Raiders-Broncos odds, predictions: Betting lines, picks

Denver Broncos vs. San Diego Chargers 2014: Prediction, Betting Odds, Preview For Week 15 Game

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Denver Broncos vs. Indianapolis Colts: TV Channel, Start Time, Prediction, Betting Odds For NFL Playoff Game

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Broncos vs. Bengals: Monday Night Football Prediction, Betting Odds, Preview For Week 16 Game

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Denver Broncos vs. Indianapolis Colts: Prediction, Betting Odds, Preview For 2015 Playoff Game

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Denver Broncos Vs. Kansas City Chiefs 2014: Prediction, Betting Odds, Preview For Week 13 Game

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New England Patriots-Denver Broncos 2014: Prediction, Betting Odds, Preview For Huge Week 9 AFC Game

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Denver Broncos-Miami Dolphins 2014: Prediction, Betting Odds, Preview For NFL Week 12 Game

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Denver Broncos Vs. Buffalo Bills: Prediction, Betting Odds, Preview For 2014 Week 14 Game

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NFL teams most likely to go from worst to first in 2020

We have talked a lot about the draft, biggest remaining needs for every NFL team, some breakout candidates and other stuff, so let’s now get back to more of a big picture and look at some teams from an angle of where could they go next season. In this article, I am analyzing those teams that finished fourth in their division this past year and why they could win it in 2020 or land at the bottom once again, plus an outlook where I actually see them.
Of course much of this is about these eight teams and how much better or worse I feel about them than the general public, but it was heavily dependent on their three division rivals as well. The top half I could certainly see earn a playoff spot and surprise some people if everything goes right. After that a lot of my faith is more built around the lack of great competition and giving some hope to these respective fan bases. As the cliché goes – everybody is 0-0 right now.


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1. Arizona Cardinals


Why they can win the division:
Let’s just start with the main point here – this Cardinals squad has all the ingredients to make a big jump in 2020. I expect Kyler Murray to enter the superstar conversation in year two, after impressing with his arm talent and ability to extend plays in a (somewhat controversial) Offensive Rookie of the Year campaign. Steve Keim managed to unload a bad David Johnson contract and basically acquire an elite receiver in DeAndre Hopkins for a second-round pick. Kenyan Drake now has a full offseason to learn this offense and make himself a major factor once again, following up an outstanding second half of the season once the Cardinals traded for him with Miami. He perfectly fits into this offense with a lot East-West based rushing from shotgun sets and his involvement in the pass game, including those quick throws as an extension of the rushing attack. Arizona’s defense should be a lot better with run-stoppers being added in the draft that fit their 3-4 base front with Utah’s Leki Fotu and LSU’s Rashard Lawrence, since they can stay in those packages against the other teams in their division running a lot of 12 and 21 personnel probably. Add to that a do-it-all player with ridiculous range and overall athleticism in Isaiah Simmons at eight overall, plus all the other guys being in their second year under DC Vance Joseph. I love Budda Baker as a missile from his safety spot and I think some of the other young guys on that unit will take a step forward, like second-year corner Byron Murphy, who I talked about last week. Now let’s get to rest of the West – every other team in that division has some issues. The 49ers are facing the objects of a potential Super Bowl hangover and some limitations with Jimmy G at the helm. The Seahawks have question marks on the edge on either side of the ball with Cedric Ogbuehi and Brandon Shell fighting for the starting gig at right tackle and Jadeveon Clowney still on the open market, with a bunch of draft picks these last couple of years having to step up. And the Rams had one of the worst O-lines in football last season and they lost some pieces on defense. The Cardinals already gave all these teams issues in 2019 and have now added pieces that were clearly missing when last matching up against each other.

Why they could finish last again:
Most importantly, I am still not completely sold on the Cardinals offensive line, with D.J. Humphries being signed to a rather expensive deal as a below-average left tackle, third-rounder Josh Jones – while earning a late first-round grade from me – still needing an overhaul on his footwork before he can slide in at right tackle and guard Justin Pugh finally having played a full 16 games for the first time since 2015 last season. NFL coaches had a lot of time to study Kliff Kingsbury’s Air-Raid offense, which when you break it down is pretty simplistic in the amount of schemes they run. Yes, he diversified it a little as last season went along, going under center and running some pro-style rushing plays, but at its core, you can learn how to create some issues for all those mesh concepts and spread sets. As far as the Cardinals defense goes, it is more about pieces than proven commodities. Patrick Peterson is seemingly on the decline, they are thin in the secondary and could Chandler Jones follow soon, after he has been one of the most underrated pass-rushers in the league for a while now? You are staring the reigning NFC champs in the eyes, a team that was a few inches away from earning a playoff bye and another squad that went to the Super Bowl just two years ago. This is probably the best division in the entire league.

Bottom line:
I still believe the 49ers have done enough to repeat as division champs, re-tooling for all the losses they have suffered this offseason. However, I’m feeling pretty good about the Cardinals earning a wildcard spot. While I believe in the Seahawks quarterback and the Rams head coach respectively to not allow their teams to not have throwaway seasons, I also see enough issues with those squads to make me believe the Cardinals could have the second-best year of anybody in the West. To me they are pretty clearly the best of these eight teams, because they have a young phenom at quarterback, stars at pretty much every position, a different type of system around them and what I’d like to call “juice” coming into 2020.


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2. Detroit Lions


Why they can win the division:
Matt Stafford is back healthy and when he was in the lineup last season, this was a team that defeated the Eagles, Chargers and only didn’t finish the job against the eventual Super Bowl champion Chiefs because of some crazy stuff going on late. The veteran QB stood at 19 touchdowns compared to five picks and was playing at a near-MVP type level. However, Detroit’s identity will be built on the run game with re-investments in the offensive line as well as adding D’Andre Swift to form a dynamic one-two punch with him and Kerryon Johnson. Kenny Golladay and Marvin Jones may be the most underrated receiving duo to go with Danny Amendola as a tough guy in the slot and T.J. Hockenson coming into year two as a top-ten pick a year ago, having shown flashes when he was healthy. The defense is finally starting to take shape with third-overall Jeffrey Okudah as an elite corner prospect being added to an underrated secondary, Jamie Collins being a chess piece in the front seven after already having worked well with Matt Patricia and some young guys up front trying to prove themselves to go with the versatile Trey Flowers. Maybe more importantly than the Lions themselves – Nobody else got that much better and none of the other three really stand out to me. Other than the Vikings probably – who had the advantage of making a record-breaking 15 selections – the Lions might have had the best draft within the division. Thanks to that last-place schedule, they get to face the Redskins in the East (instead of Eagles & Cowboys) and Cardinals in the West, who I just talked about taking a step forward, but are still a better draw than the reigning conference champions or possibly having to travel to Seattle. I believe that new regime in Detroit has finally built an identity on both sides of the ball with the heavy investments in the run game and back-seven on defense. Winning ten games might earn you a division title, if everybody plays each other tough.

Why they could finish last again:
Can these guys finally stay healthy? Matt Stafford to my surprise played a full 16 games in eight straight years before last season, but a lot of that had to do with his toughness to fight through pain and he had major issues with that shoulder early on in his career before basically breaking his back after putting the team on it for the last decade. Kerryon Johnson has missed 14 of 32 possible starts and he has never carried the ball more than 118 times a season. Their receiving corp has been banged up quite a bit too. More glaring even – how will all these additions of former Patriots players work out? Can Matt Patricia build a New England 2.0 in Michigan or is he just bringing in players he knows will listen to him and the way he wants things to be done? Detroit could also rely on a lot of rookies to be immediate impact players – possibly two new starting guards on offense, running back D’Andre Swift probably sharing the load with Kerryon, Jeffrey Okudah having to immediately become their CB1 and Julian Okwara being asked to become a much more consistent player if they give him major snaps. And I recently talked about how their uncertainty at punter could be an issue for their ball-control, defense-minded style of play. They also have an early bye (week five), which I’m never a big fan of, after facing the Bears, Packers, Cardinals and Saints, which probably includes three playoff teams. If Chicago can get any competent QB play, all these teams should be highly competitive.

Bottom line:
I don’t think any team in this division wins more than ten games. Unfortunately I don’t see the Lions go over that mark themselves either. The Packers won’t come out victorious in so many close games (8-1 in one-possession affairs), the Vikings have lost a few proven commodities and look for young talent to immediately replace those and the Bears still have a quarterback competition going on. So if Detroit can do any better than just split the season series with those three teams, I see them finishing above .500, but ten wins is the ceiling for me. In terms of the competition inside the division, the Lions may be my number one team in this conversation, but I see a much clearer path to things crashing down for Matt Patricia and them having another disappointing season than I do with the Cardinals. No team in this division may finish below that 8-8 mark.


