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Big Tom Brady mystery might finally be solved, plus predicting Buccaneers’ final record for 2021

If I learned one thing over the weekend, it’s that I’m never going outside again. I mean, half the country is in a heat wave and the half that’s not in a heat wave feels like it’s in a heat wave, so we’re basically all in a heat wave.

The only upside to being stuck inside right now is that Tom Brady gave us all a mystery to solve over the weekend and since I refused to go outside in the sweltering heat, I stayed inside and spent 48 straight hours trying to solve it. So what exactly is that mystery? We’ll be covering that in today’s newsletter and to keep in line with today’s Tom Brady theme, we’ll also be predicting the Buccaneers‘ final record for 2021. 

Alright, let’s get to the rundown. As always, here’s your weekly reminder to tell all your friends to sign up for the newsletter. To sign up, all you have to do is click here and then share the link

1. Today’s show: Monday mailbag!

During the NFL offseason, we like to spice things up each week on the Pick Six Podcast by adding a listener mailbag every Friday and since we didn’t actually do one this past Friday, we did one for today instead. On a somewhat related note, I’m starting to think Will Brinson decided to permanently move the mailbag to Mondays without telling me. 

Our mailbag episodes are pretty simple: We read listener questions during the show and then answer as many of those questions as possible. Questions can be about literally anything. I mean, I’m pretty sure there was one time where we spent 10 minutes talking about the best breakfast cereal (I have an unhealthy obsession with Cookie Crisp, Waffle Crisp, Golden Crisp and apparently just anything with the word CRISP). Anyway, if you want to submit a question, all you have to do is go to Apple Podcasts (click here) and leave a five-star review.

Here’s one question that we answered in today’s mailbag: 

Q: With a 17-game schedule, will Breech predict the Bengals to go 11-6 or 10-7? Secondly, what to you think COVID has done to the prospect of a team in London? Is the NFL looking more at expanding the international series rather than a permanent team?

A: I was going to pick the Bengals to go 17-0 this year, but I didn’t want to get laughed off the internet, so I decided to be slightly more realistic. Instead, I have them going 9-8. If you want to see how I came up with that 9-8 record, you can click here. If you want to laugh at me in six months when the Bengals go 5-12, then just bookmark that page and remind me about it in January. 

As for the international part of that question, here’s an interesting thing that some people may not know: As recently as 2015, the NFL’s executive vice president of international stuff said he thought the league might be able to have a team in London by 2022. Thanks to the pandemic, I’d say the league now has that on the back-burner. Basically, there are just too many logistical issues to work through to make it practical right now. I’ll be shocked if there’s a team in London before 2030, if there’s a team at all. That being said, I fully expect the international series to expand and I expect it is as soon as next year. I think you’ll definitely see a game in Germany in 2022 and if the NFL is smart, that game will be played in Munich during OKTOBERFEST. Am I trying to will that into existence so I can then beg my bosses to send me to the game? Yes, but I also want to see it happen because Germany seems like the next logical host for an NFL game. 

To listen to the rest of the mailbag — and to follow the podcast — be sure to click here

2. Tom Brady mystery might finally be solved

It’s not often that you hear Tom Brady get candid in an interview, but that’s exactly what happened over the weekend when he sat down for a talk on HBO’s “The Shop.” Not only did Brady get candid, but he also gave us a mystery to solve when he used a curse word to describe an opposing quarterback without mentioning that opposing QB by name. 

“There was a story in free agency and one of the teams, they were interested and all of a sudden they weren’t interested in the very end,” Brady said. “I was thinking, ‘You’re sticking with that mother f—er? Are you serious?'”

So what team was Brady talking about and who was he referring to when he dropped the F-bomb? Jared Dubin and I put on our Sherlock Holmes hats and tried to figure that out using a process of elimination, so let’s walk through it.  

