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Ranking the NFL’s top 10 running backs, plus ‘Madden’ cover unveiled and predicting the Colts’ 2021 record

If you like video games and/or the NFL, then today is a big day for you and that’s because EA Sports just released the “Madden NFL 22” cover!

In the least surprising decision ever, EA decided to put Patrick Mahomes and Tom Brady on the cover of its latest “Madden” game (it wasn’t surprising because they teased the cover earlier this week with a video of two goats). However, there is one surprise about the cover: This year’s game is being labeled as the “MVP Edition” and well, um, the guy who actually won the MVP award this past season isn’t on the cover. 

Aaron Rodgers is already mad at the Packers and I’m guessing he’s now going to be directing some of that hostility at EA Sports for snubbing him on the cover. As a matter of fact, maybe this will work out to Green Bay’s advantage because Rodgers will become so upset with EA Sports that he’ll forget he’s mad at the Packers. Probably not, but you never know. 

Anyway, if you want to see the “Madden” cover, you can click here. 

As for the rest of today’s newsletter, we’re going to predict the Colts’ 2021 record, plus we’re going to be ranking a lot of things, which means I should probably stop wasting time with this intro and 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: Minicamp roundup
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With mandatory minicamps in full swing around the NFL this week, we decided to spend Thursday’s podcast rehashing everything that’s happened in the NFL over the past 24 hours and since there’s always something happening, there was no shortage of news to talk about. 

Here are a few of the topics that Will Brinson and Jared Dubin touched on during the show: 

  • NFL makes major changes to COVID protocols: How do you require players to get the vaccine without actually requiring them to get the vaccine? You do what the NFL did on Thursday. The league updated its COVID policy to the point where a player is going to seem crazy if they choose not to get vaccinated. Unvaccinated players will be tested for COVID daily, have to wear masks at all times, will travel on a separate plane to road games and can’t leave the team hotel on road trips (vaccinated players will be tested once every 14 days, will not have to wear a mask and can come and go as they please on road trips). This is just the tip of the iceberg. Brinson and Dubin went into more detail talking about how these new protocols could impact competitive balance if a team has too many unvaccinated players. 
  • Derek Carr threatens to quit football: If you missed it this week, Derek Carr actually said he would quit football if he had to play for another team besides the Raiders and that he wants to honor his contract with the team. As the world’s foremost Derek Carr expert, Brinson (who is blocked by Carr on Twitter) has a theory that Carr made these comments because he’s afraid that the team might trade him. Remember, Aaron Rodgers made it clear that he’d be willing to go to Vegas (Russell Wilson also said the same thing in February). Basically, quarterbacks who are better than Carr want Carr’s job and it seems like he’s fighting back by making sure the Raiders front office knows that he’s a drama-free player who will put his head down and do what he’s asked. I actually want to see Carr get traded now just to see if he goes through on this retirement threat.  

Brinson and Dubin also talked about the contract extension timelines for both Lamar Jackson and Baker Mayfield. 

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

2. Ex-Patriots star’s Super Bowl rings allegedly stolen by his son

The son of former Patriots star Vince Wilfork has been charged with theft in Texas after allegedly stealing his dad’s Super Bowl rings and then selling them on the internet. 

Here are some details of this bizarre case: 

  • Wilfork didn’t know the rings were missing. The retired defensive lineman didn’t even know his rings had been stolen because he thought that he might have put them in storage. Wilfork didn’t realize they were gone until May when he received a random email from a lifelong Patriots fan, who said that Wilfork’s Super Bowl rings were for sale online.
  • Police get involved. After the rings were reported stolen, police contacted the seller, who claimed that he came into possession of the rings because he bought them from Wilfork’s 23-year-old son D’Aundre Holmes-Wilfork for a total of $62,000. Not only did Holmes-Wilfork allegedly steal the Super bowl rings, but he also took two AFC championship rings, a 2001 Miami Hurricanes national title ring and some other jewelry. 

D’Aundre Holmes-Wilfork had been charged with theft of property greater than $300,000, with his bond set at the same amount.

3. Predicting every game on the Colts’ 2021 schedule

Now that the month of June is here, that means the dead part of the NFL offseason is upon us and although things can get kind of boring during that 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’re going to continue our run through the AFC South by taking a closer look at the Indianapolis Colts. 

Our Jared Dubin went through Indianapolis’ entire schedule and picked out all the games the Colts are going to win and all the games they’re going to lose. After getting to the playoffs last year with Philip Rivers as their quarterback, the biggest question in Indy revolves around whether the team will be better or worse with Carson Wentz. 

