Will the Tennessee Titans win OVER/UNDER 8.5 games? By University Stats Prof!
Tennessee’s season completely turned around once they benched quarterback Marcus Mariota in favor of Ryan Tannehill. After a 2-4 start, the Titans won seven of their final 10 games to sneak into the playoffs as the 6th seed in the AFC. Fun fact: it was the fourth straight season that the Titans finished with a 9-7 record! In the playoffs, they knocked off the defending Super Bowl champions New England Patriots, as well as the top seed in the conference, the Baltimore Ravens. Derrick Henry ran like a mad man in those games, becoming the first player in NFL history to rack up at least 175 rushing yards in two games in the same postseason. In the AFC Conference Championship Game, Tennessee grabbed a 17-7 lead in the second quarter, but couldn’t hold off the Chiefs any longer in a 35-to-24 defeat.
2. Offensive Position-by-Position Breakdown
2.1 Quarterbacks (QBs) Ryan Tannehill was clearly one of the best Cinderella stories in 2019. After taking over as the starting QB over Marcus Mariota, he led the league in QB rating. He crushed his previous career-high in completion percentage with as astounding 70.3%; his personal best was 66.4% in 2014. During his first six years in Miami, he posted a 123:75 TD:INT mark. That equates to a 1.64 ratio. In 2019, he threw 22 TD passes versus 6 interceptions, which amounts to a 3.7 ratio. As you can see, once again he obliterated his past numbers. The team thinks he can keep playing at that level after handing him a hefty contract. I do believe he’ll do a good job in 2020, but not at the 2019 levels, obviously. As of now, the backup QB is Logan Woodside since Mariota signed with the Raiders. Woodside was drafted in the 7th round of the 2018 draft out of Toledo. During preseason games, he completed 46-of-76 passes (a 60.5% completion rate) for 539 yards with 4 TDs and no interception. It’s hard to tell what he can bring to the table. 2.2 Running Backs (RBs) Derrick Henry was a true beast last year. He won the rushing title with 1,540 rushing yards and 16 TDs on the ground (he added two more as a receiver). His 5.1 yards-per-carry average is mind-boggling considering the high volume. He didn’t slow down in the playoffs. After rushing for 182 yards in New England, he single-handedly destroyed the Ravens with 195 rushing yards. He was quieter in K.C. by accumulating 69 yards on the ground. Few people remember how he finished the previous year on a high note as well. In the final four meetings of the 2018 season, he averaged 146 rushing yards and 1.75 rushing TDs per contest. Obviously, he followed up with a season to remember. Henry’s numbers have steadily increased every single year since he joined the league in 2016. Now 26 years old, defensive coordinators must be getting up at night to game plan against him. Dion Lewis was a nice change-of-pace back, even though he didn’t have a great year. At least he had NFL experience, which is not the case of the remaining potential backup backs. Both Dalyn Dawkins and David Fluellen are undrafted guys who have combined for 19 rushing attempts in the league. Tennessee filled a need by drafting Darrynton Evans in last April’s draft. The third-rounder complements Henry’s skillset well, as Evans can spell him on passing third-down situations (a role that used to be played by Dion Lewis). Also, he isn’t great running inside the tackles due to his small size, but he is more of a change-of-pace runner who has home-run hitting capacities. 2.3 Wide Receivers (WRs) Rookie A.J. Brown was hyped as a big-play guy, and he did not disappoint. He didn’t catch that many balls, but when he did he made the most of it. The Mississippi product led all receivers that caught at least 50 passes with a jaw-dropping 20.2 yards-per-catch average. He scored 8 TDs, while also topping the 1,000 receiving-yard mark (he had 1,051). Will former #5 overall pick Corey Davis live up to his draft status? It seems unlikely after watching his first three years as a pro. He raised hopes by posting a 65-891-4 receiving line in 2018, but he regressed to 43-601-2 last year. Talent and youth play on his side, though. He may not be a true No. 1 wideout, but he can clearly do the job as a number two or three receiver. Adam Humphries is an efficient, yet not explosive player. He is good to pick up key first downs. He caught more than 70% of his targets in his final two years in Tampa, and he reached that goal once again in his first season in Tennessee. Was he worth a four-year deal worth $36 million? Probably not, but having him as your slot receiver is a bonus. His numbers were down last year, but he will be a useful tool as a 27-year old this year. Tajae Sharpe also made a nice contribution last year with 25 receptions, 329 yards and 4 TDs. He was a nice luxury to have on your roster, but he signed with the Vikings during the offseason. 2.4 Tight Ends (TEs) Jonnu Smith and Delanie Walker received the most playing time at tight end. Walker did a decent job, but father time seems to have caught up to him. After being very durable for 11 years, he stayed healthy for just one game in 2018 and seven games last year. Accordingly, the team cut ties with him as he was going to enter his age-36 campaign. Walker’s absence gave more room for Jonnu Smith to shine. The 2017 third-rounder has seen his numbers increase every year. His 35-439-3 receiving line is nothing to write home about. He could make a jump in 2020, but don’t expect huge steps. Anthony Firkser will be back with the squad. He doesn’t have the size and speed to become a great TE, but he does a fine job for a guy that was never drafted. MyCole Pruitt will be the #3 TE. He has never caught more than 10 passes in any of his five years in the NFL. Enough said. 2.5 Offensive Line (OL) Ben Jones has done a great job at the pivot throughout his entire eight-year career. He raised his game to a higher level last year by finishing at the second-best center in the NFL according to PFF grades. He’s been an awesome pickup when acquired from the Texas a few years ago. Right tackle Jack Conklin broke the bank in Cleveland, which left a glaring hole in Tennessee. He was a very solid player, and Dennis Kelly or Isaiah Wilson will try to fill his shoes. Kelly has received his two best PFF grades of his seven-year career in 2018 and 2019, which is a good sign. However, he doesn’t play at the same level as Conklin. The organization figures to have a better chance at replacing Conklin adequately with Isaiah Wilson, who was taken late in the first round of this year’s draft. This guy weighted close to 400 pounds coming out of high school! He is a mauler. The rookie needs work for both his footwork and technique, which led to uneven play in college. He has exceptional physical traits and high potential, but may not be great right from the start. At left tackle, Taylor Lewan is a cornerstone of this offensive line. He’s been good his whole career, never receiving a PFF mark below 76.4, which is remarkable! Rodger Saffold is the starting left guard for the Titans. He ranked as the sixth-best guard in the NFL last year; needless to say he’s been a valuable piece of the puzzle for this franchise. The weakest link is Nate Davis at right guard. The third-round rookie struggled big-time last year. 2020 VS 2019 OFFENSE The Titans did not make a single free agent acquisition on offense. They lost some depth with the departures of RB Dion Lewis and WR Tajae Sharpe. The team hopes 3rd round pick Darrynton Evans can spell Henry appropriately. The backup QB will also be weaker due to Mariota leaving for Vegas. And despite his advanced age, Delanie Walker was a decent TE, although he only appeared in seven games last year. The biggest loss occurred on the offensive line. Seeing Jack Conklin go to the Jets hurts the team. Rookie Isaiah Wilson will do his best to hold the fort, but he is unlikely to play at the same level as Conklin in his first year as a pro. Finally, how could we expect better production out of Ryan Tannehill in 2020 as opposed to his 2019 heroics? In conclusion, I am tagging the Titans offense with a moderate downgrade in comparison to 2019. Final call (2020 vs 2019): Moderate downgrade
3. Defensive Position-by-Position Breakdown
3.1 Defensive Linemen (DLs) Jurrell Casey is a strong run stuffer, while also averaging 5.7 sacks per year over a nine-year period. He was traded to Denver for cap reasons, which will hurt Tennessee’s interior of the line a lot. With Casey gone, the team will hand a much heavier workload to Jeffery Simmons. After missing the first seven games due to a knee injury, he showed fairly good promise as a #19 overall pick from the 2019 draft. His sophomore year will be critical. The team will also rely on DaQuan Jones to step up his game. He is an above-average DL, whose main strength is defending the run. He only has seven sacks in six years. The Titans lost some depth as Austin Johnson went to the Giants. 3.2 Defensive Ends (DEs) / Edge Rushers (ED) Harold Landry played twice as many snaps in his sophomore year as his rookie season, and he doubled his sack total (going from 4.5 to 9 to lead the team in that category). He graded as the 62nd-best edge defender in the league out of 107 players. He has the potential to take a leap. The team hopes to improve its pass rush by adding Vic Beasley, formerly of the Falcons. His numbers are a bit puzzling. He led the league with 15.5 sacks in his second season back in 2016. Since then, he has posted 5, 5 and 8 sacks. Those are not bad numbers, but they are clearly below expectations coming from a fellow that was the 8th overall selection in the 2015 draft. Also, he is a liability in run defense. In other words, he’s been more name than game recently. Kamalei Correa racked up five sacks despite playing 39% of the snaps. He had just 3.5 sacks over his first three years as a pro. He’s not a game breaker. Reggie Gilbert is a role player. The undrafted guy has 4.5 sacks in three years is no more than depth. 3.3 Linebackers (LBs) Jayon Brown and Rashaan Evans are the leaders of this group. Based on draft status, Evans is supposed to be the superior player, but that wasn’t the case at all last year. Evans received poor marks from PFF with a 47.6 grade; he obtained spot #74 out of 89 LBs. He struggled a lot in coverage and wasn’t that great rushing the passer. He does a fine job defending the run though. As for Brown, his 68.8 PFF grade allowed him to finish as the 20th-best linebacker in the league. His sack total went from 6 in 2018 down to just one a year ago. The former fifth-rounder will try to bring that number back up this season. Wesley Woodyard’s career is clearly on the decline. He lost his starting job, his PFF grades are falling, he’s 34 years old and he is now a free agent after the Titans failed to re-sign him. 3.4 Cornerbacks (CBs) Adoree’ Jackson is the team’s number 1 CB. He was the 18th overall pick from the 2017 draft. Even though he has only two career interceptions, he is still a fairly solid coverage guy. He constantly ranks among the upper tier. Logan Ryan played almost all defensive snaps last year and he filled the scoresheet more than ever in his seven-year career. He had career-highs in tackles (113), sacks (4.5) and forced fumbles (4). He also picked off four passes, his second-best performance. Yet, he graded as an average corner by taking the 62nd rank out of 112 CBs because of ordinary run defense and coverage skills. The Titans couldn’t meet his salary demands, so he left via free agency. Malcolm Butler finished once again in the middle of the pack among all NFL cornerbacks last year. The Super Bowl XLIX hero has seen his PFF grades decrease in each of the past three seasons, but he still manages to intercept 2-4 passes every year. He missed seven games last year with a broken wrist. LeShaun Sims played 30% of the snaps, while producing poor play on the field. He’s never been a good corner, but he still found a new home in Cincinnati when the Bengals signed him in March. The Titans took Kristian Fulton late in the 2nd round this year. Many reports suggest he’ll be an average NFL starter. He is best in man coverage due to his physicality. He lost the entire 2017 season when he was caught trying to tamper with a PED test sample, where he submitted a friend’s urine. 3.5 Safeties (S) Kevin Byard is one of the league’s highest paid safety and he deserves it. He has 17 interceptions over the last three years. In those seasons, his PFF rankings were 4th, 3rd and 10th among close to 90 qualifiers. Byard turned out to be a huge bargain as a former third-round pick out of Middle Tennessee State. Now 27 years old, there is no reason to believe his play will deteriorate in 2020. Kenny Vaccaro is well known among fans, even though his play is not great. He probably gets recognition due to his former first-round status, but his best PFF grade was 66.7 back in 2013. Just to give you an idea, such a mark would have yielded him the #48 spot out of 87 safeties last year. And that was his best season. Amani Hooker played 30% of the snaps last year as a rookie. The Titans had actually traded up to secure his rights during the 2019 draft. He did a decent job, but the jury is still out about the fourth-rounder’s future. 2020 VS 2019 DEFENSE The Titans allowed the 12th-fewest points in the league last year. Should be expect better or worse play in 2020? Jurrell Casey’s presence will be missed in a big way on the interior of the line. Also, not getting CB Logan Ryan back is hardly good news. Overall, he was an above-average corner who was constantly on the field and has been very durable in his career. The only good addition is Vic Beasley. I feel like he’s overrated since his sack numbers are lower than what most people think and due to poor run defense, but he still has valuable pass rushing abilities. Based on this information, I anticipate a small downgrade from this unit. Final call (2020 vs 2019): Small downgrade
4. Regular Season Wins
According to sportsbooks, the Titans are expected to win 8.5 games this season. Should we bet the “over” or the “under”? Here is the methodology I used in order to answer this vital question:
Use BetOnline.ag’s point spreads on all 256 regular season games.
