Predicting the MVP for each AFC team, plus ranking the top 10 punters in the NFL entering 2022 season

Tue, Jul 5, 2022
NFL News (AP)

Predicting the MVP for each AFC team, plus ranking the top 10 punters in the NFL entering 2022 season

Welcome to the Tuesday edition of the Pick Six newsletter!

In news that no one cares about, I will be eating hot dogs for the next 17 days and that's mostly because I grilled roughly 75 more hot dogs than I actually needed for the Fourth of July yesterday. I feel like the easiest way to solve my hot dog problem would be to invite Joey Chestnut over for dinner tonight, but I'm not sure he's going to be in the mood to eat anymore after downing 63 to win the Nathan's hot dog eating contest yesterday.'

Anyway, this isn't a hot dog newsletter, it's an NFL newsletter, so let's get to the NFL stuff.'

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. Let's get to the rundown.'

During the NFL offseason, we like to spice things up each week on the Pick Six Podcast by adding a listener mailbag every Monday, well, except for this week. Since Monday was a holiday, you're getting a mailbag today!

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, today's mailbag includes a question from a listener who was wondering what I got Ryan Wilson for his birthday last week, which made me feel like a horrible person because I did not get Ryan Wilson anything for his birthday.'

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 that includes your question.'

Here's one question Will Brinson and I answered in today's mailbag.'

Q: Out of the six "starting" second-year quarterbacks -- Trevor Lawrence, Zach Wilson, Trey Lance, Justin Fields, Mac Jones, and Davis Mills -- which one do you think will be replaced by their team first?

A:'I think the obvious answer here is Davis Mills. The Texans can't seem to get out of their own way, they don't ever seem to do anything right, and Mills is playing quarterback for a coaching staff/front office that didn't draft him, which means if he struggles in 2022, I don't think they'll have any issues pulling the cord on his time in Houston. Mills is also the only player on this list who wasn't taken in the first round, which means the Texans won't face as much criticism for benching him (To put this in perspective, if Mills got benched in Week 5, most people would yawn, but if Trevor Lawrence got benched in Week 5, that would make headlines for weeks).'

My under-the-radar answer to this question is Zach Wilson. The Jets have actually put some decent weapons around him, and if he can't produce with his supporting cast, I could see them at least starting the process of looking around for other quarterbacks. Of the first-round quarterbacks, Brinson thinks the best answer is Justin Fields since he's also playing for a coaching staff/front office that didn't draft him.'

Anyway, to listen to the rest of the mailbag,'be sure to click here. You can also watch today's episode on YouTube by clicking here.

When you think of the most improved teams in the NFL, you usually think of bad teams from last year that improved their rosters enough during the offseason to compete for a playoff spot in 2022. However, it's worth keeping in mind that good teams can also improve their roster during the offseason, which I'm only noting because good teams dominate our list of the top-five most improved teams heading into 2022.'

Of the five teams on our list, three of them made the playoffs last year and only one of them finished the 2021 season with a losing record. The most surprising team on the list might be the Bengals, who improved their roster immensely, which should probably scare the rest of the AFC considering this is the same Cincinnati team that was in the Super Bowl just five months ago.'

With that in mind, here's Bryan DeArdo's list of the top-five most improved teams entering the 2022 season:'

1. Eagles.
Key additions:' A.J. Brown, Haason Reddick, James Bradberry, Jordan Davis.'"A wild card team last season, the Eagles seem primed to fly considerably higher in 2022. During the draft, GM Howie Roseman swung a trade that brought in Brown, a former Pro Bowl wideout with the Titans."

2. Chargers.'
Key additions: Khalil Mack, J.C. Jackson, Zion Johnson.'"Brandon Staley and the Chargers' front office addressed their biggest issue -- defense -- by trading for Mack, one of the NFL's premier inside linebackers, and forked over a hefty amount of money to acquire Jackson, who was arguably the top cornerback on the market."

