Week 3 is in the books. It was a week that will be remembered fondly by Kansas City Chiefs fans for a very long time. As the doubters started to creep in, Patrick Mahomes and his squad rolled into Baltimore and showed the Ravens what for. The Seahawks and the Packers also had impressive wins — as did the Bills, who continue to embrace the Josh Allen experience. It was a week when you felt that the league is really starting to take shape.
This week’s voters were Matt Stagner, Pete Sweeney, Ron Kopp and myself.
The Seahawks and the Packers look head and shoulders above the rest of the NFC right now. But seriously, DK? I would have loved to have seen the reaction of fantasy managers when Diggs knocked the ball out of his hands.
Their win against the Raiders is the type of game that separates the contenders from the pretenders. The Patriots are certainly contenders — but they desperately need to give Cam Newton some receivers.
Whilst the call was horrendous, there’s something quite ironic about the Rams complaining about a pass interference penalty. I would say, “It’s like having 10,000 spoons when all you need is a knife” — but that example isn’t irony. It’s just a nuisance.
Week 1 has a funny way of making us all look like idiots.
We spend an entire summer thinking we know exactly what’s going to happen, and then the actual business of playing the games resets everything. Jaguars 27, Colts 20 exists to humble us.
The unknowable nature of a brand-new season makes the Power Rankings an especially volatile place this time of year. Huge leaps and precipitous drops will be commonplace. In time, we’ll see some sense of order … but that time is not now.
Embrace the chaos.
EDITOR’S NOTE:The Steelers were ranked 12th when this list was first published, but the intention was for them to be ranked No. 7. That tweak — which moved the Seahawks, 49ers, Rams, Cowboys and Patriots down a spot from their initial ranking — is now reflected below.
It’s not fair. On a night when Patrick Mahomes averaged a pedestrian 6.6 yards per attempt, Tyreek Hill and Travis Kelce were held under 100 yards combined and Clyde Edwards-Helaire finished his first NFL game without a catch, the Chiefs still put up 34 points in an easy win over the Texans. Last season, four different teams went the whole year without scoring 34 points once … the Chiefs do it when it feels like they’re barely paying attention. Edwards-Helaire was the story against Houston, piling up 138 yards and a touchdown on the ground. He is yet another piece of an offense that might be functionally impossible to stop.
By the third quarter, Sunday’s opener felt more like a preseason tune-up. That’s how easy and relaxed the Ravens looked in a 38-6 win over the overmatched Browns, Baltimore’s 13th straight regular-season victory. Lamar Jackson finished 9-of-10 for 180 yards on throws of 10 yards or more downfield, according to ESPN. It showed growth in his game from last year’s MVP season, when he completed less than 50 percent of such pass attempts. Is it possible that Jackson could be even better than he was in 2019? A scary thought for defensive coordinators across the league.
Take a bow, Aaron Rodgers. After an offseason in which the Packers drafted his presumed successor and many in the football cognoscenti decided his best football was already in the rearview, Rodgers stepped on the field and dominated the Vikings for four quarters in a blowout win. Rodgers was simply brilliant, torching Minnesota for 364 yards and four touchdowns. His favorite target? Davante Adams, of course, who tied a franchise record with 14 catches, racking up 156 yards and two scores in the process. Even more important, Rodgers got help from Allen Lazard and Marquez Valdes-Scantling, who each chipped in with big plays and touchdowns. Hell hath no fury like a legendary quarterback scorned.
The offense wasn’t quite ready to roll in Week 1, but teams as complete as this don’t put all their eggs in one basket. The Saints forced Tom Brady and the Bucs into three turnovers (including a Janoris Jenkins pick-six) and a blocked kick, providing cover for Drew Brees and Co. in a relatively easy win at the Superdome. Brees threw for just 160 yards, and New Orleans’ typically prolific offense was held to 271 total yards. After the game, Sean Payton called it “as bad a game as I’ve had as a play caller … it was awful.” These are rich teams’ problems — lamenting all the failures and shortcomings in the afterglow of a double-digit victory.
Stephen Gostkowski overcame an extraordinary case of the yips on Monday night, and the Titans narrowly avoided what would have been one of the more excruciating losses in franchise history. Gostkowski — who had three missed field goals (one of which was blocked) and a failed PAT — was bailed out by the offense, which marched 83 yards over 12 plays in the final minutes to set up a game-winning, chip-shot field-goal attempt that even Gostkowski couldn’t mess up on a cursed night. It could be a hugely important win for the Titans, who now hold the edge on the Broncos in a head-to-head playoff-tiebreaker scenario. It aged everyone roughly 12 years, but Mike Vrabel’s Titans got out of Denver with what they came for.
We got the Josh Allen pu pu platter in Sunday’s win over the Jets. Big plays with his legs (57 yards, TD), a career-best passing day (312 yards, two scores) and — yes — a pair of lost fumbles, both on the opponent’s side of the field. Allen also airmailed a gimme TD to John Brown that would have put New York away in the fourth quarter, but on balance, the day was a successful one for both the Bills and their polarizing third-year quarterback. A trip to Miami is up next on the schedule; getting the Jets and Dolphins back-to-back is pretty much the ideal way to start a football season in 2020.
