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NFL Week 11 picks, plus Antonio Brown’s vaccination controversy and recapping Patriots’ blowout win in Atlanta

Welcome to the Friday edition of the Pick Six newsletter!

We are now officially less than one week away from Thanksgiving, which I’m only noting because I feel like the Falcons are feeling very thankful today that they don’t have to face the Patriots again for another four years. If you missed Thursday night’s game, the Falcons got absolutely hammered, 25-0. On the bright side, they didn’t blow a 28-3 lead, but I’m not even sure that counts as a bright side since they lost by 25, which means everyone still got to use their 28-3 jokes since 28 minus three equals 25. Also, Thanksgiving is on Nov. 25th, so this entire paragraph has now officially come full circle. 

For today’s newsletter, we’ll be giving all the details on how the Patriots won, plus we’ll be taking a look at the vaccination controversy involving Antonio Brown. I thought for sure the time he froze his feet in a cryotherapy chamber would be the weirdest controversy involving him, but I thought wrong. Alright, let’s get to the rundown. 

Remember, your job this weekend is to get as many people you know to sign up for the newsletter. To get your friends to sign up, all you have to do is click here and then share this link with them. 

1. Today’s show: Recapping the Patriots’ blowout win over Atlanta

Atlanta, GA – November 18: New England Patriots Adrian Phillips (21) celebrates his interception with teammate Joejuan Williams against the Atlanta Falcons during fourth quarter NFL action. The New England Patriots visit the Atlanta Falcons in a regular season NFL game at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta, GA on Nov. 18, 2021.
Matthew J. Lee/The Boston Globe via Getty Images

If defense wins championships, then I’m going to go ahead and assume that the Patriots are going to win the Super Bowl this year because their defense looked unbeatable Thursday night. The Patriots didn’t come back from a 25-point deficit to beat the Falcons like they did in Super Bowl LI, but they did win by 25 and that was mostly thanks to a defense that shut out the Falcons, marking the first time Atlanta had been shut out at home since 1988

The only thing more impressive than the Patriots defense Thursday night was the podcast that Will Brinson, Ryan Wilson and I recorded afterward. Here are a few key aspects of the game that we touched on: 

  • Patriots defense smothers Falcons. The Falcons’ loss Thursday marked the first time they had been shut out at home in 33 years, and a big reason that happened is because Atlanta got smothered by New England’s defense. Not only did the Patriots force four turnovers (all interceptions), but they also sacked Matt Ryan four times while holding the Falcons to just 165 total yards. Ryan was drafted in 2008 and this was just the second time in his career he was held under 170 total yards. Although almost every Patriots defensive player played well, the star of the game was probably Kyle Van Noy, who had a pick-six to go along with two sacks and eight tackles. 
  • Mac Jones might win Rookie of the Year. One month ago, it seemed like Ja’Marr Chase was a lock to win rookie of the year, but then Mac Jones happened. The Patriots are now on a five-game winning streak, and a big reason for that is the play of their rookie quarterback. Jones has been on a roll and that roll continued in Atlanta. Jones started the game hot (14 of 15 for 136 yards and a TD in the first half) and never really cooled down on a night where he finished with 207 yards. Jones’ numbers probably could have been bigger, but the Patriots were more than content to run the ball in the second half while leading by double-digits.    
  • Falcons have a QB meltdown in second half. It’s not often you see three DIFFERENT quarterbacks throw an interception for the same team in a game, but that’s exactly what happened Thursday night. After watching Matt Ryan throw two picks in the second half, Falcons coach Arthur Smith decided to remove his starting QB from the blowout loss. Following Ryan’s exit, Josh Rosen came in and immediately threw a pick-six, which led to his benching. The next QB in the game for Atlanta, Feleipe Franks, threw an interception on his first possession. The QB meltdown marked the first time that three different players threw an interception in a game for one team since 2009, when the Texans had two quarterbacks and a running back throw an interception. It also marked the first time three different quarterbacks threw a pick in the same game since 2000 (Chargers).
  • Folk hero. Nick Folk had a huge game on a night where he scored 13 of New England’s 25 points. The Patriots kicker drilled four field goals against the Falcons with makes from 32, 33, 44 and 53. The 53-yarder actually hit a cameraman in the face and you can see that poor cameraman’s point of view of the kick by clicking here

To listen to or watch today’s episode on YouTube, be sure to click here. (Seriously, you can WATCH the podcast.) You can also check out our takeaways from the game by clicking here.

2. Today’s show Part II: Best bets for Week 11

The best part about Friday — besides the fact it’s Friday — is that you get two episodes of the podcast in your feed. After the recap of the Thursday game, Brinson politely asked me and Ryan Wilson to leave so that he could bring in Pete Prisco and R.J. White for a discussion about their best bets for Week 11. 

To be honest, Brinson didn’t even have to ask me to leave. I actually offered to go so I could go back and rewatch all of Nick Folk’s field goals from the Thursday game. I never get tired of watching field goals. 