Convert those point spreads into win probabilities.
Simulate each of the 256 games, according to those win probabilities, via the R statistical software.
Repeat the previous step one million times (you get 1M simulated seasons).
Count the proportion of seasons where the Titans won more or less than 8.5 games.
Here are the results:
OVER 8.5 WINS
UNDER 8.5 WINS
Tip: Bet UNDER 8.5 wins Return On Investment (ROI): +12.4% Rank: 22nd-highest ROI out of 32 teams Minimum odds required to bet (i.e. ROI = 0%): +104 Here are BetOnline’s point spreads for the Titans’ 16 regular season games:
HOME: -2 vs BUF, -3 vs CHI, -4 vs CLE, -6 vs DET, -4.5 vs HOU, -2.5 vs IND, -11 vs JAX, -2 vs PIT.
Note: The “Best odds” from the table above were obtained after looking at 13 well-known online sportsbooks on May 18th, 2020. I hope you found this article informative, I've got every NFL team covered so check out my other posts! Have a nice day! Professor MJ
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
“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/
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.
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.
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.
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
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).
"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)
With the draft complete and the bulk of the free agency rush over with, it's time to start looking ahead to the 2020 season! And with that, I'm back with year 2 of my Opportunity series. For those who didn't see this series last year, I try to take a different approach to fantasy projections than your run-of-the-mill rankings. The basis of my process is that the number one indicator of fantasy success is opportunities to touch the ball. Obviously individual player skill can (and will) affect that, but at the end of the day players are at the mercy of playcalling and play design. Therefore, if we want to make accurate projections, we need to look at each coach's scheme and how they like to spread the ball around. As a result, this series is very coach-centric. I'll touch on individual players, but only as they relate to their coaches' schemes. On a related note, this series will only aim to establish projections on how touches will be split up, not what individual players will be able to accomplish with those touches. That will come later once depth charts settle through training camp. Think of this series more as a basis for realistic expectations. Make sense? Good. Let's dive in. Most of my stats are pulled fromPro Football Reference. Please support them. They are awesome and are my primary source of statistical information.
Coaching Changes Not much to say here. It's not like head coach Kyle Shanahan is on the hot seat after making the Super Bowl. He also doesn't have an offensive coordinator that can be poached as Shanahan is his own offensive coordinator. Defensive coordinator Robert Saleh was considered a head coaching candidate elsewhere, but wound up staying put. Coaching History Shanahan has progressively become more and more run-focused since coming to the Bay Area. When he first arrived, he ran a pass-heavy offense (61.4% pass rate) at a breakneck pace, resulting in an impressive 1058 total plays. The following year, he slowed down his offense considerably and started to lean a little more into his running game, reducing the pass rate to 57.8% and the total plays to 1003. Last year, his offense was actually one of the slowest in the NFL as he called the 2nd highest run rate in the NFL (49.2%), though an incredible jump in defensive efficiency still allowed the 49ers to run 1015 plays. The slowdown in pace and increasing focus on the run hasn't changed the target share balances much, however. While the wide receivers were in better shape than they were in 2018, injuries and ineffectiveness continued to plague the unit. This resulted in the second consecutive year of a 48.7% target share for the group. The George Kittle-led tight end group lost all of 0.2% of their target share en route to a 27.4% mark on the season. This leaves the running backs with the biggest change at a "whopping" 1.4% increase in target share, fed by a healthy Jimmy Garoppolo being more adept at finding his checkdown target than a 2018 Nick Mullens. Of course, all of this is also a far cry from the offense Shanahan led in Atlanta, or even from his first year in San Francisco. His offense in Atlanta was considerably more wide receiver focused, producing over a 60% target share for the unit both years Shanahan was there. This flip was primarily taken from the Falcons' tight end group as the running backs were targeted at a similar rate in the low 20% range. Meanwhile, in Shanahan's first year in charge of the 49ers, his tight ends were still targeted lightly like they had been in Atlanta but his running backs stole about 6% of the targets away from the wide receivers. The point here being that Shanahan is more than willing to make major changes to his scheme to feature whatever position group he feels is best. Looking Ahead While Shanahan is willing to make major changes to fit his personnel, he won't have to this year. The 49ers didn't make much noise in free agency and what little noise they did make in free agency and the draft was primarily aimed at replacing the small handful of players they lost. Heck, even the headline trade of their offseason was replacing one retiring offensive tackle with a comparable one. With so little change in personnel (or at least very little change in talent level even where turnover did occur), there's no great reason to believe that Shanahan will operate his 2020 offense any differently than his 2019 one. The total plays and positional target shares should be more or less the same as the last two years. The run-pass ratio may slide to being slightly more pass heavy as QB Jimmy Garoppolo gets better settled in, but this will still very much be a run-heavy offense. Not much else to say. When a team has been this consistent for two years running and doesn't do much to shake things up in the offseason, it's a good bet that they'll be consistent for a third straight year. 2020 Projections
Will the Houston Texans win OVER/UNDER 7.5 games? By University Stats Prof!
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:
Use BetOnline.ag’s point spreads on all 256 regular season games.
Convert those point spreads into win probabilities.
Simulate each of the 256 games, according to those win probabilities, via the R statistical software.
Repeat the previous step one million times (you get 1M simulated seasons).
Count the proportion of seasons where the Texans won more or less than 7.5 games.
Here are the results:
OVER 7.5 wins
UNDER 7.5 wins
Tip: Bet OVER 7.5 wins
Return On Investment (ROI): +4.1%
Rank: 29th-highest ROI out of 32 teams
Minimum odds required to bet (i.e. ROI = 0%): -103
Here are BetOnline’s point spreads for the Texans’ 16 regular season games:
HOME: +5 vs BAL, -6.5 vs CIN, 0 vs GB, -2 vs IND, -9 vs JAX, 0 vs MIN, -3 vs NE, -1 vs 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
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)
Defending the Draft: Pittsburgh Steelers Preface: 2019 was a strange season for the Pittsburgh Steelers, as fans watched Ben Roethlisberger miss essentially the entire season for the first time in his 16-year career while simultaneously watching the defense emerge into one of the top units in the entire league. The return of Big Ben will patch the void at QB that capsized last season, and the only major departure was DT Javon Hargrave as he took his talents cross-state to Philadelphia. All things considered, the Steelers roster didn’t have a lot of pressing needs entering the offseason and most of the noticeable holes were patched during Free Agency. Among commonly cited needs heading into the draft were an IOL to add needed youth behind an aging core, a true NT to replace Hargrave, speedy offensive weapons to aid Ben in his return, EDGE depth, and (in the minds of some fans but not myself) a potential heir at the QB position. GM Kevin Colbert had a ton of options to work with and the name of the game this year was building up depth at thin positions while also finding some key contributors for a championship push. Despite entering the offseason with very limited cap space, the Steelers restructured some veteran contracts to give themselves room to attack some weak spots. The big move of the offseason was placing the Franchise Tag on breakout star Bud Dupree, thus solidifying their pass rush. It remains to be seen if Dupree has truly turned the corner as a pass-rusher but the Steelers were not in a position to let him leave, so the tag allows for more evaluation time while keeping him in town. Regarding external acquisitions, the Steelers brought in four veterans on cheap deals to strengthen their roster: TE Eric Ebron, FB Derek Watt, OG Stefen Wisniewski, and DL Chris Wormley. Ebron is a big-bodied playmaker who will provide important aid as a red-zone threat, Watt replaces Roosevelt Nix and brings key special teams value (and also reunites with his brother TJ), Wisniewski will take over for the retired Ramon Foster at Left Guard, and Wormley, who was acquired in a rare intra-divisional trade with the Ravens, helps solidify the DL depth in wake of Hargrave’s departure. All four players will be important contributors for the upcoming season. Draft-Related Trade: Steelers acquire SAF Minkah Fitzpatrick from Miami for 1.18 (Full Details: 2020 1st, 2020 5th, & 2021 6th for Minkah Fitzpatrick & 2020 4th) While not particularly a draft-day acquisition, I’d be remiss if I didn’t start this section by talking about the addition of Minkah Fitzpatrick. Back on Monday, September 16th, despite staring at an 0-2 start and the report that Big Ben was done for the season, the Steelers made the stunning decision to flip their 2020 first-rounder to the Dolphins in exchange for the talented young DB Minkah Fitzpatrick. This move was heavily criticized at the time, as many believed the Steelers just surrendered a valuable high draft pick, but that proved not to be the case and, instead, it ended up being a gargantuan pick-up for the Steelers. Minkah took over at Free Safety from the day he arrived in Pittsburgh and all the coverage lapses and miscommunications that plagued the secondary for years seemingly vanished overnight. Minkah stepped in and became the leader of the secondary, both solidifying the coverage communication and being a game-changing playmaker of his own who opposing offenses almost refused to throw at by year’s end. Fans watched as the secondary shot up the statistical rankings in every single coverage category, ending most notably in the third-least pass yards allowed and the second-most interceptions amongst all defenses. Simply put, Minkah was a sensation for the defense and his impact cannot be overstated. Given where the Steelers would’ve ended up in the draft order and who was on the board, I can confidently say that I’d rather have Minkah than anyone they could have had at pick 18, and Steelers fans will echo this sentiment. Fun Fact: The Steelers trading away their first-round pick marked the first time since 1967 that the team would not make a pick on Day 1 of the NFL Draft. This should help put into perspective how shocking of a move this was for Steelers fans, especially when considering the timing of the trade. Round 2, Pick 49: Chase Claypool, WR, Notre Dame It took until the second day of the draft and 17 picks into the second round before the Steelers made their first selection, and with it they acquired wide receiver Chase Claypool out of Notre Dame. Without a first-round pick and no Pro Days to tell which players Colbert and Tomlin may have been interested in, this selection was always a bit of a mystery to Steelers fans, but I’d argue that it’s about as on-brand as it gets for the Steelers. Standing at an imposing 6’4 235, Claypool played like every bit of that size on film. At Notre Dame, Claypool routinely showcased his ability to overpower defenders with his size and win at the high point downfield. Despite some spotty downfield passing, Claypool proved to be a dangerous vertical threat that could create separation with both speed and size. While somewhat lacking in his change-of-direction skills and sharp cuts as a route-runner, Claypool makes up for it with his impressive straight-line speed, a massive catch radius, and physicality from start to finish during each route. He can win medium-to-long with his route tree which will add needed depth to the passing attack. Also worth noting, Claypool can only be described as a bully as a downfield blocker; routinely willing to get his hands on players and simply erasing them from the play with his strength. Downfield blocking is something the Steelers have placed an emphasis on in recent years, so he should have no problem fitting in. It is safe to say, however, that Chase Claypool really made a name for himself at this year’s scouting combine. Many had him pinned as someone who could surprise people athletically given his