Friday, October 7, 2022

Aaron Donald goes crazy during wild Bengals-Rams brawl, plus Bills’ Matt Araiza hit with troublesome lawsuit

Aaron Donald goes crazy during wild Bengals-Rams brawl, plus Bills' Matt Araiza hit with troublesome lawsuit

Here’s everything you need to know about the NFL for Aug. 26

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USATSI

Welcome to the Friday edition of the Pick Six newsletter!

If you hate preseason football, then I have some fantastic news for you today: The final weekend of preseason games is here. And since I love giving out good news on Friday, I have even more good news: Apparently my bosses have decided to auction off ONE MORE zoom call with me. 

Starting today, you can bid on a chance to have a 10-minute call with me. The auction is for our annual CBS Sports telethon that raises money for St. Jude, so all the money from the auction will be going to charity.

If you want to bid, all you have to do is click here. I like talking to myself, so I might even bid. If you have the winning bid, we can literally talk about anything during our conversation, from your favorite NFL team to your favorite breakfast cereal to your favorite Backstreet Boy. If you ask nicely, I might also let you in on my secret to winning fantasy football.  

Last year, the winning bid went for more than $1,000, which was the highest at CBS Sports. Earlier this month, the final bid ended up being more than $100, so thank you to the person who made that bid (we’ll be talking soon). Right now, the bidding in the newest auction is at just $30, which is basically a bargain compared to the last two auctions.

Alright, that’s enough promoting myself, 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. Let’s get to the rundown. 

1. Today’s show: Previewing Week 3 of the NFL preseason

NFL: Pittsburgh Steelers at Jacksonville Jaguars

Kenny Pickett USATSI

I’m so excited about the final weekend of the preseason that I forced Will Brinson and Ryan Wilson to talk about it with me for 50 straight minutes on today’s episode of the Pick Six podcast. With 14 games going on over the next three days, I thought it only made sense to turn today’s show into a giant preview of what’s to come this weekend and the other two guys agreed. At least they pretended to agree. 

During the show, we spent a few minutes talking about each game that’s being played. With that in mind, here are my three favorite games of the weekend: 

  • Buccaneers at Colts (-3), 7:30 p.m. ET, Saturday (NFL+): After skipping out on the Buccaneers’ first two preseason, not only is Tom Brady expected to be in uniform for this game, but he’s also expected to play. When you toss in the fact that Matt Ryan is also expected to start, this might go down as the one preseason game in 2022 that’s actually worth the price of admission. 
  • Lions at Steelers (-4.5), 4:30 p.m. ET, Sunday (CBS): This game didn’t make my list just because it’s on CBS, but let’s be honest, it didn’t hurt. The reason I’m excited for this one is because the Steelers starting QB job could be won or lost on Sunday. When training camp started, it looked like it was Mitchell Trubisky’s job to lose, but now, Kenny Pickett is also in the conversation after two impressive weeks of preseason football. If Pickett has another huge day, that could make the things tough on Mike Tomlin, who’s running out of time to name a starting QB.  
  • Bears at Browns (-5.5), 7 p.m. ET, Saturday (NFL+): For the first time this preseason, Jacoby Brissett is going to be starting for the Browns, which means, for the first time this preseason, we’re actually going to get a taste of what the Browns No. 1 offense is going to look like in Week 1. If Brissett struggles against a bad Bears team, the Browns might quickly become a popular upset pick for their opener when they travel to Carolina.  

If you want to hear us discuss every preseason game on the schedule this weekend, you can do that by checking out today’s episode on YouTube by clicking here. You can also listen by clicking here.

2. Rams-Bengals brawl gets ugly: Video shows Aaron Donald nailing someone with a helmet 

If we learned one thing Thursday, it’s that the two teams that played in the most recent Super Bowl should NEVER have a joint practice together the following season. Six months after their Super Bowl win over the Bengals, the Rams were in Cincinnati for a joint practice and things got ugly. 

Here’s a quick breakdown of what happened:

  • Aaron Donald was swinging helmets. At one point during the chaos, the Rams star grabbed not one, but two helmets, and he started swinging them. (You can see a photo of Donald with the helmets here.) Not only was Donald taking swings, but he actually made a connection. If you click here, you can see the video of him swinging a Bengals helmet and early in the video, you can clearly see (and hear) him hitting someone over the head. The person he hit was wearing a helmet, so no one got injured, but despite that, it’s still not a great look for Donald, the Rams or the NFL. 
  • Why Donald likely won’t get punished. As pointed out by CBS Sports NFL Insider Josina Anderson, the NFL always defers to the team for punishment whenever there’s an issue at practice. However, this is basically an unwritten rule, which means the NFL could change its stance and punish Donald, but that could set a precedent of punishing players at practice that the league doesn’t want to set. That being said, the NFL could justify a punishment by pointing to the part in the CBA that says, “Violent or threatening behavior toward another employee” is punishable. It will definitely be interesting to see if anything comes of this. 
  • Why the fight started. The brawl started near the end of the joint practice session when a Rams defender grabbed Bengals offensive lineman La’el Collins from behind, according to ESPN. At some point a short time later, Collins managed to grab Leonard Floyd’s helmet and throw it at him and then all hell broke loose from there. 

