Denver Broncos at Seattle Seahawks odds, picks and best bets
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NFL teams most likely to go from worst to first in 2020
We have talked a lot about the draft, biggest remaining needs for every NFL team, some breakout candidates and other stuff, so let’s now get back to more of a big picture and look at some teams from an angle of where could they go next season. In this article, I am analyzing those teams that finished fourth in their division this past year and why they could win it in 2020 or land at the bottom once again, plus an outlook where I actually see them. Of course much of this is about these eight teams and how much better or worse I feel about them than the general public, but it was heavily dependent on their three division rivals as well. The top half I could certainly see earn a playoff spot and surprise some people if everything goes right. After that a lot of my faith is more built around the lack of great competition and giving some hope to these respective fan bases. As the cliché goes – everybody is 0-0 right now. https://preview.redd.it/rs90lt6ckf751.png?width=720&format=png&auto=webp&s=3ddfc8945862472b52b5ef8c69076acde904c44c
1. Arizona Cardinals
Why they can win the division: Let’s just start with the main point here – this Cardinals squad has all the ingredients to make a big jump in 2020. I expect Kyler Murray to enter the superstar conversation in year two, after impressing with his arm talent and ability to extend plays in a (somewhat controversial) Offensive Rookie of the Year campaign. Steve Keim managed to unload a bad David Johnson contract and basically acquire an elite receiver in DeAndre Hopkins for a second-round pick. Kenyan Drake now has a full offseason to learn this offense and make himself a major factor once again, following up an outstanding second half of the season once the Cardinals traded for him with Miami. He perfectly fits into this offense with a lot East-West based rushing from shotgun sets and his involvement in the pass game, including those quick throws as an extension of the rushing attack. Arizona’s defense should be a lot better with run-stoppers being added in the draft that fit their 3-4 base front with Utah’s Leki Fotu and LSU’s Rashard Lawrence, since they can stay in those packages against the other teams in their division running a lot of 12 and 21 personnel probably. Add to that a do-it-all player with ridiculous range and overall athleticism in Isaiah Simmons at eight overall, plus all the other guys being in their second year under DC Vance Joseph. I love Budda Baker as a missile from his safety spot and I think some of the other young guys on that unit will take a step forward, like second-year corner Byron Murphy, who I talked about last week. Now let’s get to rest of the West – every other team in that division has some issues. The 49ers are facing the objects of a potential Super Bowl hangover and some limitations with Jimmy G at the helm. The Seahawks have question marks on the edge on either side of the ball with Cedric Ogbuehi and Brandon Shell fighting for the starting gig at right tackle and Jadeveon Clowney still on the open market, with a bunch of draft picks these last couple of years having to step up. And the Rams had one of the worst O-lines in football last season and they lost some pieces on defense. The Cardinals already gave all these teams issues in 2019 and have now added pieces that were clearly missing when last matching up against each other. Why they could finish last again: Most importantly, I am still not completely sold on the Cardinals offensive line, with D.J. Humphries being signed to a rather expensive deal as a below-average left tackle, third-rounder Josh Jones – while earning a late first-round grade from me – still needing an overhaul on his footwork before he can slide in at right tackle and guard Justin Pugh finally having played a full 16 games for the first time since 2015 last season. NFL coaches had a lot of time to study Kliff Kingsbury’s Air-Raid offense, which when you break it down is pretty simplistic in the amount of schemes they run. Yes, he diversified it a little as last season went along, going under center and running some pro-style rushing plays, but at its core, you can learn how to create some issues for all those mesh concepts and spread sets. As far as the Cardinals defense goes, it is more about pieces than proven commodities. Patrick Peterson is seemingly on the decline, they are thin in the secondary and could Chandler Jones follow soon, after he has been one of the most underrated pass-rushers in the league for a while now? You are staring the reigning NFC champs in the eyes, a team that was a few inches away from earning a playoff bye and another squad that went to the Super Bowl just two years ago. This is probably the best division in the entire league. Bottom line: I still believe the 49ers have done enough to repeat as division champs, re-tooling for all the losses they have suffered this offseason. However, I’m feeling pretty good about the Cardinals earning a wildcard spot. While I believe in the Seahawks quarterback and the Rams head coach respectively to not allow their teams to not have throwaway seasons, I also see enough issues with those squads to make me believe the Cardinals could have the second-best year of anybody in the West. To me they are pretty clearly the best of these eight teams, because they have a young phenom at quarterback, stars at pretty much every position, a different type of system around them and what I’d like to call “juice” coming into 2020. https://preview.redd.it/anrr9erfkf751.png?width=720&format=png&auto=webp&s=5655b4452baff2691a0e060e8d70918d58801a4c
2. Detroit Lions
Why they can win the division: Matt Stafford is back healthy and when he was in the lineup last season, this was a team that defeated the Eagles, Chargers and only didn’t finish the job against the eventual Super Bowl champion Chiefs because of some crazy stuff going on late. The veteran QB stood at 19 touchdowns compared to five picks and was playing at a near-MVP type level. However, Detroit’s identity will be built on the run game with re-investments in the offensive line as well as adding D’Andre Swift to form a dynamic one-two punch with him and Kerryon Johnson. Kenny Golladay and Marvin Jones may be the most underrated receiving duo to go with Danny Amendola as a tough guy in the slot and T.J. Hockenson coming into year two as a top-ten pick a year ago, having shown flashes when he was healthy. The defense is finally starting to take shape with third-overall Jeffrey Okudah as an elite corner prospect being added to an underrated secondary, Jamie Collins being a chess piece in the front seven after already having worked well with Matt Patricia and some young guys up front trying to prove themselves to go with the versatile Trey Flowers. Maybe more importantly than the Lions themselves – Nobody else got that much better and none of the other three really stand out to me. Other than the Vikings probably – who had the advantage of making a record-breaking 15 selections – the Lions might have had the best draft within the division. Thanks to that last-place schedule, they get to face the Redskins in the East (instead of Eagles & Cowboys) and Cardinals in the West, who I just talked about taking a step forward, but are still a better draw than the reigning conference champions or possibly having to travel to Seattle. I believe that new regime in Detroit has finally built an identity on both sides of the ball with the heavy investments in the run game and back-seven on defense. Winning ten games might earn you a division title, if everybody plays each other tough. Why they could finish last again: Can these guys finally stay healthy? Matt Stafford to my surprise played a full 16 games in eight straight years before last season, but a lot of that had to do with his toughness to fight through pain and he had major issues with that shoulder early on in his career before basically breaking his back after putting the team on it for the last decade. Kerryon Johnson has missed 14 of 32 possible starts and he has never carried the ball more than 118 times a season. Their receiving corp has been banged up quite a bit too. More glaring even – how will all these additions of former Patriots players work out? Can Matt Patricia build a New England 2.0 in Michigan or is he just bringing in players he knows will listen to him and the way he wants things to be done? Detroit could also rely on a lot of rookies to be immediate impact players – possibly two new starting guards on offense, running back D’Andre Swift probably sharing the load with Kerryon, Jeffrey Okudah having to immediately become their CB1 and Julian Okwara being asked to become a much more consistent player if they give him major snaps. And I recently talked about how their uncertainty at punter could be an issue for their ball-control, defense-minded style of play. They also have an early bye (week five), which I’m never a big fan of, after facing the Bears, Packers, Cardinals and Saints, which probably includes three playoff teams. If Chicago can get any competent QB play, all these teams should be highly competitive. Bottom line: I don’t think any team in this division wins more than ten games. Unfortunately I don’t see the Lions go over that mark themselves either. The Packers won’t come out victorious in so many close games (8-1 in one-possession affairs), the Vikings have lost a few proven commodities and look for young talent to immediately replace those and the Bears still have a quarterback competition going on. So if Detroit can do any better than just split the season series with those three teams, I see them finishing above .500, but ten wins is the ceiling for me. In terms of the competition inside the division, the Lions may be my number one team in this conversation, but I see a much clearer path to things crashing down for Matt Patricia and them having another disappointing season than I do with the Cardinals. No team in this division may finish below that 8-8 mark. https://preview.redd.it/7ivo914ikf751.png?width=720&format=png&auto=webp&s=d029ddd274b78e78f5bc932d00086b8c697a466e
3. Miami Dolphins
Why they can win the division: When you ask the general public, the Buffalo Bills right now are the favorites to win the AFC East, but they haven’t done so since 1995 and they still have to prove they really are that team. The Patriots lost several pieces on defense and Tom Brady of course, which probably leads them to starting a quarterback, who over his four career pass attempts has thrown more touchdowns to the opposing team than to his own. The Jets are still building up that roster, with GM Joe Douglas trying to plant seeds on burnt earth, and they face a BRUTAL schedule. So Miami has a lot of things going in their favor for an organization that I believe in what they are trying to build. Depending on what happens at quarterback, you could have a veteran in Ryan Fitzpatrick, who was by far the best inside the division in several key categories last season and/or Tua Tagovailoa, who had one of the most prolific careers we have seen from anybody in the SEC. They added at least two new starters on the O-line, they now have one of the premiere cornerback trios in the league with the all-time highest paid player at the position in Byron Jones and first-round pick Noah Igbinoghene to go with Xavien Howard and with some added beef up front, they are finally looking a lot like what Brian Flores had in New England. DeVante Parker really broke out over the second half of 2019 and Miami should have a much better rushing attack because of the additions up front and two quality committee backs in Jordan Howard and Matt Breida being added. They have two other young pass-catchers ready to break out this upcoming season in tight-end Mike Gesicki and a UDFA receiver from a year ago in Preston Williams. Whenever Tua’s name is called upon, he will be a perfect fit for Chan Gailey’s horizontal passing game. Why they could finish last again: As much as I like what I see from this entire organization, it is probably just a year too early for Miami. So many young players could be thrown into the fire and a lot of them I look at as needing that experience – 18th overall pick Austin Jackson (USC) is more of a developmental tackle still with his footwork and hand-placement issues, 30th overall pick Noah Igbinoghene (Auburn) has only played cornerback for two years and was bailed out by his athletic tools at times, third-rounder Brandon Jones has to develop more of a feel in deep coverage and at least one more rookie lineman will likely start for them. Even outside of this year’s draft class, they already had several players on their roster that are still moving towards their prime. Whether you look at last year’s first-rounder Christian Wilkins, a lot of second- and third-year pass-catchers or their young linebackers outside of Kyle Van Noy. The Bills are entering year four of that turn-around under Sean McDermott and Brandon Beane, the Patriots still have the greatest coach of all time and will be a tough matchup solely based on that and the Jets at least have people playing for their jobs, plus a very talented young quarterback I still believe in. As much as I doubt Adam Gase, as long as Sam Darnold doesn’t get mono again, the offense should at least be competent, and the defense could potentially have a top-five player at every level with All-Pro Bowl safety Jamal Adams, an 85-million dollar linebacker in C.J. Mosley and my number one prospect in last year’s draft on the interior D-line with Quinnen Williams. Bottom line: As I mentioned before, the Bills are the front-runners in this division for me. As much respect as I have for Bill Belichick, I haven’t seen enough from Jarrett Stidham to make me a believer and he shrunk in some big moments at Auburn. The Jets to me could be a lot better than they were in 2019 and still go 6-10 just because of the type of schedule they are up against. So the Dolphins to me could easily finish anywhere from second to fourth, depending on how some of the players on that roster progress. I wouldn’t bet on them actually making the playoffs, but they could absolutely be a pain in the butt for some of the better teams in the AFC and in 2021 they might be the pick here. https://preview.redd.it/nme3explkf751.png?width=720&format=png&auto=webp&s=3998c6026125c1b9b48438e3fc9afaf9601b116e
4. Los Angeles Chargers
Why they can win the division: First and foremost, this Chargers defense is absolutely loaded with no real hole that you can point to. Derwin James is back healthy after a first-team All-Pro rookie campaign, Chris Harris Jr. comes in to make this secondary one the elite units in the NFL to go with two more Pro Bowlers among it and they have some guys I expect to break out like Jerry Tillery, Drue Tranquill and Nasir Adderley. In terms of having matchup pieces and a versatile pass rush to challenge Kansas City, nobody in the league may be on the same level as these guys. Offensively, Ihave talked about how the left tackle spot is concern for L.A. with a battle between Sam Tevi and Trey Pipkins for the starting job, but the other four spots are as good as they have been in a while, acquiring Pro Bowl guard Trai Turner via trade, signing a top five right tackle in Bryan Bulaga and getting Mike Pouncey back healthy. Tyrod Taylor can steer the ship and even if Justin Herbert is thrown into the fire – which I wouldn’t recommend – they have the skill-position players and willingness to run the ball to take pressure off those guys. While the Chiefs return 20 of 22 starters from a year ago, this wouldn’t be the first time we saw a Super Bowl champion have some issues the following season and as much as we want to hype up the Broncos and Raiders, both their quarterbacks (and other players of course as well) have a lot to prove still. Outside of KC, the Chargers likely have the smallest changes to what they do other than moving on from Philip Rivers and we saw that formula work the year prior, when they challenged Kansas City until the very end for the division crown and the conference’s top seed potentially. While they probably would have liked to bring in Tom Brady over the offseason, the fact they decided against signing Cam Newton to a roster that is ready to win right now, shows you the confidence they have in that quarterback room. Why they could finish last again: I’m not a huge fan of Derek Carr, but the Chargers will probably have the worst quarterback in the division in 2020. And their starting left tackle could be the worst in the entire league. As good as their defense will probably be, you can not consistently win games in which your offense doesn’t put up 20+ points in the league today – especially when all these teams in their division have spent so much on acquiring offensive firepower these last couple of years. I believe all three of their division rivals got better this offseason and the Chargers spent their top draft pick (sixth overall) on a young quarterback, who might not even help them win games this season. As I already mentioned, Kansas City brings back almost their entire starting lineups and they went 12-4 despite Mahomes seemingly having his knee cap facing the sideline while laying on his back. I have uttered my thoughts on Denver several times now, which you can read up on later. As for Las Vegas’ new team, they did start last season 6-4 and just heavily invested into their two major issues – wide receiver and linebacker. And while I don’t like to talk about it – injuries have been a huge issue for this Chargers team in recent years and I don’t really know what it is even, but I can’t assume that they all of a sudden can stay healthy. Bottom line: In terms of talent on the roster outside of the quarterback position, you could make a pretty compelling argument that the Chargers are ahead of all the other teams on this list. That’s the reason they have a pretty high floor of finishing around .500 and if everything works out, they could absolutely be a playoff contender. However, for this exercise in particular, I believe their upside is capped by what they have under center. Tyrod Taylor can be a top-20 quarterback in the NFL this season and in terms of upside, Justin Herbert has all the tools to become a difference-maker once he steps on the field, but they don’t have the explosiveness the Chiefs or the Broncos have for that matter. With so much continuity on a team that has the best player in the entire league, I can’t go against the Chiefs and in the end we are evaluating the chances to actually win the division. https://preview.redd.it/rywropjokf751.png?width=720&format=png&auto=webp&s=ed77a7303af810b862abb2100c4f0b86841a2d38
5. Washington Redskins