size, but instead he simply blew the roof off Lucas Oil Stadium with his performance. Claypool clocked in a blazing 4.42 40-yard dash, the fastest time of any receiver his size since Calvin Johnson. Even more impressively in my eyes, Claypool put up a 40.5” Vertical and 126” Broad jump which points to a gifted level of explosiveness that few else could match. There were some glimpses of this freakish athleticism on tape, and the hope is that Claypool could use his capabilities to emerge as a mismatch waiting to happen. After leaving Indianapolis, I can only conclude that the Steelers Front Office became enamored with the idea of Chase Claypool as the Size-Speed vertical threat for the offense that they have been chasing for years. Many failed attempts at obtaining this archetype such as Martavis Bryant, Sammie Coates, and recently Donte Moncrief have come and gone, and the hope is that Claypool will finally be the answer in that role. Claypool was apparently on the Steelers radar for a couple of seasons, and after making the selection, GM Kevin Colbert was quoted as saying “We didn’t have that tall receiver that can just outrun coverage. We’ve always had that in the past with Nate Washington, Mike Wallace, or Martavis Bryant. Again, that was very attractive to us in the long term”. While not quite the same type of player as those names, it is clear that they view him as a big-bodied speed threat who will line up along the boundary and challenge defenses vertically. Claypool brings a skillset to the WR room that the Steelers do not have on their roster, and his fit alongside newly-acquired Eric Ebron will give Big Ben two sizable weapons that he has been lacking in recent seasons. Claypool will start his career as the WR4 behind JuJu, Diontae Johnson, and J-Wash, but given his unique role, I expect him to emerge as a big part of the offense sooner rather than later. Round 3, Pick 102: Alex Highsmith, EDGE, Charlotte There were very few media reports linking specific players to the Steelers, but one of those few ended up coming to fruition at the end of third with Alex Highsmith. Despite the decision to keep Bud Dupree around via the franchise tag, the depth behind him and Watt is close to non-existent. Finding a high-upside, rotational pass-rusher was a must for the Steelers defense, and they found just that in Highsmith. As a Senior at Charlotte, Highsmith posted 15 sacks, good for T-3rd in the country, and added 21.5 tackles for loss. What I liked most about Highsmith is that he had the most athletic upside of that Round 3 group of pass rushers, and most importantly it showed up on film. Highsmith can best be described as an explosive, quick-twitch pass-rusher who wins with speed around the edge and has the requisite hip flexibility to dip under tackles. The Steelers were likely impressed with his first-step quickness, relentless motor, and ability to be an athlete and make plays in open space along the edge; all of which are critical in the current AFC North. While I don’t quite think he is this calibre of player, Highsmith reminds me a lot of TJ Watt as a prospect, namely how both were able to win using their athletic traits in college but were still works-in-progress when it came to developing core strength and pass-rush counters. The Steelers have philosophically shifted from big and nasty OLBs like James Harrison and Lamarr Woodley to modern-day speed-to-bend guys such as TJ Watt in recent years, so this pick falls right in line with that effort. Highsmith will spend time developing more consistent hand usage behind the two starters, but he will get his opportunities to showcase his speed as the primary rotational pass-rusher. You can never have enough pass rushers, and this selection becomes especially important if the Steelers do not reach a long-term deal with Bud Dupree, making Highsmith a potential starter down the road. For some added hype, Clemson HC Dabo Swinney had this to say about Highsmith before their game against Charlotte: “They probably have the best player that we’ve seen to this point in that #5. I kept watching him & going ‘holy cow.’” Round 4, Pick 124: Anthony McFarland Jr., RB, Maryland This was the first and only pick that came as a true surprise to me; not because they drafted a Running Back, but rather the type of RB they drafted. The Steelers have long preferred and targeted big, physical power-backs ever since I’ve been a fan, yet Colbert and Tomlin decided to flip the script and take a small speedster with Anthony McFarland Jr. out of Maryland. The best way I can describe him is as a big play waiting to happen; at Maryland he routinely broke off monster runs and house calls at any given time. Despite his small 5’9 stature, McFarland boasts true 4.4 speed alongside twitchy elusivity, great vision, and surprising contact balance. He wasn’t used an awful lot in Maryland’s receiving game, but there’s nothing that indicates to me that his open-field agility and breakaway speed can’t translate to the short passing game. When he lines up in the backfield, he is one of the most dangerous players on the field, and his skill set will be a welcomed addition to an RB room lacking big-play ability. Whether it’s with James Conner or Benny Snell, McFarland pairs well in a “thunder and lightning” type run scheme that Steelers fans haven’t seen since Mendenhall and Willie Parker. He may not get a ton of touches each game, but his ability to make those touches meaningful and catch defenses off guard will be a massive boost offensively. By the way, do yourself a favor and watch McFarland vs. Ohio State 2018. Some of the most exciting film I’ve had the chance to watch. Round 4, Pick 135: Kevin Dotson, OG, Louisiana-Lafayette Adding youth behind an aging interior offensive line was one of the more universally agreed upon needs from Steelers fans, and in Round 4 they found said youth with ULL’s Kevin Dotson, the first non-combine invitee drafted. I remember reading this draft-day tweet about Doston; “[some] untidy elements to his game, but he controls the line of scrimmage and physically moves defenders around the field like a pissed off club bouncer”, and that description is as spot-on as it gets. Dotson is your prototypical mauler in the run game who keeps his pads low and shoots his hips to drive defenders forward. He is capable of paving running lanes on his own and also getting to the second level during double-teams. Despite being known more for his run-game prowess, there are some nice traits to work with in pass protection as well. He’s certainly a strong enough player to anchor down versus bull rushes, and I think he’s decent enough laterally, but he requires a lot of technical refinement (mainly footwork) as he makes the jump from the Sun Belt to the NFL. Dotson likely will not see the field for a season or two, barring injuries, but his long-term outlook as a staple in the run game is enticing. Round 6, Pick 198: Antoine Brooks Jr., SAF, Maryland On late Day 3, Pittsburgh decided to double-dip on Terrapins, this time with safety Antoine Brooks Jr. It’s worth noting that Tomlin’s son Dino is a WR at Maryland, so this is one of the schools Pittsburgh had the strongest connections with during a time of limitations. As for Brooks, he is your old-school, super physical box safety type who likes to shoot gaps and get in your face as a tackler. In coverage, athletic limitations will likely prevent him from being an every down player, especially in deep man coverage, but he has the anticipatory instincts and physicality to perform zone schemes and cover the underneath flats effectively. There has been immediate speculation that Antoine Brooks could move to LB in a $-Backer type role, similar to what Mark Barron did last season. GM Colbert has spoken extensively about Brooks as a sub-package player who will be deployed in and around the box and as a blitzer, with a clear emphasis on using his physicality in different matchups. Regardless of how he is used, Safety depth is bleak behind the two starters, so adding talent to the room was a necessity. Round 7, Pick 232: Carlos Davis, DT, Nebraska With their final selection, the Steelers brought in Nebraska DL Carlos Davis to add depth to their DL room. Many Steelers fans expected more of a true Nose Tackle, and for said need to be addressed earlier, but post-draft comments from Colbert suggest that they no longer put much emphasis on a traditional NT in their modern day scheme. Instead, the decision makers prefered versatility along the defensive line, and that is Davis’s calling card. He is a short and stout run-stuffer who brings surprising gap-penetration skills. He doesn’t have the lateral agility or the necessary hand usage to be more than a run clog or a gap shooter, but there is a strong enough anchor and some explosiveness to work with in those roles. Likely more of a practice squad pet project for DL coach Karl Dunbar, but he’ll have his opportunity to compete for a sub-package NT role. Notable UDFAs: CB Trajan Bandy: For my money, I think Bandy is the best bet to make the 53. Despite his small size, Bandy doesn’t back down from anything or anyone and plays with the physicality that coaches will love. There are five locks at CB and Pittsburgh usually carries six, and the two slot options (Hilton and Cam Sutton) are free agents at the end of the year. Bandy could have some important future value as a nickel corner and they may want to keep him around because of that. DL Calvin Taylor: Taylor stands at a massive 6’8 310 and he plays exactly as you’d think. Very powerful and knows how to use his length to his advantage, but not super explosive. The DL room is a bit crowded but his size and versatility will undoubtedly grant him the opportunity to compete for a spot. LB Leo Lewis: Inside linebacker is one of the thinnest position groups post-draft, so there are opportunities to be had for an undrafted player like Lewis. There are concerns about his mental drive as a player, but he has the requisite athleticism and closing speed to fight for a special teams/depth spot if he truly wants it. Roster Prediction: QB: (3) Ben Roethlisberger, Mason Rudolph, Devlin Hodges RB: (5) James Conner, Benny Snell, Anthony McFarland Jr., Jaylen Samuels, Derek Watt (FB) WR: (5) JuJu Smith-Schuster, Diontae Johnson, James Washington, Chase Claypool, Ryan Switzer TE: (3) Eric Ebron, Vance McDonald, Zach Gentry OT: (4) Alejandro Villanueva, Matt Feiler, Chukwuma Okorafor, Zach Banner IOL: (5) David DeCastro, Stefen Wisniewksi, Maurkice Pouncey, Kevin Dotson, Derwin Gray IDL: (6) Cameron Heyward, Stephon Tuitt, Tyson Alualu, Chris Wormley, Isaiah Buggs, Dan McCullers OLB: (4) TJ Watt, Bud Dupree, Alex Highsmith, Ola Adeniyi ILB: (4) Devin Bush, Vince Williams, Ulysees Gilbert III, Robert Spillane CB: (6) Joe Haden, Steven Nelson, Mike Hilton, Cameron Sutton, Justin Layne, Trajan Bandy SAF: (5) Minkah Fitzpatrick, Terrell Edmunds, Jordan Dangerfield, Antoine Brooks Jr., Tyree Kinnel ST: (3) Chris Boswell (K), Jordan Berry (P), Kameron Canaday (LS) Future Needs: Quarterback: This will be an elephant in the room until Big Ben’s heir is found. The Steelers, wisely in my eyes, decided not to spend their limited capital on a mid-round project QB, instead preferring to address the position in a later year. By having their first round pick back next year, and if a player they believe has franchise QB upside falls into range, there’s a chance they may pounce. No guarantee they address this next draft, but Big Ben is 38 and the clock is ticking. Offensive Tackle: LT Alejandro Villanueva is now on the wrong side of 30 and is a free agent at the end of the season, and he is one of the least likely to have their contracts renewed. Finding a young blindside blocker to be the future cornerstone of the line and to help keep Big Ben upright in his final years is critical, and will be especially important in aiding a young QBs development down the line. Inside Linebacker: Devin Bush is an emerging star but Vince Williams could be a cap casualty next offseason and the depth behind those two is razor thin. Finding another athletic young star to pair with Bush, particularly an effective downhill run stopper to complement Bush’s skillset, could really solidify the middle of the defense for the next decade. Final Thoughts: With only six draft picks to work with and none on day one, this was never going to be the flashiest or most star-studded draft in the league. However, I believe I can safely characterize this draft class as an extremely logical one given the current timeline which accomplished the goals it set out to. Each player drafted either fills an important role that they didn’t have on roster or adds critical depth to a thin position group. Unlike some of the past few drafts, there were no picks I outright disliked and I can clearly see the logic behind each selection. I personally may have done a few things differently but I’m really excited about what this group could bring in both the short-term and the long-term. Ultimately this was an effective ‘bridge’ class that will contribute to the Super Bowl aspirations of the now while also preparing for the transitional years to come.