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3. Miami Dolphins


Why they can win the division:
When you ask the general public, the Buffalo Bills right now are the favorites to win the AFC East, but they haven’t done so since 1995 and they still have to prove they really are that team. The Patriots lost several pieces on defense and Tom Brady of course, which probably leads them to starting a quarterback, who over his four career pass attempts has thrown more touchdowns to the opposing team than to his own. The Jets are still building up that roster, with GM Joe Douglas trying to plant seeds on burnt earth, and they face a BRUTAL schedule. So Miami has a lot of things going in their favor for an organization that I believe in what they are trying to build. Depending on what happens at quarterback, you could have a veteran in Ryan Fitzpatrick, who was by far the best inside the division in several key categories last season and/or Tua Tagovailoa, who had one of the most prolific careers we have seen from anybody in the SEC. They added at least two new starters on the O-line, they now have one of the premiere cornerback trios in the league with the all-time highest paid player at the position in Byron Jones and first-round pick Noah Igbinoghene to go with Xavien Howard and with some added beef up front, they are finally looking a lot like what Brian Flores had in New England. DeVante Parker really broke out over the second half of 2019 and Miami should have a much better rushing attack because of the additions up front and two quality committee backs in Jordan Howard and Matt Breida being added. They have two other young pass-catchers ready to break out this upcoming season in tight-end Mike Gesicki and a UDFA receiver from a year ago in Preston Williams. Whenever Tua’s name is called upon, he will be a perfect fit for Chan Gailey’s horizontal passing game.

Why they could finish last again:
As much as I like what I see from this entire organization, it is probably just a year too early for Miami. So many young players could be thrown into the fire and a lot of them I look at as needing that experience – 18th overall pick Austin Jackson (USC) is more of a developmental tackle still with his footwork and hand-placement issues, 30th overall pick Noah Igbinoghene (Auburn) has only played cornerback for two years and was bailed out by his athletic tools at times, third-rounder Brandon Jones has to develop more of a feel in deep coverage and at least one more rookie lineman will likely start for them. Even outside of this year’s draft class, they already had several players on their roster that are still moving towards their prime. Whether you look at last year’s first-rounder Christian Wilkins, a lot of second- and third-year pass-catchers or their young linebackers outside of Kyle Van Noy. The Bills are entering year four of that turn-around under Sean McDermott and Brandon Beane, the Patriots still have the greatest coach of all time and will be a tough matchup solely based on that and the Jets at least have people playing for their jobs, plus a very talented young quarterback I still believe in. As much as I doubt Adam Gase, as long as Sam Darnold doesn’t get mono again, the offense should at least be competent, and the defense could potentially have a top-five player at every level with All-Pro Bowl safety Jamal Adams, an 85-million dollar linebacker in C.J. Mosley and my number one prospect in last year’s draft on the interior D-line with Quinnen Williams.

Bottom line:
As I mentioned before, the Bills are the front-runners in this division for me. As much respect as I have for Bill Belichick, I haven’t seen enough from Jarrett Stidham to make me a believer and he shrunk in some big moments at Auburn. The Jets to me could be a lot better than they were in 2019 and still go 6-10 just because of the type of schedule they are up against. So the Dolphins to me could easily finish anywhere from second to fourth, depending on how some of the players on that roster progress. I wouldn’t bet on them actually making the playoffs, but they could absolutely be a pain in the butt for some of the better teams in the AFC and in 2021 they might be the pick here.


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4. Los Angeles Chargers


Why they can win the division:
First and foremost, this Chargers defense is absolutely loaded with no real hole that you can point to. Derwin James is back healthy after a first-team All-Pro rookie campaign, Chris Harris Jr. comes in to make this secondary one the elite units in the NFL to go with two more Pro Bowlers among it and they have some guys I expect to break out like Jerry Tillery, Drue Tranquill and Nasir Adderley. In terms of having matchup pieces and a versatile pass rush to challenge Kansas City, nobody in the league may be on the same level as these guys. Offensively, Ihave talked about how the left tackle spot is concern for L.A. with a battle between Sam Tevi and Trey Pipkins for the starting job, but the other four spots are as good as they have been in a while, acquiring Pro Bowl guard Trai Turner via trade, signing a top five right tackle in Bryan Bulaga and getting Mike Pouncey back healthy. Tyrod Taylor can steer the ship and even if Justin Herbert is thrown into the fire – which I wouldn’t recommend – they have the skill-position players and willingness to run the ball to take pressure off those guys. While the Chiefs return 20 of 22 starters from a year ago, this wouldn’t be the first time we saw a Super Bowl champion have some issues the following season and as much as we want to hype up the Broncos and Raiders, both their quarterbacks (and other players of course as well) have a lot to prove still. Outside of KC, the Chargers likely have the smallest changes to what they do other than moving on from Philip Rivers and we saw that formula work the year prior, when they challenged Kansas City until the very end for the division crown and the conference’s top seed potentially. While they probably would have liked to bring in Tom Brady over the offseason, the fact they decided against signing Cam Newton to a roster that is ready to win right now, shows you the confidence they have in that quarterback room.

Why they could finish last again:
I’m not a huge fan of Derek Carr, but the Chargers will probably have the worst quarterback in the division in 2020. And their starting left tackle could be the worst in the entire league. As good as their defense will probably be, you can not consistently win games in which your offense doesn’t put up 20+ points in the league today – especially when all these teams in their division have spent so much on acquiring offensive firepower these last couple of years. I believe all three of their division rivals got better this offseason and the Chargers spent their top draft pick (sixth overall) on a young quarterback, who might not even help them win games this season. As I already mentioned, Kansas City brings back almost their entire starting lineups and they went 12-4 despite Mahomes seemingly having his knee cap facing the sideline while laying on his back. I have uttered my thoughts on Denver several times now, which you can read up on later. As for Las Vegas’ new team, they did start last season 6-4 and just heavily invested into their two major issues – wide receiver and linebacker. And while I don’t like to talk about it – injuries have been a huge issue for this Chargers team in recent years and I don’t really know what it is even, but I can’t assume that they all of a sudden can stay healthy.

Bottom line:
In terms of talent on the roster outside of the quarterback position, you could make a pretty compelling argument that the Chargers are ahead of all the other teams on this list. That’s the reason they have a pretty high floor of finishing around .500 and if everything works out, they could absolutely be a playoff contender. However, for this exercise in particular, I believe their upside is capped by what they have under center. Tyrod Taylor can be a top-20 quarterback in the NFL this season and in terms of upside, Justin Herbert has all the tools to become a difference-maker once he steps on the field, but they don’t have the explosiveness the Chiefs or the Broncos have for that matter. With so much continuity on a team that has the best player in the entire league, I can’t go against the Chiefs and in the end we are evaluating the chances to actually win the division.


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5. Washington Redskins


Why they can win the division:
These guys are very reminiscent of the 49ers with their defensive line, in terms of having invested a lot of high draft picks into the unit these last couple of years and now with that second overall pick bringing in a true stud from Ohio State – this time in Chase Young. When you look at all those guys up front – with the Bama boys patrolling the middle, Matt Ioannidis capable of moving around the front, Montez Sweat looking to break out in year two and Ryan Kerrigan still being there as a productive veteran – they will wreak some havoc this season. Ron Rivera could finally bring some structure to this organization and help them turn it around on defense with the addition of an old companion in Thomas Davis, plus some high-upside players like Reuben Foster and Fabian Moreau looking to prove themselves. Quarterback Dwayne Haskins had a very underwhelming rookie campaign, but he clearly wasn’t ready to be out there and found himself in a bad situation in terms of the support system around him. I like a lot of their young skill-position players the front office has surrounded him with, when you look at Terry McLaurin trying to become a young star in this league, who produced despite shaky quarterback play last season, Kelvin Harmon and Antonio Gandy-Golden being two big-bodied targets I liked these last two drafts, Derrius Guice hopefully finally being able to stay healthy to lead this backfield and this year’s third-round pick Antonio Gibson being a chess piece that you can manufacture touches for. Somebody I forgot to mention in this discussion recently is Steven Sims Jr., who is a jitterbug with the ball in his hands. New offensive coordinator Scott Turner will implement a system that should make life easier on his second-year signal-caller as well, while relying heavily on the run game.