Here’s a look at how Dubin sees the Colts doing in three key games: 

  • Week 1: Seahawks at Colts. “The Colts stumble to start right against the first of two NFC West opponents. It’s a time game all afternoon long, but just as he has done so many times before, Russell Wilson helps his team snatch victory from the jaws of defeat with a last-minute drive to put the Seahawks over the top.” Prediction: Seattle 24-17 over Indianapolis.   
  • Week 5: Colts at Ravens. “Things could be getting out of hand quickly for the Colts. Wentz finally gets untracked against a good defense and throws for three scores against a Baltimore unit that can’t generate enough pressure on Indy’s offensive line, but Lamar Jackson proves too much for Indy to handle on the other side of the ball.” Prediction: Baltimore 31-24 over Indianapolis. 
  • Week 18: Colts at Jaguars. “Indy gets into the playoffs by dominating Jacksonville from start to finish. Buckner and the defense control the proceedings the whole way, while each of the team’s three tight ends finds himself in the end zone at one point.” Prediction: Indianapolis 27-13 over Jacksonville.

Overall, Dubin is predicting that the Colts will end the season with a 10-7 record and if that happens, they’ll be headed to the playoffs for the third time in four years. The AFC South seems like it’s going to come down to either the Colts or the Titans and Dubin has Indy splitting its two games with Tennessee. 

If you want to see Dubin’s prediction for each game, click here to check out his entire story. Coming tomorrow, we’ll be predicting every game on the Texans’ schedule and let me just say right now, we’re predicting a total disaster. 

4. Ranking the top 10 running backs heading into 2021

As you may or may not have noticed, we love to rank things here at 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 running backs heading into to the 2021 season. This list was put together by Patrik Walker 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. 

Top 10 running backs

1. Derrick Henry, Titans
2. Christian McCaffrey, Panthers
3. Dalvin Cook, Vikings
4. Alvin Kamara, Saints
5. Ezekiel Elliott, Cowboys
6. Nick Chubb, Browns
7. Aaron Jones, Packers
8. Saquon Barkley, Giants
9. Josh Jacobs, Raiders
10. Joe Mixon, Bengals

Not surprisingly, Derrick Henry is at the top, which makes sense, considering he’s coming off a season where he became just the eighth running back in NFL history to rush for 2,000 yards. If you want a detailed explanation of the ranking, be sure to click here so you can check out Walker’s entire story.   

5. Ranking NFL teams based on who had the best offseason 
Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports

I told you we love to rank things here and I wasn’t kidding. Not only are we ranking running backs today, but we’re also ranking teams based on who had the best offseason.

Over the past few months, we’ve gone through free agency, we’ve gone through the draft and we’ve seen plenty of trades, and as you’ve probably noticed, some teams are better at improving their roster than others. 

So which team had the best offseason? Cody Benjamin answered that question by ranking the 10 teams that have had the most off-the-field success over the past four months. 

Top 10 offseasons

1. Browns (Key additions: Jadeveon Clowney, Troy Hill)
2. Buccaneers (Key additions: Re-signed everyone)
3. Chargers (Key additions: Corey Linsley, Jared Cook)
4. Chiefs (Key additions: Joe Thuney, Orlando Brown)
5. Washington (Key additions: Ryan Fitzpatrick, William Jackson)
6. Vikings (Key additions: Patrick Peterson, Dalvin Tomlinson)
7. Rams (Key additions: Matthew Stafford, DeSean Jackson
8. Bills (Key additions: Emmanuel Sanders, Matt Brieda)
9. Titans (Key additions: Julio Jones, Bud Dupree)
10. Colts (Key additions: Carson Wentz, Eric Fisher)

If you disagree with Cody’s list, you can feel free to let him know on Twitter. If you want to see an in-depth explanation for why he ranked each team the way he did, then you’re going to want to click here so you can check out the entire story. 

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. 

  • Jaguars say it’s too early to know who will be their starting QB. Everyone in the world knows who Jacksonville’s starting QB is going to be this year, except for apparently the Jaguars. Offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer is insisting that the Jags are not just going to give the job to Trevor Lawrence, “It’s still too early to say how this thing’s going to play out.” I’m guessing this is only happening because Urban Meyer is secretly hoping to start Tim Tebow. 
  • Bears insist that Andy Dalton will be Week 1 starter. The Bears are basically the opposite of Jacksonville: They should be having a QB competition, but coach Matt Nagy keeps insisting it’s not going to happen. Nagy has made it clear that Dalton will be the team’s starter for at least Week 1, “Andy is our starter and Justin is our No. 2 and we’re going to stick to this plan.”
  • Andy Reid responds to Le’Veon Bell. The running back said he would rather retire than ever play for Reid again. When asked about the comments, the Chiefs coach took the high road, “I enjoyed my time with him. I’m pulling for him. That’s how I roll.” That’s a good way to roll.  
  • NFL signs first-ever liquor deal. If you’ve ever watched an NFL game — and I’m assuming you have — you may have noticed that there are never any liquor commercials. One reason for that is because the NFL used to not do business with liquor companies. However, that changed this week as the league has just signed a deal with Diageo. It’s the NFL’s first-ever liquor deal and it’s believed to be worth up to $30 million per year (Diageo makes products like Smirnoff Vodka, Captain Morgan Original Spiced Rum, and Crown Royal Whisky).

Speaking of liquor deals, I’m about to go make one with my liquor cabinet. See you guys Friday.