Will the Los Angeles Rams win OVER/UNDER 8.5 games? By University Stats Prof!
The Rams looked almost unstoppable in 2018 when they finished with a 13-3 record and the second-highest scoring offense in the league. They made it to the Super Bowl, and that’s when things started to unravel for them. New England won Super Bowl LIII by a 13-3 score. The Rams offense was limited to just 260 total yards; they were totally unrecognizable. Their two biggest stars, Jared Goff and Todd Gurley, have not looked the same since that game. Their level of play took a big hit last year, and it led to a 9-7 season and missing the playoffs. What will 2020 bring?
2. Offensive Position-by-Position Breakdown
2.1 Quarterbacks (QBs) Jared Goff was a huge disappointment for fantasy owners. He did rack up 4,638 passing yards, but if you omit his rookie season, he had a career-low in TD passes with 22 and a career-high in interceptions with 16. Goff graded as the 20th overall QB out of 37 by PFF. A much better production was expected of him, especially with some playmakers around him. Its offensive line wasn’t as good as it was in the past. When your quarterback is as mobile as a statue, the results are bad. He struggles a lot when pressured; he doesn’t seem to be able to scramble or avoid the rush. The team would love to upgrade the OL, but it’s an almost impossible task considering the team’s lack of cap space. For this reason, Goff is unlikely to match his 2017 and 2018 numbers, but the team hopes he can fare better than last year. 2.2 Running Backs (RBs) Todd Gurley had four magnificent seasons with the Rams from 2015 to 2018. He was widely viewed as one of the best non-QB player in the league. He was racking up rushing yards, receiving yards and also a boatload of touchdowns. Then, his play started to decline towards the end of the 2018 season because of knee and ankle injuries. His 2019 play wasn’t so good, including a pedestrian 3.8 yard-per-rush average. The team got rid of him even though he’s only 25 years old. His knee issues appear to be chronic, which scared the team. His enormous contract also became a big problem. Who is set to replace him? The team pulled the trigger on Cam Akers in the 2nd round of this year’s draft. He was the #1 ranked RB coming out of high school. He had a tough time at Florida State running behind a putrid offensive line. Akers has a very thick lower body. He has the skillset to become a three-down NFL runner since he showed promise as a pass catcher (albeit not spectacular in that part of the game). He has shown a great understanding at reading defensive fronts. The Rams invested a 3rd round pick in 2019 on Darrell Henderson, so they are likely to give him all the opportunities to prove his worth. He only rushed 39 times for 147 yards (an ordinary 3.8 yards-per-carry average), while catching just four balls last year. And that was despite Gurley not playing very well, so I don’t recommend holding your breath hoping he can suddenly break out in 2020. As for Malcolm Brown, he had more rushes and yards than Henderson, but his yards-per-rush average was no better. Brown did get into the end zone on five occasions, though. The undrafted runner from Texas seems unlikely to be a lead back in the NFL. 2.3 Wide Receivers (WRs) Cooper Kupp and Robert Woods led the team with 94 and 90 receptions, respectively. Both surpassed the 1,100 receiving yard mark. Kupp hauled in 10 TD passes versus just two for Woods. Both are very reliable and well above-average receivers. A very nice duo to have for Goff. The 2019 season was one to forget for Brandin Cooks. He had career-lows in receptions (42) and TDs (2), and pretty close to a career-low as well in terms of receiving yards with just 583. His five concussions as a pro and his bad contract enticed the team to trade him to Houston. That opens the door for Josh Reynolds, who is clearly a huge downgrade compared to Cooks. That being said, second round pick Van Jefferson might push Reynolds for the number three role. Jefferson is known for his route running prowess, which is something Sean McVay values. However, he doesn’t have extraordinary size, nor speed. His production in college wasn’t very impressive, as he never topped the 700 receiving-yard mark in any college season. 2.4 Tight Ends (TEs) The Rams have a nice TE duo with Tyler Higbee and Gerald Everett. They graded as the 3rd and 10th-best tight ends in the league last year, according to PFF ratings. Gerald Everett entered 2019 as the #1 tight end for the Rams and he was on his way for a breakout season. In Week #11, he sustained a knee injury and he ended up missing a few games. During that time, Tyler Higbee did an astounding job and the team had no choice but to put Everett in the backseat. Both of these guys will be back in 2020 and are entering their prime years. The future is bright at this position. 2.5 Offensive Line (OL) L.A.’s offensive line struggled last year. The only guy who seems to be locked into a spot is left guard Andrew Whitworth. His play dipped last year, but he was still one of the best from this group. The Rams have signed some bad deals recently, and they might have done another one this offseason. Why sign Whitworth for three years at an average of $10 million, knowing he’s 38 years old? He’s been very durable, but a 38-year-old body is more likely to get hurt. Also, his play might deteriorate even more this year. Austin Blythe started the second half of the season at center following Brian Allen’s injury. Both had a subpar season and it remains to be seen who get the starting nod when the season opens. Rob Havenstein was considered as a strong up-and-coming right tackle in the NFL until the wheels came off last year. He eventually got benched in favor of Bobby Evans. Both received marks around 50 from PFF, which is horrible. David Edwards seems to have a shot to become the starting right guard. He was taken in the 5th round of the 2019 draft and he ended up starting 10 games last year. He finished as the 44th-best guard in the NFL among 81 guards. That’s not great, but it turns out to be a higher rank than most of his teammates. Joseph Noteboom is another guy whose PFF grade cratered in 2019. It went from 70.7 in 2018 to 39.7 last year. He was overmatched and looked nothing like the promising third-round pick. Austin Corbett might still be in play as well. He’s been nothing short of bad with the Browns and the Rams. He couldn’t make it into the starting lineup with the OL-desperate Browns. 2020 VS 2019 OFFENSE The Rams didn’t add any offensive player worth of note via free agency. However, they lost Todd Gurley and Brandin Cooks. Both disappointed a lot last year, but they still had talent and contributed to some level last year. I’m also worried about the team’s depth, except at the tight end position. First, the backup WR position is questionable. If either Kupp or Woods get hurt, who will step in at WR? Reynolds isn’t ready to be a #2 receiver. Rookie Van Jefferson isn’t up to the task either. Next, we don’t even know if the Rams have a #1 running back, let alone a viable backup. They have to hope for Cam Akers to be pro ready. Finally, the offensive line is a mess. Therefore, it’s hard to envision an upgrade from this offense. They scored the 11th highest number of points in 2019 and I can hardly see them finishing above spot 11. Perhaps 14th-19th is more realistic. Final call (2020 vs 2019): Moderate downgrade
3. Defensive Position-by-Position Breakdown
3.1 Defensive Linemen (DLs) The interior of the defensive line is the strength of this defense. Having what may be the best defensive player in the league, Aaron Donald, clearly helps the cause. Donald has obtained a PFF grade above 90 in each of his first six seasons in the league, which is unbelievable. For clarity purposes, note that just three DLs obtained a mark above 90 last year. His numbers are staggering. He has averaged 12 sacks and 2.5 forced fumbles per year. He has also missed just two games during this 6-year period. It doesn’t get any better than this! Michael Brockers agreed to terms with the Ravens, but the deal fell through because he failed a physical exam. Baltimore was too worried about a high-ankle sprain he suffered last year. A few days later, he signed a three-year contract with the Rams. The team is glad to have him back. He was the 23rd-best DL out of 114 qualifiers, according to PFF. He will soon turn 30, but still has some gas left in the tank. Los Angeles added some nice depth by acquiring A’Shawn Robinson, formerly of the Lions. He never lived up to his round 2 status and he struggled more last year, but his presence might help. 3.2 Defensive Ends (DEs) / Edge Rushers (ED) Dante Fowler and Clay Matthews are gone. There goes 11.5 and 8 sacks. Out of the two, Fowler’s departure hurts the most by far. He’ll be 26 years old when the season begins and he was coming off career highs in tackles, sacks and forced fumbles. As for Matthews, his eight sacks were deceiving. He still received the lowest PFF grades of his 11-year career; his tackling was particularly horrible. In order to alleviate those losses, the Rams signed Leonard Floyd. After being selected as the #9 overall pick in the 2016 draft, he posted seven sacks in 12 games during his rookie season. Things were looking up. However, he picked up just 4.5, 4.0 and 3.0 sacks from 2017 to 2019. At least he defends the run well, which allowed him to finish above-average among all edge defenders in the NFL (based on PFF ratings). Samson Ebukam has enjoyed three similarly “okay” seasons in the NFL thus far. He’ll be 25 years old so he could improve a little bit. He’s nice depth to have on your team. 3.3 Linebackers (LBs) Cory Littleton leaving to Las Vegas is a huge blow to this defense. A very big loss. He led the team in tackles both in 2018 and 2019. He was a three-down player and it’s unclear how the team plans to replace him. Troy Reeder is an undrafted guy who played 27% of the snaps. According to PFF, he finished as the second-worst LB in the league out of 88 guys. Enough said. 3.4 Cornerbacks (CBs) Last October, the Rams made a lot of big moves. First, they traded Marcus Peters to the Ravens, whose level of play increased dramatically after the trade. A few hours later, the Rams acquired Jalen Ramsey from the Jaguars, in return of a couple of first-rounders and a 4th round selection. Finally, the Rams shipped Aqib Talib to Miami for cap reasons. Ramsey played pretty well in his nine games with the Rams. He’s been very good in each of his first four years in the league. After the trade shuffling, Troy Hill became the starter opposite of Ramsey. He received good marks from PFF, but he seems likely to regress in 2020. He’s an undrafted guy who was used as a fill-in during his first four years in the NFL. Nickell Robey-Coleman was a slot man for the Rams, and he was good at it. His 74.5 grade from PFF put him in the #16 spot out of 112 CBs. Unfortunately, he left for Philly and he leaves a hole in L.A.’s defense. 