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Offseason Review Series: The 2020 Indianapolis Colts

Indianapolis Colts

Division: AFC South

Coaching Changes

Colts lost defensive line coach Mike Phair to the Panthers and replaced him with Brian Baker who is most recently out of Alabama. Mike Groh reunites with Frank Reich as he was hired as wide receivers coach, while Patullo moved to the role of pass game specialist to accommodate. Tyler Boyles was signed on as the assistant to the head coach to replace Parks Frazier who is moving to offensive quality control coach.

Free Agency

Players lost/cut
Name Position New Team
Adam Vinatieri K Free Agent
Clayton Geathers S Free Agent
Joe Haeg T Buccaneers
Jabaal Sheard DE Free Agent
Eric Ebron TE Steelers
Devin Funchess WR Green Bay
Pierre Desir CB New York Jets
Quincy Wilson CB New York Jets
Adam hasn’t officially announced his retirement, but I doubt he comes back to the NFL. He struggled throughout the year before going on IR. Geathers is a great character guy who began the season as the starting strong safety, but slowly lost reps to the impressive rookie Khari Willis. Haeg is the only guy the Colts probably wanted back as he’s a capable backup at all five slots on the line. Sheard is getting up there in age, Ebron seems to have made a business decision, and Funchess was the worst affected in the week one Claviclysm when injured his clavicle alongside Hill and Foles while being the only one to miss the rest of the season. Pierre Desir was an unexpected cut this offseason after playing well enough through the year despite playing through an injury. Quincy Wilson was traded to the Jets after a few disappointing seasons.
Players signed
Name Position Old Team Length Money
Philip Rivers QB Chargers 1 Yr 25 Mil
DeForest Buckner DT 49ers 5 Yr 21 Mil/Y
Sheldon Day DT 49ers 1 Yr 1.75 Mil
Xavier Rhodes CB Vikings 1 Yr 3 Mil
Trey Burton TE Bears 1 Yr .91 Mil
Roosevelt Nix RB Steelers 1 Yr .96 Mil
TJ Carrie CB Browns 1 Yr 1 Mil
Let’s start with Philip Rivers. It’s clear that Jacoby Brissett is not the guy and the Colts had to make a choice. They went with a player that both head coach Frank Reich and offensive coordinator Nick Sirianni have worked with previously, which may be quite valuable as we implement the offense during a shortened offseason. Regardless, Philip underwent a dramatic statistical drop last year. I think he’s still got juice left in him and can make a great deal of good throws if he has a decent amount of room in the pocket. If you have some time, I recommend this video by The Scouting Academy featuring former offensive coordinator turned quarterback guru Steve Fairchild.
While DeForest Buckner was not technically a free agent, he was a massive departure from the Chris Ballard modus operandi of building through the draft. The team desperately needed a 3T and they traded their first round pick for one of the best in the league. Joining him will be recent teammate Sheldon Day who will likely take over quite a few snaps at the 1T.
Xavier Rhodes was signed on almost immediately after cutting Pierre Desir. He certainly seemed physically incapable of doing what was asked of him last year. Some players have called out the scheme change as a reason that Rhodes might return to form. Personally, I don’t quite see it and think his primary value on the team might be on using his intelligence as a veteran presence in a young CB room.
Of the remaining three, Trey Burton seems like a lock at TE2 after an injury filled stint with the Bears. Roosevelt Nix is an interesting choice as I expect him to continue his heavily blocking role he played with the Steelers as well as pick up a few more rushing snaps than he did with the Steelers as we lack a true fullback. Carrie is a guy that has a chance at being the backup slot behind Kenny Moore, but I don’t think he’s secured a spot yet.

