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r/NFL Top 100 Players of the 2019 Season - #20-11

Welcome to the reveal for players ranked 20-11 for this year’s NFL Top 100 Players for the 2019 Season!

Players whose average rank had them land in places 20-11 are on this portion of the list revealed today. Players are associated with the team they finished 2019 with.
Below you will see write-ups from rankers summarizing the players' 2019 season and why they were among the best in 2019. Stats for each player are from this season and are included below. Additionally, their previous ranks in this long running series are also available for all of you.
Methodology
LINK TO THE HUB POST WITH A MORE DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE METHODOLOGY
  1. A CALL FOR RANKERS just after the Super Bowl.
  2. Rankers for each team nominated players to rank. 10 Games Played Minimum Threshold. Players are associated with the team they finished the 2019 Season with.
  3. The Grind. Utilize ranking threads for individual rankers broken up by positional group. Users were tasked with ranking players within the following tiers based on their evaluation: T-25, T-50, T-100, T-125 based on 2019 regular season only. There were no individual case threads. There were no arbitrary position limit caps. Just questions and rankings.
  4. Users submitted their individual Top 125 list. Ranking out to 125 is new for this year.
  5. User lists were reviewed for outliers by me with assistance from two former rankers. Users were permitted to correct any mistakes found. Once complete, lists were locked.
  6. Reveal the list… right now.
So now, without further ado, here are the players ranked 20-11 in the NFL Top 100 Players of the 2019 Season!

#20 - Danielle Hunter - EDGE - Minnesota Vikings

Previous Ranks
2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017 2018
N/A N/A N/A N/R N/R N/R 32
Written By: uggsandstarbux
Khalil Mack. Von Miller. JJ Watt. Those are the names that come up when you mention edge players in the NFL over the last half a decade. Yet none have as many sacks as Danielle Hunter in the last two years. Hunter is continually passed over in the conversation of edge rushers. Even among young edge rushers like the Bosa brothers, TJ Watt, Myles Garrett, and Bradley Chubb, Hunter is forgotten. He only received 4 All Pro votes from AP (of a possible 50). He failed to make PFF’s All Pro team. Is it because he wasn’t a 1st round pick? Is it because the Vikings defense was already dominant before his arrival?
Hunter has improved every year he’s gotten into the league (88 pressures this year vs 67 last year vs 55 in 2016). His first couple years in the league, he rotated in behind Everson Griffen and Brian Robinson. Yet he holds the record for most sacks before his 25th birthday and was one of only a handful of players in 2019 with double digit sacks and 15+ TFLs last season. He earned an 89.0 overall grade from PFF and forced 3 fumbles this year.
Beyond the numbers, Hunter is a unit. He came out of LSU as one of the more raw pass rushers in his draft. However, under the tutelage of the mighty Andre Patterson, Hunter has become one of the most athletic, versatile, technical, dominant edge defenders in the game. He can beat you with a pure bull rush, but he can also beat you with his speed and agility. He’s picked up Everson Griffen’s deadly spin move and has the motor to work through double teams. He can win with an inside move, or he can play pure 3T for an entire game (a la vs NO). He’s got a great understanding of the game and is a force to be reckoned with. If you’re placing bets for DPOY in 2020, don’t waste your money on the big name guys like Aaron Donald (+750) or Khalil Mack (+1100). Don’t spend it on young up and comers, lke Nick Bosa (+1300) or TJ Watt (+1500) either. Place it on Danielle Hunter (+2300). He’s going to continue dominating as he gains more recognition and climbs toward stardom.

#19 - Chris Godwin - Wide Receiver - Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Previous Ranks
2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017 2018
N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/R N/R
Written By: MysticTyph00n
At the beginning of the 2019 NFL season Bruce Arians said:
"I think Chris Godwin is going to be close to a 100-catch guy, especially because I think he can play in the slot,"...."He's never coming off the field."
Bucs fans thought this could be very well true in BA's system, especially with the departure of Desean Jackson which only really left Mike Evans as the only other real target on the team.
The 3rd round pick from Penn State showed up big time this year after having two relatively quiet seasons. Through 13.5 games (missing the final 2.5 due to a hamstring injury) he amassed 86 receptions for 1,333 yards, 9 TDs and only one drop(In fact he's only had 2 drops total in 2018 & 2019)He very well could have gone over 100 receptions , 1,500 yards as well as double digit TDs, but that's just projecting right?
According to PFF he was an absolute monster in the slot with an outstanding 96.5 grade, which shows he can line up anywhere on the field and still produce big time for the Buccaneers.
In 2020, I honestly expect Chris Godwin to have close to the same production, and possibly even better with how much he produces from the slot.
Please don't leave us…

#18 - Quenton Nelson - Offensive Guard - Indianapolis Colts

Previous Ranks
2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017 2018
N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A 70
Written By: Zzyzx8
Selecting a guard 6th overall was a bold movie for second year GM Chris Ballard, even one as highly touted as Quenton Nelson. Casual fans hated it, while draft junkies loved it. Two years later, it’s become clear that the pick was a home run. Nelson’s selection single handedly turned around a unit that was largely responsible for a slew of injuries to Andrew Luck into one of the best units. Nelson’s second year was only better, cementing himself as one of the best guards in the league, a true road grader. He spent the past year terrorizing nfl defensive lineman en route to his second pro bowl and all pro selections. Plus, he pulled off what was by far the best touchdown celebration of the season

#17 - Jamal Adams - Strong Safety - New York Jets

Previous Ranks
2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017 2018
N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/R 18
Written By: the_fuzzy_stoner robdog1330
I would just like to start with a moment of silence for the fans of the New York Jets after Jamal Adams recently demanded a trade from that inept organization with a dumpster fire of a coach in Adam Gase.
Anyways, after an incredible sophomore season, Adams has kept up with his awesome play in his third season as one of the NFL's best and most versatile defensive players as well as the clear-cut best player on a football team that somehow won seven games. Adams, also known as President 'Mal, recorded an interception (which was returned 61 yards to the house), 7 passes defended, 11 hurries, and 36 stops, but that's not all! Adams also garnered 6.5 sacks (which is amazing for a DB) and forced two fumbles (like this one he returned to the house on my guy Daniel Jones 😔). With his exceptional play, the star safety was named to the 1st Team All-Pro as well as his second Pro Bowl selection (an honor which none of his other Jets teammates got this year).
What makes Adams so special is that he is exceptional against both the running and passing game. Whether he's with Gang Green or another franchise next year, I'd expect another stellar season out of Jamal Adams in 2020 (assuming there is one) and even as a Giants fan who watched him dominate my team this past season, I really appreciate the guy's play.

#16 - Derrick Henry - Running Back - Tennessee Titans

Previous Ranks
2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017 2018
N/A N/A N/A N/A N/R N/R N/R
Written By: broccolibush42
DERRRRIIIICK HENRY!!!
This part man part tractor was the plow that turned our barren field into a bountiful wheat field full of Nashville Hot Chicken. This beautiful muscly man with a poop rat tail decimated opponents and General Sherman'd the AFC South. Totaling at 1540 yards and 16 Touchdowns in 15 games, with 6 coming from a slow start in a Mariota lead offense, he caught fire and dragged his nuts all over teams like the Chargers, Chiefs, Jags, Colts, Texans, Raiders and was showing just absolute dominance on the field. (Sadly we arent able to take the playoffs into account otherwise i'd gush over how he embarrassed a couple of scrub one and done teams).
Henry has this certain tenacity and a godlike level of endurance that just makes him an absolute beast in the 2nd half. He is just able to keep going, and going, and going, until finally, players get tired of it and turn into lead blockers for him. He is extremely hard to tackle to. Take a look at this play against the Chiefs in week 10, guys just bounce off him like he's running through toddlers. Derrick Henry is so hard to tackle that, according to PFF, Henry had over 1200 of his 1540 total yards after contact. Like this dude was getting hit at the line of scrimmage and he is just like, fuck this shit, i aint no dion lewis, and keeps going. How is this guy even real???
Another thing about Henry is his speed! Henry is a 6'3" 240 pound dude running 20+ MPH down the field when he breaks the open one. Like look at this speed he gets vs the Browns in week 1. Or this one against the Jags where he outruns guys and stiff arms the ones who barely managed to keep pace. Speaking of stiff arms, Derrick Henry has one of, if not, the BEST Stiff Arm in the league. If I had to pick a way to die, I think I would like Henry to stiff arm me in the face running at me at 21 miles per hour with this face, because there would be no greater honor to a titans fan than death by Henry. That concludes my Henry jerk fest. Here are some more highlights. and here are the real link.

#15 - Travis Kelce - Tight End - Kansas City Chiefs

Previous Ranks
2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017 2018
N/A N/R 84 N/R 28 31 13
Written By: DTSportsNow
Travis Kelce was drafted in the 3rd round of the 2013 draft. He wound up missing his rookie season due needing to receive microfracture surgery on his knee over the offseason and dealing with a bone bruise during the season. Since then he's received 4 All-Pro designations and was named to the NFL 2010s All-Decade team. He's also become the 1st TE in NFL history to have 4 straight 1,000+ yard seasons. Not bad considering how his career got started.
In 2019 he finished his 2nd straight season of 1,200+ yards and 3rd straight season leading the league in deep receiving yards by a tight end (274). He finished top 4 in overall TE grade for the 4th straight year (85.1), and was named to his second 2nd-team All-Pro designation. In the Sunday Night Football contest against the Chicago Bears he caught his 500th career reception, becoming the fastest TE in NFL history to reach that mark.
There's no doubt that Kelce is one of the best tight ends in the game, and winding up in the top 20 proves many believe him to be one of the very best players in the league. Since Gronk's decline it's essentially been between him and George Kittle for the top player at the position. He's a key component of what Andy Reid and the Chiefs like to do on offense, even as stacked as the offence is. With a Super Bowl victory and a few records to his name already his legacy will be decided by how long he can keep up his premier play. His partnership with Patrick Mahomes should take him to a locked up Hall of Fame bust.

#14 - Ryan Ramczyk - Offensive Tackle - New Orleans Saints

Previous Ranks
2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017 2018
N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A 100 74
Written By: Dahki
In 2017, sb nation wrote an article claiming that Ryan Ramczyk wasn't a first round talent at LT. The site went so far as to say he would benefit from a switch to RT. In short, they ended up nailing that on the head. The three-year vet has spent almost the entirety of his career anchoring the right side of the Saints O-line after being picked at 32 overall, and boy, has it worked out for both the team and the Wisconsin alum.
Ram makes the /nfl top 100 list for two reasons. First, he was really good. Second, we really wanted to hammer in the idea that the Saints O-line as a whole was really good. Most notably, Ram exits the 2019 season with his first first-team all pro, and he was more than deserving of it. Similar to teammate Terron Armstead, Ram refused to allow Brees or Teddy to be touched, giving up no sacks on the season. Even better, Ram kept his QBs almost squeaky clean in the pocket, allowing just one hit on the entire season, good for 2nd best in the league among nominated tackles. And Ram didn't just do well in pass pro; he was PFFs top graded OT when run-blocking, showcasing his power and quickness from his spot. In total, Ram spent the 2019 season as the biggest challenge for opposing D-lines to overcome when facing the Saints.

#13 - Julio Jones - Wide Receiver - Atlanta Falcons

Previous Ranks
2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017 2018
32 93 23 8 2 21 17
Written By: CokeZ3ro
It's a bird, it’s a plane, no it's Jet Jones! In his 9th season Julio continues to be one of the most dominant receivers in the NFL, and the undisputed best player on the team. He’s a force that defenses must give their full attention, and even then he can explode. Even when he doesn’t get the ball, his influence and abilities still shape the play, and better everyone around him. This past offseason Julio agreed to a three-year contract extension worth $66 million, making him the NFL’s highest paid WR, and extending him to 2023. Even though 2019 was a down year statistically, Julio continued to show why the money is worth it. In a “down year” Julio was 2nd in reception yards, 3rd in Yards/Game, and 1st in Scrimmage Yards/Touch, and made his 6th consecutive Pro-Bowl.
But stats can hardly capture the elite combination of athleticism and skill that makes Julio so great. A combination perfectly captured here where Julio is able to jump over the coverage of CB Leodis McKelvin and then tiptoe to complete the coverage on the way down. Later that same game, with the Falcons against the wall, Julio showed that no man can catch him in a 53-yard burst (shoutout to Jake Matthews for the Pancake Block). Julio utilized his route skills to make CB Pierre Desir eat turf before making a 34-yard reception; which likely would have been much more if Ryan didn’t underthrow it. He’s pretty good at catching too, exhibited as reaches over CB Quincy Wilson and manages to hold onto the ball through tackles from Wilson and SS Clayton Geathers to score. Doesn’t matter who you are, Luke Keuchly, Marshon Lattimore, AJ Bouye; doesn’t matter. bUt hE dOEsn’T gET tOUchDoWnS I hear the Fantasy owners say. Watch this and notice how often in the redzone Julio is serving to support his team (blocks, inside presence, taking double defenders), or is just ignored. He’s open more often people realize.
Even in a disappointing season for the Falcons, Julio continues to shine through as one of the NFL’s premiere combos of athleticism and skill. Julio is and will continue to be an absolute force for the offense.

#12 - Chandler Jones - EDGE - Arizona Cardinals

Previous Ranks
2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017 2018
N/R N/R N/R N/R 60 24 100
Written By: Beehay
In my write up of ChanJo last year, I mentioned that the return to the 3/4 (even if it's under Vance Joseph) will be huge for his stats. And boy howdy was it! At 30 years old and after double digit sack totals for 5 straight years, Jones set a career high of sacks at 19 this year. He had 8 Forced Fumbles, 53 Tackles, and 26 QB hits. Most of his stats improved from 2018, some more drastically than others. His pass coverage marginally improved but why the hell would you really want him to cover guys? (Don't say it Niners fans, DON'T SAY IT)
Chandler Jones is the prototype for edge defenders. He is what all other Defensive Coordinators wish they had. Strong, fast, smart, consistent. Here's a guys opinion and a breakdown. Here's some highlights because not everybody watched all 16 Cardinals games last year and I don't blame them. I think he will rank even higher next year if he stays healthy because he will finally get to settle into a defense again. Even if it's Vance Joseph's.

#11 - Ronnie Stanley - Offensive Tackle - Baltimore Ravens

Previous Ranks
2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017 2018
N/A N/A N/A N/A N/R N/R 97
Written By: Letsgomountaineers5
Where to begin with Ronnie Stanley? Oh, how about a nearly minute long clip of him absolutely bullying First Team All Pro and NFC DPOY Chandler Jones. You like that? (Sorry Cards fans, but hey we all know Chandler Jones is a beast). Ronnie Stanley was the best LT in the league. No wait, actually he was the best overall tackle in the league. Actually, Stanley was the best lineman in the league, bar none. I truly believe Stanley was a top 5 player in the NFL last season and even tried (and failed/came to senses) to argue Stanley as a top 2 player. His dominance on the left side of that line was unprecedented.
I know stats don’t paint the entire picture, especially for OL, but I have to start there because his stats were unworldly as a blindside protector facing the best pass rushers the NFL has to offer. Going against the likes of TJ Watt twice a year, Carlos Dunlap twice a year, Myles Garrett, Chandler Jones, Nick Bosa, Shaq Barrett (need I go on), he allowed zero sacks and six pressures on 445 pass blocking snaps. Of tackles with at least 400 pass blocking snaps to allow 6 pressures or less, he was the only one. Wait, the only one? Let’s expand. 10 pressures on 400 snaps? Hmm. Only Ronnie Stanley. 15? Hmm only Ronnie Stanley. 20 and no sacks? Only Ronnie Stanley. Unreal.
So how does he do it? Well for starters, he has an elite pass rusher’s explosion as an offensive lineman. He can pack a pop that will knock the best rushers off line or on their ass without overextending. Just ask Nick Bosa. Refer back to the Chandler Jones lowlight reel for a second and check out how often he simply beats Jones (one of the most explosive and best bending edge rushers in the game) to his spot time and time again. Stanley is out of his stance so fast it looks like he’s false starting and, be it film review/sixth sense/sheer athleticism (my money is on all three), he hits the pass rushers’ marks before they do. Sometimes, he even chips defenders to the ground he doesn’t have a responsibility for. Because of these reasons, he’s basically the only lineman in the game not playing catchup and is tremendously equipped to react to counters. In the run game, he was a driving reason behind that team’s record setting running success. He can be a mauler, but with his speed also can pull like the best guards in the game and lead block for some of the fastest players in the game.
At the end of the day, his dominance in both pass blocking and run blocking makes him a worthy top 15 player, and if not for a tendency to underrate linemen, I believe he should’ve been a shoe-in for the top 10. If you read this far, thank you. Now I need to go puke after that glowing endorsement for a Raven.

LINK TO 2019 POSITIONAL GROUPING TRACKER

LINK TO 2019 RANKER SHEETS

LINK TO HUB

Schedule Change

Unveiling of ranks 10-6 will take place Monday, July 6 instead of Tuesday. Unveiling of ranks 5-1 will take place on Thursday, July 9. Thank you!
submitted by MikeTysonChicken to nfl [link] [comments]

Will the Philadelphia Eagles win OVER/UNDER 9.5 games? By University Stats Prof!