Why they can win the division: These guys are very reminiscent of the 49ers with their defensive line, in terms of having invested a lot of high draft picks into the unit these last couple of years and now with that second overall pick bringing in a true stud from Ohio State – this time in Chase Young. When you look at all those guys up front – with the Bama boys patrolling the middle, Matt Ioannidis capable of moving around the front, Montez Sweat looking to break out in year two and Ryan Kerrigan still being there as a productive veteran – they will wreak some havoc this season. Ron Rivera could finally bring some structure to this organization and help them turn it around on defense with the addition of an old companion in Thomas Davis, plus some high-upside players like Reuben Foster and Fabian Moreau looking to prove themselves. Quarterback Dwayne Haskins had a very underwhelming rookie campaign, but he clearly wasn’t ready to be out there and found himself in a bad situation in terms of the support system around him. I like a lot of their young skill-position players the front office has surrounded him with, when you look at Terry McLaurin trying to become a young star in this league, who produced despite shaky quarterback play last season, Kelvin Harmon and Antonio Gandy-Golden being two big-bodied targets I liked these last two drafts, Derrius Guice hopefully finally being able to stay healthy to lead this backfield and this year’s third-round pick Antonio Gibson being a chess piece that you can manufacture touches for. Somebody I forgot to mention in this discussion recently is Steven Sims Jr., who is a jitterbug with the ball in his hands. New offensive coordinator Scott Turner will implement a system that should make life easier on his second-year signal-caller as well, while relying heavily on the run game. Why they could finish last again: Haskins is by far the least proven QB of the bunch, with Daniel Jones even being head and shoulders above him in their respective rookie seasons. No pass-catcher outside of Terry McLaurin had any major production to speak. Counting on a 37-year old Thomas Davis to not only be a leader for them, but also make plays on the field, could create issues, and Washington lost some pieces in the secondary. This offseason is a challenge for any team, that is looking to implement a new system on each side of the ball, but I think especially for a motivator like Rivera, who can give his squad a heartbeat and push them to success, not being there in person with those guys will hurt. Most importantly however, this division to me will be a two-man race between the Eagles and Cowboys – as it has been for a while now. They both will likely have top ten quarterbacks, better receiving corps, better offensive lines and more experienced defenses. The Giants may not blow anybody away coming into 2020, but looking at the two matchups from last year between them and the Redskins, Big Blue beat them 24-3 the first time around, when Daniel Jones threw one touchdown compared to two interceptions and then he diced them up for five TDs and no picks in week 16. The one area Washington would have had the clear upper hand was with their front-four, but New York just invested a lot of draft capital into their O-line to prevent that. Just go through the Redskins’ schedule and show me more than six wins. I dare you. Bottom line: These last two sentences really say it all. Even if Philly and Dallas split the season series and Washington can get a game off either one of them, it will be tough to turn around this squad as quickly as this season – with reduced practice time and team activities – to a point where they can finish above both of them. Both of them could easily win double-digit games in 2020 and while I think the Redskins are on the right track if Haskins looks more like the Ohio State version of himself, other than their defensive line, no unit for them is ready to compete for the division quite yet. Just going through their schedule in an objective manner, it is tough to find any lay-ups and say Washington has some baseline of wins they count on. To not have them any lower than this is more due to the respect for Riverboat Ron and how high I was on a lot of the guys they drafted recently. https://preview.redd.it/szpawv9rkf751.png?width=720&format=png&auto=webp&s=62ca5fe882d8155d83eb3328e9bf1f1681a17384
6. Jacksonville Jaguars
Why they can win the division: I was going back and forth between my number six and seven teams, because the Jaguars are projected to pick first overall come next April for a reason – they did lose a lot of pieces. However, to me it came down to the fact that the AFC South might be won at 9-7 or 10-6 and this coaching staff actually has to win to keep their jobs. There is a lot noise about the Colts, but when you go back to last season, Philip Rivers was a turnover machine with serious questions about his arm strength. Bill O’Brien made some very questionable decisions for Houston and Tennessee is counting on a formula that is built on a 250-banger running the ball 25+ times and Ryan Tannehill finally repeating a career year, as they are coming off an AFC title game appearance. As far as Jacksonville goes, Gardner Minshew was the highest-graded rookie quarterback according to PFF and altogether I would have put him second only behind Kyler Murray. D.J. Chark broke out as one of the young star receivers and I had a first-round grade on Colorado’s Laviska Shenault if he can be healthy, because his talent is off the charts. I think the O-line would have benefitted from another tackle to kick Cam Robinson inside to guard, but those guys are some road-graders to make the run game work. Defensively the only real contributor from that Sacksonville group a couple of years ago who actually wants to be there is Myles Jack, but I really like their young duo off the edge in first-rounders Josh Allen last year and now K’Lavon Chaisson (LSU). There are some questions about the back-end, but they were built front-to-back with a lot of zone coverage behind it and depending on the development of ninth overall pick C.J. Henderson, they can roll away from him matching up with the opposing team’s number one receiver. Avoiding some of the better AFC squads altogether is pretty sweet as well, to go with facing no playoff team from last year outside their division until the middle of November. Why they could finish last again: I’m just not sure if all of these players are ready to fight for that coaching staff and organization. Two of their remaining veterans (Leonard Fournette and Yannick Ngakoue) have openly talked about how they want to be traded, they only have a few actually proven commodities on that entire roster and with the way they have unloaded big cap numbers, they have set themselves up for a true rebuild potentially, as they are expected to be in the Trevor Lawrence-Justin Fields sweepstakes come next April. Even if they can get a few breaks and the division is up for grabs, does this organization even want to win this season? If not for the injury to Jacoby Brissett in the middle of the season, all three other teams in that division would have almost certainly finished above .500 and the Colts are actually the team that improved by far the most among them. That Texans, who have actually won the South four of the last five years, including last season, may be the smallest challenge and still sweep Jacksonville. Vegas rarely misses completely and the Jaguars right now are the odds-on favorite to pick first overall come next April, with an NFL-low OveUnder of 4.5 wins on the season. And as favorable as the early portion of their schedule looks like right, check out this eight-game stretch after their week seven bye – at Chargers, vs. Texans, at Packers, vs. Steelers, vs. Browns, at Vikings, vs. Titans, at Ravens. Ouch. They might go winless over that period. Bottom line: The Jaguars to me are a very interesting team, because I believe they have accumulated a bunch of young talent, which gets lost a little when you see all the names that aren’t there anymore. There is a lot to like about this roster, when you look at what these players could develop into, but that doesn’t mean they will have success this year already. The Colts have the best 53 currently in the division (or 55 now), the Texans have the best quarterback and the Titans are coming off an AFC Championship game appearance. Gardner Minshew could make this kind of a tough decision if they end up picking anywhere after first overall and I think some of those other kids will put up pretty good numbers, but they are still pretty clearly fourth in the South as for now. https://preview.redd.it/5myv276vkf751.png?width=720&format=png&auto=webp&s=7fb25f47d0759e9b5a07876ea01787898c6cc817
7. Carolina Panthers
Why they can win the division: Nobody knows for sure what Matt Rhule and his new coaching staff will throw at them. Joe Brady gets to work with Teddy Bridgewater once again, who he already coached in New Orleans – so there will be familiarity for him in this system and they already “speak the same language”. That young receiving corp with D.J. Moore, Curtis Samuel, free agency addition Robby Anderson and even an up-and-coming tight-end in Ian Thomas is pretty underrated actually, plus of course they have one of the truly elite weapons out of the backfield in Christian McCaffrey, who is probably set to break his own RB reception record once again. The Panthers defense-only draft has brought them a monster in the middle in Derrick Brown (Auburn), a really talented edge rusher in Yetur Gross-Matos (Penn State) on the opposite of last year’s rookie stud Brian Burns, a super-rangy safety with linebacker size in Jeremy Chinn (Southern Illinois), what I think is a starting corner in Troy Pride Jr. (Notre Dame) and some other pieces in the secondary. The talent is clearly there and now you bring in a scheme that is probably going to be unique for the NFL level as well, when you look at that 3-3-5 Baylor ran under Rhule and defensive coordinator Phil Snow. As much as we want to praise our legends of the game, the quarterbacks of the two front-runners in this division will be 41 and 43 years old respectively and let’s not forget that Atlanta started out last season 1-7. Why they could finish last again: Especially this offseason, without certainty if there will be anything like training camp or even a real preseason, that completely new staff with new systems they are trying to teach will certainly have some growing pains. Bridgewater has been a top-20 starting QB maybe one year of his career and even when he was applauded for the way he filled in for Drew Brees last season, he finished dead-last in intended air yards among quarterbacks with at least 100 pass attempts. How will that mesh with a lot of vertical targets around him? When he has those guys running free on slants and dig routes, the ball will get there, but will he be willing to throw that deep post or give his guys a chance on go-balls? Defensively they are counting on a lot of young players and they have nobody to even come close to replacing Luke Kuechly, as well as making the switch to an unproven scheme possibly, if they actually use some of those 3-3-5 looks coming over from Baylor. When you look at Rhule’s track-record, it always took him until year two to show improvement and then in that third season is when those teams can really make some noise. And that was in the AAC and Big 12 respectively. Now he is in the NFC South with a team that just went 13-3 in the Saints and a Bucs squad that already was 7-9 and lost six of those games by one score, only because despite finishing fifth in takeaways, they ranked in the bottom five in turnover differential due to easily leading the league with 41 giveaways. That should get a lot better with Tom Brady coming in, who has never even quite thrown half of Jameis Winston’s 30 interceptions in any of his 20 years in the league. Even the Falcons – for as poorly as they started last season – went 6-2 after really coming together and making some changes in their bye week last season. Bottom line: The Panthers are clearly the most unproven team in this division. While new systems that haven’t been scouted yet certainly have an advantage in terms of game-planning early on, especially in this offseason with heavily limited live reps most likely, that might equal a net minus. You have to root for a guy like Teddy Bridgewater and the way he has worked his way up to a starting spot again, but I just don’t look at him as a surefire franchise signal-caller. The other three teams in the South all have top ten quarterbacks in the league in my opinion and much more continuity around them. Until the Panthers finally get to their bye week at the start of December, I don’t see them winning more than four of those twelve games. At that point they may have their eyes on a different goal already, if Teddy B isn’t the clear answer under center. https://preview.redd.it/y7agj2n2lf751.png?width=720&format=png&auto=webp&s=221af0a1f689d3b19d5e250fac0b58a35877edad
8. Cincinnati Bengals
Why they can win the division: We’re not that far away from 2015, when the Bengals won the AFC North with a 12-4 record as the fifth year in a row making the playoffs. Since then this is the first time I feel like there really is change happening with this team. Marvin Lewis was replaced by a young Zac Taylor, trying to prove himself to the league, they drafted Heisman trophy winner Joe Burrow first overall to replace as average a quarterback as we have had over the last decade in Andy Dalton and the front office finally spent some money in free agency. While you would think a quarterback going first overall usually comes into a situation, where he is devoid of talent around him, Cincinnati suddenly has one of the better group of skill-position players in the entire league, assuming A.J. Green is back healthy. Tyler Boyd is a stud in the slot, who will be Burrow’s version of Justin Jefferson, a 50-50 ball specialist in second-round pick Tee Higgins (Clemson) matches perfectly with Burrow’s expertise of winning with ball-placement and if they get anything from former first-rounder John Ross at least as a decoy with his speed, that’s a plus. I expect Joe Mixon to be among the league leader’s in running back receptions and be more effective in space with those receivers around him as well. The signings the Bengals have made on defense gives them a lot more talent and complements very well what they already had. D.J. Reader is one of the most underrated defensive linemen in the league and frees everybody up along the front, they completely overhauled that linebacker group, which was a major issue these last couple of years, they brought in a starting CB2 and nickel from Minnesota to pair up with William Jackson III, who is ready to announce himself as one of the best corners in football, and Von Bell is a great match with the rangy free safety Jessie Bates. Why they could finish last again: As talented as all those guys throwing, catching and running the ball may be, it all starts with what’s happening up front and the Bengals offensive line is still in transition. They could have two of the worst starters in the league at both guard spots and right tackle once again, with the prior ones close to reaching that bust status and Bobby Hart still somehow having a starting job. As great as Joe Burrow was last year at LSU and how clean his evaluation was, how much better than Andy Dalton will he be right away, especially going up against those scary defensive fronts inside his division? Defensively they could easily have six new starters, which obviously can be looked at as a positive sign, considering they allowed 20+ points in all but two games last season, but there is also a lack of continuity and reduced time to fit all those pieces together. Cincinnati’s coaching staff hasn’t really proven anything yet and they will be facing a massacre of a schedule, with three occasions of back-to-back road games and while three of their final four games of the season are at home, they will face the Cowboys, Steelers and Ravens, to go with a trip to Houston in-between. If they don’t beat the Chargers in the season-opener, they probably don’t get that first W until week four against the Jaguars and then they have to hope they can sneak out another one until their bye week. Baltimore is tied with Kansas City for the highest projected win total with reigning MVP coming into just his third season, Pittsburgh is favored to make the playoffs with Big Ben back under center and Cleveland was the offseason favorite in 2019, while fielding an even better roster this year. Bottom line: I feel bad for putting this team last, because I thought Joe Burrow was the top quarterback and definitely worthy of that number one pick and the Bengals finally spent big money in free agency to retool the defense. To me this is less about them than the Ravens, who just were the number one overall seed in the playoffs at 14-2 and haven’t done anything other than get better themselves, a Steelers team that made a run at the playoffs with the worst quarterback play in the league now getting Ben back and a Browns roster that is among the top ten league-wide in most people’s opinion. Still, there is a lot to like about this team at the skill-positions, which is probably behind only Cleveland in terms all the weapons they have, some young standouts on defense and hope that all of this brings a fresh breath of air. If you enjoyed this content, I would really appreciate if you could visit the original piece (with video clips) - https://halilsrealfootballtalk.com/2020/06/16/nfl-teams-most-likely-to-go-from-worst-to-first-in-2020/ You can also listen to my breakdown on Youtube - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R9kCcuPobNU
1 New England Patriots (12-4) 2 Buffalo Bills (10-6) 3 New York Jets (7-9) 4 Miami Dolphins (5-11)
The Jets did not make any major coaching changes this offseason, retaining HC Adam Gase, OC Dowell Loggains, and DC Gregg Williams.
The Jets reshaped their weapons for Sam Darnold this offseason, losing three veterans and bringing in a number of free agents and draft picks. GM Joe Douglas opted not to re-sign RB Bilal Powell who the Jets drafted in 2011, and he remains a free agent. Most significantly, Douglas allowed his top offensive weapon in WR Robby Anderson to walk to Carolina on a 2 year, $20.0 MM deal, creating a void at outside receiver. The team has also not re-signed WR Demaryius Thomas, who filled in for Quincy Enunwa last season, and he remains a free agent.
The biggest change that the Jets made to their personnel this offseason was along the offensive line, and as such there were a number of veteran casualties. LT Kelvin Beachum started for the Jets from 2017 to 2019, but he seems to have regressed, and he remains a free agent. The Jets also let C Ryan Kalil go, who unretired to snap for Sam Darnold last offseason but disappointed and got injured, and he remains a free agent. RG Tom Compton was forced into action last season with the injury to Brian Winters, and he, as is characteristic of his NFL career thus far, struggled massively in run blocking and pass pro, but he projects to compete anyway next year for San Francisco on a 1 year deal. Joe Douglas and Adam Gase never expressed interest in RT Brandon Shell for the long term, benching him for the raw Chuma Edoga early in 2019, so it was not a surprise to see the Jets let Shell go to start for Seattle on a 2 year contract.
