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How would I go about showing the effect which the change in extra-point attempt distance in the NFL (20-yards to 33-yards) has changed Las Vegas NFL betting spreads?

Kickers made about 97% of their kicks from 20 yards and only 93% from 33-yards.
Would it be extremely difficult to PROVE the change in extra point distance has directly changed betting spreads?
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NFL Week 15 Lines: Point Spreads, Totals And Complete Betting Odds From Las Vegas

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NFL 2014 Week 14 Lines: Betting Odds, Point Spreads, Totals From Las Vegas

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NFL 2014 Week 13 Lines: Point Spreads, Totals And Complete Betting Odds From Las Vegas

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NFL 2014 Week 12 Lines: Point Spreads, Totals And Complete Betting Odds From Las Vegas

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NFL 2014 Week 9 Lines: Point Spreads, Totals And Complete Betting Odds From Las Vegas

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NFL Week 7 Latest Betting Lines: Points Spreads, Over/Under From Las Vegas

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NFL 2014 Week 10 Lines: Point Spreads, Totals And Complete Betting Odds From Las Vegas

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NFL 2014 Week 12 Lines: Point Spreads, Totals And Complete Betting Odds From Las Vegas

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NFL 2014 Week 8 Lines: Point Spreads, Totals And Complete Betting Odds From Las Vegas

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NFL 2014 Week 11 Lines: Point Spreads, Totals And Complete Betting Odds From Las Vegas

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NFL 2014 Week 6 Lines: Point Spreads, Totals And Complete Betting Odds From Las Vegas

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NFL 2014 Week 7 Lines: Point Spreads, Totals And Complete Betting Odds From Las Vegas

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

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


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1. Arizona Cardinals


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

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

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


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2. Detroit Lions


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

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

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


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3. Miami Dolphins


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

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

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


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4. Los Angeles Chargers


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

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

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


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5. Washington Redskins


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

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

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


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6. Jacksonville Jaguars


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

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

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


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7. Carolina Panthers

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

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

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


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8. Cincinnati Bengals


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

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

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


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


Miami Dolphins
AFC East (4th place)
2019 record - 5-11
New coaches -
Josh Boyer - DC
Chan Gailey - OC
Robby Brown - QB coach
Steve Marshall - OL coach
Austin Clark - OLB coach
Curt Kuntz - assistant DB coach.
Coaches gone -
Chad O'Shea - OC
Patrick Graham - DC
Jerry Schuplinski - Assistant QB coach
Dave DeGuglielmo - O-line coach
Free Agency
Player Acquired Position Former team
Emmanuel Ogbah DE KC
Byron Jones CB Dallas
Shaq Lawson DE Buffalo
Kyle Van Noy OLB NE
Jordan Howard RB Philadelphia
Matt Brieda RB SF
Ted Karras C NE
Ereck Flowers OG Wash FT
Clayton Fejedelem ST Cincinnati
Kamu Grugier-Hill LB/ST Philadelphia
Elandon Roberts LB NE
Adrian Colbert S Miami
Byron Jones is the big one here. He will start opposite Xavien Howard and will force teams to throw his way more often, which will lead to more picks. Howard is a ballhawk while Jones is more a lockdown guy. They should make a great duo.
Kyle Van Noy brings a lot of versatility and much needed experience to the defense. He should be a do it all type of guy under Brian Flores and should fill the Kyle Van Noy role that dolphins fans have been talking about since 2019 started. Who better?
Shaq Lawson brings much needed pass rush to Miami. They were downright pathetic in that area last season
Emmanuel Ogbah, see Shaq Lawson.
Jordan Howard, speaking of pathetic, Miami's running attack was beyond that last year. Ryan Fitzpatrick led the team in rushing. Yes, you actually read that correctly. 38 year old bearded non running QB Ryan Fitzpatrick led the dolphins in rushing for 2019. He had a very measly 243 yards. I still smh typing that out. Howard will fix that issue.
Matt Brieda is the lightning to Howards' thunder. He will take a few to the house from mid field this season.
Players cut/ lost in free agency
Player Position New team
Reshad Jones S FA
Taco Charlton DE KC
Charles Harris DE ATL
Taybor Pepper LS FA
Mike Hull LB FA
Reshad Jones was one of my favorite dolphins players of all-time so losing him hurts, but it seems it was just his time to move on. A ring of honor player and maybe the best safety to ever play in a Fins uniform. Hard hitter, makes big plays, lots of pick 6's and game sealing interceptions, great tackler, he will be missed.
2020 NFL draft selections
Round 1, pick 5 - Tua Tagovailoa
Grade - A+
After a year or more of speculation, drooling and hoping for Miami to be in position to grab him, they stayed at number 5, avoided trading up and still got the QB that 99% of Dolphins fans had been praying for. Tua Tagovailoa is a top flight quarterback coming out of college injuries or not. His accuracy and ability to hit receivers in stride in incredible. He doesn't have a huge arm but it's definitely adequate and he maintains that accuracy all over the field. He has touch and great instincts to find the open man. He avoids the sack well, which is something he's gonna have to utilize heavily due to the fact the Dolphins haven't been able to put together a respectable offensive line consistently for the past decade. It's unlikely he'll start right away due to the hip injury he suffered last November and since Ryan Fitzpatrick is in position to maintain his starting role. The covid pandemic did not help him in getting experience, but it did give him more time to rehab. Last I checked Tua had the number 1 and 2 selling jersey in the NFL. To say the least, Dolphins fans are very excited about his arrival.
Round 1, pick 18 - Austin Jackson OT USC
Grade - B+
This was a pick that sort of divided the fanbase a little bit. He has high upside but is also so young and raw that a lot of fans were justifiably worried he was a reach and wouldn't live up to being the 18th overall selection. He is very athletic and a very hard worker so that's a good sign for his future. He also gave bone marrow for his sister to save her life and somehow still came back and played college football that same year. Absolutely incredible. Personally just that makes me a huge fan of his, but watching his tape he does have some flaws. He played a bad game going against AJ Epenesa, a fellow first rounder in this year's draft. AJ is a very strong player though and even great players have certain guys that give them trouble. He should man the left tackle spot for at least 3 years. There's a good chance he will see a trial by fire season in 2020.
Round 1, pick 30 - Noah Igbinoghene DB Auburn
Grade - A-
This was the first pick that surprised Dolphins fans. Many believe that the Dolphins were targeting a different player at number 26, their original pick, but that player was gone so they traded back. Igbinoghene is an exciting player though. He is figured to man the slot CB position and seems like he has star potential there. It won't hurt having other great CB's like Xavien Howard and Byron Jones to learn from and play next to. He's fast and plays tough. He loves to jam guys and has great play speed to make pass break ups, but he is still pretty raw since he's only been playing defense for a couple years. Should have all the opportunity to snag a "starter" spot as the nickle corner. Most think Bobby McCain will stay at safety so he only needs to beat out Nik Needham who was an undrafted rookie last year. Though Needham did show promise so it isn't a cakewalk.
Round 2, pick 39 - Robert Hunt OL Louisiana- Lafeyette
Grade - B
Nobody was surprised that the dolphins would draft 2 offensive lineman out of their first four picks, but not many saw that guy being Hunt. He plays aggressively and should be a road grader in the run game, though his pass blocking needs refinement. His strength and playstyle will likely give him a leg up on his competition at either right guard or right tackle since head coach Brian Flores loves toughness on the field. He will be given a shot at beating out Jesse Davis for the right tackle spot but will likely land at right guard since he will probably need time to develop at tackle first. Fellow draftee Soloman Kindley, Danny Isidora and Michael Dieter will be competition for him to start.
Round 2, pick 56 - Raekwon Davis DL Alabama
Grade - B-
Davis is strong and plays with a high motor, but lacks great athleticism so his future is a bit murkier than the first 4 players taken by the dolphins. He has versatility and will probably play both tackle and end, allowing for others to move around.
Round 3, pick 70 - Brandon Jones S Texas
Grade - C+
Jones is projected to be more of a SS than a FS, which makes sense because Reshad Jones is no longer with the dolphins. Brandon Jones has big shoes to fill there. The athleticism and physicality are there, though the ball skills and coverage ability are not. He's gonna have to be kept clean by the coaching staff and his fellow defensive backs if he's going to be able to play a ton of snaps and succeed.
Round 4, pick 111 - Solomon Kindley OG Georgia
Grade - B
Kindley is a destroyer in the run game. He plays to not only win his rep but to shame his opponent. He should be able to find a spot on the line if his pass blocking can even be adequate. Definitely a decent pick at a position of need.
Round 5, pick 154 - Jason Strowbridge DL North Carolina
Grade - B-
Another defensive lineman. I see a theme here this offseason.
Round 5, pick 164 - Curtis Weaver DE Boise St.
Grade - A
Clearly the defensive line was an issue for the dolphins in 2019. Weaver brings some real potential but lacks explosiveness off the edge. Great pickup in the 5th.
Round 6, pick 185 - Blake Ferguson LS (longsnapper) LSU
Grade - D-
I wrote out longsnapper because I'm not sure one has ever been drafted before so maybe some don't know. He will be the only one on the team and has already led to the release of LS Taybor Pepper who was building a gym for his Miami home and posting about it when the news broke. Ouch.
Round 7, pick 246 - Malcolm Perry RB/WR
Grade - A
Perry is a very elusive player that brings a bit of excitement for being drafted so late. He caused an insane amount of missed tackles in 2019 but against bad competition. Obviously it is yet to be seen if he can keep that up against vastly better competition, either way, getting a player with actual potential this late is a steal.
UDFA
Matt Cole - WR
Jonathan Hubbard - T
Kylan Johnson - LB
Benito Jones - DT
Nick Kaltmeyer - OT
Ray Lima - DT
Kirk Merritt -WR
Tyshun Render DE
Donell Stanley - C
Bryce Sterk - TE
Offseason news
This was a blissfully peaceful offseason for Dolphins fans (2020 BS excluded). There was one minor incident with Xavien Howard that looked like it could end with a four game suspension but it did not. All charges were dropped and NFL didn't see enough to give any punishment. Maybe the biggest story was Saints WR Michael Thomas losing his damn mind when DeVante Parker tweeted out "A". It was in response to the question "Which is tougher? A. Make a catch while guarded by Stephon Gilmore, or B. Break up a pass while guarding Michael Thomas." It was a far cry from pretty much every offseason Miami has had for nearly twenty years. Pretty much the rest of the story has been Tua, Tua, Tua.
Projected starting lineup
Offense
QB - Ryan Fitzpatrick
RB - Jordan Howard
RB2 - Matt Brieda
WR1 - DeVante Parker
WR2 - Preston Williams
WR3 - Albert Wilson
TE - Mike Gesicki
LT - Austin Jackson
LG - Erick Flowers
C - Ted Karras
RG - Robert Hunt
RT - Jesse Davis
Defense
CB - Xavien Howard
CB - Byron Jones
FS - Bobby McCain
SS - Eric Rowe
OLB - Jerome Baker
MLB - Raekwon McMillan
OLB/DE - Kyle Van Noy
DE/OLB - Emmanuel Ogbah
DE - Shaq Lawson
DT - Davon Godchaux
DT/NT - Christian Wilkins
Nickle corner - Noah Igbinoghene
Disclaimer - trying to pin down assignments and starters on a defense that tries to have players play multiple positions and schemes is an exercise in futility.
Scheme
Offense - Spread offense
Chan Gailey has typically used the spread offense throughout his career so that's expected to be the case here in Miami. In the spread offense the basic idea is to force the defense to cover a lot of wideouts in order to open up the run game and pass option, or rpo. Here legendary coach Urban Meyer explains it a million times better than I can, which makes sense since he knows it a million times better.
Defense
The defense the dolphins will use is a tricky one. They will likely switch between 3-4 and 4-3 regularly and will use many different formations within each one. OLB's will also get after the QB like a DE, DE's will likely slide inside to the DT position, as well. The idea behind the defense is to always have good matchups on the field and to lockdown the receivers with great man to man coverage, allowing the defensive line to get pressure on the QB. It's quite the opposite of what Miami has done in the past, which was to try and get after the QB ASAP and pray that your DB's didn't allow a quick reception, which they usually did.
In the past Miami had such great ideas as sending the DE's around the edge quickly but playing off coverage and not trying to take the wideouts off the mark, which almost always just ended up in the QB getting rid of the ball quickly to a wide open receiver running across the middle. Most Dolphins fans found it frustrating to say the least. This new scheme is the opposite of that. They want the DB to knock the wideouts off of his route, while the DE's will play a more contain style and keep the play in front of them rather than running upfield and out of the play. I'm far from an expert on this subject though. Hopefully some of the great Dolphin fans will come on here and clear it up better than I can.
2020 schedule
Week 1 - @ New England
Week 2 - Buffalo
Week 3 - @ Jacksonville
Week 4 - Seattle
Week 5 - @ San Francisco
Week 6 - @ Denver
Week 7 - LA Chargers
Week 8 - LA Rams
Week 9 [email protected] Arizona
Week 10 - NYFTJets
Week 11 - Bye week
Week 12 - @ NYFTJets
Week 13 - Cincinnati
Week 14 - Kansas City
Week 15 - New England
Week 16 - @ Las Vegas (ew)
Week 17 - @ Buffalo
Tough schedule for 2020. Starts tough and ends tough. Not a lot of room for error if they want to remain relevant after the bye week. One good thing is there's 3 west coast teams coming to Miami this year and in the past west coast teams have not played well going east and especially going to Miami. It's gonna be tough to make a playoff push, their best bet is to win at home and try and go 4-2 in the division by splitting the Bills and Pats and trying to sweep the Jets. All four teams in the East are looking like they aren't separated by a lot so it's anyone's guess if New England does indeed slip after losing Brady. I'll believe that when I see it.
Big shoutout to guys like Kyle Crabbs and Travis Wingfield for helping teach me a lot of this stuff, I leaned heavily on Crabbs' scouting profiles for the draft section, and Wingfield taught me quite a bit about formations. Hopefully I'm not making his teaching look bad 😂. Another shoutout to all the Dolphins fans in Miami dealing with a big covid breakout in Florida. Stay safe you guys and gals!
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Will the Los Angeles Rams win OVER/UNDER 8.5 games? By University Stats Prof!