1. Introduction

The Eagles have been a good model of consistency. Over the past 20 years, they have had just four losing seasons.

It wasn’t always pretty, but Philly managed to secure the NFC East title with a 9-7 record last year. They closed out the regular season with a four-game winning streak to edge the Cowboys atop the division.

Unfortunately, Carson Wentz exited the wildcard playoff game early and the team couldn’t overcome his absence in a 17-9 home loss to the Seahawks.

2. Offensive Position-by-Position Breakdown

2.1 Quarterbacks (QBs)

Carson Wentz needs to be applauded for his 2019 performance.

He had to deal with numerous injuries to his receiving corps and yet, he led the team to a playoff spot and he finished with a career-high in passing yards with 4,039. He threw 27 TD passes versus 7 interceptions, while playing all 16 games for the first time since his rookie season in 2016.

In the season finale, his top targets were Boston Scott, Dallas Goedert, Josh Perkins, Deontay Burnett and Greg Ward. Outside of Goedert, none is an established starter in the NFL. The Eagles still secured the NFC East title with a 34-17 road win in New York.

Philadelphia selected Jalen Hurts late in the second round of this year’s draft. He transferred from Alabama to Oklahoma for his senior year since Tua Tagovailoa was projected to be the starter. Hurst was actually replacing Kyler Murray who had just been taken as the number one overall pick in the 2019 NFL draft by the Cards.

Hurts did not disappoint in his lone season with the Sooners. He completed 237-of-340 passes (69.7%) with 3,851 passing yards, along with 32 TD passes and eight interceptions. He also rushed for 1,298 yards with 20 TDs on the ground!

His weaknesses are an average accuracy, inconsistent decision-making and a tendency to take off as a runner too often (sometimes when a receiver was open). He is likely to be used as a gadget player by Doug Pederson this year.

Nate Sudfeld will compete for the backup job. He missed the entire 2019 season due to a wrist injury he suffered during preseason. He was a sixth-round pick out of Indiana in the 2016 draft. He has attempted just 25 passes in the NFL in four years, so it’s hard to tell what to expect from him.

2.2 Running Backs (RBs)

Miles Sanders’ rookie season was a resounding success. He led all rookies with 1,327 yards from scrimmage.

He carried a heavier workload as the season went on. During the first eight games, he averaged 8.3 carries per game, as opposed to 14.1 over the last nine contests (including the playoff loss to the Seahawks).

Jordan Howard’s injury at midseason contributed to the increased usage of Sanders in the backfield. With Howard gone to Miami, the sky’s the limit for second-round pick out of Penn State.

Darren Sproles retired and Jay Ajayi was waived. That leaves the door wide open for third-year man Boston Scott. He flashed big time last year and unquestionably passed my eye test. The 5’6’’ back is very explosive.

Scott made a name for himself in Week #17 as he had to step in for Sanders who sprained an ankle in the first quarter against the Giants. Scott went on to rack up 138 total yards and three touchdowns.

2.3 Wide Receivers (WRs)

This unit was decimated by injuries last year. DeSean Jackson pretty much played just one game, while Alshon Jeffery and Nelson Agholor missed six and five games, respectively.

Despite playing under his age-32 campaign, Jackson showed he still has field-stretching abilities in his lone meeting last year. He was spectacular with 8 catches for 154 yards and a couple of scores. He hasn’t played a full 16-game season very often in his career though.

Jeffery is another aging receiver coming off a significant injury. He underwent Lisfranc surgery, which requires a long rehab period. He’s questionable for the start of training camp.

Since two outstanding seasons in 2013 and 2014 with the Bears, Jeffery has missed four games per year on average, while showing signs of slowing down on the field as well. His 11.4 yards-per-catch average last year was a career low.

To be honest, I feel like Jeffery’s time in the league is coming to an end soon. Lisfranc injuries can be tricky for wide receivers, and full recovery is even more difficult for guys above 30 years of age.

Nelson Agholor was a younger WR who could have provided adequate depth, but he signed with the Raiders. The former first-rounder has not lived up to expectations, but he was still a decent pass catcher, albeit his drops were a big issue last year. Maybe a change of scenery will help rejuvenate his career.

Philly drafted Jalen Reagor with the #11 pick overall last April. He’s a smallish deep threat who is at his best on straight routes. He was good with contested catches, but will it still be the case in the NFL given his size? That’s a big question mark.

Reagor opened a lot of eyes by scoring eight touchdowns as a freshman with TCU after being a high recruit out of high school. He followed up with a great 72-1061-9 receiving line as a sophomore.

Reagor’s numbers dropped quite a bit as a junior (43-611-5), but you can attribute that to having a freshman QB at the helm. He’s an electrifying player who can take it to the house every time he touches the ball.

The competition for the number three role is also likely to involve Greg Ward and J.J. Arcega-Whiteside. These two guys have had completely different paths before making it to the NFL.

Ward went undrafted before joining the AAF. He eventually was added to the Eagles’ practice squad, and later on promoted to the 53-man roster until a depleted receiving corps forced him onto the field.

Meanwhile, Arcega-Whiteside had more of a “conventional” journey by being drafted in the second-round of the 2019 draft.

Such resumes would suggest Arcega-Whiteside would be the superior wideout, but that’s not what we saw on the field. He only caught 10-of-22 targets for a disappointing 45% catch rate. He was rarely targeted down the stretch, despite the numerous injuries at the position.

On the other hand, Ward filled in admirably late in the season. Over the final four meetings, including the playoff game, he caught 20-of-25 targets (an 80% catch rate). He clearly deserves a shot as a top reserve for the upcoming season.

2.4 Tight Ends (TEs)

The Eagles have a nice duo at the tight end position with Zach Ertz and Dallas Goedert.

Ertz is a true warrior. He hasn’t missed more than two games in each of his first seven season in the league. Last year, he played with two rib fractures one week after lacerating his kidney. Talk about a tough guy.

His numbers are also staggering. His lowest figures in terms of receptions and receiving yards over the past five years are 74 and 816. That’s truly remarkable! Please note that he’ll be turning 30 years old during the season.

Just like Ertz, Goedert is also a former second-rounder. However, he is four years younger. He caught 58 passes for 607 yards and 5 TDs, all career-highs. He was targeted 4 times per game on average before the team’s bye week versus an average of 7.9 for the remainder of the year. Granted, injuries to other targets probably boosted his numbers, but he still developed nice chemistry with Wentz.

2.5 Offensive Line (OL)

The Eagles have a heck of an offensive line.

You cannot blame Jason Kelce for anything over the past five years. He hasn’t missed any start, while consistently being one of the top centers in the league. As a matter of fact, he was rated as the #1 center in the NFL according to PFF grades last year. He’s now 32 years old.

Left tackle Jason Peters has been just as good as Kelce. He was nominated to nine Pro Bowls in his career and he finished as the number 6 tackle in the league with his 83.4 PFF mark. Unfortunately, the team decided to let the 38-year old hit the free agency market. EDIT: he was re-signed three days ago (this article was written several weeks ago). He is projected to play guard instead of tackle.

Peters will be replaced with 2019 first-round pick, Andre Dillard. Is he ready to take on the full-time job? It remains to be seen, but it will be difficult to fill Peters’ shoes.

As for Lane Johnson, the right tackle finished as the 3rd-best tackle in the league based on the PFF grading system. He’s been very good throughout his seven-year career; the former #4 overall pick has not disappointed at all!

Brandon Brooks also had a huge 2019 season! He ended the year as the top guard in the NFL with a jaw-dropping 92.9 PFF mark. Much like Lane Johnson, Brooks is another player above 30 years old who’s been reliable his entire career.

Left guard Isaac Seumalo started all 16 games for the first time of his career. He’s the one that received the lowest grades on this OL, but finishing 17th out of 81 guards is nothing to be ashamed of! The former third-round pick from the 2016 draft is not as talented as his colleagues, but you could do worse than having him as one of your starters.

The team lost good depth with the departure of Halapoulivaati Vaitai to Detroit. The 2019 season was clearly his best year; it would have been nice to retain him but he signed a huge contract with the Lions.

2020 VS 2019 OFFENSE

When comparing the upcoming 2020 season with last year, there are some positives and some negatives.

Let’s discuss the negative stuff first. I do expect a downgrade on the offensive line. They played at an extremely high level last year with four guys finishing among the 6 players at their respective position (based on PFF rankings). That’s unlikely to happen again, especially with three linemen aged 30 years or above.

Also, second-year man Andre Dillard has good potential, but it will be difficult to match Jason Peters’ 2019 performance. I do expect a drop-off here.

At quarterback and tight end, the situation remains stable.

At the running back position, losing Jordan Howard to free agency won’t hurt too much with the emergence of electrifying Boston Scott. Also, Miles Sanders is expected to take a leap in his sophomore season.

Finally, how could you not expect better production from the WR group? They were hit by the injury bug a lot last year. Agholor’s departure is a moderate blow; getting DeSean Jackson back is a bonus! Hopefully, speedy rookie Jalen Reagor can provide a spark to an offense that sorely missed game breakers last year.

The Eagles offense scored the 12th-highest number of points last year. My final conclusion, based on the arguments above, is that I expect similar production in 2020.

Final call (2020 vs 2019): Stable

3. Defensive Position-by-Position Breakdown

3.1 Defensive Linemen (DLs)

Fletcher Cox is an animal. Plain and simple.

Despite posting his second-lowest sack output of his illustrious eight-year career, he still graded as the 4th-best interior defenders in the NFL based on PFF rankings. On average, he has recorded 6 sacks per year (he only got 3.5 last year)

He has also been very durable; he’s missed just three games out 128. He still has good years to come at age 29.

Tim Jernigan was a decent starter next to Cox, but he clearly wasn’t needed on the team anymore after the Eagles signed stud DT Javon Hargrave. The former Steeler showed steady improvement in each of his first four years in the NFL. His 83.4 PFF mark last year put him in the 8th spot out of 114 DLs.

With Hargrave entering his prime years and Fletcher Cox being a perennial beast, good luck running the ball inside the tackles against the Eagles in 2020.

After playing three years in Indy, Hassan Ridgeway had a below-average season in his first year with the Eagles. He’s more of a rotational player, whom you hope won’t be needed as a starter.

3.2 Defensive Ends (DEs) / Edge Rushers (ED)

Brandon Graham is 32 years old, but he refuses to slow down. He led the team with 8.5 sacks last year, and he has averaged six sacks over an eight-year period!

The guy also finds a way to stay on the field. Can you believe he has missed a single game in eight years! He’s been consistently good and remains a force, both against the run and rushing the passer.

Derek Barnett is a former first-rounder coming off a career-high in sacks with 6.5. However, his 2019 PFF grade was the lowest of his three-year stint in the NFL and he finished as the number 83 edge defender out of 107 qualifiers. He’s an “okay” player.

Vinny Curry played 38% of the snaps last year, but it does not appear like he will be back with the team. At the time of writing, he was still a free agent. He did pick up five sacks last year, but teams seem reluctant to sign him because he’ll be playing his age-32 campaign. He actually played pretty well when called upon.

With Curry gone, the team must hope Josh Sweat will elevate his game. The 2018 fourth-round selection posted his first four sacks of his career last year, but his 62.5 overall PFF mark ranked him as the 76th-best edge defender out of 107 guys.

3.3 Linebackers (LBs)

After playing four years in Buffalo and four years in Philly, Nigel Bradham was cut by the Eagles, mainly for cap reasons. He provided average play at the LB position; he was good in coverage, but he was a liability defending the run.

The team also lost Kamu Grugier-Hill, who signed with the Dolphins. You could characterize him as a decent player, albeit far from being great.

That leaves the team pretty thin at the position.

Nathan Gerry is the lone 2019 starter that is still with the team. He ranked as the 34th-best linebacker out of 89 players. He does not offer much upside, though. It would be stunning to see him crack the top 25 someday.

Can Duke Riley and/or T.J Edwards crack the starting lineup? Neither seem to be an up-and-coming star. Riley was acquired for peanuts prior to last year and he played 35 snaps. As for Edwards, he was an undrafted rookie out of Wisconsin that did well in limited time last year. He proved to be stout against the run.

3.4 Cornerbacks (CBs)

Philly’s back end has been revamped for the upcoming 2020 season.

The Eagles signed one of the best slot corners in the league: Nickell Robey-Coleman. He has received consistently good grades from ProFootballFocus over the past four years. At 5’8’’ he is pretty small, but you couldn’t tell from the quality of his game. He’s a nice addition.

Philly also acquired Darius “Big Play” Slay, who played the first seven years of his career with the Lions. He had a down year in 2019, but I’m not worried he can rebound in a new environment. He’s been covering opponent’s top receivers for a while in this league, and he’s done a good job at it. He has 19 career interceptions.

Ronald Darby’s career has been plagued with injuries recently and he was let go during the offseason. His PFF grade took an enormous drop last year, all the way from a respectable 70.6 in 2018 down to an abysmal 44.8 last year. He signed a one-year deal with the Redskins.

Rasul Douglas and Avonte Maddox are still on the team, but neither has proven to be an impactful contributor. Both graded as very below-average corners in 2019.

3.5 Safeties (S)

Malcolm Jenkins and Rodney McLeod both played the entire 2019 season. They ranked as the 32nd- and 52nd-best out of a bunch of 87 safeties.

The organization and Jenkins couldn’t agree on a deal, so the Eagles had to let him go after six very successful seasons. He picked off 11 passes during his six-year stint in Philly. He signed with the Saints, with which he spent the first five seasons of his career. Even though he wasn’t getting any younger, his present will be missed.

McLeod’s 2019 PFF grade was the lowest he had obtained over the past five years, but he still did a decent job.

Jalen Mills will be one piece of the puzzle in replacing Jenkins. But let’s face the reality: he has been pretty awful throughout his four-year career, except 2017 where he did better.

Another option will be newly acquired Will Parks, who is coming over from Denver. However, he’s clearly not a long-term solution either. He’s pretty versatile, but he’s a below-average player.

2020 VS 2019 DEFENSE

This unit was upgraded quite a bit during the offseason at two positions, but it also suffered a severe downgrade at a couple others.

First, acquiring Javon Hargrave to team up with Fletcher Cox on the interior of the line was big! At CB, getting Darius Slay and Nickell Robey-Coleman will provide much needed help at a position that has caused headaches for years in Philly.

Unfortunately, the defense lost its best safety when Malcolm Jenkins signed with the Saints. Also, even though none of them was a true difference maker, losing linebackers Nigel Bradham and Kamu Grugier-Hill creates a hole.

Since the team acquired some big time players while losing good/average players, I envision a small improvement. In 2019, the Eagles finished in the middle of the pack in terms of points allowed per game (15th out of 32 teams). I envision Philly finishing around the #10-#13 spot this year.

Final call (2020 vs 2019): Small upgrade

4. Regular Season Wins

According to sportsbooks, the Eagles are expected to win 9.5 games this season. Should we bet the “over” or the “under”?

Here is the methodology I used in order to answer this vital question:

Here are the results:

Estimated Probability Sportsbook Odds ROI
OVER 9.5 WINS 42.3% FanDuel -105 -17.4%
UNDER 9.5 WINS 57.7% Pinnacle -103 +13.7%
Tip: Bet UNDER 9.5 wins
Return On Investment (ROI): +13.7%
Rank: 19th-highest ROI out of 32 teams
Minimum odds required to bet (i.e. ROI = 0%): -136

Here are BetOnline’s point spreads for the Eagles’ 16 regular season games:

Note: The “Best odds” from the table above were obtained after looking at 13 well-known online sportsbooks on May 18th, 2020.

I invite you to take a look at my other 31 NFL team previews! Good information if you are involved in fantasy football and/or if you want to be up-to-date on player movement and teams' strengths and weaknesses (for betting purposes)!

Cheers,

Professor MJ
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Will the Chicago Bears win OVER/UNDER 8.5 games? By University Stats Prof!

1. Introduction

It was a roller-coaster ride for the Bears last year. They started with a 3-1 record before losing five of their next six meetings. They concluded the season by winning four of the last six games, but it wasn’t enough to qualify for the playoffs.

After a NFC North title in 2018, Da Bears ended with a disappointing 8-8 record last season.

The offense was often criticized (deservedly so), and changes needed to be made.

2. Offensive Position-by-Position Breakdown

2.1 Quarterbacks (QBs)

Mitchell Trubisky has had an uncharacteristic journey in the NFL thus far. After being selected as the number two overall pick, he had a rookie season where he threw 7 TD passes versus 7 picks. He took a nice leap in his sophomore year with 24 TDs and 12 interceptions, while leading the team to its first division title since 2010.

QBs showing such a nice growth from year 1 to year 2 rarely crash down the following season, but that pretty much describes Trubisky’s third year in the league. He graded as the 30th-best QB in the NFL out of 37 qualifiers based on PFF rankings.

This situation was inexplicable. It’s not like the team had lost many key pieces on offense. What happened to Trubisky?