If emotions are still running high, things could get interesting when these two teams meet on Saturday at 6 p.m. ET in Cincinnati. As for Donald, it would be extremely surprising if he got suspended, but it’s possible the Rams could fine him or hit him with another small punishment so that it looks like they’re being proactive. 

3. 2022 All-AFC West team: Chargers lead the way with nine players

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Patrick Mahomes (left) and Travis Kelce USATSI

After four days of unveiling our all-division teams, we’re finally down to our final one in the AFC: the AFC West. Our Jared Dubin went through all four rosters in the division to create one Super Team that consisted of 27 players (12 on offense, 12 on defense plus three special teams). 

Let’s take a look at the offense for the AFC West’s all-division team:

QB: Patrick Mahomes, Chiefs

RB: Austin Ekeler, Chargers

WR: Davante Adams, Raiders

WR: Keenan Allen, Chargers

WR: Mike Williams, Chargers

TE: Travis Kelce, Chiefs

FLEX: Darren Waller, Raiders

OT: Rashawn Slater, Chargers

OT: Garrett Bolles, Broncos

OG: Joe Thuney, Chiefs

OG: Trey Smith, Chiefs

C: Creed Humphrey, Chiefs

One thing that might surprise you about the 27-member all-division team is that the Chargers — not the Chiefs — actually produced the most players with nine. As for the other teams, the Chiefs checked in with eight while the Raiders were right behind them with six. The Broncos ended up with the fewest players on the all-division team, producing just four guys (and three of those came in the secondary). 

If you want to see the defensive side on the AFC West’s All-Division team or if you want to see the specialists, then be sure to click here

4. Biggest takeaways from Thursday night’s two preseason games 

There were two preseason games played last night and we have takeaways from both of them. 

Chiefs 17, Packers 10

With the Chiefs keeping most of their starters on the bench, this game didn’t seem like it was going to be too exciting, but there was definitely some drama at the end. The Packers drove inside of Kansas City’s 20-yard line with under a minute to play before eventually failing on a fourth down that clinched the win for Kansas City. Here are three quick takeaways

  • Mahomes and the Chiefs honor Len Dawson. Mahomes didn’t take a single snap in this game, but he was on the field for the first play, which the Chiefs used to honor Dawson, the Hall of Fame QB who died this week at age 87. When he played, Dawson famously used the “choir huddle” when calling play, so that’s what Mahomes did for the first play on Thursday. If you want to see video and a few pictures of the moment, be sure to click here
  • One QB in the game was better than all others. With all eyes on Jordan Love, Chiefs third-string QB Shane Buechele ended up stealing the show. The Chiefs put Buechele in the game in the second quarter and he immediately caught fire, starting 7-of-8 for 116 yards and two touchdowns. (He finished the night with 164 yards and two touchdowns.) Buechele, who spent most of last season on the Chiefs’ practice squad, made a case to be on Kansas City’s active roster this year. If the Chiefs try to stash him away on the practice squad again, there’s a good chance someone could come in and steal him. 
  • Jordan Love wasn’t bad. The Packers QB struggled early, leading Green Bay’s offense to just 10 total yards on the team’s first two possessions. However, he seemed to calm down after that, leading two scoring drives in the second quarter. Love finished 16 of 26 for 148 yards, which wasn’t horrible, but he also threw an ugly interception while trying to hit a receiver who was triple covered. (You can see the play here.) Love seemed to improve every week this preseason, but I’m still not sure if he’s a starting-caliber QB in the NFL. 

Texans 17, 49ers 0

There is no preseason Lombardi trophy, but if there was, it would go to the Texans, who finished the preseason with a 3-0 record after beating the 49ers. Yes, there will be other teams that finish the preseason undefeated, but the Texans get the trophy out of pity because they were so bad last year.  