Why they could finish last again:
Haskins is by far the least proven QB of the bunch, with Daniel Jones even being head and shoulders above him in their respective rookie seasons. No pass-catcher outside of Terry McLaurin had any major production to speak. Counting on a 37-year old Thomas Davis to not only be a leader for them, but also make plays on the field, could create issues, and Washington lost some pieces in the secondary. This offseason is a challenge for any team, that is looking to implement a new system on each side of the ball, but I think especially for a motivator like Rivera, who can give his squad a heartbeat and push them to success, not being there in person with those guys will hurt. Most importantly however, this division to me will be a two-man race between the Eagles and Cowboys – as it has been for a while now. They both will likely have top ten quarterbacks, better receiving corps, better offensive lines and more experienced defenses. The Giants may not blow anybody away coming into 2020, but looking at the two matchups from last year between them and the Redskins, Big Blue beat them 24-3 the first time around, when Daniel Jones threw one touchdown compared to two interceptions and then he diced them up for five TDs and no picks in week 16. The one area Washington would have had the clear upper hand was with their front-four, but New York just invested a lot of draft capital into their O-line to prevent that. Just go through the Redskins’ schedule and show me more than six wins. I dare you.

Bottom line:
These last two sentences really say it all. Even if Philly and Dallas split the season series and Washington can get a game off either one of them, it will be tough to turn around this squad as quickly as this season – with reduced practice time and team activities – to a point where they can finish above both of them. Both of them could easily win double-digit games in 2020 and while I think the Redskins are on the right track if Haskins looks more like the Ohio State version of himself, other than their defensive line, no unit for them is ready to compete for the division quite yet. Just going through their schedule in an objective manner, it is tough to find any lay-ups and say Washington has some baseline of wins they count on. To not have them any lower than this is more due to the respect for Riverboat Ron and how high I was on a lot of the guys they drafted recently.


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6. Jacksonville Jaguars


Why they can win the division:
I was going back and forth between my number six and seven teams, because the Jaguars are projected to pick first overall come next April for a reason – they did lose a lot of pieces. However, to me it came down to the fact that the AFC South might be won at 9-7 or 10-6 and this coaching staff actually has to win to keep their jobs. There is a lot noise about the Colts, but when you go back to last season, Philip Rivers was a turnover machine with serious questions about his arm strength. Bill O’Brien made some very questionable decisions for Houston and Tennessee is counting on a formula that is built on a 250-banger running the ball 25+ times and Ryan Tannehill finally repeating a career year, as they are coming off an AFC title game appearance. As far as Jacksonville goes, Gardner Minshew was the highest-graded rookie quarterback according to PFF and altogether I would have put him second only behind Kyler Murray. D.J. Chark broke out as one of the young star receivers and I had a first-round grade on Colorado’s Laviska Shenault if he can be healthy, because his talent is off the charts. I think the O-line would have benefitted from another tackle to kick Cam Robinson inside to guard, but those guys are some road-graders to make the run game work. Defensively the only real contributor from that Sacksonville group a couple of years ago who actually wants to be there is Myles Jack, but I really like their young duo off the edge in first-rounders Josh Allen last year and now K’Lavon Chaisson (LSU). There are some questions about the back-end, but they were built front-to-back with a lot of zone coverage behind it and depending on the development of ninth overall pick C.J. Henderson, they can roll away from him matching up with the opposing team’s number one receiver. Avoiding some of the better AFC squads altogether is pretty sweet as well, to go with facing no playoff team from last year outside their division until the middle of November.

Why they could finish last again:
I’m just not sure if all of these players are ready to fight for that coaching staff and organization. Two of their remaining veterans (Leonard Fournette and Yannick Ngakoue) have openly talked about how they want to be traded, they only have a few actually proven commodities on that entire roster and with the way they have unloaded big cap numbers, they have set themselves up for a true rebuild potentially, as they are expected to be in the Trevor Lawrence-Justin Fields sweepstakes come next April. Even if they can get a few breaks and the division is up for grabs, does this organization even want to win this season? If not for the injury to Jacoby Brissett in the middle of the season, all three other teams in that division would have almost certainly finished above .500 and the Colts are actually the team that improved by far the most among them. That Texans, who have actually won the South four of the last five years, including last season, may be the smallest challenge and still sweep Jacksonville. Vegas rarely misses completely and the Jaguars right now are the odds-on favorite to pick first overall come next April, with an NFL-low OveUnder of 4.5 wins on the season. And as favorable as the early portion of their schedule looks like right, check out this eight-game stretch after their week seven bye – at Chargers, vs. Texans, at Packers, vs. Steelers, vs. Browns, at Vikings, vs. Titans, at Ravens. Ouch. They might go winless over that period.

Bottom line:
The Jaguars to me are a very interesting team, because I believe they have accumulated a bunch of young talent, which gets lost a little when you see all the names that aren’t there anymore. There is a lot to like about this roster, when you look at what these players could develop into, but that doesn’t mean they will have success this year already. The Colts have the best 53 currently in the division (or 55 now), the Texans have the best quarterback and the Titans are coming off an AFC Championship game appearance. Gardner Minshew could make this kind of a tough decision if they end up picking anywhere after first overall and I think some of those other kids will put up pretty good numbers, but they are still pretty clearly fourth in the South as for now.


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7. Carolina Panthers

Why they can win the division:
Nobody knows for sure what Matt Rhule and his new coaching staff will throw at them. Joe Brady gets to work with Teddy Bridgewater once again, who he already coached in New Orleans – so there will be familiarity for him in this system and they already “speak the same language”. That young receiving corp with D.J. Moore, Curtis Samuel, free agency addition Robby Anderson and even an up-and-coming tight-end in Ian Thomas is pretty underrated actually, plus of course they have one of the truly elite weapons out of the backfield in Christian McCaffrey, who is probably set to break his own RB reception record once again. The Panthers defense-only draft has brought them a monster in the middle in Derrick Brown (Auburn), a really talented edge rusher in Yetur Gross-Matos (Penn State) on the opposite of last year’s rookie stud Brian Burns, a super-rangy safety with linebacker size in Jeremy Chinn (Southern Illinois), what I think is a starting corner in Troy Pride Jr. (Notre Dame) and some other pieces in the secondary. The talent is clearly there and now you bring in a scheme that is probably going to be unique for the NFL level as well, when you look at that 3-3-5 Baylor ran under Rhule and defensive coordinator Phil Snow. As much as we want to praise our legends of the game, the quarterbacks of the two front-runners in this division will be 41 and 43 years old respectively and let’s not forget that Atlanta started out last season 1-7.

Why they could finish last again:
Especially this offseason, without certainty if there will be anything like training camp or even a real preseason, that completely new staff with new systems they are trying to teach will certainly have some growing pains. Bridgewater has been a top-20 starting QB maybe one year of his career and even when he was applauded for the way he filled in for Drew Brees last season, he finished dead-last in intended air yards among quarterbacks with at least 100 pass attempts. How will that mesh with a lot of vertical targets around him? When he has those guys running free on slants and dig routes, the ball will get there, but will he be willing to throw that deep post or give his guys a chance on go-balls? Defensively they are counting on a lot of young players and they have nobody to even come close to replacing Luke Kuechly, as well as making the switch to an unproven scheme possibly, if they actually use some of those 3-3-5 looks coming over from Baylor. When you look at Rhule’s track-record, it always took him until year two to show improvement and then in that third season is when those teams can really make some noise. And that was in the AAC and Big 12 respectively. Now he is in the NFC South with a team that just went 13-3 in the Saints and a Bucs squad that already was 7-9 and lost six of those games by one score, only because despite finishing fifth in takeaways, they ranked in the bottom five in turnover differential due to easily leading the league with 41 giveaways. That should get a lot better with Tom Brady coming in, who has never even quite thrown half of Jameis Winston’s 30 interceptions in any of his 20 years in the league. Even the Falcons – for as poorly as they started last season – went 6-2 after really coming together and making some changes in their bye week last season.

Bottom line:
The Panthers are clearly the most unproven team in this division. While new systems that haven’t been scouted yet certainly have an advantage in terms of game-planning early on, especially in this offseason with heavily limited live reps most likely, that might equal a net minus. You have to root for a guy like Teddy Bridgewater and the way he has worked his way up to a starting spot again, but I just don’t look at him as a surefire franchise signal-caller. The other three teams in the South all have top ten quarterbacks in the league in my opinion and much more continuity around them. Until the Panthers finally get to their bye week at the start of December, I don’t see them winning more than four of those twelve games. At that point they may have their eyes on a different goal already, if Teddy B isn’t the clear answer under center.