GM Ryan Pace has set up nicely a good QB battle in camp between Trubisky and newly acquired Nick Foles.

What’s interesting is Foles himself has had ups-and-downs in his career. He was outstanding in 2013 by throwing 27 TDs versus just 2 interceptions! He also led the Eagles to a Super Bowl in the 2017 season, after Carson Wentz went down to an injury. Foles also performed well in 2018.

However, he wasn’t so good in 2014, 2015 and more recently 2019. What type of quarterback will he be in the windy city? Who’s going to get the starting nod?

My own guess is Foles win the job early on. He is already familiar with the head coach, the QB coach and the offensive coordinator. Learning the playbook won’t be as difficult as if these guys had never worked together in the past.

Backup QB Chase Daniel left for a division rival: the Detroit Lions.

Overall, adding Foles over Daniel is clearly an upgrade over 2019, while also keeping in mind the fact that Trubisky may return to his previous form (which is not impossible for a young guy like him).

2.2 Running Backs (RBs)

What the heck happened to Tarik Cohen? I have always liked small and fast guys. For this reason, he had become one of my favorite guys to watch. Watching him last year (and the entire offense) was sad.

His yards per rush average went from 4.5 to 3.3. His yards per catch average went from 10.2 to 5.8. He couldn’t get going all season long.

In 2017 and 2018, Jordan Howard and Tarik Cohen were a great version of the thunder-and-lightning combo. Despite losing Howard, the production wasn’t supposed to drop significantly because of the acquisition of David Montgomery through the draft.

That’s not how things played out. The team went from 11th to 27th place in terms of rushing yards per game (from 2018 to 2019). Montgomery finished the year with a disappointing 3.7 yards per carry average.

Both Montgomery and Cohen will be back in 2020. Perhaps they’ll do better this year, but I don’t expect a huge upgrade either.

2.3 Wide Receivers (WRs)

Finally a guy that has produced consistent results in this offense: Allen Robinson!

Catching 98 balls for 1,147 yards and 7 TDs despite such bad QB play was phenomenal! You can count on him to generate good numbers again, especially in a contract year.

A former second-round pick, Anthony Miller caught 52 passes last season after catching 33 the year before. The only blemish was the number of TD receptions, which went from 7 to 2.

Miller started the year slowly following an offseason injury that made him miss some time in camp. His role could be increased after the departure of Taylor Gabriel.

The Bears pulled the plug on the Taylor Gabriel experiment. After showing some flashes with the Falcons, he never lived up to expectations in Chicago.

Again, the production from this group may be steady in 2020.

2.4 Tight Ends (TEs)

I’m sorry Bears fans, but one of the worst free agent acquisitions, in my humble opinion, was Jimmy Graham for two years and $16 million. The price paid versus the production doesn’t make sense at all.

If you look at his numbers, you can see a clear decline. His first seven seasons were a success; his lowest mark according to PFF during that time span was 74.7. Then, he received a 66.0 grade in 2017. And then 59.6 in 2018, followed by 58.0 last year. To make matters worse, remember that the last two years were with the Packers, who happen to have a quarterback named Aaron Rodgers (have you heard of him?).

Trey Burton was another huge disappointment last year. After catching 54 passes a couple of years ago, he only caught 14 in eight games. He was released and picked up by the Colts.

The team drafted Cole Kmet in the second round in this year’s draft. He’s a classic tight end who can do a little bit of everything. He provides good run blocking, albeit sometimes a bit inconsistent. He doesn’t have that much experience as a pass catcher since he only started racking up decent stats last year, but he has a big catch radius. He will likely need time to develop into a solid starter.

The Bears also have Adam Shaheen in their roster, a 2nd round pick from the 2017 draft. He has bust written all over him.

As if they didn’t have enough tight ends, Chicago went on to sign Demetrius Harris, formerly of the Browns. He graded as the 66th-best tight end out of 66 qualifiers. Enough said.

This group did very little last year. A bunch of six guys combined for 46 catches. Despite the questionable moves, I expect a small upgrade. Perhaps Graham can magically rejuvenate his career?

2.5 Offensive Line (OL)

Four out of five starters are returning: Cody Whitehair, James Daniels, Charles Leno and Bobby Massie. Only Daniels graded as above-average; the others finished in the middle of the pack (or even lower).

Kyle Long announced his retirement, while semi-starter Cornelius Lucas left for Washington. The new starter on the OL will be Germain Ifedi, who made at least 13 starts in each of his first four seasons in the league (all with the Seahawks).

In summary, we have a not-so great starter being replace by a not-so great player. Therefore, we can expect similar results to 2019, which was average play.

2020 VS 2019 OFFENSE

Inconsistency is a recurring theme for many players from this unit: Trubisky, Foles and Cohen.

My final conclusion is a small upgrade over 2019, mainly because of the QB position. The chances are fairly good that either Foles provides a spark, or Trubisky regains his 2018 form. However, don’t expect a MVP-type of season for any one of them.

The rest of the offense should expect similar output. Acquiring Jimmy Graham and Germain Ifedi is nothing to write home about, just as losing Taylor Gabriel isn’t a big loss either.

Final call (2020 vs 2019): Small upgrade

3. Defensive Position-by-Position Breakdown

3.1 Defensive Linemen (DLs)

The interior defenders did a fairly good job. Roy Robertson-Harris, Nick Williams and Eddie Goldman all graded as above-average DLs in 2019. Only Bilal Nichols received poor grades, but he played less often.

Nick Williams left for Detroit, but the Bears expect to get Akiem Hicks in 2020. He suited up for just five games last year. He’s been a dominating force for them the previous three years. His return on the field will make a big difference.

So, despite Williams’ departure, this group should do better in 2020 than the year before, mainly because of Hicks’ return.

3.2 Defensive Ends (DEs) / Edge Rushers (ED)

Khalil Mack’s sack production went down in 2019 with “only” 8.5. He had recorded 12.5, 10.5, 11 and 15 in its previous four campaigns. Still, Mack finished as the #14 edge defender out of 107 guys. He is constantly disrupting plays from opposing offenses.

The Bears lost Leonard Floyd who went to the Rams, but they quick found a replacement with Robert Quinn, coming over from Dallas. Floyd is two years younger and averaged 4.6 sacks per season, while Quinn has gotten 8.9 sacks per year over his nine-year career. Quinn is a better pass rusher, while Floyd plays the run better.

All in all, I expect similar results as 2019 from this unit.

3.3 Linebackers (LBs)

One more guy who saw a dip in productivity was Roquan Smith. After receiving a 67.0 grade in his rookie season, he only got 52.4 last year. He played the run well, but his coverage and pass rushing weren’t nearly as good in 2019. I do believe the former #8 pick overall can come back very strong in 2020.

Danny Trevathan missed six games because of an injury, but he played pretty well when he was on the field. I am not worried about him.

Backups Nick Kwiatkoski and Kevin Pierre-Louis both left in free agency. Both played very well while filling in for injured starters. Their losses take a blow to Chicago’s linebacker depth.

3.4 Cornerbacks (CBs)

Kyle Fuller and Prince Amukamara were the clear starters in 2019. Despite finishing as PFF’s number 41 CB out of 112 qualifiers, Amukamara was released by the Bears for cap reasons.

Still, the team needs to replace him. Can Buster Skrine or Kevin Toliver assume that #2 role? I’m not so sure about that…

Chicago hopes to fill the void via the selection of Jaylon Johnson in the 2nd round last April. The number one concern about him is health; he has undergone through three shoulder surgeries over the years.

Johnson’s speed and explosiveness are below average, but he makes up for it with great competitiveness and smart-play.

3.5 Safeties (S)

We are rounding the defensive side of the ball with the safeties. Things were pretty simple in 2019, as both Ha Ha Clinton-Dix and Eddie Jackson played 99% of the defensive snaps. They ranked 19th and 46th out of 87 safeties, respectively, according to PFF.

The problem is Clinton-Dix is gone to Dallas. Last year the Bears vacated the vacancy created at the safety position when Adrian Amos left for Green Bay by acquiring Clinton-Dix, but now that he’s also gone they have a glaring hole at the position.

2020 VS 2019 DEFENSE

The Bears allowed the fourth-fewest points in the league last season. Can we expect a similary good 2020 season? I doubt it.

First, the good news. Akiem Hicks is back from an injury that made him miss 11 games and the team acquired steady sack producer Robert Quinn from Dallas.

The bad news? Losing DL Nick Williams, DE Leonard Floyd, LBs Nick Kwiatkoski and Kevin Pierre-Louis, CB Prince Amukamara and S Ha-Ha Clinton-Dix. That’s a lot of bodies that need to be replaced. We’re talking about at least 4 new starters and some key depth.

Overall, my guess is it takes a moderate blow to the Bears’ defense. Their front seven is likely to remain very good, but the secondaries worry me. I wouldn’t fall off my chair if the team went from 4th-best in points allowed to the 10th-12th range.

Final call (2020 vs 2019): Moderate downgrade

4. Regular Season Wins

According to sportsbooks, the Chicago Bears are expected to win 8.5 games this season. Should we bet the “over” or the “under”?

Here is the methodology I used in order to answer this vital question:

Here are the results:

Estimated Probability Sportsbook Odds ROI
OVER 8.5 WINS 38% Pinnacle +148 -5.8%
UNDER 8.5 WINS 62% MyBookie.ag -130 +9.7%

Here are BetOnline’s point spreads for the Bears’ 16 regular season games:

Note: The “Best odds” from the table above were obtained after looking at 13 well-known online sportsbooks on May 18th, 2020.

TOMORROW: I'll talk about the team whose ROI is the 25th-highest in the league, the Green Bay Packers!

I hope you found this article insightful, thanks for reading!

Professor MJ
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Top 10 Worst Browns Losses by Decade (2010's Version)

As promised....
10. 2019, Week 5 @ SF: 49ers 31, Browns 3
9. 2018, Week 7 @ TB: Buccaneers 26, Browns 23 (OT)
8. 2018, Week 2 @ NO: Saints 21, Browns 18
7. 2014, Week 14 vs. IND: Colts 25, Browns 24
6. 2013, Week 14 @ NE: Patriots 27, Browns 26
5. 2017, Week 17 @ PIT: Steelers 28, Browns 24
4. 2017, Week 14 vs. GB: Packers 27, Browns 21
3. 2015, Week 12 vs. BAL: Ravens 33, Browns 27
2. 2019, Week 6 vs. SEA: Seahawks 32, Browns 28
1. 2018, Week 4 @ OAK: Raiders 45, Browns 42 (OT)
Don't kill me plz.
submitted by bigmansteveg to Browns [link] [comments]

Will the Tennessee Titans win OVER/UNDER 8.5 games? By University Stats Prof!

1. Introduction

Tennessee’s season completely turned around once they benched quarterback Marcus Mariota in favor of Ryan Tannehill.

After a 2-4 start, the Titans won seven of their final 10 games to sneak into the playoffs as the 6th seed in the AFC. Fun fact: it was the fourth straight season that the Titans finished with a 9-7 record!

In the playoffs, they knocked off the defending Super Bowl champions New England Patriots, as well as the top seed in the conference, the Baltimore Ravens. Derrick Henry ran like a mad man in those games, becoming the first player in NFL history to rack up at least 175 rushing yards in two games in the same postseason.

In the AFC Conference Championship Game, Tennessee grabbed a 17-7 lead in the second quarter, but couldn’t hold off the Chiefs any longer in a 35-to-24 defeat.

2. Offensive Position-by-Position Breakdown

2.1 Quarterbacks (QBs)

Ryan Tannehill was clearly one of the best Cinderella stories in 2019. After taking over as the starting QB over Marcus Mariota, he led the league in QB rating.

He crushed his previous career-high in completion percentage with as astounding 70.3%; his personal best was 66.4% in 2014.

During his first six years in Miami, he posted a 123:75 TD:INT mark. That equates to a 1.64 ratio. In 2019, he threw 22 TD passes versus 6 interceptions, which amounts to a 3.7 ratio. As you can see, once again he obliterated his past numbers.

The team thinks he can keep playing at that level after handing him a hefty contract. I do believe he’ll do a good job in 2020, but not at the 2019 levels, obviously.

As of now, the backup QB is Logan Woodside since Mariota signed with the Raiders. Woodside was drafted in the 7th round of the 2018 draft out of Toledo. During preseason games, he completed 46-of-76 passes (a 60.5% completion rate) for 539 yards with 4 TDs and no interception. It’s hard to tell what he can bring to the table.

2.2 Running Backs (RBs)

Derrick Henry was a true beast last year. He won the rushing title with 1,540 rushing yards and 16 TDs on the ground (he added two more as a receiver). His 5.1 yards-per-carry average is mind-boggling considering the high volume.

He didn’t slow down in the playoffs. After rushing for 182 yards in New England, he single-handedly destroyed the Ravens with 195 rushing yards. He was quieter in K.C. by accumulating 69 yards on the ground.

Few people remember how he finished the previous year on a high note as well. In the final four meetings of the 2018 season, he averaged 146 rushing yards and 1.75 rushing TDs per contest. Obviously, he followed up with a season to remember.

Henry’s numbers have steadily increased every single year since he joined the league in 2016. Now 26 years old, defensive coordinators must be getting up at night to game plan against him.

Dion Lewis was a nice change-of-pace back, even though he didn’t have a great year. At least he had NFL experience, which is not the case of the remaining potential backup backs. Both Dalyn Dawkins and David Fluellen are undrafted guys who have combined for 19 rushing attempts in the league.

Tennessee filled a need by drafting Darrynton Evans in last April’s draft. The third-rounder complements Henry’s skillset well, as Evans can spell him on passing third-down situations (a role that used to be played by Dion Lewis). Also, he isn’t great running inside the tackles due to his small size, but he is more of a change-of-pace runner who has home-run hitting capacities.

2.3 Wide Receivers (WRs)

Rookie A.J. Brown was hyped as a big-play guy, and he did not disappoint. He didn’t catch that many balls, but when he did he made the most of it.

The Mississippi product led all receivers that caught at least 50 passes with a jaw-dropping 20.2 yards-per-catch average. He scored 8 TDs, while also topping the 1,000 receiving-yard mark (he had 1,051).

Will former #5 overall pick Corey Davis live up to his draft status? It seems unlikely after watching his first three years as a pro. He raised hopes by posting a 65-891-4 receiving line in 2018, but he regressed to 43-601-2 last year. Talent and youth play on his side, though. He may not be a true No. 1 wideout, but he can clearly do the job as a number two or three receiver.

Adam Humphries is an efficient, yet not explosive player. He is good to pick up key first downs. He caught more than 70% of his targets in his final two years in Tampa, and he reached that goal once again in his first season in Tennessee.

Was he worth a four-year deal worth $36 million? Probably not, but having him as your slot receiver is a bonus. His numbers were down last year, but he will be a useful tool as a 27-year old this year.

Tajae Sharpe also made a nice contribution last year with 25 receptions, 329 yards and 4 TDs. He was a nice luxury to have on your roster, but he signed with the Vikings during the offseason.

2.4 Tight Ends (TEs)

Jonnu Smith and Delanie Walker received the most playing time at tight end.

Walker did a decent job, but father time seems to have caught up to him. After being very durable for 11 years, he stayed healthy for just one game in 2018 and seven games last year. Accordingly, the team cut ties with him as he was going to enter his age-36 campaign.

Walker’s absence gave more room for Jonnu Smith to shine. The 2017 third-rounder has seen his numbers increase every year. His 35-439-3 receiving line is nothing to write home about. He could make a jump in 2020, but don’t expect huge steps.

Anthony Firkser will be back with the squad. He doesn’t have the size and speed to become a great TE, but he does a fine job for a guy that was never drafted.

MyCole Pruitt will be the #3 TE. He has never caught more than 10 passes in any of his five years in the NFL. Enough said.

2.5 Offensive Line (OL)

Ben Jones has done a great job at the pivot throughout his entire eight-year career. He raised his game to a higher level last year by finishing at the second-best center in the NFL according to PFF grades. He’s been an awesome pickup when acquired from the Texas a few years ago.

Right tackle Jack Conklin broke the bank in Cleveland, which left a glaring hole in Tennessee. He was a very solid player, and Dennis Kelly or Isaiah Wilson will try to fill his shoes.

Kelly has received his two best PFF grades of his seven-year career in 2018 and 2019, which is a good sign. However, he doesn’t play at the same level as Conklin.

The organization figures to have a better chance at replacing Conklin adequately with Isaiah Wilson, who was taken late in the first round of this year’s draft. This guy weighted close to 400 pounds coming out of high school! He is a mauler.

The rookie needs work for both his footwork and technique, which led to uneven play in college. He has exceptional physical traits and high potential, but may not be great right from the start.

At left tackle, Taylor Lewan is a cornerstone of this offensive line. He’s been good his whole career, never receiving a PFF mark below 76.4, which is remarkable!

Rodger Saffold is the starting left guard for the Titans. He ranked as the sixth-best guard in the NFL last year; needless to say he’s been a valuable piece of the puzzle for this franchise.

The weakest link is Nate Davis at right guard. The third-round rookie struggled big-time last year.

2020 VS 2019 OFFENSE

The Titans did not make a single free agent acquisition on offense.