A hugely promising start to the season for the Steelers, who got a vintage Ben Roethlisberger start in his return from elbow surgery, a 100-yard rushing day from Benny Snell and a smothering performance from the front seven, which limited Giants star Saquon Barkley to 6 yards on 15 carries. Big Ben’s return stands out, however: He shook off some early rust to throw for 229 yards and three touchdowns without a turnover. We wondered last year how far the Steelers could go if they combined their world-beating defense with strong quarterback play. We’re about to find out.
Much was made about “Let Russ Cook” and Brian Schottenheimer’s subsequent decision to air it out on Sunday, and Seahawks fans can only hope Wilson continues to get every chance to unleash his full potential as a passer. How could you not love the fourth-and-5 play call in the third quarter? Wilson, eyes downfield from the snap, dropped a bomb into the hands of DK Metcalf for a touchdown that broke the back of the Falcons’ defense. Give Wilson the opportunity, and he may very well reward you with an NFL MVP performance in 2020.
The Rams flew under the radar for much of the offseason, but that’s changing after an extremely impressive performance against the Cowboys on a national stage. New coordinator Brandon Staley’s defense never let Dak Prescott get comfortable (Aaron Donald was especially dominant in his SoFi Stadium debut), and Sean McVay gave his offense a different look in the first game of the post-Gurley era. Jared Goff kept the Dallas defense off balance with short throws and a quickened pace, completing passes to eight different targets while averaging nearly 9 yards per attempt. Malcolm Brown was the rushing star, with 79 yards and a pair of scores from close range. The Rams are back.
Cowboys fans will spend the week debating Mike McCarthy’s doomed decision to pass on a game-tying field goal in favor of a fourth-and-3 attempt in the fourth quarter. CeeDee Lamb was stopped short of the sticks on the ensuing pass play, and it turned out to be Dallas’ last, best chance in a frustrating 20-17 loss. “You have to trust your players,” McCarthy said after the game. The Cowboys got more bad news later when it was learned that linebacker Leighton Vander Esch is out six-to-eight weeks after suffering a broken collarbone. Vander Esch’s absence will test the limits of an already-thin defense.
The Patriots aren’t the Patriots of their glory years, but that doesn’t mean they won’t matter in the AFC. They improved to 51-12 at home against AFC East opponents in the Bill Belichick era (seriously) after a 21-11 win over the Dolphins in Foxborough. The craziest stat of the day? Cam Newton rushed the ball 15 times in his Pats debut; it was the highest number of carries he’s ever had in a game that didn’t go to overtime. It’s too early to say if this is how Josh McDaniels’ offense will look every week, but a Cam-led ground-and-pound attack makes a lot of sense.
The Tom Brady era got off to a sputtering start as the Bucs played far too sloppy a game to beat a loaded Saints team in full Super Bowl-or-bust mode. Brady had two turnovers, one on a miscommunication with Mike Evans and the other thrown behind Justin Watson and intercepted by Janoris Jenkins for a score. Brady lamented his “terrible turnovers” afterward, but he wasn’t all bad in his first game away from Bill Belichick. Brady looked comfortable running the offense and accounted for three TDs (two passing, one rushing). Bucs fans may feel let down with a bad case of pick-six deja vu, but they still remain in very capable hands.
So much for Kyler Murray and DeAndre Hopkins not getting enough reps this summer. The league’s hottest new QB/WR combo hooked up an absurd 14 times for 151 yards on 16 targets in a huge season-opening win against the defending conference champion 49ers. Hopkins didn’t reach the end zone, but his 33-yard catch-and-run got Arizona to the one-foot line and set up the go-ahead score with five minutes to play. In other words, Hopkins delivered exactly the kind of game-changing performance the Cardinals were expecting when they traded for the superstar wide receiver in March. It’s great to see a plan come together.
Deshaun Watson can’t do it by himself . Too often, that’s how it feels when watching the Texans on offense. A play breaks down, and the quarterback does his dancing magician act behind the line, eyes always upfield in search of the big play. The genius of Watson is that sometimes, this works … but not on Thursday night. Will Fuller did most of his damage after the game was decided, and Randall Cobb was virtually invisible in his Texans debut. Houston’s defense deserves credit for not allowing Patrick Mahomes to go wild, and new running back David Johnson moved like a veteran with something to prove, but these two teams exist in different worlds. Just like January.
Forget the garbage-time production, which was prodigious and undoubtedly appreciated by fantasy owners. In the real world, this was an embarrassing effort against a division rival that outclassed the Vikings in all phases. Packers QB Aaron Rodgers did whatever he wanted against the young secondary, and Kirk Cousins and the Minnesota offense struggled to get anything going until it was too late. The pass rush was nearly nonexistent with Danielle Hunter sidelined by injury, and huffing and puffing was rampant by the end of a first half where the D was on the field for 22:45 of game time. It’s going to be a long week at Vikings headquarters.
The opener played out like a slow-motion car crash. What started as a pleasant Sunday drive (17-0 lead) turned into a tangled mess of steel for the Eagles (27-17 loss), who have to be wondering — respect to John Madden — “Where’d that truck come from?” That 18-wheeler was the Washington pass rush, which trampled Carson Wentz for eight sacks and forced the quarterback into a host of ill-advised passes. (Wentz threw two picks and easily could have tossed five). Not every team has a front-seven push like Washington, but the Eagles have every reason to worry right now.