1. Introduction

The Rams looked almost unstoppable in 2018 when they finished with a 13-3 record and the second-highest scoring offense in the league. They made it to the Super Bowl, and that’s when things started to unravel for them.

New England won Super Bowl LIII by a 13-3 score. The Rams offense was limited to just 260 total yards; they were totally unrecognizable.

Their two biggest stars, Jared Goff and Todd Gurley, have not looked the same since that game. Their level of play took a big hit last year, and it led to a 9-7 season and missing the playoffs.

What will 2020 bring?

2. Offensive Position-by-Position Breakdown

2.1 Quarterbacks (QBs)

Jared Goff was a huge disappointment for fantasy owners. He did rack up 4,638 passing yards, but if you omit his rookie season, he had a career-low in TD passes with 22 and a career-high in interceptions with 16.

Goff graded as the 20th overall QB out of 37 by PFF. A much better production was expected of him, especially with some playmakers around him.

Its offensive line wasn’t as good as it was in the past. When your quarterback is as mobile as a statue, the results are bad. He struggles a lot when pressured; he doesn’t seem to be able to scramble or avoid the rush.

The team would love to upgrade the OL, but it’s an almost impossible task considering the team’s lack of cap space. For this reason, Goff is unlikely to match his 2017 and 2018 numbers, but the team hopes he can fare better than last year.

2.2 Running Backs (RBs)

Todd Gurley had four magnificent seasons with the Rams from 2015 to 2018. He was widely viewed as one of the best non-QB player in the league. He was racking up rushing yards, receiving yards and also a boatload of touchdowns.

Then, his play started to decline towards the end of the 2018 season because of knee and ankle injuries. His 2019 play wasn’t so good, including a pedestrian 3.8 yard-per-rush average.

The team got rid of him even though he’s only 25 years old. His knee issues appear to be chronic, which scared the team. His enormous contract also became a big problem.

Who is set to replace him?

The team pulled the trigger on Cam Akers in the 2nd round of this year’s draft. He was the #1 ranked RB coming out of high school. He had a tough time at Florida State running behind a putrid offensive line.

Akers has a very thick lower body. He has the skillset to become a three-down NFL runner since he showed promise as a pass catcher (albeit not spectacular in that part of the game). He has shown a great understanding at reading defensive fronts.

The Rams invested a 3rd round pick in 2019 on Darrell Henderson, so they are likely to give him all the opportunities to prove his worth. He only rushed 39 times for 147 yards (an ordinary 3.8 yards-per-carry average), while catching just four balls last year. And that was despite Gurley not playing very well, so I don’t recommend holding your breath hoping he can suddenly break out in 2020.

As for Malcolm Brown, he had more rushes and yards than Henderson, but his yards-per-rush average was no better. Brown did get into the end zone on five occasions, though. The undrafted runner from Texas seems unlikely to be a lead back in the NFL.

2.3 Wide Receivers (WRs)

Cooper Kupp and Robert Woods led the team with 94 and 90 receptions, respectively. Both surpassed the 1,100 receiving yard mark. Kupp hauled in 10 TD passes versus just two for Woods. Both are very reliable and well above-average receivers. A very nice duo to have for Goff.

The 2019 season was one to forget for Brandin Cooks. He had career-lows in receptions (42) and TDs (2), and pretty close to a career-low as well in terms of receiving yards with just 583. His five concussions as a pro and his bad contract enticed the team to trade him to Houston.

That opens the door for Josh Reynolds, who is clearly a huge downgrade compared to Cooks. That being said, second round pick Van Jefferson might push Reynolds for the number three role.

Jefferson is known for his route running prowess, which is something Sean McVay values. However, he doesn’t have extraordinary size, nor speed. His production in college wasn’t very impressive, as he never topped the 700 receiving-yard mark in any college season.

2.4 Tight Ends (TEs)

The Rams have a nice TE duo with Tyler Higbee and Gerald Everett. They graded as the 3rd and 10th-best tight ends in the league last year, according to PFF ratings.

Gerald Everett entered 2019 as the #1 tight end for the Rams and he was on his way for a breakout season. In Week #11, he sustained a knee injury and he ended up missing a few games. During that time, Tyler Higbee did an astounding job and the team had no choice but to put Everett in the backseat.

Both of these guys will be back in 2020 and are entering their prime years. The future is bright at this position.

2.5 Offensive Line (OL)

L.A.’s offensive line struggled last year. The only guy who seems to be locked into a spot is left guard Andrew Whitworth. His play dipped last year, but he was still one of the best from this group.

The Rams have signed some bad deals recently, and they might have done another one this offseason. Why sign Whitworth for three years at an average of $10 million, knowing he’s 38 years old? He’s been very durable, but a 38-year-old body is more likely to get hurt. Also, his play might deteriorate even more this year.

Austin Blythe started the second half of the season at center following Brian Allen’s injury. Both had a subpar season and it remains to be seen who get the starting nod when the season opens.

Rob Havenstein was considered as a strong up-and-coming right tackle in the NFL until the wheels came off last year. He eventually got benched in favor of Bobby Evans. Both received marks around 50 from PFF, which is horrible.

David Edwards seems to have a shot to become the starting right guard. He was taken in the 5th round of the 2019 draft and he ended up starting 10 games last year. He finished as the 44th-best guard in the NFL among 81 guards. That’s not great, but it turns out to be a higher rank than most of his teammates.

Joseph Noteboom is another guy whose PFF grade cratered in 2019. It went from 70.7 in 2018 to 39.7 last year. He was overmatched and looked nothing like the promising third-round pick.

Austin Corbett might still be in play as well. He’s been nothing short of bad with the Browns and the Rams. He couldn’t make it into the starting lineup with the OL-desperate Browns.

2020 VS 2019 OFFENSE

The Rams didn’t add any offensive player worth of note via free agency.

However, they lost Todd Gurley and Brandin Cooks. Both disappointed a lot last year, but they still had talent and contributed to some level last year.

I’m also worried about the team’s depth, except at the tight end position.

First, the backup WR position is questionable. If either Kupp or Woods get hurt, who will step in at WR? Reynolds isn’t ready to be a #2 receiver. Rookie Van Jefferson isn’t up to the task either.

Next, we don’t even know if the Rams have a #1 running back, let alone a viable backup. They have to hope for Cam Akers to be pro ready. Finally, the offensive line is a mess.

Therefore, it’s hard to envision an upgrade from this offense. They scored the 11th highest number of points in 2019 and I can hardly see them finishing above spot 11. Perhaps 14th-19th is more realistic.

Final call (2020 vs 2019): Moderate downgrade

3. Defensive Position-by-Position Breakdown

3.1 Defensive Linemen (DLs)

The interior of the defensive line is the strength of this defense. Having what may be the best defensive player in the league, Aaron Donald, clearly helps the cause.

Donald has obtained a PFF grade above 90 in each of his first six seasons in the league, which is unbelievable. For clarity purposes, note that just three DLs obtained a mark above 90 last year.

His numbers are staggering. He has averaged 12 sacks and 2.5 forced fumbles per year. He has also missed just two games during this 6-year period. It doesn’t get any better than this!