They lost some depth with the departures of RB Dion Lewis and WR Tajae Sharpe. The team hopes 3rd round pick Darrynton Evans can spell Henry appropriately.

The backup QB will also be weaker due to Mariota leaving for Vegas. And despite his advanced age, Delanie Walker was a decent TE, although he only appeared in seven games last year.

The biggest loss occurred on the offensive line. Seeing Jack Conklin go to the Jets hurts the team. Rookie Isaiah Wilson will do his best to hold the fort, but he is unlikely to play at the same level as Conklin in his first year as a pro.

Finally, how could we expect better production out of Ryan Tannehill in 2020 as opposed to his 2019 heroics?

In conclusion, I am tagging the Titans offense with a moderate downgrade in comparison to 2019.

Final call (2020 vs 2019): Moderate downgrade

3. Defensive Position-by-Position Breakdown

3.1 Defensive Linemen (DLs)

Jurrell Casey is a strong run stuffer, while also averaging 5.7 sacks per year over a nine-year period. He was traded to Denver for cap reasons, which will hurt Tennessee’s interior of the line a lot.

With Casey gone, the team will hand a much heavier workload to Jeffery Simmons. After missing the first seven games due to a knee injury, he showed fairly good promise as a #19 overall pick from the 2019 draft. His sophomore year will be critical.

The team will also rely on DaQuan Jones to step up his game. He is an above-average DL, whose main strength is defending the run. He only has seven sacks in six years.

The Titans lost some depth as Austin Johnson went to the Giants.

3.2 Defensive Ends (DEs) / Edge Rushers (ED)

Harold Landry played twice as many snaps in his sophomore year as his rookie season, and he doubled his sack total (going from 4.5 to 9 to lead the team in that category). He graded as the 62nd-best edge defender in the league out of 107 players. He has the potential to take a leap.

The team hopes to improve its pass rush by adding Vic Beasley, formerly of the Falcons. His numbers are a bit puzzling. He led the league with 15.5 sacks in his second season back in 2016. Since then, he has posted 5, 5 and 8 sacks.

Those are not bad numbers, but they are clearly below expectations coming from a fellow that was the 8th overall selection in the 2015 draft. Also, he is a liability in run defense. In other words, he’s been more name than game recently.

Kamalei Correa racked up five sacks despite playing 39% of the snaps. He had just 3.5 sacks over his first three years as a pro. He’s not a game breaker.

Reggie Gilbert is a role player. The undrafted guy has 4.5 sacks in three years is no more than depth.

3.3 Linebackers (LBs)

Jayon Brown and Rashaan Evans are the leaders of this group. Based on draft status, Evans is supposed to be the superior player, but that wasn’t the case at all last year.

Evans received poor marks from PFF with a 47.6 grade; he obtained spot #74 out of 89 LBs. He struggled a lot in coverage and wasn’t that great rushing the passer. He does a fine job defending the run though.

As for Brown, his 68.8 PFF grade allowed him to finish as the 20th-best linebacker in the league. His sack total went from 6 in 2018 down to just one a year ago. The former fifth-rounder will try to bring that number back up this season.

Wesley Woodyard’s career is clearly on the decline. He lost his starting job, his PFF grades are falling, he’s 34 years old and he is now a free agent after the Titans failed to re-sign him.

3.4 Cornerbacks (CBs)

Adoree’ Jackson is the team’s number 1 CB. He was the 18th overall pick from the 2017 draft. Even though he has only two career interceptions, he is still a fairly solid coverage guy. He constantly ranks among the upper tier.

Logan Ryan played almost all defensive snaps last year and he filled the scoresheet more than ever in his seven-year career. He had career-highs in tackles (113), sacks (4.5) and forced fumbles (4). He also picked off four passes, his second-best performance.

Yet, he graded as an average corner by taking the 62nd rank out of 112 CBs because of ordinary run defense and coverage skills. The Titans couldn’t meet his salary demands, so he left via free agency.

Malcolm Butler finished once again in the middle of the pack among all NFL cornerbacks last year. The Super Bowl XLIX hero has seen his PFF grades decrease in each of the past three seasons, but he still manages to intercept 2-4 passes every year. He missed seven games last year with a broken wrist.

LeShaun Sims played 30% of the snaps, while producing poor play on the field. He’s never been a good corner, but he still found a new home in Cincinnati when the Bengals signed him in March.

The Titans took Kristian Fulton late in the 2nd round this year. Many reports suggest he’ll be an average NFL starter. He is best in man coverage due to his physicality. He lost the entire 2017 season when he was caught trying to tamper with a PED test sample, where he submitted a friend’s urine.

3.5 Safeties (S)

Kevin Byard is one of the league’s highest paid safety and he deserves it. He has 17 interceptions over the last three years. In those seasons, his PFF rankings were 4th, 3rd and 10th among close to 90 qualifiers.

Byard turned out to be a huge bargain as a former third-round pick out of Middle Tennessee State. Now 27 years old, there is no reason to believe his play will deteriorate in 2020.

Kenny Vaccaro is well known among fans, even though his play is not great. He probably gets recognition due to his former first-round status, but his best PFF grade was 66.7 back in 2013. Just to give you an idea, such a mark would have yielded him the #48 spot out of 87 safeties last year. And that was his best season.

Amani Hooker played 30% of the snaps last year as a rookie. The Titans had actually traded up to secure his rights during the 2019 draft. He did a decent job, but the jury is still out about the fourth-rounder’s future.

2020 VS 2019 DEFENSE

The Titans allowed the 12th-fewest points in the league last year. Should be expect better or worse play in 2020?

Jurrell Casey’s presence will be missed in a big way on the interior of the line. Also, not getting CB Logan Ryan back is hardly good news. Overall, he was an above-average corner who was constantly on the field and has been very durable in his career.

The only good addition is Vic Beasley. I feel like he’s overrated since his sack numbers are lower than what most people think and due to poor run defense, but he still has valuable pass rushing abilities.

Based on this information, I anticipate a small downgrade from this unit.

Final call (2020 vs 2019): Small downgrade

4. Regular Season Wins

According to sportsbooks, the Titans are expected to win 8.5 games this season. Should we bet the “over” or the “under”?

Here is the methodology I used in order to answer this vital question:

Here are the results:

Estimated Probability Sportsbook Odds ROI
OVER 8.5 WINS 50.9% FanDuel -110 -2.8%
UNDER 8.5 WINS 49.1% Pinnacle +129 +12.4%

Tip: Bet UNDER 8.5 wins
Return On Investment (ROI): +12.4%
Rank: 22nd-highest ROI out of 32 teams
Minimum odds required to bet (i.e. ROI = 0%): +104

Here are BetOnline’s point spreads for the Titans’ 16 regular season games:

Note: The “Best odds” from the table above were obtained after looking at 13 well-known online sportsbooks on May 18th, 2020.

I hope you found this article informative, I've got every NFL team covered so check out my other posts! Have a nice day!

Professor MJ
submitted by David-MJ to sportsbook [link] [comments]

Indianapolis Colts Top 5: Quarterbacks

Indianapolis Colts Top 5: Quarterbacks
With the season (hopefully) on the way I thought I'd put together some lists for top 5 players at each position in Indianapolis (not Baltimore) Colts history. I'll start with QB, and work my way through. This list is purely my opinion as a die hard fan since the early Manning days, and if you think I have no clue what I'm talking about, please feel free to let me know.
Fun fact, out of the 26 QBs to start a game for the Indy Colts there are only 7 players that have a winning record. Three of them are Colts legends Josh Freeman, Gary Hogeboom, and Craig Erickson.

5. Jack Trudeau

https://preview.redd.it/a54mr7g9g3b51.jpg?width=361&format=pjpg&auto=webp&s=2d086a51719ff08e2c1a8cb651100c0a37f8458f
Years Record Playoffs Comp % Yards TDs INTs Y/A Rating
198-93 18-29 0-1 52.9 9,647 41 62 6.3 64.4

How He Got Here

After the complete disaster that was attempting to draft John Elway #1 in 1983, the then Baltimore Colts stuck with Mike Pagel at QB, who had just led them to a winless season in 1982. Team owner Robert Irsay decided to move the team to Indianapolis before the 1984 season the team stuck with Pagel as their main QB despite him clearly not being their future at the position. This led to 2 season with losing records and last place finishes in the AFC East. Entering the 1986 draft, the Colts were clearly looking for a franchise player at QB. The obvious choice was Jim Everett out of Purdue, but unfortunately he was selected #3 to the Houston Oilers when the Colts had the #4 pick. Instead of drafting the only other franchise QB in the draft, Mark Rypien, the Colts decided to select promising Illinois QB Jack Trudeau in the 2nd round. Trudeau had shown a lot of promise in his career, leading Illinois to a Rose Bowl in 1984 and finishing 2nd in the Davey O'Brien Award (Best College QB) to Doug Flutie. Unfortunately for him and the Colts, this talent would not translate well to the NFL

Colts Career

After trading Mike Pagel to the Browns the starting job was set for Trudeau entering the 1986 season. Unfortunately the Colts were still a very bad team overall and Trudeau was not set to overcome that. In 11 starts he had 8 TDs, 18 INTs, and a 48.9% completion rate for an 0-11 record. It was immediately clear he was not the savior the Colts needed to bring legitimate football to Indy.
Fortunately, a contract dispute between Hall of Fame RB Eric Dickerson allowed the Colts to trade for Dickerson midway through the 1987 season. Dickerson was an immediate breath of life to the fledgling Indianapolis Colts franchise and helped lead them to their first playoff berth. Trudeau shared starting duties with Gary Hogeboom, and both were successful in not screwing things up too bad, giving the ball to Dickerson, and staying out of the damn way. Trudeau started in his only playoff game and actually played decently well: 251 yards, 2 TDs, and 1 INT, but it wasn't enough as the Colts lost 38-21 to the Bernie Kosar led Cleveland Browns who would eventually lose in via "The Drive" in the AFC Championship.
It was clear the Colts would need a better QB to compliment their new superstar in Dickerson, and thus they drafted future Pro Bowler Chris Chandler in the 3rd round in 1988. However, Chris Chandler was most definitely not a Pro Bowler for the Colts. Chandler didn't impress despite an 9-7 overall record, and was replaced by Trudeau following a bad start to the 1989 season. Trudeau had his best year as a pro in 1989: 2,317 yards, 15 TDs, 13 INTs, but the Colts still finished 8-8 and outside of the playoffs.
Trudeau was improving, but was still clearly not the QB of the future, which they hoped to get by trading All-Pro Tackle Chris Hinton, Future All-Pro WR Andre Rison, and the #3 Pick in 1991 for the #1 Pick in 1990 which they used to draft QB Jeff George (Wow). Trudeau was kept as the backup and was a spot starter for the Colts from 1990-93. Despite the horrific play of George, Trudeau couldn't muster much better in his limited playing time and was released in 1994.

My favorite highlight

https://youtu.be/kM0APJieAME?t=678

Legacy

Jack Trudeau was at best a mediocre QB you could somewhat rely on to manage the game and allow more talented players to make plays. Unfortunately the late 80s, early 90s Colts didn't have too many of those so his play suffered as well. His numbers aren't great and he wasn't much beloved by Colts fans, but he did help lead the Colts to their first playoff appearance which helped me put him on the list over Matt Hasselbeck and others. Trudeau has actually hung around Indy doing various radio and TV appearances talking about the Colts and even has a couple of DUIs as well.

4. Jacoby Brissett

https://preview.redd.it/96cmm0sag3b51.jpg?width=1200&format=pjpg&auto=webp&s=4a578fcdd25c1a0830d6d6b7fc8b5dde43309455
Years Record Playoffs Comp % Yards TDs INTs Y/A Rating
2017- 11-19 0-0 59.8 6,042 31 13 6.6 84.6

How He Got Here

The Colts had their franchise QB in Andrew Luck, but leading up to the 2017 season it was revealed during the preseason Luck had a shoulder injury which would eventually lead to him missing the entire 2017 season. This left the Colts scrambling as they knew QB Scott Tolzien was not the answer at QB, so 8 days before the start of the season the new GM Chris Ballard traded 1st round bust Phillip Dorsett for 3rd string QB for the Patriots Jacoby Brissett. Brissett had looked at least competent spot starting for the suspended Tom Brady and hurt Jimmy Garoppolo in 2016, so he was the best option the Colts had available so close to the beginning of the season.

Colts Career

Bringing in a new QB for a team 8 days before the start of the season and asking him to play is like asking a train engineer to launch a rocket to the moon, so Tolzien started week 1 for Colts. He continued to not impress going into week 2, and was replaced for Brissett. Brissett was an improvement, but it was clear he was overwhelmed by the change of scenery and the rest of the Colts roster and staff was not talented enough to make up for it. He finished with competent numbers: 3,098 yards, 13 TDs, 7 INTs, 58.8% completion rate, 6.6 Y/A, but was merely a game manager for a bad team as the Colts finished 4-12.
Andrew Luck was ready to return in 2018 and the Colts were willing to give Brissett the benefit of the doubt and kept him on as the backup. The Colts saw a major resurgence with Luck and an incredible draft and free agent class by Chris Ballard, leading to their first playoff appearance since 2015, eventually losing to the Patrick Mahomes led Chiefs. The Colts were looking to improve going into 2019, but a now too familiar announcement led up to the season when it was revealed a calf injury was going to cause Andrew Luck to retire 2 weeks before the start of the regular season. The spotlight was once again shown on Jacoby Brissett, who was asked to take over Luck's team. Fortunately this time Brissett was able to get all the first team reps in the preseason leading up to week 1 and was much more familiar with the system.
That familiarity paid off as Brissett led the Colts to a 5-2 start, including wins over playoff teams like the Texans and Titans along with the eventual Super Bowl champion Kansas City Chiefs. Brissett was not putting up All-Pro numbers, but had clearly improved from 2017 and was still not making game losing mistakes. Through week 9 he had 190 YPG, 11 TDs, and 6 INTs, and and the eye test had shown he was a good leader and could occasionally make big plays when needed. However, after a knee sprain in week 10 he was clearly not the same player. His injury either hampered his physical abilities or his confidence but his poor play for the rest of the season allowed the Colts to fall to 7-9, including an embarrassing 34-7 loss to the Saints that I made the trip over to New Orleans for and watched as Brissett sailed the ball over every receiver's head. Brissett will likely be the backup for the 2020 season behind free agent Phillip Rivers, but he's shown enough flashes of ability that his career is long from over, whether that ends up being on the Colts or somewhere else in the league.

My favorite highlight

https://youtu.be/Q1bFNE0CGXY?t=287

Legacy

I believe I'm with the majority of Colts fans in that when I see Jacoby Brissett I see somewhat of a tragic figure. He got thrown to the wolves in 2017 and did the best he could, but was basically set up to fail. It's honestly not too much of a stretch to say his play through week 9 of 2019 was the best QB play by an Indy Colts QB not named Manning, Luck, or Harbaugh. You could tell he was well-liked by both fans and teammates, especially through the first half of 2019, but his limitations as a player were clear. Colts fans have been spoiled in the 21st century by 2 all-time great QBs, so any deviation from that, especially when it's not by a QB we drafted #1 overall, will be seen as a major failure. I think people came down a little too hard on Jacoby by the end of 2019, and that he's still a solid pro capable of being the QB on a winning team in the right situation. However, he showed in the 2nd half of 2019 that situation is probably not in Indy going forward.

3. Jim Harbaugh

https://preview.redd.it/ka0f9imcg3b51.jpg?width=300&format=pjpg&auto=webp&s=f34fa86258b0e403bfe000b84ba246bcf11dfc42
Years Record Playoffs Comp % Yards TDs INTs Y/A Rating
1994-97 20-26 2-2 60.7 8,705 49 26 7.1 86.6

How He Got Here

The Colts had come out of the Eric Dickerson/Jeff George era looking like an absolute dumpster fire. The Colts had been in Indy for 10 years and Indy was still very much a basketball town. The only signature player the Indy Colts had was Eric Dickerson, and he had a very sour exit in 1992 after 2 bad years. The Indianapolis Colts were still in the woods, searching for the player that could give their franchise hope that they would be treated as a legitimate threat in the NFL and generate significant interest from the fanbase. That hope came from an unlikely source in Jim Harbaugh. Harbaugh had led the Chicago Bears to 2 playoff appearances in the late Mike Ditka-era, but his play had fallen off and by 1994 he looked somewhat washed. The desperate Colts made a surprisingly wise decision in not drafting QBs Heath Schuler or Trent Dilfer. Instead they drafted future Hall of Fame RB Marshall Faulk to replace Eric Dickerson (this is the "Who the hell is Mel Kiper?" draft) and signing Jim Harbaugh.

