NFL Week 16 picks and power rankings, plus five crazy things from Steelers’ shocking loss to the Bengals

If today’s newsletter reads like it was written by someone who’s wired up on coffee after getting just 87 minutes of sleep last night and may or may not still have a twinge of tequila on their breath after celebrating the Bengals’ win over the Steelers until 5 a.m., I would like to apologize for that, because that’s exactly what is happening right now. 

I don’t usually celebrate wins by a team that’s 2-11-1, but as the resident Bengals homer here at, I was in full celebration mode last night. As a lifelong Bengals fan, let me just tell you that there is rarely anything to ever celebrate with this team during the months of December or January. They should change their team name to the Bears, because every winter they go into full hibernation, except this year, when they pulled off a stunner on the first day of winter. 

I thought the planets would have to align before I’d ever see the Bengals beat the Steelers, which makes sense, because if my astrologer isn’t playing games with me, the planets are actually aligned right now for the first time in 800 years, which means the next Bengals win over Pittsburgh will come in the year 2820, which is fine, because I’ll be celebrating this win until then. 

If you didn’t watch the game, I’ll be covering it in-depth here, so don’t worry. All you need to know is that the Steelers didn’t win, because the Bengals did. 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. All you have to do is click here and then share the link. Based on the tone in today’s newsletter, you’re definitely going to want to share this with any Steelers fans you know. 

1. Today’s Show: Bengals upset Steelers

I don’t want to exaggerate, but Tuesday’s podcast might go down as the best podcast in history. Not just Pick Six history, but in all of human history. If you’re not a regular podcast listener, I’ll give you the quick summary here: Last week our resident Steelers homer Ryan Wilson said he would get a RYAN FINLEY TATTOO if Finley somehow led the Bengals to an upset win on Monday. Well, that upset happened and now, Wilson is on the hot seat.

Besides Wilson’s pending tattoo, we obviously also talked about the game. Here are three quick highlights from Cincinnati’s 27-17 win over Pittsburgh: 

Ben Roethlisberger looks washed up. Big Ben somehow seems to look worse every week and on Monday, he might have actually hit rock bottom. The Steelers quarterback struggled anytime he had to throw the ball more than five yards downfield and it showed in his stats. Roethlisberger threw for just 170 yards against a Bengals defense that went into Monday surrendering more than 250 pass yards per game.    Bengals defense came to play. The Bengals defense has struggled at times this season, so it wouldn’t have been surprising to see the Steelers steamroll them like they did back in Week 10, but that didn’t happen because of some feisty play by Cincinnati. The Bengals set the tone early by absolutely shutting down the Steelers for nearly the entire first half. On Pittsburgh’s first six possessions, the Bengals forced three turnovers and three punts that were all three-and-outs. The three turnovers led to 17 points for the Bengals, which ended up being the difference in the game. Ryan Finley outplayed Big Ben. As the Bengals’ third-string QB, the expectations weren’t high for Finley, but not only did he exceed them, but he also outplayed Ben Roethlisberger. Although Finley’s passing stats weren’t sexy (7 of 13 for 89 yards), he did come through with several clutch throws, including a TD pass to Giovani Bernard. Finley also had several big runs in the game, including a 23-yard score that iced the win in the fourth quarter.    

As for the podcast, we spent most of the time trying to help Wilson decide what kind of tattoo he should get. We also spent some time talking about whether the Steelers are going to be able to hang on and win the AFC North, because right now, it doesn’t feel like that’s going to happen. 

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

2. Five crazy things from the Steelers-Bengals game

I could probably have spent the entire newsletter recapping this game, but I won’t do that to you. For one, Pete Prisco pays me to put his power rankings in here each week and with Christmas right around the corner, I can’t really afford to be giving that money back. 

With that in mind, let’s take one last look at Cincinnati’s win by going over five crazy things from Monday:

1. Steelers’ Monday night streak ends. Going into Week 15, the Steelers had won nine straight Monday games, which was the longest active streak in the NFL. If they had beaten the Bengals, they would’ve become just third team ever to win 10 straight games on Monday night, but that 10th win didn’t happen because the Bengals pulled off the upset. Thanks to Cincinnati’s win, the Raiders and Seahawks are the only teams to ever win 10 or more straight games on Monday night.  

2. Bengals snap 11-game losing streak to Steelers. For the past five years, this has been one of the most one-side rivalries in the NFL. Dating back to Week 14 of the 2015 season, the Steelers had beaten the Bengals 11 straight times, including the playoffs. However that streak is now over. Thanks to the Bengals’ win, the longest active win streak over one team belongs to the Chiefs, who have beaten the Broncos 11 straight times. The Eagles also have an 11-game winning streak over the Jets (The Jets are actually 0-11 all-time against Philadelphia).  

