49ers vs. Saints 2019: Point spread, total, money line
49ers vs. Saints 2019: Point spread, total, money line
49ers vs. Saints odds, line: 2019 NFL picks, predictions
San Francisco 49ers Schedule 2020 -- NFL Betting Analysis
49ers vs. Saints - Game Summary - December 8, 2019 - ESPN
San Francisco 49ers at New Orleans Saints odds, picks and
Breakout candidates for 2020 – Defense edition
https://preview.redd.it/b1v30yvtkn651.png?width=900&format=png&auto=webp&s=04f75a5416546b59550b162abe5940c65f12ce5d I started this exercise of choosing second- and third-year players in the NFL I expect to take the next step in their development, based on being in a better situation due schematic changes, the respective team not re-signing certain veterans and allowing their young guys to play a bigger role or just my evaluation of them coming out of college. Once again, my criteria was – they were not allowed to have a Pro Bowl so far, reached a major statistical milestone (1000 yard season, double-digit sacks, etc.) or are just looked at generally as one of the better players at their position already. I didn’t include guys that made my list already last year (Kemoko Turay, Justin Reid, etc.) or haven’t seen the field at all yet (Jonah Williams, Hakeem Butler, etc.). Across my two articles on these breakout players, you will only find one top ten pick, since I believe those are obvious choices anyway, if those guys just haven’t been healthy or whatever it may be. In this version, we are looking at eight more defensive players ready to break out in 2020 after talking about offense last week already: https://preview.redd.it/uiunf81mug651.png?width=720&format=png&auto=webp&s=6446a7cc2e40ba090abe9cc9e047103831cef1e1
When I did these write-ups, I actually realized later on that Odenigbo was originally drafted in 2017 in the seventh round by the Vikings, but he only made the practice squad that year and was later claimed and waived by the Cardinals and Browns respectively. So since he finally made an active roster in 2018 and that’s when he finally saw the field, I thought he still qualifies. With all those guys Minnesota has had on the D-line in recent years, it was a challenge for Odenigbo to get their coaches to believe in him, having only played in one game for Arizona before last season. However, he was on the field more and more towards the end of this past year and with little investment in the draft into the front, the Vikings are betting on him to continue to develop, similar to what happened with Pro Bowler Danielle Hunter. Odenigbo recorded seven sacks and tackles for loss respectively, while adding another 18 pressures to the mix. He also forced a fumble and returned another one for a long touchdown against the Chargers, while he was actually called down on another scoop-and-score, where he originally got the trifecta (strip sack, fumble recovery and return TD). That is much more impressive putting it into context, as he played just a third of the defensive snaps. Now with Everson Griffen off the roster (unless he somehow decides to re-sign with the Vikes, Odenigbo is almost a shoe-in for that second defensive end spot in the starting lineup. Number 95 was mostly used in passing situations, especially early on, as three quarters of the snaps he played came on pass-rushing downs, and Mike Zimmer used his inside-out flexibility on different sub-packages. Odenigbo was asked to line up anywhere from pretty much 2i in sort of a track stance pointed inside to a wide nine alignment. His favorite (and best) move at this point is the dip and rip, but he also flashes a nice up-and-under combined with a high swim move. However, he also has a lot of power behind those pads, as he set up one of his teammates as the initial slanter versus Detroit and just flattened a guy I talked about in my offensive edition of this breakdown last week already in Frank Ragnow. In addition to that, I think the Vikings DE already shows good timing and execution on twists, freeing himself up by using teammates appropriately. As he seems to be transitioning to a starting role, the biggest question now is – How much improvement can he show as a run-defender? He displays very good pursuit coming unblocked from the backside, but at the point of attack he has some issues holding his ground at times, due to not always playing half the man and getting drawn in and allowing cutback lanes. In the pass game, Odenigbo needs to work on being more successful on secondary maneuvers and not give away opportunities if that initial rush stalls. https://preview.redd.it/pq74mx0mug651.png?width=720&format=png&auto=webp&s=8182390c28e3747fbb0ed0e9ea04426d25cfaf2f
Leading up to the 2018 NFL draft, Bradley Chubb was considered the clear-cut number one edge rusher coming out of N.C. State and after him most people said there was a huge drop-off. The Saints however shocked everybody by trading up to the 14th overall pick – not for a quarterback, but rather an outside linebacker from UTSA. While there isn’t a lot of buzz around Davenport entering year three of his pro career, I can promise that New Orleans did not spend their 2018 and ’19 first-round picks on a player they didn’t believe in. I was very surprised at the time of selection, because I thought they were looking for a more immediate-impact type of player with Drew Brees arriving in his 40s and the team coming off a 13-3 record, but there was never any question about the talent this kid presented. Davenport has missed three games in each of his first two years in the league and “only” put up 10.5 sacks, but he went from 28 QB pressures as a rookie to 50 last season. He might have been even better against the run, helping the Saints finish as the fourth-best rush defense at 91.3 yards allowed per game. So this is kind of a case for the improvement he has already made and I think the coaches in New Orleans already looked at 2019 as his breakout season, but among more casual fans, I believe Davenport will move his name into more of the conversation as one of the better young edge rushers this year. I personally had the young phenom as my 13th overall prospect coming out of San Antonio. When you put on his tape in college, that combination of explosiveness, power and closing burst really stood out. He already flashed the ability to string his hand together to dominate as a pass-rusher, but he needed to do it more consistently, and he showed the shock in his hands to own the point of attack, if he played with better extension. Those to me were certainly coachable areas and with the situation he was in, I thought he could produce in year two or three. Well, we have arrived at his third season and I believe he is ready to roll. I don’t think there’s much to critique as a run-defender about Davenport. He may still be a tick late recognizing some schemes, but when he extends those arms and drops the anchor, you won’t see much movement and he just owns tight-ends. In the pass game, I do believe he needs to broaden his repertoire a little and rush under a little more control, but he has clearly shown signs of becoming a difference-maker in that area as well. He has burst to win around the edge if he times his swipes up correctly, but also the immense power to bull-rush big offensive tackles back right into the quarterback’s lap. If he just learns to convert speed to power a little better and works on finishing that under-and-under he flashes with a follow-through chop, he could be scary. With third-round pick Zack Baun probably rushing outside on sub-packages, it will enable the Saints to move this guy and Cam Jordan more inside and create mismatches that way. https://preview.redd.it/lfbciv0mug651.png?width=720&format=png&auto=webp&s=da4072897c2bdf3e5d48946f7a1ddc2c24292f42
Simmons was the 19th overall pick for Tennessee last year. In his debut game he had three pressures on eleven pass-rushing snaps. The rest of the season wasn’t as promising, but considering I didn’t expect him to suit up at all in 2019 after tearing his ACL in pre-draft workouts, the fact he did collect valuable on-field experience, playing less than 40 percent of the defensive snaps just once from that point on, only helps him more. Purely based off his tape, I had Simmons as my IDL3, behind only Quinnen Williams and Ed Oliver (both top five prospects for me) and ahead of the two Clemson standouts (Christian Wilkins and Dexter Williams). I even said without the injury he would have been at least around the top ten when I put out my big board a few days ahead of last year’s draft. In limited playing time as a rookie, he recorded 32 tackles, four of them for loss and two sacks. Simmons was an immovable object at Mississippi State and looked to be the same among grown men. I went back and watched the Raiders game in week 14, who have some maulers in the run game and you saw guys almost bounce off the rookie as if he was a brick wall. More importantly, they doubled him on pretty much every single snap he was on the field, probably because of what they had already seen on tape. This guy has some shock in his hands, the ability to look through the blocker on zone-runs and then get back to the gap behind him as the running back decides to cut up into it. He didn’t look as mobile working his way down the line laterally as I thought he did in college and he will have to do a better job working across the face of some blockers, rather than allowing them to wall him off at times. You see him just be a split-second late of actually stopping the ball-carrier rather than allowing him to stumble forward or barely miss altogether. If he gets back to his collegiate form, he can be an elite run-stopper. Having him out there will allow the Titans to run primarily sub-packages with Harold Landry and now Vic Beasley on the edges. The area he still needs to prove himself at is getting after the quarterback. Simmons is very straight-forward as a pass-rusher and didn’t show a lot of finesse to win in that area, getting stuck with stalemates for the most part if he couldn’t drive his guy backwards initially. He flashed a few quick wins on reps with the arm-over, but he has to get off the ball with more of a plan. I believe his ability to shoot upfield, the unbelievable power and just that disruptive style of play will show up big time in his first year at full strength. https://preview.redd.it/7paequ0mug651.png?width=720&format=png&auto=webp&s=2c2f4c31d5e75928dfdc684c30a956b575544062
This young man was my fourth overall prospect in last year’s draft behind only Quinnen Williams, Nick Bosa and Josh Allen (the edge rusher). Oliver was an uber-talented, explosive athlete coming out Houston, who I think is still learning the game to some degree. He came in as a freshman with the Cougars and immediately dominated, recording 22 tackles for loss and being named First Team All-American – an honor he would repeat his two other years there as well. While it was obviously a transition from the AAC, where he was just so superior to everybody else physically, compared to lining up against professionals every single week, I thought he started flashing more and more as his rookie season progressed. And while Jordan Phillips just put up double-digit sacks for Buffalo and got a big deal from the Cardinals in the process, I thought Oliver was already the Bills’ best interior pass rusher in December. Overall he recorded five sacks and TFLs each to go with 31 pressures on 374 pass-rushing snaps. That ratio may not be up there with some of the league’s best, but he definitely showed sparks on winning in that area and he finished up playing 53.7 percent of the snaps on defense overall, as part of a deep rotation. Coming out of Houston a year ago, it was clear Oliver needed some time to adjust to the NFL, after he was playing at the nose mostly in college and not having to stay true to his run fits all the time. While there are still moments where his pad-level gets too high and I feel like he is a tick late recognizing the run scheme, at 287 pounds his anchor is excellent and he has the ability to chase down plays laterally. In the pass game his natural power and quickness present problems for the opposition. What really stands out as well is he flexibility he possesses, as can be knocked from the side and somehow regain his balance to keep going and even if he ends up outside his pass-rush lane, he just continues to work. Something Oliver does really well already, which will give him a couple of “easy” sacks in 2020 is set up his loops to the outside on a twist, staying tight and aiming at the outside shoulder of the guard before pivoting outside suddenly. As a rookie, he had his issues going up against the better-schooled guards in the league, especially trying to beat the Steelers’ Ramon Foster and David DeCastro, who landed their hands inside his chest early and Oliver couldn’t gain an advantage. If he can work on being a little more pro-active and rushes the passer with more of a plan overall, I think he could be a Pro Bowler in year two. https://preview.redd.it/z1xft71mug651.png?width=720&format=png&auto=webp&s=58865bb25882e11cf324d4541eb9fd75ea088307
A four-year starter at Wisconsin, Edwards recorded 366 tackles over the course of his career and made several impact plays for the Badgers. Unfortunately he could not participate in any on-field drills at the 2019 NFL combine due to a banged up ankle and if you can trust his pro day results, his athleticism is still below-average. Labelled as a classic college linebacker with limitations to translate his game to the next level, Edwards ultimately went undrafted and signed with the Eagles. As a rookie, he mostly made an impact on special teams, with nine combined tackles on punt and kickoff coverage. He only played 11 percent of the defensive snaps, but when he was on the field, he earned close to an elite grade by Pro Football Focus and got involved on another 21 tackles. When you divide those 122 snaps by the amount of tackles he recorded, that actually gives him the highest tackle rate of any player at the position with at least 100 snaps played. In his first year under defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz, he was mainly utilized on early downs to stop the run, as he was on the field for 89 run downs compared to only 33 pass plays. That is somewhat understandable, since you just have to love his oldschool mind-set in the frame of a well-built, strong guy. Edwards aggressively shoots downhill on inside runs and drops the shoulder on lead-blockers trying to move him out of there, actually stonewalling some of those guys and creating traffic jams that way. At the same time, he shows enough patience with combo-blocks in front of him to not just give away free cutback lanes by overrunning plays, keeping bouncy feet as he deciphers what he sees in the backfield. He offers a sturdy base to absorb the contact by offensive linemen climbing up to him and keeps them at extension, while also showing the mobility to mirror pullers and beat them to the spot. Then he really brings some thump at initial contact on tackles to stop the forward momentum and missed only one attempt on the year (on special teams). It is kind of funny how Edwards was labelled a pure run-stopper because of some athletic limitations, when he actually intercepted ten passes and broke up another 15, while adding eight sacks throughout his career at Wisconsin. He may never be a candidate to shadow more dynamic backs or tight-ends one-on-one, but his feel in zone and ability to get involved as a blitzer should keep him on the field for third downs more. Edwards is also quick to recognize play-action and turn his head for potential crossers behind him before swiveling back towards the quarterback. I believe Edwards will be an excellent replacement for Zach Brown at MIKE, who left in free agency. There are some questions about linebacker trio with Duke Riley and Nathan Gerry, Jatavis Brown or Davion Taylor, but Edwards should be a fixture in the middle on first and second down at least. https://preview.redd.it/lgoeh60mug651.png?width=720&format=png&auto=webp&s=38e707ed0ad52312a4c01fc5f2f16153b2c83245