Draft

Round Pick Name Position College
2 34 Michael Pittman WR USC
2 41 Jonathan Taylor RB Wisconsin
2 85 Julian Blackmon S Utah
3 122 Jacob Eason QB QB
4 149 Danny Pinter G G
6 211 Robert Windsor DT Penn State
6 211 Isaiah Rodgers CB UMass
6 212 Dezmon Patmon WR Washington State
7 213 Jordan Glasgow LB Michigan
Michael Pittman Jr, WR, USC 2.34 Grade: A
This man just feels like a Colt. He’s a physical player and will immediately slot in as Philip River’s YOLO target. He’s got great size and uses it well both in positioning himself against a receiver to win the ball as well as using his frame and forcing his way down field. Even on truly contested catches, he has great hands with only 5 drops against 176 catchable targets in college. Lastly, his frame and hand usage make him a valuable blocker, which is particularly valued by Frank Reich as he plans to run the damn ball.
Jonathan Taylor, RB, Wisconsin 2.41 Grade: A-
This man is going to run the damn ball. Let’s start by mentioning his toughness, with nearly 1000 rushes through three years. The man’s body doesn’t show any sign that it will ever give up. He has enough cutting ability to dodge the occasional tackle, but excels at using his physique and contact balance to force his way through a tackle. If the defense fails to collapse on Taylor quickly, they’re at risk of him taking off. Taylor was the fastest running back at the combine running a 4.39 at 225 pounds. Going 1-on-1 with him nearing full speed is almost a futile prospect. As he finds lanes behind probably the best run blocking line in the league, he’ll be plenty of trouble. Not without flaws, he’s had a somewhat questionable history with fumbles that will likely lead to plenty of time with Tom Rathman. He also has limited experience in the passing game.
Julian Blackmon, S, Utah 3.85 Grade: C+
Perhaps I’m being a bit too harsh on Blackmon because I’m slightly addicted to watching Pittman embarrass the Utah defense in the Utah vs USC game. Perhaps it’s just because I’ve watched limited tape and safeties struggle with getting on tape for failing in coverage more often than being particularly good in coverage. Either way, as the heir apparent to Malik Hooker’s starting free safety position, Blackmon feels in a way like the opposite player. While both players had an eye for the ball coming out of college, Blackmon feels overall much more inconsistent in coverage, but he also feels like a much more solid tackler. Blackmon is also a recent convert to safety from corner, so perhaps what I’m seeing is simply growing pains especially because my reviewed games are from early in the season.
Jacob Eason, QB, Washington 4.122 Grade: C+
Jacob Eason was a surprise drop for many who considered him a second round prospect. His arm is an absolute cannon belonging right in that Josh Allen tier of pure arm strength. Of course, he’s a fourth round pick for a reason. He struggles to work through his progressions, he can’t consistently throw with touch, and there are some huge question marks regarding his work ethic. There’s a whole lot of potential, but I’m not going to call the future franchise QB spot secured for the Colts yet. For the time being, I’ll call him a fine backup for a team that didn’t otherwise have a QB rostered for 2021.
Danny Pinter, G, Ball State 5.149 Grade: B-
Danny Pinter is an undersized prospect that is moving in to play guard after most recently playing as a tackle. As a tight end convert from a small school, he still lacks a lot of the technique and strength and conditioning that you would hope for in an NFL O-line prospect. I’ve seen him be pretty weak with his hand placement and he’s let the defender get into his chest a couple times. The upside here is Pinter’s mobility. He ran the second fastest 40 of all offensive linemen at the combine at 4.91 seconds at 306 pounds and put up respectable numbers for the remaining footwork related drills. Altogether a fine pick for a team with a solid offensive line that will hopefully have time to develop their rookie.
Robert Windsor, DT, Penn State 6.193 Grade: C
Robert Windsor has a good first step and a motor that doesn’t stop. That’s all the good I can say about him. Windsor doesn’t have the strength, length, or technique to make an impression. With the potential of Denico Autry moving to the edge, it seems like they might be looking at Windsor as a backup for Buckner. If Tyquan Lewis continues to be a disappointment in the limited camp, Windsor might just sneak onto the roster by need alone, which is the only reason I can bump my grade to a C, though perhaps I’m a little too critical as I felt there were a couple of other players that are more roster worthy.
Isaiah Rodgers, CB, UMass 6.211 Grade: A
Isaiah Rodgers is an absolute burner. His pro-day speed was 4.28. Admittedly hand timed is always faster, but he’s clearly quick on tape. A bit undersized at 5’10”, he’ll likely be relegated to the back end of the cornerback depth chart until he can develop into an NFL level corner, but his immediate value seems very obvious on special teams. His speed makes him a threat at kick returns and he’ll likely get tried out as a backup punt returner. As a gunner, he will gladly hit you with everything he’s got. Check this hit.
Dezmon Patmon, WR, Washington State 6.212 Grade: B+
Patman is an intriguing prospect. He’s got a great combination of size and speed. While easily compared to second round pick Pittman because of his physical traits, Patmon lacks a lot of the polish. Worse hands, worse route running, and doesn’t quite play to his size like Pittman does. Regardless, I expect him to find production in his rookie year as Frank Reich was playing with the most injured wide receiver core in the league last year and has proven an ability to scheme depth players open consistently. Lastly, I think his size and River’s tendencies towards giant players is going to come into play fairly often near the redzone.
Jordan Glasgow, LB, Michigan 6.213 Grade: B+
Glasgow isn’t a guy I want to see playing a lot of defensive snaps in a game. He’s technically refined enough, but physically doesn’t seem to have a very high ceiling. During the Middle Tennessee State game that I reviewed for him, Michigan used him plenty to blitz the quarterback where he was plenty effective, but I won’t pretend that he was up against top tier opponents. Ultimately Glasgow is going to be a special teams specialist after a college career where he excelled at special teams, which at the end of the 6th round is all you can ask for.