Philip Rivers looks like the same guy with the Colts as he did with the Chargers … and that was the problem for Indy in Sunday’s grim 27-20 loss to the supposedly tanking Jaguars. Rivers threw for 363 yards and a score, but he also tossed two interceptions and had another pick wiped away by a penalty. The idea here was that an elite offensive line would help Rivers play a smarter, more efficient brand of football in 2020. Not so far. The Colts lost more than the game: Running back Marlon Mack is done for the season after tearing his Achilles. If Jonathan Taylor is available in your fantasy league, close this window and do what you need to do.
With all due respect to Kyler Murray, Josh Jacobs was the best offensive rookie in football last year, and on Sunday, he took the next step toward true star status with a monster day against the Panthers. Jacobs piled up 139 yards from scrimmage and scored three times in a 34-30 win, outproducing Christian McCaffrey in a game featuring two of the league’s top young running backs. The Raiders’ defense showed it still has much work to do, but credit is in order for the game-clinching fourth-and-1 run stuff by Clelin Ferrell and linebacker Cory Littleton late in the fourth quarter. These were the big plays the Raiders had in mind when they took Ferrell fourth overall last year.
Hey, it wasn’t a masterpiece, but that’s also the kind of game the Chargers have lost approximately 400 times in the past. They were due for some luck, received in the form of a shanked Randy Bullock field-goal attempt in the final minute of a 16-13 win. Tyrod Taylor was unspectacular but steady (this is pretty much the Tyrod Taylor experience in totality) and the defense forced two big turnovers, a welcome change from last year, when Los Angeles was too often on the wrong side of the takeaway battle. Melvin Ingram’s fourth quarter interception on a Joe Burrow shovel pass was a thing of beauty. How many other 250-pound defensive ends can move like that and make that play?
The Broncos’ aggravating 2019 trait of blowing games in the final minute reared its ugly head again on Monday night, and Vic Fangio played his part. The coach’s decision to pocket his three timeouts during the Titans’ go-ahead field-goal drive in the final minutes of regulation served as an egregious clock-management error that put Drew Lock and the offense in a hopeless situation. In fact, stopping the clock would have had multiple benefits, seeing as how a tired Denver defense probably could have used a breather — or even a simple break to regroup — as Tennessee marched 83 yards on 12 plays. It’s a tough loss, made more frustrating by the fact that Denver had already benefited enormously from a prime-time meltdown by Titans kicker Stephen Gostkowski. The Broncos aren’t good enough to turn away charity.
Just when it looked like Mitchell Trubisky was finally about to be run out of town for good, the former No. 2 overall pick came to life and threw three touchdown passes in the fourth quarter of a stunning comeback win over the Lions. This marked the Bears’ first comeback from a deficit of 17-plus points entering the fourth quarter since 1998, according to NFL Research. Did they get a dollop of good fortune in the form of D’Andre Swift’s hideous drop in the final seconds? Sure, but we’re not going to take away anything from the Bears right now. That was a game that showed some guts.
The Football Team has arrived — and its strength is a relentless pass rush that will be giving quarterbacks hell from now until the end of days. Washington had its way with the Eagles’ beat-up offensive line, punishing Carson Wentz for eight sacks and forcing three turnovers in a 27-17 win. Chase Young, the No. 2 overall pick in April’s draft, was a game-changer, finishing with four tackles, 1.5 sacks and a forced fumble as Washington wiped away a 17-point second-quarter deficit. It’s unclear if this team will have enough offense to win consistently, but there’s no doubt it has a defense that will keep it in — and outright win — games.
Give the Falcons this: They put together a beautiful box score on Sunday. Matt Ryan threw for 450 yards and two scores. Julio Jones, Calvin Ridley and Justin Gage each had nine catches and all went over 100 yards for the day. Todd Gurley began his Falcons career with an even 4.0 yards per rush and TD. But the defense had zero answers for the Seahawks’ Russell Wilson-led passing attack, and too much of Atlanta’s offensive fireworks occurred after the game was already decided. Dan Quinn’s team plays from behind too often — Week 1 felt too much like what we saw last season.
The Browns made a lot of changes this offseason, but the on-field results remain the same. Cleveland failed to be competitive in its opener at Baltimore, outclassed on both sides of the ball in a blowout loss. The defense slowed down the Ravens’ famed running game, but Lamar Jackson had no problems picking apart the Browns’ secondary for three touchdowns. Things were even more distressing on the other side of the ball, where Baker Mayfield finished with an ugly 4.8 yards per attempt (the dreaded Gabbert Zone) and Odell Beckham Jr. finished with 22 yards on 10 targets. So far, the Kevin Stefanski era looks a lot like the Freddie Kitchens era.
Joe Burrow looked like, well, a rookie in his NFL debut. He gave himself a D grade after the 16-13 loss to the Chargers, citing a touchdown-costing overthrow of a wide-open A.J. Green and a shovel pass that turned into a disastrous Melvin Ingram interception in the final quarter. But Burrow also did some nice things, like a 23-yard scoring run on a designed draw and a composed drive down the field in the final minute that was ruined when Randy Bullock shanked a chip-shot field goal that would’ve tied the game. Burrow’s rookie season will be filled with these ups and downs, but you get the feeling he’ll continue to improve as the season progresses. The Bengals have every reason to be optimistic.
You need a foot on fourth down with the game on the line and you use Christian McCaffrey … as a decoy? That was the call from offensive coordinator Joe Brady — the wrong one, as it turned out — after fullback Alex Armah was stuffed for no gain late in a 34-30 loss. Some pages of a playbook should be set on fire. It capped a strange day of usage of the game’s best running back. McCaffrey had just 10 touches with a little more than five minutes to play in the third quarter. His number was called with regularity from that point on … just not when it counted most. It’s a shame, too, because the Panthers’ offense had an otherwise-solid day with Teddy Bridgewater at the controls.