3. Jets.
Key additions: Sauce Gardner, Jordan Whitehead, Jermaine Johnson II, Garrett Wilson, Laken Tomlinson.'"GM Joe Douglas has equipped second-year QB Zach Wilson with a talented receiving corps that includes Wilson, Elijah Moore (a second-round pick in 2021), Corey Davis, Braxton Berrios, and former Bengal C.J Uzomah. Also at Wilson's disposal is an equally deep backfield, led by Michael Carter, rookie Breece Hall and former 49er Tevin Coleman."

4. Steelers.'
Key additions: Mitchell Trubisky, Kenny Pickett, Myles Jack, Levi Wallace, Larry Ogunjobi.'"One of Omar Khan's first big signings as GM was Ogunjobi, who if healthy will be an absolute bargain at one year and up to $8 million with incentives. Speaking of bargains, the Steelers were able to acquire two veteran defensive starters in Jack and Wallace for a total of $24 million over two years."

5. Bengals.'
Key additions: Alex Cappa, Ted Karras, La'el Collins, Daxton Hill.'"The defending AFC champions aggressively addressed last season's biggest weakness by signing three veteran offensive linemen. This trio should make life significantly better for Joe Burrow, who led the Bengals to an AFC title last season despite getting sacked a whopping 70 times (including the postseason)."

If you want to read DeArdo's full explanation for his rankings and why he ranked each team where he did, .'

As you may or may not have noticed, we've been ranking every position group in the NFL over the past few weeks, and believe it or not, we are finally down to our last position group: Punters. Obviously, we decided to save the best for last.

It took three weeks to make it through every position group, but we finally did it, so feel free to stop and take a quick bow if you actually read through every one of these. From to to to , we covered every position group. Actually, I take that back. The one thing we didn't rank was long snappers. Maybe I'll push for that next year.'

Anyway, let's get to our ranking of the top 10 punters.'

Top 10 punters for 2022

1. Michael Dickson, Seahawks
2. Logan Cooke, Jaguars
3. A.J. Cole, Raiders
4. Jack Fox, Lions
5. Bryan Anger, Cowboys
6. Tress Way, Commanders
7. Jake Bailey, Patriots
8. Tommy Townsend, Chiefs
9.' Johnny Hekker, Panthers
10. Cameron Johnston, Texans
Just missed: Sam Martin (Broncos), Thomas Morstead (Dolphins), Brett Kern (Titans)

If you want to tell me how awesome my list is, you'can do that on Twitter by clicking here. On the other hand, if you want to tell me I'm trash because I left Sam Martin off the list, you can also do that on Twitter.

Finally, if you want a detailed explanation of my punter rankings, then .'

The NFL only hands out one MVP award every year, but we're slightly more generous around here, so we're going to hand out 16 of them today. Our Jordan Dajani decided to run through every team in the AFC and predict who is going to be the MVP for each team.

The fun part here is that Dajani didn't go through and pick the obvious choice for each team. For instance, the Ravens MVP isn't Lamar Jackson.'

So who is the Ravens MVP? And who made the cut for the other 15 teams in the AFC?

Let's find out.'

Bills:'QB Josh Allen
Dolphins:'The new group of running backs
Patriots:'QB Mac Jones
Jets:'WR Elijah Moore
Texans:'WR Brandin Cooks
Colts:'RB Jonathan Taylor
Jaguars:'QB Trevor Lawrence
Titans:'RB Derrick Henry
Ravens:'WR Rashod Bateman
Bengals:'The new offensive line (Alex Cappa, La'el Collins, Ted Karras)
Browns:'WR Amari Cooper
Steelers:'EDGE T.J. Watt
Broncos:'QB Russell Wilson
Chiefs:'TE Travis Kelce
Raiders:'DE Maxx Crosby
Chargers:'QB Justin Herbert

If you want a detailed explanation for why each of the players made the cut, . Coming later this week, we'll predict an MVP for each NFC team.'

Henry "Hank" Goldberg, one of the most iconic prognosticators in the history of sports media, passed away after a seven-year battle with kidney disease. Goldberg spent nearly his entire life on the radio or in front of a camera, and most of that time was spent making picks on NFL games and horse races. Goldberg was so fond of his job that even as his health was getting worse, he was still making picks until nearly the very end.'