Roster

QB: 3 Rivers, Brissett, Eason
Things are pretty straightforward for the Colts this year. There aren’t any preseason games, so nobody can retire after one. Rivers is the starter, hoping to prove that his career isn’t over after a down year last year. Brissett is a capable enough backup. Eason is the team’s insurance for 2021 when no other quarterbacks are on the roster and will hopefully not have to start during what is sure to be an odd season. First man out is $wag Kelly, who seems mainly to hold a roster spot as a favor between Frank Reich and his old friend Jim Kelly.
RB: 4 Mack, Taylor, Hines, Nix
For a while at least, Mack gets to hold the starting job. It’s certainly a competition with Taylor’s level of talent and I expect a pretty even split over the course of the year. Despite some competition at the position, Hines may have his best year considering River’s appreciation for receiving backs. Rosie Nix is the new fullback from the Steelers who might get a few touches here and there, but exists primarily for his blocking ability. First man out is Jordan Wilkins. This is a contentious cut for Colts fans. Wilkins has an unusual level of highlight type plays that lend to his 6.0 yards per attempt over 51 carries last year. Alas, roster spots are at a premium and running backs are not.
WR: 6 Hilton, Pittman, Pascal, Campbell, Marcus Johnson, Dezmon Patmon
Hilton’s the obvious choice. After two years struggling with health issues, Colts fans are hoping their WR1 remains healthy for the whole year. Pittman comes in as a fairly polished candidate from the top of the second round in a stacked receiver class. He’ll hold down the X receiver immediately. Zach Pascal was a pleasant surprise for Colts fans last year. With a list of injuries above him, Pascal did his best as WR1 for several games last year and led the Colts in receiving yards. As a WR3, he’ll get less focus and still be fairly valuable. Campbell has shown plenty of big play ability, what he needs to show is durability. He suffered four separate injuries last year including training camp. Hopefully, it was just a fluke and he can show off more of what he can do with a ball in his hands. Marcus Johnson is a fan favorite after his Tampa Bay showing last year. After starting the season on injured reserve, he returned to the practice squad and eventually made the roster last year. Colts fans are hoping his 16.3 yards per reception last year and 17 yards per reception in 2018 weren’t flukes and can be duplicated on more snaps Rivers. Dezmon Patman comes in as a somewhat unrefined option. I’ve already mentioned his physical traits. With a little bit of help from Reich’s scheming, I think he’ll find a handful of receptions this year, particularly towards the red zone. The first man out here is Daurice Fountain. After moving to the active roster in mid-2018, Reece was a training camp hit in 2019 until suffering an ankle injury in camp. While he might compete for the position, I haven’t seen enough from him in the first two years to give him right of way over Johnson and the rookie Patmon.
TE: 3 Jack Doyle, Trey Burton, Mo Alie-Cox
Jack Doyle has been a reliable pass catcher and mauling run blocker for years. He’s solid in his position as a starter. Trey Burton reunites with Frank Reich and is only two years removed from having a 569 yard season with the Bears. After struggling with injuries last season, Burton is hoping for a return to form this season. Mo Alie-Cox was a bit disappointing as many were expecting more receiving stats, but he’s still a talented run blocker with plenty of potential for next year. With Rivers having an appreciation for big bodied receivers, perhaps the 6’5.5” receiver with a 7’1” wingspan will find a few jump balls his way.
OL: 9 Castonzo, Nelson, Kelly, Glowinski, Smith, Clark, Patterson, Pinter, O’Donnell