Murphy was my number one corner heading into the 2019 draft ahead of guys like Greedy Williams and DeAndre Baker and he was the first pick in round two. While he started all 16 games for Arizona and missed less than 30 snaps the entire season, I think barely anybody really knows about or watched this guy play for the Cardinals as rookie. There were definitely some learning experiences early on and if you look at the total yards and touchdowns allowed, it’s not a beautiful sight and 78 total tackles for any corner aren’t a great sign either. However, a lot of that had to do with the 105 targets coming his way (fourth-most by any player in the league) due to lining up on the opposite side of Patrick Peterson and the fact he was part of the 31st-ranked pass defense. I thought he improved every single week and he actually put up better marks in coverage than his running mate Peterson, despite being targeted at a much higher rate – 7.7 compared to 9.3 yards allowed per target. Murphy also intercepted one pass and broke up another ten. What I loved about Murphy coming out of Washington last year was his innate feel in zone coverage with an outstanding ability to click-and-close and be a play-maker. He can flip his hips with ease and has that gliding speed to stay on top of routes, rarely allowing opponents to detach from him late. In the run game, Murphy does not shy away from getting involved as a tackler, arriving low and up-ending bigger ball-carriers routinely. You see him fill the D-gap or squeeze plays from the outside on several occasions. He also won’t allow bigger receivers to bully him as blockers, keeping them away from his frame and leveraging the ball accordingly. The rookie mostly played in the slot versus 11 personnel once Patrick Peterson returned in week seven last season and he was utilized as a blitzer off the edge a few times, where he chased running backs down from behind or got into the face of the opposing quarterback. He was heavily exhausted when he was moved in the slot and had to follow receivers back-and-forth across the formation on motions at times. The one thing Murphy really struggled with as a rookie was playing with his back towards the quarterback on slot fades and such as, where receivers could use subtle push-offs and win with their frame, as he almost purely face-guarded them and didn’t even try to snap his head around. The Cardinals have added a super-rangy player is Isaiah Simmons and beef up front to stop the run on early downs, in order to set up third-and-long situations. Allowing the now second-year player to focus more on his coverage and now with veteran Robert Alford being brought in as another outside corner, I see Murphy taking the next step in his developing. By the way, re-watching those Cardinals tapes – Budda Baker is just a freaking baller. https://preview.redd.it/znok171mug651.png?width=720&format=png&auto=webp&s=18e3a805075eebfb64e6cea9726c1ceaaa2bd921
At the start of last year’s draft process, Ya-Sin wasn’t a huge name since he had only played one year at the FBS level for Temple. However, after he and now-49ers receiver Deebo Samuel went back and forth at the Senior Bowl, I started falling love with this guy and so did the scouting community. As a rookie with the Colts, wearing number 34 as the spot he was selected at, he started 13 of 15 games and played at least 93 percent of the snaps in ten of them. Ya-Sin was targeted on 15.2 percent of pass plays and he had some struggles, but he also improved a lot from the first to the second half of his debut campaign. There was one really rough showing versus one of the NFL’s young star receivers in Courtland Sutton, when he was penalized five times and was responsible for 75 receiving yards. However, the rest of the season he was called for defensive holding three times and for pass interference just once (40 total yards). That’s not too bad for a rookie who likes to get into the face of receivers and whose play-style out of college could be described as “grabby”. Over the final eight weeks, Ya-Sin held opposing QBs to a passer rating of just 75.8 and didn’t allow any touchdowns (after being responsible for two up to that point), while coming up with his first career pick. Ya-Sin can be described is a very sticky, quick-footed corner. As a rookie, he primarily played outside and faced some tough matchups, while even being asked to travel with some of the game’s elite, such as Michael Thomas. While I’m not saying that always went great, his competitiveness is off the charts and I think he has all the tools to develop into an excellent cover-corner. Ya-Sin was rarely just caught out of position. It was more about struggling to find the ball down the field and panicking a little when he did overcommit initially. The more experience he had, the more comfortable he felt turning his head and making a play on the ball. I still love his competitiveness, rapid feet at the line, ability to read the hips of the receiver and use his length to get his hands on the ball. He had a few textbook reps, staying in phase with the receiver from press alignmenz on hitch or curl routes and knocking the pass down coming out of the break. I thought playing in year one, he was also a pretty good edge-setter in the run game and he didn’t just wait for the ball-carrier to cut back inside to stay clean. You saw him fight off blocks and try to cut down the guy with the ball. Now with Pierre Desir gone in free agency, I expect Ya-Sin to step into the spotlight as Indy’s true CB1. The Colts also brought in veteran Xavier Rhoades, who I thought looked broken down last season, but will help this kid grow mentally as well. https://preview.redd.it/7m1nru0mug651.png?width=720&format=png&auto=webp&s=a0dea575bc086e12e446f31656bfcbab75acacb0
My top-rated safety from a year ago, I thought Adderley was a perfect match with Derwin James on the Chargers, because he has that range for a true deep middle safety to allow Derwin to roam and play more around the line of scrimmage. Unfortunately he had hamstring issues before even being drafted, which forced him to miss mandatory minicamp and most of training camp. He only appeared in one preseason game and then played 10 defensive snaps across four regular season games, making two pretty meaningless tackles, before the Chargers placed him on injured reserve. So with that little experience, Adderley barely meets my criteria, but he was active for four games and I want to grab the opportunity to talk about one of my favorites in last year’s draft. Coming out of Delaware, he filled the alley in the run game with the mind-set of a linebacker, while also showing the ability to cover ground to bail out his team-mates on the back-end. When the ball is completed in front of him, he punishes receivers and when it gets into his hand, he shows off his background as a kick returner, where we had one of the sickest plays I have ever seen, running an opponent over, staring him down and proceeding to go the end-zone. Outside of some questions about the level of competition in the FCS and how much different he moved different than anybody else, I loved everything about his game. The one time we did actually see him play with pros – week four of the preseason – Adderley made one interception and deflected another three passes, while one of them should have been another pick, with a receiver knocking the ball out of his hands late, and he got both hands on another ball down the seams to deny a touchdown. You could see him show up outside the numbers against go-routes and cut in front of deep in-breaking routes, which led to the one INT he actually made. In addition to that, you saw him try to go underneath offensive linemen and be willing to take on some contact on screen plays, instead of staying back and avoiding collisions, getting involved late on scrums or jumping on the back of a receiver trying to catch the ball at the sideline. Now with Chris Harris added to the mix, Casey Hayward on the opposite side and Desmond King in the slot, with the guys they have up front to get after the passer, plus Derwin possibly being sent as a blitzer with his stupid closing burst, Adderley has the ability to gamble and make plays. Plus he gives them somebody who plays with an attitude, which I really appreciated going back to my evaluations coming out of college. Before he can become an impact player, he first needs to beat out Rayshawn Jenkins, but I’d be shocked if he wasn’t on the field for the majority of snaps.
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
Talk about a game where absolutely nothing went right. Lost the turnover battle 4-0, only mustered 180 total yards with 9 first downs, and failed to capitalize on any moment in general. If it wasn't over after Matt Breida's run, it was definitely over after Antonio Callaway's dropped TD that turned into an INT. Not to mention, this all happened after absolutely dominating the Ravens on the road the week prior? Football is a weird game.
There's a hell of a lot of people you can blame for this one. Blame Hue Jackson for still not being able to get his team to play a solid 4 quarters. Blame Todd Haley for calling a pass play on 3rd & short from the Tampa 35, just asking to be sacked out of field goal range. Blame Jabrill Peppers for fumbling the punt that gave the Bucs the ball back in OT. Blame Chandler Catanzaro for somehow managing to drill a 59-yard field goal ftw, despite missing an extra point earlier in the game. But don't blame the fact that we're, you know....cursed.
8. 2018, Week 2 @ NO: Saints 21, Browns 18
Everybody has bad games, and kickers are too often blamed for losses for missing one critical kick. But what about when you miss four kicks, thereby costing your team 8 points, in a game you only lost by 3? The Browns' defense gave the Saints' offense absolute fits that game, arguably performing better against the Saints than any other defense did in all of 2018. If there's any solace, that Taylor to Callaway TD in the 4th is one of the prettiest plays I've ever seen.
7. 2014, Week 14 vs. IND: Colts 25, Browns 24
2014 was one of those weird night-and-day seasons. The Browns went from being 6-3 through Week 10, alone atop the AFC North, to losing 5 straight and finishing 7-9. The loss to Indy was likely the moment where it felt like the wheels had finally come off. If Justin Gilbert of all people is getting a pick-six, you feel like it has to be your game. The 4th & 2 play from the 3 still haunts me. We had 'em in the backfield, but they slipped away....and Andrew Luck ain't letting that slide. This game also resulted in Brian Hoyer being benched, which in hindsight was a poor decision.
6. 2013, Week 14 @ NE: Patriots 27, Browns 26
The Patriots hadn't lost a home regular season game against an AFC opponent since 2008. It looked like the Browns were about to somehow change that when Jordan Cameron found the end zone to give them a 12-point lead just before the 2-minute warning. Even when Julian Edelman's TD brought the margin back to 5, the comeback still seemed improbable. An onside kick and a terrible pass interference call later, here's Tom Brady throwing the winning TD. I shouldn't be surprised that's how it ended.
5. 2017, Week 17 @ PIT: Steelers 28, Browns 24
This game will forever live in infamy as the 0-16 game, and ironically it couldn't have happened under more perfect circumstances. The Steelers were resting the majority of their skilled starters, having already clinched their playoff seed. Landry Jones (lol) was playing QB. Our players will be more motivated than they have been all year. And hell, we didn't do that bad against them the first time around! But man, aside from Rashard Higgins....what an uninspired performance. Corey Coleman's hands might as well be made out of stone. The offense as a whole put together three drives of less than a yard, and turned the ball over each of its last three possessions. I'm happy I never have to see DeShone Kizer lead our offense again.
4. 2017, Week 14 vs. GB: Packers 27, Browns 21
Before the season finale against Pittsburgh, a lot of people were saying this would be the game to end the Browns' imperfect season. The Packers were 6-6 and no pushovers, but were also playing without Aaron Rodgers, probably realizing their season was over. The Browns were cruising going into the 4th quarter with a 21-7 lead. Still up 7 late, they had the game essentially won after a 1st down grab by David Njoku, but the ruling was overturned. In fitting fashion, the Packers proceeded to return the ensuing punt SIXTY-FIVE damn yards, setting up the tying score. In even more fitting fashion, a DeShone Kizer interception in OT set up the Packers' final score in their epic comeback, the last game they would win in 2017.
3. 2015, Week 12 vs. BAL: Ravens 33, Browns 27
If Auburn didn't beat Alabama in 2013, this game would be known as the "Kick-Six". It ended up being a better MNF game than most people expected, but your expectations can't be set too high when you've got Josh McCown and Matt Schaub at QB. What is this, the Senior Citizens Bowl? As we lined up for the game-winning field goal, I thought: Travis Coons hasn't missed a field goal all year. Worst case scenario, he misses and we go to OT....well, shit. Side note, this is the ONLY Browns loss where one of my Steeler fan friends actually said, "I'm sorry" to me the day after the game. It's fine, man. I'm used to losing, but you have to admit it's impressive how the Browns almost invent ways to lose.
2. 2019, Week 6 vs. SEA: Seahawks 32, Browns 28
If anyone asks me about Freddie Kitchens, this is the game I point to as the smoking gun that proves the man should not be a head coach. As close as you can get to a coach costing his team the game. With under 2:00 left in the 1st half and a 2nd & goal with the clock winding, up 8, you LET THE CLOCK RUN BEFORE SNAPPING THE BALL! Or if you're Freddie Kitchens, you don't relay this to Baker Mayfield and watch as he throws an INT. Could've gone into half up 11, instead went into half up 2. With the game on the line in the 4th quarter and a 3rd & goal from the 1, down 5, with Nick Chubb, you RUN THE BALL! Or if you're Freddie Kitchens, you call 2 straight pass plays. A gift falls into your lap when offsetting penalties. Then when you do decide to run the ball - which results in a touchdown - the play is blown dead before the touchdown counts b/c you decided to challenge the play. Then you run the exact same play and get stuffed. Mind-boggling.
