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Ranking best 17th-game matchups for 2021; Bengals set to unveil Ring of Honor; AFC South mock drafts

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Over the past 10 years, I was assuming that the Bengals were just ignoring all the emails I sent them about starting a Ring of Honor but, apparently, they got through to someone, because the team announced Thursday they’ll be creating a Ring of Honor and it will be up and running for the 2021 season.

OK, I didn’t actually email the Bengals, but I can tell you that not having a Ring of Honor has been a sore spot with fans over the years and that’s mostly because the team hasn’t done a great job of honoring its past. However, that’s now going to change. 

As the resident Bengals homer here at CBSSports.com, I obviously had to start today’s newsletter with that news, which is why you’re getting that first. We’ll be talking about that plus much more in today’s newsletter, 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.

1. Today’s show: Seven-round mock draft


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With the NFL Draft kicking off EXACTLY three weeks from today, Will Brinson thought it made sense to go big for Thursday’s show, which is why he invited on CBSSports.com draft expert Josh Edwards, who just finished putting together a FULL SEVEN-ROUND MOCK DRAFT. After not hearing from Edwards for five straight days, I was going to file a missing-persons report for him, but it turns out the reason no one had heard from him is because he was working on this gigantic mock draft. 

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Some people do a mock draft that only covers the first round, some people do a mock that only covers the first two rounds, but not Edwards, he went through and mocked out all 259 picks in this year’s draft. The draft started with Trevor Lawrence going first overall and ended when the Buccaneers selected wide receiver Racey McMath with the final pick. 

When you write something that monstrous, you have to share it with everyone and that’s exactly what Edwards did during today’s show. Over the course of the episode, Edwards and Brinson spent some serious time talking about what the plan could be in the draft for several different teams, including the Jaguars, Jets, Bengals, Broncos, Falcons, Eagles, Lions and 49ers.  

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

2. Ex-NFL Pro Bowler says Bill Belichick’s seat is getting warm

The idea of an NFL coach being on the hot seat after winning six Super Bowls over 20 years seems kind of crazy, but at least one former NFL player believes that Bill Belichick’s seat could be getting warm in New England. 

According to three-time Pro Bowler LaVar Arrington, Belichick needs to prove that he can win without Tom Brady, especially after a 2020 season that ended with Brady winning a Super Bowl and the Patriots finishing 7-9.

“Having the type of season that they had last year can make you rethink a whole lot of things that you did in the past. That seat is warm for Bill Belichick,” Arrington said on FS1, via NESN.com. “And that might sound crazy for some people, but Bill Belichick has to have a good season this year. And you know why? Because there are whispers — ‘It was Tom. It was always Tom. It couldn’t have been anything else but Tom.’ And Bill Belichick has to show before he gets too far away from Tom Brady leaving that it was not Tom Brady; that it was, in fact and indeed, the system of what Bill Belichick built in New England.”

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Six Super Bowl wins will earn you a lot goodwill, so I don’t think Belichick has to worry about losing his job in New England anytime soon. However, if the Patriots continue to struggle, especially coming off a free agency period where they spent more money than anyone, that will certainly raise more questions about whether Brady was a bigger factor than Belichick in the Patriots’ 20-year run of success. 

3. Ranking the top five 17th-game matchups for 2021

Oct 27, 2019; Kansas City, MO, USA; Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers (12) talks with Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes (15) after the game at Arrowhead Stadium.
Jay Biggerstaff / USA TODAY Sports

With the NFL schedule getting expanded for 2021, that means there will be 16 new games on the docket for the upcoming season and because we love to rank things here at CBSSports.com, we decided to rank the top five games that are being added to the schedule. 

Remember, each game being added will involve an AFC team playing host to an NFC team. For the 2021 season, the NFC East will play the AFC East, the NFC North will play the AFC West, the NFC South will face the AFC South, and the NFC West will play the AFC North. The opponent for each game is determined by where a team finished in the standings last season. For example, with the AFC North playing the NFC West, the Bengals and 49ers will play each other since they both finished in last place in 2020. 

With that in mind, here are Jeff Kerr’s top five games being added to the schedule: 

1. Packers at Chiefs: “Easily the best matchup of the bunch here. How can it get any better than Aaron Rodgers vs. Patrick Mahomes as the two MVPs square off for the first time (These two teams played in 2019, but Mahomes missed that game with an ankle injury).”

2. Cowboys at Patriots: “These are two teams that have plenty to prove in 2021. Dallas lost Dak Prescott last season and missed the playoffs, finishing third in the NFC East, while New England had a losing record for the first time since 2000. The teams have a combined 11 Super Bowl victories between them. This is a game the TV networks will covet.”

3. Rams at Ravens: “The Rams had the No. 1 defense in the league last year and will face a serious challenge in Lamar Jackson. This is a matchup the NFL doesn’t see often, and it’s a must-watch game for fans.”

4. Seahawks at Steelers: Russell Wilson and Ben Roethlisberger have only faced off against each other twice in their careers — and Roethlisberger left the 2019 matchup with an elbow injury that ended his season.”

5. Buccaneers at Colts: “Tom Brady and the Super Bowl champions are heading to Lucas Oil Stadium and facing one of the most talented rosters in the AFC.”