The Colts are lucky enough to return all 5 starting offensive linemen this year. Castonzo played some of the best football of his career last year and signed on for two more years after considering retirement for a while. Quenton Nelson is coming off his second First Team All-Pro year. Kelly is a great Center coming off a fairly healthy season and going into a contract year. Glowinski is the weak point of the line, but that’s not so much an insult to Glowinski as it is a credit to the rest of the team. He’s still a very serviceable guard. Braden Smith is surpassing my wildest expectations from the day he was drafted as a guard. With early 2018 injuries to the tackle position, Smith made the shift and has been great at the position. Beyond the starting five, things get a bit more questionable with a significant loss of depth this past year. Clark returns on a one year contract and will be taking over the swing tackle position now that Joe Haeg has left. Patterson suffered a torn ACL in his rookie year, but is the only center on the roster behind Kelly and not including Nelson who only holds the position so he can keep 56. Pinter seems like the obvious option as a backup guard. O’Donnell is a Canadian football prospect that I assume the Colts found at the East-West Shrine bowl where he played fairly well. The Colts need depth at tackle and I can see O’Donnell doing that. First man out is Eldrenkamp as a backup guard.
DL: 9 Autry, Buckner, Day, Houston, Turay, Stewart, Muhammad, Lewis, Banogu
Autry has largely played DT the past couple years and done a fine job of it. With Sheard leaving in free agency, I currently have Autry slotted as the guy to move outside and take over the job. Buckner is our 3T we’ve been looking for. I hopefully don’t need to say anything else. Sheldon Day is competing with Grover Stewart for the 1T spot. I’ve got Day listed as my starter, but for a position that will see plenty of rotation I don’t think it matters either way. Turay is the “if only” story of 2019. Houston had a surprisingly healthy year and racked up 11 sacks, tied for second most in his career. Turay showed a ton of talent in his few snaps prior to injury in 2019. Over the five weeks he played, he ranked second in PFF’s pass-rushing grade and pass-rush rate with a 22.9% pressure rate. If he can build on these past two years, Turay may be a monster. Tyquan Lewis is the disappointment of Chris Ballard’s 2018 draft. He’s struggled with a couple of injuries and he’s had a few healthy scratches that I haven’t heard anything verifiable to explain away. Alas, I’m leaving him in the lineup as a guy who is flexible enough to back up Buckner, but also play outside as need be. Banogu is another guy that has shown flashes here and there. First one out is Robert Windsor, who might take that 3T spot if Lewis doesn’t shape up in camp.
LB: 6 Leonard, Walker, Okereke, Speed, Adams, Glasgow
13 games, 5 Int, 2 FF, 7 PD, 5 Sacks, 121 Tackles. Darius Leonard put up some impressive stats last year and he’s aiming for the top. If he can pull off a 16 game season with similar stats, he’ll have an argument for DPOY. Walker is a smart player, if a little limited athletically and in coverage skills. I’ll keep him as the starter, but many fans are arguing for Okereke to take over the role. Okereke was PFF’s top ranked rookie linebacker last year, particularly for his athleticism and strength in coverage. EJ Speed had some limited play last year while Leonard was dealing with a concussion. He played fine, but has yet to show anything to get excited about. Glasgow takes the final spot primarily for special teams value. Adams has played a handful of snaps here and there, but is primarily going to be a special teams player. First man out is Zaire Franklin was only getting special teams snaps anyways.
CB: 5 Rhodes, Moore, Ya-Sin, Tell, Rodgers