1. 2018, Week 4 @ OAK: Raiders 45, Browns 42 (OT)
To this day, the loss to the Raiders in 2018 is the angriest I've ever been after a game. That includes all Indians and Cavs playoff losses, all Ohio State playoff losses, and all other Browns losses. Why? Idk, watch the replay where Carlos Hyde got the game-winning 1st down and the refs somehow saw indisputable evidence to overturn. Watch the punt, where the Raiders got away with a clear block in the back that would've made their tying drive difficult to achieve. How about earlier in the game, when Derek Carr was hit from behind, fumbled immediately, but the play was blown dead since he was "in the grasp"? Don't even get me started on Todd Haley calling an empty backfield pass play from near their own end zone, leaving Baker's blindside susceptible and resulting in a fumble, which led to the Raiders gaining momentum and scoring 20 unanswered. Forget about the fluke pick-six that bounced off a receiver's hands (never heard of that one, I bet). I guess the NFL couldn't handle Jon Gruden starting the season 0-4.
With the season (hopefully) on the way I thought I'd put together some lists for top 5 players at each position in Indianapolis (not Baltimore) Colts history. I'll start with QB, and work my way through. This list is purely my opinion as a die hard fan since the early Manning days, and if you think I have no clue what I'm talking about, please feel free to let me know. Fun fact, out of the 26 QBs to start a game for the Indy Colts there are only 7 players that have a winning record. Three of them are Colts legends Josh Freeman, Gary Hogeboom, and Craig Erickson.
After the complete disaster that was attempting to draft John Elway #1 in 1983, the then Baltimore Colts stuck with Mike Pagel at QB, who had just led them to a winless season in 1982. Team owner Robert Irsay decided to move the team to Indianapolis before the 1984 season the team stuck with Pagel as their main QB despite him clearly not being their future at the position. This led to 2 season with losing records and last place finishes in the AFC East. Entering the 1986 draft, the Colts were clearly looking for a franchise player at QB. The obvious choice was Jim Everett out of Purdue, but unfortunately he was selected #3 to the Houston Oilers when the Colts had the #4 pick. Instead of drafting the only other franchise QB in the draft, Mark Rypien, the Colts decided to select promising Illinois QB Jack Trudeau in the 2nd round. Trudeau had shown a lot of promise in his career, leading Illinois to a Rose Bowl in 1984 and finishing 2nd in the Davey O'Brien Award (Best College QB) to Doug Flutie. Unfortunately for him and the Colts, this talent would not translate well to the NFL
After trading Mike Pagel to the Browns the starting job was set for Trudeau entering the 1986 season. Unfortunately the Colts were still a very bad team overall and Trudeau was not set to overcome that. In 11 starts he had 8 TDs, 18 INTs, and a 48.9% completion rate for an 0-11 record. It was immediately clear he was not the savior the Colts needed to bring legitimate football to Indy. Fortunately, a contract dispute between Hall of Fame RB Eric Dickerson allowed the Colts to trade for Dickerson midway through the 1987 season. Dickerson was an immediate breath of life to the fledgling Indianapolis Colts franchise and helped lead them to their first playoff berth. Trudeau shared starting duties with Gary Hogeboom, and both were successful in not screwing things up too bad, giving the ball to Dickerson, and staying out of the damn way. Trudeau started in his only playoff game and actually played decently well: 251 yards, 2 TDs, and 1 INT, but it wasn't enough as the Colts lost 38-21 to the Bernie Kosar led Cleveland Browns who would eventually lose in via "The Drive" in the AFC Championship. It was clear the Colts would need a better QB to compliment their new superstar in Dickerson, and thus they drafted future Pro Bowler Chris Chandler in the 3rd round in 1988. However, Chris Chandler was most definitely not a Pro Bowler for the Colts. Chandler didn't impress despite an 9-7 overall record, and was replaced by Trudeau following a bad start to the 1989 season. Trudeau had his best year as a pro in 1989: 2,317 yards, 15 TDs, 13 INTs, but the Colts still finished 8-8 and outside of the playoffs. Trudeau was improving, but was still clearly not the QB of the future, which they hoped to get by trading All-Pro Tackle Chris Hinton, Future All-Pro WR Andre Rison, and the #3 Pick in 1991 for the #1 Pick in 1990 which they used to draft QB Jeff George (Wow). Trudeau was kept as the backup and was a spot starter for the Colts from 1990-93. Despite the horrific play of George, Trudeau couldn't muster much better in his limited playing time and was released in 1994.
Jack Trudeau was at best a mediocre QB you could somewhat rely on to manage the game and allow more talented players to make plays. Unfortunately the late 80s, early 90s Colts didn't have too many of those so his play suffered as well. His numbers aren't great and he wasn't much beloved by Colts fans, but he did help lead the Colts to their first playoff appearance which helped me put him on the list over Matt Hasselbeck and others. Trudeau has actually hung around Indy doing various radio and TV appearances talking about the Colts and even has a couple of DUIs as well.
The Colts had their franchise QB in Andrew Luck, but leading up to the 2017 season it was revealed during the preseason Luck had a shoulder injury which would eventually lead to him missing the entire 2017 season. This left the Colts scrambling as they knew QB Scott Tolzien was not the answer at QB, so 8 days before the start of the season the new GM Chris Ballard traded 1st round bust Phillip Dorsett for 3rd string QB for the Patriots Jacoby Brissett. Brissett had looked at least competent spot starting for the suspended Tom Brady and hurt Jimmy Garoppolo in 2016, so he was the best option the Colts had available so close to the beginning of the season.
Bringing in a new QB for a team 8 days before the start of the season and asking him to play is like asking a train engineer to launch a rocket to the moon, so Tolzien started week 1 for Colts. He continued to not impress going into week 2, and was replaced for Brissett. Brissett was an improvement, but it was clear he was overwhelmed by the change of scenery and the rest of the Colts roster and staff was not talented enough to make up for it. He finished with competent numbers: 3,098 yards, 13 TDs, 7 INTs, 58.8% completion rate, 6.6 Y/A, but was merely a game manager for a bad team as the Colts finished 4-12. Andrew Luck was ready to return in 2018 and the Colts were willing to give Brissett the benefit of the doubt and kept him on as the backup. The Colts saw a major resurgence with Luck and an incredible draft and free agent class by Chris Ballard, leading to their first playoff appearance since 2015, eventually losing to the Patrick Mahomes led Chiefs. The Colts were looking to improve going into 2019, but a now too familiar announcement led up to the season when it was revealed a calf injury was going to cause Andrew Luck to retire 2 weeks before the start of the regular season. The spotlight was once again shown on Jacoby Brissett, who was asked to take over Luck's team. Fortunately this time Brissett was able to get all the first team reps in the preseason leading up to week 1 and was much more familiar with the system. That familiarity paid off as Brissett led the Colts to a 5-2 start, including wins over playoff teams like the Texans and Titans along with the eventual Super Bowl champion Kansas City Chiefs. Brissett was not putting up All-Pro numbers, but had clearly improved from 2017 and was still not making game losing mistakes. Through week 9 he had 190 YPG, 11 TDs, and 6 INTs, and and the eye test had shown he was a good leader and could occasionally make big plays when needed. However, after a knee sprain in week 10 he was clearly not the same player. His injury either hampered his physical abilities or his confidence but his poor play for the rest of the season allowed the Colts to fall to 7-9, including an embarrassing 34-7 loss to the Saints that I made the trip over to New Orleans for and watched as Brissett sailed the ball over every receiver's head. Brissett will likely be the backup for the 2020 season behind free agent Phillip Rivers, but he's shown enough flashes of ability that his career is long from over, whether that ends up being on the Colts or somewhere else in the league.
I believe I'm with the majority of Colts fans in that when I see Jacoby Brissett I see somewhat of a tragic figure. He got thrown to the wolves in 2017 and did the best he could, but was basically set up to fail. It's honestly not too much of a stretch to say his play through week 9 of 2019 was the best QB play by an Indy Colts QB not named Manning, Luck, or Harbaugh. You could tell he was well-liked by both fans and teammates, especially through the first half of 2019, but his limitations as a player were clear. Colts fans have been spoiled in the 21st century by 2 all-time great QBs, so any deviation from that, especially when it's not by a QB we drafted #1 overall, will be seen as a major failure. I think people came down a little too hard on Jacoby by the end of 2019, and that he's still a solid pro capable of being the QB on a winning team in the right situation. However, he showed in the 2nd half of 2019 that situation is probably not in Indy going forward.
The Colts had come out of the Eric Dickerson/Jeff George era looking like an absolute dumpster fire. The Colts had been in Indy for 10 years and Indy was still very much a basketball town. The only signature player the Indy Colts had was Eric Dickerson, and he had a very sour exit in 1992 after 2 bad years. The Indianapolis Colts were still in the woods, searching for the player that could give their franchise hope that they would be treated as a legitimate threat in the NFL and generate significant interest from the fanbase. That hope came from an unlikely source in Jim Harbaugh. Harbaugh had led the Chicago Bears to 2 playoff appearances in the late Mike Ditka-era, but his play had fallen off and by 1994 he looked somewhat washed. The desperate Colts made a surprisingly wise decision in not drafting QBs Heath Schuler or Trent Dilfer. Instead they drafted future Hall of Fame RB Marshall Faulk to replace Eric Dickerson (this is the "Who the hell is Mel Kiper?" draft) and signing Jim Harbaugh.
Harbaugh didn't come out guns blazing in 1994 as he traded starting duties with Green Bay castoff Don Majkowski. Harbaugh put up decent numbers but the Colts finished 4-5 in games Harbaugh started, 8-8 overall. Harbaugh entered the 1995 season as no sure thing, the Colts actually traded their 1996 first round pick for young Tampa QB Craig Erickson in another baffling trade for an unproven QB. Erickson and Harbaugh competed for the starting position in training camp and Erickson was selected as the starter by head coach Ted Marchibroda. Erickson played poorly the first 2 weeks, being replaced and outplayed by Harbaugh in both games. By week 3 Harbaugh was the full time starter and didn't look back. Harbaugh was showing that he meshed well with new Offensive Coordinator Lindy Infante as Harbaugh put up some of the most efficient passing numbers of any QB in the NFL in 1995: 2,575 yards, 17 TDs, 5 INTs, 63.7% completion rate, and a league leading passer rating of 100.7 (ahead of guys like Brett Favre, Troy Aikman, Steve Young, and Dan Marino). Even more importantly he was a becoming the tough effective leader to energize the entire team, leading the Colts to 4 game winning drives that season, including one over the 1994 Super Bowl champion 49ers. The Colts were just outside of the playoffs going into week 17, but Harbaugh led the Colts to a win over the Drew Bledsoe led Patriots in the RCA Dome to sneak the Colts into the playoffs at 9-7. Harbaugh earned his first Pro Bowl appearance along with NFL Comeback Player of the Year. The Colts were going into the playoffs as 5.5 point underdogs against the San Diego Chargers, a team they had just lost to in week 16. However, thanks to 3 TDs from Harbaugh and an out-of-nowhere 147 yard, 2 TD performance from rookie FB Zach Crockett, the Colts overcame the odds. They were heading into a gauntlet of Arrowhead stadium against the best defense in the league and a Marcus Allen led 13-3 Kansas City Chiefs. In an ugly game where the wind chill was -15oF, luck worked in the Colts favor. Harbaugh didn't throw well, but picked up several key 1st down with his legs. He had 1 INT and 3 fumbles, but fortunately lost 0. Chiefs QB Steve Bono had 3 INTs and K Lin Elliot went 0/3 on field goals in a season where he made 80%. Colts K Cary Blanchard made 1/3, and that was enough to upset the heavily-favored Chiefs 10-7. Harbaugh's most defining moment as the Colts QB would come in the AFC Championship against the Pittsburgh Steelers. Harbaugh's cinderella story continued on against Bill Cowher and Neil O'Donnell's Steelers. The Colts and Steelers traded scores throughout the game. With 8 minutes left in the 4th quarter, Harbaugh threw a dime to WR Floyd Turner for a 47 yard touchdown to put the Colts up 16-13. Unfortunately the Colts couldn't run out enough clock on their next drive and the Steelers rushed down the field for the go-ahead score to put them up 20-16. Harbaugh wasn't done yet. With 88 seconds needing 84 yards, Harbaugh willed the Colts down the field to the Steelers' 29-yard line for a hail mary shot with 5 seconds left. Harbaugh tossed up a prayer that was very nearly caught by Colts WR Aaron Bailey, but he couldn't come up with it. The Cinderella story was over, but it was a defining moment for the Colts franchise. The 1995 Colts were within a hair of making the Super Bowl, and that 1995 playoff run led by Harbaugh created a real fanbase for them. Harbaugh's stats regressed some in 1996, but he still led the Colts to a 9-7 record and the playoffs, this time getting whooped by the Steelers in the wild card. In 1997 his stats improved some but the wheels fell off of the team as they started off 0-10, eventually falling to 3-13. Fortunately their record would net them the #1 pick in the 1998 draft. After it was clear the Colts were using the pick on QB they traded Harbaugh to the Ravens.