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8. Cincinnati Bengals


Why they can win the division:
We’re not that far away from 2015, when the Bengals won the AFC North with a 12-4 record as the fifth year in a row making the playoffs. Since then this is the first time I feel like there really is change happening with this team. Marvin Lewis was replaced by a young Zac Taylor, trying to prove himself to the league, they drafted Heisman trophy winner Joe Burrow first overall to replace as average a quarterback as we have had over the last decade in Andy Dalton and the front office finally spent some money in free agency. While you would think a quarterback going first overall usually comes into a situation, where he is devoid of talent around him, Cincinnati suddenly has one of the better group of skill-position players in the entire league, assuming A.J. Green is back healthy. Tyler Boyd is a stud in the slot, who will be Burrow’s version of Justin Jefferson, a 50-50 ball specialist in second-round pick Tee Higgins (Clemson) matches perfectly with Burrow’s expertise of winning with ball-placement and if they get anything from former first-rounder John Ross at least as a decoy with his speed, that’s a plus. I expect Joe Mixon to be among the league leader’s in running back receptions and be more effective in space with those receivers around him as well. The signings the Bengals have made on defense gives them a lot more talent and complements very well what they already had. D.J. Reader is one of the most underrated defensive linemen in the league and frees everybody up along the front, they completely overhauled that linebacker group, which was a major issue these last couple of years, they brought in a starting CB2 and nickel from Minnesota to pair up with William Jackson III, who is ready to announce himself as one of the best corners in football, and Von Bell is a great match with the rangy free safety Jessie Bates.

Why they could finish last again:
As talented as all those guys throwing, catching and running the ball may be, it all starts with what’s happening up front and the Bengals offensive line is still in transition. They could have two of the worst starters in the league at both guard spots and right tackle once again, with the prior ones close to reaching that bust status and Bobby Hart still somehow having a starting job. As great as Joe Burrow was last year at LSU and how clean his evaluation was, how much better than Andy Dalton will he be right away, especially going up against those scary defensive fronts inside his division? Defensively they could easily have six new starters, which obviously can be looked at as a positive sign, considering they allowed 20+ points in all but two games last season, but there is also a lack of continuity and reduced time to fit all those pieces together. Cincinnati’s coaching staff hasn’t really proven anything yet and they will be facing a massacre of a schedule, with three occasions of back-to-back road games and while three of their final four games of the season are at home, they will face the Cowboys, Steelers and Ravens, to go with a trip to Houston in-between. If they don’t beat the Chargers in the season-opener, they probably don’t get that first W until week four against the Jaguars and then they have to hope they can sneak out another one until their bye week. Baltimore is tied with Kansas City for the highest projected win total with reigning MVP coming into just his third season, Pittsburgh is favored to make the playoffs with Big Ben back under center and Cleveland was the offseason favorite in 2019, while fielding an even better roster this year.

Bottom line:
I feel bad for putting this team last, because I thought Joe Burrow was the top quarterback and definitely worthy of that number one pick and the Bengals finally spent big money in free agency to retool the defense. To me this is less about them than the Ravens, who just were the number one overall seed in the playoffs at 14-2 and haven’t done anything other than get better themselves, a Steelers team that made a run at the playoffs with the worst quarterback play in the league now getting Ben back and a Browns roster that is among the top ten league-wide in most people’s opinion. Still, there is a lot to like about this team at the skill-positions, which is probably behind only Cleveland in terms all the weapons they have, some young standouts on defense and hope that all of this brings a fresh breath of air.


If you enjoyed this content, I would really appreciate if you could visit the original piece (with video clips) - https://halilsrealfootballtalk.com/2020/06/16/nfl-teams-most-likely-to-go-from-worst-to-first-in-2020/
You can also listen to my breakdown on Youtube - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R9kCcuPobNU
submitted by hallach_halil to nfl [link] [comments]

Lynn Bowden Jr is a Problem

With each year that goes by, it seems as if we’re inching closer and closer to position-less football. In this draft class, the “hybrid players” that seemingly get the most attention are Laviska Shenault and Antonio Gibson. Though his profile is tantalizing, the question of health surrounds Viska. With a very questionable offense, will Gibson be able to shine?
If one can hit on a hybrid player in dynasty, there’s not many more stocks that are more fun to watch go up. For my money, this year, that guy isn’t Viska or Gibson - it’s Lynn Bowden Jr.
Let’s go over a few points:
1) Production
2019 stats:
1,235 rushing yards 11 Rushing TDs 330 Passing Yards 2 Passing TDs 348 Receiving Yards 1 Receiving TD 200 Kickoff Return Yards 53 Punt Return Yards
To add, he accounted for a third (literally, 33.3%) of all Kentucky’s rushing and receiving yards. This is SEC competition folks. Florida, SC, UGA themselves are typically among the most stout of defenses (the East typically doesn’t have the most high octane offenses, but, traditionally, their defenses have been superb).
To cap it all off: he won the Paul Hornung Award (nation’s best all purpose/most versatile player), was 1st team All-SEC...and a consensus 1st team All-American.
In terms of production and displaying his talent, he was nothing short of special in 2019.
2) Fit with the Raiders
Prior to the draft, GM Mike Mayock had a very interesting line:
"You start looking at guys on the offense that can play in the slot, play at RB, be H-backs, there’s not really a label for them. They’re just either dynamic players, or they’re not."
Sure enough, Lynn Bowden Jr was the pick weeks later.
It’s odd to me how many folks still have him listed as a WR. Mayock, after the pick, was pretty clear about his intentions with Bowden...as he explicitly stated that he’d be mostly a RB/Joker type of role. Moving him around is assumed, due to the obvious nature of Bowden’s talent, but it’s nice for a GM to call out his primary role.
Mayock has shown he is as good of a scouting GM as there is in the NFL. There’s little reason to doubt they don’t have a plan (that will end up paying dividends for dynasty owners) for Bowden.
3) 2020 Outlook
Suddenly, the Raiders have a lot of mouths. Since Bowden will be lining up in multiple places, let’s look at things at a high level:
Jacobs Waller Ruggs Edwards Renfrow Richard T Williams
There’s more, but these are the ones that matter.
Let’s go down the list:
I do not believe Ruggs will be “fed” in 2020. I truly believe Ruggs will do the Raiders wonders, both in stretching the field and kick returning. He’ll have his game breaking plays, but he will not be filling up stat sheets on a weekly basis.
Bowden was the plan.
I think Lynn Bowden can easily get 70 carries and 40 catches. There are a lot of names here...but the opportunity for Bowden is clearer than one would expect.
Remember, he’s superior to Tarik Cohen as a prospect, has the higher draft cap, and has the hardware to show that he can line up anywhere. That raiders offense will also move the ball more effectively than the bears.
4) The Conspiracy Theorist in Me
Play along with me here. Derek Carr has been in the crosshairs of many trade rumors for multiple years. There’s a strong argument that the raiders are a QB away from being a significant threat in the AFC (that division is hell...with the chargers being a crazy D on paper, Broncos O being as loaded as it is, and KC being KC).
Mariota got paid, to say the least. IF Carr flames/gets hurt....and IF Mariota subsequently flames/gets hurt (very possible, much more so than Carr)...what happens?
Lynn Bowden Jr, right?
I’m willing to bet this scenario, or even just having Lynn pass a few times a game, played a factor in this pick. Lynn Bowden Jr is flat out dangerous with the ball, regardless of where he has it. If Gruden can figure out a way to make Bowden dangerous from the QB position in the NFL...watch out.
The point is: he’s an OPTION
To close, I think people are sleeping on Lynn Bowden Jr. He doesn’t have any business going in the 4th round of a rookie draft. He has the talent to be a star in the NFL, and the amount of names in the Raiders offensive room has spooked people. These names aren’t as robust as one may think, and we may see a 3rd round gem blossom into a game breaker.
Draft Lynn Bowden Jr and enjoy the ride. We haven’t seen many players like this man.
submitted by BigBankBilly to DynastyFF [link] [comments]

Will the Baltimore Ravens win OVER/UNDER 11.5 games? By University Stats Prof!

1. Introduction

The Ravens finished as the top team in the NFL with a 14-2 record. However, the season ended on a sour note as they lost 28-to-12 at home against the Titans in the divisional round.

Baltimore finished 1st in points scored and 3rd in points allowed. It doesn’t get any better than this!

Their running game was historically great! They racked up 206 rushing yards per game on average, while the second-best in the NFL was San Francisco at “just” 144…

Can they replicate last year’s success?

2. Offensive Position-by-Position Breakdown

2.1 Quarterbacks (QBs)

Lamar Jackson was nothing short of spectacular. He was a lot of fun to watch. He was only the second unanimous MVP winner ever.

He ran for 1,206 yards, but he surprised many with his arm. He threw 36 TD passes versus just 6 picks.

While those numbers are jaw-dropping, I find it hard to believe he can be as good in 2020. Maybe teams will figure him out better and find ways to contain him. You cannot ask Baltimore’s quarterback position to do better in 2020 than they did in 2019.