Just a horrendous setback for the Lions, who melted down in the fourth quarter and allowed a Bears team led by Mitchell Trubisky to steal a win in the opener at Ford Field. According to Next Gen Stats, Detroit’s win probability was at 98.3 percent late in the final stanza, but the Lions — man, the Lions — they’re just one of those teams that always finds a way. Allowing Trubisky to throw three touchdown passes in the fourth quarter was bad; D’Andre Swift’s egregious drop as he backpedaled into the end zone in the final seconds was supernatural in its ghoulishness. These are the rare types of stomach-punch losses that can submarine an entire season.
Tank this. The Jaguars welcomed a supposed AFC contender into their building on Sunday and stunned a world of doubters. The 27-20 win over the Colts featured opportunistic play by the defense (two key interceptions) and beautifully efficient play by Gardner Minshew, who finished the day 19 of 20 for 173 yards and three scores. Minshew spread the ball around to 10 different Jaguars receivers and played under control, while his counterpart, Philip Rivers, forced the action. Could Minshew actually play himself into a long-term future with Jacksonville as the starter? String together a few more games like this and he just might.
Oh, Danny Boy. Daniel Jones was thisclose to finishing off the best drive of his young career on Monday night, an 18-play, 87-yard march that took the Giants all the way to the Steelers’ 4-yard line. But the 19th play went sideways, as Jones was hit in his wind up and intercepted in the end zone. Jones wishes he had a play back, Saquon Barkley wishes he had the whole damn game back. The star running back finished with 6 yards on 15 carries against Pittsburgh’s swarming front seven. That’s a tough game to sit with for a week.
Moral victories mean squat in the NFL, but I’ll say this: The Dolphins were trailing by three points with 10 minutes to play in Sunday’s opener at Foxborough. That’s progress from a year ago at this time, when we exited September thinking the Dolphins might be the worst team in NFL history. Ryan Fitzpatrick wasn’t given much of a chance against New England’s tough secondary, and the calls for rookie Tua Tagovailoa will only grow louder if the 16th-year veteran continues to stack interceptions. With DeVante Parker nursing a hamstring injury, this offense will need a spark. Adding Tua to the mix in some capacity could provide it.
Outclassed and outcoached. That’s the succinct way to describe the season opener, a 27-17 loss to the Bills that wasn’t nearly that close in reality. Josh Allen piled up nearly 400 yards with his arm and legs, while his counterpart, Sam Darnold, showed no evidence of greater comfort in his second year in Adam Gase’s system. Darnold has the deck stacked against him on multiple levels, but that doesn’t excuse the errant passes and poor decision-making that we saw for most of the afternoon in Orchard Park. Darnold now gets the 49ers in Week 2, and it looks like he won’t have Le’Veon Bell, who could miss multiple weeks with a hamstring injury. (UPDATE: The Jets are placing Bell on injured reserve, per NFL Network’s Kim Jones, which means they will be without him for at least three weeks.) The Jets feel like a bad news factory right now.
Pete Prisco says K.C. will go back-to-back, while the Packers and Steelers make his top five
Sep 8, 2020
8:58 am ET1 min read
Mike Meredith / CBS Sports
The last team to repeat as Super Bowl Champions was the 2003-2004 New England Patriots, and only seven teams have ever done so, most of those coming before free agency.
Yet as we ready for what should be one of the strangest seasons in NFL history, I think it’s going to happen again, as improbable as that might seem. The Kansas City Chiefs will win a second-consecutive Super Bowl and Patrick Mahomes will be even better as their quarterback this time around.
It’s a challenge to repeat, we know that, but it’s a lot easier when you have the game’s best player in Mahomes playing the game’s most-important position. It helps that almost the entire roster is back and Andy Reid is the perfect coach to navigate the challenge of being the hunted in every game.
Picking the Packers has been something I’ve done for a long time, and one of these days I will be right. There is this idea that Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers is on the decline. No way. Watch what he does this season.
Green Bay was a bad defensive showing in its blowout loss to the San Francisco 49ers away from getting to the Super Bowl last season. Some will say its13-3 record was deceiving, but you are what you are in the NFL.
The Packers were 13-3. Period.
They won’t get to that mark this season, but they will be close. And come playoff time, Rodgers will really show that he’s still among the elite.
Who’ll win Super Bowl LV? What about MVP? Will Brinson and the Pick Six Podcast Superfriends break down their bold 2020 predictions; listen below and be sure to subscribe for daily NFL goodness.
So as we ready for the season to begin, the Chiefs open in the top spot in my Power Rankings, with the Packers No. 2.
I can hear the groans already.
So be it. Just print and save this batch of rankings because come January, they might just give you a good laugh.
Losing Derwin James hurts the defense, but it will still be a top unit. Tyrod Taylor will just have to manage the game and sprinkle in some big plays in the passing game to get this team to the playoffs.
New coach Joe Judge does have talent on offense in Daniel Jones and Saquan Barkley. But is the line good enough? What about the receivers? The defense has issues at corner.
New coach Joe Judge does have talent on offense in Daniel Jones and Saquan Barkley. But is the line good enough? What about the receivers? The defense has issues at corner.
New coach Joe Judge does have talent on offense in Daniel Jones and Saquan Barkley. But is the line good enough? What about the receivers? The defense has issues at corner.