3.5 Safeties (S) Eric Weddle was the most used safety in the team, but he decided to retire after an illustrious 13-year career. Hats off to him for missing just seven games during this time frame! Last year the team drafted Taylor Rapp out of Washington in the second round. He had a satisfying season with 100 tackles, two interceptions and one TD. Despite such very respectable numbers, he graded as the 57th-best safety out of 87. Who will fill the void left by Weddle? As of now, the most probable answer is John Johnson. The former Boston College player enjoyed two very good seasons after being drafted in the third round. Indeed, 81.5 and 83.6 grades from PFF during those years was exceptional. However, he crashed down to a 53.5 mark last year, while also missing 10 games due to a shoulder injury. He really struggled early in the 2019 season. 2020 VS 2019 DEFENSE The only defensive position where the Rams improved during the offseason is DL via the acquisition of A’Shawn Robinson. And to be honest, that’s not a huge improvement. On the other hand, the team will be hurt big time from the loss of LB Cory Littleton. At edge, replacing Fowler and Matthews with Leonard Floyd won’t cut it. More bad news in the secondary. Effective slot corner Nickell Robey-Coleman is gone, while starting safety Eric Weddle decided to hang his cleats. The Rams will be hard-pressed to find suitable replacements. Thank God they have big-name players like Aaron Donald and Jalen Ramsey (and perhaps to a lesser level Michael Brockers) because the rest of the roster is pretty weak. If either player gets hurt, it could be catastrophic for this unit. Last year, Los Angeles ranked 17th in terms of points allowed. I expect a severe downfall into the 24-30 range. Final call (2020 vs 2019): Big downgrade
4. Regular Season Wins
According to sportsbooks, the Los Angeles Rams are expected to win 8.5 games this season. Should we bet the “over” or the “under”? Here is the methodology I used in order to answer this vital question:
Use BetOnline.ag’s point spreads on all 256 regular season games.
Convert those point spreads into win probabilities.
Simulate each of the 256 games, according to those win probabilities, via the R statistical software.
Repeat the previous step one million times (you get 1M simulated seasons).
Count the proportion of seasons where the Rams won more or less than 8.5 games.
Here are the results:
OVER 8.5 WINS
UNDER 8.5 WINS
Tip: Bet OVER 8.5 wins
Return On Investment (ROI): +6.5%
Rank: 28th-highest ROI out of 32 teams
Minimum odds required to bet (i.e. ROI = 0%): +103
Here are BetOnline’s point spreads for the Rams’ 16 regular season games:
HOME: -6 vs ARI, -3.5 vs CHI, +2.5 vs DAL, -4 vs NE, -7.5 vs NYG, -7 vs NYJ, -1.5 vs SEA, +2.5 vs SF.
Note: The “Best odds” from the table above were obtained after looking at 13 well-known online sportsbooks on May 18th, 2020. This 6.5% ROI is the 28th-highest among the league's 32 teams. Tomorrow, I'll discuss the team whose ROI is 27th in the NFL (and I'll keep going every day with ROI improving each time). I hope you found this article and in-depth statistical study insightful! Professor MJ
Kickstarter Roundup: Mar 15, 2020 | 30+ Ending Soon (including: Viscounts of the West Kingdom + Tomesaga) & 25+ New This Week (including: Pax Pamir)
What this is:
This is a weekly, curated listing of Kickstarter board game projects that are either:
newly posted in the past 7 days, or
ending in the next 7 days (starting Mar 16) and have at least a fighting chance of being funded.
All board game projects meeting those criteria will automatically be included, no need to ask. (The occasional non-board game project may also sneak in!) Expect new lists each Sunday sometime between midnight and noon PST.
Min / Avg Pledge
Dumpster Fire A fun and fast-paced card game of full of political scandals, treachery, conspiracy, and comeuppance! // Has raised $5,521 of $2,500 so far. (~220%) ☑
VERDUN: STEEL INFERNO VERDUN: STEEL INFERNO: A fast playing card driven game on the epic battle of 1916. Illustrated by the famous WW1 cartoonist TARDI // Has raised €57,368 of €7,000 so far. (~819%) ☑
The Ming Voyages and The March of Progress The Ming Voyages: A Game of Treasure and Conquest for 1 or 2 players. The March of Progress: A 2-player Strategic Micro-wargame // Has raised €23,542 of €12,500 so far. (~188%) ☑
Rival Restaurants: Back for Seconds A board game about competitive restaurant owning. Use your chef's power, cook recipes, and lead your restaurant to gastronomical glory. // Has raised $237,988 of $15,000 so far. (~1586%) ☑
Viscounts of the West Kingdom + Tomesaga Increase your influence across the kingdom in this unique deckbuilding-powered rondel strategy game for 1-4 players. // Has raised $1,005,025 NZD of $23,000 NZD so far. (~4369%) ☑
Ark Worlds: MOBA Card Game Choose your heroes wisely. Ark Worlds is a 2 player, MOBA card game of tactics and resource management that sets up in minutes. // Has raised $3,827 of $500 so far. (~765%) ☑
TopPick: A Party Card Game A party card game that allows players to hire each other for odd jobs, while the applicants sabotage each other with negative traits // Has raised $824 of $150 so far. (~549%) ☑
Trepidation Horror Card Game // Has raised $739 of $800 so far. (~92%)
2 - 5
$25 / $37
Vampire: The Masquerade - Vendetta A competitive card game where you fight to conquer the role of Prince of Chicago as one of the vampire Clans of the Camarilla! // Has raised €101,407 of €40,000 so far. (~253%) ☑
Victim: The Cursed Forest In the cursed forest, you and your friends have to find a way to survive from the evil that will possess anybody in your group. // Has raised $13,628 of $30,000 so far. (~45%)
Hey All, I've generally had a complaint that mock drafts are blind to GM tendencies, team schemes, and upcoming contracts / need for cap flexibility, so a couple friends and I used quarantine to throw together a three round mock draft (trades inclusive) that tries to pay attention to this. Obviously, we can't know your team's scheme and history as well as you, but we figured it'd be great to share our mock draft anyway and invite any thoughts on it. NFL_Draft can be a little critical, as it should be given we're making guesses that impact the future of your franchise, but we're also big boys so feel free to tear this thing to shreds (or compliment it if you feel so inclined). The thing is far from perfect, so to add to the discussion and educate us a little bit, please feel free to let us know what picks you liked/disliked. To make this easier to read we broke it out similar to Matt Miller's early mock drafts, with Round 1 up front with short descriptions on each pick followed by Rounds 2 and 3 with no detail. Additionally, we've added in the back a summary of trades as well as a break out by team. T-5 days until Thursday! Round 1: CINCINNATI: Joe Burrow, QB There's not much to explain here. What doesn't Cincinnati need? That list starts and ends at WR. They could take any number of players here and they would start tomorrow, but when you're building a team from the ground up, you take a QB, and who better than the guy who threw for 60 TDs, 5,671 yards, a 76% completion percentage, won a national championship, and ripped a cigar in the locker room… small hands and all. WASHINGTON: Chase Young, EDGE Say what you will about Dan Snyder, and you're probably right, but the guy tends to make the right call in the top 10. Since buying the team in 1999, the Redskins have picked in the top 10 an amazing 9 times, but those picks have been Champ Bailey, LaVar Arrington, Chris Samuels, Sean Taylor, Carlos Rogers, LaRon Landry, Trent Williams, RGIII, and Brandon Scherff. Every single one of those players has been a Pro Bowler. Not much to overthink here. Dan Snyder gets a generational talent and easily the best player in the draft, bringing back the hometown kid. DETROIT: Jeff Okudah, CB Patricia's defense is predicated upon a strong secondary playing predominantly press-man coverage, sticking to receivers long enough to create coverage sacks. While Justin Coleman has been vastly underrated for the Lions, there's also no way to play him on the outside, and the Lions will need someone to line up opposite Desmond Trufant with Slay in Philadelphia. Taking a DB in the top 10 is always risky, but so is trading down here. Patricia insists on a versatile defense with no particular scheme, and Okudah's well-rounded skillset including strength as a cover corner, in press-man, in off-man, and zone fits perfectly in Detroit. NY GIANTS: Tristan Wirfs, OL\* Gettleman is no stranger to controversy, but his pick here is far from that. Isaiah Simmons is the best player on the Board, but the young cornerstones of this franchise stand behind a line that with the exception of Will Hernandez probably shouldn't be there in four years. Lucky for Gettleman, he gets his pick of OL, four of whom are arguably worth a top 10 pick almost any year. While Judge may want to take the most NFL-ready prospect in Wills, I imagine Gettleman can't pass up on the athleticism and versatility of Wirfs. With his speed in the open field, quickness in getting to the second level and ability to make blocks in the open field, Wirfs can become Saquon's best friend pretty quick, especially on screen plays. *But honestly, leave it to Gettleman to fool everyone and make a pick out of left field. No, literally, this guy could make a pick from left field and ask Brett Gardner to take NJ Transit down to MetLife on Sundays. MIAMI: Tua Tagovailoa, QB Miami refuses to tank and still wins the Tua Sweepstakes. With all that has gone on in 2020, at least there's some good in the world and Brian Flores is about 40% of it. I completely understand that there are injury concerns about Tua that are hard to overlook. But it's also hard to overlook issues with Justin Herbert -- namely just how off target he could be throwing down the field. I'm not doubting his athleticism or the absolute rocket he has attached to his shoulder, but the fact of the matter is his completion percentage, which is already lower than Tua's, is aided by playing weaker defenses in the