Note that Robert Griffin III remains the Ravens’ backup QB this year.

2.2 Running Backs (RBs)

Mark Ingram and Gus Edwards were a very good one-two punch (on top of having Lamar Jackson running like crazy). They will be 30 and 25 years old, respectively, so there shouldn’t be too much of a dropoff.

At first, it was believed that Justice Hill might push Gus Edwards for the number two role in 2020. The fourth-round pick out of Oklahoma State had a good rookie season.

However, Baltimore’s backfield is pretty stacked with the addition of rookie J.K. Dobbins. He is very likely to pass Edwards and Hill on the depth chart. It won’t be easy to unseat Ingram, though.

Dobbins rushed for over 2,000 yards last year, while also punching the ball in the end zone 21 times! He can also catch the ball well out of the backfield. He has the tools to become a three-down back in the NFL.

2.3 Wide Receivers (WRs)

Not much change at this position either, except for the loss of Seth Roberts who caught 21 passes for 271 yards and 2 TDs. Not a big deal.

The top two targets will be back in 2020: Marquise Brown and Willie Snead.

Brown’ rookie season was a success as he caught 46 passes for 584 yards. He finished third among rookies with 7 receiving TDs. However, his college career ended with a foot injury and he says it hampered him at times during the 2019 season. He faded down the stretch, despite nice numbers in the lone playoff game. Indeed, he scored just one touchdown over the last six meetings.

Snead wasn’t particularly good. He ranked 101st out of 122 wide receivers by PFF. During the regular season, he cleared 50 receiving yards just two times. He caught 4 passes in one game, and hauled in 3 passes or less in the remaining 15 matchups.

Overall, this is a bit of a shaky group. Given his history, Marquise Brown is a likely candidate for injuries and if that happens, they will be in trouble at the wideout position. As mentioned above, Snead isn’t very strong. Seth Roberts is gone. And Miles Boykin isn’t scaring anyone either. Depth was clearly an issue here.

Most observers believed the Ravens would address the position in the draft. However, Baltimore waited until late in the 3rd round to pick a WR: Devin Duvernay out of Texas. He’s a slot weapon who caught 106 passes for 1,386 yards and 9 TDs last year. Obviously, the 106 receptions are impressive, but keep in mind that he benefited from 42 screen plays going his way.

2.4 Tight Ends (TEs)

The team was loaded at this position with Mark Andrews, Nick Boyle and Hayden Hurst. These guys finished 2nd, 12th, and 14th out of 66 tight ends! Having three of the top 14 TEs in the league within the same team is unbelievable!

Unfortunately, Hurst left for Atlanta. As good as he was, it won’t be a huge blow to the Ravens considering the depth they had.

2.5 Offensive Line (OL)

All guys on the offensive line finished above-average according to PFF. Unreal!

The bad news is Marshal Yanda announced his retirement, which leaves a glaring hole at right guard. Yanda played 88% of the offensive snaps and finished as the 4th-best guard in the league (out of 81 guys). His replacement will have big shoes to fill.

One of the main candidates to replace him is free agent D.J. Fluker, who is coming over from Seattle. The 29-year-old’s play has fairly dipped over the past three seasons after four promising years with the Chargers. Fluker graded out as the number 48 guard out of 81 players in 2019.

Still, this is a very strong group, but expect a dropoff compared to last year.

2020 VS 2019 OFFENSE

How can you not expect this unit to decrease its production? They were unbelievably effective last year. They are probably going to regress towards the mean.

They didn’t add any key players on offense (except maybe rookie J.K. Dobbins?), while losing Hayden Hurst, Marshal Yanda and Seth Roberts. Teams have had several months to find ways to slow down Lamar Jackson and company. It’s highly unlikely that his numbers improve over the 2019 campaign.

Also notice how the Ravens’ offense didn’t suffer any big injury all season long to key players. It may not be the case once again in 2020. Injuries occur on a regular basis in the NFL.

Final call (2020 vs 2019): Moderate downgrade

3. Defensive Position-by-Position Breakdown

3.1 Defensive Linemen (DLs)

The Ravens had three guys on the interior of the defensive line: Brandon Williams, Michael Pierce and Chris Wormley. Each of them received “ok” ratings from PFF, as they finished 67th, 45th and 63rd respectively (out of 114 inside defenders).

Pierce and Wormley are gone. However, the team acquired Derek Wolfe from the Broncos. He recorded 7 sacks in 12 games last year and he ranked as the 46th-best inside defender.

Justin Madubuike was taken early in the 3rd round of this year’s draft. He seems like a boom-or-bust player. He’s athletic, but he is a bit short and light. He’s more likely to become a backup in the NFL.

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

Matthew Judon led the way with 9.5 sacks and Tyus Bowser got a career-high 5 sacks in 2019. Both are above-average rushers.

As for Jaylon Ferguson and Jihad Ward, they received fairly bad marks from PFF.

The Ravens made a big splash by acquiring Calais Campbell from the Jaguars. The 33-year old may slow down in 2020, but his numbers have been impressive. He has averaged 8 sacks per season over an 11-year period!

He’s also been extremely durable; he has not missed a game since 2014. As a matter of fact, he’s played at least 13 games in each of his 12 years in the NFL! He finished the 2019 season as the #2 edge defender according to PFF (only behind T.J. Watt from the Steelers).

3.3 Linebackers (LBs)

Patrick Onwuasor and Josh Bynes received a good share of playing time. However, both are gone. Onwuasor was the #73 linebacker while Bynes got a surprisingly high 6th spot out of 89 linebackers.

The only inside LB left with playing experience is L.J. Fort. He’s a 30-year old veteran who has played for five teams. He doesn’t look to be the long-term answer.

The good news is the Ravens selected Patrick Queen from LSU with the 28th overall pick last April. The main knock on him is clearly is lack of experience since he’s was a one-year starter in college.

However, his game film is impressive. He is very fast and he diagnoses plays quickly. He may be the only NFL-caliber linebacker the team has on their roster. It’s not as bad as it looks since Baltimore often plays with six DBs and one LB. Malik Harrison, who was picked late in the third round out of Ohio State, might get some limited playing time.

3.4 Cornerbacks (CBs)

The Ravens have a strong group here, even though Brandon Carr was let go.

The team still has Marlon Humphrey (37th-best CB), Marcus Peters (4th-best CB) and Jimmy Smith (42nd-best CB). Baltimore has a lot of ammunition and don’t need to worry about this position.

3.5 Safeties (S)

Earl Thomas is a safe value. He’s been consistently good throughout his career and at 31 years old he still has a few good years left.

Chuck Clark just signed a three-year contract and he deserved it. He really flourished in 2019 and finished 36th out of 87 safeties according to PFF. He is the main reason the team let Tony Jefferson go.

2020 VS 2019 DEFENSE

Baltimore’s defense allowed the third fewest points in the league in 2019. They are still going to be difficult to score against.

Calais Campbell was a great free agent acquisition. To a lesser degree, Derek Wolfe too.

However, losing Michael Pierce, Chris Wormley, Patrick Onwuasor, Josh Bynes, Brandon Carr and Tony Jefferson will hurt. Most of these guys played about 50% of the snaps and will need to be replaced.

The team has little to no depth at linebacker. Patrick Queen has a lot of pressure on his shoulders to step in and perform right away in his rookie season.

Overall, I believe the Ravens defense will see a slight decrease in its effectiveness to stop opposing offenses.

Final call (2020 vs 2019): Small downgrade

4. Regular Season Wins

According to sportsbooks, the Baltimore Ravens are expected to win 11.5 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 11.5 WINS 52.3% FanDuel +105 +7.2%
UNDER 11.5 WINS 47.7% bwin +100 -4.6%

Tip: Bet OVER 11.5 wins
Return On Investment (ROI): +7.2%
Rank: 27th-highest ROI out of 32 teams
Minimum odds required to bet (i.e. ROI = 0%): -110

Here are BetOnline’s point spreads for the Ravens’ 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 discuss the team whose ROI is 26th in the NFL.

Thanks for reading, I hope you appreciated this write-up!

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

Will the Los Angeles Chargers win OVER/UNDER 8 games? By University Stats Prof!

1. Introduction

Anthony Lynn’s first two seasons as the Chargers head coach were successful with 9-7 and 12-4 records. However, last year was a clear disappointment as the team finished dead last in their division with a 5-11 record. That included losing six of the final seven matchups.

Obviously, the team is entering a new era with a big QB change. They hope the 10-year drought without a division title is going to get snapped sooner than later.

2. Offensive Position-by-Position Breakdown

2.1 Quarterbacks (QBs)

After spending 16 seasons with the Chargers, Philip Rivers signed with the Colts. His 23-to-20 TD-to-INT ratio last year was the worst of his whole career. He still racked up 4,615 passing yards, though, but his arm looked weaker than ever. He also struggled as soon as he felt the rush coming.