“A lot of people use (the word) ‘culture,’ but the attitude, everybody was team-first, from the front office, together with the coaches, together with the ownership, together with the players, the equipment staff, the training staff, I mean it felt like we were family.” - Jim Harbaugh on 1995 I don't think enough can be said about the effect of Harbaugh and that 1995 team had on the Colts. He gave us our first source of pride in the Colts and set the tone for the franchise to not be the laughingstock of the league. He paved the way for the decades of excellence that came after. Harbaugh will never be a HoF QB, but his effect on the Colts is severely underrated. For more details on the 1995 Cinderella season, read this IndyStar article: https://www.indystar.com/story/sports/nfl/colts/2016/01/21/1995-indianapolis-colts-jim-harbaugh-aaron-bailey-afc-championship-game-ted-marchibroda/78291676/
After a serious neck injury to franchise stalwart Peyton Manning, the Colts went from perennial playoff contender to nearly winless in 2011. It was unknown if Manning would ever be the same QB again, so the Colts opted to release their most valuable player and use their #1 pick in 2012 on a QB. There was some debate on possibly drafting the Heisman winner out of Baylor, Robert Griffin III, but new GM Ryan Grigson made no doubt in the fact that he was drafting Andrew Luck. Son of former Oilers QB Oliver Luck, Andrew Luck blossomed under head coach Jim Harbaugh to revitalize the Stanford football program while also graduating with a bachelor's degree in architectural design. Luck was hailed by nearly every scout as a can't miss prospect, having nearly every physical tool you want from a QB along with a clear handle on the mental and intangible aspects of the game.
Expectations for Luck were high going into 2012, but not so for the team overall. Many experts put the Colts at or near the bottom of all power rankings. Not only had the team lost Peyton Manning that year, but also many key pieces from the Manning era such as Pierre Garçon, Joseph Addai, Dallas Clark, Jeff Saturday, and Gary Brackett. To make matters worse, new head coach Chuck Pagano was diagnosed with leukemia and missed weeks 5-16. However, despite all odds, Luck led the Colts to an 11-5 record. Interim Head Coach Bruce Arians proved to be a diamond in the rough by helping Luck turn a 2-14 team that lost multiple starters into a playoff team. Luck's stats weren't always pretty: 23 TDs, 18 INTs, 54.1% completion rate, and a 76.5 rating, but he could clearly make plays happen with an absurd 7 game winning drives. The miracles came to an end with a shellacking by the eventual Super Bowl champion Baltimore Ravens in the playoffs, but this season proved Luck would be no bust, he was a force to be reckoned with. Luck continued to grow in 2013 and 2014, improving in every category to crescendo in 2014 with a league-leading 40 TDs, 16 INTs, 61.7% completion rate, and a 96.5 rating. In 2013 he led the Colts to his first playoff victory in spectacular fashion. After being down 38-10 early in the 3rd quarter to the Alex Smith led Chiefs, Luck led a furious and unbelievable comeback 45-44 victory. Any Colts fan could tell you after seeing all the comeback victories Luck had led to never count him out, and he cemented that in this game. In 2014 Luck led the Colts past their old god of Peyton Manning in Denver in the divisional round, but were given a thorough ass-whooping in the AFC Championship by the soon-to-be Super Bowl champions New England Patriots in what is now infamously known as the "Deflategate Game." Andrew Luck was a very physical player and was known to take many hits, sometimes making spectacular plays through those hits. However, that punishment started to pile up and wasn't helped by GM Ryan Grigson's poor draft classes and inability to build a competent offensive line to block for Luck. This culminated in the injury plagued 2015 and 2016 seasons. Luck only played 7 games in 2015 and severely regressed in every statistical category, clearly hampered by various injuries such as a lacerated kidney. Luck's stats improved in 2016, but the team did not as they finished 8-8, partially due to an astounding 7% sack of Luck. Either some of Luck's good fortune had finally run out or the team and culture built by GM Grigson had completely failed to support their superstar QB. Owner Jim Irsay bet on Luck and fired Grigson after 2016. Hopes were high heading into 2017, but unfortunately an unknown snowboarding accident aggravated a previous shoulder injury for Luck. News was very slow to come out, but fans were shocked to find out he would likely miss the entire season 8 days before week 1. New GM Chris Ballard made a quick trade for Jacoby Brissett, but fans were worried after 3 years of being hampered by injuries Luck may never be the same player. In 2018 we believed those doubts were proven wrong. Luck had an incredibly resurgent season, leading the new look Colts back into the playoffs for the first time since 2014 with a 10-6 record. Luck's numbers were back to form: 39 TDs, 15 INTs, and career bests of 67.3% completion rate and 98.7 rating. Fans were pleased to finally see Luck playing behind a solid offensive line that prevented which prevented him from being sacked for 5 weeks and giving him a career low 2.7% sack rate. Luck led the Colts to a Wild Card win over the Deshaun Watson's Texans, but were stopped in the cold in Arrowhead against Patrick Mahomes' Chiefs. However, hopes were high leading into 2019 that the structure given by GM Chris Ballard would protect Luck and allow him to lead us to our Super Bowl. Sadly that did not work out as Luck appeared to have a calf injury leading up to the 2019 season. Fans held out hope he would be ready to go for the start of the season, but after the years of rehabbing Luck had finally had enough. 2 weeks before the season opener during a preseason game against the Chicago Bears it was leaked that Luck planned to retire. Fortunately his backup Jacoby Brissett was put in a better position to take his place as opposed to 2017, but the sudden and unexplained retirement of their franchise QB right before the season led to some fans to boo Luck as he left the field at Lucas Oil Stadium for the last time.
Andrew Luck will forever be one of the greatest "what if?" stories in American sports history. Unlike many "what if?" stories, we got to see what we could have had with Luck. What the Colts had in Luck from 2012-14 along with 2018 was nothing short of incredible and it was clear he was improving to potentially become one of the greatest QBs in NFL history. Instead he's a tragic story where fans will forever be left to wonder what could have been with Andrew Luck. Would Luck have brought the Colts back to the Super Bowl if he he didn't play the majority of his career under the poor management of GM Ryan Grigson and HC Chuck Pagano? All we do know is that his sack rate under Grigson was 5.5%, and in one year on GM Chris Ballard's team it was 2.7%, coincidentally also one of his best statistical seasons. Peyton Manning's sack rate for his career? Tied for the NFL record with Dan Marino at 3.13%. Maybe if Luck had been better protected and coached better to avoid hits he could have made it up there with Manning, but as fans he'll forever be a "what if?" Luck seems like a smart and content man who's just starting a family, so I doubt he will ever return for any team. Even if he did we'll forever be robbed of what the best version of Andrew Luck could have been. However, in his short time here, he delivered enough incredible moments to give us hope and make us love the team. I, along with hopefully many other fans, will forever love Andrew Luck for his time with the Colts and am grateful for a helluva run.
The Indianapolis Colts under Jim Harbaugh had finally established themselves as a legitimate team, but the Colts knew Harbaugh wasn't the long-term answer at QB. He was 35 going into the 1998 season and had just led the Colts to a 3-13 season, bad enough for the #1 overall pick. There was some debate about drafting Heisman finalist out of Washington, Ryan Leaf, but new GM Bill Polian made no doubt in the fact that he was drafting Peyton Manning. Leaf had some incredible athletic abilities, but there were some doubts raised about his ability to handle the mental aspects of the game. He also basically made the decision for the Colts when he skipped their draft interview, a passive-aggressive declaration he wouldn't play for the Colts. Peyton Manning, son of former Saints QB Archie Manning, was also a Heisman finalist out of Tennessee. No scout doubted Manning's ability to become a franchise QB in the NFL, but some wondered about his potential ceiling due to a complete lack of running ability and some arm strength concerns. However, he was clearly one of the most mature and mentally ready players to ever come out of college for any position. "I'll leave you with this thought. If you take me, I promise you we will win a championship. If you don't, I promise I'll come back and kick your ass" -Peyton Manning to Colts GM Bill Polian on the day before the 1998 draft
The 1998 Colts were still a pretty bad team overall, and the rookie Manning was not enough to overcome that. He had one of the best statistical rookie seasons ever: 3,739 yards, 26 TDs, 28 INTs, 6.5 Y/A, and a 56.7% completion rate, setting records for yards, TDs, and INTs (yards and TDs are currently held by Andrew Luck and Baker Mayfield respectively). However, the deficiencies of the team and Manning's record number of interceptions helped give the Colts a 3-13 record, including a week 5 win over Ryan Leaf's San Diego Chargers. Fortunately Manning helped lead one of the biggest turnarounds in NFL history in 1999, turning the 3-13 Colts in 1998 into the 13-3 Colts in 1999. People weren't exactly ready to give up on Manning after 1998, but 1999 was critical for showing Manning could improve and be at the helm of a winning team. Partially this was helped by sending Hall of Fame RB Marshall Faulk to St. Louis in exchange for the draft pick to select Hall of Fame RB Edgerrin James, who had a phenomenal rookie year. The Colts ended up losing to the Tennessee Titans in the playoffs, who had just completed the Music City Miracle the week before and would come within an ass hair of winning the Super Bowl against the Greatest Show on Turf St. Louis Rams. Manning was up and down from 2000 to 2002, still posting good stats but missing the playoffs in 2001 ( https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-oSFYxDGKy8 ) and having first round exits in 2000 and 2002. Whispers started turning into legitimate arguments about how Peyton Manning was a good stats, dome team, regular season QB that just didn't have it in the playoffs. In 2003 Manning started his absurd streak of 12+ win seasons (7 years) and picked up his first MVP award, the first (and still only) Indy Colt to win it. He also got his first playoff wins in 2003, but was quickly put to shame in a 4 INT performance in the AFC Championship against the Patriots, now known by Colts fans as "The Ty Law Game." The 2004 season is well known by Colts fans for cementing Manning among the all time greats. Manning was white hot all year, throwing for 4,557 yards 49 TDs, 10 INTs, and a 121.1 rating while only getting sacked 13 times. The 49 TDs was a record, which has since been broken by Tom Brady and Manning again while a member of the Broncos. Manning won MVP for the 2nd year in a row, but once again disappointed in the playoffs with a 0 TD, 1 INT performance against the Patriots in the divisional round, losing 20-3. Those arguments of Manning's postseason jitters were starting to feel more and more like reality for Colts fans. They knew they had their franchise QB, but his inability to perform in the playoffs continued to be baffling. 2005 was supposed to be the season that changed all that. Manning's numbers came back to earth somewhat, but he still posted a very efficient performance (104.1 rating) for a much improved overall team. GM Bill Polian had proved his days building the "Four Falls over Buffalo" Bills dynasty was no fluke, he now had a team with the #2 scoring offense and the #2 scoring defense. This was the year to break the Manning postseason curse. Unfortunately in one of the most upsetting games of my life, the Colts could not break that curse against the Steelers in the divisional round. Manning played relatively well: 58% completion rate, 290 yards, and 1 TD with no INTs, but watching the game the Colts struggled to maintain momentum and get stops against the rookie Ben Roethlisberger. Despite the inconsistent play, the Colts still had a shot. Steelers HoF RB Jerome Bettis attempted to ice the game with a goal line carry, but fumbled for the first time all year. With the entire Steelers offense stuffing the line, Colts CB Nick Harper was free to pick up the ball with a nearly open field ahead of him. Normally Nick Harper is one of the faster players on the field, however, as every Colts fan knows, Harper had been stabbed in the leg by his wife in a "supposedly accidental" altercation the night before. This possibly allowed the falling down Ben Roethlisberger to catch Harper by his shoe strings, preventing the nearly sure thing TD by Harper to put the Colts ahead. Instead Manning led the Colts into basically chip shot field goal position for one of the most accurate kickers in NFL history (Mike "Idiot Kicker" Vanderjagt) to tie the game. We all know what happened next. It was a shocking loss to say the least, and it was hard to blame it all on Manning, but it still felt like there was some sort of mystical VooDoo curse hanging over Manning and our franchise. If the Colts couldn't win it all in 2005 it felt like they never would. 2006 wasn't looking like anything special compared to the past few seasons, especially considering the defense regressed from #2 in scoring in 2005 to #23 in 2006. Manning was still putting up great numbers, but those were starting to feel like an exercise in futility. Fortunately the Colts caught fire at the right time, with oft-injured All-Pro Safety Bob Sanders getting healthy towards the end of the season and the trade deadline addition of Buccaneers DT "Booger" McFarland. That momentum pushed them to an AFC Championship, where Manning would match up against the source of his ultimate playoff failures, Tom Brady and the New England Patriots. Fortunately, this time it was in the RCA Dome, not Foxborogh, MA. Manning and the Colts started off cold, being down 21-3 at one point after a Manning pick-6, but the Colts rallied behind some incredibly orchestrated drives by Manning to finally get the monkey off his back. On a last second drive, Manning drove the Colts down the field to put them ahead 38-34 with 1 minute to go. A Marlin Jackson interception of Tom Brady sealed it, Manning and the Colts were going to the Super Bowl for the first time in Indy history. Manning played well in the Super Bowl, winning the MVP against the league-best Chicago Bears defense. Manning continued his solid play in 2007 and 2008, including his 3rd MVP in 2008. Both seasons ended with heartbreaking first round playoff exits to the San Diego Chargers, 2008's being the "Sproles and Scifres Game." 2008 also showed the first signs of physical weakness from Manning, having a knee surgery before the season that led to a slow start for the Colts. That was not the case in 2009, as Manning led the Colts to start the season 14-0. In a decision that's still derided today, new head coach Jim Caldwell decided to effectively bench Manning along with many other starters rather than go for the perfect season to prevent any injuries. Many had seen the Patriots in 2007 nearly complete the perfect season, but fall in heartbreaking fashion in the Super Bowl against a less talented Giants team. Caldwell, like many others, decided that any rust from not playing for nearly a month was worth the decreased risk of injury to his stars. That decision nearly backfired in spectacular fashion as the Colts were behind the New York Jets (a team they effectively let into the playoffs by letting them win in week 16) in the AFC Championship game until Manning led a furious comeback. It all ended poorly in the Super Bowl however as Manning threw a pick-6 to Tracy Porter that still haunts my dreams to Tracy Porter, allowing the Colts to lose to Drew Brees and his stupid baby and the New Orleans Saints. 2010 was one of the first signs of weakness from Manning. He had apparently injured his neck on this play in 2006 ( https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9gjdmww3vgM ) on a hit that would now be extremely illegal. Manning apparently aggravated that injury in the lead up to the 2010 season, and it showed in the stats as he had how lowest rating since 2002 (91.9). For most other QBs a rating of 91.9 is a pretty solid season but for Manning it was a massive fall. This led to a quick playoff exit to the Jets in the first round. In the lead up to the 2011 season, Manning had several surgeries to relieve the pain in his neck which led to him missing the entire season. It was unknown if he would ever be the same QB again, or even play again. Manning's absence showed how incredibly important he was to the franchise, the only major difference between the rosters in 2010 and 2011 is Manning, yet the Colts went 10-6 in 2010 and 2-14 in 2011. This poor record led to the Colts earning the #1 pick in the 2012 draft, which fueled their decision to release Manning and draft a QB in 2012 (Chandler Harnish...and Andrew Luck).