Colts Career

Harbaugh didn't come out guns blazing in 1994 as he traded starting duties with Green Bay castoff Don Majkowski. Harbaugh put up decent numbers but the Colts finished 4-5 in games Harbaugh started, 8-8 overall. Harbaugh entered the 1995 season as no sure thing, the Colts actually traded their 1996 first round pick for young Tampa QB Craig Erickson in another baffling trade for an unproven QB. Erickson and Harbaugh competed for the starting position in training camp and Erickson was selected as the starter by head coach Ted Marchibroda.
Erickson played poorly the first 2 weeks, being replaced and outplayed by Harbaugh in both games. By week 3 Harbaugh was the full time starter and didn't look back. Harbaugh was showing that he meshed well with new Offensive Coordinator Lindy Infante as Harbaugh put up some of the most efficient passing numbers of any QB in the NFL in 1995: 2,575 yards, 17 TDs, 5 INTs, 63.7% completion rate, and a league leading passer rating of 100.7 (ahead of guys like Brett Favre, Troy Aikman, Steve Young, and Dan Marino). Even more importantly he was a becoming the tough effective leader to energize the entire team, leading the Colts to 4 game winning drives that season, including one over the 1994 Super Bowl champion 49ers. The Colts were just outside of the playoffs going into week 17, but Harbaugh led the Colts to a win over the Drew Bledsoe led Patriots in the RCA Dome to sneak the Colts into the playoffs at 9-7. Harbaugh earned his first Pro Bowl appearance along with NFL Comeback Player of the Year.
The Colts were going into the playoffs as 5.5 point underdogs against the San Diego Chargers, a team they had just lost to in week 16. However, thanks to 3 TDs from Harbaugh and an out-of-nowhere 147 yard, 2 TD performance from rookie FB Zach Crockett, the Colts overcame the odds. They were heading into a gauntlet of Arrowhead stadium against the best defense in the league and a Marcus Allen led 13-3 Kansas City Chiefs. In an ugly game where the wind chill was -15oF, luck worked in the Colts favor. Harbaugh didn't throw well, but picked up several key 1st down with his legs. He had 1 INT and 3 fumbles, but fortunately lost 0. Chiefs QB Steve Bono had 3 INTs and K Lin Elliot went 0/3 on field goals in a season where he made 80%. Colts K Cary Blanchard made 1/3, and that was enough to upset the heavily-favored Chiefs 10-7. Harbaugh's most defining moment as the Colts QB would come in the AFC Championship against the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Harbaugh's cinderella story continued on against Bill Cowher and Neil O'Donnell's Steelers. The Colts and Steelers traded scores throughout the game. With 8 minutes left in the 4th quarter, Harbaugh threw a dime to WR Floyd Turner for a 47 yard touchdown to put the Colts up 16-13. Unfortunately the Colts couldn't run out enough clock on their next drive and the Steelers rushed down the field for the go-ahead score to put them up 20-16. Harbaugh wasn't done yet. With 88 seconds needing 84 yards, Harbaugh willed the Colts down the field to the Steelers' 29-yard line for a hail mary shot with 5 seconds left. Harbaugh tossed up a prayer that was very nearly caught by Colts WR Aaron Bailey, but he couldn't come up with it. The Cinderella story was over, but it was a defining moment for the Colts franchise. The 1995 Colts were within a hair of making the Super Bowl, and that 1995 playoff run led by Harbaugh created a real fanbase for them.
Harbaugh's stats regressed some in 1996, but he still led the Colts to a 9-7 record and the playoffs, this time getting whooped by the Steelers in the wild card. In 1997 his stats improved some but the wheels fell off of the team as they started off 0-10, eventually falling to 3-13. Fortunately their record would net them the #1 pick in the 1998 draft. After it was clear the Colts were using the pick on QB they traded Harbaugh to the Ravens.

My favorite highlight

https://youtu.be/FT4vF24WanE?t=155

Legacy

“A lot of people use (the word) ‘culture,’ but the attitude, everybody was team-first, from the front office, together with the coaches, together with the ownership, together with the players, the equipment staff, the training staff, I mean it felt like we were family.” - Jim Harbaugh on 1995
I don't think enough can be said about the effect of Harbaugh and that 1995 team had on the Colts. He gave us our first source of pride in the Colts and set the tone for the franchise to not be the laughingstock of the league. He paved the way for the decades of excellence that came after. Harbaugh will never be a HoF QB, but his effect on the Colts is severely underrated.
For more details on the 1995 Cinderella season, read this IndyStar article: https://www.indystar.com/story/sports/nfl/colts/2016/01/21/1995-indianapolis-colts-jim-harbaugh-aaron-bailey-afc-championship-game-ted-marchibroda/78291676/

2. Andrew Luck

https://preview.redd.it/8nh7p6pdg3b51.jpg?width=1800&format=pjpg&auto=webp&s=bc67a67720b82f9294b9283924f61d9f261e4d85
Years Record Playoffs Comp % Yards TDs INTs Y/A Rating
2012-18 53.33 4-4 60.8 23,671 171 83 7.2 89.5

How He Got Here

After a serious neck injury to franchise stalwart Peyton Manning, the Colts went from perennial playoff contender to nearly winless in 2011. It was unknown if Manning would ever be the same QB again, so the Colts opted to release their most valuable player and use their #1 pick in 2012 on a QB. There was some debate on possibly drafting the Heisman winner out of Baylor, Robert Griffin III, but new GM Ryan Grigson made no doubt in the fact that he was drafting Andrew Luck. Son of former Oilers QB Oliver Luck, Andrew Luck blossomed under head coach Jim Harbaugh to revitalize the Stanford football program while also graduating with a bachelor's degree in architectural design. Luck was hailed by nearly every scout as a can't miss prospect, having nearly every physical tool you want from a QB along with a clear handle on the mental and intangible aspects of the game.

Colts Career

Expectations for Luck were high going into 2012, but not so for the team overall. Many experts put the Colts at or near the bottom of all power rankings. Not only had the team lost Peyton Manning that year, but also many key pieces from the Manning era such as Pierre Garçon, Joseph Addai, Dallas Clark, Jeff Saturday, and Gary Brackett. To make matters worse, new head coach Chuck Pagano was diagnosed with leukemia and missed weeks 5-16. However, despite all odds, Luck led the Colts to an 11-5 record. Interim Head Coach Bruce Arians proved to be a diamond in the rough by helping Luck turn a 2-14 team that lost multiple starters into a playoff team. Luck's stats weren't always pretty: 23 TDs, 18 INTs, 54.1% completion rate, and a 76.5 rating, but he could clearly make plays happen with an absurd 7 game winning drives. The miracles came to an end with a shellacking by the eventual Super Bowl champion Baltimore Ravens in the playoffs, but this season proved Luck would be no bust, he was a force to be reckoned with.
Luck continued to grow in 2013 and 2014, improving in every category to crescendo in 2014 with a league-leading 40 TDs, 16 INTs, 61.7% completion rate, and a 96.5 rating. In 2013 he led the Colts to his first playoff victory in spectacular fashion. After being down 38-10 early in the 3rd quarter to the Alex Smith led Chiefs, Luck led a furious and unbelievable comeback 45-44 victory. Any Colts fan could tell you after seeing all the comeback victories Luck had led to never count him out, and he cemented that in this game. In 2014 Luck led the Colts past their old god of Peyton Manning in Denver in the divisional round, but were given a thorough ass-whooping in the AFC Championship by the soon-to-be Super Bowl champions New England Patriots in what is now infamously known as the "Deflategate Game."
Andrew Luck was a very physical player and was known to take many hits, sometimes making spectacular plays through those hits. However, that punishment started to pile up and wasn't helped by GM Ryan Grigson's poor draft classes and inability to build a competent offensive line to block for Luck. This culminated in the injury plagued 2015 and 2016 seasons. Luck only played 7 games in 2015 and severely regressed in every statistical category, clearly hampered by various injuries such as a lacerated kidney. Luck's stats improved in 2016, but the team did not as they finished 8-8, partially due to an astounding 7% sack of Luck. Either some of Luck's good fortune had finally run out or the team and culture built by GM Grigson had completely failed to support their superstar QB. Owner Jim Irsay bet on Luck and fired Grigson after 2016.
Hopes were high heading into 2017, but unfortunately an unknown snowboarding accident aggravated a previous shoulder injury for Luck. News was very slow to come out, but fans were shocked to find out he would likely miss the entire season 8 days before week 1. New GM Chris Ballard made a quick trade for Jacoby Brissett, but fans were worried after 3 years of being hampered by injuries Luck may never be the same player.
In 2018 we believed those doubts were proven wrong. Luck had an incredibly resurgent season, leading the new look Colts back into the playoffs for the first time since 2014 with a 10-6 record. Luck's numbers were back to form: 39 TDs, 15 INTs, and career bests of 67.3% completion rate and 98.7 rating. Fans were pleased to finally see Luck playing behind a solid offensive line that prevented which prevented him from being sacked for 5 weeks and giving him a career low 2.7% sack rate. Luck led the Colts to a Wild Card win over the Deshaun Watson's Texans, but were stopped in the cold in Arrowhead against Patrick Mahomes' Chiefs. However, hopes were high leading into 2019 that the structure given by GM Chris Ballard would protect Luck and allow him to lead us to our Super Bowl.
Sadly that did not work out as Luck appeared to have a calf injury leading up to the 2019 season. Fans held out hope he would be ready to go for the start of the season, but after the years of rehabbing Luck had finally had enough. 2 weeks before the season opener during a preseason game against the Chicago Bears it was leaked that Luck planned to retire. Fortunately his backup Jacoby Brissett was put in a better position to take his place as opposed to 2017, but the sudden and unexplained retirement of their franchise QB right before the season led to some fans to boo Luck as he left the field at Lucas Oil Stadium for the last time.

My favorite highlight

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=teNLH0p6WHs
or
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zBHhO2yWRMo
or

Legacy

Andrew Luck will forever be one of the greatest "what if?" stories in American sports history. Unlike many "what if?" stories, we got to see what we could have had with Luck. What the Colts had in Luck from 2012-14 along with 2018 was nothing short of incredible and it was clear he was improving to potentially become one of the greatest QBs in NFL history. Instead he's a tragic story where fans will forever be left to wonder what could have been with Andrew Luck. Would Luck have brought the Colts back to the Super Bowl if he he didn't play the majority of his career under the poor management of GM Ryan Grigson and HC Chuck Pagano? All we do know is that his sack rate under Grigson was 5.5%, and in one year on GM Chris Ballard's team it was 2.7%, coincidentally also one of his best statistical seasons. Peyton Manning's sack rate for his career? Tied for the NFL record with Dan Marino at 3.13%. Maybe if Luck had been better protected and coached better to avoid hits he could have made it up there with Manning, but as fans he'll forever be a "what if?" Luck seems like a smart and content man who's just starting a family, so I doubt he will ever return for any team. Even if he did we'll forever be robbed of what the best version of Andrew Luck could have been. However, in his short time here, he delivered enough incredible moments to give us hope and make us love the team. I, along with hopefully many other fans, will forever love Andrew Luck for his time with the Colts and am grateful for a helluva run.

1.Peyton Manning

https://preview.redd.it/5lr1v2heg3b51.jpg?width=1200&format=pjpg&auto=webp&s=0b42edf31a7f2e4910e9adc0dcceb11b045a8630
Years Record Playoffs Comp % Yards TDs INTs Y/A Rating
1998-11 141-67 9-10 64.9 54,828 399 198 7.6 94.9

How He Got Here

The Indianapolis Colts under Jim Harbaugh had finally established themselves as a legitimate team, but the Colts knew Harbaugh wasn't the long-term answer at QB. He was 35 going into the 1998 season and had just led the Colts to a 3-13 season, bad enough for the #1 overall pick. There was some debate about drafting Heisman finalist out of Washington, Ryan Leaf, but new GM Bill Polian made no doubt in the fact that he was drafting Peyton Manning. Leaf had some incredible athletic abilities, but there were some doubts raised about his ability to handle the mental aspects of the game. He also basically made the decision for the Colts when he skipped their draft interview, a passive-aggressive declaration he wouldn't play for the Colts. Peyton Manning, son of former Saints QB Archie Manning, was also a Heisman finalist out of Tennessee. No scout doubted Manning's ability to become a franchise QB in the NFL, but some wondered about his potential ceiling due to a complete lack of running ability and some arm strength concerns. However, he was clearly one of the most mature and mentally ready players to ever come out of college for any position.
"I'll leave you with this thought. If you take me, I promise you we will win a championship. If you don't, I promise I'll come back and kick your ass" -Peyton Manning to Colts GM Bill Polian on the day before the 1998 draft

Colts Career

The 1998 Colts were still a pretty bad team overall, and the rookie Manning was not enough to overcome that. He had one of the best statistical rookie seasons ever: 3,739 yards, 26 TDs, 28 INTs, 6.5 Y/A, and a 56.7% completion rate, setting records for yards, TDs, and INTs (yards and TDs are currently held by Andrew Luck and Baker Mayfield respectively). However, the deficiencies of the team and Manning's record number of interceptions helped give the Colts a 3-13 record, including a week 5 win over Ryan Leaf's San Diego Chargers.
Fortunately Manning helped lead one of the biggest turnarounds in NFL history in 1999, turning the 3-13 Colts in 1998 into the 13-3 Colts in 1999. People weren't exactly ready to give up on Manning after 1998, but 1999 was critical for showing Manning could improve and be at the helm of a winning team. Partially this was helped by sending Hall of Fame RB Marshall Faulk to St. Louis in exchange for the draft pick to select Hall of Fame RB Edgerrin James, who had a phenomenal rookie year. The Colts ended up losing to the Tennessee Titans in the playoffs, who had just completed the Music City Miracle the week before and would come within an ass hair of winning the Super Bowl against the Greatest Show on Turf St. Louis Rams.
Manning was up and down from 2000 to 2002, still posting good stats but missing the playoffs in 2001 ( https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-oSFYxDGKy8 ) and having first round exits in 2000 and 2002. Whispers started turning into legitimate arguments about how Peyton Manning was a good stats, dome team, regular season QB that just didn't have it in the playoffs. In 2003 Manning started his absurd streak of 12+ win seasons (7 years) and picked up his first MVP award, the first (and still only) Indy Colt to win it. He also got his first playoff wins in 2003, but was quickly put to shame in a 4 INT performance in the AFC Championship against the Patriots, now known by Colts fans as "The Ty Law Game."
The 2004 season is well known by Colts fans for cementing Manning among the all time greats. Manning was white hot all year, throwing for 4,557 yards 49 TDs, 10 INTs, and a 121.1 rating while only getting sacked 13 times. The 49 TDs was a record, which has since been broken by Tom Brady and Manning again while a member of the Broncos. Manning won MVP for the 2nd year in a row, but once again disappointed in the playoffs with a 0 TD, 1 INT performance against the Patriots in the divisional round, losing 20-3. Those arguments of Manning's postseason jitters were starting to feel more and more like reality for Colts fans. They knew they had their franchise QB, but his inability to perform in the playoffs continued to be baffling.
2005 was supposed to be the season that changed all that. Manning's numbers came back to earth somewhat, but he still posted a very efficient performance (104.1 rating) for a much improved overall team. GM Bill Polian had proved his days building the "Four Falls over Buffalo" Bills dynasty was no fluke, he now had a team with the #2 scoring offense and the #2 scoring defense. This was the year to break the Manning postseason curse. Unfortunately in one of the most upsetting games of my life, the Colts could not break that curse against the Steelers in the divisional round. Manning played relatively well: 58% completion rate, 290 yards, and 1 TD with no INTs, but watching the game the Colts struggled to maintain momentum and get stops against the rookie Ben Roethlisberger. Despite the inconsistent play, the Colts still had a shot. Steelers HoF RB Jerome Bettis attempted to ice the game with a goal line carry, but fumbled for the first time all year. With the entire Steelers offense stuffing the line, Colts CB Nick Harper was free to pick up the ball with a nearly open field ahead of him. Normally Nick Harper is one of the faster players on the field, however, as every Colts fan knows, Harper had been stabbed in the leg by his wife in a "supposedly accidental" altercation the night before. This possibly allowed the falling down Ben Roethlisberger to catch Harper by his shoe strings, preventing the nearly sure thing TD by Harper to put the Colts ahead. Instead Manning led the Colts into basically chip shot field goal position for one of the most accurate kickers in NFL history (Mike "Idiot Kicker" Vanderjagt) to tie the game. We all know what happened next. It was a shocking loss to say the least, and it was hard to blame it all on Manning, but it still felt like there was some sort of mystical VooDoo curse hanging over Manning and our franchise.
If the Colts couldn't win it all in 2005 it felt like they never would. 2006 wasn't looking like anything special compared to the past few seasons, especially considering the defense regressed from #2 in scoring in 2005 to #23 in 2006. Manning was still putting up great numbers, but those were starting to feel like an exercise in futility. Fortunately the Colts caught fire at the right time, with oft-injured All-Pro Safety Bob Sanders getting healthy towards the end of the season and the trade deadline addition of Buccaneers DT "Booger" McFarland. That momentum pushed them to an AFC Championship, where Manning would match up against the source of his ultimate playoff failures, Tom Brady and the New England Patriots. Fortunately, this time it was in the RCA Dome, not Foxborogh, MA. Manning and the Colts started off cold, being down 21-3 at one point after a Manning pick-6, but the Colts rallied behind some incredibly orchestrated drives by Manning to finally get the monkey off his back. On a last second drive, Manning drove the Colts down the field to put them ahead 38-34 with 1 minute to go. A Marlin Jackson interception of Tom Brady sealed it, Manning and the Colts were going to the Super Bowl for the first time in Indy history. Manning played well in the Super Bowl, winning the MVP against the league-best Chicago Bears defense.
Manning continued his solid play in 2007 and 2008, including his 3rd MVP in 2008. Both seasons ended with heartbreaking first round playoff exits to the San Diego Chargers, 2008's being the "Sproles and Scifres Game." 2008 also showed the first signs of physical weakness from Manning, having a knee surgery before the season that led to a slow start for the Colts. That was not the case in 2009, as Manning led the Colts to start the season 14-0. In a decision that's still derided today, new head coach Jim Caldwell decided to effectively bench Manning along with many other starters rather than go for the perfect season to prevent any injuries. Many had seen the Patriots in 2007 nearly complete the perfect season, but fall in heartbreaking fashion in the Super Bowl against a less talented Giants team. Caldwell, like many others, decided that any rust from not playing for nearly a month was worth the decreased risk of injury to his stars. That decision nearly backfired in spectacular fashion as the Colts were behind the New York Jets (a team they effectively let into the playoffs by letting them win in week 16) in the AFC Championship game until Manning led a furious comeback. It all ended poorly in the Super Bowl however as Manning threw a pick-6 to Tracy Porter that still haunts my dreams to Tracy Porter, allowing the Colts to lose to Drew Brees and his stupid baby and the New Orleans Saints.
2010 was one of the first signs of weakness from Manning. He had apparently injured his neck on this play in 2006 ( https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9gjdmww3vgM ) on a hit that would now be extremely illegal. Manning apparently aggravated that injury in the lead up to the 2010 season, and it showed in the stats as he had how lowest rating since 2002 (91.9). For most other QBs a rating of 91.9 is a pretty solid season but for Manning it was a massive fall. This led to a quick playoff exit to the Jets in the first round. In the lead up to the 2011 season, Manning had several surgeries to relieve the pain in his neck which led to him missing the entire season. It was unknown if he would ever be the same QB again, or even play again. Manning's absence showed how incredibly important he was to the franchise, the only major difference between the rosters in 2010 and 2011 is Manning, yet the Colts went 10-6 in 2010 and 2-14 in 2011. This poor record led to the Colts earning the #1 pick in the 2012 draft, which fueled their decision to release Manning and draft a QB in 2012 (Chandler Harnish...and Andrew Luck).