Before the draft, head coach Anthony Lynn kept repeating that Tyrod Taylor was in the driver’s seat to get the starting nod under center. Does that still hold true after drafting Justin Herbert with the No. 6 overall pick? I doubt it.

Herbert is one of the most polarizing prospects. Some experts believe he’ll have a great career, while others see bust written all over him.

He is physically gifted with good size, an elite arm strength and mobility that allows him to elude the rush and pick up first downs with his legs. He is also known for being able to make all types of throws.

The knocks on him are as follows. First, some people question his leadership ability because he’s an introvert. Also, his decision-making isn’t always the best, he fumbles way too many times and a 64% college career completion rate isn’t all that impressive.

Tyrod Taylor might still have a shot to start under center, but his chances have clearly diminished with Herbert on the team. He has 54 career TD passes versus 20 interceptions, while adding 16 rushing TDs to his resume.

Taylor’s best years were with the Bills from 2015 to 2017. Over that time span, he completed 774-of-1236 passes (62.6%) with 51 TD passes and 16 picks. He helped Buffalo reach the playoffs for the first time in 18 years.

He tends to get blamed for being too conservative. He does limit the turnovers, but throwing 51 touchdown passes in 44 games in Buffalo was far from breathtaking.

After a bad experience in Cleveland in 2018 and not playing in 2019, can Taylor revive his career? It seems pretty doubtful. He makes for a great backup QB, though.

2.2 Running Backs (RBs)

Melvin Gordon left for Denver, which leaves the door wide open for Austin Ekeler to take over as the clear-cut #1 back.

Ekeler was excellent in both facets of the game: as a runner and as a receiver. For the second straight year, he rushed for about 550 yards with 3 TDs on the ground. However, he did a lot more damage through the air by catching a jaw-dropping 92 balls out of 108 targets, which included 8 receiving TDs and an extremely good 10.8 yards-per-catch average.

The undrafted runner from Western State has averaged 4.8 yards per carry thus far in his three years in the big league. This figure is likely to go down now that he’ll be the workhorse back, but he’s expected to get a lot more rushing attempts.

Gordon’s departure inserts Justin Jackson into the #2 RB role. He was picked in the 7th round of the 2018 draft and his main problem has been staying healthy. He missed three games in his rookie season and nine more the following year. In both cases, he rushed for close to 200 yards.

It’s unclear what Jackson can bring to the table due to his limited time on the field. Based on his draft status it’s hard to expect great things, but the jury is still out about his future.

2.3 Wide Receivers (WRs)

This position was dominated by two players: Keenan Allen and Mike Williams. All other guys caught less than 10 passes.

You can’t say enough about Keenan Allen. He’s just a super reliable target.

He was often the victim of the injury bug in the past, but he’s now played all 16 games in each of the last three years. During this time period, he has been extremely consistent by averaging 101 receptions for 1,263 yards and 6 TDs. He will be entering his age-28 campaign, so he still has plenty of gas left in the tank.

Mike Williams was the #7 overall selection in the 2017 draft out of Clemson. His numbers have increased each year, except the TD output which inexplicably dropped from 10 to 2 last year.

Williams had a whopping 20.4 yards-per-catch average, second-best in the league behind Mecole Hardman. He battled through knee injuries throughout the year.

The depth at the position is worrisome. The team drafted a couple of guys in later rounds: Joe Reed from Virginia and K.J. Hill from Ohio State.

2.4 Tight Ends (TEs)

Hunter Henry is one of the top tight ends in the league when healthy. The problem has been just that: staying healthy.

He tore his ACL during OTAs in 2018, which caused him to miss the entire regular season.

Last year, he missed four additional games due to a knee injury but he still set career-highs in receptions (55) and receiving yards (652). He has scored 17 TDs in 41 career games, which amounts to 6.6 per 16 games.

Virgil Green is the projected backup TE. He couldn’t get anything going even during Henry’s absence last year. It does not bode well for him. The former seventh-rounder has never caught more than 22 passes since joining the league nine years ago.

2.5 Offensive Line (OL)

Mike Pouncey’s first five years in the league were pretty good after being selected in the 1st round by the Dolphins nine years ago. Then, his PFF grades started to decline steadily. Things got worse last year when he suffered a career-threatening neck injury. He is on track to return in 2020, but his play has been below-average of late.

Right tackle Bryan Bulaga is now on the wrong side of 30, but that didn’t scare the Chargers off. They signed him to a three-year deal worth $30 million. He will solidify the line without a doubt. He played very well last year in Green Bay; he secured the #15 spot out of 81 tackles based on PFF rankings.

With Michael Schofield about to hit the free agent market, the Chargers acquired Trai Turner from the Panthers. Both received very identical PFF marks, but Turner is three years younger. He’s set to play left guard.

Dan Feeney won the preseason battle for the left guard position during preseason, and he ended up starting all 16 games for the second year in a row. However, once again the quality of his play left a lot to be desired. He rated as the 64th-best guard out of 81 qualifiers.

The Trent Scott experiment on Philip Rivers’ blind side was a huge failure last year. He was atrocious.

Can Trey Pipkins be the answer at left tackle? The third-round pick from last year didn’t play many snaps last year, so it’s hard to evaluate.

Or will it be Sam Tevi taking over at this key position? He did play left tackle as a junior with the Utah Utes. The 6th rounder has never received a PFF grade above 60 in his three-year career, so it’s hard to get excited about him.

2020 VS 2019 OFFENSE

Despite all the criticism around Philip Rivers, he still threw for more than 4,600 yards. Can Justin Herbert and/or Tyrod Taylor do better? I doubt it.

Also, am I the only one worrying about the depth at many positions on offense?

Instead of having a nice Gordon-Ekeler duo at running back, the team must now rely on unproven Justin Jackson as the backup runner. At wide receiver, what happens if either Keenan Allen or Mike Williams gets hurt? If Hunter Henry misses time at tight end, the team must turn to Virgil Green. We’re talking about HUGE talent dropoff between the starters and the backups at those positions.

At least the team upgraded its offensive line, but not that much. I like the additions of Bulaga and Turner, but Okung and Schofield left. To me, that represents a small net gain for the team.

Overall, I believe this unit suffers a small downgrade over 2019.

Final call (2020 vs 2019): Small downgrade

3. Defensive Position-by-Position Breakdown

3.1 Defensive Linemen (DLs)

All four guys receiving the most playing time on the interior of the line last year received poor PFF grades. Justin Jones finished 93rd, Brandon Mebane 112th, Damion Square 73rd and Jerry Tillery 114th out of 114 qualifiers. That’s awful.

Two of those players are now off the team: Mebane (who turned 35) and Square. Neither of those losses represent a blow to the defense.

Justin Jones improved slightly from his rookie to his sophomore year, but he’ll need to take a bigger leap in his third year. The former third-round pick out of N.C. State has not been very impressive thus far.

As for Tillery, he was the #28 overall pick from the 2019 draft. It’s too early to call him a bust, but ranking dead last among all DLs can hardly be viewed as a successful season. He posted two sacks, but was awful against the run.

The Chargers hope to boost the position with the acquisition of Linval Joseph. The 10-year veteran received high marks from 2015 to 2017, but his play deteriorated a little bit in the past two years. Granted, he still ranked as the 42nd-best interior defenders out of 114 guys last year. He’ll be playing his age-32 campaign, so hopefully his play won’t drop even further.

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

Joey Bosa and Melvin Ingram are the team’s clear-cut sack leaders. They recorded 11.5 and 7 sacks respectively last year, while the third-best turned out to be just 2.5 by Desmond King. Ouch.

Bosa is a beast. Plain and simple. Bosa had 10.5, 12.5, 5.5 and 11.5 sacks during his first four years in the NFL. The 5.5 sacks picked up in 2018 were obtained in seven games; if you project those numbers into a full 16-game season, that equates to 12.5. As can be seen, he’s been very consistent.

Ingram’s sack output has decreased a little bit recently. After posting 10.5, 8.0 and 10.5 from 2015 to 2017, he got exactly 7 sacks in each of the last two years. He remains clearly an above-average edge rusher and likely has a gas left in the tank at 31 years old.

Uchenna Nwosu will continue to be a rotational player in this defense. He played 37% of the snaps and the former second-rounder has 5.5 sacks in two years.

3.3 Linebackers (LBs)

Thomas Davis provided quality play, especially coming from a 36-year-old linebacker. The team still decided to cut ties with him in order to create cap space and to get younger at the position.