  • Teams that were interested in Brady. Not every team was looking to sign Brady last year. Heading into free agency, you could probably make the case that there were basically nine teams in the Brady sweepstakes: The Buccaneers, Bears, Chargers, Colts, Raiders, Rams, Saints, Titans and 49ers. Out of those teams, we’re going to take out the Colts and Chargers (they didn’t have a QB to stick with). Also, it likely wasn’t the Saints or Titans (Ryan Tannehill signed an extension before free agency while it’s unlikely Brady would refer to Drew Brees with an F-bomb).  
  • One other clue. During the interview, Brady mentioned it was a team he wouldn’t have played for anyway. Brady is from California, so he probably would have loved to play for any of the California teams (49ers, Chargers and Rams), so he probably wasn’t talking about any of those teams. 
  • Two teams left. Based on the process of elimination, that leaves us with the Bears and Raiders. According to Pro Football Talk, Brady DEFINITELY wasn’t referring to the Bears, which leaves the Raiders. 
  • Brady may have actually felt jilted by the Raiders. In an interview that took place in April 2020 after Brady had already signed in Tampa Bay, NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport said the Raiders were on the short list of teams that Brady would have signed with, but they backed off after showing initial interest, which fits the details of Brady’s story. So it does kind of feel like he was talking about the Raiders and if that’s the case, I’m guessing Derek Carr probably isn’t too thrilled about the fact that Brady might have used inappropriate words to describe him. 

Besides this wild mystery, the interview on HBO also included Brady explaining that 90% of what he says in a press conference isn’t what he’s actually thinking. The Buccaneers quarterback also gave a detailed account of what was going through his head when he threw the Lombardi Trophy at Tampa Bay’s Super Bowl parade and you can check that out by clicking here

3. Predicting every game on the Buccaneers’ 2021 schedule

Now that summer is here, that means the dead part of the NFL offseason is upon us and although things can get kind of boring during this period, we’re going to keep things spicy around here by going through and predicting every game on each team’s 2021 schedule. 

There are 32 teams and we’ll be doing one team per day until we make it through every team. Today, we’ve got a big one: We’re going to be predicting the final record of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, who just happen to be the reigning Super Bowl champions. 

Our Jared Dubin went through Tampa Bay’s entire schedule and picked out all the games the Buccaneers are going to win and all the games they’re going to lose (Spoiler alert: He has them losing more games than you probably think they’re going to lose). One thing to remember about the Buccaneers is that that they didn’t even win their division last year. The team limped off to a 6-5 start before getting hot down the stretch and winning the Super Bowl. 

Will the Buccaneers be even better this year or will Tom Brady come crashing back to earth at age 44?   

Here’s a look at how Jared sees the Buccaneers doing in three key games, along with the final record he sees them ending up with: 

  • Week 1: Cowboys at Buccaneers. “The defending champs get off to a good start to the year, holding off a healthy Dallas Cowboys team that has the type of firepower to challenge any defense in the league.” Prediction: Tampa Bay 28-24 over Dallas.   
  • Week 4: Buccaneers at Patriots. “Bill Belichick shuts down Tom Brady in the first half, but Brady throws three touchdown passes after halftime and Todd Bowles’ defense clamps down on Cam Newton and Co. throughout the second half. In one of the most anticipated games of the season, the Buccaneers roll to a win.” Prediction: Tampa Bay 28-10 over New England. 
  • Week 10: Buccaneers at Washington. “In a defensive battle between two of the very best units in the league, the Football Team’s front four dominates the proceedings, forcing Tom Brady into two fumbles and an interception. Antonio Gibson gets loose for a long run and Curtis Samuel scores on a jet sweep, helping the Football Team overcome Ryan Fitzpatrick‘s erratic performance against Tampa’s pass rush.” Prediction: Washington 17-14 over Tampa Bay.

Overall, Dubin is predicting that the Buccaneers will end the season with a 12-5 record and if that happens, they’ll be coasting to the playoffs for the second straight year, which is kind of a big deal in Tampa, because the Buccaneers haven’t made the playoffs in consecutive seasons since 2001-2002. 

One interesting thing about Dubin’s prediction is that he has the Buccaneers falling apart down the stretch. After getting off to a 6-1 start, he has Tampa Bay going 2-4 from Week 8 thru Week 14. If you want to see Jared’s prediction for each game during that span and his prediction for all 17 games overall, be sure to click here so you can check out his entire story

Coming tomorrow, we’ll be continuing our run through the NFC South by predicting the Panthers‘ final record. 

4. Ranking the top 10 interior defensive linemen

As you may or may not have noticed, we love to rank things here at CBSSports.com and because of that, we thought we would spend the next few weeks ranking every position group heading into the 2021 season. 