The Jets mostly kept their defense in tact this offseason, only losing two key pieces. EDGE Brandon Copeland left for New England on a 1 year contract, which is not a surprising location, as Copeland is a great utility player, functioning as a rush linebacker, an off-ball linebacker, and a core special teamer for the Jets in 2019. Similarly, Joe Douglas has not re-signed the versatile FS Rontez Miles, who has played single-high safety, box safety, and a key special teams role during his seven-year Jets tenure, and he remains a free agent.
The Jets cut CB Trumaine Johnson, which was virtually a no-brainer after two injury-plagued seasons in which his lack of speed was frequently exposed. The only real decision was whether to cut Johnson immediately, which would have resulted in a $12.0 MM dead cap hit in 2020, or to designate Johnson as a post-June 1 cut, which would have resulted in a $4.0 MM dead cap hit in 2020 and a $8.0 MM dead cap hit in 2021. Joe Douglas opted for the latter, meaning that the Jets saved a total of $11.0 MM by cutting Johnson in 2020. Grade: A
The Jets cut FS Darryl Roberts in mid-March. The Jets had high hopes for Roberts following the 2018 season, prompting them to sign him to a three-year contract with an out after one year. Roberts had a rocky first eight games of the season at cornerback before injuring his calf and being benched in favor of Maulet, Austin, and Canady. Roberts remained a special-teams asset and good safety depth in December, but ultimately GM Joe Douglas decided he could cut Roberts, save $6.0 MM, and look elsewhere for a replacement. Grade: B
Greg Van Roten
Jets GM Joe Douglas used to work in Baltimore, where he was supposedly very influential in the decision to draft QB Joe Flacco, so this signing is far from surprising. While Joe Flacco may be trending down in his play, $1.5 MM feels like a bargain for the chance at solid veteran insurance for Sam Darnold. However, his neck surgery will supposedly keep him out for the opening of the season. Grade: B
After the draft, the Jets signed RB Frank Gore to a 1 year, $1.1 MM deal to ensure that he will play his 16th season in green and white. Gore is a physical back who played under Jets HC Adam Gase in San Francisco in 2008 and in Miami in 2018. Gore can take some of the pressure off of starting RB Le'Veon Bell in 2020 as the Jets move towards a "runningback by committee" system. Grade: B
The Jets-Ravens connection proved strong again with the signing of WR Breshad Perriman. Perriman was a first-round pick for the Ravens in 2015 while current Jets' Director of Player Personnel Chad Alexander was with Baltimore, and though he never really produced at a high level there, he had a resurgence in 2019 for the Buccaneers. Especially in November and December, where he performed at a 1000-yard rate projected over a whole season, Perriman proved to be a legitimate outside option across from Mike Evans with Chris Godwin in the slot. Perriman is a big, athletic receiver who projects to be well-worth the $6.5 MM deal to start on the outside. Grade: B
Yet again, the Jets signed a former Ravens player, re-signing LG Alex Lewis, who played 2016 through 2018 with Baltimore before GM Joe Douglas traded for him in the 2019 offseason. Lewis stepped in for Kelechi Osemele last season and was a serviceable starter. Lewis is good in pass pro, versatile, and a good zone fit as a guard. However, Lewis could touch up on his penalties and overall run blocking for 2020. GM Joe Douglas only gave Lewis a 3 year, $18.6 MM deal which actually has an out after 1 year, which seems like a solid price to get another look at a 28-year-old guard who might be part of the team's future. Grade: B
The Jets' biggest free-agent singing in 2020 in terms of guaranteed money was former Broncos' C Connor McGovern at $18.0 MM. McGovern is an athletic lineman with experience at guard and center. He is a powerful center, and that serves him well in the run game. However, McGovern has a weak anchor and inconsistent pad level and leverage in the pass game. For this reason, despite the need at center, Joe Douglas' decision to commit two years to a center who is, perhaps, below average in pass pro is worthy of scrutiny. Grade: C
The biggest heavily-scrutinized acquisition that the Jets made in 2020 was probably signing former Seahawks RT George Fant to a 3 year, $27.3 MM contract. Fant functioned primarily as a swing tackle and as a sixth offensive lineman in Seattle, as he could not see the field as a starter over Germain Ifedi. Fant remains a very raw pass protector in terms of his anchor and the fluidity of his kickslide, and his ability in the run is only theoretically a strength in zone blocking. While Fant's contract has an out in 2021, it is a bit strange to see him making a similar salary to Bryan Bulaga and Halapoulvaati Vaitai. Grade: D
The Jets were patient in re-signing their own free agents, which probably helped get good value retaining EDGE Jordan Jenkins. Despite notching 15 combined sacks over the past two seasons, Jenkins only got $3.9 MM from the Jets. The sack number is a bit misleading, though, due to a high quantity of "coverage sacks" and a relatively modest pressure rate. However, Jenkins is a fine run defender, and he'll slot in as EDGE #1 again for the bets in 2020. Grade: B
The Jets also acquired a former Raven on defense with LB Patrick Onwuasor, and they only paid $2.0 MM to bring him in. Onwuasor is an undersized linebacker but a good linear athlete, and while he struggles reading offensive cues and getting off of blocks to stop the run, he is a really good coverage player with the ability to get home as a pass rusher. Onwuasor has played next to CJ Mosley before, and he could potentially contribute in subpackage and base 4-3 looks, in addition to in a depth capacity and on special teams. Grade: B
With the cuts of Trumaine Johnson and Darryl Roberts, GM Joe Douglas decided to fill a starting cornerback spot with former Colts CB Pierre Desir on a 1 year, prove-it deal. Desir lacks longspeed, but he is a long, physical corner with decent short-area quickness. However, Desir lacks refinement in press and zone. With that said, $4.0 MM is a reasonable price to get a fill-in outside cornerback in 2020. Grade: B
This signing probably didnt get much national coverage, but re-signing CB Arthur Maulet could pay huge dividends for the Jets in 2020. In 2019, Trumaine Johnson and Darryl Roberts failed to hit expectations, forcing Maulet, Nate Hairston, and rookie Blessuan Austin into the outside cornerback rotation. Maulet is the only one of that group who was not benched for performance reasons. For a mere $0.9 MM, retaining a guy in Maulet who is familiar with the defense who will compete to start in 2020 is seemingly a no-brainer. Grade: A
Instead of making another draft choice, the Jets decided to trade pick 211 for former Colts CB Quincy Wilson. Wilson, a former second-round pick, was a raw prospect coming out of Florida, and his penalties and lack of zone instincts followed him to the pros and led to his benching. However, Wilson is a big, long, and athletic corner, and at only 23 years of age, it makes sense that GM Joe Douglas wants to bring him on board to compete in an iffy cornerback room. Grade: C
This signing went somewhat under-the-radar, but Jets fans were thrilled when the team retained DB Brian Poole to man the slot on a 1 year, $5.0 MM contract. Poole is a good run defender with an ability to rush the passer, and he had a career year in coverage in 2019. Brian Poole is a good fit for Gregg Williams' defense, so retaining him to start in 2020 for a mere $5.0 MM seems to be a good value. Grade: B
The eleventh pick, Louisville T Mekhi Becton, was my favorite acquisition that the Jets made during the 2020 offseason. While there were other options on the board, namely Tristan Wirfs, Henry Ruggs, and Ceedee Lamb, that the Jets presumably could have considered, Becton was the exact player I thought the Jets should take when he fell to 11. The first thing that stands out about Becton is his massive size, as he's 6'7", 364 lbs, with a monstrous 83-inch wingspan. Becton, however, is much more than a heavy lineman, as he defies the norm with his exceptional 5.1-flat movement skills. Becton is a hulking run blocker who is inexperienced but a fluid mover in pass pro. Becton projects to replace Kelvin Beachum and slide in at left tackle immediately in his rookie season. Grade: A
Wanting to add more picks to build the Jets in his image in his first year as GM, Joe Douglas opted to move down from 48 to 59 in the second round. This was a costly move, as it caused the Jets to miss out on AJ Epenesa and Darrell Taylor, but the Jets managed to grab a falling Senior Bowl standout in Baylor WR Denzel Mims. Mims is a height-weight-speed freak with good length, hands, and run-blocking toughness. Mims should slot in as a starting outside receiver across from Breshad Perriman in year one. Grade: B
The Jets' first third-round pick of 2020 was a real surprise to many fans, as although the team already had arguably the best safety tandem in football with Jamal Adams and Marcus Maye, the Jets drafted California FS Ashytn Davis with the 68th-overall draft selection. Davis is a freak athlete who played single-high safety, box safety, and even slot cornerback at Cal and would almost definitely have been drafted significantly higher but for teams' inability to medically check his groin post-surgery. It's possible that Gregg Williams will utilize Davis as a big nickel defender this year, but this selection could also give the Jets flexibility if Marcus Maye, who is a free agent in 2021, or Jamal Adams, with whom the Jets are supposedly far apart on a long-term contract, depart. Grade: B
Despite having a starting EDGE tandem consisting of Jordan Jenkins and Tarell Basham and losing Brandon Copeland to New England, the Jets did not add outside talent to the position group before the draft, forcing GM Joe Douglas to pick Florida EDGE Jabari Zuniga at 79 overall. Zuniga is a good linear athlete with a decent ability to set the edge and with some interior versatility, and he could maybe project to replace Jordan Jenkins as a starter in 2021. However, Zuniga struggles with stiff hips and slow reaction time at the snap, and plus he missed most of the 2019 season with ankle injuries. The Jets probably hit the right position with Zuniga, who should factor into the pass-rush rotation with Jenkins, Basham, and 2019 UDFA Kyle Phillips, but it's really hard to justify drafting Zuniga with guys like Jonathan Greenard, Terrell Lewis, and DJ Wonnum still on the board. Grade: C
With his first day-3 selection as GM, Joe Douglas chose Florida RB La'Mical Perine. Perine is a physical runner with some receiving versatility out of the backfield. However, Perine doesn't really offer very much in terms of speed or vision, and drafting a RB instead of going offensive line, pass rush, receiver, or cornerback when Le'Veon Bell was already in the fold was a curious move. Grade: D
The second of the Jets' fourth-round picks probably stirred up the most intrigue, as most casual fans probably didn't expect the Jets to draft a quarterback. With that said, the Jets have gone a combined 0-6 over the past two seasons in games that Darnold did not start, and at this time David Fales was slated to be the backup quarterback, so drafting FIU QB James Morgan in the fourth round, which I thought was a value anyway, was a good choice. Morgan is a thick quarterback with a live arm with developmental quarterback potential. Grade: B
With their third pick in the fourth round, the Jets chose a player with the potential to start soon on the offensive line in Charlotte T Cameron Clark. Clark is a powerful lineman who started at left tackle in his rSo, rJr, and rSr seasons and has good short-area quickness despite his 5.29 forty. Some have floated Cameron Clark as a potential convert to guard for the Jets due to his sloppy pass-pro footwork. Grade: B
The Jets went corner in round 5, taking Virginia CB Bryce Hall at 158 overall. Hall is a long, tall corner who moves well, has zone instincts, and contributes in the run game. However, Hall's struggles in press and off-man coverage schemes probably project him better as a safety in the NFL rather than as a corner, which doesn't seem to be a need with Adams, Maye, and Davis already on the roster, and Hall's ankle injury prevented him from working out at the Combine, leaving teams in a state of uncertainty about his health and his testing numbers. Grade: C
With their sixth-round pick, the Jets went special teams with Texas A&M P Braden Mann. Mann has a big leg and can handle kickoff duties. Mann projects to replace Lachlan Edwards, but this may have been a tad high for a punter. Grade: C
The Jets had an intriguing undrafted free agent class with a number of guys who warranted day-3 draft consideration, but two guys that I liked pre-draft stood out as being worth mentioning. Georgia WR Lawrence Cager is a physical receiver at the line of scrimmage who will attempt to make the team as a redzone threat. Alabama DB Shyheim Carter played the STAR role in Nick Saban's defense, and he proved his versatility as a college approximation of a subpackage linebacker, a nickel corner, a box safety, and even a high safety, so he'll vie to make the team as a versatile depth defensive back and as a special-teams ace.
Other Offseason News
After tensions flared at the trade deadline last season, SS Jamal Adams expressed his frustrations with a lack of a contract extension on social media before supposedly requesting a trade in June. However, according to Connor Hughes at The Athletic, the Jets still hope to sign Adams to a long-term contract. Reportedly, over half of the teams in the NFL have expressed interest in adding the defensive star, but the Dallas Cowboys have gotten the most traction as a potential trade partner, with RT La'El Collins and WR Michael Gallup coming up as potential trade pieces. Jamal Adams is still on his rookie contract for 2020, and the Jets accepted his fifth-year option for 2021.
Also, this isn't really news, but former Jets' All-Pro CB Darrelle Revis continued his spat with 49ers' All-Pro CB Richard Sherman, culminating in this unusual Tweet:
3 facts here. @RSherman_25 •I’m more handsome than him according to women. •I’m better at corner than him according to everyone. •Shutdown corners are paid more than Zone 3 corners which I’m currently still am today.
Projected Starting Lineup
QB: Sam Darnold RB: Le’Veon Bell (and Frank Gore) WR: Breshad Perriman, Denzel Mims SWR: Jamison Crowder TE: Chris Herndon (and Ryan Griffin) LT: Mekhi Becton LG: Alex Lewis C: Connor McGovern RG: Brian Winters RT: George Fant EDGE: Jordan Jenkins, Tarell Basham DT: Henry Anderson, Quinnen Williams (and Steve McLendon) ILB: CJ Mosley, Avery Williamson (and Patrick Onwuasor) CB: Pierre Desir, Arthur Maulet NCB: Brian Poole SS: Jamal Adams FS: Marcus Maye K: Sam Ficken P: Braden Mann LS: Thomas Hennessy
Position Group Strengths and Weaknesses
QB - Neutral/Weakness Jets fans aren't going to love this one, but Sam Darnold is arguably still a bottom-third passer going into 2020. Darnold has been surrounded by a poor supporting cast over the past two years, including a turnstile of receivers across Robby Anderson with drop issues and linemen with pass-pro issues, but he certainly has not dominated like other young quarterbacks such as Lamar Jackson, Patrick Mahomes, Deshaun Watson, and Carson Wentz. The Jets have a good group behind Darnold, though, including Joe Flacco, who said he won't be ready for week 1, and James Morgan, a fourth-round rookie out of FIU.
Backfield - Strength Le'Veon Bell, who is making $15.5 MM this season, is an all-around back in terms of running between the tackles, receiving, and pass protecting. The Jets also signed the ageless wonder Frank Gore to take some of the pressure off of Bell. Joe Douglas also drafted La'Mical Perine to contribute in the backfield.
Pass Catchers - Neutral/Weakness In 2020, the Jets are banking on production from unproved pass catchers who have performed well in limited sample sizes. Joe Douglas signed Breshad Perriman, who had a very productive end to his 2019 season, to man one of the outside receiver spots. He also drafted Denzel Mims out of Baylor to presumably also start as a rookie. Jamison Crowder broke out last year as an above-average slot receiver, and Chris Herndon missed virtually all of last season but played well in his rookie season as a tight end. The receiver depth lacks standout names, but the tight end depth is strong, with Ryan Griffin returning on a multi-year extension.