Michael Brockers agreed to terms with the Ravens, but the deal fell through because he failed a physical exam. Baltimore was too worried about a high-ankle sprain he suffered last year. A few days later, he signed a three-year contract with the Rams.

The team is glad to have him back. He was the 23rd-best DL out of 114 qualifiers, according to PFF. He will soon turn 30, but still has some gas left in the tank.

Los Angeles added some nice depth by acquiring A’Shawn Robinson, formerly of the Lions. He never lived up to his round 2 status and he struggled more last year, but his presence might help.

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

Dante Fowler and Clay Matthews are gone. There goes 11.5 and 8 sacks.

Out of the two, Fowler’s departure hurts the most by far. He’ll be 26 years old when the season begins and he was coming off career highs in tackles, sacks and forced fumbles.

As for Matthews, his eight sacks were deceiving. He still received the lowest PFF grades of his 11-year career; his tackling was particularly horrible.

In order to alleviate those losses, the Rams signed Leonard Floyd. After being selected as the #9 overall pick in the 2016 draft, he posted seven sacks in 12 games during his rookie season. Things were looking up.

However, he picked up just 4.5, 4.0 and 3.0 sacks from 2017 to 2019. At least he defends the run well, which allowed him to finish above-average among all edge defenders in the NFL (based on PFF ratings).

Samson Ebukam has enjoyed three similarly “okay” seasons in the NFL thus far. He’ll be 25 years old so he could improve a little bit. He’s nice depth to have on your team.

3.3 Linebackers (LBs)

Cory Littleton leaving to Las Vegas is a huge blow to this defense. A very big loss. He led the team in tackles both in 2018 and 2019. He was a three-down player and it’s unclear how the team plans to replace him.

Troy Reeder is an undrafted guy who played 27% of the snaps. According to PFF, he finished as the second-worst LB in the league out of 88 guys. Enough said.

3.4 Cornerbacks (CBs)

Last October, the Rams made a lot of big moves.

First, they traded Marcus Peters to the Ravens, whose level of play increased dramatically after the trade. A few hours later, the Rams acquired Jalen Ramsey from the Jaguars, in return of a couple of first-rounders and a 4th round selection. Finally, the Rams shipped Aqib Talib to Miami for cap reasons.

Ramsey played pretty well in his nine games with the Rams. He’s been very good in each of his first four years in the league.

After the trade shuffling, Troy Hill became the starter opposite of Ramsey. He received good marks from PFF, but he seems likely to regress in 2020. He’s an undrafted guy who was used as a fill-in during his first four years in the NFL.

Nickell Robey-Coleman was a slot man for the Rams, and he was good at it. His 74.5 grade from PFF put him in the #16 spot out of 112 CBs. Unfortunately, he left for Philly and he leaves a hole in L.A.’s defense.

3.5 Safeties (S)

Eric Weddle was the most used safety in the team, but he decided to retire after an illustrious 13-year career. Hats off to him for missing just seven games during this time frame!

Last year the team drafted Taylor Rapp out of Washington in the second round. He had a satisfying season with 100 tackles, two interceptions and one TD. Despite such very respectable numbers, he graded as the 57th-best safety out of 87.

Who will fill the void left by Weddle? As of now, the most probable answer is John Johnson.

The former Boston College player enjoyed two very good seasons after being drafted in the third round. Indeed, 81.5 and 83.6 grades from PFF during those years was exceptional. However, he crashed down to a 53.5 mark last year, while also missing 10 games due to a shoulder injury. He really struggled early in the 2019 season.

2020 VS 2019 DEFENSE

The only defensive position where the Rams improved during the offseason is DL via the acquisition of A’Shawn Robinson. And to be honest, that’s not a huge improvement.

On the other hand, the team will be hurt big time from the loss of LB Cory Littleton. At edge, replacing Fowler and Matthews with Leonard Floyd won’t cut it.

More bad news in the secondary. Effective slot corner Nickell Robey-Coleman is gone, while starting safety Eric Weddle decided to hang his cleats. The Rams will be hard-pressed to find suitable replacements.

Thank God they have big-name players like Aaron Donald and Jalen Ramsey (and perhaps to a lesser level Michael Brockers) because the rest of the roster is pretty weak. If either player gets hurt, it could be catastrophic for this unit.

Last year, Los Angeles ranked 17th in terms of points allowed. I expect a severe downfall into the 24-30 range.

Final call (2020 vs 2019): Big downgrade

4. Regular Season Wins

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

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


Here are the results:

Estimated Probability Sportsbook Odds ROI
OVER 8.5 WINS 49.3% Bookmaker.eu +116 +6.5%
UNDER 8.5 WINS 50.7% William Hill -110 -3.2%

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

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

This 6.5% ROI is the 28th-highest among the league's 32 teams. Tomorrow, I'll discuss the team whose ROI is 27th in the NFL (and I'll keep going every day with ROI improving each time).

I hope you found this article and in-depth statistical study insightful!

Professor MJ
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Will the Dallas Cowboys win OVER/UNDER 9.5 games? By University Stats Prof!

1. Introduction

It was a strange year for America’s team.

They started with three easy wins over weak opponents, only to end up missing the playoffs with an 8-8 record.

I call it a strange season because if you look at their best offensive players’ statistics, they all did very well! The team scored the 6th most points in the league, while their defense allowed the 11th fewer points. How in the heck did they miss the playoffs?

In their eight wins, the average margin of victory was 20.1 points. In their eight losses, the average margin of defeat was 6.0 points. Indeed, the Cowboys lost six games by one possession or less (i.e. 8 points or less).

One more reason for missing the playoffs: Jason Garrett’s decisions. He made multiple questionable calls and it ended up costing him his job.

The former 13-year Packers head coach, Mike McCarthy, is the new sheriff in town. We’ll see what he can do with this talented group.

2. Offensive Position-by-Position Breakdown

2.1 Quarterbacks (QBs)

Dak Prescott has been a very steady force since coming into the league. He hasn’t missed a game in four seasons and has thrown 97 TD passes versus 36 interceptions. He has also rushed for 21 touchdowns.

Last year, he topped his career-high in passing yards by more than 1,000 yards! He had another solid season and was graded as the tenth-best QB by PFF.

I thought signing Andy Dalton after the Bengals released him was a very smart move by the Cowboys. Dallas has invested so heavily on its offense; you don’t want to take the risk of this group stalling because of an injury to Prescott. Cooper Rush wasn’t going to be the answer.

If Dak goes down, Dalton can fill in immediately and provide good play. Sure, he had a down year in 2019. In his defense, the offensive line struggled a lot and his top weapon, A.J. Green, missed the entire season. I do not believe the Dallas offense would crash down with Dalton under center.

2.2 Running Backs (RBs)

Ezekiel Elliott has also been a steady performer for the Cowboys over the recent years. He regularly accumulates between 1,700 and 2,000 total yards, while scoring between 9 and 16 TDs every year.

Tony Pollard got some playing time in blowouts as a rookie. Chosen in the 4th round out of Memphis, he has shown great promise. He ranked extremely well in yards after contact and finished with close to 500 rushing yards despite limited action. If something were to happen to Elliott, he seems ready to shine in a big way.

2.3 Wide Receivers (WRs)

Here is one more position where the starters are returning.

After struggling down the stretch, Amari Cooper seemed like he might leave Dallas in free agency. However, the Cowboys re-signed him to a fat contract.

In the first nine games, he averaged 5.9 receptions and 94 receiving yards per game, while totaling seven TDs. In the final seven matches, he averaged 3.7 receptions and 49 receiving yards, while hauling in a single TD pass.

The fact that he played much better at home than on the road was also well-documented. There are rumors that he played the last two months despite knee and ankle injuries, though.

Hats off to Michael Gallup for largely exceeding the 2019 expectations. He doubled his production in terms of receptions and receiving yards compared to his rookie season, while tripling the number of touchdowns (from 2 to 6). PFF gave him the 34th rank out of 122 wideouts, which is awesome for a second-year pro who was drafted in the third round.

Randall Cobb signed with Houston, which leaves 55 receptions and more than 800 yards on the table. He was one of the best #3 WR in the league for sure.

Tavon Austin seems unlikely to assume the role, but #17 overall pick CeeDee Lamb might. This selection will give OC Kellen Moore some nice flexibility. Indeed, Lamb can line up either inside or outside. Moore will then have the possibility to slide Cooper into the slot, where he won’t face press coverage that has given him some trouble.

Lamb is a physical receiver who breaks tackles very often. He posted some jaw-dropping numbers at Oklahoma:

The Cowboys are in business with Cooper-Gallup-Lamb.

2.4 Tight Ends (TEs)

Jason Witten and Blake Jarwin provided a pretty good TE duo. Witten, who caught 63 passes last year, left for Las Vegas. That gives a big opportunity to Jarwin to improve upon his 31 receptions from 2019. As a matter of fact, he signed a three-year, $24.25 million contract extension. That tells me he is the clear number one guy!

Dallas acquired Blake Bell who played for the Super Bowl champions K.C. Chiefs. He is mostly used as a blocker and will complement Jarwin nicely.

2.5 Offensive Line (OL)

The Cowboys offensive line performed admirably well in 2019. Dallas attempted the 10th most passes in the league, and yet only allowed 23 sacks, the second fewest in the NFL! Sure, Prescott is hard to bring down, but that’s still very impressive.

The PFF rankings are staggering: tackles La’el Collins and Tyron Smith finished at the #5 and #16 spots out of 81 qualifiers. Guards Zack Martin and Connor Williams ranked 3rd and 43rd out of 81 players. Finally, center Travis Frederick ended the year as a slightly above-average guy.

All of them are returning, except Frederick who surprised everyone by announcing his retirement at age 29. He has made the Pro Bowl on five occasions. Joe Looney is penciled in at center for the time bein. He started all 16 games in 2018 and got pretty bad marks from PFF that year.

2020 VS 2019 OFFENSE

Prescott, Elliott, Cooper and Gallup are all back in the Cowboys’ lineup, and they are all pretty young. It bodes well for 2020.

However, the team took some small hits by losing Randall Cobb and Jason Witten (albeit rookie CeeDee Lamb has a shot to pick up the slack). The bigger loss was the retirement of center Travis Frederick. He will be difficult to replace.

Adding Andy Dalton as the backup QB provides a great insurance policy in case Prescott gets hurt.

For these reasons, I envision a 2020 season where the offense does a similar job as 2019.

Final call (2020 vs 2019): Stable

3. Defensive Position-by-Position Breakdown

3.1 Defensive Linemen (DLs)

Maliek Collins graded as an average interior defender and he is gone to the sin city. Christian Covington played close to 50% of the snaps and was used a rotational lineman. He did okay, but nothing spectacular. He is also off the team.