3. Roethlisberger hits career-low. The Steelers quarterback threw for just 19 yards over the first two quarters of the game, which was the lowest total of his career for a first half. When you account for the fact that he lost 12 yards on a first-half sack, that means the Steelers only had seven passing yards in the half. They also only had 40 yards total in a half where they had more punts (5) and turnovers (3) than first downs (2). 

4. Worst 11-0 team ever? After the Steelers started 11-0, many people were calling them the worst 11-0 team ever and those people might now have a point. Thanks to the loss on Monday, the Steelers have now lost three consecutive games, which makes them just the third team in NFL history to lose three straight games after starting 11-0. The good news for the Steelers is that one of the other teams on the list (2009 Saints) went on to win the Super Bowl. The bad news is that the other team (1969 Rams) ended up losing in the first-round of the playoffs. 

5. Bengals and Jets combine to make history. The Bengals win over the Steelers means that the two biggest upsets of the 2020 season happened within 24 hours of each other. With the Steelers favored by 14.5 over the Bengals and the Rams favored by 17 over the Jets, the fact that both teams won was improbable. According to ESPN, it marks the first time since 1973 that two teams won on the same weekend as an underdog of 14 or more points. If you would have been crazy enough to bet $100 on a Bengals-Jets money line parlay in Week 15, you would be $8,800 richer right now. I was not crazy enough to do that. 

If you want a normal recap of the game, be sure to click here. 

3. Pete Prisco unveils his Week 16 power rankings 

Pete Prisco stayed up way past his bedtime on Monday to watch the entire Steelers-Bengals game and although he was groggy this morning, I have some good news: He turned in his power rankings on time. However, his rankings are dead to me this week, because he didn’t show the Bengals any respect despite their upset win over the Steelers .   

I’ll explain the Bengals snub in a second, but let’s go over Prisco’s top five, which only has one change: He got rid of the Steelers. 

Chiefs (Same as last week)Packers  (Same as last week)Bills  (Same as last week)Seahawks (Up two spots from last week)Saints  (Same as last week)

I’m not going to spoil the rest of the power rankings here, but I am going to give you a few nuggets: 

The Bengals didn’t move up a single spot despite beating an 11-win team in primetime with their third-string quarterback. They were 30th last week and they’re 30th again this week. It’s like Prisco is mocking me. On the other hand, the Jets were rewarded for their win over the Rams.     Speaking of the Rams, they had the biggest drop of the week. Although Prisco only dropped the Steelers two spots for their loss, he dropped the Rams five spots for their loss, which was the biggest tumble that any team took in the rankings this week. The Rams fell out of the top 10, falling from 8th to 13th. The 49ers also dropped five spots, going from 21st to 26th.   The biggest jump in the rankings went to the other Los Angeles team. The Chargers moved up five spots from 25th to 20th after beating the Raiders in a wild Thursday game. The only other team to move up more than two spots this week was the DALLAS COWBOYS. I’m not sure how much Jerry Jones paid Prisco, but it was enough to bump Dallas up four spots from 28th to 24th. For the first time all season, the JETS ARE NOT IN LAST. They moved up one spot to 31st after upsetting the Rams on Sunday. I’m sure you can guess the new team at the bottom of the rankings and if you can’t, it’s the Jaguars.  

If you want to know where your favorite team ended up in Prisco’s Week 16 Power Rankings, be sure to click here. If you want to argue with Prisco over his rankings, you can do that on Twitter by clicking here. I argue with him all the time about everything. 

4. Breech’s Week 16 NFL picks 

If it’s Tuesday, that means it’s time for my weekly picks. In my picks column this week I shared the story about how my brother once burned down half our house just days before Christmas. In related news, I almost burned down half my house celebrating the Bengals’ win over the Steelers. 

Anyway, here are two of my main picks for the week. 

Colts (-1.5) at Steelers: After watching the Steelers lose to the Bengals on Monday night, I’m not sure I’m ever going to be able to pick Pittsburgh to win another game. If they couldn’t move the ball on Cincinnati’s defense, I have no idea how they’re going to move the ball on Indy’s defense. PICK: Colts 23-20 over Steelers. Rams (+1.5) at Seahawks: I think the Rams are going to be angry after that embarrassing loss to the Jets, which is bad news for Seattle, because they can’t even beat the Rams when they’re not angry. In the past six games between these two teams, the Rams have gone 5-1 and big reason is because they get after Russell Wilson — he was sacked six times in their first meeting this year — and they put up points. Over the past six games in the series, Sean McVay’s offense has averaged 31.8 points. PICK: Rams 27-24 over Seahawks. 

To check out the rest of my picks for Week 16, be sure to click here. 