Offensive Line - Weakness The Jets entirely remade their offensive line, and while each position is arguably improved on paper, it is still young and unproven. Most significantly, at LT, Joe Douglas drafted Mekhi Becton at 11, who is already a really good run blocker with the tools to grow in pass pro. Douglas also re-signed Alex Lewis, who is probably serviceable but below average, to start at left guard, but he could force competition from fourth-round rookie Cameron Clark. The Jets signed Connor McGovern to start at C, and while he should solidify the position for at least the last two years, he is not extraordinary. Right guard shapes up to be an open competition between incumbent Brian Winters, who is serviceable when healthy, and new acquisition Greg Van Roten. At RT, the Jets signed George Fant, who played mostly as a swing tackle or sixth offensive lineman for Seattle but certainly has the athletic ability to outperform Chuma Edoga from last year.
Defensive Line - Weakness This might be surprising to the non-Jets fans, but the days of Muhammad Wilkerson, and Leonard Williams are over, and pressure from the defensive line probably won't come easily for Gang Green. At EDGE, the Jets have arguably the worst duo in the NFL with Jordan Jenkins and Tarell Basham presumably playing as starters, with rookie 3rd-round pick Jabari Zuniga and 2019 UDFA Kyle Phillips playing rotationally. Starting on the interior, the Jets have Quinnen Williams, the former third-overall selection who notched 2.5 sacks and 4 TFLs in his rookie season and was arrested in March on a weapons charge, and Henry Anderson, a nimble interior penetrator who had a breakout year in 2018 before coming back down to Earth in 2019. Nathan Shepherd, Steve McLendon, and Foley Fatukasi should all see plenty of tread on the DL, as well.
Linebackers - Strength The Jets had a nearly-comical number of injuries at off-ball linebacker last season, but on paper, the unit appears very strong. CJ Mosley, 2019 FA acquisition, missed almost the entire 2019 season with a groin injury, but when healthy, he is one of the best linebackers in football. Avery Williamson, who projects to start across Mosley in 2020, is a good run defender but missed the entire 2019 year with a torn ACL. Returning starter Neville Hewitt, cheap FA acquisition Patrick Onwuasor, and promising second-year player Blake Cashman could each play in various base or subpackage roles, in addition to on special teams.
Secondary - Neutral Similar to the defensive line, the Jets secondary is a tale of two halves, in this case safeties and cornerbacks. At safety, the Jets have reigning All Pro Jamal Adams and solid free safety Marcus Maye returning, in addition to the versatile 3rd-round pick Ashtyn Davis out of Cal. Outside cornerback is in flux, as new acquisition Pierre Desir should lock up one spot, while Arthur Maulet, Quincy Wilson, and Blessuan Austin could compete for the other starting spot, with last year's breakout player Brian Poole locking up the slot. Nate Hairston, Javelin Guidry, Shyheim Carter, and 5th-round rookie Bryce Hall could compete for other key depth roles in the secondary.
Special Teams - Strength/Neutral At kicker, the Jets had a rocky performance last year, so they brought in Brett Maher, who hit 67% of his field goals last season, to compete with Sam Ficken, who hit 70% of his field goals last season. At punter, the Jets have rookie P Braden Mann, who handles kickoffs and whose 47.1 yards per punt would have ranked 4th in the NFL last year. At longsnapper, Thomas Hennessy is an asset in coverage and will return in 2020. Additionally, WR Vyncint Smith and FS Matthias Farley project to play major roles in kick coverage next season, with other jobs presumably up for grabs.
Week 1 at Buffalo: L - Other than the loss of Shaq Lawson and the additions of Stephon Diggs and AJ Epenesa, the Bills mostly had a quiet offseason, though with encouraging performances from young players in Josh Allen, Ed Oliver, Tremaine Edmunds, and Tre'Davious White and coming off of a 10-6 campaign, there’s a lot about which to be enthusiastic in Buffalo. The Bills, who went 10-6 last year and made the playoffs, beat the Jets here in their home opener. Record: 0-1
Week 2 vs San Francisco: L - The 49ers took a huge leap in 2019, marching through the NFC and into the Super Bowl, and the additions of Brandon Aiyuk, Javon Kinlaw, and Trent Williams should keep them competitive in 2020. If Jamal Adams is on the team, he might be able to get in George Kittle's way, but nevertheless the 49ers should be one of the NFL's most well-rounded football teams, and it would be difficult to envision the Jets defeating them. Record: 0-2
Week 3 at Indianapolis: L - The Colts had a big free agency period, signing Philip Rivers and adding DeForest Buckner in a trade while retaining their entire offensive line. While the Jets went 7-9 last season, just like the Colts did, the Colts probably are the favorites to win at home, especially with the advantage the Indianapolis offensive line should have over the New York pass rush. Record: 0-3
Week 4 vs Denver: L - While the Broncos went 7-9 last season, they have championship aspirations in 2020, as they went 4-1 in Drew Lock's starts last year and added Melvin Gordon, Jerry Jeudy, KJ Hamler, and Albert Okwuegbunam to a group of weapons already containing Philip Lindsay, Courtland Sutton, Noah Fant, and Jeff Heuerman while retaining defensive stars in Von Miller, AJ Johnson, and Justin Simmons. Though it is a home game, it's hard to imagine the Jets defeating the Broncos in 2020. Record: 0-4
Week 5 vs Arizona: W - The Cardinals look poised to improve in 2020, with the additions of DeAndre Hopkins, Jordan Phillips, and Isaiah Simmons, but questions remain with the offensive line and defensive line, in addition to with the poor playcalling from Kingsbury and Joseph at times during last season. This could be a key game for Quinnen Williams, Henry Anderson, Steve McLendon, and the interior defensive line to feast on a poor Cardinals' interior offensive line, and for Gregg Williams to outmatch Kingsbury and Murray at home. Record: 1-4
Week 6 at LA Chargers: L - The Chargers revamped their team this offseason, adding Justin Herbert in the draft and surrounding him with Bryan Bulaga, Trai Turner, and Joe Reed on offense, and Kenneth Murray and Chris Harris on defense. Though the quarterback situation is in flux in LA, it’s a bit hard to envision the Jets going on the road to the West Coast and beating an otherwise well-rounded team. Record: 1-5
Week 7 vs Buffalo: W - The Jets have beat the Bills at least once in 8 of the last 10 seasons, and so the Jets should have a good chance to win one at home. Record: 2-5
Week 8 at Kansas City: L - The Chiefs has a pretty quiet offseason aside from locking up Patrick Mahomes and Chris Jones on long-term deals, as they added Mike Remmers, Taco Charlton, Willie Gay, and Lucas Niang while losing Stefen Wisniewski, Emmanuel Ogbah, Reggie Ragland, and Kendall Fuller. Despite the offseason losses, Reid and Mahomes should easily be able to storm past the Jets at home. Record: 2-6
Week 9 vs New England: W - The Patriots took a hit this offseason, obviously headlined by the loss of Tom Brady but also supplemented by key defensive losses in Kyle Van Noy, Jamie Collins, and Duron Harmon in addition to a general lack of attention towards improving a lackluster wide receiver corps. The Jets haven't beat the Patriots since their week 16 overtime thriller in 2015, but a November home game could be a good chance to do it, as the Patriots don't really possess the weapons to exploit issues with the Jets' cornerbacks nor the pass rushers to exploit issues with the Jets' offensive line. Record: 3-6
Week 10 at Miami: W - The Dolphins had a very poor 2019, finishing 5-11 with the 27th-ranked total offense and the 30th-ranked total defense, and as such they had an incredibly busy offseason, adding Matt Breida, Ereck Flowers, Ted Karras, Kyle Van Noy, Shaq Lawson, Emmanuel Ogbah, Elandon Roberts, and Byron Jones in free agency and Tua Tagovailoa, Austin Jackson, Noah Igbinoghene, Robert Hunt, Raekwon Davis, and Solomon Kindley in the draft. However, in Miami before the bye would be a good chance for Adam Gase to get a revenge game win, seeing as the Dolphins still have weaknesses all over their roster including quarterback, offensive tackle, and edge rusher. Record: 4-6
WEEK 11 BYE
Week 12 vs Miami: L - With all their offseason additions, the Dolphins figure to match up fairly evenly with the Jets in 2020, and so it's likely that the two teams will split the season series. Record: 4-7
Week 13 vs Las Vegas: W - The Raiders had a very busy offseason, adding Jason Witten, Maliek Collins, Nick Kwiatkoski, Prince Amukamara, and Damarious Randall in free agency and Henry Ruggs, Damon Arnette, Lynn Bowden, Bryan Edwards, and Amik Robertson in the draft with their only major losses being Darryl Worley and Karl Joseph. At home against a West Coast opponent, the Jets would be wise to take advantage of some of the Raiders’ weaknesses in this game, including inexperience at wide receiver, edge rusher, linebacker, and cornerback. Record: 5-7
Week 14 at Seattle: L - The Seahawks went 11-5 last season and were one play away from securing the top seed in the NFC, so their offseason was pretty quiet, mostly focusing on the offensive line with the losses of Germain Ifedi, DJ Fluker, and George Fant and the additions of free agents Brandon Shell, BJ Finney, and Cedric Ogbuehi, and draft pick Damien Lewis. Pete Carroll is one of the best coaches in football today, and in this late-season matchup at Seattle he’ll have the personnel advantage against the Jets offense, which lacks talented weapons and blockers. Record: 5-8
Week 15 at LA Rams: L - The Rams regressed to 9-7 last year and then had a difficult offseason, losing Todd Gurley, Brandin Cooks, Dante Fowler, and Nickell Robey-Coleman, with their only major addition being A’Shawn Robinson. The 2020 Rams are not the Super Bowl Rams of the past, but with both McVay and Goff still on board, the Rams have to be favorites to take this late-season home game against the Jets. Record: 5-9
Week 16 vs Cleveland: W - The Browns had a busy offseason, hiring head coach Kevin Stefanski, losing Greg Robinson, Joe Schobert, and Damarious Randall, signing Austin Hooper, Jack Conklin, Andrew Billings, Karl Joseph, and Damarious Randall, and drafting Jedrick Wills, Grant Delpit, and Jacob Phillips. Despite these additions, however, Cleveland still has a new, inexperienced offensive playcaller at head coach and a question mark at quarterback, and Gregg Williams generally handles quarterbacks who struggle with post-snap reads well with disguised coverages and aggressive blitz packages. Record: 6-9
Week 17 at New England: L - With the expanded playoffs, the Patriots have an even greater chance to make the postseason this year than they otherwise would, so this late-season match in Foxborough could be a consequential, divisional-revenge game. Record: 6-10
Final Record: 6-10 While I firmly believe that the Jets improved significantly this offseason, especially in terms of the offensive line and getting players back from injury, this year’s schedule is substantially more difficult that last year’s, which could result in less games in the wins column for 2020. Last year, the Jets closed out the back-half of their season going 6-2 playing against rookie Daniel Jones, rookie Dwayne Haskins, Derek Carr, Andy Dalton, Ryan Fitzpatrick, Lamar Jackson, rookie Devlin Hodges, and Matt Barkley, and this year the Jets have to play both the AFC West and the NFC West, which is a huge jump in their level of competition.
Training Camp Battles to Watch
WR #2: Denzel Mims vs Vyncint Smith Jets fans would hope that starting receiver isn’t much of a battle, but since rookie wideouts traditionally have been known to take longer learning the playbook, the other receiver spot next to Perriman and Crowder is in flux. Denzel Mims, the rookie receiver from Baylor, is the odds-on favorite to get a starting role and to play as a deep threat and red-zone threat in year one. However, if Mims proves too raw off the bat, the Jets could fall back on Vyncint Smith, who had 17 receptions last year and showed his value as a deep threat.
Left Guard: Alex Lewis vs Cameron Clark Following a 2019 season where Alex Lewis spot-started in place of Kelechi Osemele, the Jets rewarded him with a 3 year, $18.6 MM contract, and he goes into 2020 as the favorite to start at left guard once again. With that being said, the possibility exists that rookie tackle Cameron Clark out of Charlotte will kick inside and compete at left guard.
Right Guard: Brian Winters vs Greg Van Roten After a 2019 season in which Brian Winters went down with a shoulder injury in week 10, many expected the Jets to cut him, but he instead will return as the incumbent starter at right guard. However, new free agent acquisition Greg Van Roten could switch to the right side and compete against Winters to start.
Right Tackle: George Fant vs Chuma Edoga After the Jets had a poor performance form their offensive line in 2019, GM Joe Douglas brought in competition at all position, including at right tackle. George Fant, former Seattle swing tackle, is the presumptive favorite to land the starting job, despite his lack of starting experience and struggles with pass-pro footwork. Chuma Edoga could compete as well, but his performance in both run blocking and pass pro was so shaky last year as a rookie that he needed extensive help from tight ends to prevent the right side from entirely becoming a liability.
EDGE #2: Tarell Basham vs Kyle Phillips vs Jabari Zuniga vs John Franklin-Myers The Jets started Jordan Jenkins and Tarell Basham at edge rusher last season, so it was somewhat of a shock to see them add absolutely no outside talent until the middle of the third round, and so now Gregg Williams and his defensive staff are forced to make the pitiful decision between starting Basham, Kyle Phillips, Jabari Zuniga, or John Franklin-Myers across from Jenkins. Basham, who the Jets claimed off of waivers in 2018, is probably the odds-on favorite to start once again after notching 2 sacks and 4 quarterback hits in 54% of the Jets' defensive snaps. Kyle Phillips, the second-year player from Tennessee who was a five-star high-school recruit, is a thicker lineman best suited to play on run downs who could push for starting snaps as well. Jabari Zuniga, 3rd-round rookie out of Florida, is a third contender for the starting job, but his interior versatility and similarity to Jenkins in terms of his stiffness and poor pad level could suggest the Jets envision him in more of a rotational role. The wildcard in this battle is John Franklin-Myers, who was claimed by the Jets off of waivers from the Rams at the start of 2019 but who also notched a pair of sacks in his rookie year and is really explosive for his size.
DT #2: Henry Anderson vs Nathan Shepherd This battle won't get much media coverage, as both Anderson and Shepherd project to get plenty of tread on the New York defensive line, but nevertheless the two will compete in training camp for the upper hand in the snap count. Henry Anderson, the penetrating defensive lineman, saw his production fall off a bit in 2019, in part due to a nagging shoulder injury and utilization in different fronts and roles. Nathan Shepherd saw his role increase in the back half of the season after a suspension saw his role increase in the back half of the season after a suspension sidelined him from weeks two through eight, and with a good camp, he could establish himself as the primary nimble-footed complement to the heftier, run-stopping trio of Quinnen Williams, Steve McLendon, and Foley Fatukasi.