My favorite highlight

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DttfyOeU3vw
or
https://youtu.be/al13DoOFp78
or
https://youtu.be/UE4UgMc2QqA?t=581

Legacy

"Fellas, if 18 goes down, we're fucked, and we don't practice fucked." -Offensive Coordinator Tom Moore on why the backup QBs don't get more reps
Nothing to me cements Peyton Manning's role in Indy as much as this quote. Even his first 5 years before he became an all-time great, that was still the best sustained stretch of QB play in Indy Colts history. Once he ascended to another level in 2003, it was clear we needed to put every egg we could find into his basket. Manning was the perfect franchise QB: a steady presence on and off the field, consistent delivery of either incredible numbers or game winning performances (usually both), and he made nearly everyone else on the team a better player. His drive and commitment to team victory made him the guy every franchise needs if they want to field a consistently great team. Peyton had somewhat of an authoritarian leadership style, my way or the highway, but you can do that when you show that you're willing and able to give every ounce of yourself to the team and deliver the kind of results that he can.
I think some people are disappointed in the Manning Era considering how historically great his stats are but he was 1-1 in Super Bowls in 12 years here. Honestly I think that's not too far off for any all-time QB. Drew Brees is 1-0, Brett Favre is 1-1, Aaron Rodgers is 1-0, Fran Tarkenton is 0-3, Jim Kelly is 0-4, Dan Marino is 0-1, all of these guys are all-time great franchise QBs but it's not abnormal for them to only win 1 or lose several. There are some exceptions: Tom Brady (6-3), Joe Montana (4-0), Terry Bradshaw (4-0), and Troy Aikman (3-0), but honestly you could trade any of the former QBs for Terry Bradshaw and they would also probably be 4-0. There's lots of luck in every playing career, and some get luckier than others. The only season I'd say the Colts were "robbed" of a Super Bowl is 2005, otherwise I think Manning's Colts career went about as good as it could have.

Honorable Mentions: Matt Hasselbeck (5-3 record, probably our best backup ever) and Dan Orlovsky (just for saving us from a completely defeated season).
Dishonorable Mentions: Jeff George and Kerry Collins (being very bad at QB isn't very uncommon for Indy Colts QBs, but these guys were so bad and toxic they dragged down the abilities of everyone on the team and are actively hated by most fans)
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Will the Detroit Lions win OVER/UNDER 6.5 games? By University Stats Prof!

Will the Detroit Lions win OVEUNDER 6.5 games? By University Stats Prof!

1. Introduction

After firing Jim Caldwell following a 9-7 record in 2017, the Lions posted a 6-10 in Matt Patricia’s first year as a head coach. Things got even worse last season with a 3-12-1 record.

This is a critical year for Patricia. The team has talent for sure. If he does not right the ship, he may be gone sooner rather than later.

2. Regular Season Wins

According to sportsbooks, the Detroit Lions are expected to win 6.5 games this season. Should we bet the “over” or the “under”?

Here is the methodology I used in order to answer this vital question:

Here are the results:

Estimated probability Sportsbook Odds ROI
OVER 6.5 wins 55.9% Sports Interaction -125 +0.6%
UNDER 6.5 wins 44.1% Heritage Sports +130 +1.4%

Tip: Bet UNDER 6.5 wins
Return On Investment (ROI): +1.4%
Rank: 31st-highest ROI out of 32 teams
Minimum odds required to bet (i.e. ROI = 0%): +127

Here are BetOnline’s point spreads for the Lions’ 16 regular season games:
HOME: -1.5 vs CHI, +2 vs GB, -1 vs HOU, +1.5 vs IND, +2 vs MIN, +5.5 vs NO, +2.5 vs TB, -6 vs WAS.
ROAD: +3 @ ARI, +4 @ ATL, +1 @ CAR, +5 @ CHI, +6.5 @ GB, -1.5 @ JAX, +7 @ MIN, +6 @ TEN.

Note: The “Best odds” from the table above were obtained after looking at 13 well-known online sportsbooks on May 18th, 2020.

3. Offensive Position-by-Position Breakdown

3.1 QUARTERBACKS (QB)

I feel bad for Matthew Stafford. He has to be one of the best quarterbacks to have never won a playoff game. He’s 0-3 in the postseason and has played for many terrible teams in Detroit during his 11-year career.

He had yet another good season in 2019. He finished as the 8th-best QB in the league based on PFF rankings. He missed half the season because of injuries, but still threw 19 TD passes versus 5 picks. Prior to last year, he had not missed a single start over eight seasons, which is unbelievable! He’s a durable and tough guy.

David Blough and Jeff Driskel didn’t do very well in Stafford’s absence. That’s a big reason why the team led Driskel go, while acquiring backup Chase Daniel from the Bears. I was stunned to realize that after spending 10 years in the NFL, Daniel has only thrown 7 TDs and 5 interceptions (most of them in 2018 and 2019 with Chicago). He received decent grades from PFF and he looks to be a definitive improvement over Blough and Driskel.

3.2 RUNNING BACKS (RB)

I like what I’ve been from Kerryon Johnson over his first two seasons in the NFL. In each of those years, the former running back from Auburn was on pace to be close to a 1,000 rushing yard season, but his pro career has been marred by injuries thus far.

Beyond the stats, I thought he passed the eye test. Upon seeing him play several games, he looked like a good back. In his third year, the main goal will be to prove he can make it through a full season.

Johnson received a 66.7 grade from PFF last year, which put him in the #37 spot out of 58 RBs. I believe he can make a nice jump in 2020.

Bo Scarbrough finally saw some action last season. He did “okay”, but his main limitation is in the passing game. He’s not much of a receiver. He’s still a decent weapon to have when running between the tackles because of his big frame.

J.D. McKissic was the opposte of Scarbrough; he is undersized, but a good pass catcher. He still managed to post a lofty 5.4 yard per carry average, while catching 34 balls. However, he left for Washington.

Considering Detroit’s backfield was already crowded, drafting D’Andre Swift in the 2nd round was a puzzling move. It probably means the Lions will go with a committee approach with Johnson and Swift being the RB 1A and 1B.

Swift is a smart RB who has good vision and runs with patience; he understands and evaluates block timing very well. He is also pretty good out of the backfield; he caught many passes in college and was tagged with just three drops across 73 receptions.

3.3 WIDE RECEIVERS (WR)

Can you believe Kenny Golladay’s salary was under one million last year? What an astonishing bargain for the Lions!

Golladay solidified his position as one of the top wideouts in the league by posting a second consecutive 1,000-yard season. He also doubled his TD production by catching 11 last year versus 5 the year before.

He has a great combination of size and athleticism, which allows him to stretch the field and make contested catches in traffic. His numbers have the potential to increase even more if Stafford can stay healthy for the whole season, and considering Golladay is only 26 years old.

Marvin Jones posted a very nice 62-779-9 stat line despite missing three games. He has been a steady producer in this league, both with the Bengals and now with the Lions. A very reliable guy.

Danny Amendola has never been a top wideout: his career best is 689 receiving yards back in 2010. However, having him as your #3 receiver is a nice luxury. The main concern pertains to his age, as he is now 34. His level of play has not deteriorated yet, but we should keep an eye on this situation.

The team added even more depth by signing a younger guy: Geronimo Allison. The former Packer showed flashes during an injury-shortened 2018 season, but he really fell flat last year by catching just 34 balls despite a wide open #2 WR spot in Green Bay. He received poor grades from PFF and finished as the #111 receiver out of 122 qualifiers.

3.4 TIGHT ENDS (TE)

Was T.J. Hockenson’s rookie season a success? The jury is still out on that one.

Everyone got overly excited about his first career game, where he caught 6 passes for 131 yards and 1 TD. However, he surpassed 50 yards just once in his final 11 games (an ankle injury put him on injured reserve for the last four contests).

He was the #8 overall pick in the 2019 draft, so the expectations were high for the former Hawkeye. The adaptation to the NFL-level is not always easy for rookie tight ends, so let’s cut him some slack. He is a candidate to improve his numbers greatly in his second season, especially with Stafford back under center.

Both Logan Thomas and Jesse James caught 16 passes last year. Thomas left for Washington, which leaves James as the clear-cut #2 TE. He is an adequate backup for Detroit.

3.5 OFFENSIVE LINE (OL)

Right tackle Rick Wagner provided respectable protection to his quarterbacks during his first six seasons, but his play tailed off dramatically last year. The team released him and signed Halapoulivaati Vaitai to replace him.

Vaitai has only started 20 games in four seasons, but he played pretty well in spots with the Eagles last year and that earned him a jaw-dropping five-year, $50 million contract. That seems like a high price for a career backup, but he did grade as the 22nd-best tackle among 81 qualifiers in 2019. We’ll see if the Lions made a wise investment or not.

The other four starters all received good marks from PFF: Taylor Decker (19th out of 81 tackles), Frank Ragnow (6th out of 37 centers), Graham Glasgow (12th out of 81 guards) and Joe Dahl (27th out of 81 guards). Yet, the team finished below-average in terms of sacks allowed (19th out of 32 teams).

The bad news is Detroit also lost Graham Glasgow via free agency. He signed with the Denver Broncos. He has obtained grades above 70 by PFF in each of its past three seasons. His replacement is unlikely to match that performance.

One potential replacement is third round selection Jonah Jackson. He needs to improve as a run blocker since he tends to struggle sustaining blocks. On the other hand, he’s more comfortable in passing situations, while also excelling at processing blitzes.

2020 VS 2019 OFFENSE

The Lions scored the 18th most points in the NFL last season. That output is much more likely to go up than down.

Except on the offensive line, we notice a potential upgrade over the 2019 season at all positions.

At quarterback, having Stafford back is obviously a big boost. Also, Chase Daniel is a better back than the Blough-Driskel duo.

At running back, Kerryon Johnson missed half the season. He also has two years of experience under his belt and is ready to explode. Rookie D’Andre Swift offers an additional potential deadly weapon.

Adding Geronimo Allison to an already talent WR group won’t hurt. Golladay-Jones-Amendola will provide good targets for Stafford.

Hockenson is now more familiar with the NFL speed and it was reported he played through some pain before landing on injured reserve. Again, an improvement seems a more likely scenario than a regression here.

As mentioned above, the OL play will be a source of concern, though. Replacing Wagner with Vaitai could be a plus. However, Glasgow’s loss will be difficult to compensate.

Still, overall I can see the Lions jumping to the 7th-12th rank on offense in 2020. You read this right; the Lions could have the number 7 offense in the NFL. They have a very talented and underrated group (with nice depth at all positions!).

Final call (2020 vs 2019): Moderate upgrade

4. Defensive Position-by-Position Breakdown

4.1 DEFENSIVE LINEMEN (DL)

The interior of the line has been completely revamped. That may not be a bad thing.

Both Damon Harrison and A’Shawn Robinson are gone after a subpar year. They both graded as below-average last year, which was a big surprise in the case of Harrison. He obtained a grade above 90 as a run defender in each of its past four seasons, but cratered to 63.2 last year. What the heck happened?

The newcomers are Danny Shelton, formerly of the Patriots, and Nick Williams, coming over from the Bears.

Shelton has done very well in all five of his seasons in the league and is entering his prime. He’s a solid addition and he’s good a plugging up running lanes.

I’m not so high on the Williams acquisition, though. He didn’t get good grades throughout his career until last year where he finally got some starts and posted six sacks. He could be a one-year wonder. He had been a journeyman thus far and is a former 7th-round pick.

Mike Daniels is also off the team. The former didn’t do much in his lone season in Motor City.

4.2 DEFENSIVE ENDS (DE) / EDGE (ED)

Both Trey Flowers and Devon Kennard recorded seven sacks last season. Kennard left for Arizona; his leadership as team captain will also be missed.

Flowers is a vital piece of this defense. He will enter his age-27 campaign and he has racked up between 6.5 and 7.5 sacks every year since 2016.

Who will step up in Kennard’s absence? Romeo Okwara will need to come back to his 2018 form, where he posted 7.5 sacks. Only getting 1.5 last year was a big disappointment.

Another alternative may come from Romeo’s younger brother, Julian, who was taken in the 3rd round of this year’s draft. Considering Julian’s speed and strength (the bull rush remains his favorite move), you would have expected him to produce more in college. He still needs to learn good techniques to beat experienced offensive linemen.

4.3 LINEBACKERS (LB)

Jarrad Davis, Christian Jones and Jahlani Tavai all played a bit above 50% of the defensive snaps last year. They ranked as the #84, #82 and #44 linebackers out of 89 guys. That’s bad.

The position will get a lift with the acquisition of Jamie Collins. He led the Patriots with seven sacks last season, which was a career-high for him.

I don’t mean to be disrespectful for him, but I believe he’s overrated. He enjoyed great 2014 and 2015 seasons in New England, but his played tailed off big time in his time away from the Patriots in 2016, 2017 and 2018. He came back with a pretty good season when reuniting with Belichick’s squad last year, but will he revert back to mediocre play in Detroit?

Super Bowl champion Reggie Ragland also joins Matt Patricia’s team. He adds depth to the team and may play behind Jarrad Davis.

4.4 CORNERBACKS (CB)

Last year, the trio made of Darius Slay, Rashaan Melvin and Justin Coleman saw the field pretty often.

Slay and Melvin are gone to other teams. Slay had a very bad year as opposed to his previous five, but that may have been an outlier. He’s 29 years old and he’s likely to rebound in Philly. He asked to be traded after fights over contract negotiations.

Unlike Slay, Melvin won’t be missed too much. He was an undrafted guy who is more of a rotational corner.

In order to alleviate Slay’s loss, the Lions signed Desmond Trufant, formerly of the Falcons. His best days are behind him, but he has never received a grade below 69.5 by PFF over his seven-year career, which is remarkable. Last year’s 70.3 grade put him as the 32nd-best corner out of 112 qualifiers.

The team’s instant #1 corner is rookie Jefffrey Okudah, who was taken with the third overall selection of this year’s draft. He’s a true lockdown corner who is likely to perform at a high level right away.

Over the last two seasons at Ohio State, he held every wideout he faced to fewer than 50 receiving yards. He also surrendered just two touchdowns during that time frame. Those are outstanding numbers!

Okudah is a blue chip prospect whose mental makeup and physical traits are elite.

4.5 SAFETIES (S)

Safeties Tracy Walker and Tavon Wilson led the team in tackles last year. They both played close to 75% of the snaps and obtained similar marks from PFF. They finished 22nd and 26th out of 87 safeties in the league. As of now, Wilson has yet to sign with a NFL team. He is open to re-signing with Detroit, but that has yet to happen.

The team decided to upgrade the position by acquiring Duron Harmon, yet another ex-Patriot. He can play safety or as a corner; he is likely to be on the field often. He may not be the best against the run, but his skills in coverage are way above average.