  • The man was legend in South Florida. For 30 years (1978-2007), Goldberg either hosted or co-hosted a radio show in South Florida. Not to mention, he also served as the Dolphins' color commentator on radio from 1978 to 1992. During the mid-70s, he was also the ghost writer for Jimmy "The Greek" Snyder's nationally syndicated newspaper column.'
  • Goldberg goes national. After taking over the South Florida market, Goldberg went national in 1993 when he was hired by ESPN. During his lengthy stint at the all sports network, Goldberg made regular appearances on NFL countdown. According to one former ESPN reporter, Goldberg was basically the only one at the network who had the green light to talk about NFL point spreads during a time when talking about point spreads on national television was considered taboo. According to ESPN, his picks against the spread finished .500 or better in 15 of his 17 years at the network.'
  • Goldberg ends up at AP Sports. Most people slow down once they hit their late 70s, but not Goldberg. In 2018, he joined AP Sports HQ and SportsLine and continued to work with us there until last month. The man was hitting home runs in the prognostication department until the end. Back in May, the two horses he picked to finish in the top two at the Preakness ended up being the top two horses in the race. Boom. Goldberg was nailing his picks until the end.'

Goldberg rubbed elbows with some of the most famous athletes of the past few generations. He was friends with Raiders owner Al Davis, Joe Namath. Chris Webber and Al Michaels. He also managed to build a friendship with one of the most reclusive athletes in history: Joe DiMaggio.'

If you wan to know more about Goldberg's fascinating life, you'll definitely want to . You can also see a video tribute to Goldberg by clicking here.'

It was a wild 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 had stage 2 CTE when he died.'The former Broncos receiver, who unexpectedly passed away in December at the age of 33, was posthumously diagnosed with Stage 2 CTE by doctors at Boston University. Although CTE might have played a part in his death, doctors noted that both his life and death "were also complicated by seizures brought on by a 2019 car crash," according to The New York Times. For more details on the Thomas situation, .'
  • Brother of Dolphins GM expected to be named an NHL GM. We don't usually mention NHL news, but we're going to today. The San Jose Sharks are expected to name Mike Grier as their general manager, according to ESPN. Not only would this make him the first Black GM in NHL history, but he'll also have something in common with his brother: They'll both be the general manager of a profession sports team. Mike's brother, Chris Grier, is the GM for the Dolphins.'
  • Brett Favre thinks Davante Adams' numbers are going to nose dive with Raiders.'Now that Davante Adams is in Las Vegas, Brett Favre is expecting the receiver's numbers to . "I think Derek Carr's a very good quarterback, but he's not in Aaron's league yet," Favre recently told TMZ. "I'd be shocked if [Adams] had the same year he's had the previous year. That's not to say he can't do it, but I would be shocked."
  • Eagles star doesn't quite agree with Miles Sanders. Last week, Miles Sanders could be an all-star team in 2022. New Eagles receiver A.J. Brown pumped the brakes on that take over the weekend, "He's excited about what this team could be," Brown wrote on Twitter. "We all are. But we're not An All-Star team. We definitely could be with years to come. We have [to] strap up our pads and prove it every year and that's what we plan to do! #1Weekatatime."'
  • RGIII ready to return to football if someone calls. After sitting out of the NFL in 2021, Robert Griffin III is . "I am ready to go right now," Griffin said,'via AP 10 KWTX. "I train every day. I throw and work out. I know what it takes to get my body ready and I am doing those things....if I get that call this year, next year, or five years from now I will be ready to play." In his most recent NFL stint,' Griffin spent three seasons with the Ravens (2018-2020), but didn't play last season.'
  • Birmingham wins inaugural USFL title. Most of you probably didn't even know it was going on, but I do have some important USFL news: the league's inaugural season is over. The Birmingham Stallions claimed the new league's first title by beating the Philadelphia Stars, 33-30, in Sunday's championship game. If you want to check out our rehash from the game, feel free to click here.'
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