Jets, Jaguars have found their new head coaches, plus picks for the NFL divisional round

We’ve got ourselves a Friday, my friend! Good morning to you and I hope you’re ready for some football, because not only do we have playoff games in the coming days, we also had some big-time NFL news yesterday. We’ll be going over that here in a second, don’t you worry. 

Also, if you happen to be reading this on your phone or tablet, you should know that we’ve got a fancy new sports app that you’ll probably be interested in. It’s shiny … it’s fancy … it has never ending news and analysis from geniuses like me, plus stats, data and fantasy/gambling info that’ll make you seem like a genius too. I highly recommend clicking around, seeing how great the new scoreboard is and giving it five stars in the app store. BUT NOT RIGHT NOW. YOU’VE GOT A NEWSLETTER TO READ. 

📰 What you need to know

1. Urban Meyer immediately changes fabric of the Jaguars 🏈

It has been a steeeeeeeep decline for the Jacksonville Jaguars since they made the AFC Championship game in 2018, but they’re looking to put the past few years behind them and transition to a brand new era. Now, they’ve got Urban Meyer to lead them into that new era. 

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On Thursday, after weeks of rumors and negotiations, the Jaguars agreed to a deal with Meyer to make him the team’s next head coach. Meyer has never coached at the professional level before, but he became one of the biggest names in college football thanks to his success with the Florida Gators and Ohio State Buckeyes. Now, he’ll get to try his hand in the NFL, and it’s a safe bet he’ll do so with Trevor Lawrence as his quarterback.

But the Jaguars need more than a new coach and a new quarterback … they need a full-on culture change and organizational revamp. Jacksonville has been a toxic dumpster fire both on and off the field over the past few years, so is Meyer the guy to fix that? Our Jonathan Jones thinks so.

  • Jones: Make no mistake: Meyer will have full control of the operation … One thing that Meyer should demand—or, better, what the gravity of Meyer’s hire should demand—is more resources poured into football operations. Sources around the league told me in December the Jags have been on the cheap side when it comes to salaries and perks for members of the football operations staff.”

Big changes are coming, both to the roster and the way the Jags handle business. As part of Meyer’s (very lucrative) agreement, the team will upgrade their facilities, which are currently well below what Meyer was working with at Ohio State. The jury’s out on whether the Jaguars will be successful under Meyer, but one thing seems for certain: They’re not going to be cheap, and that may be a big step in the right direction on the quest to be taken seriously. 

2. Jets find their new coach with Robert Saleh 🏈

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The Jaguars weren’t the only team to get a new head coach yesterday. Just as the team picking No. 1 in this year’s draft found their new leader, so too did the team picking No. 2. 

  • The Jets hired San Francisco 49ers defensive coordinator Robert Saleh as their new head coach on Thursday night
  • Saleh was one of nine coaching candidates to be interviewed by the Jets. He’ll replace Adam Gase, who went 9-23 in his two seasons at the helm
  • 49ers passing game coordinator Mike LaFleur will join Saleh in New York as the Jets’ offensive coordinator

Sorry for my ignorance, but I don’t know too much about Saleh other than he’s led some very strong defensive units in San Francisco over the past few years and he’s gotten a whole lot of glowing praise from his own players and others around the league, so that’s promising. And, if we’re being honest, he can’t be worse than Gase, right? 

I also know that Saleh immediately becomes one of the most jacked head coaches in the NFL. The guy is a beast. If nothing else, the Jets now have the power of intimidation on their side.

3. Divisional round picks from Pete Prisco 🏈

Any Friday is a cause for celebration, but especially a Friday that precedes playoff football. We’ve got the NFL divisional round to look forward to over the weekend and, as such, that means it’s time to bring in my pal Pete Prisco for his weekly picks.

  • Rams at Packers (-6.5): We’ve got Green Bay’s top offense versus Los Angeles’ top defense, and something’s gotta give. Prisco likes the Pack, partially because of some key injuries hindering the Rams’ side. Pick: Packers 26, Rams 14  
  • Ravens at Bills (-2.5): The Ravens defense is healthy, but they’re going to have their hands full with Josh Allen and the Bills. Prisco thinks it’s going to be a super close game but sees Buffalo pulling out the W. Pick: Bills 27, Ravens 26
  • Browns at Chiefs (-10): Cleveland got its long-awaited glory last week in Pittsburgh, but they could come crashing back to reality here. The Browns D let Ben Roethlisberger do damage in the second half and Patrick Mahomes could eat them up. Pick: Chiefs 37, Browns 23   
  • Buccaneers at Saints (-3): The battle of the old guys in Tom Brady vs. Drew Brees. The Saints have owned this matchup this year and Prisco thinks we’re gonna get more of the same. Pick: Saints 27, Buccaneers 20

I’m still riding that Bills bandwagon passionately, and I think they pull it off tomorrow night. I’ve already stopped by Home Depot to pick up another folding table to jump through after drinking light beers for breakfast.

4. Are the Mets the team to beat in the NL East? ⚾

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Mets fans have had a limited amount of joy and excitement over the last several years, but the change in ownership has provided hope for better days ahead. And considering the Mets are one of very few teams that have made big splashes to get better this offseason, those brighter days could be coming very soon.

But are they — and not the Braves — the team to beat in the NL East in 2021? Our baseball experts discussed that very question in a recent roundtable and here’s a glimpse at where they stand:

  • R.J. Anderson: They’re getting close if they’re not already there…The Braves have some potential exposure in their rotation that concerns me.”  
  • Matt Snyder: “I’m going with yes, though the Braves are right there. The Mets were already a good offensive team and there are plenty of reasons to believe they’ll be better this time around without even mentioning the trade for Francisco Lindor.”
  • Dayn Perry: “Yeah, I lean Mets at this point … the rotation behind deGrom is looking potentially strong, especially after Thor gets back.”
  • Mike Axisa: “I lean Mets ever so slightly at this point … That said, I don’t think the Braves are done.”       
  • Katherine Acquavella:Yes, the Mets’ recent offseason additions give them a slight edge in the NL East race … And, who’s to say they’re done? There could very well be one (or two) more big moves if Steve Cohen is willing to keep spending.”      

So, that’s pretty much a consensus now, isn’t it? Who would’ve thought … the Mets. You can find plenty more analysis from our crew right here.

📝 Odds & Ends

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📺 What to watch this weekend


🏀 Mavericks vs. Bucks, 7:30 p.m. | MIL -6 | TV: ESPN


🏈 Ravens vs. Bills, 8:15 p.m. | BUF -2.5 | TV: NBC


🏈 Buccaneers vs. Saints6:40 p.m. | NO -3 | TV: FOX

📝 Top scores from last night

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🏀 Nuggets 114, Warriors 104

Nikola Jokic had a triple-double (23 points, 14 rebounds, 10 assists) and dropped 18 points in the second half. 
💵 Winning wagers: DEN -4.5, Under (225.5)  

🏒 Oilers 5, Canucks 2

Connor McDavid had a hat trick (and added an assist) while Leon Draisaitl had 4 assists.
💵 Winning wagers: EDM -133, Over (6)

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