2020 VS 2019 DEFENSE

There’s been a lot of shuffling with this unit during the offseason.

The biggest acquisitions are Danny Shelton, Nick Williams, Jamie Collins, Desmond Trufant, Duron Harmon, as well as #3 overall pick Jeffrey Okudah. The biggest losses are Damon Harrison, A’Shawn Robinson, Devon Kennard, Darius Slay and Rashaan Melvin.

My own assessment of those moves is a moderate upgrade.

However, I value continuity as a key factor in the NFL. Knowing how your teammates are going to react in game-time situations is important in such a fast sport like the NFL.

Considering the impact of COVID-19 on offseason preparation, having numerous new faces will likely penalize offenses/defenses even more.

Detroit’s defense finished 26th in points allowed last year. They will remain the team’s Achilles heel, but a significant improvement is doable.

Final call (2020 vs 2019): Moderate upgrade

MOST LIKELY RECORD: 7-9
(based on the one-million simulated seasons using BetOnline’s 2020 point spreads)

Tomorrow, I'll discuss the team whose ROI is 30th in the league; the New Orleans Saints!

Thanks for reading, I hope you found it insightful!

Professor MJ
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Defending the Draft: New England Patriots

Preface
Going into the 2019 season, the Patriots held very high expectations. The defense that had just shut down the high-powered 2018 Rams offense had arguably gotten better. Although the offense had lost Rob Gronkowski, the addition of first-round WR N’Keal Harry and free agent Demaryius Thomas seemed to at least keep their offensive options. Combining this with Sony Michel coming off a successful rookie campaign and 4 of 5 starters of a strong offensive line, with Trent Brown being replaced by 2018 1st round selection Isaiah Wynn, the offensive situation looked optimistic for New England.
As the team progressed through the 2019 preseason and into the season itself, things began to look even better. Although N’Keal Harry injured himself in the first preseason game, the team was eventually informed that Josh Gordon would be reinstated, even being allowed to start Week 1. The defense showed its prowess throughout the preseason, especially against the Lions and Panthers, with the only bad game coming against the Giants, when the Patriots mainly played people at the bottom of the depth chart. To add to New England fans’ excitement, they saw their team sign WR Antonio Brown the night before the team’s debut against the Steelers. As New England embarrassed Brown’s former team 33-3, and then the Dolphins 43-0 it seemed almost inevitable that New England would become the first franchise to win 7 Super Bowls.
However, that was not how the season progressed. Brown couldn’t handle himself even under Belichick’s control, and his decision to threaten the children of one of his accusers of sexual assault found him released from the team. Josh Gordon was injured Week 6 against the Giants, eventually being medically released and later found to have relapsed when he was on the Seahawks. The rest of the offense was riddled with injuries: Julian Edelman had nagging rib injuries, Philip Dorsett hurt his foot early in the year and also sustained a concussion, Mohammed Sanu sustained an ankle injury in his first game, early kick/punt returner Gunner Olsewski was injured in Week 7, Brady himself reportedly struggled with his elbow. The worst effects of injury came against the Offensive Line, as 4 out of the 5 starters sustained some injury, and this is not including the fact that C David Andrews missed the whole season because of pulmonary embolism. The most impactful injury out of this bunch was LT Isaiah Wynn, as the team had to deploy Marshall Newhouse to replace him, a role that Newhouse did not fill adequately, to say the least. Blocking also suffered when FB James Devlin suffered a season ending injury, followed by his backup Jakob Johnson also being put on IR only a few games later. Matt LaCosse and Ben Watson both missed multiple games, forcing the team to only roll with Ryan Izzo at tight end at some times.
These many injuries, as well as a terrible TE corps, not only stunted the passing attack but also crippled the running game. Michel was often met and tackled in the backfield, resulting in a terrible YPC despite being the AFC East’s leading rusher. Despite these offense struggles, the team’s excellent defense performance, in combination with facing many subpar offenses, carried the team to a 12-4 record and the 3rd seed in the AFC. However, the offensive struggles were too great for the team; although the team’s defense held the red-hot Titans offense to 14 points and gave the offense multiple chances to pull ahead, the offense failed to perform when needed, unable to finish drives, even when on Tennessee’s 1-yard line. Sometimes you really do need an offense to win a championship.
Pre-draft
Notable Losses
QB Tom Brady, FA, Buccaneers: The one loss that seemed unthinkable until it really happened. Even though we knew that Brady’s contract voided after this year, many fans thought he was still going to re-sign and finish his career here. However, New England really did not have the cap space to do so and build a satisfactory team around him, causing Brady to decide to sign with the Buccaneers, a team with high offensive potential and has a shot at the super bowl. The Greatest QB of All Time will be missed here in New England, as the team experiences uncertainty at the position for the first time in nearly 20 years.
FB James Devlin, Retirement: When it was announced that it was a neck injury that sidelined Devlin for the rest of the season, his future with the team was in doubt. Once the team signed free agent Dan Vitale, it was almost certain that Devlin would announce his retirement sooner or later. James Devlin was an underrated part of the Pats’ success in the 2010s, where he proved to be a reliable lead blocker, bolstering the effectiveness of New England’s run game. His absence for most of 2019 was palpable as the team consistently struggled establishing a run game, and the Patriots have a tall task of finding an effective replacement for him.
K Stephen Gostkowski, Released: Gostkowski’s departure represented another long-time Patriot staple leaving the team, although the Patriots had started to live without him as his season ended very early due to an injury that required surgery. The Patriots missed Gostkowski’s leg last year, as the team could not reliably score field goals longer than 40 yards, causing the offense to attempt 4th down conversions deep into enemy territory.
LB Kyle Van Noy, FA, Dolphins: One of Belichick’s greatest successes in terms of correctly utilizing players that were previously viewed as ‘busts’ because their coaches could not use them correctly. Van Noy was acquired from the Lions for a measly swap of 6th and 7th picks midway through the 2016 season. Throughout his tenure with the Patriots, especially within the last two seasons, Van Noy became a staple piece in the team’s LB corps with his versatility and great fundamentals. Van Noy now joins his former LB coach Brian Flores in Miami, who will likely maximize Van Noy’s potential.
LB Elendon Roberts, FA, Miami: Elandon Roberts joined his teammate Van Noy in joining Miami to be coached under Brian Flores. Roberts was promoted to captain for his final season in New England, and primarily played most of his defensive snaps as a run-defending thumping linebacker. Roberts also filled in as an emergency FB when both Devlin and Johnson were injured, and played decently well for a third-string FB, I guess. Roberts represents another role that the Patriots had to fill through free agency and the draft.
LB Jamie Collins, FA, Lions: The Patriots added a familiar face in the athletic freak Jamie Collins heading into the 2019 season. Collins’ athleticism allowed him to flash in the early parts of the 2019 season, when he obtained a pick-six at Miami and almost blocked a Bills field goal attempt by broad jumping over the Bills’ line. Like Van Noy, Collins heads to a former Patriots defensive coach in Matt Patricia in Detroit. Unlike the Dolphins, the Lions front office did not watch the second half of the 2019 season, where Collins tended to lose discipline and become a liability in the defense, showing off some of his former issues. I highly doubt Lions fans will think Collins is worth his $10 million APY contract
DT Danny Shelton, FA, Lions: Patriots North scoops up another Patriots player, what a surprise. Going into the 2019 preseason, Shelton seemed like he might be on the outside looking in for the Patriots roster. It looked like other tackles such as Mike Pennel had the ability to replace Shelton. However, Shelton impressed and was able to earn his spot on the team. The nose tackle’s primary role throughout the season was to be a run defender, a role he played quite well. Shelton will help add some strength to a Lions defensive front that played badly last year.
DB Duron Harmon, Traded, Lions: Duron Harmon was a long-time player at the safety position, filling in the role of the third safety while working alongside McCourty and Chung. He earned the nickname of “the closer” due to his performances at the end of matches where he would end the game through obtaining an interception. The Patriots quickly found their replacement for Harmon, most notably adding DB/ST Adrian Phillips, so there really isn’t much worry for him leaving the team.
OL Coach Dante Scarnecchia, Retirement: Arguably the greatest loss that the Patriots suffered outside of Tom Brady, the OL guru has again decided to retire. Scarnecchia is responsible for the Patriots having great offensive lines throughout his tenure and is a sometimes underrated aspect of their wild success. Unlike Scar’s previous retirement in 2014 where he was replaced by Dave DeGuglielmo, both Cole Popovich and Carmen Briscillo have experience being an understudy of Scarnecchia, which will likely help to soften the blow of his retirement. There were also rumors that Scar was still advising New England on scouting the OL position for the draft, so perhaps you can never keep this man away from this team.
Additions, Extensions, Retentions,
C David Andrews, Returning from IR: Although this technically does not fit this category, Andrews deserves to be mentioned. Even though Ted Karras played decently as he was thrust into the starting role, the Patriots felt Andrews absence, especially in the run game. Losing Andrews also likely contributed to the rest of the IOL (especially Mason, who played a lot of the season with a foot injury) not performing as well as they could have. Andrews' return will improve Jarrett Stidham’s performance, both through his protection as well as increasing the effectiveness of the Patriots’ rushing attack.
OG Joe Thuney, Franchise Tag: Bringing back Thuney was a wise move for the Patriots. The star left guard will be instrumental to protecting young quarterback Jarrett Stidham as well as ensuring the run game operates smoothly. Although some consider IOL to be a low-value position, Thuney will help the team acclimate to the other changes that happened around the offense. Having a solid line is an important element of building a good offense, and Thuney will ensure that the left guard position will work reliably.
DBs Devin McCourty and Patrick Chung: With Brady leaving, the Patriots found it valuable to keep long-time veterans around the team to maintain their team morale and culture while acclimating to the personnel change. McCourty has been a captain and locker room leader of the Patriots for quite some time and will be an important leader as the team adjusts to 2020. Both McCourty and Chung will feature in what should be a very strong secondary unit throughout the 2020 season.
DB/ST Adrian Phillips, FA: Boy do the Patriots love versatility special teamers! Phillips has played well as a special teamer and also played in many positions in the Chargers secondary, and will bring his veteran experience to the Patriots secondary. He will likely play in the rotation of safeties with Chung and McCourty, filling in a similar role to Harmon, who was traded the day before Phillips was signed.
DT Beau Allen, FA: The former Buccaneers DT will likely fill in as a replacement for Danny Shelton, who left the team to play for Detroit. Allen projects to play as a run-stuffing nose tackle that will ensure the Patriots can control the run.
FB Danny Vitale, FA: Vitale is an interesting signing. While he is listed as a fullback, he probably will not be a straight replacement for the retired James Devlin. Devlin primarily filled in as a lead blocker and sometimes as a rusher, but very rarely was used as a downfield threat. Vitale has some decent athleticism and pass-catching experience that the Patriots will likely utilize. His versatility may mean the Patriots move him around a lot instead of just using him as a lead blocker, though he has decent experience at that position as well.
LB Brandon Copeland, FA: Copeland was a signing the Patriots made to help account for the losses they had in free agency. The veteran LB recently played for the division rival Jets, where he primarily performed off the ball under Gregg Williams. Copeland brings some versatility and leadership as he has had to adapt from playing from the defensive line to off the ball.
WRs Marqise Lee and Dameire Byrd, FA: Byrd’s main attribute is straight-line speed, though he really has never been able to convert it into a high amount of production, in part due to injuries. Perhaps it’s because Dorsett was on this team for three straight years, but I am not going to bet on Byrd producing just because he has speed. Lee is much more interesting, as he was able to produce solidly during 2016-17. However, Lee has not performed nearly at all in the last two years because of injuries. If Lee can return to his pre-injury form, (though not very likely), he could carve out a pretty decent role on this New England roster.
The Draft:
2.37 Kyle Dugger, DB, Lenoir-Rhyne:
It wasn’t a surprise to many Patriots fans that the team elected to trade out of their first round pick, though some that held up hope the Patriots would make a selection might have been disappointed. Many fans wondered where the team would go with their first pick, and when it was announced that the team chose a DB from a division II school, people were initially exasperated.
Belichick’s record with 2nd round defensive backs is quite well known such that it has become a meme within the fanbase and around the NFL. His main success with the position in the second round was with Patrick Chung, and even he wasn’t very successful until his second stint. Obviously, we can’t declare a player a success or failure just because of prior trends or draft position and instead should look at the player himself if we are to make a judgement upon him.
Coming out of high school, Dugger only received offers from DII schools because he was very undersized. As he eventually grew into his frame in Lenoir-Rhyne, he elected to commit to the school that recruited him. Dugger is a hard-hitting player who most likely will transition to playing in the box as a safety for the Patriots, likely eventually taking over for aging veteran Patrick Chung.
What separates Dugger from many other defensive backs the Patriots have selected over the recent years is his athleticism. Dugger running a 4.49s 40, jumping 42 inches in the vertical jump and 134 in the broad jump while being 6’1” and 217 pounds presents a mixture of speed, size, and athleticism that is rare for a safety. The main aspect of his game that the Patriots need to work on is his transition to playing against NFL-level competition. Generally, the jump from a DI school to the NFL is quite large, the difference from DII to the NFL is even larger. It will likely take a year or two for Dugger to be ready to be a significant contributor on the defense as he adjusts to his new system. Adapting to these circumstances, the Patriots have ensured that Dugger will not have a lot of pressure to perform on defense early on through extending Chung and signing Phillips. Interestingly, Dugger’s coaching throughout his years at Lenoir-Rhyne has been inconsistent, he had to play under three different coordinators during his four years at the school. Hopefully with some great coaching and system stability with Bill and Steve Belichick Dugger can carve out his role as a future player in the secondary.
Perhaps to the disappointment of some Patriots fans, Dugger’s contributions early in his career will most likely be on special teams. Dugger had experience being a returner in college, and I would not be surprised if that becomes his primary role early on in his tenure. Dugger’s athletic ability gives him the potential to become a future star on the team if he can adapt to the NFL. Only time will tell whether he works out or becomes another player too add to the list of failed second round picks.
2.60 Josh Uche, OLB, Michigan:
Patriots Director of Player Personnel Nick Caserio remarked that prior to day two, the Patriots had three players they had a priority on acquiring: Dugger was one of them, and Uche was the other that the Patriots were able to draft with their selections.
Like Dugger, Uche is an explosive athlete with great speed as well as motor. Due to enduring an injury in the senior bowl, he was unable to participate in the combine. However, his athleticism shows up on film. Uche is a very versatile player, being able to play both on the line as well as off the ball and his efforts got him named the most versatile player by PFF in their 2020 draft guide. Michigan DC Don Brown said that he put Uche in nearly every position on the defense. I am sure Belichick was quite happy when he saw the 245 pound linebacker in coverage downfield against Penn State WR KJ Hamler. Amongst his versatility, his pass rush ability is what truly stands out. His 23.2% pressure rate and 28.2% pass rush win rate were second in both categories in the FBS. Uche achieved these great statistics through his incredible getoff off the line as well as good hand placement combined with his fantastic athleticism. Don Brown stated that Uche’s primary motivation was to become the best pass rusher in the country, and the dedication and work that Uche put in to be amongst the best in the country showed throughout the 2019 season. The primary aspect of Uche’s game that he needs to solidify in order to increase his role on the Patriots is increasing consistency with run defense.
Uche marked the first of five consecutive selections the Patriots made that addressed pressing needs. Considering the amount of LB talent that left over the offseason, it is possible that Uche will see a decent amount of playing time on the defense, perhaps in a similar role to former Wolverine Chase Winovich, whom Uche now rejoins in New England. I see Uche likely being the second-most impactful rookie to play for the Patriots this season, helping to strengthen the team’s pass rush, resulting in a more effective pass defense overall.
3.87 Anfernee Jennings, OLB, Alabama:
Jennings’ selection serves as a nice complement to Uche’s. While Uche is this very athletic and undersized linebacker, Jennings better fits into the traditional, big, physical type of linebacker. Coming from Alabama, Jennings offers great fundamentals and football IQ that come from developing under Alabama Head Coach Nick Saban. While he may not be the most athletic or flashy player, Jennings will likely cement his role in the Patriots defense as a solid and reliable player, especially against the run. Jennings registered great production during his time at Alabama, leading edge defenders in FBS for run-stop rate at 12.6%. The Alabama product has often been compared to former Patriots LB Kyle Van Noy due to his ability to be a versatile piece across the line.
Jennings is a very persevering player as well. In 2018 he suffered a worrying knee injury. Fortunately, the injury did not prevent him from returning to the field, but Jenninngs had to put in a lot of effort in order to return to his previous form. Saban also complimented Jennings’s dedication to improving himself in practice sessions. Jennings likely projects as an edge defender who will play very well against the run while also sometimes dropping into coverage. Jennings will likely see a fair amount of action as a rookie, especially on rushing downs. While he may not have a high ceiling, Jennings will likely be an anchor of the Pats’ defense as he progresses through his contract.
