“The Duck Caller is out there wingin’ it!”: How the Steelers are hunting for a playoff spot

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Great night for Houston. Bill O’Brien beat his mentor for the first time (Houston 28, New England 22) after losing to Bill Belichick five times. Deshaun Watson beat the guy he idolized as a developing quarterback.

Great late afternoon for Kansas City. The Chiefs played their best all-around game (KC 40, Oakland 9) and all but clinched the AFC West, up two with the tiebreaker with four to play. They’re rested and healthy going into Foxboro on Sunday.

Great day for Baltimore. No one will be shocked if Ravens 20, Niners 17 ends up being a Super Bowl preview. The Ravens are the best team in the league. In six weeks, they’ve traveled West to beat Seattle by 14 and the Rams by 39; at home, they’ve beaten New England by 17, Houston by 34 and San Francisco by a Justin Tucker 49-yarder in the rain at :00.

The Steelers aren’t as good as Baltimore, and they might not make the playoffs even. But that was one hell of a day for the team and the city and the coach (and the Duck), the 20-13 win over Cleveland.

Factoid of the Browns-Steelers Rivalry: Since Week 6, Matt Ryan has won two games, Philip Rivers has won two, and Carson Wentz has won two. Devlin Hodges has won three.

But my hero of the day is not Hodges—though he deserves credit, and he’ll get it here. The hero of the day is the Steelers coach who kept the focus on football, Mike Tomlin. In the maelstrom of inflammatory T-shirts, fans angry about the long suspension of Myles Garrett, and pre-game chatter that this was the day the Browns would take over the rivalry (per Dianna Russini of ESPN), Tomlin made this day about one thing and one thing only: football.

“I love Coach T,” Joe Haden told me from Pittsburgh on Sunday night. It was Haden’s late pick of Baker Mayfield that iced the victory. “He always keeps it very black and white. All week, his message was: Stop the run, contain Odell and Landry [receivers Odell Beckham and Jarvis Landry] and just play ball—they don’t like us, we don’t like them, who cares, just play.”

Quietly, the Steelers were a tribe before and after this game. If the Browns started something, Tomlin gave orders not to finish it. The game will be won by playing football, not by skirmishing. Did you notice Tomlin in the 17 days before the game? He never took the bait and never made inflammatory statements about the brawl that banned Garrett for the rest of the year and Steelers center Maurkice Pouncey for two games. Nothing he could say would make the situation better or be good for his team, so he just zipped it. The loss of Pouncey, their unquestioned leader, hurt. Tomlin understood why he came to the defense of his quarterback when attacked by Garrett and actually appreciated it, even though he didn’t say that publicly. The team knew. Pouncey knew.

After the game, the Steelers had Pouncey FaceTimed into their post-game locker-room huddle. “He broke us down,” Haden said. (Translated, that’s something a coach or leaders does at the end of a practice or game, like “Steelers on three, 1-2-3!” or something collegial like that.)

Haden said: “Then Coach T took the ball and said, ‘I’m bringing this to Maurkice.’ That was big for our team.”

The Steelers are 7-5 in a very different way this year. In the past four weeks, they’ve scored 17, 7, 16 and 20 points, and they’re 3-1. “We manufacture wins,” Haden said. “We’ve got ballers on defense. When we go out there as a defense, we feel the energy of the crowd. We feel the love. They love defense in Pittsburgh. You know that’s the history. Right now, we’re playing as a legitimate team.”

With an undrafted rookie quarterback from Samford University. Last year, Devlin “Duck” Hodges, the 2018 Alabama state duck calling champion (honestly), was playing Shorter and Kennesaw State on his small campus in Birmingham. Now he’s enmeshed in the Steelers-Browns border war, and he’ll be charged with getting this underdog team to the playoffs, somehow. It’s such a great story. Imagine a January game with Duck Hodges at Tom Brady, or Duck Hodges at Patrick Mahomes. Really, Duck Hodges at Anybody.

“The Duck Caller is out there wingin’ it!” Haden said, laughing. “He’s winning—he’s throwing people open! We love it!”

Read more from Peter King’s Football Morning in America column here

NFL quarterback rankings 2023: Chris Simms’ top 40 QB countdown ahead of upcoming NFL season


While the NFL is a league that is ever-changing, some things are set to stay the same in 2023 — like the revealing of Chris Simms’ top 40 QB countdown.

Last year’s list saw Josh Allen take his place atop the quarterback throne, with Kansas City’s Patrick Mahomes and Los Angeles’ Justin Herbert not far behind at No. 2 and No. 3, respectively. It was, however, Mahomes who would ultimately reign over all NFL quarterbacks at the end of the season, as the 27-year-old collected both the NFL MVP honors and his second Lombardi Trophy.

This NFL offseason, however, has brought some intriguing adjustments that are likely to shake up Simms’ rankings.

While some signal-callers such as Jalen Hurts and Lamar Jackson found their prolonged home with massive contract signings, others will be venturing to a new franchise in search of a fresh start. Aaron Rodgers‘ trade to the New York Jets is unquestionably the most staggering shift, but other quarterbacks on the move such as Derek Carr and Jimmy Garoppolo cannot be forgotten.