Anyway, the guys spent nearly 60 minutes going over the best bets for every single game, and we’re going to cover three from each guy below. They had a pretty solid showing last week, going 6-3 overall. 

Pete Prisco (1-2 last week in picks featured here)

Will Brinson (2-1 last week in picks featured here)

R.J. White (3-0 last week in picks featured here)

The guys also have a parlay they like that pays out +1228.  

  • Steelers (+5.5) to cover against the Chargers
  • Saints (+1.5) to cover against the Eagles
  • Dolphins (-3) to cover against the Jets
  • Packers (-2) to cover against the Vikings

If it hits, that parlay would win $1,228 on a $100 bet.  

To hear what the rest of the best bets are for Week 11 — 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

3. Antonio Brown vaccination controversy

PHILADELPHIA, PA – OCTOBER 14: Antonio Brown #81 of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers looks on prior to the game against the Philadelphia Eagles at Lincoln Financial Field on October 14, 2021 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
Mitchell Leff/Getty Images

Buccaneers receiver Antonio Brown could be in some hot water with the NFL after he was accused of having a fake vaccination card.

Here’s what we know about the situation:

  • How we know about the fake card. The Tampa Bay Times dropped a bombshell story Thursday that boils down to this: Brown’s former live-in chef, Steven Ruiz, claims the wide receiver asked him to obtain a fake vaccination card for him and his girlfriend. Ruiz has text messages from Brown’s girlfriend, Cydney Moreau, showing that she offered to pay $500 to Ruiz if he could get some fake vaccination cards. Although Ruiz didn’t come through, Brown later bragged to him that he was able to obtain two cards. This all happened starting in July and just two months later, Brown and Ruiz had a fallout over $10,000 in unpaid services that led Ruiz to quit. 
  • Brown’s lawyer responds. Shortly after the story broke, Brown’s lawyer said he had a conversation with the receiver in which Brown said he was vaccinated. “I said, ‘Antonio, are you vaccinated?’ He said, ‘Yes, I went to a drive-through [vaccination] site and I’m vaccinated.'”
  • Buccaneers offer a statement on the matter. The team is one of the few in the NFL that has 100% of its players vaccinated and they were pretty adamant that nothing was wrong with Brown’s card, “All vaccination cards were reviewed by Buccaneers personnel and no irregularities were observed,” the team said in a statement. However, the team did note that the 100% vaccination rate only happened “after an extensive educational process conducted throughout the organization,” which means it’s possible there were players who weren’t on board with the vaccine at first. 
  • NFL will review the situation. The league is now looking into the case as a possible violation of the personal conduct policy, as forging a vaccine card is a federal offense. 

The NFL investigation will be interesting since it’s possible everyone is telling the truth here. Brown is claiming he’s currently vaccinated, which could be true, but that doesn’t necessarily mean he didn’t have a fake vaccine card in late July or early August. If he used one during training camp, then this becomes an NFL issue and he could be looking at a potential punishment. The good news for the NFL is that it shouldn’t be too difficult to investigate this. Each vaccine card has several key pieces of information, including the location of the vaccination, the batch number of the vaccine and the clinic site where it was administered. If Brown’s information can’t be verified or if his current card is different from the one he had in August, then that would be a problem for him. 

4. NFL Week 11 picks

This is the final newsletter of the week, which means I feel morally obligated to cram as many picks as possible into this space. I once crammed 41 beers into a cooler that was only supposed to fit 24, so I know I’m good at cramming. 

With that in mind, we’ve got some Week 11 picks coming your way and those will be coming from Will Brinson, Tom Fornelli and Jonathan Jones along with CBSSports.com writers Jordan Dajani and Tyler Sullivan. 

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. 

  • Will Brinson: Seahawks 21-17 over Cardinals (Seattle covers +2.5). Russell Wilson is playing as a home underdog and the Cards *should* sit Kyler Murray with the bye coming next week, which is why I like Seattle.” For the rest of Brinson’s Week 11 picks, be sure to click here
  • Jonathan Jones: Saints over Eagles (New Orleans +110 moneyline). “The Eagles are playing extremely well right now and Jalen Hurts is better than folks allowed a month ago. But Dennis Allen’s defense is playing too well right now for whatever Nick Sirianni has cooked up.” For the rest of Jones’ Week 11 picks, be sure to click here.
  • Tom Fornelli: Washington 24-17 over Carolina (Washington covers +3.5). “Yeah, I’m just not willing to trust Cam Newton as a favorite when he’s fresh off the street. I know he saw snaps last week, but they were in red-zone situations in which he’s thrived during his entire career. I’m not ready to buy that his first game as a starter will go as smoothly when he’s running the entire show.” For the rest of Fornelli’s Week 11 best bets, be sure to click here
  • Jordan Dajani: Raiders 27-24 over Bengals (Las Vegas covers +1). Joe Burrow has struggled a bit over his past few games. He’s tied for the NFL lead in interceptions with Sam Darnold (11), and has thrown an interception in five straight games — which is the longest active streak in the NFL. Defensively, only the Jets have allowed more points per game and yards per game than the Bengals have since Halloween. I view this as a bounce-back matchup for the Raiders.” For the rest of Dajani’s Week 11 picks, be sure to click here.
  • Tyler Sullivan: Packers 27-24 over Vikings (Green Bay covers -2.5). “While the Packers were able to get a win last week against Seattle, Aaron Rodgers didn’t play as well as we’re used to seeing him in his return from COVID-19, throwing no touchdowns and an interception. That suggests a bigger bounce-back game from him this week against a Vikings franchise that he owns a 108.5 career passer rating against.” For the rest of Sullivan’s Week 11 picks, be sure to click here.