"Fellas, if 18 goes down, we're fucked, and we don't practice fucked." -Offensive Coordinator Tom Moore on why the backup QBs don't get more reps Nothing to me cements Peyton Manning's role in Indy as much as this quote. Even his first 5 years before he became an all-time great, that was still the best sustained stretch of QB play in Indy Colts history. Once he ascended to another level in 2003, it was clear we needed to put every egg we could find into his basket. Manning was the perfect franchise QB: a steady presence on and off the field, consistent delivery of either incredible numbers or game winning performances (usually both), and he made nearly everyone else on the team a better player. His drive and commitment to team victory made him the guy every franchise needs if they want to field a consistently great team. Peyton had somewhat of an authoritarian leadership style, my way or the highway, but you can do that when you show that you're willing and able to give every ounce of yourself to the team and deliver the kind of results that he can. I think some people are disappointed in the Manning Era considering how historically great his stats are but he was 1-1 in Super Bowls in 12 years here. Honestly I think that's not too far off for any all-time QB. Drew Brees is 1-0, Brett Favre is 1-1, Aaron Rodgers is 1-0, Fran Tarkenton is 0-3, Jim Kelly is 0-4, Dan Marino is 0-1, all of these guys are all-time great franchise QBs but it's not abnormal for them to only win 1 or lose several. There are some exceptions: Tom Brady (6-3), Joe Montana (4-0), Terry Bradshaw (4-0), and Troy Aikman (3-0), but honestly you could trade any of the former QBs for Terry Bradshaw and they would also probably be 4-0. There's lots of luck in every playing career, and some get luckier than others. The only season I'd say the Colts were "robbed" of a Super Bowl is 2005, otherwise I think Manning's Colts career went about as good as it could have. Honorable Mentions: Matt Hasselbeck (5-3 record, probably our best backup ever) and Dan Orlovsky (just for saving us from a completely defeated season). Dishonorable Mentions: Jeff George and Kerry Collins (being very bad at QB isn't very uncommon for Indy Colts QBs, but these guys were so bad and toxic they dragged down the abilities of everyone on the team and are actively hated by most fans)
To preview the 2020 NFL season, we asked more than 50 league executives, coaches, scouts and players to help us stack the top 10 players at 11 different positions (sorry, special-teamers). The results might surprise you. They surprised me. Here's how it worked: Voters gave their best 10 to 15 players at a position, then we compiled the results and ranked candidates based on number of top-10 votes, composite average, interviews and research. We had several ties, so we broke them by isolating the two-man matchup with additional voting and follow-up calls. Each section is packed with quotes and nuggets from the voters on every guy -- even the honorable mentions.
Age: 29 | Highest ranking: 1 | Lowest ranking: 5 Nearly every vote for Mack was top-three, helping to separate him from Chandler Jones in a tight race for the top spot. Mack's 8.5 sacks and 19.6% pass-rush win rate don't begin to demonstrate his capacity for disruption. "He can get home in every way -- he can go through you or around you," said one NFL defensive coordinator. Added a defensive assistant coach: "Your game plan doesn't matter with him." Chicago's defense last season paled in comparison to the 2018 edition, which coaches say affected Mack's bottom line. The Bears bet on Leonard Floyd winning on the other side and he failed, resulting in more attention sent Mack's way. New addition Robert Quinn can anchor one side to help Mack, who still posted an 86.2 Pro Football Focus grade. "He doesn't get past the quarterback very often because he bends so well, has speed-to-power and finishes at the level of the quarterback," a veteran defensive coach said. "And he's relentless."
Age: 30 | Highest ranking: 1 | Lowest ranking: 7 Jones has become the league's most consistent edge player, averaging 14.5 sacks each season since 2015, four times with Arizona. "His rush skill set is as diverse and versatile as anybody I've been around," a longtime NFL defensive coach said. "You don't see it as much with the way they use him in Arizona, but he is an excellent interior pass-rusher and they don't put him in there very much. He's more than capable rushing inside. Unbelievable flexibility and body control. Uses hands very well, student of the game. He's got everything." Jones also gets credit for producing despite playing without many stars around him in Arizona. He can stop the run or dominate third down. And he tied for the league lead with eight forced fumbles. "Nobody talks about him because his team stunk," one NFL offensive coach said. "But he produces every week."
Age: 22 | Highest ranking: 1 | Lowest ranking: 8 Bosa surpassed expectations in the voting, and made a serious push for the No. 1 overall spot. The league is envious of the 49ers for stealing Bosa No. 2 overall in 2019 thanks in part to Jimmy Garoppolomissing 13 games the year before. "Jimmy G's busted knee was a blessing," one NFL general manager said. "Motor, speed, smart, hard to block." One exec whose team played the 49ers last year was impressed -- and frustrated -- watching Bosa in person, pointing out his nine sacks don't do him justice. "We literally had no answer for him," the exec said. "Completely dominated us." To be sure, Bosa is fortunate to play on a dynamic defensive line across the board. And he's more of a compact rusher than one who dominates with length. But evaluators say his talent stands alone. "It's very difficult to be impactful as rookie, even for great players," a longtime defensive line coach said. "He did that as well as anybody I can think of. Great quickness and speed."
Age: 31 | Highest ranking: 1 | Lowest ranking: 7 Miller had recorded at least 10 sacks in every full season he played since 2011, but with production dropping to eight sacks in 15 games last year, questions exist about whether the premier rusher of the decade has slipped slightly. Here's the truth with Miller: Even a slightly diminished version of Miller is better than just about anyone else. "You're still sliding protection to him most of the game," a veteran NFL defensive coach said. "There are only a handful of players who command that attention, and he still does." Miller still bends the edge among the best, and the return of Bradley Chubb from injury should open more rushing lanes for the 10-year vet. And his 20.3% pass-rush win rate is still solid. "I'd still take him over just about anyone," an NFC exec said. "If I need one player to get me one sack on a crucial third down, he's the guy."
Age: 24 | Highest ranking: 1 | Lowest ranking: 10 Raw talent and a wild combination of speed to power have him knocking on the door of the top three. But many coaches and evaluators say he's not there yet; they're waiting on him to put it all together. "You can set up a plan to neutralize him," an NFL defensive coach said. "He won't dominate each game plan. You do build the plan around him. He gets long in his movement, can't take those quick 3-4 seconds around the edge." A different assistant says Garrett has "first-ballot ability" and completely dominates whole games at times, as evidenced by his 26.2% pass rush win rate. But that dominance comes and goes. In 10 games last year, Garrett had zero sacks in four of them, and two or more in three of them. "If it's going well early, he's unstoppable," the coach said. "If he starts slow, it's survival mode until it's a passing down. A physical tackle with decent ability makes him struggle a little bit." Then there's the six-game suspension last year for hitting Pittsburgh Steelersquarterback Mason Rudolph over the head with his own helmet. The evaluators interviewed about Garrett didn't condone the incident and cited it an example of immaturity, but also didn't label Garrett a character concern. He simply made a mistake, most say. As far as pass-rushing traits, only Khalil Mack has more than Garrett, several execs said.
Age: 24 | Highest ranking: 4 | Lowest ranking: 9 Bosa didn't get enough top-five votes to crack the threshold, but as far as pure pass rushing, there aren't many better. He's channeling Tim Duncan when he rushes, combining textbook discipline with flair. "Uses length well, long arm stab, fundamentals, dynamic moves -- he's got it all," one NFL coordinator said. "He's got unique tape, because he's wide, and because of the way he runs and moves, it's hard to tell what he'll do." That Bosa has one pass deflection in four seasons is curious. Mack, Jones and Miller all have more than 10 over that span. But it's hard to complain with 40 sacks in 51 career games to launch a decorated career. Most agree Joey Bosa is a more refined pass-rusher than Nick right now, but they prefer Nick's motor and explosion for the long term.
Age: 25 | Highest ranking: 4 | Lowest ranking: 12 Not many players maximize their abilities quite like Watt, who was wildly productive with 14.5 sacks and a league-leading eight forced fumbles (tied with Jones). If that wasn't enough, Watt won on 27.7% of his pass rushes, tops among this group. "He does it in every category," a veteran NFL defensive coach said. "If he had Josh Allen's athletic ability, he would be No. 1 on this list." That's really the only knock on Watt: Some prefer the raw explosion from the players ranked higher. But Watt still got several top-five votes while surprising many along the way. As one Steelers player told me, he didn't really know what to expect when Watt got drafted three years ago. He had knee ligament issues at Wisconsin, where he started as a tight end. That uncertainty changed in a hurry. "As soon as he showed up it was like, oh s---," the player said.
Age: 27 | Highest ranking: 5 | Lowest ranking: 12 There are more productive rushers than Clark, but follow the money on this one. The Chiefs knew what they were doing when they made him the second-highest-paid edge rusher at $21 million per year, behind Mack. Clark slightly edged out Cam Jordan in composite voting, logging more combined fifth- and sixth-place votes. "He's not in conversation solely based on the year he had [eight sacks], but this year he will end up being a major presence," an NFL coordinator said. "Second year in the [Chiefs'] system, he's got speed and power, good feel for countermoves, and can play the run." Clark, who had two double-digit-sack seasons in Seattle, sometimes gets overeager chasing sacks, but is a complete player when he's more disciplined, according to one NFC exec.
Age: 30 | Highest ranking: 5 | Lowest ranking: 10 Jordan hasn't missed a game in nine seasons and continues to get better, posting a career-high 15.5 sacks with an 87.6 Pro Football Focus rating last year. But if you're looking for stylish play, Jordan isn't tops on the list. "He's got Frankenstein feet. It's not a fun watch," one NFL defensive coach said. "But he makes plays every year and he's their leader." If you're looking for results, consider Jordan made every Top 10 ballot, a sign of respect for an elite player on an elite team. Though his 15.9% pass-rush win rate ranked 44th in the league, his game is hardly limited to numbers. "Gets better every year, three-down player, run and pass -- the whole package gets him on the list," a veteran defensive coach said.