From running backs to receivers to quarterbacks to kickers, we’re going to be ranking everyone and since there’s a zero percent chance that you’re going to agree with each ranking, I’m going to be sharing the Twitter handle of each author so you can argue with them about their ranking on social media. 

Today, we’re going to be ranking the top 10 interior defensive linemen heading into the 2021 season. This list was put together by Jared Dubin and if you’d like to tell him how perfect it is, or if you’d like to argue with him, you can do that by clicking here. For Dubin, the nice thing about making this list is that he’s probably not going to get any pushback for his top ranking. 

Top 10 interior defensive linemen

1. Aaron Donald, Rams
2. DeForest Buckner, Chiefs
3. Chris Jones, Chiefs
4. Vita Vea, Buccaneers
5. Stephon Tuitt, Steelers
6. Cameron Heyward Steelers
7. Grady Jarrett, Falcons
8. Kenny Clark, Packers
9. Jeffrey Simmons, Titans
10. Jonathan Allen, Washington

If you want a detailed explanation of the ranking, be sure to click here so you can check out Dubin’s entire story.   

5. Ranking the NFL’s top five rookie running backs

I told you we love to rank things here and I wasn’t kidding. Not only are we ranking defensive linemen today, but we’re also going to rank rookie running backs. 

Our draft guru Chris Trapasso put together his running back rankings based on which rookie has the best shot to be successful in 2021. Just because someone was a high pick doesn’t necessarily mean they’re going to productive. For instance, Travis Etienne was selected in the first round, but he’s going to be competing for playing time with James Robinson, who finished with the fifth-most rushing yards in the NFL last year. 

So which rookie running back is going to be the best? Let’s get to the rankings and find out.   

1. Michael Carter, Jets (Fourth round, 107th overall pick)
2. Najee Harris, Steelers (First round, 24th overall pick)
3. Trey Sermon, 49ers (Third round, 88th overall pick)
4. Travis Etienne, Jaguars (First round, 25th overall pick)
5. Javonte Williams, Broncos (Second round, 35th overall pick)

If you want an in-depth explanation on these rankings worked or if you’re wondering why Trapasso has a FOURTH-ROUND PICK at the top of his list, then you’re going to want to click here so you can check out his full story.   

6. Rapid-fire roundup

It was a busy weekend 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. 

  • Demaryius Thomas retires. Thomas might not be a household name, but he was one of the best receivers in the NFL during his prime. The four-time Pro Bowler averaged 1,494 receiving yards per year from 2012 to 2014 (To put that in perspective, only one NFL receiver had more than 1,494 yards in 2020). After being selected with the 22nd overall pick in 2010, Thomas ended up spending eight and a half seasons with the Broncos before finishing his career with short stints in Houston and New York (Jets). He’ll finish his career with 724 receptions for 9,763 yards and 63 touchdown catches. His receptions total ranks 48th in NFL history, just seven behind Hall of Famer Calvin Johnson. Thomas will also finish with the second most receiving yards (9,055) and TD catches (60) in Broncos history. 
  • Mike Ditka is opposed to the Bears leaving Chicago. In news that probably won’t surprise you, the legendary Bears coach doesn’t want to see the Bears leave Chicago. “The Chicago Bears belong in the city of Chicago,” Ditka told the Daily Herald last week. “That’s it. Call me an old-timer, call me a traditionalist, whatever. They’re a Chicago institution, and that should be the end of it.” I do agree that “Arlington Heights Bears” definitely doesn’t have the same ring to it. 
  • Bears receiver doesn’t qualify for Olympic team. Nine years after qualifying for the London Olympics as a long jumper, Bears wide receiver Marquise Goodwin was once again trying to make the Olympic team, but his bid came up short over the weekend. Goodwin ended up finishing 19th in a qualifying field that included 24 jumpers. 
  • Jets sign a new right tackle. The Jets offensive line has been undergoing some major changes this offseason and they made one more change over the weekend when they signed Morgan Moses to a one-year deal. After becoming Washington’s starting right tackle in 2015, Moses started in 96 straight games for the Football Team. Moses will almost certainly be the Jets starting right tackle this year. 




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