For a deeper explanation on Kerr’s ranking, be sure to click here

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4. Bengals set to unveil a Ring of Honor 

The inaugural Ring of Honor class for the Bengals will include four members and two of those will be Paul Brown and Anthony Munoz. Brown founded the Bengals and was once referred to as the “father of professional football” by Belichick. As for Munoz, he’s arguably the greatest left tackle in NFL history. 

As for the other two members in the inaugural class, the team has announced that season-ticket holders will get to vote on them. Since my father (Jim Breech) spent 13 years playing for the Bengals, this would usually be the part where I campaign for him to get in, but I’M NOT GOING TO DO THAT. I’M AN OBJECTIVE JOURNALIST.

If the Bengals plan is to induct two players each season, here’s who I would personally vote for over the next four years. 

2021: Ken Anderson (1981 NFL MVP), Ken Riley (fifth-most interceptions in NFL history)
2022: Boomer Esiason, Chad Johnson
2023: Isaac Curtis, Tim Krumrie
2024: Marvin Lewis, Sam Wyche 

I’m sure I’m snubbing someone and if my dad’s reading, I’ll vote for you in 2025. 

5. Jaguars mock draft: What will Jacksonville do after drafting Trevor Lawrence?

With just three weeks to go until the NFL Draft, we figured that now was a good time to start producing a seven-round mock draft for each individual team and today, we’re covering the Jacksonville Jaguars. 

Although there likely won’t be much drama when it comes to Jacksonville’s first pick — I think we can all agree they’re going to take Trevor Lawrence — we could see some drama with their later picks and that’s because they have a bunch of them. Not only do the Jaguars have TWO first-round picks this year, but they also have five of the first 65 picks in the draft, which puts them in a prime spot. With that many early picks, it wouldn’t be surprising to see the Jags use that ammo to trade up at some point during the draft. 

Of course, the Jags have a ton of holes on their roster and if they’re going to fill all those holes, it might be smarter to keep the picks they already have, which is exactly what Tyler Sullivan has them doing.  

Here’s a look at how Sullivan sees the first three rounds shaking out for Jacksonville: 

  • First round (first overall): QB Trevor Lawrence (Clemson)
  • First (25): S Trevon Moehrig (TCU)
  • Second (33): DL Christian Barmore (Alabama)
  • Second (45): WR Rondale Moore (Purdue)
  • Third (65): OT Brady Christensen (BYU)

The Jaguars actually have a total of 10 picks in the draft and if you want to see Sullivan’s full explanation for each pick, be sure to click here. If you need even more mock drafts in your life — and who doesn’t — we also have a full Colts mock draft (Click here), a full Texans mock draft (Click here) and a full Titans mock draft (Click here).

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6. Rapid-fire roundup: Panthers signing A.J. Bouye


USA TODAY

This has been a busy week in the NFL and since it’s nearly impossible to keep track of it all, I went ahead and put together a roundup for you. 

  • Panthers land some major help in the secondary. It’s not often you can land a former Pro Bowl this late in free agency, but that’s exactly what Carolina did on Wednesday after agreeing to terms with cornerback A.J. Bouye. Unfortunately for the Panthers, Bouye will have to sit out the first two games of the season as part of a six-game suspension he was given near the end of the 2020 season. 
  • 49ers add a quarterback. The 49ers quarterback room is going to have a new face it in this offseason and that new face is going to be Nate Sudfeld, who has signed a one-year deal with the team. It’s an interesting signing, because it means the 49ers now have a backup in place  to start behind a potential rookie in the event they decide to trade Jimmy Garoppolo
  • Cowboys could have a punting battle. The Cowboys already have one punter on their roster in Hunter Niswander and now they have another one after agreeing to terms with veteran Bryan Anger this week. Anger will be competing for the job in Dallas and it won’t be surprising at all if the nine-year veteran wins it. 
  • NFL Draft invites go out. Trevor Lawrence won’t be attending the draft, but the following players ARE expected to attend: Alabama DT Christian Barmore, LSU WR Ja’Marr Chase, Virginia Tech CB Caleb Farley, Alabama QB Mac Jones, North Dakota State QB Trey Lance, Penn State LB Micah Parsons, Florida TE Kyle Pitts, Alabama WR DeVonta Smith, Alabama CB Patrick Surtain II and Miami DE Gregory Rousseau. 
  • Bears trying to trade Anthony Miller. The Bears are apparently really trying to get rid of Anthony Miller. The team spent the early part of free agency trying to trade away the wide receiver, but they weren’t able to find any takers. Now, with the draft just three weeks away, it looks like the Bears are once again trying to deal him away

7. The Kicker: Jared Goff is the big winner with the expanded schedule

With the regular season being expanded to 17 games this year, that means each player is going to get an extra pay check in 2021 and no one is going to get a bigger check than Jared Goff. According to NFL.com, Goff will be getting a bonus check worth $1.51 million thanks to the added game on the schedule. 

There will be multiple other players — like Jimmy Garoppolo, Matt Ryan, Aaron Donald, Derek Carr, Russell Wilson, Frank Clark, Von Miller, Khalil Mack and Demarcus Lawrence — who will all be getting checks worth more than $1 million, but none of them will be getting more than Goff. Although most players weren’t in favor of expanding the schedule, I’m guessing that Goff might have been on board with it, if only because of the bonus check. I mean, I’m not going to lie, if you gave me $1.51 million, I would be on board with almost anything. 


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