Watch Now: Fall CFB Season Won’t Be Played, According To Two Power Five AD’s
Power Five conference commissioners met Sunday to discuss the viability of playing the 2020 college football season this fall amid the coronavirus pandemic, multiple sources tell CBS Sports. The commissioners will meet again Monday morning. The acknowledgement from the highest-ranking athletic voices in the conferences is that playing college football or any sports this fall is unlikely.
ESPN first reported what was deemed an “emergency” meeting, citing several sources. However, the Sunday meeting was previously scheduled and not unplanned, sources tell CBS Sports.
“It’s an ongoing conversation we’ve been having for weeks,” Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby told CBS Sports on Sunday night. “We talk almost every day. I’m not aware decisions have been made.”
He added: “You don’t want to believe everything you read. It was a regularly scheduled call. We talked about a whole bunch of different things. All of us would be less than honest if we wouldn’t acknowledge that the trend lines are troubling and the last two weeks or three weeks have not been positive.”
“I think it’s inevitable [the season will not be played in the fall],” a veteran Power Five athletic director said Saturday.
“It’s not fair what we’re doing to our coaches and student-athletes,” another long-time Power Five AD said Saturday. “The sooner we can come to a finality, the better.”
Neither AD wished to be identified due to the sensitivity of the situation.
A recent discussion among Big Ten presidents was reported to be the impetus for the meeting as league presidents appear to be leaning toward canceling their conference’s season and hoped to see where the ACC, Big 12, Pac-12 and SEC stood.
Bowlsby is not sure whether the Power Five conferences will be united on a decision to cancel the season. “Ultimately, we have to do what’s best for our league,” he said.
The MAC on Saturday became the first FBS conference to cancel its 2020 college football season. UConn, an independent program, canceled its season on Wednesday.
“I’m of the opinion it’s when, not if [the 2020 season is canceled],” the second AD said. “[The MAC announcement] adds more momentum to the finish line. I think everyone’s medical group is now all telling them the same thing. We all keep having the same conversations.”
Pac-12 presidents will meet in a regularly scheduled call on Tuesday. A Power Five source told CBS Sports they believe the Pac-12 is “very close to voting.” The ACC, Big 12 and SEC also have regularly scheduled meetings this coming week.
The Big Ten on Saturday announced it was “indefinitely” delaying a move to Phase 3 of practice that would have allowed players to use pads. The Detroit Free Press reported that Big Ten commissioner Kevin Warren is believed to prefer attempting to play a season in spring 2021. The Big Ten was the first conference to announce it would move to a conference-only schedule a number of weeks ago.
In anticipation of the NCAA Board of Governors potentially canceling or postponing fall sports championships, Power 5 conference leaders have begun exploring the possibility of staging their own championships in those affected sports, multiple sources have told Sports Illustrated. This could be seen as a first step toward a long-theorized breakaway from the NCAA by the 65 schools that play college sports at the highest level.
The Board of Governors, comprised primarily of university presidents and chancellors from all levels of the NCAA, has a meeting scheduled for Tuesday. At that time it is expected to make a decision on the fate of fall sports championships other than FBS football, which has a championship outside the NCAA structure. However, the board also could delay action until later in August.
In recent days, Power 5 conference officials began seeking feedback from their members about the feasibility of staging their own championships during the fall, sources told SI. When asked if such a move away from the NCAA championship structure could be seen as a precedent-setting rift between the national governing body of college sports and the Power 5, one athletic director said, “If I were (NCAA president Mark) Emmert, I’d be really worried about it. He’s got to keep the Power 5 together.”
Another Power 5 athletic director said he thinks the chances of breakaway fall championships are remote, but added, “I think this is representative of the poor relationship between the (NCAA) national office and our conferences.”
Multiple sources said part of the motivation for the Power 5 considering hosting its own fall Olympic sports seasons is to justify playing football, the revenue-driving sport for all athletic departments at that level. If all the other sports are canceled but football perseveres on its own, the optics would open up the schools to severe criticism. Thus, playing all fall sports would allow those schools to say that they are not uniquely subjecting football players to any risk.
Sources described the discussions about breakaway championships as preliminary in nature, the first steps in gauging both interest and feasibility. An Atlantic Coast Conference administrator said the concept is “hypothetical” in nature and not mature yet, but “if the NCAA does something, it could shift it from neutral to first gear.”
Given the P5 incentive to justify football, the Board of Governors’ decision—and rationale—will be critical. If it decides to cancel fall sports championships for COVID-19 health and safety reasons, it would be difficult for the Power 5 to justify going its own way without a plan that they can definitively protect their athletes. But if the board says that the cost of safely conducting championships is prohibitive, the Power 5 could have an avenue to play all its fall sports—football included.
“We’re all trying to think, hey, what can we do for our kids, so they have a season and a chance to compete for a championship,” one Power 5 athletic director said. “And, quite frankly, how can we justify playing football?”
The cost of trying to create a bubble of sorts at NCAA championship events like the volleyball tournament, with regionals and a Final Four would be significant. With rapid testing for all participants, secure lodging and transportation, sterilizing the event and practice venues, the bills would add up. Multiply that across eight sports and three different levels of NCAA participation, and this would easily be the most expensive series of fall championships the association has funded—and it comes after the NCAA just took a huge financial hit with the cancelation of the 2020 basketball tournaments.