Pac-12 and the absolutely absurd number of easy bubble screens and dump passes he throws behind the line of scrimmage. Both QBs are phenomenal, but Tua's accuracy, ability to extend plays, willingness to take hits, and ability avoid sacks outweigh the injury risk. If you're lucky, you have a potential Hall of Fame quarterback, and if you're unlucky, Brian Flores will still probably get you to 7-9 with the Goldman Sachs analyst you call a backup QB. LA CHARGERS: Justin Herbert, QB I spent most of the last pick talking about why not to pick Justin Herbert, but here's why you should: 6'6", 237 lbs, with easily the best arm in the draft and a Josh Allen-esque ability to move. Oregon's play call didn't give him much of a chance to throw it downfield, but when he did it was brilliant. He's the kind of QB prospect that could have tested like Maurice Claiborne on the Wonderlic and still been drafted 1st overall 10 years ago. However, his inconsistency and inability to leverage his athleticism to feeling comfortable throwing on the run and outside of the pockets relegates him to third on my QB Big Board. I don't know whether I buy that the Chargers are planning on starting Tyrod Taylor this year, but whether Herbert gets his shot this year or next, he has a legitimate chance to be a star. CAROLINA: Isaiah Simmons, LB Matt Rhule walks into a full re-build with both ownership and CMC's buy-in. The one thing Carolina doesn't have for the first time in nearly two decades is a Pro Bowl LB. Hurney and company fix that immediately by taking the best athlete in the draft. This isn't Carolina's biggest need -- they have only two DTs that are going to make a roster, so I understand the Derrick Brown arguments -- nor is it typically Rhule's favorite position -- I understand arguments that they may try to continue to add to the line to protect their new franchise QB -- but Simmons is just too talented to pass up. He basically lines up everywhere from safety, to linebacker, to nickel linebacker, and even edge. If you need any more convincing, he ran a 4.39 40 (good enough for 5th best by a WR). ARIZONA: Derrick Brown, DT Keim isn't need blind, but historically he has definitely valued talent over need. If you need proof of that, just go back to last year when Keim and Kingsbury determined Kyler Murray was the best player in the draft and (rightfully) gave up on the Josh Rosen experiment. The Cardinals also just so happen to need a 3-tech guy to anchor the interior of their line, and preferably someone with some versatility given Vance Joseph's scheme (Brown played from 0- to 5-tech at Auburn). The biggest knock is his lack of athleticism, but Brown has shiftiness for his size, attacks at the line, uses his hands well, and explodes through his man. I know a lot of people mock a T here, and that makes sense too, but I just don't see Arizona's line as that urgent of a need that Keim will pass up the best player on the Board. JACKSONVILLE: CJ Henderson, DB If Dave Caldwell had the remote from Click, I'm pretty sure he'd fast forward to the 2021 draft and grabbing Trevor Lawrence. The 2020 season is going to be an ugly one for Jacksonville, and it's only going to get worse as they explore trading Fournette and Ngakoue. Caldwell won't completely ignore the best player available approach -- see Josh Allen last year -- but he definitely leans toward filling a need, and their secondary is an eye sore. I personally think spending a top 10 pick on a corner with Cam Robinson potentially become a free agent is a mistake, but there's also a mile between Henderson and the next best corner available. I imagine the Jaguars explore a trade down a little bit before taking arguably the best cover corner in the draft. TRADE: DENVER - 10 CLEVELAND - 15, 77, 118 Andrew Berry wants Ezra Cleveland, but a top 10 pick is a little rich for him. John Elway wants Henry Ruggs III, but he won't be there at 15. Berry moves back, picking up valuable draft capital to secure rookie contracts for when the bill eventually comes due on the Browns players and they can't afford to extend everyone. DENVER: Henry Ruggs III, WR Henry Ruggs III is an OC's dream. The guys finishes every play and does the little things in a way you rarely see on the offensive side of the ball. He's a great route runner with world class speed and endless hustle, whether he's running with the ball after the catch, finishing a block downfield, or making a tackle on special teams. By moving up six picks, Denver leaves Day 1 with suddenly one of the better WR corps in the league. It's amazing it took everyone this long to notice Ruggs III is the top WR in this class, but I guess that's what happens when you play in Tuscaloosa and everyone on the team is an NFL-caliber player. NY JETS: Jedrick Wills, OL I've seen a lot of mock drafts put a WR here, but I honestly buy that Gase is not that concerned about his WR corps. Not only that, but the value is going to be there in the second round -- especially for a team that needs a big target that can actually go up and get it in the red zone or on a deep route when Darnold wants to gun it downfield. That leaves offensive line as the biggest need, and in particular LT. Gase prefers lineman who are strongest in pass protection, and one of the most NFL-ready OL and pass blockers is somehow still on the Board at 11. Wills can easily slide over the left side and protect Darnold from getting sacked every few snaps, something only mono has been able to do thus far. LAS VEGAS: CeeDee Lamb, WR Numerous outlets have linked Lamb to Las Vegas, and I'm not one to argue. Gruden and Mayock both typically pick their guys and could care less how other people value them. Lamb may be the best true route-runner in this draft class and his toughness is certainly going to translate to the NFL. I've read the criticisms that he has never been forced to play against press-man in college and that he lacks world class speed, but his strengths more than make up for it and at the end of the day he's one of the more high floor WR prospects I've ever seen. SAN FRANCISCO: Andrew Thomas, OL Before trading for Emmanuel Sanders, the 49ers were 6-0 with a WR core anchored by Deebo Samuel, Marquise Goodwin, and Kendrick Bourne. They obviously need a WR, but they've also shown they can fair just fine without one. What they would struggle much more to replace is Joe Staley in the supposed 50/50 case he retires. If Staley plays another year, Thomas can kick inside or learn behind him. Shanahan prefers offensive linemen athletic enough to block in a zone scheme, and Thomas is not out-of-this-world athletic presenting a potential issue, but he's also high character and high football IQ, which Shanahan also wants in his players. Would I be surprised if Lynch and Shanahan opted to take Jeudy here? No. Do I see them passing on one of the safest bets to replace Joe Staley? Also, no. TAMPA BAY: Mekhi Becton, OL There wasn't a ton to overthink here in my book - the Bucs are going to take the best T available at 14, and here it's Becton. Tampa Bay's priority is protecting Tom Brady, and Becton gives them the best chance to do that. In a dream world, they get someone a little more polished and ready to play tomorrow (especially given the likely shortened offseason) but Becton is incredibly mobile for someone his size, able to quickly recover, and strong enough to still get ends outside. He'll need to improve his hands and get better in true dropback pass protection given Brady's tendencies, but he can potentially be a huge piece for a team that needs to re-tool its offensive line. CLEVELAND: Javon Kinlaw, DT Cleveland's two biggest needs are LT and FS, but if they were going to take a LT here they would have stayed at 10 and Andrew Berry comes from the Howie Roseman school where you don't pay safeties. Given his analytics background, I imagine he takes best player available, and that's easily Kinlaw. While raw, Kinlaw's talent is undeniable. He's long, strong, and has incredibly active hands. Kinlaw honestly looks like David Irving out there sometimes given his ability to manhandle 300lb offensive linemen, but the Browns wouldn't have to deal with all the off-field issues. The Browns can leave Ogunjobi in on base downs and bring in Kinlaw for 2nd and 3rd down pass rush. Getting Kinlaw also gives Berry the flexibility to make Ogunjobi, Richardson, or Billings cap casualties in future seasons if Kinlaw comes along quicker than expected. ATLANTA: K'Lavon Chaisson, EDGE If you watched Atlanta play last year you know this is going to be a defense-heavy draft. It's easy to see that Atlanta needs an outside corner, but it's also hard to justify taking one here with Okudah and Henderson off the Board. I know Fowler enters the fold this year, but I still think Chaisson provides value in his ability to both get to the QB and drop back into coverage. To be successful in the NFC South, Atlanta is going to need to get to the QB, and quickly. Chaisson has legitimate speed and power coming off the edge, making him an every down player. The CB is still there for Atlanta, but it can wait until the 2nd round. DALLAS: Jerry Jeudy, WR This is a similar message to Atlanta above. Dallas absolutely needs an outside corner, but it's just not there. Safety is also a need and the best guy is still on the Board, but the Cowboys have also not historically valued safeties in drafts, especially this high. Thirty years of Jerry tells me that he'll take best player available at 17, and while WR isn't a high priority position for the Cowboys Jeudy's value here is just too good to pass up. The defense still needs attention, but you can address that Day 2. Besides, how much do you need defense if you can put up 40+ points per game surrounding Dak with Zeke, Cooper, Jeudy, and that line? And with 40+ points per game, that's at least 5+ cuts to Jerry grinning and high-fiving in the owner's box. MIAMI: Xavier McKinney, S Brian Flores really started making a name for himself in New England as a safeties coach where the most important piece of a Super Bowl winning defense was Devin McCourty. Miami has plenty of holes, but it also has plenty of picks. The Miami system values versatility and McKinney provides just that as he can play just about anywhere in the secondary. Not only that, but he can provide value as a blitzer as well. The coincidence that this pick was the return for Minkah Fitzpatrick is not lost on me, but another top-tier S from Alabama with a longer runway on his rookie deal is not a bad thing. TRADE: NEW ENGLAND - 19 LAS VEGAS - 23, 98 Suggesting the Patriots