The Cowboys vastly improved the position by acquiring a couple of guys from Carolina: Gerald McCoy and Dontari Poe.

McCoy is riding an eight-year streak with at least five sacks. He turned 32 years old, but still graded as the number 30 DL out of 114.

Meanwhile, Poe finished just two spots below McCoy in PFF’s rankings. Like McCoy, he is a pretty effective run stuffer.

Those acquisitions will solidify the line tremendously. They are great gets.

The team added depth via the draft by selecting Neville Gallimore. He is pretty fast for an interior lineman, which suits him well for tracking down running backs or scrambling QBs. However, his college production was unimpressive and he offers a lower ceiling considering he’s an older rookie. He’s projected to be a rotational player in the NFL.

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

This position brings a few question marks.

Demarcus Lawrence had a subpar year with 5 sacks. He had 10.5 and 14.5 the two previous years. However, he is a complete player and still finished at the #13 spot in PFF rankings among edge rushers. I am not worried about him, he should bounce back in 2020.

The problem stems from the fact that three guys left the team. First, Robert Quinn will leave big shoes to fill. He racked up 11.5 sacks last year and has averaged 8.9 throughout his nine-year career.

Michael Bennett seems unlikely to come back. He has said he would like to finish his career in Seattle. He recorded 4 sacks in 9 games, which isn’t bad at all.

Finally, Dallas lost some depth when Kerry Hyder signed with the 49ers. Surprisingly, he finished 51st ouf of 107 edge rushers according to PFF.

3.3 Linebackers (LBs)

The Cowboys are set at linebacker. The whole group is back, especially Vander Esch who missed half the season because of an injury. His PFF grade dropped from 85.4 as a rookie to 58.6 as a sophomore. Hopefully, the neck issue won’t be a recurring injury.

Jaylon Smith had an exceptional season and came close from finishing in the top 10 among NFL linebackers based on PFF grades. He had the sixth-most tackles in the league with 142. He is still young and the former Fighting Irish has a bright future ahead of him.

Veteran Sean Lee is back for another season in Dallas! Strangely enough, 2019 was the first time in his career where he managed to play the whole season. He saw more action than anticipated because of Vander Esch’s injury and he filled in well. Still, we’re talking about a 34-year old guy that has struggled to stay healthy for his entire career.

3.4 Cornerbacks (CBs)

Chidobe Awuzie brings a lot of stability at this position. He’s a pretty reliable corner.

Losing Byron Jones opposite of Awuzie will clearly hurt the team, though. He received nice marks from PFF and landed the most lucrative contract among all cornerbacks in the NFL from the Dolphins.

The team signed Maurice Canady. He doesn’t seem to be the answer since he played five games with the Ravens before being waived, and then signed by the Jets a few weeks later.

Next up we have Jourdan Lewis, who is more of a slot prospect. As for Anthony Brown, he lost starting slot duties before getting hurt. He still got rewarded with a $15.5 million contract for three years.

Therefore, as of now it seems unclear who will play opposite of Awuzie as the number 2 corner. Another potential candidate is second-round rookie Trevon Diggs. He allowed a low 42% completion rate in coverage last season with Alabama.

Diggs is a former receiver, so he has a good feel for what his opponent will do. He has a rare combo of size and strength, but his main weakness remains a tendency to grab and hold receivers who get past him (he hits the panic button too often).

3.5 Safeties (S)

Xavier Woods enjoyed a third pretty solid season. The sixth-round pick from the 2017 draft turned out to be a very nice late pick for the Cowboys.

Dallas lost its other starting safety to free agency, as Jeff Heath chose to go with the Raiders. The Cowboys didn’t waste any time replacing him, as they got Ha Ha Clinton-Dix two days later. Overall, I believe that’s a bit of an upgrade. Clinton-Dix is a year and a half younger, and he’s a better player, even more so against the run. Also, he hasn’t missed a single game during his six-year career!

2020 VS 2019 DEFENSE

A big upgrade is likely to occur on the interior of the line with the additions of Gerald McCoy and Dontari Poe. The safety situation was slightly improved by replacing Heath with Clinton-Dix.

However, losing their best corner Byron Jones, as well as edge rushers Robert Quinn and Michael Bennett will have a big impact for sure.

I was torn between calling it a “small” or “moderate” downgrade when comparing the 2019 to 2020 unit. I decided to go with a small one. The team allowed the 11th fewest points in the league, and I expect them to finish in the 13-17 range for the upcoming season.

Final call (2020 vs 2019): Small downgrade

4. Regular Season Wins

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

I'll answer this question via two different methods.

4.1 Professor MJ's Prediction

I won't go into the mathematical details, but here is a summary of my own personal pick (based on my analysis above and my estimated spreads for the Cowboys' 16 games):

OVER 9.5 WINS

UNDER 9.5 WINS

Tip: Bet OVER 9.5 wins

4.2 Based on BetOnline's Point Spreads

Here is the methodology I used here:

Here are the results:

OVER 9.5 WINS

UNDER 9.5 WINS

Tip: Bet UNDER 9.5 wins

In summary, my own analysis recommends betting the OVER, while BetOnline's point spreads suggest betting the UNDER.

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

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

Tomorrow I'll preview the New York Giants (over or under 6.5 wins?)!

Professor MJ
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2020 NFL Power Rankings According to Point Spreads

PointsBet Sportsbook has released point spreads for nearly every single NFL regular season game. Using these point spreads, I calculated a SRS (Simple Rating System) for each team to see what the odds imply.
Team Rating Margin of Victory Strength of Schedule
Baltimore 7.90 8.03 -0.13
Kansas City 7.77 7.88 -0.11
New Orleans 5.21 4.40 0.81
San Francisco 4.53 4.80 -0.27
Dallas 3.58 3.63 -0.06
Tampa Bay 3.43 3.56 -0.13
Philadelphia 3.23 2.57 0.66
Seattle 2.68 3.20 -0.52
Pittsburgh 1.89 2.40 -0.51
New England 1.77 1.30 0.47
Green Bay 1.66 1.70 -0.04
Minnesota 1.41 1.23 0.18
Buffalo 1.19 0.75 0.44
Indianapolis 1.07 1.60 -0.53
LA Rams 0.82 0.40 0.42
Tennessee 0.41 1.07 -0.66
Cleveland -0.03 0.63 -0.66
Atlanta -0.07 -0.40 0.33
Houston -0.66 -0.80 0.14
Denver -0.78 -1.63 0.86
Chicago -1.01 -0.38 -0.63
Las Vegas -1.05 -1.29 0.24
Arizona -1.60 -1.37 -0.24
LA Chargers -1.76 -0.57 -1.19
NY Jets -3.14 -3.60 0.46
NY Giants -3.39 -4.00 0.61
Detroit -3.82 -3.27 -0.56
Carolina -4.84 -5.22 0.38
Miami -5.19 -4.77 -0.43
Cincinnati -6.38 -6.23 -0.15
Washington -6.99 -7.33 0.35
Jacksonville -7.67 -7.73 0.06
I was surprised to see Dallas so high, even above Tampa Bay. The Patriots are ranked 10th in the league so it will be interesting to see where they land at the end of the season.
Note: The "Rating" represents the number of points above or below an average team is. Ex: The Baltimore Ravens are 7.9 points better than an average team.
This can also be used to translate point spreads involving any two teams. Ex: New Orleans (5.21) would be favored by ~9 points against Detroit as their rating is -3.82.
5.21 - (-3.82) = +9.03 points.
You could also adjust for home field advantage, however the point spreads used to calculate these numbers should already be accounting for that.
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2020 NFL Draft Review FINAL - AFC West + links to all divisions - Analysis and Career Predictions for Each Team's Draft Class

The AFC West is the final division in the 2020 NFL Draft review series. Catch up on the other installments of this 2020 NFL Draft review series with the NFC West, AFC South, NFC South, AFC East, NFC East, AFC North, and NFC North.
Every year after the draft, I write a way-too-long review of each team’s draft. The purpose of this draft review is to give predictions for the careers of each team’s drafted players. I’ve watched film of each player I’m commenting on. Draft grades are overly optimistic and unrealistic. Unlike the majority of post-draft coverage out there, I will pick busts. Keep in mind that 23.4% of all first-round picks bust.
Let me preface this by saying: predicting the career of an NFL draft pick is a ridiculous exercise. There is so much unknown that goes into whether a player succeeds or fails at the next level. I can make educated guesses based on team situation, supporting cast, and research about the prospect’s character and work ethic, but there’s a reason teams make so many mistakes every year. You simply don’t know for sure how a player will react to being a pro. Injuries are also a huge factor in the fate of a player and impossible to predict accurately. Nevertheless, this is a fun exercise and gives us a chance to review how each team approached the draft.

Overview

Before we start, here are some of my general thoughts on the 2020 NFL Draft.
Quickly on the broadcast - they did a great job given the circumstances. The production quality was great and they did more actual analysis than usual. My main gripe with draft coverage every year is that they don’t show incredible highlights (they somehow didn’t show the Aaron Dobson catch in 2013). This year, they showed more footage of actual football and I appreciated that. The only two negatives for me were the constant tragic stories and Booger McFarland.
Oh, and if any poor soul bet on Justin Jefferson Under 21.5 draft position, ESPN should apologize to you. They showed him on the phone celebrating right before cutting to Goodell announcing the 21st pick - Jalen Reagor to the Eagles. Jefferson was of course on the phone with the Vikings, who took him at 22. Brutal beat.
As for the draft, remember this tweet about mock drafts being “wronger” than ever? Funny, this was probably the chalkiest first-round ever in the internet age. Nothing was truly shocking to me, including the Packers trading up for Jordan Love (more on that here). I had Damon Arnette in the first round in my first mock draft this draft season. I wrote an article lauding Jordyn Brooks as an undervalued commodity. Noah Ibinoghene going in the first was surprising, I suppose. But there was no Clelin Ferrell at No. 4 or Tyson Alualu at No. 10. It speaks to how the media and internet scouts might be catching up to, or God forbid actually influencing the teams.
So here is the next installment of my annual draft review. Each player will receive their career prediction in parentheses following their name. For example: Joe Burrow (5). Here's how the picks break down:
5 – All-Pro: Starter who has performed at an elite level at his position. 4 – Above-Average: Starter who has been among the best at his position. 3 – Solid: Starter or valuable back-up with significant positive production. 2 – Replacement Level: Below-average starter or back-up who made minor contributions. 1 – Bust: Player who didn’t amount to anything positive.
Next up, the AFC West.