That is where the Power 5 could step in and collectively foot the bill for its own fall championships, which would be one-third or less of the total cost outlay to the NCAA. A source within the Olympic sports community said it would be “very easy” for the P5 conferences to contract out to established event management companies to hold their own championships.
The Board of Governors could make separate rulings for Divisions II and III, where a number of leagues already have postponed or canceled fall sports. Several Division I schools from FCS conferences, such as the Ivy League and Patriot League, have postponed fall sports as well. Sources told SI they are expecting a cancellation or postponement at the DII and DIII levels, but are unsure what will happen at the DI level.
If the NCAA board again delays action, it might further inflame a membership that has an increasing urgency for certainty about the upcoming seasons. One athletic director described the limbo as “mentally unhealthy” for his fall-sports athletes. The NCAA’s non-football fall sports are men’s and women’s cross country, men’s and women’s soccer, women’s volleyball, field hockey and men’s water polo.
For decades, the Power 5 conferences—the Atlantic Coast, Big 12, Big Ten, Pacific-12 and Southeastern—have continued to amass power and revenue at a rate that has separated them from the rest of college athletics. That separation led those leagues to gain their own autonomy at the NCAA legislative level, crafting rules that fit their specific needs.
Football has been the driving force behind that, as media-rights deals for those leagues have skyrocketed over the last decade. The FBS Group of 5 conferences—the American, Conference USA, Mid-American, Mountain West and Sun Belt—have struggled to keep up as the revenue gap has widened.
The schools in those conferences, plus independent institutions, may want to try to join the proposed Power 5 fall championships, a source theorized. If the NCAA sees more than one-third of its 350-plus Division I members basically ignore a postponement or cancelation, the undermining of the association’s power would be immense.
Already, the NCAA’s lack of influence at the Power 5 level has never been more glaring than in 2020. Since canceling winter and spring championships last March, the NCAA has largely been on the sidelines watching the individual conferences grapple with the pandemic. It issued return-to-sport guidelines in the spring and updated them recently, but behind the scenes, college administrators have grown increasingly critical of Emmert and the entire NCAA for a perceived lack of leadership.
“It’s almost like they’re frozen,” one athletic director said.
One veteran college administrator described the NCAA and Power 5 as having long been embroiled in an “existential crisis,” and wondered whether this fall sports gambit could be “the crack in the armor” that leads to an eventual split.
“Is this the final break?” The source asked. “You could have two championships: one from the (Power 5) and potentially some Group of 5s joining them, and a second one for everybody else in the spring. … It’s going to be real strange.”
There will be splashier new-model debuts this year, but there will be none bigger, or more important. The 2021 Ford F-150 has just rolled under the klieg lights at a special event with emcee Denis Leary on Thursday, and it’s time to take a closer look. When America’s newest full-size pickup rolls into dealers this fall, it will inherit not only the title of America’s best-selling truck for 43 straight years, it will also also assume the mantle of being one of this country’s chief economic drivers, automotive or otherwise.
Now playing: Watch this:
2021 Ford F-150 is a closet revolutionary
For more Cars
Subscribe to the Cars newsletter, receive notifications and see related stories on CNET.
One look at the 2021 F-150 might reasonably have you wondering what, exactly, is new. Certainly, in the move from today’s model to this new 14th-generation truck, Ford’s designers have delivered one of the more conservative visual overhauls we’ve seen out of the F-Series lineup in decades. However, a closer look at the truck reveals that’s not for lack of ambition: This pickup packs more electrification and connectivity-minded tech than we’ve seen in any light-duty production truck in the business.
Peel back this broad-shouldered rig’s aluminum skin, and you’ll find an available hybrid powertrain — the first full hybrid to hit the US pickup truck market. You’ll also find a raft of other novel features and tech designed to improve both productivity and comfort. Among them? Pro Power Onboard, a burly in-bed power source designed to replace generators at work sites and campouts, as well as huge new screens running next-gen Sync 4 infotainment. So whether you’re a professional contractor or someone who likes to play hard on weekends, Ford is hoping you’ll find something new here that you like. In fact, even if you’re not a typical truck fan, you might be interested to learn about how this new pickup sets the technological table for Ford’s coming Tesla Cybertruck competitor, the all-electric F-150, due sometime in 2022.
2021 Ford F-150 looks familiar, but only on the surface
Let’s start with the basics: Most of the F-150’s ladder-frame chassis carries over unchanged, and along with it, the lion’s share of the F-150’s dimensions and overall footprint, as well as cabin and bed specifications. The new truck has a slightly wider track and bigger available wheels (up to 22 inches!) for a more planted stance, but the shadow it casts will be very similar to today’s truck. All cabin and box configurations return, as do all major trim levels — XL, XLT, Lariat, King Ranch, Platinum and Limited (a new Raptor will come later).
Despite your likely initial impressions, every single sheet metal panel is new. This is a handsome truck, and Ford didn’t need to reinvent the outgoing model’s look from whole cloth (especially in view of the truck market’s often-conservative buyers). Up front, there’s a bolder grille bookended by headlamps outlined by oversized C-clamp-shaped daytime running lamps that extend into the bumper, a design theme echoed in the taillights as well. The new truck figures to be slipperier as well, incorporating not only active grille shutters that close at speed, but also an automatically deployed front air dam that lowers at 40 mph to improve aerodynamics (the latter retracts out of the way at low speeds to negotiate off-road trails and rogue parking barriers).