Age: 28 | Highest ranking: 3 | Lowest ranking: Off the ballot Lawrence and Danielle Hunter had an equal number of votes, but Lawrence broke the tie with two more top-five votes than Hunter. It's surprising to see a player with five sacks last season on this list, but Lawrence drew steady double-teams while Quinn ate up sacks. "At some point you have to go through somebody -- if you can't, the tackle will sit soft on you and speed will be mitigated," an NFC exec said. "[Lawrence] is one of the best at using his power." Lawrence won on 25.8% of his pass rushes, which makes his low sack total curious. But coaches like his versatility to rush the passer or stop the run. He also earned an 86.3 PFF rating last year. "He's not as consistent a pass-rusher as I'd like, but he's deserving," a veteran defensive coach said. "Can rush inside and out."
Danielle Hunter,Minnesota Vikings: "Not as bendy or twitchy as you'd like, but one of the strongest players in the league. He really surprised me. I didn't think he would be this good coming out of LSU." -- NFL defensive coach Za'Darius Smith,Green Bay Packers: "You saw him start to take. He's more explosive than given credit for. And he's got a plan for every down." -- NFL coordinator Jadeveon Clowney, free agent: "Double-teamed all the time, lots of touches on the QB, picks and chooses when he wants to play the run." -- NFL offensive coach Matt Judon,Baltimore Ravens: "Fascinated to see how this plays out in Baltimore, because he had a great year and natural pass-rush talent, but Baltimore also surrounded him with a lot of talent and set him up for success, too." -- AFC scout Yannick Ngakoue,Jacksonville Jaguars: "He's a DPR: Designated Pass Rusher. He's not known for stopping the run, though I think he can do that, too. But he's mostly disruptive as a pass rusher. He can do that well." -- NFC exec
Hey All, I've generally had a complaint that mock drafts are blind to GM tendencies, team schemes, and upcoming contracts / need for cap flexibility, so a couple friends and I used quarantine to throw together a three round mock draft (trades inclusive) that tries to pay attention to this. Obviously, we can't know your team's scheme and history as well as you, but we figured it'd be great to share our mock draft anyway and invite any thoughts on it. NFL_Draft can be a little critical, as it should be given we're making guesses that impact the future of your franchise, but we're also big boys so feel free to tear this thing to shreds (or compliment it if you feel so inclined). The thing is far from perfect, so to add to the discussion and educate us a little bit, please feel free to let us know what picks you liked/disliked. To make this easier to read we broke it out similar to Matt Miller's early mock drafts, with Round 1 up front with short descriptions on each pick followed by Rounds 2 and 3 with no detail. Additionally, we've added in the back a summary of trades as well as a break out by team. T-5 days until Thursday! Round 1: CINCINNATI: Joe Burrow, QB There's not much to explain here. What doesn't Cincinnati need? That list starts and ends at WR. They could take any number of players here and they would start tomorrow, but when you're building a team from the ground up, you take a QB, and who better than the guy who threw for 60 TDs, 5,671 yards, a 76% completion percentage, won a national championship, and ripped a cigar in the locker room… small hands and all. WASHINGTON: Chase Young, EDGE Say what you will about Dan Snyder, and you're probably right, but the guy tends to make the right call in the top 10. Since buying the team in 1999, the Redskins have picked in the top 10 an amazing 9 times, but those picks have been Champ Bailey, LaVar Arrington, Chris Samuels, Sean Taylor, Carlos Rogers, LaRon Landry, Trent Williams, RGIII, and Brandon Scherff. Every single one of those players has been a Pro Bowler. Not much to overthink here. Dan Snyder gets a generational talent and easily the best player in the draft, bringing back the hometown kid. DETROIT: Jeff Okudah, CB Patricia's defense is predicated upon a strong secondary playing predominantly press-man coverage, sticking to receivers long enough to create coverage sacks. While Justin Coleman has been vastly underrated for the Lions, there's also no way to play him on the outside, and the Lions will need someone to line up opposite Desmond Trufant with Slay in Philadelphia. Taking a DB in the top 10 is always risky, but so is trading down here. Patricia insists on a versatile defense with no particular scheme, and Okudah's well-rounded skillset including strength as a cover corner, in press-man, in off-man, and zone fits perfectly in Detroit. NY GIANTS: Tristan Wirfs, OL\* Gettleman is no stranger to controversy, but his pick here is far from that. Isaiah Simmons is the best player on the Board, but the young cornerstones of this franchise stand behind a line that with the exception of Will Hernandez probably shouldn't be there in four years. Lucky for Gettleman, he gets his pick of OL, four of whom are arguably worth a top 10 pick almost any year. While Judge may want to take the most NFL-ready prospect in Wills, I imagine Gettleman can't pass up on the athleticism and versatility of Wirfs. With his speed in the open field, quickness in getting to the second level and ability to make blocks in the open field, Wirfs can become Saquon's best friend pretty quick, especially on screen plays. *But honestly, leave it to Gettleman to fool everyone and make a pick out of left field. No, literally, this guy could make a pick from left field and ask Brett Gardner to take NJ Transit down to MetLife on Sundays. MIAMI: Tua Tagovailoa, QB Miami refuses to tank and still wins the Tua Sweepstakes. With all that has gone on in 2020, at least there's some good in the world and Brian Flores is about 40% of it. I completely understand that there are injury concerns about Tua that are hard to overlook. But it's also hard to overlook issues with Justin Herbert -- namely just how off target he could be throwing down the field. I'm not doubting his athleticism or the absolute rocket he has attached to his shoulder, but the fact of the matter is his completion percentage, which is already lower than Tua's, is aided by playing weaker defenses in the Pac-12 and the absolutely absurd number of easy bubble screens and dump passes he throws behind the line of scrimmage. Both QBs are phenomenal, but Tua's accuracy, ability to extend plays, willingness to take hits, and ability avoid sacks outweigh the injury risk. If you're lucky, you have a potential Hall of Fame quarterback, and if you're unlucky, Brian Flores will still probably get you to 7-9 with the Goldman Sachs analyst you call a backup QB. LA CHARGERS: Justin Herbert, QB I spent most of the last pick talking about why not to pick Justin Herbert, but here's why you should: 6'6", 237 lbs, with easily the best arm in the draft and a Josh Allen-esque ability to move. Oregon's play call didn't give him much of a chance to throw it downfield, but when he did it was brilliant. He's the kind of QB prospect that could have tested like Maurice Claiborne on the Wonderlic and still been drafted 1st overall 10 years ago. However, his inconsistency and inability to leverage his athleticism to feeling comfortable throwing on the run and outside of the pockets relegates him to third on my QB Big Board. I don't know whether I buy that the Chargers are planning on starting Tyrod Taylor this year, but whether Herbert gets his shot this year or next, he has a legitimate chance to be a star. CAROLINA: Isaiah Simmons, LB Matt Rhule walks into a full re-build with both ownership and CMC's buy-in. The one thing Carolina doesn't have for the first time in nearly two decades is a Pro Bowl LB. Hurney and company fix that immediately by taking the best athlete in the draft. This isn't Carolina's biggest need -- they have only two DTs that are going to make a roster, so I understand the Derrick Brown arguments -- nor is it typically Rhule's favorite position -- I understand arguments that they may try to continue to add to the line to protect their new franchise QB -- but Simmons is just too talented to pass up. He basically lines up everywhere from safety, to linebacker, to nickel linebacker, and even edge. If you need any more convincing, he ran a 4.39 40 (good enough for 5th best by a WR). ARIZONA: Derrick Brown, DT Keim isn't need blind, but historically he has definitely valued talent over need. If you need proof of that, just go back to last year when Keim and Kingsbury determined Kyler Murray was the best player in the draft and (rightfully) gave up on the Josh Rosen experiment. The Cardinals also just so happen to need a 3-tech guy to anchor the interior of their line, and preferably someone with some versatility given Vance Joseph's scheme (Brown played from 0- to 5-tech at Auburn). The biggest knock is his lack of athleticism, but Brown has shiftiness for his size, attacks at the line, uses his hands well, and explodes through his man. I know a lot of people mock a T here, and that makes sense too, but I just don't see Arizona's line as that urgent of a need that Keim will pass up the best player on the Board. JACKSONVILLE: CJ Henderson, DB If Dave Caldwell had the remote from Click, I'm pretty sure he'd fast forward to the 2021 draft and grabbing Trevor Lawrence. The 2020 season is going to be an ugly one for Jacksonville, and it's only going to get worse as they explore trading Fournette and Ngakoue. Caldwell won't completely ignore the best player available approach -- see Josh Allen last year -- but he definitely leans toward filling a need, and their secondary is an eye sore. I personally think spending a top 10 pick on a corner with Cam Robinson potentially become a free agent is a mistake, but there's also a mile between Henderson and the next best corner available. I imagine the Jaguars explore a trade down a little bit before taking arguably the best cover corner in the draft. TRADE: DENVER - 10 CLEVELAND - 15, 77, 118 Andrew Berry wants Ezra Cleveland, but a top 10 pick is a little rich for him. John Elway wants Henry Ruggs III, but he won't be there at 15. Berry moves back, picking up valuable draft capital to secure rookie contracts for when the bill eventually comes due on the Browns players and they can't afford to extend everyone. DENVER: Henry Ruggs III, WR Henry Ruggs III is an OC's dream. The guys finishes every play and does the little things in a way you rarely see on the offensive side of the ball. He's a great route runner with world class speed and endless hustle, whether he's running with the ball after the catch, finishing a block downfield, or making a tackle on special teams. By moving up six picks, Denver leaves Day 1 with suddenly one of the better WR corps in the league. It's amazing it took everyone this long to notice Ruggs III is the top WR in this class, but I guess that's what happens when you play in Tuscaloosa and everyone on the team is an NFL-caliber player. NY JETS: Jedrick Wills, OL I've seen a lot of mock drafts put a WR here, but I honestly buy that Gase is not that concerned about his WR corps. Not only that, but the value is going to be there in the second round -- especially for a team that needs a big target that can actually go up and get it in the red zone or on a deep route when Darnold wants to gun it downfield. That leaves offensive line as the biggest need, and in particular LT. Gase prefers lineman who are strongest in pass protection, and one of the most NFL-ready OL and pass blockers is somehow still on the Board at 11. Wills can easily slide over the left side and protect Darnold from getting sacked every few snaps, something only mono has been able to do thus far. LAS VEGAS: CeeDee Lamb, WR Numerous outlets have linked Lamb to Las Vegas, and I'm not one to argue. Gruden and Mayock both typically pick their guys and could care less how other people value them. Lamb may be the best true route-runner in this draft class and his toughness is certainly going to translate to the NFL. I've read the criticisms that he has never been forced to play against press-man in college and that he lacks world class speed, but his strengths more than make up for it and at the end of the day he's one of the more high floor WR prospects I've ever seen. SAN FRANCISCO: Andrew Thomas, OL Before trading for Emmanuel Sanders, the 49ers were 6-0 with a WR core anchored by Deebo Samuel, Marquise Goodwin, and Kendrick Bourne. They obviously need a WR, but they've also shown they can fair just fine without one. What they would struggle much more to replace is Joe Staley in the supposed 50/50 case he retires. If Staley plays another year, Thomas can kick inside or learn behind him. Shanahan prefers