trade up in any mock draft is a dangerous endeavor, but they also have an absurd number of picks in this year's draft. Giving Las Vegas a compensatory third to move up and get your pick of the draft's top LBs isn't too bad a price to pay. NEW ENGLAND: Patrick Queen, LB I'm not going to pretend to know what Belichick is going to do in this draft. It's equally likely that he trades out of the first round as it is he moves up, but I what I do know is the Patriots could use more help at LB. In particular, someone with speed who can blitz up the middle and off the edge. Anyone who watched the CFB Playoffs last year saw the speed Queen had off the edge as well as his ability to cover out of the backfield and underneath. He's equally comfortable dropping into zone as he is speed rushing the edge. High football IQ and athleticism screams Patriot to me and he just so happens to fit a position of need. JACKSONVILLE: Kenneth Murray, LB Jacksonville is a little hard to mock for in that they have need at just about every position. However, the defense hasn't been the same since Telvin Smith left. With Joe Schobert joining the fold as an inside linebacker and Myles Jack pushing to the weak side, Murray can work on the strong side. You can make an argument that the usage here isn't worth a first round pick or that Murray can lack football IQ at times, but he also possesses incredible speed and playmaking ability. He can get sideline to sideline and blow up plays in the backfield, and that kind of explosiveness can really help tie a defense together. PHILADELPHIA: Justin Jefferson, WR Philadelphia needs a receiver as bad as I need football right now, and after more than a month in my parents' basement I can tell you that's pretty damn bad. It got bad enough last year I thought the team was going to make an Invincible throwback and call up the guy from the viral fire video for a tryout. You can make an argument for any number of WRs, but Jefferson checks the boxes for Eagles fans: fast and with hands not made of bricks. The guy just had a way of getting open in college, and that's something Philadelphia has really missed the past few years. MINNESOTA: Yetur Gross-Matos, EDGE This is a risky pick in a mock draft. Minnesota's front office does not historically take DL early in the draft - the only one Minnesota has taken in the first 2 rounds in the last 10 years was Shariff Floyd - instead opting to fill in the line with late round players. However, Griffen's departure leaves obvious need here, and the idea of a player with Gross-Matos' intangibles is interesting for a 4-3 defense that loves to dial up blitz packages on 3rd down. His speed, length, and power are things you can't teach, and his ability to maneuver around offensive linemen is particularly impressive at his height. LAS VEGAS: Kris Fulton, DB Mayock and Gruden trade down from 19 and still grab their next favorite CB prospect along with an additional 3rd round pick. Last year, they demonstrated a desire to fill in team needs with prospects from winning programs. Unless you buy Eli Apple as the outside corner opposite Mullen, this is certainly a position of need. Last year, going after winning players meant a number of Clemson guys. This year, they grab their first National Champion in Fulton. Fulton's ability to stick with his man is why some have him graded as the number 2 CB in this year's class. He's rarely caught out of position, and despite a lack of top-end speed, he shows an incredible ability to recover. TRADE: INDIANAPOLIS - 24 NEW ORLEANS - 34, 75, 193 New Orleans really doesn't have a lot of positions of need this year, and make fun of me if you will, but I buy that Sean Payton is okay with Taysom Hill playing QB for at least a season if needbe. That isn't to say the Saints won't draft a QB, just that they won't reach on one at the end of the first and without a second round pick. The Colts on the other hand will - especially if they value Jordan Love as highly as others have speculated in the past month. Indianapolis gets to take advantage of the Saints wanting to trade down and gives up less than they'd ordinarily have to in order to get back into the first round. INDIANAPOLIS: Jordan Love, QB Not much to get into here. I don't buy for one second that Jacoby Brissett is the long-term answer in Indianapolis, and there have been a lot of experts suggesting the Colts buy the Jordan Love hype train. The upside here is prototypical size for a NFL QB, strong pocket presence, great arm strength and touch all over the field, and high athleticism. He also comes with a ton of risk, namely his inconsistency, turnovers, dangerous throws across the middle, and his regression last year. I'm not going to sit here and defend the pick too much. I tend not to like QBs who take steps back and throw almost as many interceptions as touchdowns playing in the Mountain West. However, while I personally think there's too much risk for Jordan Love to warrant a Day 1 grade, this isn't a Big Board, it's a Mock Draft, and a lot of people smarter than me have suggested Love is a top 10 caliber talent. If you believe that, then he's certainly worth trading up for and grabbing in the back end of the first round. MINNESOTA: Jaylon Johnson, DB After Henderson, it's really a toss-up who you think the next best corner is, but Jaylon Johnson should at least be in the discussion. Utah was quietly one of the best defenses in college football last year and Johnson was certainly a part of that. Johnson is highly instinctive with 4.5 speed and good enough height/length. I'm not sure how much his physicality will translate to the next level given his size, but his ability to read plays and act on them should make him a good cover corner at a minimum. If you need proof, look up his pick sixes on Eason and Huntley last year, where he recognizes the play and makes a change to his coverage and a jump on his ball before it's even thrown. Spielman and Zimmer have shown no aversion to drafting DBs in the first round, and with Rhodes and Waynes departing this off-season Johnson helps the Vikings fill an obvious position of need. MIAMI: Josh Jones, OL Miami could frankly use two tackles, but they wait until it makes sense value-wise and take Josh Jones here. Whoever they pick is going to have to be ready day 1, which makes Austin Jackson out of the question. Jones had a stellar senior year and cemented it at the Senior Bowl. Given he blocked for D'Eriq King he should be comfortable outside of traditional pass sets, which could prove useful if Miami picks Tua as this mock draft predicted. Jones has prototypical size and strength to be an NFL tackle and gets right into the shoulder pads of the defense. The Dolphins have a lot of needs, but thankfully spends its first three picks filling the most important ones. SEATTLE: Julian Okwara, EDGE Death, taxes, and the Seahawks reaching late in the first round. Even if Clowney chooses to re-sign with Seahawks, the team could use another edge rusher to challenge LJ Collier who put together a whopping two tackles his rookie season. I'm honestly surprised mock draft experts haven't been higher on Okwara. He explodes off the line and uses his length and speed to get around tackles. You need to look no further than his performance vs. Virginia, which he absolutely dominated. His bull-rush is NFL-ready and he has the build and mobility to drop off into coverage as necessary. The criticism will remain given his smaller frame, but the production was clearly there at Notre Dame. BALTIMORE: Cesar Ruiz, OL The truth is the Ravens don't have a ton of needs and the top LBs are off the Board at this point. If there's a weakness on the Ravens' offensive line it's at the center position. Ruiz gets out of his stance quickly and stays with defenders throughout the play. Criticism of his athleticism is overblown given he's a center. He's also incredibly young, so there's room for growth. TENNESSEE: A.J. Epenesa, EDGE The Titans biggest need is at corner, but given the number that have gone off the Board already the value just isn't there. Instead, Tennessee can address the hole on their defensive line created by Jurrell Casey's departure. Jeffrey Simmons has the size and athleticism to allow for flexibility in how Tennessee constructs its line, and this means Jon Robinson can approach this pick with a little more of a best player available approach. The best defensive lineman on the Board is A.J. Epenesa. GREEN BAY: Jalen Reagor, WR Nick Bosa embarrassed the entire city of Green Bay on national television and made clear the need for a new tackle, but I don't think Green Bay addresses that quite yet. Brian Gutekunst comes from the Ron Wolf school of thought about best player available, and the T position is a little drained here. Instead, I think GB chooses to find someone to put opposite Davante Adams. Jalen Reagor's fall into the second round of many mock drafts is hard for me to explain. The production was there in college and the combine only supported what we knew from the tape: Reagor is a superb athlete. I think the biggest knock is drops, which would likely only get worse in the NFL, but pairing him with Adams and Rogers could be absolutely dynamic. His double move is something to behold and he's great after the catch. Putting that next to, and allowing him to learn from, Adams is a match made in heaven. TRADE: CLEVELAND - 31, 210 SAN FRANCISCO- 41, 77 San Francisco lacks draft capital given their trades for Dee Ford and Emmanuel Sanders, but has needs. The Browns moved back earlier because Ezra Cleveland is their guy. Berry can't afford to let him go and can get back into the 1st round for a fair price given the Niners need for 2nd and 3rd round picks. CLEVELAND: Ezra Cleveland, OL Cleveland trades back into the first round and addresses its biggest position of need by getting somebody to protect Baker Mayfield. If you buy the rumors that Andrew Berry likes Ezra Cleveland, which I do, then it makes sense to grab him here before anyone else can in the early second. KANSAS CITY: A.J. Terrell, DB Brett Veach and Andy Reid have always valued cornerbacks, and despite the re-signing of Bashaud Breeland the Chiefs are still thin at the position. Given this, I think the Chiefs could go with the next best corner available in their mind. Terrell measures out well with good speed. I'm pretty sure Terrell still has nightmares about Ja'Marr Chase, but so do a lot of CBs not named Cameron Dantzler. That performance shouldn't erase years of strong tape otherwise. Round 2: CINCINNATI: Isaiah Wilson, OL NEW OLREANS: