you may have noticed that their defense was a total disaster. Not only did they surrender the second-most rushing yards in the NFL this year — ahead of only the Texans — but they also gave up the fifth-most points. The ugly showing led to the firing of defensive coordinator Mike Nolan after just one year. 

With Nolan out, the Cowboys have decided to replace him with one of the smartest defensive minds in the game in Dan Quinn. Although most people don’t necessarily associate Quinn with being a brilliant defensive mind — and that’s mostly because he was the coach of a team that blew a 28-3 lead in the Super Bowl — he should be a much better coach now that he only has to focus on the defensive side of the ball instead of coaching the entire team. 

Quinn became a star during his time in Seattle when he served as the defensive coordinator during two of the Seahawks‘ best seasons (2013-14). With Quinn running the show on defense, the Legion of Boom had two of its best years and the Seahawks rode their success to two consecutive Super Bowl appearances, including one win. In Quinn’s first season as defensive coordinator, the Seahawks pulled off a defensive triple crown that hadn’t been done in the NFL since the 1985 Bears: They led the league in fewest points allowed, fewest yards allowed, and takeaways. 

After the 2014 season, Quinn was hired by the Falcons and had them in the Super Bowl by 2016, but then got fired this season after an ugly start to the year. If you’re the Cowboys, Quinn is definitely the type of defensive mind you want to get in there to help turn around what was one of the worst units in the NFL in 2020. 

For a deeper dive into Quinn’s hire, be sure to click here

6. NFL player to make postseason history

After the Colts lost left tackle Anthony Castonzo to an injury at the end of the season, they brought in Jared Veldheer to replace him. Not only did Veldheer play in Saturday’s wild-card loss, but he might PLAY FOR THE PACKERS this week after being signed on Monday, which would make him the first player in NFL history to play for two teams in one postseason. To find out why he was allowed to play for two teams in the playoffs, be sure to click here.

7. The Kicker!

Instead of kicker news, here are a few nuggets from around the league, which actually includes some kicker news: 

  • Colts star is retiring: The Colts are going to need a new left tackle and that’s because their starter for the past 10 years, Anthony Castonzo, has decided to retire. For more details, be sure to click here
  • Bills sign former Pro Bowl running back: With Zack Moss out for the rest of the postseason after injuring his ankle, the Bills decided to add some insurance at the position by signing former Pro Bowl running back Devonta Freeman. For more details, be sure to click here
  • Raiders hire new defensive coordinator: It’s a big day for former Seahawks defensive coordinators. Not only did Dan Quinn get a new job, but the Raiders have reportedly hired Gus Bradley, who spent four seasons as Seattle’s DC (2009-12) before taking the Jaguars coaching job (2013-16). More recently, Bradley spent the past four seasons with the Chargers, a team he’ll be coaching against twice per year now that he’s headed to Las Vegas. 
  • Saints add kicker: I’m not sure if the Saints are getting uneasy with Wil Lutz or if they just felt like they needed some COVID insurance at kicker, but they added former Vikings kicker Blair Walsh to their practice squad on Monday.

Finally, I should have you know that the kicker meltdown rankings will be coming on Thursday. However, since I need 24 hours to work on them and because my birthday is Wednesday, I won’t be around tomorrow. Instead, I will be eating cake and working on the meltdown rankings, probably at the same time. With me out, that means Cody Benjamin will be here to captain the ship and since he’s an Eagles fan, I’m hoping he’ll share with us whether or not he had an emotional breakdown after he heard the Doug Pederson news. My guess is yes. 

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