offensive linemen athletic enough to block in a zone scheme, and Thomas is not out-of-this-world athletic presenting a potential issue, but he's also high character and high football IQ, which Shanahan also wants in his players. Would I be surprised if Lynch and Shanahan opted to take Jeudy here? No. Do I see them passing on one of the safest bets to replace Joe Staley? Also, no. TAMPA BAY: Mekhi Becton, OL There wasn't a ton to overthink here in my book - the Bucs are going to take the best T available at 14, and here it's Becton. Tampa Bay's priority is protecting Tom Brady, and Becton gives them the best chance to do that. In a dream world, they get someone a little more polished and ready to play tomorrow (especially given the likely shortened offseason) but Becton is incredibly mobile for someone his size, able to quickly recover, and strong enough to still get ends outside. He'll need to improve his hands and get better in true dropback pass protection given Brady's tendencies, but he can potentially be a huge piece for a team that needs to re-tool its offensive line. CLEVELAND: Javon Kinlaw, DT Cleveland's two biggest needs are LT and FS, but if they were going to take a LT here they would have stayed at 10 and Andrew Berry comes from the Howie Roseman school where you don't pay safeties. Given his analytics background, I imagine he takes best player available, and that's easily Kinlaw. While raw, Kinlaw's talent is undeniable. He's long, strong, and has incredibly active hands. Kinlaw honestly looks like David Irving out there sometimes given his ability to manhandle 300lb offensive linemen, but the Browns wouldn't have to deal with all the off-field issues. The Browns can leave Ogunjobi in on base downs and bring in Kinlaw for 2nd and 3rd down pass rush. Getting Kinlaw also gives Berry the flexibility to make Ogunjobi, Richardson, or Billings cap casualties in future seasons if Kinlaw comes along quicker than expected. ATLANTA: K'Lavon Chaisson, EDGE If you watched Atlanta play last year you know this is going to be a defense-heavy draft. It's easy to see that Atlanta needs an outside corner, but it's also hard to justify taking one here with Okudah and Henderson off the Board. I know Fowler enters the fold this year, but I still think Chaisson provides value in his ability to both get to the QB and drop back into coverage. To be successful in the NFC South, Atlanta is going to need to get to the QB, and quickly. Chaisson has legitimate speed and power coming off the edge, making him an every down player. The CB is still there for Atlanta, but it can wait until the 2nd round. DALLAS: Jerry Jeudy, WR This is a similar message to Atlanta above. Dallas absolutely needs an outside corner, but it's just not there. Safety is also a need and the best guy is still on the Board, but the Cowboys have also not historically valued safeties in drafts, especially this high. Thirty years of Jerry tells me that he'll take best player available at 17, and while WR isn't a high priority position for the Cowboys Jeudy's value here is just too good to pass up. The defense still needs attention, but you can address that Day 2. Besides, how much do you need defense if you can put up 40+ points per game surrounding Dak with Zeke, Cooper, Jeudy, and that line? And with 40+ points per game, that's at least 5+ cuts to Jerry grinning and high-fiving in the owner's box. MIAMI: Xavier McKinney, S Brian Flores really started making a name for himself in New England as a safeties coach where the most important piece of a Super Bowl winning defense was Devin McCourty. Miami has plenty of holes, but it also has plenty of picks. The Miami system values versatility and McKinney provides just that as he can play just about anywhere in the secondary. Not only that, but he can provide value as a blitzer as well. The coincidence that this pick was the return for Minkah Fitzpatrick is not lost on me, but another top-tier S from Alabama with a longer runway on his rookie deal is not a bad thing. TRADE: NEW ENGLAND - 19 LAS VEGAS - 23, 98 Suggesting the Patriots trade up in any mock draft is a dangerous endeavor, but they also have an absurd number of picks in this year's draft. Giving Las Vegas a compensatory third to move up and get your pick of the draft's top LBs isn't too bad a price to pay. NEW ENGLAND: Patrick Queen, LB I'm not going to pretend to know what Belichick is going to do in this draft. It's equally likely that he trades out of the first round as it is he moves up, but I what I do know is the Patriots could use more help at LB. In particular, someone with speed who can blitz up the middle and off the edge. Anyone who watched the CFB Playoffs last year saw the speed Queen had off the edge as well as his ability to cover out of the backfield and underneath. He's equally comfortable dropping into zone as he is speed rushing the edge. High football IQ and athleticism screams Patriot to me and he just so happens to fit a position of need. JACKSONVILLE: Kenneth Murray, LB Jacksonville is a little hard to mock for in that they have need at just about every position. However, the defense hasn't been the same since Telvin Smith left. With Joe Schobert joining the fold as an inside linebacker and Myles Jack pushing to the weak side, Murray can work on the strong side. You can make an argument that the usage here isn't worth a first round pick or that Murray can lack football IQ at times, but he also possesses incredible speed and playmaking ability. He can get sideline to sideline and blow up plays in the backfield, and that kind of explosiveness can really help tie a defense together. PHILADELPHIA: Justin Jefferson, WR Philadelphia needs a receiver as bad as I need football right now, and after more than a month in my parents' basement I can tell you that's pretty damn bad. It got bad enough last year I thought the team was going to make an Invincible throwback and call up the guy from the viral fire video for a tryout. You can make an argument for any number of WRs, but Jefferson checks the boxes for Eagles fans: fast and with hands not made of bricks. The guy just had a way of getting open in college, and that's something Philadelphia has really missed the past few years. MINNESOTA: Yetur Gross-Matos, EDGE This is a risky pick in a mock draft. Minnesota's front office does not historically take DL early in the draft - the only one Minnesota has taken in the first 2 rounds in the last 10 years was Shariff Floyd - instead opting to fill in the line with late round players. However, Griffen's departure leaves obvious need here, and the idea of a player with Gross-Matos' intangibles is interesting for a 4-3 defense that loves to dial up blitz packages on 3rd down. His speed, length, and power are things you can't teach, and his ability to maneuver around offensive linemen is particularly impressive at his height. LAS VEGAS: Kris Fulton, DB Mayock and Gruden trade down from 19 and still grab their next favorite CB prospect along with an additional 3rd round pick. Last year, they demonstrated a desire to fill in team needs with prospects from winning programs. Unless you buy Eli Apple as the outside corner opposite Mullen, this is certainly a position of need. Last year, going after winning players meant a number of Clemson guys. This year, they grab their first National Champion in Fulton. Fulton's ability to stick with his man is why some have him graded as the number 2 CB in this year's class. He's rarely caught out of position, and despite a lack of top-end speed, he shows an incredible ability to recover. TRADE: INDIANAPOLIS - 24 NEW ORLEANS - 34, 75, 193 New Orleans really doesn't have a lot of positions of need this year, and make fun of me if you will, but I buy that Sean Payton is okay with Taysom Hill playing QB for at least a season if needbe. That isn't to say the Saints won't draft a QB, just that they won't reach on one at the end of the first and without a second round pick. The Colts on the other hand will - especially if they value Jordan Love as highly as others have speculated in the past month. Indianapolis gets to take advantage of the Saints wanting to trade down and gives up less than they'd ordinarily have to in order to get back into the first round. INDIANAPOLIS: Jordan Love, QB Not much to get into here. I don't buy for one second that Jacoby Brissett is the long-term answer in Indianapolis, and there have been a lot of experts suggesting the Colts buy the Jordan Love hype train. The upside here is prototypical size for a NFL QB, strong pocket presence, great arm strength and touch all over the field, and high athleticism. He also comes with a ton of risk, namely his inconsistency, turnovers, dangerous throws across the middle, and his regression last year. I'm not going to sit here and defend the pick too much. I tend not to like QBs who take steps back and throw almost as many interceptions as touchdowns playing in the Mountain West. However, while I personally think there's too much risk for Jordan Love to warrant a Day 1 grade, this isn't a Big Board, it's a Mock Draft, and a lot of people smarter than me have suggested Love is a top 10 caliber talent. If you believe that, then he's certainly worth trading up for and grabbing in the back end of the first round. MINNESOTA: Jaylon Johnson, DB After Henderson, it's really a toss-up who you think the next best corner is, but Jaylon Johnson should at least be in the discussion. Utah was quietly one of the best defenses in college football last year and Johnson was certainly a part of that. Johnson is highly instinctive with 4.5 speed and good enough height/length. I'm not sure how much his physicality will translate to the next level given his size, but his ability to read plays and act on them should make him a good cover corner at a minimum. If you need proof, look up his pick sixes on Eason and Huntley last year, where he recognizes the play and makes a change to his coverage and a jump on his ball before it's even thrown. Spielman and Zimmer have shown no aversion to drafting DBs in the first round, and with Rhodes and Waynes departing this off-season Johnson helps the Vikings fill an obvious position of need. MIAMI: Josh Jones, OL Miami could frankly use two tackles, but they wait until it makes sense value-wise and take Josh Jones here. Whoever they pick is going to have to be ready day 1, which makes Austin Jackson out of the question. Jones had a stellar senior year and cemented it at the Senior Bowl. Given he blocked for D'Eriq King he should be comfortable outside of traditional pass sets, which could prove useful if Miami picks Tua as this mock draft predicted. Jones has prototypical size and strength to be an NFL tackle and gets right into the shoulder pads of the defense. The Dolphins have a lot of needs, but thankfully spends its first three picks filling the most important ones. SEATTLE: Julian Okwara, EDGE Death, taxes, and the Seahawks reaching late in the first round. Even if Clowney chooses to re-sign with Seahawks, the team could use another edge rusher to challenge LJ Collier who put together a whopping two tackles his rookie season. I'm honestly surprised mock draft experts haven't been higher on Okwara. He explodes off the line and uses his length and speed to get around tackles. You need to look no further than his performance vs. Virginia, which he absolutely dominated. His bull-rush is NFL-ready and he has the build and mobility to drop off into coverage as necessary. The criticism will remain given his smaller frame, but the production was clearly there at Notre Dame. BALTIMORE: Cesar Ruiz, OL The truth is the Ravens don't have a ton of needs and the top LBs are off the Board at this point. If there's a weakness on the Ravens' offensive line it's at the center position. Ruiz gets out of his stance quickly and stays with defenders throughout the play. Criticism of his athleticism is overblown given he's a center. He's also incredibly young, so there's room for growth. TENNESSEE: A.J. Epenesa, EDGE The Titans biggest need is at corner, but given the number that have gone off the Board already the value just isn't there. Instead, Tennessee can address the hole on their defensive line created by Jurrell Casey's departure. Jeffrey Simmons has the size and athleticism to allow for flexibility in how Tennessee constructs its line, and this means Jon Robinson can approach this pick with a little more of a best player available approach. The best defensive lineman on the Board is A.J. Epenesa. GREEN BAY: Jalen Reagor, WR Nick Bosa embarrassed the entire city of Green Bay on national television and made clear the need for a new tackle, but I don't think Green Bay addresses that quite yet. Brian Gutekunst comes from the Ron Wolf school of thought about best player