Vikings’ first pick in Todd McShay’s mock is a classic Mike Zimmer move

Todd McShay’s first 2022 NFL mock draft has the Minnesota Vikings taking Cincinnati football star defensive back Ahmad Gardner with their first-round pick in a total Mike Zimmer move.

ESPN’s Todd McShay expects Minnesota Vikings head coach Mike Zimmer to get lost in the sauce and take Cincinnati football star Ahmad Gardner with his team’s first-round pick.

If left to his own devices, the longtime Vikings head coach would draft only defensive players. It has been long established what side of the ball he favors. Though Gardner has been one of the better players out of the Group of Five, “Sauce” might be transformed into toast when he has to cover 2022 top-10 pick Jameson Williams in the Cotton Bowl vs. the Alabama Crimson Tide.

While Gardner is certainly worthy of going top-half in the 2022 NFL Draft, what are the chances Zimmer even gets to be a part of the Vikings’ draft process again?

Todd McShay has Vikings taking Ahmad Gardner in total Mike Zimmer move

This is significant is Zimmer will not be the Vikings head coach for another season if Minnesota fails to make the NFC Playoffs. The Vikings are one of a handful of sub-.500 teams still technically alive for the No. 7 seed. Minnesota is not winning the NFC North, but the Vikings are a game back of the San Francisco 49ers for No. 6 and are tied with the Washington Football Team for No. 7.

Frankly, it would be kind of hilarious if the Vikings still took a player like Gardner in the teens, even if Zimmer is no longer their head coach. Minnesota should opt for best player available where they are projected to be picking. Heck, they might even be in a good spot to take Kirk Cousins’ successor with the second or third quarterback coming off the board. Let’s hope he is not Christian Ponder.

Unfortunately, Minnesota seems to be stuck in no-man’s land in the middle of the NFL landscape.

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Todd McShay picks Steelers next quarterback in 2022 NFL mock draft

ESPN’s Todd McShay has Pitt football star Kenny Pickett replacing Ben Roethlisberger as the Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback in his first 2022 NFL mock draft.

The Pittsburgh Steelers have to replace Ben Roethlisberger yesterday, and ESPN’s Todd McShay has them taking Pitt football star in the first round of his first 2022 NFL mock draft.

Though the Steelers have a proud football history, they have only had two franchise quarterbacks: Roethlisberger and Terry Bradshaw. While they had an opportunity to take local product Dan Marino back in 1983, Pittsburgh still gets jabbed occasionally for that draft-day gaffe. While this is a very weak quarterback class, Pickett projects as the first quarterback to be selected this April.

Is the Heisman Trophy finalist a good fit for the Steelers and will they be in position to draft him?

Todd McShay mocks Kenny Pickett to Steelers to replace Ben Roethlisberger

While there is no doubt about Pickett’s ability to play in a harsh northern climate, as he has starred in the same stadium as the Steelers collegiately, there are concerns about level of competition in a weak ACC, as well as him not “popping” until his super senior year. From a talent perspective, Pickett can really sling it and has a great set of wheels, too. He is a no-doubt, first-round talent.

As far as will the Steelers be in position to take him, they are going to have to hope Pickett falls to them outside of the top 10, just like Roethlisberger did coming out of Miami (Ohio) in 2004. Is a quarterback going No. 1 overall in this draft? No, but do not be shocked if guys like Pickett and Ole Miss’ Matt Corral go top 10. The quarterback position carries immense value, and rightfully so.

The time is now to draft a quarterback in Pittsburgh, but the Steelers have to accept they will have to presumably trade up to get someone like Pickett to be the heir apparent to Roethlisberger.

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Here’s one way the Steelers can still make the AFC playoffs

The Pittsburgh Steelers still technically have a chance to make playoffs — but those chances are incredibly slim, according to projections.

The Steelers are 6-6-1, which in any other NFL season, would likely count them out from the playoffs by mid-December.

But miraculously, the Steelers still have a shot at another postseason — and a much slimmer shot at winning the AFC North title for the second year in a row.

Currently, the Steelers are a half-place out of sixth place (thanks to the Lions), and the top seven teams qualify for playoffs this season. Still, the Steelers only have a 13 percent chance of making the playoffs and a six percent chance of winning the division, according to the New York Times.

ESPN projects that the 22nd-ranked team in the NFL has a 10.3 percent chance of making playoffs and a 4.9 percent chance to claim the AFC North.

Currently, there are eight AFC teams that have either six or seven wins — and six of those teams have a 7-6 record, giving them a one-game advantage over the Steelers. Despite all this, the Steelers do still have a theoretical chance to play onto January, but everything must go perfectly for them over the next four weeks.

Here’s how the Steelers can make the NFL playoffs

In order to make playoffs, the Steelers will need to win three out of their next four games.

This is possible, but unlikely: the Steelers have only won three games since Oct. 17.

Still, three wins would only put them at 9-7-1 to finish the season, so any 7-6 team with three wins would easily push them out of the race. The Steelers would need to defeat the Baltimore Ravens and the Cleveland Browns again in their remaining games. Still, that wouldn’t be enough.

The Steelers will need to defeat either the Tennessee Titans or the Kansas City Chiefs.

The Steelers have the third-toughest remaining schedule, and they haven’t played their best football since… well, since 2020. But technically, there’s still a path to the Super Bowl. According to ESPN, the Steelers have a 0.8% chance of advancing to the AFC championship, an 0.3% chance of a Super Bowl appearance, and a 0.1% chance taking another Lombardi home.

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1 fatal flaw they need to fix before playoffs

The Green Bay Packers are an excellent football team, but they desperately need to fix their one fatal flaw before the NFC Playoffs arrive.

Even at 10-3 on the season, the Green Bay Packers have one glaring weakness heading into the NFC playoffs.

For the second year in a row, it looks as though the NFC will run through Green Bay. Even though they have to play the Baltimore Ravens on the road, Lamar Jackson is dealing with a leg injury that knocked him out of Week 14’s loss to the division rival Cleveland Browns. Baltimore is a desperate team, but the Ravens are the best team Green Bay will face heading into January.

Regardless of if Green Bay gets to 14-3 and earns the top seed in the NFC, the Packers must fix this one part of their team if they want to get back to the Super Bowl for the first time since 2010.

Green Bay Packers cannot be a tire fire on special teams if they want to win big

It may be the most overlooked part of the game, but it is a critical one. The Packers have struggled on special teams throughout much of the season. They have had to deal with an aging Mason Crosby missing one field goal after another. After seeing the Chicago Bears return the first punt of the season for a touchdown, this is the area Green Bay must focus all its intention on to get better.

This will go a long way towards the Packers playing complementary football when it matters most. They have a balanced offense and a quarterback playing at an MVP level again. The defense is improving under new coordinator Joe Barry. The only thing that will slow the Packers down in January besides Tom Brady are mental errors committed on special teams. This cannot continue.

Getting the ship righted on special teams will go a long way towards the Packers winning the NFC.

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