Las Vegas Raiders

The Raiders came into the draft with needs at wide receiver and cornerback. They wasted no time addressing those positions and ended up taking two corners and two-and-a-half wide receivers total. I think they aced this draft, but not for the reasons you might think.
Las Vegas opted for speed over production by selecting Henry Ruggs III (3) as the first receiver off the board. Ruggs played a supporting role alongside lead dog Jerry Jeudy at Alabama, but ran a 4.28 at the combine and aced the draft process. His speed popped on film, as he routinely cribbed slants and ran by people in the SEC. Ruggs was lauded for his competitiveness and edge, particularly as a blocker, which directly conflicts with my notes of his film. I noted missed blocks, him getting tossed, and labeled him as “weak.” Perhaps I watched the wrong games or my standards are too high.
As far as receiving the football, Ruggs was fantastic, making highlight diving catches and using his hops to climb the later and show off his above-average hands. There are two major unknowns with Ruggs - how he will deal with being the No. 1 option, and how he will develop as a route-runner. Unfortunately, I do not believe he will live up to his physical attributes. Derek Carr ranked 25th in Air Yards Per Completion last year, and while accurate, has never excelled at utilizing a deep threat. I also have a hard time endorsing a player who was not the number one receiver on his own team to be the number one receiver in a loaded draft class.
At No. 19, the Raiders took Damon Arnette (3), which was a surprise to some. I had Arnette going in the first round in my first mock draft of the year and liked his film more than most. His skillset is that of a quality starting corner, despite unorthodox technique and tendencies. Arnette’s play was up-and-down at Ohio State, in part due to being thrown at so much. He showed weird stances and punches from all different angles and body alignments in press coverage, but generally got the job done.
At the NFL level, if unique individual technique is effective, coaches don’t care. Arnette is more comfortable in press than off and will give up the inside. Most importantly, he can get his head around defending vertical routes in man. He was competitive and alert on film, flying down in run support and showing the necessary swagger and short memory needed from a pro corner. He’s going to get beat, but I like his transition to the league as someone who’s been picked on a bit but kept getting better.
At No. 80, the Raiders took one of my favorite players in the draft in Lynn Bowden Jr (4). Lynn Bowden Jr. played quarterback and receiver at Kentucky and is most known for throwing a punch in a pre-game scuffle before the Belk Bowl. Bowden’s film is that of a grown man with an edge. His receiver film shows nothing in terms of advanced route-running, but his speed absolutely plays and his hands are good enough. His quarterback and returner film shows joystick moves in the open field and elusiveness that rivals Lamb and Shenault. I don’t know if he’s a pro wide receiver (neither do the Raiders), but I’ve seen too many converted quarterbacks have success to bet against his natural football traits. I expect Jon Gruden to use him all over the field and for him to be one of the most explosive swiss army-knife weapons of this generation.
📷
With the very next pick, the Raiders again took one of my favorite players in Bryan Edwards (4) of South Carolina. Edwards was the No. 15 overall player on my board so I obviously loved this pick. Aside from injury concerns and a few miscommunication issues working the boundary with his quarterback, Edwards’ film was outstanding. He’s technically sound with strong hands, tremendous contact balance, evidence of beating press, and great concentration skills. As a physical run-after-catch threat, he’s dynamic and strong. He is the prototype big-bodied NFL receiver in terms of traits, plucking the ball and transitioning as a runner smoothly. I predict he’ll be better than Ruggs. He just needs to get and stay healthy.
I think Tanner Muse (2) can be a special-teamer (tripping up J.K. Dobbins was a gigantic play in the National Semifinal), and John Simpson (3) was a steal. I love mauler guards who fall due to a lack of quickness. Simpson is physical and sometimes dominant in the run game. His stance gives away pass or run, but he can be coached and work on his body to develop into a starting guard.
The Raiders took yet another one of “my guys” in Amik Robertson (4) at pick No. 139. I had Robertson ranked 75th overall and featured him in this article. Robertson is tiny and his film isn’t without flaws, but I am always a proponent of taking players whose main knock is lack of size. I think Robertson will struggle with the brute size and strength of NFL football, and I actually don’t think he’s that fast (didn’t run a 40). But as far as being a pure football player and having coverage instincts and ball skills, Robertson is unbelievable.
Robertson plays big, talks a lot, and backs it up. He jacked up the 6-6 Collin Johnson at the line of scrimmage and almost mossed No. 16 on Texas. He’s able to match everything, has a smooth pedal, and gives up almost no separation in man. Slight jersey tug but disciplined hands play in the league. His production at the college level was unreal - 14 interceptions, 2 blocked kicks, 3 defensive touchdowns, and an onside kick return for a touchdown. I worry about his tackling, but I project him to be one of the best slot cover men in the league.
The Raiders chose to stick with Derek Carr and Marcus Mariota, despite having enough draft ammo to move around and take one of the quarterbacks. I loved what they did with most of their picks. Carr now has more weapons and zero excuses. This is a huge year for him.

Los Angeles Chargers

The Chargers came into the draft with primary needs at quarterback and inside linebacker. They addressed those needs in the first round, selecting the No. 3 and No. 8 players on my board.
The madmen did it. They took Justin Herbert (4) at 6. After being inundated with negative Justin Herbert analysis, I went back for a second look at the former Oregon Duck. In terms of college performance, Herbert’s film is reminiscent of recent busts, including Mitchell Trubisky. He lacks ideal anticipation, inexplicably misses some throws, and wasn’t always trusted by his coaching staff. It is also fair to wonder about his transition, coming from a screen-heavy, spread system at Oregon.
However, evaluating NFL prospects is not just about college performance - it’s about projecting traits. Scouting quarterbacks is difficult, and there’s a reason so many teams miss. A lot of times teams fall in love with physical traits such as arm talent and are burned because the player struggles with the complexities, speed, and decision-making difficulty of the NFL game. I believe a critical look at Herbert’s film through the lens of traits-based scouting gets him to potential franchise quarterback level worthy of a high pick. Like with all prospects, his ultimate NFL fate will come down to a lot of surrounding and unknown factors such as situation, coaching, and intangibles. I will pick my No. 3 overall prospect to succeed. His traits are that of a franchise quarterback and his intelligence and athleticism will help his transition.
Arm talent, throwing on the run, short-level accuracy, ball handling, and mobility make Justin Herbert the complete package in terms of traits. He poorly placed just one throw under five yards in the games I watched. He has good footwork, touch, and excels with play-action. The translatable trait that makes me confident is his ability to look like the best player on the field in the face of pressure. Herbert can move around and deliver strikes on the run or simply use his legs as a weapon. He also showed the ability to go through full-field "rainbow" reads. Players with his running ability can afford to not be the most accurate passers in the world. He showed off his rushing skills in the Rose Bowl win against Wisconsin.
I understand the negatives, but with good coaching, I think Herbert can develop into a franchise quarterback as a mix between Josh Allen and Cam Newton.
📷
After selecting their quarterback at 6, the Chargers traded up for the best inside linebacker in the draft in Kenneth Murray (5). Murray had a productive and storied career at Oklahoma, displaying all the traits of a great pro off-ball linebacker for the Sooners. His speed and instincts make him a sideline to sideline threat, and he has the strength on contact of a thumper. His tackling technique is terrific, pointing to his ability to be coachable. He’s a little out of control at times, but he’s better than Devin White. The move up was worth it.
The Chargers want to bring Justin Herbert along slowly, and will look to make the playoffs with Tyrod Taylor as the starter. The surrounding talent is enough to take them there. With young stud defenders at all three levels, the Bolts just need to build an offensive line and add weaponry for Herbert to compete with the Chiefs in a few years.

Denver Broncos

The Broncos came into the draft with a clear plan - get Drew Lock some weapons. To say they achieved their goal would be an understatement. Their haul included my No. 7 overall player and my No. 1 tight end.
Jerry Jeudy (5) suffered from some prospect fatigue as analysts scrambled to poke holes in his game. While most of his success did come from the slot at Alabama, it’s not like his traits don’t translate to the outside. In Denver, Jeudy can man the slot primarily, whereas if he went to the Jets he may have had to learn an entirely new position. The only question about Jeudy is whether or not Drew Lock is good enough to allow him to reach his extremely high ceiling.
Jeudy has amazing quickness, length, and top-notch speed, but is known most for being an outstanding route-runner. He is the best route-runner I have ever scouted in college. He understands the nuances of changing speeds, is quick with a plan, and shows an uncommon ability to separate that surely translates to the pro game. He’ll be a star if Drew Lock proves to be competent.
📷
With their second pick, the Broncos doubled down on wide receiver with K.J. Hamler (2) of Penn State. Hamler is the prototypical deep threat and an excellent complement to Jeudy and Courtland Sutton in theory. He might be too small for the NFL, but his college film shows route-running ability on slot fades and out routes that rival most pros. His main weaknesses are due to his lack of size, as he struggles in contested catch situations and is dominated by strength in terms of ball security.
Hamler made a couple of tremendous sliding catches but does not display much in terms of hands an almost exclusively body-catcher. It’s a common misconception that receivers are never taught to catch with their body as coaches will teach it in certain situations. Hamler can succeed in the NFL, but there are too many mouths to feed in Denver for him to be more than a situational deep threat.
Michael Ojemudia (2) has the athletic profile and size to be a starter, but his film doesn’t show the natural football traits of a pro. He isn’t physical enough and doesn’t show great awareness in zone, letting receivers get behind him.
Lloyd Cushenberry (2) was one of the most overrated prospects in the draft. He’s a classic case of a decorated collegiate who gets overdrafted due to great character. He was beaten badly by the Texas nose tackle and generally lacks balance.
McTelvin Agim (1) was overdrafted as a former five-star recruit who didn’t dominate in the SEC. He has the size and tools to be a rotational defensive lineman, but plays too high and bends at the waist, losing leverage and balance too easily.
Denver's best pick after Jeudy was Albert Okwuegbunam (3). His size/hands mix is rare and his physical ability is special. After last season I thought he’d be a high pick, but he never seemed to put it together. He’s an instant red-zone threat as a project with huge upside.
The draft community is giving high praise to this Broncos class. I think they nailed their first pick but wasn’t overly impressed with the rest of the haul. Denver’s defense is loaded with talented veterans and a returning Bradley Chubb, so Drew Lock’s progress will be an intriguing storyline in the AFC Wild Card race.