Out back, you’ll find matching C-clamp-shaped taillamps and a trick new multifunction tailgate. While the latter lacks the fancy multi-directional hinging found on some competing GM and Ram trucks, this new tailgate has a lot of baked-in cleverness, including a new flat work surface that integrates a tablet holder, ruler, clamp mounts and new tie-down rings that double as bottle openers. If nothing else, this more straightforward approach is undoubtedly less complex, heavy and costly than the Chevy Silverado 1500‘s MultiPro unit and the Ram 1500‘s 60/40-split solution.
2021 Ford F-150 vs. 2020 Ford F-150
2021 Ford F-150
2020 Ford F-150
2.7-liter twin-turbo V6
2.7-liter twin-turbo V6
3.0-liter turbo-diesel V6
3.0-liter turbo-diesel V6
3.5-liter twin-turbo V6
3.5-liter twin-turbo V6
3.5-liter twin-turbo V6 hybrid
Length (Crew Cab, 2WD)
Width (Crew Cab, 2WD)
Height (Crew Cab, 2WD)
Wheelbase (Crew Cab, 2WD)
EcoBoost and PowerBoost hybrid drivetrains, oh my!
Once you get past assessing the F-150’s new look, if you’re a typical truck buyer, you’re going to want to know what’s under the hood. Ford says most output specs like horsepower, torque and fuel efficiency will come later, along with payload and tow ratings. For now, we do know the engine lineup. There’s a lot of carryover here, too, including naturally aspirated 3.3-liter V6 and 5.0-liter V8 options, along with the company’s well-received 2.7-liter and 3.5-liter twin-turbocharged EcoBoost V6s. The 3.0-liter V6 PowerStroke returns for diesel buyers, as well. All F-150 models receive 10-speed automatic transmissions.
The big news, of course, is the F-150’s new PowerBoost hybrid powertrain. Piggybacking off of Ford’s existing 3.5-liter EcoBoost V6, this is the industry’s first full hybrid pickup (Ram’s eTorque is a less-powerful mild hybrid). The system integrates a single 35-kilowatt (47-horsepower) electric motor into the transmission housing backed by a liquid-cooled, 1.5-kilowatt-hour lithium-ion battery pack. This isn’t a plug-in hybrid system, it’s a self-contained, self-charging deal that incorporates a belt-driven starter. PowerBoost will be available in all trims, in both two-wheel-drive and four-wheel-drive configurations.
Ford has outlined some significant PowerBoost performance targets, including upwards of 12,000 pounds of max towing capacity, best-in-class horsepower and torque figures, and a leg-crossing range of 700 miles per tank.
Interestingly, today’s 2020 F-150 can tow up to 13,200 pounds with its 375-hp, 470-lb-ft, 3.5-liter EcoBoost powertrain, so it’s unclear if the new PowerBoost hybrid will outperform its gas-only counterpart in hauling metrics the way it likely will in the miles-per-gallon column.
Whether you’re into trucks or not, it’s worth noting that even if PowerBoost sales only make up a relatively small percentage of the F-150’s annual sales volume, it’s possible that this tech could have a bigger impact on America’s total fuel consumption than any other new vehicle, including electrics. That’s in part because full-size trucks are so thirsty by nature, and partially because Ford sells so many — the automaker shifted nearly 900,000 units last year.
F-150 replaces need for generator with Pro Power Onboard
PowerBoost also allows for a high-power version of Pro Power Onboard, an optional new power inverter that could replace owners’ need to lug loud, heavy and dirty generators to job sites and campgrounds. Heck, it might even be useful as a backup generator for your house when the power goes out. Pro Power Onboard is an integrated generator that provides up to 7.2 kilowatts of power from a series of outlets mounted both in the cab and in the bed. In the case of the hybrid truck, those ports take the form of four bedside-mounted 120-volt, 20-amp outlets, with a single 240-volt, 30-amp outlet for big equipment.
With the 7.2-kW system, Ford says you can power a 12-inch miter saw, a circular saw, a hammer drill, a half-horsepower air compressor, flood lights and a gang battery charger, all at the same time. If you’re not much for construction but you like to play hard on weekends, Ford says PPO can charge a full bed-load of electric motorcycles. You can even juice up the batteries of your tools, computers and toys while on the move. While we anticipate that a lot of traditional pickup shoppers — especially fleet buyers — may hesitate at the thought of buying a hybrid vehicle, unique, useful features like Pro Power Onboard could help convert hesitant buyers.
And for those who really don’t want hybrid power, you can still option a lower-power PPO system with 2.0 kW of power. That’s enough juice to simultaneously power an electric heater, a TV, a mini fridge, a blender and portable speakers for tailgate parties. It’s available on both the gas-only EcoBoost and naturally aspirated engine models.
Regardless of which PPO system is fitted to your truck, you can control it via the FordPass app, along with a bunch of other functions including vehicle locator, remote locking, HVAC controls and a new multizone lighting system.
2021 Ford F-150 has a reconfigurable interior
While arguably not as far off the pace as the Chevy Silverado and GMC Sierra, today’s 2020 F-150 has clearly fallen behind Ram’s 1500 in the cabin-niceness sweepstakes. As such, the new 2021 truck has some catching up to do. Ford appears to have done the trick, with interior highlights that include an all-new dashboard with more-premium materials, new storage areas, significant upgrades in tech and a couple of party tricks.