Zack Baun, LB DETROIT: Marlon Davidson, DL NY GIANTS: Josh Uche, EDGE LA CHARGERS: Austin Jackson, OL CAROLINA: Neville Gallimore, DL MIAMI: D'Andre Swift, RB TRADE: NY JETS - 40 HOUSTON - 48, 120 NY JETS: Michael Pittman Jr., WR SAN FRANCISCO: Denzel Mims, WR JACKSONVILLE: Antoine Winfield Jr., S CHICAGO: Trevon Diggs, DB INDIANAPOLIS: Tee Higgins, WR TRADE: MIAMI - 45, 173 TAMPA BAY - 56, 154, Future 4th MIAMI: Brandon Aiyuk, WR DENVER: Jeff Gladney, DB ATLANTA: Noah Igbinoghene, DB HOUSTON: Raekwon Davis, DL PITTSBURGH: Robert Hunt, OL CHICAGO: Kyle Dugger, S DALLAS: Cameron Dantzler, DB LA RAMS: J.K. Dobbins, RB PHILADELPHIA: Grant Delpit, S TRADE: CINCINNATI - 54, 167 BUFFALO - 65, 107 CINCINNATI: Willie Gay Jr., LB BALTIMORE: Laviska Shenault Jr., WR TAMPA BAY: Clyde Edwards-Helaire, RB LA RAMS: Netane Muti, OL TRADE: LAS VEGAS - 58, 132 MINNESOTA - 80, 81 LAS VEGAS: Jalen Hurts, QB SEATTLE: Ross Blacklock, DL BALTIMORE: Akeem Davis-Gaither, LB TENNESSEE: Damon Arnette, DB GREEN BAY: Lucas Niang, OL KANSAS CITY: Terrell Lewis, EDGE SEATTLE: Ben Bartch, OL Round 3: BUFFALO: Curtis Weaver, EDGE WASHINGTON: Cole Kmet, TE DETROIT: John Simpson, OL NY JETS: Jonathan Greenard, EDGE CAROLINA: Shane Lemieux, OL MIAMI: Lloyd Cushenberry III, OL LA CHARGERS: KJ Hamler, WR ARIZONA: Jonathan Taylor, RB JACKSONVILLE: Bryan Edwards, WR CLEVELAND: Ashtyn Davis, S NEW ORLEANS: Cam Akers, RB TAMPA BAY: Justin Madubuike, DL SAN FRANCISCO: Jordan Elliott, DL ATLANTA: Jake Fromm, QB NY JETS: Troy Pride Jr., DB MINNESOTA: Terrell Burgess, S MINNESOTA: Donovan Peoples-Jones, WR DALLAS: Adam Trautman, TE DENVER: Prince Tega Wanogho, OL LA RAMS: Jordyn Brooks, LB DETROIT: Tyler Johnson, WR BUFFALO: Zack Moss, RB NEW ENGLAND: Hunter Bryant, TE NEW ORLEANS: Bryce Hall, DB MINNESOTA: Logan Stenberg, OL HOUSTON: Jeremy Chinn, S LAS VEGAS: Malik Harrison, LB BALTIMORE: Anfernee Jennings, EDGE TRADE: NEW ENGLAND - 93 TENNESSEE - 100, 195 NEW ENGLAND: James Morgan, QB GREEN BAY: Jacob Eason, QB DENVER: Tyler Biadasz, OL KANSAS CITY: Matt Peart, OL CLEVELAND: Logan Wilson, LB LAS VEGAS: Davon Hamilton, LB NY GIANTS: Matt Hennessy, OL TENNESSEE: Van Jefferson, WR SEATTLE: Kenny Willekes, EDGE PITTSBURGH: Leki Fotu, DL PHILADELPHIA: Troy Dye, LB LA RAMS: Amik Robertson, DB MINNESOTA: Antonio Gandy-Golden, WR BALTIMORE: K'Von Wallace, S ------- Trades: DENVER - 10 CLEVELAND - 15, 77, 118 Andrew Berry wants Ezra Cleveland, but a top 10 pick is a little rich for him. John Elway wants Henry Ruggs III, but he won't be there at 15. Berry moves back, picking up valuable draft capital to secure rookie contracts for when the bill eventually comes due on the Browns players and they can't afford to extend everyone. NEW ENGLAND - 19 LAS VEGAS - 23, 98 Suggesting the Patriots trade up in any mock draft is a dangerous endeavor, but they also have an absurd number of picks in this year's draft. Giving Las Vegas a compensatory third to move up and get your pick of the draft's top LBs isn't too bad a price to pay. INDIANAPOLIS - 24 NEW ORLEANS - 34, 75, 193 New Orleans really doesn't have a lot of positions of need this year, and make fun of me if you will, but I buy that Sean Payton is okay with Taysom Hill playing QB for at least a season if need be. That isn't to say the Saints won't draft a QB, just that they won't reach on one at the end of the first and without a second round pick. The Colts on the other hand will - especially if they value Jordan Love as highly as others have speculated in the past month. Indianapolis gets to take advantage of the Saints wanting to trade down and gives up less than they'd ordinarily have to in order to get back into the first round. CLEVELAND - 31, 210 SAN FRANCISCO- 41, 77 San Francisco lacks draft capital given their trades for Dee Ford and Emmanuel Sanders, but has needs. The Browns moved back earlier because Ezra Cleveland is their guy. Berry can't afford to let him go and can get back into the 1st round for a fair price given the Niners need for 2nd and 3rd round picks. NY JETS - 40 HOUSTON - 48, 120 WRs haven't fallen off the Board the way many have thought they would at the start of Round 2, but the Niners would be sure to start that trend, potentially with Pittman. As much as Gase likes smaller, fast receivers, the Jets desperately need a big guy who can work with Darnold. Pittman and Darnold have the USC connection already, and it makes sense to move ahead of San Francisco to get him. MIAMI - 45 TAMPA BAY - 56, 154, 173, Future 4th With WRs beginning to fly off the Board and Brandon Aiyuk still there due to injury concerns, Miami trades up to get him. Tampa Bay, lacking a ton of immediate needs having already added a T, gets extra draft capital in exchange for moving back to a point where at least one of the top four RBs should remain. CINCINNATI - 54, 167 BUFFALO - 65, 107 This is a tough one. There are a number of rumors that Cincinnati is enamored with Willie Gay Jr.'s athleticism and ball instincts. If that's true, there could be legitimate fear that the Ravens could take him at 55 or 60 given their needs. The Bills need picks given their trade for Diggs. The Bengals make the call to get ahead of an in division rival for their guy. LAS VEGAS - 58, 132 MINNESOTA - 80, 81 It's no secret that John Gruden loves his QBs and I think there's a legitimate chance the QB he likes in this draft class that's within reach for him is Jalen Hurts. Getting back into the second round allows him to be the first to take the QBs not projected to go in the first round. NEW ENGLAND - 93 TENNESSEE - 100, 195 There have been rumors that the Patriots' favorite QB prospect in this draft is James Morgan given his arm and the New England climate. Similarly, he's tied to Green Bay who just so happens to be on the clock at 94. If the rumors are true, Belichick should be willing to pull the trigger to move up and get him. By Team: ARIZONA: 1.8 - Derrick Brown 3.72 - Jonathan Taylor ATLANTA: 1.16 - K'Lavon Chaisson 2.47 - Noah Igbinoghene 3.78 - Jake Fromm BALTIMORE: 1.28 - Cesar Ruiz 2.55 - Laviska Shenault Jr. 2.60 - Akeem Davis Gaither 3.92 - Anfernee Jennings 3.106 - K'Von Wallace BUFFALO: 3.65 - Curtis Weaver 3.86 - Zack Moss CAROLINA: 1.7 - Isaiah Simmons 2.38 - Neville Gallimore 3.69 - Shane Lemieux CHICAGO: 2.43 - Trevon Diggs 2.50 - Kyle Dugger CINCINNATI: 1.1 - Joe Burrow 2.33 - Isaiah Wilson 2.54 - Willie Gay Jr. CLEVELAND: 1.15 - Javon Kinlaw 1.31 - Ezra Cleveland 3.74 - Ashtyn Davis 3.97 - Logan Wilson DALLAS: 1.17 - Jerry Jeudy 2.51 - Cameron Dantzler 3.82 - Adam Trautman DENVER: 1.10 - Henry Ruggs III 2.46 - Jeff Gladney 3.83 - Prince Tega Wanogho 3.95 - Tyler Biadasz DETROIT: 1.3 - Jeff Okudah 2.35 - Marlon Davidson 3.67 - John Simpson 3.85 - Tyler Johnson GREEN BAY: 1.30 - Jalen Reagor 2.62 - Lucas Niang 3.94 - Jacob Eason HOUSTON: 2.48 - Netane Muti 3.90 - Jeremy Chinn INDIANAPOLIS: 1.24 - Jordan Love 2.44 - Tee Higgins JACKSONVILLE: 1.9 - CJ Henderson 1.20 - Kenneth Murray 2.42 - Antoine Winfield Jr. 3.73 - Bryan Edwards KANSAS CITY: 1.32 - AJ Terrell 2.63 - Terrell Lewis 3.96 - Matt Peart LA CHARGERS: 1.6 - Justin Herbert 2.37 - Austin Jackson 3.71 - KJ Hamler LA RAMS: 2.52 - JK Dobbins 2.57 - Netane Muti 3.84 - Jordyn Brooks 3.104 - Amik Robertson LAS VEGAS: 1.12 - CeeDee Lamb 1.23 - Kris Fulton 2.58 - Jalen Hurts 3.91 - Malik Harrison 3.98 - Davon Hamilton MIAMI: 1.5 - Tua Tagovailoa 1.18 - Xavier McKinney 1.26 - Josh Jones 1.39 - D'Andre Swift 1.45 - Brandon Aiyuk 3.70 - Lloyd Cushenberry III MINNESOTA: 1.22 - Yetur Gross-Matos 1.25 - Jaylon Johnson 3.80 - Terrell Burgess 3.81 - Donovan Peoples-Jones 3.89 - Logan Stenberg 3.105 - Antonio Gandy-Golden NEW ENGLAND: 1.19 - Patrick Queen 3.87 - Hunter Bryant 3.93 - James Morgan NEW ORLEANS: 2.34 - Zack Baun 3.75 - Cam Akers 3.88 - Bryce Hall NY GIANTS: 1.4 - Tristan Wirfs 2.36 - Josh Uche 3.99 - Matt Hennessy NY JETS: 1.11 - Jedrick Wills Jr. 2.40 - Michael Pittman Jr. 3.68 - Jonathan Greenard 3.79 - Troy Pride Jr. PHILADELPHIA: 1.21 - Justin Jefferson 2.53 - Grant Delpit 3.103 - Troy Dye PITTSBURGH: 2.49 - Robert Hunt 3.102 - Leki Fotu SAN FRANCISCO: 1.13 - Andrew Thomas 2.41 - Denzel Mims 3.77 - Jordan Elliott SEATTLE: 1.27 - Julian Okwara 2.59 - Ross Blacklock 3.64 - Ben Bartch 3.109 - Kenny Willekes TAMPA BAY: 1.14 - Mekhi Becton 2.56 - Clyde Edwards-Helaire 3.76 - Justin Madubuike TENNESSEE: 1.29 - AJ Epenesa 2.61 - Damon Arnette 3.100 - Van Jefferson WASHINGTON: 1.2 - Chase Young 3.66 - Cole Kmet
In Super Bowl LIV, they'll find another. Scott Bair: 49ers 34, Chiefs 30 This is a matchup of strength on strength. The NFL's best pass defense and the NFL's best quarterback and most explosive set of skill players are ready to rumble. That's what will make this a fun Super Bowl that should be close in the fourth quarter. Super Bowl Odds. Spread: Kansas City (-1.5) Over/Under: 54.5 Moneyline: Kansas City -123 (bet $123 to win $100); San Francisco +103 (bet $100 to win $103) Via Caesars.. Nobody Covered More than Sean Koerner simulated Chiefs vs. 49ers to determine the numbers you want in your Super Bowl 54 squares pool. Typical football numbers like 0, 7, 4 and 3 are ideal, but variance increases as the game goes on and unique NFL scores have increased since the league moved the extra point back four years ago. Super Bowl 2020: Vegas Betting Odds, Updated Money Line for 49ers vs. Chiefs Kristopher Knox @@kris_knox. Featured Columnist January 24, 2020 Comments. Charlie Riedel/Associated Press 2020 Super Bowl point spread, betting line, total, odds: 49ers vs. Chiefs expected to go down to the wire Looking to place your Super Bowl bet?
Are the 49ers and Jimmy G a good bet for a Super Bowl ...
In this week's episode of Bet On It direct from Las Vegas, Kelly Stewart, Marco D'Angelo, Gianni "The Greek Gambler" and Ralph Michaels go over Super Bowl 54 between the San Francisco 49ers (13 ... NFL Super Bowl Prop Bets Advice B/R Betting Show - Duration: 17:53. Bleacher Report 13,014 views. 17:53. Robert Kiyosaki 2019 - The Speech That Broke The Internet!!! KEEP THEM POOR! Prop Bets for Super Bowl 2020 Super Bowl Start Time: 6:30 p.m. EST on Sunday, February 2, 2020 - Duration: 36:19. WagerTalk TV: Sports Picks and Betting Tips 5,460 views 36:19 Daily Wager’s Doug Kezirian, Preston Johnson and Joe Fortenbaugh evaluate the chances the San Francisco 49ers can make a repeat run to the Super Bowl and break down prop bets on quarterback ... Super Bowl Prop Bets 2019 and Betting Tips (Super Bowl Vegas Odds - Sunday, February 3, 2019) - Duration: 7:41. WagerTalk TV: Sports Picks and Betting Tips 1,949 views 7:41