Kansas City Chiefs

Congratulations to the Chiefs and their fans on winning the Super Bowl. The World Champs came into the draft without any pressing needs and selected three extremely talented young prospects with their first three picks.
Clyde Edwards-Helaire (4) is a perfect fit in Andy Reid’s offense. My No. 2 running back, CEH reminds me of Maurice Jones-Drew. His lack of height is a non-issue, if not a positive, as he gives defenders a small target on his way to eluding tacklers and making guys miss. He's short but sturdy. His film against Alabama was inspiring, breaking tackles and moving piles against defenders twice his size. His best trait is his ability as a receiver, showing advanced route-running skills and soft hands. He’s competitive, fiery, and tough.
While he didn’t quite excel against the Georgia pros, he’s going to have so much space with Patrick Mahomes it’s scary. His 4.6 40 shows a lack of ideal long speed, but his ten-yard split was among the best for running backs at the combine. Amazing fit, PPR fantasy points everywhere.
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Willie Gay Jr. (3) has very inconsistent film and character red flags. Andy Reid took a chance on Marcus Peters years ago, who has had a very good pro career. The Chiefs culture should keep Gay on the right track. His film in 2018 was better than 2019, as he had more splash plays and tackled better. In 2019, some of his film showed poor angles and undisciplined missed fits. His speed plays and if he puts in any work at all his floor is a talented special teamer. I think Reid gets the most out of him and he starts at linebacker as a rookie. The burst and pop when he hits people is impressive.
Lucas Niang (3) has a very ugly body, but I liked his film a lot. He has a small lower half and is fat up top, which teams usually don’t like. He can be effective and quick, and has functional strength and movement skills despite his odd shape. I had him at No. 39 on my big board and project him to be a starting right tackle whenever the Chiefs need one. Solid pick.
The Chiefs have the best player in the NFL and a good enough defense. They should be favored to win it all again. The main takeaway from this class is that Andy Reid running backs are fantasy gold and he just got one that fits his scheme perfectly.
That wraps up the 2020 draft review series. Thank you so much for reading. On to 2021!
AFC West article with gifs: https://www.rotoballer.com/2020-nfl-draft-review-and-team-grades-afc-west/737495
NFC West: https://www.rotoballer.com/2020-nfl-draft-review-and-team-grades-nfc-west/737289
AFC South: https://www.rotoballer.com/2020-nfl-draft-review-and-team-grades-afc-south/736898
NFC South: https://www.rotoballer.com/2020-nfl-draft-review-and-team-grades-nfc-south/736460
AFC East: https://www.rotoballer.com/2020-nfl-draft-review-and-team-grades-afc-east/736202
NFC East: https://www.rotoballer.com/2020-nfl-draft-review-and-team-grades-nfc-east/735919
AFC North: https://www.rotoballer.com/2020-nfl-draft-review-afc-north/735564?src=cat_feat_9954
NFC North: https://www.rotoballer.com/2020-nfl-draft-review-and-team-grades-nfc-north/734932
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2020 NFL Power Rankings According to Point Spreads

PointsBet has release point spreads for nearly every single NFL regular season game. Using these point spreads, I calculated a SRS (Simple Rating System) for each team to see what the odds imply.
Team Rating Margin of Victory Strength of Schedule
Baltimore 7.90 8.03 -0.13
Kansas City 7.77 7.88 -0.11
New Orleans 5.21 4.40 0.81
San Francisco 4.53 4.80 -0.27
Dallas 3.58 3.63 -0.06
Tampa Bay 3.43 3.56 -0.13
Philadelphia 3.23 2.57 0.66
Seattle 2.68 3.20 -0.52
Pittsburgh 1.89 2.40 -0.51
New England 1.77 1.30 0.47
Green Bay 1.66 1.70 -0.04
Minnesota 1.41 1.23 0.18
Buffalo 1.19 0.75 0.44
Indianapolis 1.07 1.60 -0.53
LA Rams 0.82 0.40 0.42
Tennessee 0.41 1.07 -0.66
Cleveland -0.03 0.63 -0.66
Atlanta -0.07 -0.40 0.33
Houston -0.66 -0.80 0.14
Denver -0.78 -1.63 0.86
Chicago -1.01 -0.38 -0.63
Las Vegas -1.05 -1.29 0.24
Arizona -1.60 -1.37 -0.24
LA Chargers -1.76 -0.57 -1.19
NY Jets -3.14 -3.60 0.46
NY Giants -3.39 -4.00 0.61
Detroit -3.82 -3.27 -0.56
Carolina -4.84 -5.22 0.38
Miami -5.19 -4.77 -0.43
Cincinnati -6.38 -6.23 -0.15
Washington -6.99 -7.33 0.35
Jacksonville -7.67 -7.73 0.06
I was surprised to see Dallas so high, even above Tampa Bay. The Patriots are ranked 10th in the league so it will be interesting to see where they land at the end of the season.
Note: The "Rating" represents the number of points above or below an average team is. Ex: The Baltimore Ravens are 7.9 points better than an average team.
This can also be used to translate point spreads involving any two teams. Ex: New Orleans (5.21) would be favored by ~9 points against Detroit as their rating is -3.82.
5.21 - (-3.82) = +9.03 points.
You could also adjust for home field advantage, however the point spreads used to calculate these numbers should already be accounting for that.
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V1per's Week 4 Survivor/Eliminator Pick

It's Wednesday, so time to get those survivor picks in before the game tomorrow. If you're curious about the methodology for how I come up with my picks, it's at the bottom.
I don't care about stupid math stuff, just give me the team
Fine. LA Chargers
Some people are hesitant with this pick, and I get it. LAC is only 1-2, has looked pretty shaky so far this year, and is on the road. BUT, Miami is truly horrible. The Chargers aren't favored by 16.5 for no reason.
Season so far
3-0. Dallas cruised as expected last week. On to week 4.
Season Long Outlook
Teams in italics are changes from last week. This is simply to give some insight into why team X or Y aren't being picked this week. It's usually because they are better off being used later in the season, or it's because I've already used them.

Week Team P(Win)
1 PHI 100%
2 BAL 100%
3 DAL 100%
4 LAC 92%
5 CHI 71%
6 NE 89%
7 BUF 87%
8 NO 84%
9 HOU 71%
10 IND 86%
11 SF 82%
12 CLE 83%
13 KC 88%
14 GB 80%
15 NYG 74%
16 SEA 83%
17 LAR 89%
Chicago, and the New York Football Giants make appearances this week, while Detroit, and Carolina are no longer being used. Week 8 has now seen a different team picked every week.
Nerdy Math Stuff
P(Survival) = 6.7%
E(Wins) = 14.58

Methedology
I get team win percentages from 538 for every game in the entire season. I update probabilities for the current week based on Vegas betting lines to better take into account current team situations that 538's computer models can't account for.
With all of these values, I run something called the Hungarian Algorithm which solves the best possible choices to maximize the total win percentage values. This makes sure to use each team when it's optimal to do so.
The method used for this maximizes your chance of making it through the whole season undefeated. This is ideal if you are in a very large (70+ person) league. If however, you are in a small league that is unlikely to have everyone make it to the end and the last person standing is the winner, than the above picks will be less than ideal. If you're in one of these smaller leagues, download the file below, enter your league size and get the team list specifically for your league.

Download
New this week!
Last week I was getting a lot of "What if I picked teams A and B already?" or "What if there are only 20 people left in my league?" or "What if I can only pick teams that play on Sunday?"
I got you covered. I cleaned up the sheet and added a couple of features that should work for everyone.
You can download it from Mediafire, or just look at a picture of it if you like.
Enter what days of the week you're allowed to pick games on, enter the total remaining entries in your league, and the teams you've already picked and just click the "Calculate" button.
If you don't like waiting for my post, you can also update the data from 538 and enter the point spreads yourself, but I'll continue to update and post it here every Wednesday as well.
submitted by V1per41 to fantasyfootball [link] [comments]