The team has three guys who all played between 37% and 39% of the snaps last year: Drue Tranquill, Kyzir White and Denzel Perryman.

Tranquill was picked in the 4th round of last year’s draft and he enjoyed a very respectable rookie season. He ended up as the #25 LB out of 89 players, based on PFF marks. He is a good candidate to improve his game since he converted from safety to linebacker just three years ago.

White is another former fourth-rounder, but he was taken a year earlier. He has earned 65.6 and 66.6 PFF grades in his first two seasons. His 2019 grade is actually identical to Tranquill’s.

Perryman is unlikely to become a full-time starter in the NFL. He has yet to establish himself as a true starter in five years, so all signs point towards the former second-rounder to end up no more than a reserve player.

The Chargers have added two pieces to the group: free agent Nick Vigil and Kenneth Murray via the draft.

Vigil is no better than what the Chargers already had. As a matter of fact, he has earned weaker marks. He will still get a shot at the starting lineup considering his experience.

With the 23rd overall selection, the Chargers drafted Kenneth Murray out of Oklahoma. The kid plays with great passion and he started at middle linebacker with the Sooners at 17 years old, which is quite impressive!

Murray can literally fly on the field; he’s a playmakers who’s willing to take some risks. His style leads to many tackles for a loss. He needs to get better at reading plays and shedding blockers, however.

3.4 Cornerbacks (CBs)

Casey Hayward is among the league’s top cover corners. He graded as the third-best CB in the NFL last season, according to PFF rankings. He has 22 interceptions in eight years and figures to have another productive season in 2020. He hasn’t missed a single game in six years!

Desmond King is most effective in the middle of the field as a slot corner. Strangely enough, the Chargers signed Chris Harris, formerly of the Broncos, who also butters his bread in that position. It remains to be seen how to team juggles with these two guys. Both received above-average grades despite subpar years compared to previous seasons.

How does Michael Davis fit in the mix? He could be the odd man out. He did pick up his first two interceptions of his young career after signing as an undrafted free agent in 2017, but he wasn’t particularly good.

3.5 Safeties (S)

Derwin James missed the first 11 games last season. His presence was sorely missed on the field. The #17 overall pick from the 2018 draft enjoyed a spectacular rookie season with 105 tackles, 3 interceptions and 3.5 sacks. Now with a clean bill of health, James projects to play a big role in 2020.

The other starting safety is Rayshawn Jenkins. He’s not nearly as good as his fellow teammate. He racked up the first three picks of his career last year, but he only managed to obtain the 60th spot among 87 safeties, according to PFF grades. He has yet to have a big impact, and he’s unlikely to do.

The team lost some nice depth when Adrian Phillips left for New England. The #3 safety will likely be either Roderic Teamer or sixth-round pick Alohi Gilman. You don’t want either of them to start, so the Chargers must cross their fingers that neither James nor Jenkins gets hurt.

2020 VS 2019 DEFENSE

How will the 2020 Chargers defense fare compared to the 2019’s group?

The team upgraded the interior of the line a little bit with the addition of Linval Joseph.

Tackle leader Thomas Davis is gone, while the organization acquired Nick Vigil and drafted Kenneth Murray. Vigil isn’t a solid linebacker, so Chargers fans must hope for Murray to develop quickly, or perhaps see Drue Tranquill elevate his game.

Getting Chris Harris at corner is another good, albeit not spectacular, addition to the team. However, losing Adrian Phillips will put the Chargers in trouble if one of their two starting safeties get hurt.

Los Angeles allowed the 14th fewest points in the league last year. I expect them to remain around this spot in 2020.

Final call (2020 vs 2019): Stable

4. Regular Season Wins

According to sportsbooks, the Los Angeles Chargers are expected to win 8 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 WINS 42.6% Bookmaker.eu -107 -17.6%
UNDER 8 WINS 57.4% Heritage Sports -105 +12.1%
Tip: Bet UNDER 8 wins
Return On Investment (ROI): +12.1%
Rank: 23rd-highest ROI out of 32 teams
Minimum odds required to bet (i.e. ROI = 0%): -135

Here are BetOnline’s point spreads for the Chargers’ 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.

Thank you for reading!

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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Will the Houston Texans win OVER/UNDER 7.5 games? By University Stats Prof!

1. Introduction

The Texans won the AFC South title for the fourth time in five years. They pulled off a great playoff comeback win over the Bills after being down 16-0 in the third quarter.

However, they were the victim of a huge comeback themselves in the following contest by squandering a 24-0 lead in Kansas City. They were completely overwhelmed in the last 40 minutes of the game at Arrowhead Stadium and ended up losing 51-31.

2. Regular Season Wins

According to sportsbooks, the Houston Texans are expected to win 7.5 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 7.5 wins 50.8% Jazz Sports +105 +4.1%
UNDER 7.5 wins 49.2% MyBookie.ag -105 -3.9%

Here are BetOnline’s point spreads for the Texans’ 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.

3. Offensive Position-by-Position Breakdown

QUARTERBACKS (QB)

DeShaun Watson entrenched his status as a top 10 QB in the league by posting good numbers for a third straight year. He came close from the 4,000-yard mark, while throwing 26 TDs and 12 interceptions. He also added a career-high 7 rushing touchdowns.

There is no doubt he is one of the top signal callers in the league. He now has a good mix of youth and experience. He has a bright future ahead of him.

A.J. McCarron will back up Watson, but the team crosses its fingers they won’t need him on the field. He’s clearly not starter material; he has 6 TDs and 3 interceptions over a five-year period.

RUNNING BACKS (RB)

The Texans had a very nice duo in 2019 with Carlos Hyde and Duke Johnson. Still, Houston decided to shuffle things up a little bit.

David Johnson was acquired via a trade, even though the 28-year old has shown signs of declining. After racking up more than 2,000 rushing+receiving yards and 20 TDs in 2016, Johnson played just one game in 2017 after dislocating his left wrist in the season opener.

He simply hasn’t been the same since. His yards per rush average has gone from 4.6 in 2015 to 4.2 in 2016, 3.6 in 2018 and 3.7 last year.

David Johnson will be the lead back since Hyde has not been re-signed. Hyde rushed for more than 1,000 yards for the first time of his career and will need to find work elsewhere.

I really like Duke Johnson. He seems to have enough talent to take a heavier workload, but he’s been stuck behind guys like Isaiah Crowell, Nick Chubb and Carlos Hyde.

He hasn’t missed a single game in five years! He has caught at least 44 balls in each of those seasons, which shows how dangerous he is as a pass catcher. I would love to see what he could do as the workhorse back, but it’s not going to happen this year, unless David Johnson gets hurt.

WIDE RECEIVERS (WR)

I’ll do my best to stay polite: the DeAndre Hopkins trade was bad. That’s the nicest I can be when talking about this trade.

Hopkins is a rare talent. David Johnson isn’t. It’s as simple as that.

Losing Hopkins is a big blow. He is a game changer and often draws double coverage, which leaves more room for his teammates.

Will Fuller is a difference-maker when healthy, but the problem has been just that: health. He has missed between 2 and 7 games in each of his first four years as a pro. And when he’s on the field, he tends to play at less than 100%. He graded as the 25th-best WR last year (out of 122 guys).

Kenny Stills is not a #1 WR in this league, but he can be a competent #2, or a very good #3 wideout. He’s been pretty durable during his first seven years in the NFL, averaging 43 catches, 671 receiving yards and 5.1 TDs.

The team acquired a couple of WRs during the offseason: Randall Cobb and Brandin Cooks. Both graded as a middle-of-the-pack wideout last year, per PFF.

Cobb will be 30 when the 2020 season begins. He had a very respectable season in Dallas last year by posting a 55-828-3 stat line.

Brandin Cooks topped the 1,000-yard mark in each of the 2015, 2016, 2017 and 2018 seasons. His play took a huge dip last year; he caught 42 passes for 583 yards and just 2 TDs with the Rams.

The big source of concern about Cooks is his injury history: he has suffered at least five concussions in the NFL. Will he bounce back with Watson as his quarterback? It’s hard to tell. If he goes down, at least the team has nice depth with Fuller, Stills and Cobb.

TIGHT ENDS (TE)

Darren Fells used to be viewed as a run blocker throughout his career. He had never caught more than 21 passes in a season. In 2019, he broke out with 34 receptions, but most importantly 7 TDs! Watson made good use of his big 6’7’’ frame.

Jordan Akins went from 17 to 36 receptions in his second year as a pro. Both Akins and Fells aren’t game breakers. They ranked 50th and 48th out of 66 tight ends based on PFF ratings in 2019.