My betting plan for the week is to parlay the Ravens money line (-600 vs. Giants) with the Cardinals money line (-210 vs. 49ers) and the Chiefs money line (-550 vs. Falcons), which will give me odds of +103 (Bet $100 to win $103). Last week, the three-team parlay of Chiefs-Packers-Steelers blew up in my face thanks to Pittsburgh. Of course, if you ever get to the last game in a parlay and it’s a standalone game like Monday night football, you can always hedge. Last week’s parlay would have paid out +115 if the Steelers had won, but if you wanted to guarantee yourself money, you could have bet the Bengals money line, which was at +700 (Bet $40 to win $280). 

5. Browns could steal the AFC North

I never though I’d use the words “Browns” and “division title” in the same sentence, but it’s about to happen. The Steelers’ loss to the Bengals was big news in Cleveland and that’s because it opened the door for the Browns to possibly take home the division title. 

Heading into Week 15, the Browns looked like a long shot to win the AFC North, but now, there are only three things that have to go Cleveland’s way for the division title to become a reality. 

Here’s the scenario that gives the Browns the AFC North title:

Week 16Colts beat SteelersBrowns beat Jets

Week 17Browns beat Steelers

If those three things happen, the Browns will take home their first division title since 1989. Of course, if this scenario happens, that Browns-Steelers game in Week 17 could get crazy for Cleveland and that’s because the Browns would be in a spot where a win gets them the division title, but a loss knocks them out of the playoffs. If the Browns lose, they would finish 11-5 and they wouldn’t make the playoffs if the Titans, Ravens and Dolphins are the other wild cards at 11-5. 

6. Pro Bowl rosters named, but there won’t be a game

I’m not sure if you care, but I’m going to give you the news anyway: The NFL has released the rosters for the 2021 Pro Bowl. Although there won’t be a game, many players have incentives tied to whether or not they make the Pro Bowl, so this is big news for them. 

I’m not going to go through the entire roster for each team, but I am going to drop a few nuggets here: 

Four teams had a league-high seven players: Four of the best teams in the NFL are the Chiefs, Packers, Ravens and Seahawks, so you probably won’t be surprised to find out that those four teams led the league with seven players each named to the Pro Bowl. Of those four teams, three of them had their quarterback voted in with Patrick Mahomes, Aaron Rodgers and Russell Wilson all getting the nod. Five teams got shut out: There were only five teams that didn’t have at least one Pro Bowl player and surprisingly, one of those teams was the Cowboys. I say “surprisingly” because Pro Bowl voting is basically a popularity contest and the Cowboys are the most popular team. The Jets, Bengals, Jaguars and Panthers were the other four teams besides the Cowboys to not have a single Pro Bowler. Two rookies made the team: It’s not easy to make the Pro Bowl as a rookie and if you need proof, just consider this: Only two of the 88 players this year are rookies. The first-year players who got a Pro Bowl nod were both in the NFC with Minnesota’s Justin Jefferson and Washington’s Chase Young. 

If you want to check out the entire roster for both teams, be sure to click here. 

Although we won’t see the AFC against the NFC on the field this year, EA SPORTS and the NFL have teamed up to create a week-long series of virtual games and those matchups will feature celebrities, NFL Legends, current players, and streamers playing as the official Pro Bowl rosters in Madden NFL 21. The week-long celebration of football will then be capped off with a virtual Pro Bowl game where 2021 Pro Bowl players will face off within Madden NFL 21.

As crazy as it sounds, I might actually watch some of that stuff.  

7. The Kicker: Strip club edition

This is usually the part of the newsletter where I focus on special teams, but instead, we’re going to focus on Dwayne Haskins apparently having a special time at the strip club on Sunday night. Photos have surfaced that show Haskins enjoying himself while not wearing a mask at a strip club following Washington’s 20-15 loss to the Seahawks (You can click here to see some of the photos that are tame and will not get you in trouble at work). 

Although the team is handling the matter internally, it’s possible there could be some sort of punishment since he appears to be breaking the NFL’s COVID-19 protocol. With Washington in the driver’s seat for the NFC East title, Haskins going on the COVID list right now would hurt, especially since Alex Smith’s health is up in the air this week. Haskins has apologized for his actions, but hey Dwayne, just wait two more weeks! If Washington doesn’t make the playoffs, your offseason will start in two weeks and you can do whatever you want. 

Washington’s game against Carolina actually got flexed by the NFL on Tuesday with Sunday’s kickoff now being moved from 1 p.m. ET to 4:05 p.m. ET. The move was made to protect the Cowboys-Eagles game. If Washington had played at 1 and beaten the Panthers, both Philadelphia and Dallas would have been eliminated from the playoffs. 

Alright, I am off tomorrow. However, I will not be spending my free day at a strip club, but that’s mostly because I think my wife would get mad if snuck off to the strip club two days before Christmas. Although I won’t be here, you will be getting your weekly dose of Cody Benjamin, who also will not be going to a strip club tomorrow. At least, I don’t think he will. 

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