  • Dameon Pierce might have been the steal of the draft. The Texans rookie running back has been shining since the start of training camp and that continued against the 49ers. Pierce carried the ball six times and totaled 37 yards, which allowed him to finish the night with an impressive 6.2 yards per carry. Pierce also scored the only points of the first half when he scored on a one-yard run in the first quarter. 
  • Trey Lance leads the 49ers to zero points. With his team facing the Texans, this felt like a game where Lance was going to make 49ers fans forget about Jimmy Garoppolo, but instead, he did the opposite. Lance was on the field for three possessions, and although he finished 7 of 11 for 49 yards, he led San Francisco to exactly zero points. A big problem for Lance is that the 49ers offensive line, which was missing Trent Williams, just couldn’t protect him.  
  • Amazon’s debut was impressive. The two teams on the field weren’t the only thing I was watching in this game; I was also watching to see how Amazon did in the debut game of the company’s Thursday night package. Besides Week 1 and Thanksgiving Day, the only way you’ll be able to watch Thursday football this season is if you have Amazon Prime. The announcers for Amazon are Kirk Herbstreit and Al Michaels, and they both did a fantastic job. Herbstreit did seem confused by the fact that the 49ers are moving on from Jimmy Garoppolo, which is a move that has also stumped Brett Favre. The former Packers QB said last week that Garoppolo should be starting for the 49ers. The problem for the 49ers is that if their offense struggles during the first few weeks of the season, there’s going to be a lot of second-guessing going on in San Francisco. 

There are 11 more preseason games being played this weekend in addition to the ones above. If you see the full schedule of games, you can check that out by clicking here

5. Bills punter Matt Araiza hit with troublesome lawsuit

NFL: Indianapolis Colts at Buffalo Bills

Matt Araiza USATSI

Bills punter Matt Araiza has been accused of rape in a civil lawsuit that was filed Thursday in California. The lawsuit alleges that Araiza and two of his former teammates at San Diego State took part in a gang rape of a girl who was just 17 years old at the time. 

Here are some of the details (some of this is graphic)

  • The accusation. According to the lawsuit, a girl who was 17 at the time went to Araiza’s residence for a Halloween party on Oct. 16, 2021. After arriving at the party, the girl said that Araiza gave her a drink even though she was already inebriated. According to the girl, she believes the drink “not only contained alcohol, but other intoxicating substances.” A short time later, Araiza allegedly had sex with the then-high school senior, which was followed by him bringing her into a room where she was raped repeatedly by other individuals. Although only three people are named in the lawsuit, the girl believes that she may have been raped by as many as 20 men. 
  • The evidence. The day after the alleged incident, the girl went to police and had a rape kit done. For Araiza, the most damning piece of evidence is that the girl allegedly called him while police were listening in on the phone. During the call, “Araiza confirmed having sex with [the girl], even telling her that she should get tested for STDs.” Since the girl was only 17 at the time, that could set Araiza up for a case of statutory rape, even if there’s no evidence to prove the rest of the allegations. 
  • Araiza’s lawyer denies all charges. According to the punter’s lawyer, Kerry Armstrong, the accuser is simply going after Araiza’s money. “It’s a shakedown because he’s now with the Buffalo Bills,” Armstrong said, via the Los Angeles Times. “There is no doubt in my mind that Matt Araiza [never] raped that girl.”
  • The Bills reaction. According to the Athletic, the Bills did NOT know about the rape accusation when they drafted Araiza, but they were made aware of it at some point over the past month. “We were recently made aware of a civil complaint involving Matt from October 2021,” the Bills said in a statement Thursday. “Due to the serious nature of the complaint, we conducted a thorough examination of this matter. As this is an ongoing civil case, we will have no other comment at this point.”

The Bills are scheduled to play in Carolina at 7 p.m. ET tonight, and it will be interesting to see if they let him take the field after handing him the starting punter job earlier this week. 

As for the lawsuit, the complete details are graphic. If you want the need to read the entire thing, you can do that by clicking here.

6. Rapid-fire roundup: Jets receiver makes trade request

It’s been a wild 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. 

  • Denzel Mims doesn’t want to play for the Jets anymore. Through his agent (Ron Slavin), the 2020 second-round pick made it clear Thursday that he wants out of New York. “It’s just time,” Slavin said. “Denzel has tried in good faith, but it is clear he does not have a future with the Jets.” If you want to know what the top landing spots would be for Mims, you can check out our story here
  • Jimmie Ward expected to miss first four games of season. The 49ers secondary is likely going to be down a man for the first month of the season. San Francisco GM John Lynch revealed on Thursday that Ward will likely start the season on injured reserve. If that happens, he’ll have to sit out at least the first four games. 
  • Patriots release Malcolm Butler. The reunion between Butler and the Patriots is already over. The one-time Patriots Super Bowl hero was cut Thursday with an injury settlement. Butler, who signed a two-year deal in March, won’t end up playing a single game with New England in what was supposed to be his return. Butler shot to fame after picking off Russell Wilson at the one-yard line to preserve the Patriots’ 28-24 win in Super Bowl XLIX. 

  • Sean McVay hires Jay Gruden. The former Washington coach has decided to join the Rams’ coaching staff as a consultant. Gruden joining McVay definitely makes some sense since the two guys have a long history together. Not only did the two guys work together in the UFL in 2009, but McVay was also Gruden’s offensive coordinator for three seasons (2014-16) while Gruden was the head coach in Washington. McVay also got his football coaching start as an offensive assistant for Jay’s brother, Jon, in 2008. 

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