The new F-150’s most unexpected new feature is undoubtedly its available stowable gearshift lever. This center-console-based electronic shifter actually folds down and into a well out of the way to allow for the center armrest to expand into a large, flat work surface that can hold a 15-inch laptop. Naturally, this can only be done when the vehicle is parked, a lockout will keep you from doing this while driving.
Other available creature comforts include special Max Recline seats that fold nearly flat (180 degrees) for sneaking quick lunchtime naps, a massive panoramic moonroof, an 18-speaker Bang & Olufsen Unleashed audio system with SiriusXM 360L, plus a clever full-width lockable storage box that lives underneath the rear seat and can fold flat when not in use.
Sync 4 with wireless CarPlay, Android Auto and OTA
Also on the tech front, Ford’s next-generation Sync 4 infotainment is present. Even low-end models receive an 8-inch center screen, a big update from today’s 4.2-inch unit. Along with improved processing power and improved natural voice recognition, it features Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. The latter integrations are even wireless on the premium 12-inch-screen setup that comes standard on higher-trim XLT models and above. The latter also comes with a matching reconfigurable 12-inch digital gauge cluster with some impressive-looking animations.
Along with the rest of the truck’s electronics, Sync 4 also allows for over-the-air updates. That means customers will be able to not only get the latest navigation maps, but also download new features, bug patches, powertrain updates, and so on. In fact, Ford is already telegraphing one major update that it will make available in the third quarter of 2021: Active Drive Assist.
F-150 will gain Active Drive Assist hands-free driving
Active Drive Assist is a Level 2 hands-free driving system that’s geofenced to be used on divided highways that have been HD mapped. Ford says there are over 100,000 miles of these roadways available in the US and Canada. This eyes-on, hands-off system features a driver-facing camera that tracks eye and head movement to ensure they’re still paying attention. This is not autonomous drive tech, it’s a partially automated drive assistant for easing commutes, especially bumper-to-bumper traffic. Ford has yet to release further details about the system, including its maximum usable speed and how the system handles an inattentive driver, but more information will likely be revealed as this system’s availability draws near.
Buyers interested in Active Drive Assist on their F-150 will have to pay for a prep kit up front — the latter bundles hardware that enables another new safety feature, Intersection Assist, which helps drivers avoid errantly pulling into oncoming traffic when making a left turn. Once the tech becomes available, an over-the-air update or a dealer-performed software reflash will enable the new capability.
As far as we know, Active Drive Assist will be the most advanced partially automated drive assist in the truck market when becomes available. Elon Musk and the Tesla Cybertruck may actually have something to say about this when it hits the market in late 2021, of course, but today’s Autopilot remains a hands-on system, although it is not geofenced to operate in specific areas.
F-150 comes with a suite of advanced driver assist systems
The new F-150 includes Ford’s CoPilot 360 2.0 suite of advanced driver assist systems. Even low-end XL models get pre-collision assist with automatic emergency braking and pedestrian detection, as well as headlamps with auto on/off and automatic high beams. XLT models get lane-keep assist, along with reverse sensors and new safeguards like reverse brake-assist and a post-impact braking feature. A comprehensive self-park system is also available.
In trailering-minded safety news, Ford has also ported over a number of features introduced on the latest F-Series Super Duty trucks. That includes a bunch of new rear camera angles for easier hauling, as well as Trailer Theft Alert and Trailer Light Check, the latter two being accessible through the FordPass phone app.
Ford F-150 is all-in for the future
It’s tempting to conclude that the 2021 Ford F-150 boils down to more evolution than revolution. That notion makes sense considering the last-generation truck’s radical leap into aluminum construction and engine downsizing. Plus, Ford’s F-Series models have often had major step changes followed up by generations that simply refine a theme. This alternating innovate/iterate cycle has been key to F-150’s reliability, familiarity and profitability.
The truth with this new generation lies somewhere in the middle, however.
While the 2021 Ford F-150’s appearance at first looks like it could be midcycle facelift instead of a generational change, major infusions of new tech, including the PowerBoost hybrid hardware, Pro Power OnBoard, OTA and Active Drive Assist are not only bold new features for the class, they help set the technological table for Ford’s upcoming all-electric F-150 which is due in 2022.
Images from leaked developer documentation have just given us our best look yet at Android 11’s new power button menu. The menu can include a series of new smart home shortcuts called “Quick Controls,” which can control everything from smart lights to locks and thermostats, alongside payment options and the standard “Power off” and “Restart” buttons. The images were tweeted out by Mishaal Rahman from XDA-Developers, who credits Twitter user @deletescape as the source of the leaked documents containing the images.
We’ve known about these shortcuts since at least March when XDA-Developers reported on their existence, but these latest screenshots give us a better idea of how the overall menu will look. The existing “Power off,” “Restart,” “Screenshot,” and “Emergency” buttons have been relocated to the top of the screen above a shortcut to Google Pay, similar to the one that was added to the Google Pixel back in March.
Another image shows that live camera feeds can be shown here, though I bet it will only refresh very very slowly (or on demand whenever the Controls populates.)
The bulk of the screen, however, is taken up with these smart home controls. Android Police reports that tapping each of them will reportedly toggle the corresponding smart home gadget on or off, and long presses will either give you more options or take you directly to the relevant smart home app. As Rahman notes, one of the images shows that a smart home camera feed could even be embedded directly into this menu.
Google was due to officially unveil Android 11 on June 3rd, but it decided to delay the announcement over the weekend. It’s currently unclear when the event will be rescheduled.