CB #2: Arthur Maulet vs Quincy Wilson vs Bryce Hall vs Blessuan Austin The outside cornerback spot across from Pierre Desir is probably the most open starting battle on the team. Arthur Maulet, the undersized but physical cornerback out of Memphis, is probably the favorite to start after outplaying Johnson and Roberts last season to win the left cornerback job. Quincy Wilson, the former second-round pick, should be Maulet's primary competition after the Jets traded a draft pick to acquire him from the Colts. Bryce Hall, the rookie fifth-round corner from Virginia, is a darkhorse to start as well if he is healthy to start the season. Blessuan Austin, the former sixth-round pick, might factor into the competition, but he'll have Williams' doghouse after reacting poorly to his week-16 benching.
Kicker: Sam Ficken vs Brett Maher Sam Ficken, who hit 70% of his kicks last season, will compete with Brett Maher, who hit 67% of his kicks last season, for the starting kicker job, but neither candidate should have to handle kickoffs with rookie punter Braden Mann in the fold.
Offensive and Defensive Schemes
Adam Gase, head coach and offensive playcaller for the Jets, runs a zone blocking, short passing offense mostly out of 11 personnel while also mixing in some 2-TE sets. In the run game, Gase is willing to run gap concepts based on his offensive line personnel, but he certainly favors his inside zone running playcalls. In the pass game, Gase likes to stack his receivers, throw checkdowns, split his backs out wide, and utilize the sidelines.
Gregg Williams, defensive coordinator for the Jets, runs a 3-4 hybrid, blitz-heavy defense with an emphasis on zone coverage. In the front seven, Williams has used both 3-4 and 4-3 base packages, though he mostly uses nickel fronts and one-gapping penetration schemes. In the secondary, Williams stresses MOFC shells, press-zone concepts, and disguised coverages and blitzes.
Link to Week 2 Strategy Guide (Part 1): https://www.designatedforassessment.com/nfl/week-2-matchups-strategy-guide-part-1 Every week, DFA will produce a Start/Sit Strategy Guide for NFL Fantasy. We will breakdown each matchup and give valuations of each fantasy relevant player. Additionally, we will offer occasional upgrades or downgrades to specific players depending on their matchup, role in the offense, or the effect of projected game flow on a given week. Matchups are written by Roto_G and Roto-Wiz8. Keep in mind, one blown coverage can make a week, destroying any strategy - we are seeking to find the best odds of a players success. If you have questions about your individual lineup conundrums, you can always hit us on twitter @DFAroto! Or check out the rest of our content and rankings here: https://www.designatedforassessment.com/ ATS=Against the Spread Roto-Wiz8:
Buffalo’s come from behind win was one of the more exciting finishes of Week 1, and although Josh Allen was far from perfect, he showed some nice chemistry with his new weapons. Allen’s target distribution - John Brown (10), Cole Beasley (9), Devin Singletary (6), Zay Jones (5). Allen ended with a solid fantasy line, but is not yet a top level QB1. But after watching Dak carve up this same Giants defense, owners of Allen should feel comfortable with him in lineups for at least this week. He’s a better option than some QBs with tough matchups like Murray this week, but shouldn’t be put in over elite QB1s. John Brown (upgrade) gets a matchup against a leaky secondary, and his matchups will likely allow him to get deep at least once or twice. A perfect match with Josh Allen’s rocket arm, Brown makes for a solid WR2 this week, and gets an upgrade from CB DeAndre Baker and FS Antoine Bethea’s below average grades in coverage. Cole Beasley (upgrade PPR) is only an option in deeper leagues, and his lack of upside makes him only worth a start for those in dire need of a high floor but low ceiling option. There are no other fantasy relevant players in this passing game, as Zay Jones will not get the consistent looks to be startable with Brown healthy. Devin Singletary surprisingly did not receive a touch until the second half, but still managed to play 70% of snaps in Week 1. Once he got his opportunities, he promptly turned 4 carries into 70 rushing yards. Frank Gore could only plod his way to 20 yards on 11 carries, and TJ Yeldon only played 1 snap the entire game. Head Coach Sean McDermitt confirmed Gore remains the starter, but Singletary is the favorite to be the most productive back in this offense. Even on 10-15 touches, he could easily put up 75+ yards from scrimmage, and would become an RB2 if he can take a bigger piece of the pie. For this week, Singletary is safe to use as a flex, especially considering the likely positive game script for the Bills.
We got our first taste of Danny Dimes last week in garbage time, but the Giants will still be trotting out Eli Manning to start Week 2. The Giants target distribution last week - Evan Engram (14), Cody Latimer (8), Sterling Shepard (7), Saquon Barkley (6), Bennie Fowler (5). Manning continues to look like he’s on his last legs as a starter, and it is a matter of if not when he is benched for Daniel Jones. He should not be near fantasy lineups, especially against an above average Bills’ defense. Sterling Shephard has been ruled out with a concussion, which locks in Evan Engram (upgrade) into an even bigger workload. Despite Buffalo’s stifling defense, Engram will get the volume to be a top 5 TE play this week. For owners desperate to start a Giants receiver (which might lead to an ulcer) Cody Latimer is the best bet. His 164 air yards easily led the team last week, and he produced 74 yards. He’s a low end WR3/4 against this Bills D, but is the only potential start out of the Giants WR corps. Saquon Barkleydominated backfield snaps (80%) as should be expected, and will remain a top 3 RB play regardless of matchup. The Bills were able to keep Le’Veon Bell to only 3.5 ypc, and have a strong defensive front seven. Barkley’s volume and talent give him a high floor, but his efficiency may take a hit until the Giants make the switch to Daniel Jones and have a more functional offense. Owners should be hoping the switch happens soon, and that he can follow through on his preseason flashes of quality. Score prediction: Bills 21, Giants 13
Kellen Moore had an excellent debut as offensive coordinator in Dallas’ Week 1 demolition of the Giants. Moore found the perfect balance between the run and pass, and just may be the director needed to unlock the true potential of this offense. Dak Prescott’s target distribution - Amari Cooper (9), Michael Gallup (7), Randall Cobb (5), Jason Witten (4), Ezekiel Elliot (2). Prescott (upgrade) looked unstoppable on Sunday, picking apart the Giants defense with ease. With the weapons at his disposal, and an upgrade at coordinator, Prescott could become an every week must start. For Week 2, he is an easy target considering the matchup against a Redskins defense with an extremely vulnerable secondary. Consider him a high end QB1 this week. After watching Desean Jackson go deep for two TDs last week against this secondary, and Alshon Jeffery score an additional 2 TD, it’s not hard to envision Amari Cooper (upgrade) and Michael Gallup (upgrade) having similar success. Washington’s biggest weakness in coverage is on the deep ball, with safety Montae Nicholson grading out extremely low in coverage the past two years. This bodes well for both Gallup and Cooper’s chances to bust a long play, and the boundary CBs for WAS are not an imposing matchup. Fire up Cooper as a low end WR1, and Gallup as a low end WR2. Both should have big days unless the Cowboys get too big of an early lead and game flow shifts to the run game. Randall Cobb is simply a WR4/5 in hopes of some catches or TD, and gets a slight upgrade in PPR. Despite his Week 1 TD, Jason Witten remains just a low end TE2 due to his lack of passing game volume and short aDOT (.8 yards). Ezekiel Elliott (upgrade) played just over 50% of the snaps last week after returning from his holdout. He had a productive game and figures to ramp up his workload a bit this week. He is a no doubt elite RB1 heading into this matchup, and should be in all lineups. His backup, Tony Pollard, played about a third of the snaps last week, and will remain just a part time COP back barring injury ahead of him. He is a top-3 fantasy handcuff based on his situation and clear talent.
The Redskins got off to a hot start last week, in part because of Case Keenum’s largely impressive Redskins debut. Keenum’s target share in Week 1 - Chris Thompson (10), Paul Richardson (7), Terry McLaurin (7), Vernon Davis (7), Trey Quinn (6), Derrius Guice (3). Scary Terry McLaurin was one of the biggest surprises in Week 1, topping 100 yards and scoring a long TD off a Keenum pass in the first half. He arguably should have had another long TD, but Keenum overthrew him. McLaurin (downgrade) has an excellent season long outlook based on projected negative game scripts and lack of competition for targets, but this projects as a difficult game to trust him in. Although the Giants don’t boast a deep WR crew, the Cowboys absolute shutdown of their WRs showed the strength of their secondary. Jourdan Lewis showed especially well in coverage, and opposite him is Chidobe Awuzie, who’s speed will come in handy against the electric McLaurin. It would only take one long bomb for Terry to pay off, but it’s always a risky proposition to chase last week’s points. Consider him a WR3/4 with upside for the time being, and consider keeping him on benches another week if you have better options. Paul Richardson received a high target share, but did little with his opportunities. Slot receiver Trey Quinn (upgrade PPR) managed to score a TD, but was held to 33 yards. Both are too untrustworthy to consider plugging into lineups. If forced to choose one, we would lean towards Richardson due to his significant advantage in air yards over Quinn (75 to 34). In full PPR formats, Quinn gets a slight boost as he will likely get the short targets when the Redskins are in full pass mode if they have to play from behind. After Derrius Guice’s meniscus surgery (projected 4-6 weeks out), Adrian Peterson (downgrade) will be back in the lead back role this week. With the Redskins as heavy underdogs, Peterson is a low floor play considering the likelihood he is phased out in a negative game-script. He is just a low end flex in this matchup. Chris Thompson (upgrade PPR) has a much better outlook with his team leading 10 targets and 64% snap share last week. Expect a similar number of targets again this week, especially if the Cowboys take an early lead. Thompson will likely get at least 5-6 catches, with a sprinkle of carries as well, which buoys his floor and makes him an even more appealing PPR target. He’s a solid flex option this week that should be in lineups outside of shallow leagues. Score prediction: Cowboys 27, Redskins 17
New Orleans improbable last second game winning field goal made for one of the more exciting matchups in Week 1. Brees’ target distribution last week - Michael Thomas (13), Alvin Kamara (8), Ted Ginn (7), Jared Cook (3), Latavius Murray (3), Tre’Quan Smith (2). Brees carved up the Texans pass D last week, but faces a much more challenging matchup in the Rams. Additionally, Brees is historically more productive at home than on the road (as are many QBs), so owners should be wary of counting on similar stats from last week. He is still in play as a solid QB1, and it’s quite possible after watching Cam Newton bomb on TNF this week that it was Newton, not LAR’s pass defense, that caused trouble for Panther’s receivers last week. Brees top receiver, Michael Thomas, is an automatic start every week regardless of matchup. The Rams boundary CBs are solid, but not anything to worry Thomas owners considerably. Ted Ginn (downgrade) may get a lot of Aqib Talib this week, who mostly shutdown a similarly speedy Curtis Samuel last week. Ginn is hard to trust every week due to his lack of consistent volume, and the difficult matchup combined with a decrease in volume from Brees this week make him a likely fade. He’s no more than a low floor WR4 this week, worth starting only in deep leagues. Tre’Quan Smith is barely worth owning at this point, as he seems below Ginn in the pecking order. There are better WRs on the wire. Jared Cook may be in position for a bounce back week, but the matchup doesn’t look overly favorable after the Rams held Greg Olsen to only 36 yards last week. Cook is still a low end TE1 and should get more targets than last week, but can be benched for a TJ Hockenson or Darren Waller type. We still would expect Cook to outproduce his week 1 numbers by a good amount if the Rams focus their attention on Thomas and Ginn on the outside. Alvin Kamara (upgrade) played on 76% of snaps to Latavius Murray’s (upgrade standard) 27%. This split seems about what coach Sean Payton will want moving forward. Murray will continue to get about 10 carries a game, and will be used in short yardage and goal line situations at times, but will struggle with inconsistency considering he needs a rushing TD to make for a valuable start. Be careful chasing Week 1 points. Kamara remains an elite RB1, whose usage should help to keep him healthy and put him in position to be efficient and productive on his roughly 20 touches per game. This week projects especially well considering the Rams were gashed by CMC last week, and the face the Rams appear more vulnerable to the run than the pass.
Goff’s target spread in Week 1 - Robert Woods (13), Cooper Kupp (10), Brandin Cooks (6), Tyler Higbee (5), Josh Reynolds (2), Gerald Everett (1), Todd Gurley (1). Coming off a down week in which he scored only 10 points, Jared Goff (upgrade) returns home for what should be a high scoring matchup. Considering the shootout potential, and the fact that Jared Goff was the best QB in fantasy when at home last year (by total points), he makes for a top 10 option this week. Robert Woods (upgrade) was the most productive Rams wideout last week, and if he can avoid Marshon Lattimore in coverage for large periods of the game, he should be headed for a big game. PFF projects Brandin Cooks to receive coverage from Lattimore, but unless he shadows him, expect Sean McVay to find ways to scheme him open. Cooks disappointed owners last week, but he should be in line for a bounce back week. Cooper Kupp (upgrade) will operate out of the slot as usual, and his matchup with PJ Williams is a distinct upgrade. All three are excellent starts, and we are especially bullish on Kupp considering how Jared Goff’s best games have correlated with Kupp’s best games. Look for Kupp to get on the board with 80+ yards and a good shot at a TD. Todd Gurley (upgrade) looked explosive in his highly anticipated first game action since being phased out due to injury during the Rams Superbowl run last year. He took 14 carries for 97 yards, and led the NFL in yards after contact last week. He also played 70% of the snaps. The biggest concern for fantasy owners was his lack of red zone usage. Malcolm Brown, despite playing on only 27% of snaps, was able to garner to short yardage rushing TDs, leading owners to assume that Gurley will cede redzone work to Brown in most situations. While we expect Brown to continue to be heavily involved, and he makes for a high upside handcuff with low end flex standalone value, there is some luck involved with the split. During the drives Gurley was featured, the Rams either didn’t score or ended up with a passing TD. In the drives that Brown was featured, the Rams were able to punch it in on the ground. This situation requires close monitoring, but we still see Gurley as a low end RB1 and are hopeful that he will get some opportunities for high value carries. Consider Gurley a must start, especially after watching Carlos Hyde carve up New Orleans last week, and Malcolm Brown a decent flex who gets an upgrade in standard leagues. Darrell Henderson is a non factor at this point, playing only 3% of snaps last week. Score Prediction: Saints 35, Rams 31
Philadelphia’s offensive weapons were on full display in last week’s come from behind win against Washington. Carson Wentz’s target distribution - Desean Jackson (10), Zach Ertz (7), Alshon Jeffery (6), Nelson Agholor (5), Dallas Goedert (3), Darren Sproles (3), Jordan Howard (3), Miles Sanders (2). Despite their overall slow start, Wentz put up an impressive Week 1 fantasy performance with 300+ and 3 TD. Considering the wealth of riches at the skill positions for Philly, Wentz is a weekly high end QB1. This week is no different. Although the Falcons did not give up many passing yards last week, that’s due to Cousins’ 10 pass attempts rather than some huge performance by the Atlanta secondary. He should be in all lineups this weekend in the second highest projected scoring game of the week. Desean Jackson (upgrade) proved he hasn’t lost a step by going off for 152 yards and 2 TD. Most will focus on his 2 long TDs, and those were impressive, but look closer and it becomes clear Wentz trusts Jackson on short and intermediate routes as well. He led the team with 142 air yards, but his aDOT was a more even 14.2 yards. That number accounts for the fact he was targeted at all different levels, not just on deep throws down the field. Jackson is a solid WR2 in a high scoring game, and his matchups on the outside and with deep safeties are not imposing. Alshon Jeffery was not as heavily utilized as Jackson, but his redzone opportunities more than made up for it. If Jeffery remains 3rd on the target priority, he will be more WR3 than WR2, as he won’t get in the endzone every game. But he should be in lineups in this projected shootout. Zach Ertz is a locked and loaded elite TE1, and Dallas Goedert is left to grab only scraps behind him. Nelson Agholor does not need to be owned as long as Jackson and Jeffery are healthy. Last week showed the Eagles are yet again committed to a RBBC. Jordan Howard (upgrade standard) got involved on early downs, but ended with only 6 carries. His 23% snap rate was third among RBs. He looked excellent on his limited opportunities, and has a great chance to produce this week against a weak ATL rush defense. However, his role is far too inconsistent to trust outside of deeper leagues. He’s a risky flex with a low floor, but some good upside in this matchup. Miles Sanders (upgrade) got almost have of the snaps, and finished 12 touches. His TD run was called back for holding, but showed his impressive skills in the open field. He’ll be an upside flex option, who’s involvement in the passing gives him a better floor than Howard. Unfortunately for both, Darren Sproles involvement continues to sap their value a bit. Owners will hope that Sproles gets fewer touches as the season goes on, but as long as he is getting consistent work, this backfield is unlikely to produce a top 15 weekly RB option.