OFFENSIVE LINE (OL)

This has to be the offense’s weakest link. Other than Laremy Tunsil, all starters are either average, or below-average. Tunsil did finish as the #21 tackle out of 81 qualifiers (he wasn’t as good in run blocking). The Texans gave up a lot of draft capital in order to acquire him and Stills, so they need Tunsil to produce.

The other guys on the line, along with their PFF rankings, are as follows: Nick Martin (18th out of 37 centers), Tytus Howard (60th out of 81 tackles), Zach Fulton (61st out of 81 guards) and Max Scharping (48th out of 81 guards). As for backup Roderick Johnson, who was re-signed to a one-year deal, he finished as the #42 tackle.

Last year, the Texans attempted the 20th-most passes in the league, and yet allowed the 8th-most sacks. And that’s despite having a pretty mobile quarterback. Those numbers are not re-assuring.

Since the same guys will be protecting Watson in 2020, you could be concerned about his health. The only good news is continuity is important on the offensive line. Having played a full year together might help improve their play.

2020 VS 2019 OFFENSE

It’s difficult not to downgrade this unit after losing such an impactful player like DeAndre Hopkins. At least they picked up adequate receivers like Brandin Cooks and Randall Cobb. Along with Fuller and Stills, that will still provide nice weapons for Watson.

Switching Carlos Hyde for David Johnson isn’t necessarily an upgrade, in my humble opinion. Hyde did well in 2019 by finishing as the 18th-best RB (versus 22nd for Johnson).

The starting tight ends are the same as last year. The OL remains intact.

Overall, I’ll go with a small downgrade. Hopkins not only consistently racked up big numbers, but his presence alone opened things up for his teammates. It won’t be the case anymore.

Final call (2020 vs 2019): Small downgrade


4. Defensive Position-by-Position Breakdown

DEFENSIVE LINEMEN (DL)

The Texans had four guys rotating on the interior of the defensive line. None dominated nearly as much as D.J. Reader. He left for Cincinnati, which is a huge loss for the Texans.

Reader was not much of a quarterback chaser, but he was an animal as a run stuffer. Despite posting just 2.5 sacks, Reader ranked as the 7th-best interior defender out of 114 qualifiers. The Texans were 25th in rushing yards allowed per game, and things are about to get worse following Reader’s departure.

Bill O’Brien tried to compensate for that loss by signing Tim Jernigan away from the Eagles. He is an “okay” player, but not nearly as good as Reader was.

The other three guys obtaining playing time at the position were Charles Omenihu, Angelo Blackson and Brandon Dunn. They all played between 37% and 41% of the snaps last year. Here were their PFF rankings out of 114 interior defenders: 84th, 113th and 97th. Ouch.

The organization hopes second-round rookie Ross Blacklock can provide a spark right away. He played pretty well as a freshman with TCU, then missed the entire 2018 season due to an Achilles injury and came back leaner and faster as a junior. He’s an agile pass rusher who isn’t super strong.

Therefore, we’re talking about a pretty weak and worsened group.

DEFENSIVE ENDS (DE) / EDGE (ED)

J.J. Watt is the heart and soul of this defense. In his first five seasons in the NFL, he hadn’t missed a single game. Since then, he has played 32-of-64 games (i.e. 50% of them).

Now 31 years old, Texans fans have to be concerned by the situation. He did get 16 sacks in 2018, though. The big question revolves around his health because the abilities are still there for sure.

Whitney Mercilus isn’t getting any younger either. He will be 30 years old when the next season begins.

He led the team with 7.5 sacks last year. As a whole, Houston’s defense posted the sixth-fewest sacks, so thank God Mercilus was there.

Unlike Watt, Mercilus has not missed many games throughout his career. He’s been involved in 15 games or more in seven of his eight seasons in the NFL. During those seven years, he has averaged 7 sacks per season.

We do observe a worrisome tendency when watching his PFF grades, though. His marks have gone down quite a bit over the most recent two years. Coupled with his age, I am wary of his 2020 outlook.

LINEBACKERS (LB)

Zach Cunningham did a very fine job at linebacker last season. He had the 6th-most tackles in the league with 142, improving upon his 105 the year before. The former second rounder from the 2017 draft out of Vanderbilt has shown some nice steady progress thus far. He graded as the 21st-best LB out of 89 players.

Benardrick McKinney is another guy that does a good job, despite not receiving much recognition around the league. He’s missed only two games over the past four seasons, while racking up at least 95 tackles in each of them.

McKinney had his worst PFF grade of his career, and yet finished in spot #30 out of 89 linebackers. Not bad! He’s still young at 27 years old, so a bounce back year is likely.

CORNERBACKS (CB)

Bradley Roby was one of the starting corners for the Texans last year, but he missed six games due to a hamstring injury. Prior to this, he had been very durable in five seasons with the Broncos.

As a former first-round pick, he’s had ups-and-downs in his career. Houston just locked him up with a lucrative three-year contract, so they believe he’s one of the building blocks towards a Super Bowl run. He ranked as an average CB last season based on PFF ratings.

Johnathan Joseph is done in Houston. Both sides agreed to part ways. He played almost all games last season, and just like Roby he was marked as an average cornerback.

After getting traded at midseason from the Raiders to the Texans, Gareon Conley significantly improved his play. The former 2017 first-rounder showed some promise and could be Joseph’s replacement.

Another candidate is Lonnie Johnson. Bill O’Brien took him in the second round of the 2019 draft, but he struggled big time in his rookie season. His 29.0 grade in coverage by PFF was abysmal. He finished as the worst of all 112 qualified cornerbacks in the NFL.

SAFETIES (S)

Justin Reid has been a nice pickup so far. In his first two seasons in the NFL, he has received very good marks from PFF. He has intercepted five passes, forced one fumble and recovered three.

Tashaun Gipson secured the number 71 spot out of 87 safeties in PFF rankings last season. His play tailed off significantly compared to his previous two years in Jacksonville. Entering his age-30 campaign, the team released him this offseason.

The #3 safety was Jahleel Addae, but he won’t be re-signed. The guy who is most likely to take Gipson’s job is Eric Murray. His three-year, $20.25 million contract is a bit of a head-scratcher (what else can you expect from Bill O’Brien), but the dollar amount indicates he has a good shot to be a starter.

Murray played his first three seasons with the Chiefs before joining the Browns last year. His PFF grades have been all over the place. As a rookie, his 74.0 mark was awesome! However, he crashed down to an atrocious 49.8 grade in his sophomore year before obtaining 67.5 and 62.5 the most recent two seasons. To me, he looks like a middle-of-the-pack guy (if not below-average).

2020 VS 2019 DEFENSE

In the secondary, the Texans let CB Johnathan Joseph and their #2 and #3 safeties Tashaun Gipson and Jahleel Addae go, but picked up Eric Murray. That’s pretty much a wash. For a team that allowed the fourth-most passing yards in 2019, it does not bode very well for 2020.

Replacing stud DL D.J. Reader with Tim Jernigan is clearly a downgrade. As for the edge rushers and the linebackers, no changes have been made. J.J. Watt missed eight games last year and will be back this year, but his age (and Mercilus’ age) worry me a little bit.

For these reasons, I expect this already fairly weak unit to decrease even more in terms of production.

Final call (2020 vs 2019): Small downgrade

MOST LIKELY RECORD: 8-8

(based on the one-million simulated seasons using BetOnline’s 2020 point spreads)


Thanks for reading, savvy sports bettor!!!

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

Last week, EA Sports released ratings for every player in Madden NFL 21, including Denver Broncos players.Here’s a quick look at the Broncos players in the video game. Drew Lock is rated 70 Live betting odds for Denver Broncos vs Kansas City Chiefs - Sunday, December 15, 2019 at Arrowhead Stadium on Sunday, December 15, 2019. Up to date offshore betting odds of over 30+ sportsbooks Minshew nearly won his first road game at Houston and heads to Denver for a meeting with the 0-3 Broncos. So far the market is split in terms of betting tickets, but nearly two-thirds of bettors like the under as of Thursday. DENVER BRONCOS GAME-BY-GAME BETTING TRENDS. Week 1 vs. Tennessee, 10:10 PM ET (Monday): The Broncos are 5-2 SU and 6-1 ATS overall in series since the Titans moved to Nashville. Week 2 at Pittsburgh, 1 PM ET: Denver is 7-3 SU (6-3-1 ATS) in the past 10 meetings, dating to 1991. Odds can vary greatly at different operators like FanDuel Sportsbook or DraftKings Sportsbook, for example, and can be influenced by not only money wagered, but by sharp house players which forces the sportsook to adjust the odds. The Broncos’ Super Bowl odds discrepancy at FanDuel (+6000 or 60-1) vs. DraftKings (+4000 or 40-1) is an example

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