Wrestling Observer Rewind ★ May 7, 2001

Going through old issues of the Wrestling Observer Newsletter and posting highlights in my own words. For anyone interested, I highly recommend signing up for the actual site at f4wonline and checking out the full archives.
PREVIOUS YEARS ARCHIVE:
1991199219931994199519961997199819992000
1-1-2001 1-8-2001 1-15-2001 1-22-2001
1-29-2001 2-5-2001 2-12-2001 2-19-2001
2-26-2001 3-5-2001 3-12-2001 3-19-2001
3-26-2001 4-2-2001 4-9-2001 4-16-2001
4-23-2001 4-30-2001
  • Remember Johnny Valentine died in the last issue but Dave didn't have time to write up a proper obituary? Good lord, does he correct that this week. This sucker is LONG. Valentine died nearly broke and Dave rants about how the wrestling industry doesn't take care of its own after they're done giving their bodies to it. Valentine's long-time rival Wahoo McDaniel is in poor health but he's been fortunate to collect a pension from his years playing football for the AFL which was later absorbed into the NFL. Other wrestlers are part of the Screen Actor's Guild due to having small movie roles, which provides them insurance and things like that. Valentine was paralyzed from the waist down in the plane crash back in the 70s (Dave says these days, if that happened, he likely would have collected some big legal settlement but that didn't happen back then) and the medical bills piled up and left him broke. Dave includes a quote from Ric Flair here, talking about how messed up it is that the business doesn't have a union or health insurance or something to prevent this from happening to past stars. Dave talks about all the heartbreaking stories we never hear about from these older wrestlers who fade into obscurity after retirement and end up destitute because there's no pension, no 401K, so on and so forth and the savings they build up during their career goes away pretty quick when it's time for these old guys to get those knee replacements and neck surgeries and whatnot with no insurance. There's a lot of quotes in here from other wrestlers here talking saying that the business abandoned Valentine, who was one of the top stars of his era and it's pretty sad. And unfortunately, little has changed in the 20 years since.
  • Anyway, other obituary stuff. Dave recaps a story from Lou Thesz's book about Valentine who once went to a bull-riding show and decided to try it but got thrown off. According to Thesz, the bull then charged Valentine and Thesz thought he was for sure a dead man. But Valentine stood his ground and punched the bull right in the face as hard as he could, stunning the bull long enough to make it turn away for a minute so he could escape. Valentine was notorious for being an incredibly hard hitter, legendary feuds with McDaniel, and on and on. Man....this is a REALLY long and good obituary and absolutely worth reading but I can't recap all this haha. Dave goes into detail on pretty much every major angle or moment of Valentine's career and it's incredible but it's not news and this issue is long enough already.
  • WWF's Backlash PPV is in the books and it was...fine. Dave almost feels like it's unfair to compare it to recent PPVs because the last few WWF PPVs have been off-the-charts awesome. This one was still good but it felt like a let-down in comparison to the last few months. Dave thinks the Benoit/Angle 30-minute submission match was good but not as great as expected and without near falls, it dragged too long. Same with the main event, good but too long. They announced it as the 18th consecutive sellout in a row in Chicago, which isn't exactly true. 17 of the last 18 Chicago shows were indeed legit sellouts, but one of those shows didn't, so it's not 18 in a row. But hey, still impressive! And at least it wasn't like the XFL, where they repeatedly announced sellouts despite most of the stadiums being 3/4 empty for every game.
  • Other notes from the PPV: Jerry Lynn made his TV debut on the Heat pre-show, winning the light heavyweight title from Crash Holly. Lita also worked the pre-show and Dave says it's clear they're preparing to do a Lita vs. Chyna angle for the women's title (yup, but they only had 1 match before Chyna leaves the company). Raven vs. Rhino was the sleeper match of the night, way exceeding expectations. Shane McMahon took another crazy bump from the top of the TitanTron, as he tends to do. Triple H became the 2nd grand slam champion ever (behind Shawn Michaels) having now held the World, IC, European, and now tag team titles. And the cameras missed part of the finishing sequence of the main event, leading Dave to ask, "how in the WCW does this happen?"
WATCH: Shane McMahon leaps from the top of the TitanTron
  • Jim Ross spent the past 2 weeks in meetings with WCW talent to put together the roster for the new WCW that's now expected to launch next month. As of press time, the plan is for the first episode to air on June 16th, and TNN will be bumping their "Grand Ole Opry" show to make room. Ross met with Rob Van Dam and his agent for the first time and described the meeting as very positive. Several years ago, RVD rubbed many in WWF the wrong way when he and Sabu refused to do a job on TV during the ECW invasion angle. No word on a deal being made yet, but it's looking more likely now than it did before. Ross also met with an agent who represents several former WCW guys like Booker T, DDP, Billy Kidman, Kanyon, and others. Ross made it clear that if any of these guys want to come in, they will not be offered anywhere near what WCW was paying them as far as guarantees go, but if they're successful, they will still make really make good money based on incentives and whatnot. Most of the people who have met with Ross praised him and said he's been very honest and forthcoming in the negotiations and isn't trying to fill their heads with lies about how much money they'll make and stuff like that. Plus WWF wrestlers earn a portion of gate money and WWF runs a lot of successful live shows, although the relaunched WCW brand won't be running house shows, at least not at first, so that's obviously something they have to take into consideration.
  • Booker T has close to 2 years left on his WCW deal, at $750,000 per year and would be giving up a lot of money if he accepts a buy out to sign with WWF, but he's made it clear to people around him that he still wants to go. WWF has pretty much given up on pursuing Goldberg because he's got nearly 3 years left on his WCW deal and will make more than $6 million by simply sitting at home, and WWF has no intention of offering anywhere near the same amount. DDP has about 9 months left on his WCW deal which will net him more than $1 million but like Booker T, he's also made it clear that he wants to work for WWF even if it means losing out on some of that money in the short-term. Kidman has more than a year left on a $300,000-per-year deal so he's probably going to sit it out also. Same with Ric Flair, 2 years left on his big money deal and doesn't seem anxious to give it up. Several other wrestlers who were on 90-day contract cycles will officially become free agents in July and the biggest name among them is Rey Mysterio, who WWF allegedly has interest in but haven't spoken with him yet. All the rest will likely start working indies or in foreign promotions in Japan, Mexico, or Europe. We're beginning to see how the deaths of WCW and ECW left so many people scrambling to figure out how to put food on the table and pay their mortgages.
  • Ross also had meetings with Reno, Chavo Guerrero, Chuck Palumbo, and Sean O'Haire. Then he went to the UPW show that night in California and met with Nathan Jones, John Heidenreich, and former XFL player Josh Wilcox. Ross was high on Wilcox and there was talk of using him to cross-promote the XFL if they end up having a 2nd season (lol). Speaking of, around half of the XFL players have requested contract releases so they can negotiate with the NFL and several have already signed NFL deals. Wilcox is said to be pretty good in UPW, especially with his mic work. Anyway, the plan is to finalize a WCW roster in the next 2 weeks and then put together the non-wrestling crew (agents, referees, announcers, etc.) a few weeks later before the re-launch. The main names being considered for announcers are Scott Hudson, Mike Tenay, Joey Styles, Mark Madden and, believe it or not, Jerry Lawler, though he's a long-shot. Lawler reportedly still won't come back without his wife and Vince McMahon is pissed at him for the things Lawler has said and done since walking out, so there's some fences that need to be mended there. Vince is reportedly not willing to budge on bringing Lawler's wife back. The idea is to tape on Wednesdays, near whatever city Smackdown is taping in on Tuesdays, since they will use the same production crew and production trucks. The WCW group will have its own writing team, but they will work with the WWF writers to make sure they don't conflict with each other's angles (for instance, both shows promoting a major cage match during the same week or things like that).
  • Dave has examined the ECW chapter 11 bankruptcy filing in detail and it shows a realistic picture of what kind of shape ECW has been in during the last two years. In 1999, ECW grossed $5.8 million in income (WWF grossed $259 million while WCW grossed more than $160 million during the same year). In 2000, same kind of situation. Long story short, while many people considered ECW a strong candidate for the #2 promotion in the U.S., the reality is that the wrestling industry was pulling in roughly half a billion dollars during those years and ECW amounted to less than 1% of that market share. WWF, NJPW, WCW, and even PRIDE ran numerous single shows that grossed more than ECW did in those entire years. ECW's income drastically declined in 2000 (though not as bad as WCW's) which is interesting because that's the first year they ever had a national TV deal. The problem is, that TV deal came with enormous costs that TNN wouldn't cover and ECW essentially went broke trying to fund it themselves. ECW was owned 85% by Paul Heyman, with the Acclaim video game company owning the other 15%. At the time they folded, ECW was facing numerous lawsuits from around the country for nonpayment of bills and left tons of other unpaid bills in its wake that they weren't yet sued over. The bankruptcy filing included a list of all the people or companies ECW owed money to. Wrestlers, Heyman's family, radio stations, business partners, lawyers, travel agencies, credit card companies, loan companies, even the company that makes wrestling title belts. There was also a clear lack of comprehensive bookkeeping. On the recent Observer radio show, Tommy Dreamer talked about how some last ditch efforts to raise money for ECW failed because ECW couldn't provide any verifiable financial records. Many of the debtors listed in the bankruptcy are rounded off estimates rather than exact figures. Many wrestlers were listed as being owed money, but the amount was listed as "unknown."
  • Among the people/companies owed money: Acclaim is owed $1 million. Heyman himself was owed $128,000 in back-pay from money he spent out of his own pocket to keep things afloat. Heyman's father, who funded the company for many years, is owed $3.5 million while his mother is owed $226,500. MSG Cable is owed $244,000. InDemand is owed $150,000. And WWF is owed $587,500. And that's just a few of the companies. As for the performers:
William Alfonso (Fonzie) - $5,000
Scott Antol (Scotty Anton) - unknown
Joseph Bonsignore (Joey Styles) - $50,480
Mike Bucci (Nova) - $4,000
Don Callis - $12,000
Lou D'Angeli (Lou E. Dangerously) - $7,000
Michael DiPaolo (Roadkill) - $21,250
Joseph Dorgan (Swinger) - unknown
John Finnegan - unknown
Francine Fournier - $47,275
James Fullington (Sandman) - unknown
Terry Gerin (Rhino) - $50,000
Matt Hyson (Spike Dudley) - unknown
Francisco Islas (Super Crazy) - $5,000
Mike Kehner - unknown
Patrick Kenney (Simon Diamond) - $9,000
Tom Laughlin (Tommy Dreamer) - $100,000
Jerry Lynn - unknown
James Maritato (Little Guido) - $25,000
Troy Martin (Shane Douglas) - $48,000
Jim Mitchell (Sinister Minister) - unknown
James Molineaux - unknown
Dan Morrison (Danny Doring) - $2,100
Peter Polaco (Justin Credible) - $7,990
Dawn Psalpis (Dawn Marie) - $9,000
Jon Rechner (Balls Mahoney) - $4,000
Ken Reininhaus (Jack Victory) - $3,000
Robert Szatkowski (Rob Van Dam) - $150,000
Yoshihiro Tajiri - $5,000
John Watson (Mikey Whipwreck) - $12,000
  • More bad news on the "professional wrestling is bad for kids" front, as a new study from Wake Forest found that teenagers who are wrestling fans are more likely than their peers to have violent romantic relationships. The story was picked up and carried in newspapers nationwide and basically found that a higher percentage of teens on dates are more likely to get into physical altercations on dates and be abusive in their relationships. A WWF spokesman responded saying WWF is not a children's show and that the parents should determine what's appropriate and yada yada. The usual response. Long story short, teens (particularly boys) who watch wrestling tend to be meaner and more physically abusive to girls, and it blames the way women are portrayed and demeaned every week in wrestling on TV. Interestingly enough, girls were also found more likely than boys to be violent and do drugs if they were wrestling fans. Dave breaks down all the numbers on this and discusses what it means, the flaws and cavets involved in a study like this, etc. but regardless, it's pretty clear that wrestling (and WWF in particular) seems to be having somewhat of a negative influence on teens and this isn't the first study to say so.
READ: Watching Wrestling Positively Associated With Date Fighting, Say Researchers