RELATED: Mike Florio gives an inside look into the Lamar Jackson deal

And with three of the first four picks in the 2023 NFL Draft being spent on a quarterback, emerging talent will likely turn the tides for some franchises this upcoming season.

See below for Chris Simms’ top 40 QB countdown ahead of the upcoming season. Be sure to subscribe to Chris Simms Unbuttoned for more on the 2023 NFL season as well as an unfiltered look at the NFL featuring player access, unabashed opinion, X&O film breakdown and stories from a life in and around football.

RELATED: Peter King’s latest offseason NFL power rankings

Chris Simms’ 2023 Top 40 QB Countdown:

40. Desmond Ridder (ATL)

39. Sam Howell (WAS)

38. Bryce Young (CAR)

37. CJ Stroud (HOU)

36. Anthony Richardson (IND)

35. Mike White (MIA)

34. Gardner Minshew (IND)

33. Taylor Heinicke (ATL)

32. Jarrett Stidham (DEN)

31. Jordan Love (GB)

30. Davis Mills (HOU)

29. Tyler Huntley (BAL)

28. Andy Dalton (CAR)

27. Sam Darnold (SF)

26. Brock Purdy (SF)

25. Kenny Pickett (PIT)

24. Baker Mayfield (TB)

23. Justin Fields (CHI)

22. Jimmy Garoppolo (LV)

21. Tua Tagovailoa (MIA)

20. Mac Jones (NE)

19. Kyler Murray (AZ)

18. Derek Carr (NO)

17. Jared Goff (DET)

16. Ryan Tannehill (TEN)

15. Geno Smith (SEA)

14. Russell Wilson (DEN)

13. Dak Prescott (DAL)

12. Kirk Cousins (MIN)

11. Daniel Jones (NYG)

10. Matthew Stafford (LAR)

9. Deshaun Watson (CLE)

8. Aaron Rodgers (NYJ)

7. Jalen Hurts (PHI)

6. Trevor Lawrence (JAX)

5. Lamar Jackson (BAL)

2023 NFL Schedule Release: Start time, how to watch, live stream, channel


With another exciting NFL Draft in the books, teams can now turn their gaze toward the road to Super Bowl LVIII in Las Vegas. The path to Super Bowl glory, however, is about to become abundantly more clear with the 2023 NFL season schedule release.

This year’s NFL season schedule release is nearly here, with the entirety of the 2023 NFL schedule being unveiled on Thursday, May 11 at 8 p.m. ET on both Peacock and NFL Network. See below for everything you need to know for one of the offseason’s most anticipated events.

RELATED: Click here for full analysis on Rounds 1-7 of the 2023 NFL Draft

When will the 2023 NFL season schedule be released?

While all 272 matchups have been known since the conclusion of the 2022 regular season, the order and dates for these games have remained a mystery. The secret is nearly out, however, with every NFL game on the brink of revelation.

The full 2023 NFL schedule will be released on Thursday, May 11 at 8:00 p.m. ET.

How can I watch the 2023 NFL season schedule release?

The 2023 NFL season schedule release will take place Thursday, May 11 on Peacock, NFL Network, NFL.com and the NFL app at 8 p.m. ET.

While the entirety of the schedule will be unveiled at that time, select games have already been and will continue to be released prior to the official event. Ahead of the 2023 NFL season schedule release, the following games will be announced:

Who will play in the 2023 NFL Kickoff game?

The first game of the 2023-24 NFL season will see the reigning Super Bowl champion Kansas City Chiefs take the field in Arrowhead Stadium.

The opponent that will meet Patrick Mahomes and company in Kansas City, however, remains to be revealed.

Which NFL teams have international games in 2023?

While the majority of the matchups set to take place next season have yet to be announced, the league has already revealed which teams will head overseas for international showdowns.

Below is the full list of international NFL games for the 2023-24 season, with three in London, U.K., and two in Frankfurt, Germany.

Falcons vs. Jaguars: Week 4, Oct. 1 at 9:30 a.m. ET | Wembley Stadium in London, U.K.

Jaguars vs. Bills: Week 5, Oct. 8 at 9:30 a.m. ET | Tottenham Hotspur Stadium in London, U.K.

Ravens vs. Titans: Week 6, Oct. 15 at 9:30 a.m. ET | Tottenham Hotspur Stadium in London, U.K.

Dolphins vs. Chiefs: Week 9, Nov. 5 at 9:30 a.m. ET | Frankfurt Stadium in Frankfurt, Germany

Colts vs. Patriots: Week 10, Nov. 12 at 9:30 a.m. ET | Frankfurt Stadium in Frankfurt, Germany

RELATED: NFL’s 2023 international games full of “star power”

When is the Super Bowl and where will it be taking place?

Stars will be shining bright in Las Vegas, Nevada, for Super Bowl LVIII, set to take place on Feb. 11, 2024, at the home of the Raiders in Allegiant Stadium.

This will be the first Super Bowl to ever take place in Las Vegas, which hosted the 2023 Pro Bowl and 2022 NFL Draft.

Be sure to follow ProFootballTalk for the latest news, updates, and storylines about the upcoming NFL season!