available, and the T position is a little drained here. Instead, I think GB chooses to find someone to put opposite Davante Adams. Jalen Reagor's fall into the second round of many mock drafts is hard for me to explain. The production was there in college and the combine only supported what we knew from the tape: Reagor is a superb athlete. I think the biggest knock is drops, which would likely only get worse in the NFL, but pairing him with Adams and Rogers could be absolutely dynamic. His double move is something to behold and he's great after the catch. Putting that next to, and allowing him to learn from, Adams is a match made in heaven. TRADE: CLEVELAND - 31, 210 SAN FRANCISCO- 41, 77 San Francisco lacks draft capital given their trades for Dee Ford and Emmanuel Sanders, but has needs. The Browns moved back earlier because Ezra Cleveland is their guy. Berry can't afford to let him go and can get back into the 1st round for a fair price given the Niners need for 2nd and 3rd round picks. CLEVELAND: Ezra Cleveland, OL Cleveland trades back into the first round and addresses its biggest position of need by getting somebody to protect Baker Mayfield. If you buy the rumors that Andrew Berry likes Ezra Cleveland, which I do, then it makes sense to grab him here before anyone else can in the early second. KANSAS CITY: A.J. Terrell, DB Brett Veach and Andy Reid have always valued cornerbacks, and despite the re-signing of Bashaud Breeland the Chiefs are still thin at the position. Given this, I think the Chiefs could go with the next best corner available in their mind. Terrell measures out well with good speed. I'm pretty sure Terrell still has nightmares about Ja'Marr Chase, but so do a lot of CBs not named Cameron Dantzler. That performance shouldn't erase years of strong tape otherwise. Round 2: CINCINNATI: Isaiah Wilson, OL NEW OLREANS: Zack Baun, LB DETROIT: Marlon Davidson, DL NY GIANTS: Josh Uche, EDGE LA CHARGERS: Austin Jackson, OL CAROLINA: Neville Gallimore, DL MIAMI: D'Andre Swift, RB TRADE: NY JETS - 40 HOUSTON - 48, 120 NY JETS: Michael Pittman Jr., WR SAN FRANCISCO: Denzel Mims, WR JACKSONVILLE: Antoine Winfield Jr., S CHICAGO: Trevon Diggs, DB INDIANAPOLIS: Tee Higgins, WR TRADE: MIAMI - 45, 173 TAMPA BAY - 56, 154, Future 4th MIAMI: Brandon Aiyuk, WR DENVER: Jeff Gladney, DB ATLANTA: Noah Igbinoghene, DB HOUSTON: Raekwon Davis, DL PITTSBURGH: Robert Hunt, OL CHICAGO: Kyle Dugger, S DALLAS: Cameron Dantzler, DB LA RAMS: J.K. Dobbins, RB PHILADELPHIA: Grant Delpit, S TRADE: CINCINNATI - 54, 167 BUFFALO - 65, 107 CINCINNATI: Willie Gay Jr., LB BALTIMORE: Laviska Shenault Jr., WR TAMPA BAY: Clyde Edwards-Helaire, RB LA RAMS: Netane Muti, OL TRADE: LAS VEGAS - 58, 132 MINNESOTA - 80, 81 LAS VEGAS: Jalen Hurts, QB SEATTLE: Ross Blacklock, DL BALTIMORE: Akeem Davis-Gaither, LB TENNESSEE: Damon Arnette, DB GREEN BAY: Lucas Niang, OL KANSAS CITY: Terrell Lewis, EDGE SEATTLE: Ben Bartch, OL Round 3: BUFFALO: Curtis Weaver, EDGE WASHINGTON: Cole Kmet, TE DETROIT: John Simpson, OL NY JETS: Jonathan Greenard, EDGE CAROLINA: Shane Lemieux, OL MIAMI: Lloyd Cushenberry III, OL LA CHARGERS: KJ Hamler, WR ARIZONA: Jonathan Taylor, RB JACKSONVILLE: Bryan Edwards, WR CLEVELAND: Ashtyn Davis, S NEW ORLEANS: Cam Akers, RB TAMPA BAY: Justin Madubuike, DL SAN FRANCISCO: Jordan Elliott, DL ATLANTA: Jake Fromm, QB NY JETS: Troy Pride Jr., DB MINNESOTA: Terrell Burgess, S MINNESOTA: Donovan Peoples-Jones, WR DALLAS: Adam Trautman, TE DENVER: Prince Tega Wanogho, OL LA RAMS: Jordyn Brooks, LB DETROIT: Tyler Johnson, WR BUFFALO: Zack Moss, RB NEW ENGLAND: Hunter Bryant, TE NEW ORLEANS: Bryce Hall, DB MINNESOTA: Logan Stenberg, OL HOUSTON: Jeremy Chinn, S LAS VEGAS: Malik Harrison, LB BALTIMORE: Anfernee Jennings, EDGE TRADE: NEW ENGLAND - 93 TENNESSEE - 100, 195 NEW ENGLAND: James Morgan, QB GREEN BAY: Jacob Eason, QB DENVER: Tyler Biadasz, OL KANSAS CITY: Matt Peart, OL CLEVELAND: Logan Wilson, LB LAS VEGAS: Davon Hamilton, LB NY GIANTS: Matt Hennessy, OL TENNESSEE: Van Jefferson, WR SEATTLE: Kenny Willekes, EDGE PITTSBURGH: Leki Fotu, DL PHILADELPHIA: Troy Dye, LB LA RAMS: Amik Robertson, DB MINNESOTA: Antonio Gandy-Golden, WR BALTIMORE: K'Von Wallace, S ------- Trades: DENVER - 10 CLEVELAND - 15, 77, 118 Andrew Berry wants Ezra Cleveland, but a top 10 pick is a little rich for him. John Elway wants Henry Ruggs III, but he won't be there at 15. Berry moves back, picking up valuable draft capital to secure rookie contracts for when the bill eventually comes due on the Browns players and they can't afford to extend everyone. NEW ENGLAND - 19 LAS VEGAS - 23, 98 Suggesting the Patriots trade up in any mock draft is a dangerous endeavor, but they also have an absurd number of picks in this year's draft. Giving Las Vegas a compensatory third to move up and get your pick of the draft's top LBs isn't too bad a price to pay. INDIANAPOLIS - 24 NEW ORLEANS - 34, 75, 193 New Orleans really doesn't have a lot of positions of need this year, and make fun of me if you will, but I buy that Sean Payton is okay with Taysom Hill playing QB for at least a season if need be. That isn't to say the Saints won't draft a QB, just that they won't reach on one at the end of the first and without a second round pick. The Colts on the other hand will - especially if they value Jordan Love as highly as others have speculated in the past month. Indianapolis gets to take advantage of the Saints wanting to trade down and gives up less than they'd ordinarily have to in order to get back into the first round. CLEVELAND - 31, 210 SAN FRANCISCO- 41, 77 San Francisco lacks draft capital given their trades for Dee Ford and Emmanuel Sanders, but has needs. The Browns moved back earlier because Ezra Cleveland is their guy. Berry can't afford to let him go and can get back into the 1st round for a fair price given the Niners need for 2nd and 3rd round picks. NY JETS - 40 HOUSTON - 48, 120 WRs haven't fallen off the Board the way many have thought they would at the start of Round 2, but the Niners would be sure to start that trend, potentially with Pittman. As much as Gase likes smaller, fast receivers, the Jets desperately need a big guy who can work with Darnold. Pittman and Darnold have the USC connection already, and it makes sense to move ahead of San Francisco to get him. MIAMI - 45 TAMPA BAY - 56, 154, 173, Future 4th With WRs beginning to fly off the Board and Brandon Aiyuk still there due to injury concerns, Miami trades up to get him. Tampa Bay, lacking a ton of immediate needs having already added a T, gets extra draft capital in exchange for moving back to a point where at least one of the top four RBs should remain. CINCINNATI - 54, 167 BUFFALO - 65, 107 This is a tough one. There are a number of rumors that Cincinnati is enamored with Willie Gay Jr.'s athleticism and ball instincts. If that's true, there could be legitimate fear that the Ravens could take him at 55 or 60 given their needs. The Bills need picks given their trade for Diggs. The Bengals make the call to get ahead of an in division rival for their guy. LAS VEGAS - 58, 132 MINNESOTA - 80, 81 It's no secret that John Gruden loves his QBs and I think there's a legitimate chance the QB he likes in this draft class that's within reach for him is Jalen Hurts. Getting back into the second round allows him to be the first to take the QBs not projected to go in the first round. NEW ENGLAND - 93 TENNESSEE - 100, 195 There have been rumors that the Patriots' favorite QB prospect in this draft is James Morgan given his arm and the New England climate. Similarly, he's tied to Green Bay who just so happens to be on the clock at 94. If the rumors are true, Belichick should be willing to pull the trigger to move up and get him. By Team: ARIZONA: 1.8 - Derrick Brown 3.72 - Jonathan Taylor ATLANTA: 1.16 - K'Lavon Chaisson 2.47 - Noah Igbinoghene 3.78 - Jake Fromm BALTIMORE: 1.28 - Cesar Ruiz 2.55 - Laviska Shenault Jr. 2.60 - Akeem Davis Gaither 3.92 - Anfernee Jennings 3.106 - K'Von Wallace BUFFALO: 3.65 - Curtis Weaver 3.86 - Zack Moss CAROLINA: 1.7 - Isaiah Simmons 2.38 - Neville Gallimore 3.69 - Shane Lemieux CHICAGO: 2.43 - Trevon Diggs 2.50 - Kyle Dugger CINCINNATI: 1.1 - Joe Burrow 2.33 - Isaiah Wilson 2.54 - Willie Gay Jr. CLEVELAND: 1.15 - Javon Kinlaw 1.31 - Ezra Cleveland 3.74 - Ashtyn Davis 3.97 - Logan Wilson DALLAS: 1.17 - Jerry Jeudy 2.51 - Cameron Dantzler 3.82 - Adam Trautman DENVER: 1.10 - Henry Ruggs III 2.46 - Jeff Gladney 3.83 - Prince Tega Wanogho 3.95 - Tyler Biadasz DETROIT: 1.3 - Jeff Okudah 2.35 - Marlon Davidson 3.67 - John Simpson 3.85 - Tyler Johnson GREEN BAY: 1.30 - Jalen Reagor 2.62 - Lucas Niang 3.94 - Jacob Eason HOUSTON: 2.48 - Netane Muti 3.90 - Jeremy Chinn INDIANAPOLIS: 1.24 - Jordan Love 2.44 - Tee Higgins JACKSONVILLE: 1.9 - CJ Henderson 1.20 - Kenneth Murray 2.42 - Antoine Winfield Jr. 3.73 - Bryan Edwards KANSAS CITY: 1.32 - AJ Terrell 2.63 - Terrell Lewis 3.96 - Matt Peart LA CHARGERS: 1.6 - Justin Herbert 2.37 - Austin Jackson 3.71 - KJ Hamler LA RAMS: 2.52 - JK Dobbins 2.57 - Netane Muti 3.84 - Jordyn Brooks 3.104 - Amik Robertson LAS VEGAS: 1.12 - CeeDee Lamb 1.23 - Kris Fulton 2.58 - Jalen Hurts 3.91 - Malik Harrison 3.98 - Davon Hamilton MIAMI: 1.5 - Tua Tagovailoa 1.18 - Xavier McKinney 1.26 - Josh Jones 1.39 - D'Andre Swift 1.45 - Brandon Aiyuk 3.70 - Lloyd Cushenberry III MINNESOTA: 1.22 - Yetur Gross-Matos 1.25 - Jaylon Johnson 3.80 - Terrell Burgess 3.81 - Donovan Peoples-Jones 3.89 - Logan Stenberg 3.105 - Antonio Gandy-Golden NEW ENGLAND: 1.19 - Patrick Queen 3.87 - Hunter Bryant 3.93 - James Morgan NEW ORLEANS: 2.34 - Zack Baun 3.75 - Cam Akers 3.88 - Bryce Hall NY GIANTS: 1.4 - Tristan Wirfs 2.36 - Josh Uche 3.99 - Matt Hennessy NY JETS: 1.11 - Jedrick Wills Jr. 2.40 - Michael Pittman Jr. 3.68 - Jonathan Greenard 3.79 - Troy Pride Jr. PHILADELPHIA: 1.21 - Justin Jefferson 2.53 - Grant Delpit 3.103 - Troy Dye PITTSBURGH: 2.49 - Robert Hunt 3.102 - Leki Fotu SAN FRANCISCO: 1.13 - Andrew Thomas 2.41 - Denzel Mims 3.77 - Jordan Elliott SEATTLE: 1.27 - Julian Okwara 2.59 - Ross Blacklock 3.64 - Ben Bartch 3.109 - Kenny Willekes TAMPA BAY: 1.14 - Mekhi Becton 2.56 - Clyde Edwards-Helaire 3.76 - Justin Madubuike TENNESSEE: 1.29 - AJ Epenesa 2.61 - Damon Arnette 3.100 - Van Jefferson WASHINGTON: 1.2 - Chase Young 3.66 - Cole Kmet
San Francisco linebacker Kwon Alexander is a Pro Bowl-caliber player when healthy, but he hasn’t been of late and was limited to just eight games last year with the Niners. Here are Alexander’s odds at Mybookie to win 2020 NFL Comeback Player of the Year as well as the 49ers’ over/under win total. Saints vs. 49ers point spread prediction: New Orleans Saints -3.5 (-110) at BetOnline.com. SF 49ers vs. NO Saints Money Line. In case you’re new to betting on football, a money line is a straight-up bet on who will win the game, without the use of a point spread. If your team wins, you win. If they lose, you lose. Garoppolo's 4 TD passes help 49ers top Saints, 48-46. Jimmy Garoppolo decisively delivered a fourth-down pass to George Kittle with time running out, and the veteran tight end vigorously galloped The Saints have also been devastating in the run game, ranking first in the NFL in Adjusted Line Yards. No matter how you slice it, this team is a tough out. They are especially good at home, where they have averaged 0.28 more points per drive. 49ers at Saints Betting Odds. Point Spread: 49ers +3 Total Points: 44 Money Line: 49ers +135; Saints The San Francisco 49ers (10-2) visit the New Orleans Saints (10-2) Sunday at Mercedes-Benz Superdome in a marquee NFC matchup between teams battling for a playoff bye.The game will kick off at 1 p.m. ET. We analyze the 49ers-Saints odds and sports betting lines, while providing sports betting tips and advice on this matchup.
49ers vs Saints (2019) Prediction NFL Week 14 Football Betting Picks San Francisco @ New Orleans
The New Orleans Saints will travel out west to meet the San Francisco 49ers in an NFL pro football game slated for Sunday. Start Time: 4PM ET Location: San Francisco TV: FOX NFL Point Spread Odds ... New Orleans Saints vs San Francisco 49ers NFL Pick and Prediction 12/8/19 Week 14 NFL Betting Tips - Duration: 1:58. Free Picks PickDawgz 988 views. 1:58. New Orleans Saints vs San Francisco 49ers Predictions, Picks, and Odds for their showdown on Sunday, December 8 from Mercedes-Benz Superdome, New Orleans. Direct from Las Vegas, the WagerTalk ... The thing that is amusing about this #49ers vs #Saints game is how the betting line has tumbled since earlier in the week when it was as high as -3 1/2 Saints and is now at -2 1/2. The wild thing ... The guys watch the 49ers vs. Seahawks Sunday Night Football game and make informed live bets to help you cash some tickets. Sportsbook Review’s Best Sportsbo...