3.91 Devin Asiasi, TE, UCLA:
On the offense, New England desperately needed to do something with their TE situation. Matt Lacosse may be a replacement level backup, but Ryan Izzo is not an NFL-caliber player. With very little cap space to address the position in free agency, the Patriots looked to the draft to fill their TE position. By selecting Asiasi in the third round, it is the first time the Patriots have spent a day two or higher pick on a tight end since 2010, when they selected Gronkowski.
Asiasi will likely become the Patriots number 1 option at the position. When looking at Bill Belichick’s 1991 scouting notes shared by Daniel Jeremiah, NBC analyst Phil Perry noted that Asiasi seems to fit the bill for the number one role. Devin Asiasi displayed great catching ability throughout his year starting at UCLA, only having one drop throughout the entire year. Asiasi also demonstrated great ability to run after the catch, averaging 5.6 yards in this category. Another ability that Asiasi brings as a TE that the Patriots sorely missed in 2019 is blocking. Even if Asiasi won’t perform as a great blocker (which is best reserved for #2 or #3 TEs anyway), it will most likely be better than the awfulness that was Patriot tight end blocking last year.
Asiasi was suspended for three games in the 2018 season for undisclosed reasons by Chip Kelly. However, Bill Belichick and the Patriots are on good terms with UCLA head coach Chip Kelly, meaning that they were able to confer with Kelly and confirm that Asiasi would be a good fit with the team and his suspensions were nothing to.worry about. Asiasi also possesses high football intelligence, being able to run complex concepts such as option routes in Kelly’s TE heavy offense. Even though Asiasi is undersized for what people normally think of a #1 TE , only being 6’3” and 257 lbs., his athletic ability and smooth movement should translate well into the NFL. Although Asiasi will likely be the starting Y-Tight End for the Patriots offense, I would not bet on him to break the trend of rookie TEs having low production, though Asiasi will definitely contribute in blocking.
3.101 Dalton Keene, TE, Virginia Tech:
The Patriots also repeated something that they did 10 years ago, which was taking two tight ends in the draft. Dalton Keene is an interesting prospect to project for the Patriots. His playstyle resembles that of an F or move tight end. Even Belichick admitted after drafting Keene that they would have work to do in terms of finding him a role on this team, since the role that Keene played in the Virginia Tech offense is nothing like anything the Patriots run in their offense.
If Keene seems to be such a confusing fit for the Patriots, then what made the team trade back up into the third round in order to select him. The most defining feature that Keene exhibits through his play is toughness. He is a very dedicated and ruthless player, oftentimes toughing it out through injury and not playing with high regard to his health while on the field. The aggressiveness that Keene displayed both during practice and games caused his teammates to give him the nickname of “Rambo”. Keene’s offensive coordinator Brad Cornelsen called him the toughest player he has ever seen. Keene has never produced that much in the receiving game, only racking up 341 yards in his most productive receiving season. Perhaps given his athletic talent it suggests that Virginia Tech underutilized his ability in the passing game, instead placing more focus upon his ability in the run game instead. Keene will be a versatile player and likely fill multiple roles as the Patriots’ second tight end, primarily being used as that F tight end, move tight end, or perhaps H-back. He may in fact share similar duties to FB Danny Vitale. I would be more than happy if Keene and Asiasi can combine for about 600-700 receiving yards and a few touchdowns in their rookie year.
5.159 Justin Rohrwasser, K, Marshall:
Another need that the Patriots needed to fill during the draft or free agency was the kicker position. Many people expected the Patriots to take someone like Georgia kicker Rodrigo Blankenship, Georgia Southern kicker Tyler Bass, or Chase Vinatieri from South Dakota. When the Patriots selected Rohrwasser, a kicker who was so unknown that he didn’t even have a profile on the NFL’s website many people were confused.
What caused the Patriots to select this unknown kicker from Marshall. Rohrwasser displayed great performance throughout the 2019 season, having a statistically better season compared to the other higher profile kickers in the draft. Rohrwasser made 18 of 21 field goals and 35 of 36 XPs. He was perfect on kicks greater than 50 yards out, even hitting a clutch field goal from 53 yards against Western Kentucky after being iced twice. Belichickj stated that the Patriots have watched over 250 kicks and were impressed by his ability to kick in clutch situations as well as poor conditions, something Rohrwasser will have to do often in the AFC East. It is unclear whether Rohrwasser will relieve punter Jake Bailey of his kickoff duties (thought I think it’s more likely than not). If there is any position I trust Bill to evaluate, it’ s the placekicker. Rohrwasser will likely be the most impactful rookie on the patriots, mainly because he is the only surefire starter out of all of them. If Rohrwasser succeeds, the Patriots will be able to not go for fourth downs deep in enemy territory again and have a good kicker on a cheap rookie deal.
6.182 Michael Onwenu, OG, Michigan:
After addressing many immediate needs, the Patriots decided to take some shots at reserve linemen. Considering what happened in 2019, it is smart for the Patriots to add some young talent to the Offensive Line in order to account for things not going according to plan.
The first thing that strikes people when they look at Onwenu is his size. This man is HUGE, especially for an interior lineman. Coming in at 6’3”, around 350 lbs (he actually weighed closer to 370 during the season at college), Onwenu is a very physically imposing presence. He is very good at doing his job of not letting defenders get by him. During his past two years at Michigan, Onwenu played 1198 snaps, Onwenu only allowed 13 pressures and 2 sacks. He plays with great power and if he is able to get his hands on the defender, then it is over. Onwenu also possesses decent movement ability for his size; he will be able to perhaps do downfield blocking a bit better than people expect him to. Also, according to Michigan’s OL coach Ed Warriner, Onenwu really doesn’t have the ability to go much lower than 345 lbs.
Onenwu will start out on the team as a backup in the iOL, though more likely in his natural position of RG. Onenwu is quite different compared to New England’s other iOLs, he is 50 pounds heavier than the rest of our starting interiors. It will be interesting to see how Onwenu is able to execute the Patriots’ offensive scheme considering how physically different he is compared to Thuney, Andrews, and Mason. Either way, Onenwu will be a reliable depth piece that can protect Stidham if any of the starters go down.
6.195 Justin Herron, OG/OT, Wake Forest:
The second lineman that the Patriots invested draft capital in was Justin Herron. Herron started 51 games for Wake Forest, exclusively at the LT position. Herron’s experience at the position will likely slot him in as the primary backup to Isaiah Wynn, who has spent a lot of time of his career injured. Herron did suffer an ACL tear in the first week of the 2018 season, but rebounded quite well in 2019. Herron, like Onwenu, is a great pass-blocker. In 2017, the season prior to tearing his ACL, Herron allowed zero sacks. In 2019, when he recovered from his ACL injury, he only allowed four sacks and 13 pressures.
Some analysts raise questions about Herron playing tackle at the next level, instead projecting him as a guard. Interestingly, analysts made similar remarks about now-starting LT Isaiah Wynn. Considering that he only played left tackle during his time in college, I think the Patriots evaluated him and will use him as a tackle. If New England wanted an interior lineman, they likely would have selected someone else. Another concern that some have about Herron is his athleticism, which showed up at the combine, especially in his 8.41s three-cone drill. Scarnecchia often said the Patriots don’t care too much about athleticism in the OL, saying that they only needed to be athletic-enough. If the Patriots were that concerned about his athletic ability, he likely wouldn’t have been selected. Even so, it’s a great idea to grab a tackle who played solidly in college and will spend most of his rookie deal as a reserve player. This pick will be a success if Herron makes the team and can competently back up Wynn if he finds himself injured again.
6.204 Cassh Maluia, LB, Wyoming:
In the midst of the Patriots grabbing multiple offensive lineman, the Patriots selected another linebacker to increase their depth. During the 2019 season, Maluia went relatively under the radar due to his fellow linebacker and 65th overall pick Logan Wilson. However, those who studied Wilson likely saw Maluia pop out on a few occasions and make great plays. Maluia is an athletic and undersized linebacker, weighing in at only 231 lbs. His athleticism showed up both on tape and on the field, where Maluia displayed versatility across the field being able to both be a thumper as well as a decent coverage player. Maluia’s biggest concern is probably his tackling form, as his aggressiveness caused him to miss a fair amount of times. If Maluia makes the 53 man, he will likely contribute mostly as a special teams player, though his athletic ability might allow him to play a few snaps at defense.
7.230 David Woodard, C, Memphis:
With their final selection in the 2020 NFL draft, the Patriots threw a dart at another reserve lineman. Woodard played all across his the iOL throughout his college career, displaying the versatility that is desired in a backup lineman. Woodard does not have athletic testing available, though some analysts expressed concern about his athletic ability and his size, as Woodard only weighs 291 lbs. As detailed earlier, the Patriots generally concern themself more with technique than pure size and athleticism, and Woodard displays great technique. He graded out as the best run-blocking and second best pass-blocking center in 2019 through PFFs metrics. The Patriots will likely have to still improve Woodard’s technique to make him a future part of the team. Woodard projects as a reserve interior guy, particularly backing up C David Andrews if he makes the team.
UDFAs
Considering that a UDFA has made the New England roster for 16 straight years, I think it is appropriate to talk about some of the more interesting prospects in short. These are not all of the FAs the Patriots signed but some that I think are the most interesting and have the greatest chance to make the team.
For the QB position, the Patriots signed Michigan State QB Brian Lewerke and Louisiana Tech QB J’Mar Smith. Lewerke initially showed promise but a shoulder injury he suffered in 2018 really derailed his career. Smith is more interesting, as he displayed his athleticism throughout his career, as well as possessing great arm strength and ability to make flash off-platform throws. He was suspended for a game, but in his 11 starts he went 10-1 and won C-USA offensive player of the year. Neither QB really poses much threat to Stidham, but if one of them shows promise (especially Smith, who reportedly had a few offers from other teams), don’t be surprised if Belichick makes space for them on the 53 man roster.
For the WR position, which many people were surprised the Patriots did not take a shot at in the draft, the most interesting players are Auburn WR Will Hastings and Miami WR Jeff Thomas. Hastings was Stidham’s former slot receiver in college, racking up 26 receptions and 525 yards with the QB in 2017. Hastings tore his ACL prior to 2018, and Stidham missed his reliable option during the season. Hastings ran a 4.49s 40 and a blistering 6.64s 3-cone during his pro-day. Hasting’s connection with Stidham may allow for him to sneak onto the team. Thomas, on the other hand, mostly specialized as a deep threat for the Hurricanes. Even though he is undersized at 5’9 and 170 lbs, many scouts said he displayed draftable talent throughout his career. The aspect of Thomas that was more influential in making him a UDFA is his character concerns. Thomas has had an issue with nearly every coaching staff that he has interacted with, and got kicked off the 2018 team for attitude issues. If Thomas can pull himself together and realize that there are no more chances, he could transform into a future weapon for the Patriots.
Arizona RB J.J. Taylor is another interesting pickup for the Patriots. He is very short, coming in at only 5’5” tall (never in my life did I think I would be taller than a Pats player), but still manages to pack 185 lbs. Despite his size, Taylor is quite talented, displaying some decent shiftiness as well as the ability to bounce through contact. Perhaps because of his size and elusive playstyle, he has drawn comparisons to former Patriots RB Dion Lewis. If Taylor can show enough ability throughout the offseason, he might be able to get the Patriots to replace a RB, primarily Rex Burkhead, who many Pats fans theorize the team will cut for a few years now.
Ohio State TE Rashod Berry is another interesting player the Patriots picked up. He reportedly may change his position to OLB. Berry had some experience playing defense for Ohio State early in his career, though he did some snaps along the defense for a few games in his senior year. Many Ohio State fans say that Berry is a very athletic player who was underutilized by the Ohio State system. Wherever he plays, it will be interesting to see how his skill translates to the next level.
On the defensive side of the ball the Patriots were able to sign Auburn EDGE Nick Coe after negotiations between him and the Bills fell through. Coe was one of the top ranked free agents after the draft talent-wise, as he produced well in his first few seasons at Auburn. He is a much more prototypical big edge player the Patriots generally use in their system, but also has the versatility to play off the ball. However, Coe seems happiest playing as an edge rusher off the line. Coe’s main issue is his off-the field issues, where he feuded with his coaching staff over his assignments on the team, and also did not put in as much effort as a result. Coe is a very high-potential signing, but he will have to accept whatever role New England gives him if he wants to succeed.
The signing that gave the most guaranteed money went to Arkansas LB De’Jon Harris. Harris primarily plays as a thumping linebacker, which will likely be his role if he manages the Patriots. He has been theorized to fill a similar role to Elandon Roberts did last year (though likely not as a FB on offense). As a thumper, Harris’ best ability is tracking down and meeting the ball carrier, except he does suffer from some tackling issues.
The Patriots somehow managed to convince Bill Murray to join the team, where he will slot in on the defensive line. The DT from William & Mary displays good ability to be disruptive along the defensive line, though keep in mind that this was against FCS competition. Murray also managed to block 10 kicks during his tenure, something that Belichick is surely proud of. He reportedly is also a guy who is great at making his teammates laugh, perhaps like his celebrity counterpart. Considering that DL is a weaker position on the Patriots, Murray has a real shot to get on the team with his talent.
If I am going to talk about UDFAs that have a great chance of making the team, I am not going to overlook the secondary. The DB that the patriots signed this year was Washington’s Myles Bryant. Bryant is another undersized player, only coming at 5’8” and 183 lbs.. and primarily played free safety in 2019 after playing slot corner for the previous two years. Bryant showed good short-area quickness on the field as well as in athletic testing, running a 6.81s 3-cone. His greatest weakness is tackling, likely worsened by his small size. Bryant will need to improve his tackling if he wants to make the team. I also wanted to shout out 2019 UDFA UNM DB D’Angelo Ross, another undersized corner that showed some promise in the preseason prior to suffering a season-ending injury. I still don’t fully understand why Belichick spends so many premier picks on DBs when he can just pull great ones out of his rear nearly every year in the UDFA market.
Roster Projection:
Projecting the Patriots roster is especially difficult due to the amount of bodies at many positions such as OL, LB, and DB. This problem is exacerbated by the fact I haven’t seen anyone play yet or have the most recent updates on everyone’s health. I am not confident that this roster will be that accurate to the final roster that appears week 1.
QB (2) - Jarrett Stidham, Brian Hoyer
RB (5) - Sony Michel, James White, Rex Burkhead, Brandon Bolden, Damien Harris
FB (1) - Dan Vitale
WR (7) - N’Keal Harry, Mohammed Sanu, Julian Edelman, Marqise Lee, Jakobi Meyers, Matt Slater, Jeff Thomas
TE (2) - Devin Asiasi, Dalton Keene
OL (9) - Isaiah Wynn, Joe Thuney, David Andrews, Shaq Mason, Marcus Cannon, Yodny Cajuste, Justin Herron, Hjalte Froholdt, Michael Onwenu
DL (4) - Adam Butler, Beau Allen, Lawrence Guy, Byron Cowart
EDGE/LB (9) - Deatrich Wise, Chase Winovich, John Simon, Josh Uche, Anfernee Jennings, Dont’a Hightower, Ja’Whaun Bentley, Cassh Maluia, Brandon King
CB (6) - Stephon Gilmore, Joejuan Williams, Jason McCourty, J.C. Jackson, Jonathan Jones, Justin Bethel,
S (5) - Devin McCourty, Patrick Chung, Adrian Phillips, Kyle Dugger, Terrence Brooks
K - Justin Rohrwasser
P - Jake Bailey
LS - Joe Cardona
KR and PR - Dugger
Conclusion?
The Patriots enter a time of uncertainty that hasn’t existed in my lifetime. This 2020 squad is very hard to predict because of all the unknowns that exist all over the team, most notably at QB. It is possible that the Patriots perform better on the offense this year due to the sheer amount of players that are now healthy, especially alongside the offensive line. Although it is most likely the Patriots will not be a contender this year, depending on how well Stidham and the rest of the offense perform and develop, the team could bring itself into contention as early as 2021. I anxiously, but optimistically, await this team’s future.
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NFL Week 16 Recap, Bowl Game Lines, 12/23/19  WagerTalk College Football Bowl Game Betting Lines / Rose, Fiesta, Sugar, Citrus, Outback Super Bowl 54 Betting Preview College Football Bowl Games - Betting Tips for College Football Bowl Games - CFB Bowl Game Tips College Football

In 2014, Super Bowl XLIX only generated about 10,000 more bets than the most heavily bet college football game: 122,370 compared to 112,644. And, according to CNBC, bettors stake between $60-70 billion in illegal wages on college football each year. Bowl game betting lines: SEC opens up as favorites in most bowls Brett Weisband | 6 years ago In a relative down year for the SEC, the conference is still commanding serious respect among oddsmakers. Bowl games get under way on Saturday, and the lines have moved quite a bit for some of the games since they were released last weekend. Below are the odds and the over/under for all of this season 2014 bowl game Vegas lines have Big Ten as underdogs in all 10 Big Ten games New, 20 comments Check out all of the lines and over/unders for this year's bowls. BCS bowl game betting odds 2014: Betting lines for full BCS schedule bowl season and now the folks in Vegas are ready to open up the betting lines. In the national championship game, Florida

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NFL Week 16 Recap, Bowl Game Lines, 12/23/19 WagerTalk

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