Matt Ryan’s target share from last week - Julio Jones (11), Austin Hooper (9), Calvin Ridley (6), Mohamed Sanu (6), Justin Hardy (5), Devonta Freeman (4), Ito Smith (1).Matt Ryan (upgrade) basically bombed last week, but his fantasy line ended up mostly respectable. Going against an Eagles defense that just got burned by Case Keenum, and playing at his home dome field, expect Ryan to have a big week. Julio Jones (upgrade) had a low yardage week but got in the endzone, in a complete reversal of his early weeks from last year. Jones admitted he was still not quite 100% and a bit rusty after barely practicing in training camp, but he is in a great smash spot this week. He has historically had great success against the Eagles, and his 11 targets last week proved he is the clear lead dog even when things aren’t going well. If he gets more consistent red zone looks this year, watch out. Calvin Ridley (upgrade) should also be in line for a productive day, and will get good matchups in the Eagles boundary CB’s. Austin Hooper’s 9 targets gave owners belief that he can take another step forward into consistent high end TE value this year. In what should be a high scoring fast paced game, expect Hooper to be targeted heavily, and get at least one or two red zone looks. Mohamed Sanu and Justin Hardy are better real life players than fantasy producers, and neither are relevant as long as Jones and Ridley are healthy. Devonta Freeman was one of the biggest disappointments in relation to his ADP in Week 1. The game script was negative right from the beginning as ATL was down 14-0 before they could even catch their breath. Freeman’s 50% snap rate could be shrugged off as merely a product of this game flow, but there are other concerning trends. Ito Smith was heavily involved, and at times even looked like the superior runner. He averaged over 5 yards a carry to Freeman’s 2.4. Smith also received a good amount of red zone work, and his 50% snap rate has to be worrying to Freeman owners. Freeman was the higher graded pass protector by a large margin (PFF) so he is certainly not in danger of losing his role on passing downs. However, for a guy taken in the top 40 of most drafts, it looks like we may be looking at a lower end RB2 rather than the low end RB1 that most were hoping for. Malik Jackson’s injury is an upgrade for ATL’s rushing offense, but this is all about volume. I would give Freeman the benefit of the doubt and start him in this likely shootout, but keep a close eye on Ito Smith’s involvement. Smith is nothing more than a valuable stash for Freeman owners looking to hedge their bets. Score Prediction: Falcons 31, Eagles 28
Patrick Mahomes target spread from Week 1 - Sammy Watkins (11), Travis Kelce (8), Damien Williams (6), Demcarcus Robinson (2), Tyreek Hill (2), Darwin Thompson (1), LeSean McCoy (1), Mecole Hardman (1). Tyreek Hill’s injury was a big storyline from Week 1. He’s out at least 4-6 weeks, and Sammy Watkins’ (upgrade) big performance last week is a harbinger of things to come. Finally fully healthy, Watkins has top 5 WR potential as the lead target for the best QB in the league. He should be locked into lineups. Mecole Hardman (upgrade), despite receiving only 1 target, became an every down player and Hill’s injury. Although it’s tough to start him this week due to uncertainty of role, he needs to be owned in all leagues for his incredible upside in this offense. This would be a good week to start him in DFS, or deeper leagues for those in need of a Hill replacement, as the Raiders secondary has been decimated by injuries. If Hardman’s preseason performances are an indication, he should get a few high value looks throughout the game. Demarcus Robinson is a WR4 that may have some big weeks but will likely be too inconsistent to trust. Travis Kelce remains the top play at TE, and should be in line for a big week. Damien Williams (upgrade PPR) 66% snap count is encouraging, but keep in mind Lesean McCoy (29%) has only been in KC for 2 weeks. If McCoy can carve out an even timeshare with Williams, both will be RB2/flex plays. In what projects as the highest scoring game of the week, start McCoy and Williams in all lineups. This situation is worth close monitoring for owners invested in the backfield. Darwin Thompson is only a handcuff in deeper leagues, and can be cut loose for more productive waiver options.
Derek Carr’s target distribution - Darren Waller (8), Tyrell Williams (7), Ryan Grant (4), Hunter Renfrow (3), Foster Moreau (2), Josh Jacobs (1). Derek Carr played like a guy who is more comfortable in his offense after a full year to get accustomed. Despite losing his most talented weapon, Carr was more willing to take shots downfield and was sharp throughout. Against the Chiefs leaky secondary that allowed rookie Gardner Minshew to carve them up, Carr is a solid QB1 with potential to be a top 3 scorer this week. Darren Waller (upgrade) was Carr’s favorite target, and will be busy on short to intermediate routes as Carr’s safety valve. He gets an additional upgrade in PPR leagues, as he will see 6+ targets on high percentage throws virtually every game. Tyrell Williams (upgrade) showed great chemistry with his QB, and Carr’s willingness to make downfield throws has breathed new life into Williams’ value. He’s a high end WR2 this week with WR1 upside. His 17.9 yards aDOT makes gives his targets additional value. He only needs to cash in 2-3 of those looks to be worthy of a start. As the top outside option against a bad secondary, that should be extremely likely this week. Hunter Renfrow (upgrade PPR) will continue to get a few targets each week, but is not nearly as valuable in standard leagues. This would be a good week to start him in deeper leagues, but beware he’s not a consistent option at this point. Josh Jacobs was a workhorse last week, with a 74% snap share, and with Jalen Richard receiving only 1 touch last week it would appear Jacobs has solidified his status as an every down back. The only concern this week is that the Raiders are forced to throw early and often in this one, which would decrease Jacobs’ rushing attempts. But assuming he remains on the field over Richard, his involvement in the passing game keeps him as a high end RB2. He should be in lineups this week, and owners will want to monitor if Richard gets more work in the passing game this week. Score Prediction: Chiefs 34, Raiders 24 Roto_G:
The Steelers looked like a different team without Antonio Brown, struggling to move the ball and lacking big play ability in Week 1 against the reigning Super Bowl champs. Ben Roethlisberger’s (upgrade) Week 1 target distribution - Donte Moncrief (10), JuJu Smith-Schuster (8), James Washington (6), Ryan Switzer (6), Diontae Johnson (5), James Connor (4), Vance McDonald (4), Johnny Holton (2), Jaylen Samuels (2). Big Ben looked awful in Week 1, as did the rest of the team. If you started him, it’s probably hard to trust him this week even with a good matchup against a Seahawks secondary that allowed Andy Dalton to roll up 418 passing yards and two touchdowns. Ben sits on the QB1 borderline in what projects to be a bounce week for the Steelers. He is historically much more productive in fantasy when at home. Donte Moncrief surprisingly drew more targets than Juju Smith-Schuster, and did absoluting nothing with them - grabbing an abysmal 3 of 10 targets for 7 yards and dropped a touchdown in the 3rd quarter. The target share was probably a symptom of the Patriots taking away the Steelers best wide out and forcing the others to beat them - a classic Belichick move. Moncrief is a WR4 and a risky play moving forward. Juju figures to command the lion's share of targets in one of the most pass-heavy offenses in the league and remains a WR1 against the underwhelming Seahawks cornerbacks. James Washington drew the second most Air Yards in Week 1 with 169, only behind DeAndre Hopkins (216). The issue with Washington is going to be snap rate, as he only saw 52% while Moncrief and Juju saw 90% each. Washington remains a boom or bust WR4 this week but after what John Ross did to the Hawks, it seems more likely he booms. James Connor is locked into the workhorse role, seeing 32 snaps compared to Jaylen Samuels 23 in a negative game script Week 1. He also out touched Samuels 14 to 3. Connor is an RB1 in a touch matchup (Seattle allowed only 8 fantasy points to Cincinnati). The matchup may not be as imposing as the stats suggest - Joe Mixon was injured in Week 1 and the Bengals adopted to pass most of the game, throwing 52 times vs 13 rushing attempts.
The Seahawks again look to be an extremely run-heavy team in 2019 and Russel Wilson's (upgrade) target distribution should set off alarm bells for owners who invested in the Seahawks receivers. Wilson's targets Week 1 - Chris Carson (7), D.K. Metalf (6), Nick Vannett (2), Tyler Lockett (2), Will Dissly (2). A popular 4th round pick in fantasy drafts, Tyler Lockett (upgrade) made the most of his targets, netting a catch for 44 yards. Owners are probably ready to press the eject button, but not so fast - inside receivers have feasted on the Steelers defense the last few years. In Week 1, Phillip Dorsett roasted nickel cornerback Mike Hilton, who will be Locketts primary defender, several times en route to a 95 yard, two touchdown day. Lockett is still a WR2 and expect him to bounce back, he also mentioned after the Bengals game that he was doubled several times in that game, something he said he hadn’t seen since college. Keep in eye on Lockett’s status as he has missed a couple practices this week, but there is nothing to suggest he is in danger of missing Week 2. Maybe the double team on Lockett is why D.K. Metcalf saw the most targets of the receivers. Either way, Metcalf remains a touchdown dependant WR4 and is a risky high ceiling low floor play. David Moore is expected to remain sidelined for a couple more weeks and Jaron Brown should be a non-factor. Will Dissley and Nick Vannett are not recommended tight end options in any format. Chris Carson (upgrade) is locked and loaded as the workhorse for the Hawks and is a solid RB1 in a good matchup. The Steelers defense gave up 99 yards on the ground to New England Week 1, but this could have been higher had the Patriots not shredded them through the air instead. Carson will see the volume, passing game work and goal line touches to make him matchup proof; he is shaping up to be one of the steals of fantasy drafts in 2019. Rashaad Penny is no more than a handcuff/bench stash, it’s possible that Penny may be more involved as the season progresses but can’t be trusted in lineups for now. Score Prediction: Steelers 24 Seahawks 21
In an absolute bore of an NFL opener for fans, the Bears lost to the Packers 10 - 3. Mitchell Trubisky’s (downgrade) target distribution Week 1 - Allen Robinson (13), Tarik Cohen (10), Mike Davis (7), Taylor Gabriel (5), Cordarrelle Patterson (3), Adam Shaheen (2), Javon Wims (2), Anthony Miller (1). Trubisky looked awful last week and it stands to reason that Matt Nagy will try to establish the run game in Week 2. The Bears only ran the ball 15 times vs 45 pass attempts in Week 1 and the opposite is expected moving forward. Trubisky is no more than a high floor QB2. Rotoworld projects Allen Robinson to be shadowed by Chris Harris Jr while PFF does not project shadow coverage. Either way, Robinson will look to produce in another projected low scoring game and remains a WR2. Tarik Cohen (upgrade PPR) looked more like the starting slot receiver than a running back and figures to be heavily utilized again in the short passing game. Maybe he was used in the slot so much because Anthony Miller is making his way back from injury, but Miller isn’t a viable option until he receives a larger portion of the target share and proves he’s fully healthy. The Bears do not have a recommended tight end play. Mike Davis looked like the starting running back or at least the lead back in the RBBC Week 1. David Montgomery inexplicably only received 28 snaps, compared to 51 for Cohen and 41 for Davis. Montgomery passed the eye test and looked like the more explosive back, but Mike Davis is apparently the best pass blocker of the three. It appears Montgomery will be extremely sensitive to game-script and when the Bears look to pass, it will be Davis on the field. Davis and Montgomery are both extremely hard to trust this week due to uncertainty of role, and hopefully Nagy comes to his senses and tries to establish the run and rely on the defense instead of Trubisky’s arm.
The Broncos were upset by the Raiders last week. It was especially surprising to see considering the Raiders perceived dysfunction during the Antonio Brown saga, plus the inside the organization look during HBO’s Hard Knocks. Joe Flacco’s target distribution Week 1 - Courtland Sutton (8), Emmanuel Sanders (7), Phillip Lindsay (6), Noah Fant (5), Daesean Hamilton (4), Royce Freeman (1). No shadow matchups are expected, but the entire Denver offense receives a downgrade due to playing the Bears vaunted defense. The game is expected to be a defensive slugfest and the Denver offense should be faded if possible. Courtland Sutton and Emmanuel Sanders sit on the WR3/WR4 borderline in an extremely tough matchup. Keep in mind that this is the secondary that limited Aaron Rodgers to 203 yards passing and one touchdown Week 1. Noah Fant looked good last week and along with TJ Hockenson, is trying to buck the trend that rookie tight ends don’t produce. This isn’t the time to get cute and play him, he’s no more than a bench stash. Phillip Lindsay (upgrade) ** and **Royce Freeman split carries in Week 1, with Lindsay getting 11 to Freeman’s 10. The RBBC is in full-effect in Denver and when Theo Reddick returns from injury this backfield will become extremely crowded. Neither Freeman or Lindsay are recommended plays this week against a ferocious Bears defense, but Lindsay receives the slight upgrade due to his involvement in the passing game. The Broncos will mostly likely utilize shorts passes to try and move the ball against. Moving forward it’s going to be extremely hard to recommend either, as they are siphoning value away from each other. Score Prediction: Bears 27 Broncos 17
The Browns have now lost 13 opening games in a row, an NFL record. I wish I had heard about the streak before making them my survivor pool pick… Baker Mayfield’s target distribution in Week 1 - Odell Beckham Jr (11), Jarvis Landry (7), David Njoku (6), Nick Chubb (4), Rashard Higgins (3), Dontrell Hillard (2), D’ernest Johnson (2), Damion Ratley (2), Demetruis Harris (1). The Browns struggled in Week 1 and no fantasy player boomed and most were left with mediocre days. Odell Beckham Jr (upgrade) will likely be facing Trumaine Johnson, Rotoworld projects shadow coverage while PFF does not. This is a matchup that OBJ can win as Johnson graded out as ‘below average’ (PFF) in coverage Week 1, and the deep ball would be aided if LB C.J. Mosley and DT Quinnen Williams sit. Odds are that the Browns get back on track this week and OBJ finds the endzone for the first time as a Brown wearing his $190,000 watch. Jarvis Landry (upgrade PPR) faces an exploitable matchup against SCB Brian Poole and will remain a low-end WR2. Rishard Higgins draws the best matchup of the three against Darryl Roberts and remains in WR4 consideration. David Njoku caught a touchdown last week and was targeted enough to remain a TE1. He may be a bit touchdown dependant but you could do worse at the position. Nick Chubb to the dismay of fantasy owners was not on the field for the red zone rush attempt of the season for the Browns, rather, Dontrell Hilliard punched the ball in for a touchdown. This should not be a regular occurrence as Hilliard only saw 13 snaps to Chubb’s 51. Look for Chubb along with the rest of the Browns to get back on track this week - the Jets were steamrolled for 128 yards on the ground against the Bills and Chubb is in the mix for the overall RB1 finish in Week 2.