5. Rams owner makes threat to NFL that could cost league billions

Arsenal owner Stan Kroenke
Getty Images

Rams owner Stan Kroenke probably isn’t going to be a very popular person at the next NFL owners meeting and that’s because he basically issued a threat that could end up costing the other 31 owners billions of dollars if he follows through with it. This all came out in an email that was obtained by the Sports Business Journal this week. 

As you may or may not know, the Rams — along with the NFL and the league’s 31 other teams — are all defendants in a lawsuit that was filed by the city of St. Louis, St. Louis County and the Regional Convention and Sports Complex Authority all the way back in 2017. The lawsuit is currently scheduled to go to trial on Jan. 10, 2022 and things aren’t looking so good for the NFL right now, so Kroenke wants to settle the case and that’s where things get interesting. 

  • The possible settlement. Kroenke’s reps believe the suit can be settled for somewhere between $500 million and $750 million. At the high end, that would end up costing just under $25 million per team. However, the problem here is that the 31 other NFL owners feel that Kroenke should be on the hook for the entire settlement due to an indemnification agreement he signed when the Rams moved out of St. Louis following the 2015 season. 
  • Kroenke’s threat. The Rams owner has been covering the legal fees in the case, but he doesn’t believe the language in the indemnification agreement requires him to pay the entire settlement if the NFL loses or settles the case. (Pro Football Talk’s Mike Florio outlined here why Kroenke actually has a pretty strong legal leg to stand on.) If the other teams don’t agree to split the settlement, Kroenke has threatened to work out an individual settlement with the plaintiffs, which would get him off the hook but force the 31 other teams to still go to trial in January. 
  • Why that could be a disaster for the NFL. A late October report from ESPN suggested that some owners are fearing that the judgement against them might end up being into the BILLIONS of dollars if the NFL loses the case. If Kroenke settles first for say, $200 million, the plaintiffs could use that as a jumping off point for potential damages from each team at trial (If all 32 teams had to pay $200 million, that would be $6.2 billion for the plaintiffs). 
  • Key dates to know. Kroenke has a mediation in the case scheduled for Nov. 23 and it’s possible he’ll try to work out a settlement then. If that’s the case, it means the NFL will have just days to respond to his legal threat. If nothing comes of mediation, then the trial will start in January. 

No matter what happens, it’s safe to say that Kroenke isn’t going to be the most popular guy around the league for the next few years. 

6. Rapid-fire roundup

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. 

  • Nick Chubb activated off COVID list. The Browns running back missed last week’s game due to being on the reserve/COVID-19 list, but now he’s been activated off the list, which means there’s a good chance he’ll be able to play Sunday against the Lions. 
  • Sean Payton calls out NFL officials. The Saints coach is not happy with the state of NFL officiating and he made that clear during an interview Thursday with Dan Patrick. Payton’s biggest point is that everyone deserves better officiating, “We have to improve. Everyone watching and participating and involved in it deserves better,” Payton said.
  • Bears sign Bruce Irvin. With Khalil Mack still banged up, the Bears went out and grabbed one of the few available defensive free agents who might be able to come in and contribute right away. The Bears will be the fifth team Irvin has played for since entering the NFL as a first-round draft pick of the Seahawks in 2012. 
  • Ex-NFL running back Zac Stacy facing charges. The former Rams running back, who was caught attacking the mother of his child in a gruesome video that surface this week, has been charged with two felonies related to the video: aggravated battery and criminal mischief. According to TMZ, Stacy could face up to 20 years in prison for the attack. 
  • Amazon apparently trying to land Al Michaels and Troy Aikman. Amazon will be taking over the Thursday night football package next season, and apparently, the internet behemoth wants to make a giant splash. According to Front Office Sports, Amazon is hoping to hire Michaels and Aikman to make up their Thursday night booth. 
  • Eagles extend TE Dallas Goedert. This seemed like a foregone conclusion after the Eagles traded veteran Zach Ertz to the Cardinals in mid-October, and it became official Friday. The four-year extension, which keeps the 26-year-old in Philadelphia through 2025, is worth $57 million ($35 million guaranteed), according to NFL Network, making him one of the highest-paid tight ends in the NFL.

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https://www.cbssports.com/nfl/news/nfl-week-11-picks-plus-antonio-browns-vaccination-controversy-and-recapping-patriots-blowout-win-in-atlanta/ NFL Week 11 picks, plus Antonio Brown’s vaccination controversy and recapping Patriots’ blowout win in Atlanta

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