  • Throughout his tenure in WCW, Rey Mysterio occasionally headed down to Tijuana to work indie shows with other big name Mexican stars, but as of this week, Time Warner informed Mysterio he can no longer do that or he'll be in breach of his contract. And like everybody else who is still collecting big money WCW deals, he doesn't want to lose that so no more Mysterio in Tijuana for now. Dave talks about how Tijuana is a pretty hot city for wrestling right now, with several companies all running weekly shows there and drawing big crowds.
  • Hey there. Guess what? I have the flu! Yup, as I write this, it's Dec. 6, 2018 and I'm siiiiiiick as shit. I've been cooped up in my house, sweating through the mattress for four days now, shivering like a newborn baby lamb. But my entire body aches from laying around for 90-something hours and I just can NOT lay around and sleep anymore. Also, did I mention my wife is also sick? She caught it from me the next day so we've both been lumbering around the house like feverish zombies. And oh man, I just can't begin to tell you how delightful she is to be around right now. A sheer joy, I must say. So much so that I decided I needed a break from it, lest I be overwhelmed with gratitude. So I have come upstairs to my quiet office to reflect on how lucky I am. I'm so lucky. Right? RIGHT?!
  • 5/29/19 Update: I'm okay now.
  • The AJPW vs. NOAH war has reached a new level of petty. Last week, NOAH announced that they would be holding a Jumbo Tsuruta tribute show in his hometown in June. Not to be outdone, a few days later, AJPW announced they were going to do their own Tsuruta tribute show, and they're doing it in May so they can beat NOAH to the punch. Jumbo Tsuruta was one of the biggest stars in AJPW history but he retired and left the company almost immediately after Giant Baba passed away in 1999. Tsuruta died last year right around the time AJPW was splitting up and had made it clear to everyone that he was on Misawa's side (I think it's come out in the years since that Motoko Baba pretty much fired Tsuruta right after Giant Baba died. Seems like the 2 didn't exactly get along).
  • When Vampiro's WCW contract expires in a few months, he's expected to start working in AJPW (yeah, he's worked a few tours there off and on over the years).
  • Antonio Inoki was in the U.S. a couple of weeks ago and when he came back to Japan, he showed the media 2 photos of himself with Mike Tyson, in order to "prove" that his negotiations with Tyson for a match against Naoya Ogawa weren't just a bullshit claim. Apparently Tyson and Inoki met in Las Vegas at the end of April, but Dave doesn't say if there's anything to the negotiations. One of the photos was of them shaking hands and the other was of Inoki pretending to choke Tyson (I can't find either of these pics anywhere and googling "mike tyson antonio inoki" just pulls up a billion pictures of the Muhammad Ali vs. Inoki match).
  • Dave talks about 21-year-old Japanese female wrestler Meiko Satomura and says she's the most promising young female wrestler in Japan right now. In case you're wondering, she's 39 now and she absolutely stole the show in this year's Mae Young Classic. So yeah, she's dope.
  • Stu Hart is going to have surgery to have a pacemaker put in due to his recent health issues. Former manager Sir Oliver Humperdink also had a heart bypass surgery recently.
  • Don Callis was on the Observer Live show and said he's going back to school to get his MBA. He said he never wants to end up in the same position he's in now, where circumstances beyond his control left him with no job. Soon after ECW folded, he was supposed to go to the Eric Bischoff-owned WCW, but then that fell through too and suddenly he had no other wrestling options (yup, he got his MBA in 2003 and now he runs Impact Wrestling).
  • UPW wrestlers Prototype vs. Frankie Kazarian headlined a recent indie show in Massachusetts (I'm only mentioning it because I found the match. Spoiler: LOLPROTOTYPEWINS).
WATCH: Prototype vs. Franke Kazarian
  • Former ECW valet Elektra recently did a photo shoot for an upcoming issue of Playboy (it was actually part of a larger thing. Throughout her time in ECW, she also appeared as an extra on Sopranos in several episodes, as a stripper at the Bada Bing strip club on the show. The Playboy shoot was a "Girls of the Bada Bing" type thing, with her and a bunch of the other strippers from the show).
  • The lines between MMA and wrestling are even blurrier than normal in PRIDE, because this week they announced the upcoming PRIDE event later this month will feature NJPW wrestler and current IWGP champion Kazuyuki Fujita vs. NOAH wrestler Yoshihiro Takayama. To make it even more interesting, Takayama challenged Fujita to put the IWGP title on the line in the fight, but NJPW has made it clear that ain't happening on a PRIDE show in a shoot match.
  • UPN is reportedly looking to follow NBC's lead and no longer air XFL games, which puts the chances of a 2nd season into even further doubt. UPN only had a 1-year deal to carry XFL and it was by far the network's lowest rated show. That would leave TNN as the only network still on-board to carry XFL games and XFL president Basil DeVito has already said that the league wouldn't be able to continue if TNN is their only TV deal. Long story short: XFL is almost certainly dead.
  • OVW wrestler Randy Orton worked a dark match against Billy Gunn, and cut a promo before the match (here's video, but the audio is super low for some reason).
WATCH: Randy Orton vs. Billy Gunn (2001 dark match)
  • When reviewing Smackdown, Dave gets a pretty good dig in at Russo. There was a segment during the show where Grandmaster Sexay was talking about fat women. Dave jokes, "See, this proves Russo's point. WWF was allowed to call women fat and that's why they still draw sellout houses." If you recall, last year in WCW, the standards and practices people nixed a segment where Russo wanted to have Roddy Piper call a woman fat and Russo threw a fit about how the Turner S&P people were the reason why he wasn't able to turn WCW around. It's obviously a ridiculous argument because it's not like calling a woman fat was going to boost Nitro's ratings an extra 3 points or anything, but that didn't stop Russo from throwing a temper tantrum about it every time and using it as an excuse for why he totally could have saved WCW if only his oh-so-brilliant and creative mind hadn't been handcuffed by the censors.
  • Talent agent Barry Bloom's agency has filed a lawsuit against Chyna for failing to pay commissions they say she owes them. Bloom's agency represented Chyna for most of the last 3 years and negotiated her WWF contract as well as consulted and advised her on many outside business dealings including her autobiography, her Playboy shoot, acting gigs, etc. Chyna apparently owes them somewhere between $150,000 and $250,000. The lawsuit says she hasn't responded to numerous attempts they've made to contact her and she has refused to pay.
  • Jerry Lawler was recently on Mancow's radio show and made some waves by implying that Bruce Prichard and Stephanie McMahon were sleeping together and that he wouldn't care if Vince McMahon died in a car wreck. Lawler later went on his website and tried to clarify that he was just joking, but the internet picked it up as serious news and it spread like wildfire. In the website post, Lawler said everything on the Mancow interview was said in jest and that he doesn't hate Vince McMahon and was sorry if anyone took his comments about Stephanie and Prichard seriously (On his podcast, Prichard has talked about this and said it actually caused some problems at home with him and his wife because I guess he had been unfaithful in the past and his wife already didn't fully trust him. So Lawler saying this really ruffled some feathers for Prichard's home life). Lawler also said he has over a million dollars in cash and has no interest in begging for his WWF job back and said he doesn't even know if he'd go back even if Vince begged him to now. He said WWF's lawyers had told him that he's burning his bridges by talking about this so much in the media but Lawler said he's not saying anything that isn't the truth and if the truth hurts, it's their problem not his. He also said WWF wrestlers and developmental guys have been told they'll be fired if they talk to Lawler and and that some indie wrestlers had been told they'll never have a chance to work in WWF if they work any shows Lawler is booking. Lawler also thought it was bullshit that WWF pulled their developmental deal away from Power Pro Wrestling just because Lawler was part of that show, saying it was unfair to PPW and the other wrestlers there. Lawler also claimed that when he was still with WWF, he had talked to Hugh Hefner about his wife Stacy posing in Playboy, but WWF threw a fit because they felt it was their decision to decide which of their women should be in Playboy and that Lawler shouldn't be trying to pursue those kinds of deals for his wife on his own. Stacy has since tried to get a Playboy photoshoot but was rejected by the magazine. However, Playboy did send a letter basically saying that they would reconsider if their relationship with WWF were to ever come to an end, so basically, she's even blacklisted from Playboy because of WWF. He also claimed that he hasn't gotten paid for the artwork he did on Mick Foley's Christmas Chaos children's book (published by WWF) and that he's planning to write an autobiography. And finally, Lawler said he's had talks with Hulk Hogan about coming in to Memphis and working some matches together, which would likely do pretty big business.
LISTEN: Bruce Prichard and Conrad Thompson discuss this briefly on the Something To Wrestle podcast
  • UPW had a big show last week and Dave was there. In fact, they hosted the Observer Live show from right there in the building before the wrestling show began. Edge & Christian worked the main event, beating Frankie Kazarian and Nova. Molly Holly also came in and put over WWF developmental wrestler Victoria. The match was bad but Dave thinks Victoria has some real star potential. UPW champion Samoa Joe beat Tommy Dreamer. Later, in the big angle of the show, they had a thing where Samoa Joe and a bunch of other heels attacked Prototype and broke his arm with a chair to write him out of the promotion because he's leaving for OVW in a couple of weeks. Eventually Tommy Dreamer ran in and saved him. Fun fact: the Rock was supposed to show up as a surprise to save Prototype from the beat down because he's currently staying in Los Angeles right now taking acting classes. But some scheduling issues at the last minute kept it from happening. Another match featured the tag team of Nathan Jones and John Heidenreich. Dave thinks Nathan Jones is almost a sure thing to become a big star unless injury or his age gets in the way (he's starting pretty late, at age 30). Ring wise, he's obviously still green, but he's got the look, charisma, and all the athletic credentials and WWF had signed him to a developmental deal before he even wrestled his first match (turns out he could never quite get the whole in-ring part down and he ended up quitting WWF because he didn't like the travel). As for Heidenreich, he's got the look but not as much charisma. Other notable names on the show: Luther Reigns, Rocky Romero, and Mike Knox. Interestingly enough, Christopher Daniels was the one running the show backstage. Jim Ross and Paul Bearer were also there, scouting talents. (This paragraph has just about the most eclectic list of names ever, from all different eras and promotions that would eventually go in all sorts of weird directions, all under the same roof for one show. 2001 was wild y'all).
WATCH: Samoa Joe vs. Tommy Dreamer - UPW 2001
  • Big Show did an interview recently talking about a few things. Regarding his recent stint in OVW, he said Jim Cornette would fine guys if faces and heels were having dinner together and would blow a gasket if they were even in the same place, like a bar or night club, even if they weren't socializing together. After the big Louisville Gardens 30th anniversary show awhile back, there was a big party in a private room at a night club that was closed off to the public and for that one night, Cornette reluctantly allowed the wrestlers to socialize and party together but he was still pissy about it because there was a door to the room where people in the public part of the club were hanging out and for those brief few seconds every now and then when the door was open, people outside could see inside and that drove Cornette bonkers. Classic. Also, in regards to the segment that was bleeped on TV a few weeks ago, Big Show said he called Kaientai a couple of "goofs" but the people in the truck misheard it and freaked out and bleeped it, which made everyone think he had used the other racial slur, but he swears he didn't.
  • Boxer Butterbean did an interview talking about his WM14 match with Bart Gunn. Butterbean said that Rock and Austin had a backstage bet on who was going to win. Austin was apparently foolish enough to pick Bart and needless to say, Rock won that bet. He also said back in 1998 that Vince McMahon had made him a huge offer (near 7 figures, although Dave says he finds that hard to believe, but then again, Butterbean was a huge cult star at the time) to come in as a full-time WWF wrestler. But Butterbean turned it down because he wanted to continue boxing (since he was already making big money doing that) and Vince's offer wouldn't allow that.
FRIDAY: NJPW holds a disastrous Fukuoka Dome show, WWF Insurrextion PPV fallout, WWF ratings in major decline, and more...
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Understanding NFL Betting Odds Bet On It - NFL Picks and Predictions for Week 13, Line Moves, Barking Dogs and Best Bets Westgate Las Vegas SuperContest: Covers' NFL Week 15 pointspread picks Las Vegas Betting made easy, how to make $1k-20k with NFL futures - Raw Sports Talk NFL Week 1 Predictions and Odds: Early Look on Value and Leans

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Understanding NFL Betting Odds

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