It’s been announced that Sam Darnold has mononucleosis and will miss a significant chunk of time, a crushing blow for an organization that was expected to improve in 2019. It’ll be the Trevor ‘Checkdown’ Siemian show for Monday Night Football; this is an obvious downgrade for the entire Jets offense. Jamison Crowder (upgrade PPR) figures to be a safety valve for the former Broncos quarterback and should see plenty of volume. Robbie Anderson (downgrade) draws a tough matchup in Denzel Ward - with the backup QB’s inability to throw the deep ball, Anderson is a fade for the foreseeable future. Quincy Enunwa’s season has been cut short with a neck injury and he has been placed on IR. Recently acquired Demaryius Thomas will slide into the starting lineup and isn’t a fantasy option. Tight end Ryan Griffin appears to be at the bottom of the target totem pole and owners will most likely find success looking elsewhere for production. There is a chance he is an active target against a Browns defense that was destroyed by Delanie Walker last week, but it’s a risky endeavor to play him. Chris Herndon is eligible to return from suspension Week 6. Le’veon Bell (limited in practice Friday) had a precautionary MRI on his shoulder early in the week but appears to be on track for Week 2. The Titans ground attack absolutely ripped the Browns in Week 1 to the tune of 123 rushing yards. Bell should see the volume to produce as an RB1 and will be heavily involved in the short passing game as well. With Bell healthy, Ty Montgomery should remain on benches as a handcuff. Score Prediction: Browns 27, Jets 17
Welcome back to your official /NFL Power Rankings! 8 years ago, when /NFL was just a baby, these rankings began and as the sub has grown, we have been proud to remain one of it's most popular fixtures. Although many things of changed, our mission remains the same: to provide /NFL with rankings and analysis created by the users for the users. <3 31/32 rankers reporting An introduction for those new to this: Our system is simple, we have a fan from each team (somewhat randomly chosen over the years), and everyone ranks all 32 teams, and writes their team's blurb. We combine those rankings (tossing out the highest and lowest for each team to remove outliers), and that's the final rankings. How each ranker votes is in the link above, and that will be posted each week. Today, we're posting at 8pm Eastern to get the peak crowd, but these will typically be posted around 2pm Eastern on Tuesdays. If we screwed something up, feel free to let us know and we'll try to fix it. If you disagree, start a conversation about why we're wrong. Most of all, have fun, since that's the entire point of this wonderful game! Also please welcome Kijafa, JohnMacArthur, and (at least temporarily) Trapline as our newest rankers!
The defending Super Bowl champions will start the season with Super Bowl MVP Nick Foles at QB. While the preseason raised more questions than it answered, if the Eagles intend to repeat, then Foles will need to shine until Carson Wentz is cleared to take back the reins.
"Each year is a new year, and each year has its own challenges. Again, each year we all have to regain our — to the best we can — our ability to perform our jobs. That's what I'm trying to do. I think that's what all of the players, all of the coaches, we're all trying to do that." - Bill Belichick.
Last year the Vikings had two top-ten-graded WRs, two top-ten-graded TEs, a surprisingly decent O-line that ranked 17th in pass blocking grade and 13th in run blocking grade, and the #1 defense in the NFL. They followed that up this off-season by upgrading at QB, signing a pro bowl DT (making it six total pro bowlers on the defense), and got Dalvin Cook back. Last time they looked this good (in 2010), everyone died, the team went 6-10 and our stadium collapsed. So fans are all pretty excited to find out how they're gonna lose their seventh-straight NFC Championship Game.
The Saints come into the 2018 season with high expectations. Answering the defensive questions alongside the explosion of one of fantasy football's favorite new weapons caused a big stir in 2017 and had them a play away from a title game. On paper the only limitation to them is a Drew Brees regression, which they appear to have built contingencies for. They lose Mark Ingram to start the season, but have a pretty favorable schedule in those 4 weeks.
News of the Rams' big name signings and extensions were among the top NFL headlines this off-season, as massive improvements on both sides of the ball gives fans tremendous hope for this season. Still, an embarrassing early exit in the playoffs last year leaves them appropriately skeptical if this team can execute on their talent when needed. While it is nice to have a floor of 8-8, instead of a ceiling of 8-8 (Fisher scars remain), the goal is to play football in February.
Straight to the point: Le'Veon Bell is betting on himself. He's betting that the Steelers will be lost without him. The Steelers are betting they won't be. The problem is that if the Steelers are right and James Conner is good enough to help the team win, saying "See, we told you so" doesn't build any good feelings with Bell and his camp. When you're starting a season, is this the kind of tension and drama you want?
The time for the Jaguars being the off-season darlings is over. It's time for them to put up or shut up. Duval vs. all y'all.
A middling Atlanta off-season included not much more than signing depth players and retaining current talent. If Jaguargator9's preseason curse doesn't come to fruition, Sarkisian can prove he belongs in the NFL as a play caller, and Matt Ryan can stop throwing butt interceptions, the sky another disappointing loss in another Super Bowl is the limit.
With a significantly overhauled roster and a new defensive coordinator, it's an interesting time for the Packers. The Bears come to Lambeau with the highest paid defensive player in the league to face the highest paid offensive player. Predictions that the NFCN will be a bloodbath this year will be tested immediately.
The Cal State Dominguez Hills Chargers FC find themselves in a familiar place when it comes to expectations for the 2018 season. Fans can get excited about the return of future HoFer Antonio Gates, but will he and the Chargers finally put the pieces together for a playoff run?
The Panthers are one of the biggest question marks among the early season contenders. What will Norv Turner's new offense produce as Cam Newton works with DJ Moore and Torrey Smith? And how will the defense fair against the offenses of the NFC South?
There are a lot of question marks going into the season for the Chiefs. How will second year starter Patrick Mahomes play? Will the secondary be as bad as advertised? Can they survive their early season brutal schedule? What in the world is wrong with Eric Berry? Hopefully after Week 1 some questions will be answered, for good or for bad.
The Titans made a bold move by firing their coach after winning a playoff game at the end of last year. The main question is going to be how quickly the players can mesh with the new defensive and offensive schemes. The biggest area of concern seems to be the learning curve for Marcus Mariota with Matt LaFleur's offense, which can take some time to master.
Texans fans finally have the chance to attend the Electric Circus this year, as it looks like Watt and Clowney may actually be uninjured and on the same field at the same time. And thankfully it seems our long-running QB drought has ended as fans (and coaches) expect that Watson will definitely Be Someone this season, but with only a few games under his belt since his injury, it's too early to crown him the People's Champ because, as everyone knows, it takes grinding to be a king (even for first round draft picks). Will the Texans finally sip the sweet syrup of victory, or will it be another season of double-cupping disappointment? Only time can tell.
The Lions caught an early wave of hype after the signing of new HC Matt Patricia in February, but most have cooled significantly on them since then. Less than outstanding preseason performances and roster moves by division rivals have certainly overshadowed Detroit. It's important to remember the Lions did aggressively address their biggest weakness this off-season, however, and if there is significant improvement in the run game, it could change everything for this team.
The biggest story entering the preseason was how first round rookie Lamar Jackson would do. But while he was having rookie growing pains, Joe Flacco had an excellent 16 attempts, and Robert Griffin III earned himself a roster spot as the backup. This high level of preseason play has become customary for the Ravens, with their 5-0 preseason following a couple of 4-0 ones, and increasing their preseason win streak to 13 games.
Its rare that a 6-10 team enters the season with such high expectations, but that is the result of the season-altering trade for Jimmy Garoppolo. From 1-10 to 5-0, 2017 was a tale of two seasons. All the questions around the Niners boil down to one basic question: Which team will show up in 2018?
The makeover of the Cowboys over the past two seasons has been disturbingly drastic. Now boasting the youngest roster in the NFC, casual fans will probably struggle to name more than a handful of starters from a roster full of question marks. Committed to building through the draft, this year will serve as first indicator as to whether or not this will be a repeat of the 1989 rebuild, which looks superficially similar.
The Bears took advantage of their financial flexibility to make a huge splash by trading for Khalil Mack and promptly making him rich. While the Bears are far from in "win now" mode, it's clear Pace thinks the young core of this team is good enough to be in serious contention over the next few seasons. With new head coach Matt Nagy at the helm, the Bears could be in store for a surprising, exciting season, even in a stacked NFC North.
Seattle's certainly going through a changing-of-the-guard, and not just on the offensive line. No one can act like it's no big deal that the defense lost four (maybe five?) superstars over the last 12 months, but the Seahawks have previously shown that superstars can be made out of underrated late draft picks. On one hand, veterans bring stability and knowledge. On the other hand...
The Redskins go into 2018 with a lot of uncertainty. Nobody quite knows what to expect from Alex Smith and the rest of the offense. Preseason injuries have already quelled what little enthusiasm the fan base had and there still exists a lot of ill will over the mismanagement of talent during the off-season. Simply put, this team needs to win or they may be back to the same old revolving door of coaches and QB's who came to Washington and failed.
The Bengals, once again, retained Marvin Lewis in the off-season, a move that reinforces Mike Brown's love for the status quo. The Bengals may he slightly improved from last season, but likely not enough to be taken seriously as playoff contenders. Vegas has the win oveunder at 6.5.
With a new quarterback, a revamped backfield, and a defense exchanging one criminal for another, the Denver Broncos look to improve off of their disastrous 5-11 campaign. Bronco Killers Alex Smith and Khalil Mack have gone East—where they can't hurt the Broncos anymore—creating a wide-open AFC West. Can the Broncos get back to the playoffs with Case? Or will the hopes of the mountain rest on $wag? Only time can tell.
New GM Dave Gettleman won the adoration of fans when he signed Odell Beckham Jr. to a long-term deal in the summer. That adoration, though, will quickly wear off if the Giants get off to a bad start in what's shaping up to be a brutal early season stretch of games. Time will tell if the moves done to address the OL were enough, and if the decision to keep Eli Apple in the starting lineup was a defensible one.
It is only fitting that the writer of this blurb is over 30 and was picked up off the street last minute. The players are saying the right things after the departure of Khalil Mack, but fans are going into week one feeling a bit like they've just been broken up with. A week one win would do a lot to raise the spirits and restore faith in the new regime.
Many are counting the Cardinals out before the season begins, and Vegas has them tied for least wins with the Browns, Bills, and Jets. A coaching change, QB change, scheme change, and one of the league's toughest schedules makes some of that understandable, but nearly all the same pieces that made the team 8-8 last year are still intact. An opening home game against Washington should be a good indication of how the season may go.
After an off-season full of turnover as Colts GM Chris Ballard continues to remake the roster, projections and expectations are a mixed bag for the 2018 Colts. Pending Andrew Luck's continued health and a massive improvement in the coaching department, a 12-4 record and division title could be the ceiling of this young and talented squad. But question marks at WR, RB, and along each level of the defense could mean another top 10 draft pick come season's end.
It's easy to knock the team that spends the off-season tossing aside 3 Pro-Bowlers and bringing in some old war equipment and a receiver that only plays well during the part of the season that the Dolphins tend to watch from home, but the Dolphins are trying something that teams don't usually do, except for the Patriots: Building a team on players that want to work to win and put in the time during the week and during the off-season to win. Nobody that hasn't been to the Dolphins camp thinks they have a chance, but oddly, everyone that visits says they have something special. We'll see.
The good news is that the Buccaneers exited the NFL preseason with as many ACLs as they had when they started. The bad news is that they're facing a brutal schedule and starting the season without their top quarterback.
After a brief 17 year misstep, the Buffalo Bills returned to their standard of excellence last year with a playoff berth in Sean McDermott’s first year as HC. The defense looks to be substantially improved, with the team retaining its elite secondary talent while adding several front seven players this off-season, so the fate of the season now lies in the hands of sophomore QB Nathan Peterman as well as the ability of newcomers at offensive line to step up and perform. A failure at either of these could very well spell disaster, but improvement from last year’s 9-7 record is highly doable if things go well for the Bills in these areas.
On this week's episode of Hey Darnold!, Helga Pa-Mac-i left no doubt that the future is now by naming Sam Darnold the week 1 starting QB and sending Teddy Two-Gloves to New Orleans for a 3rd-round pick. What does the season hold? It's all on Sam now.
Can we make it all sixteen games with the same quarterback? Can we manage at least four wins? Can we make it all year with our head coach? History says no, but history is stupid. As the saying goes "those who do not study history are totally OK and things work out great". Buckle up Browns fans, its 2018!
Edit: Slight changes due to last minute ranker showing up.
The wait is finally over. It's really here. The time we have all been slowly going insane for, and although it definitely wasn't easy this past weekend to be an Oakland Raiders fan, we have been through worse. There is still plenty to be excited about for our franchise, and we have a great future for us. Our biggest question mark for our season is none other than Jon Gruden. Everyone knows that the guy eats, breathes, and shits football, but has he been up-to-date enough to take us to the next level? Although I might not agree with personnel changes, I have a lot of cautious optimism for our new Head Coach, and more specifically our Defensive Coordinator. But, this post has absolutely nothing to do with us, this is about my favorite activity to do during the football season, and that's gambling, baby. How I make my picks: I choose my picks after research on both teams, while going through multiple other betting sources, and coming up with my best choice for each game. I also mark each pick on a confidence level of 0-5. Each pick will be in bold and a confidence level of X/5 after each line. For example: Team A -3 vs Team B (3.5/5) O/U 44 (2.5/5) For those who are unfamiliar with how NFL betting goes, Team A -3 vs Team B, means that according to Vegas, Team A has a 3 point advantage compared to team B. If you choose Team A -3, that means that you believe that they will win the game BY AT LEAST 3 POINTS. IF Team A finishes the game with 26 points and Team B finishes the game with 24 points, and you chose Team A to win, that means you have lost the bet. It also goes the other way for betting where if you are betting on the team that is an underdog, you are getting free points. In the example where Team A finishes with 26 points and Team B finishes with 24 points, you would win the bet if you bet on team B, because they get the 3 points bonus. The next line shows O/U following a number. O/U represents Over and Under. While the number is the total predicted combined score of both teams in the game. This is pretty straightforward, in the sense that if you bet on the over and under of the game, you aren't betting on who the winner of the game will be, rather if it will be a high scoring or low scoring game. To recap, on the example above, I have chosen that I believe Team B while having an additional 3 points, will have a higher score than team A, with a confidence level of 3.5/5. Also, I believe that on that game, the score will be less than a total of 44. If you guys have additional questions, feel free to reply to this post or PM me and I will try to explain in greater detail. This covers the general layout and basics of betting, there will be a few more things I will go in greater detail soon. How I bet: Now the way I bet will differ from a lot of people. I actually add a bit more "risk" for the sake of fun, rather than lowering the risk and maximizing my winnings. The way I do this, is by a parlay bet. Now some people are very familiar with parlay bets, and some people think I'm speaking pirate code. Let me go into detail what a parlay bet is, and why in general it is NOT a good idea to do it. When you make a bet, the layout of the bet can look a bit confusing. Here is an example: Oakland Raiders -3 (-110) Denver Broncos +3 (-110) This means that you have chosen the Oakland Raiders (of course) to beat the Denver Broncos by at least 3 points. But what is that (-110) following the first part? Any number following a (-) means that that is the amount needed to bet, to win 100 dollars. If I bet 110 dollars for Oakland to beat Denver by at least 3 points, and the final score is 27-20 Oakland, the bookie will give me 210 dollars, my original 110 dollars, plus the 100 dollars I won. If I bet 220 dollars, I would receive 420 dollars in return, a net profit of 200 dollars. There are also bets that have (+) instead of (-). Here is an example: Oakland Raiders +2 (+105) New England Patriots -2 (-110) The above example states that you have chosen the Oakland Raiders (Raider Nation) with a 2 point advantage, to beat the New England Patriots. The (+105) states that for every 100 dollars you bet, you will win 105 dollars in return. If I bet 100 dollars on the game and the final score is 31-28 to Oakland, your bookie will give you back 205 dollars. Your original 100, and 105 net profit. If the Raiders lose the game 28-27, you still win your bet because of the 2 point advantage. I hope you understood the above examples, once again message me if you need any information/explanation either through this post or PM, and I will answer your questions to the best of my knowledge. What is a parlay bet? A parlay bet has nothing to do with Jack Sparrow and the code of Pirates. What a parlay bet is, that you are betting on multiple outcomes, on a single bet. Here is an example below: Oakland Raiders +2 (+105) New England Patriots -2 (-110) O/U 44 Green Bay Packers -5.5 (-110) Minnesota Vikings +5.5 (-110) O/U 48.5 In the above example, you have chosen 4 different outcomes. The first one is that the Oakland Raiders (we are the best) with a 2 point advantage, will beat the New England Patriots. The second one, is that the total score of the Oakland Raiders and New England Patriots, will be OVER 44 points. The third one is that the Green Bay Packers will beat the Minnesota Vikings by at least 5.5 points. The fourth one is that the total score of the Green Bay Packers and Minnesota Vikings, will be UNDER 48.5 points. This can be very confusing at first, but is actually quite simple. You bet on 4 different outcomes on a single bet of let's say 100 dollars, the only way you will win money on your bet is if ALL 4 OUTCOMES ARE MET. If any single one of those outcomes are not met, you lose your bet. Why would anyone want to take a crazy risk like that? Well in the example above, if you bet 100 dollars and all four of those outcomes are met, your 100 dollars just became approximately 1000 dollars. Parlay bets may seem fun, and they are, but they are usually adding an unnecessary risk. I only bet a smaller amount on parlays just for the fun of it, but the majority of my bets are on straight bets (single outcome bets). I do not recommend parlays, unless you are like me and just doing it for the fun of it. One last thing that might have confused people above is the addition of numbers that end in .5. The reason being that in the example above, if the score ends up being Oakland Raiders 27, to New England Patriots 29, with the 2 point advantage it makes the score exactly 29-29. In this case, you will (most of the time) just get your total amount back. If the score for the Green Bay Packers is 31, and Minnesota Vikings is 17, then the total score is 48, which means that 48 is under 48.5 and you have won that outcome. Predictions I might have wasted a lot of time for some people, and most people just want to hear some predictions, so it's time to get to the main event. Also note, the spreads (which is the point advantage/disadvantage given by each team) may differ than the current Vegas spread. Game 1 Philadelphia Eagles vs. Atlanta Falcons It's been a long time since the day we have all been drooling over, the first day of the NFL season, and wow this match up can be a potential NFC championship game. The Eagles are the reigning Super Bowl champions, with an impressive performance by Nick Foles and a stellar defense, to completely destroy our archnemesis, Tom Brady. This game will be a game that every football fan will be watching and it will be an amazing one. Nick Foles has been named the day one starter over Carson Wentz, and they will have a tough matchup vs. Matty Ice and Julio Jones. Both offenses here have some amazing weapons that will be giving us an amazing performance. The best part about this matchup is the offseason. Both teams did not make any major moves this offseason, and both teams can be relatively more straightforward to judge on the outcome of this game. This game will be a high scoring one, but ultimately, Philadelphia's defense will lock it down for them. My Prediction: Philadelphia Eagles -1.5 (4.5/5) Atlanta Falcons +1.5 O/U 44.5 (3.5/5) Game 2 Baltimore Ravens vs. Buffalo Bills The Buffalo Bills, might be one of the only teams in the preseason that did not make any strong necessary changes this offseason. These Bills will be a top 5 pick next NFL draft, and the main reason is going to be Nathan Peterman. He does not have the skillset to be a starting NFL quarterback in this league. They might have squeaked by into the playoffs last year, but this year they have majorly regressed in talent, while having a less than stellar quarterback leading the team. The Baltimore Ravens on the other hand, have a solid defense and added a few solid receivers in Michael Crabtree and Willie Snead to make Flacco look like an even better version of himself. My Prediction: Baltimore Ravens -7 (3.5/5) Buffalo Bills +7 O/U 40.5 Game 3 Indianapolis Colts vs. Cincinnati Bengals Does anyone remember how good Luck was? Wasn't everyone a little jealous when the Colts went from Peyton Manning to Andrew Luck? I remember I was, but that was before that injury to Andrew Luck. I honestly think that without the injury, we would be talking about him in the top 5 category, he really had the whole skillset. Now, the Colts have a tough road ahead of them, because this team will only go as far as Luck allows them. Although I believe that the Colts can surprise people this season, it won't be this first game vs. the Bengals. The Bengals on the other hand, finally have John Ross healthy, that could be the final piece to take that offense to the next level. Andy Dalton probably has the lowest lows and the highest highs of all quarterbacks, so he can be very hard to predict. My money here goes on Marvin Lewis to take the win here barely. My Prediction: Indianapolis Colts -3 Cincinnati Bengals +3 (3.5/5) O/U 48.5 (2.5/5) Game 4 Cleveland Browns vs Pittsburg Steelers Probably one of the most interesting games of the week, where we get to the the Hard Knocks Browns, take on their division rival Steelers. The Browns have been the laughingstock of the NFL for the last 3 years by only winning 2 out of 48 possible games. They have defied all odds but they have shown why they deserved the NFL's most generic name of the Browns. All that ends with week 1. The Browns have finally shown that they have a stacked roster led by a pass rush that will give some quarterbacks nightmares, and a quarterback that is finally above a career backup level. The Steelers on the other hand, have the best WR in the NFL and an amazing offense that puts an amazing performance nearly every game. They will be without offensive star Le'veon Bell, which might be the deciding factor of this game. My Prediction: Cleveland Browns +3.5 (3/5) Pittsburg Steelers -3.5 O/U 45.5 (3/5) Game 5 Miami Dolphins vs. Tennessee Titans The Dolphins finally have their starting QB back. Tannehill has shown some flashes of greatness, while at other times showing flashes of horseshit. I'm a bit of a believer in the former, that Tannehill can be a great QB in this league. Although the Dolphin's FO has been a little lost at times, this might be the year they can show some promise. I believe they will be second place in the AFC East and be one offseason away from the playoffs. The Titans on the other hand, have always had a solid offense with Mariota, Henry, Davis, and Walker. Mariota (fibula bro.) also is a young QB that I think can flourish into a great QB. The Titans slightly edge out the Dolphins in offense and defense, but Tannehill is a wildcard as we don't know which Tannehill we will be seeing this day. My Prediction Miami Dolphins +1.5 Tennessee Titans -1.5 (2/5) O/U 45.5 (3/5) Game 6 Minnesota Vikings vs. San Francisco 49ers All aboard the Jimmy G hype train! Wait... did this train run out of steam? The hype following Jimmy G when he was traded was on unheard of levels, and his play for the most part backed up a lot of the hype. I believe that Jimmy G will take the 49ers to the next level and make the 49ers a force to be reckoned with this season, maybe not better than the L.A. Rams, but I wouldn't be surprised if the 49ers do win the NFC West. But all this talk, doesn't mean I believe they can beat the Minnesota Vikings. The Minnesota Vikings have one of the most complete football teams on both sides of the ball and their defense will be a stuff of nightmares. Offensively, they slight;y, edge out the 49ers too, and defensively they edge out most of the NFL. As much as I believe the 49ers will be a surprise contender this season, it won't be this game. My Prediction: Minnesota Vikings -6.5 (3/5) San Francisco 49ers +6.5 O/U 45.5 Game 7 NY Giants vs. Jacksonville Jaguars Everyone has to love Eli a little bit right? I mean he is Tom Brady's kryptonite and he is such a lovable goof. His play last year did see a solid dip in performance, but he has won 2 super bowls, and that should be enough to say how he can lead a team. With the addition of Saquon Barkley, they should be able to have a solid passing attack and a run game to make defenses worry. But speaking of defense, what about the Jaguars? They were the number one defense last year and that has to be able to do something right? This year, the Jaguars will still have a top 5 defense, but that will not be enough to take the load off of Blake Bortles. As much as I love the jaguars, I get a headache when I see some of the boneheaded throws Bortles can make. This team will be a shadow of their former self last year, and hopefully make the necessary change needed to make them a Super Bowl contender. My Prediction N.Y Giants +3 (3.5/5) Jacksonville Jaguars -3 O/U 43.5 Game 8 New England Patriots vs Houston Texans A healthy Deshaun Watson and a healthy JJ Watt, what can be more exciting than these two on a very exciting team which can possibly win the AFC South this year? Can anything stop them? Yeah, actually Tom Brady and Bill Belichick are the two things that can practically stop any team at any time, but especially being on their own stomping grounds, this will make the Texans off to a slow start. The only thing that might make this one a bit tough is the size of the spread, which makes this one of my lower confident picks. My Prediction: New England Patriots -6.5 (1.5/5) Houston Texans +6.5 O/U 50.5 Game 9 New Orleans Saints vs Tampa Bay Buccaneers This one will be simple and straightforward. A Drew Brees led team that is poised for a Super Bowl run, compared to a Buccaneers team without starting quarterback Jameis Winston and an atrocious defense? Give me Saints all day. My Prediction: New Orleans Saints -9.5 (4/5) Tampa Bay Buccaneers +9.5 O/U 49.5 Game 10 L.A. Chargers vs Kansas City Chiefs This AFC West showdown will be an interesting one to watch. The Chiefs have put all faith in Patrick Mahomes to take this team to the next level. I am a huge fan of Andy Reid and believe that he can do just about everything, except call a timeout properly. The L.A. Chargers though, I believe have the keys to the AFC West. These guys are the team to beat this year. They have a stacked defense, and we have all seen what Phillip Rivers can do. Joey Bosa is also on a very near level of a guy that used to be on the Oakland Raiders not that long ago, who I will not name. I believe the Chargers will be the kings of the AFC West, as long as they dont shoot themselves in the foot, which is something they do quite often. My Prediction: L.A. Chargers -3.5 (4.5/5) Kansas City Chiefs +3.5 O/U 47.5 (3.5/5) Game 11 Arizona Cardinals vs Washington Redskins The Washington Redskins have too many holes in their offense to have an answer to the Cardinals defense. Alex Smith can lead a lot of teams to a win with his mistake-free and boring playstyle that brings wins. But, there is just too much missing on the Redskins to overcome the Cardinals. Although I believe Cardinals will have a lot of future woes this season, they will squeak out a win this game. My Prediction: Arizona Cardinals +0 (3.5/5) Washington Redskins +0 O/U 43.5 (2/5) Game 12 Denver Broncos vs. Seattle Seahawks The Seahawks has ended the Legion of Boom, the Broncos have added Case Keenum. Both teams are a little lost with a few solid pieces. The Seahawks have Russell Wilson who has been practically been asked to play 7 different positions on both offense and defense. The guy has MVP level play in him, but he needs some help. The Seahawks can't keep relying on Russell Wilson to do everything. This is the start of a freefall on one of the leagues most fearsome teams a few years ago, and this is the year they become a joke. Please Seattle, help out your quarterback. On the other side, with Von Miller and co. their defense should be able to win a few games, while Case Keenum is a temporary answer until they figure out what they will do to replace their Paxton Lynch problems. My Prediction Denver Broncos -2.5 (4/5) Seattle Seahawks +2.5 O/U 42.5 (4/5) Game 13 Carolina Panthers vs Dallas Cowboys Will we see the 2016 Cowboys or the 2017 Cowboys this year. How drastic of a change were those two teams as far as play level? I was shocked to see how much they dropped off from 2016. Is this the year that they can return to greatness? The Panthers on the other hand look like they improved this offseason with a few pieces on offense, and already an above average defense. I think the Panthers are a playoff contender team this year and will be exciting to see. My Prediction: Carolina Panthers -2.5 (3.5/5) Dallas Cowboys +2.5 O/U 42.5 (3.5/5) Game 14 Green Bay Packers vs Chicago Khalil Macks I will need a tissue before I write my prediction here. The Bears have added the DPOY and it will make this into a scary defense. It was already above average before, but now it is downright disgustingly scary. Pray for Rodgers' knees. The real question stands if this Bears team can beat the Packers, and I don't think that offense led by Trubisky is ready enough to take on the Packers at Lambeau. But I also don't think the Packers can cover the spread on this game. My Prediction: Green Bay Packers -7.5 Chicago Bears +7.5 (3/5) O/U 47.5 (2/5) Game 15 Detroit Lions vs New York Jets This game will be all about Josh Darnold. He had a decent preseason and has shown that he can handle play at the NFL level. Should Stafford and co. be able to wipe the floor with the Jets? I think that Matt Patricia is going to be the demise of the Lions this year. Their defense has looked quite bad so far, and the Jets should be able to capitalize on that defense. My Prediction: Detroit Lions -6.5 N.Y. Jets +6.5 (3.5/5) O/U 44.5 (2/5) Game 16 Oakland Raiders vs L.A. Rams Can i be objective this game? Probably not, which is why most of my Raiders game will have a confidence level of 1/5. The Raiders have had one of the worst weekends in football with trading away one of the greatest players we have seen in over a decade. We did get 2 first round picks for him, which could be beneficial, especially with how our cap was looking, so the only thing we can do now is pray that the Bears go 0-16. Our first matchup is with a potential Super Bowl contender. Aaron Donald and Goff are leading the Rams on each side of the ball with a good all around cast. Todd Gurley, one of the NFL's best offensive weapon, looks to make an impressive start of the season against Oakland. Now the real question here is Oakland's new coaching staff. We all know Jon Gruden loves football more than anything else on this Earth, but has he been able to transition properly to how football has evolved? Regardless of losing Khalil Mack, the Raiders have improved their defense, mainly with defensive coordinator and a solid rookie group. I will sit back and hope that we have the Jon Gruden that everyone fears, rather than the Jon Gruden that is living in the 90s. My Prediction: Oakland Raiders +4.5 (1/5) L.A. Rams -4.5 O/U 50.5 (3.5/5)
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Seattle Seahawks vs. Denver Broncos Pick Prediction Super Bowl NFL Odds Preview 2-2-2014
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