Rhodes is hoping for a resurgence in a different scheme. I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt and give the former first team all-pro the nod as CB1. Kenny Moore II has been a great slot corner for the Colts these past couple years. He struggled with injuries for a long while to end out the year last year, but I fully expect him to continue his efforts to make himself a household name this year. Rock Ya-Sin was our rookie pick last year near the top of the 2nd round. He had some common rookie CB mistakes, but showed enough talent and growth to believe he has a high chance of taking over the CB1 role. Marvell Tell is an incredible physical specimen that the Colts took last year with the expectations of moving him to CB from Safety. With injuries to the cornerback position, he got a few more snaps than we were hoping, but he flashed a great deal. If Xavier Rhodes’s physical decline last season continues, I wouldn’t be completely surprised to see Tell starting over a healthy Rhodes. Rodgers is still very developmental as a corner, but holds plenty of value for special teams. First man out is TJ Carrie who would have been a fine slot backup in case Kenny Moore went down.
S: 5 Hooker, Willis, Odum, Blackmon, Milligan
Malik Hooker is entering the last year of his contract with the Colts after having his fifth year option declined. Hooker lit up the stat sheet his rookie year, but ever since the scheme change, has struggled to prove he was worth the draft position. With an improved pass rush this year, perhaps his sixth sense in finding the ball will come into play more often. Khari Willis was a pleasant surprise last year. It was clear the Colts liked him when Ballard traded draft capital to move up, but I wouldn’t have expected him to so clearly take over the starting strong safety position. On top of that, Willis played reasonably at free safety during Hooker’s injury last year. Odum is a solid backup who can play at both strong and free safety. Julian Blackmon is the new rookie who I assume is intended to be Hooker’s successor next year. For the time being he’s coming back from an ACL injury and may not be available until midyear, but as the successor to the starting position, I think it’s important to at least give him a spot for now. Milligan is a versatile player. He’s really a free safety, but played a bit of slot corner last year when Kenny Moore went down.
ST: 3 Blankenship, Sanchez, Rhodes
Hot Rod is my guess to be kicker. While McLaughlin played well enough for the Colts. Even with a 100% hit rate on extra points, there’s plenty of room for more consistency as he ranked 22nd overall in field goal percentage last year. It’ll be a tough contest in camp, but if I’m calling my shot with Hot Rod. Sanchez hasn’t played his best football these past couple years. I’m hoping someone else takes over kickoffs and Sanchez can focus entirely on punting in hopes of returning to form.

Position Group Strengths and Weaknesses

QB
The Colts QB room seems solid. I’m expecting Rivers to return to his typical self that still throws a decent amount of interceptions. Regardless, a quarterback that doesn’t constantly hold onto the ball for 3+ seconds playing behind this line is going to have plenty of opportunities to make great plays. For this year of all years, it seems like the value in having backup quarterbacks is going to be at an all time high and I don’t feel so bad about what the Colts have. I’ll call it a fairly average group until Rivers can prove his career isn’t over.
Backfield
The Colts have a group of good backs, but lack an elite option particularly when considering that none have proved themselves a threat in both the rushing and passing game at the moment. As a group, I’ll call it borderline top 10 in large part because any one of these players could get injured without it feeling season ruining as may be true with a few of the teams with top running backs.
OL
I have no complaints about the starting offensive line, the huge question mark is about the depth. The Colts were lucky enough to start the same five men all season last year, but one injury to Anthony Castonzo and Colts fans will have flashbacks to the five game stretch he missed in 2018 where Luck suffered 10 of the 18 total sacks on the season. Alas, many teams struggle with depth and I hope I don’t have to argue too much about this being one of the best groups in the NFL.
Pass catchers
By Adjusted Games Lost, the Colts had the single most injured wide receiver room last year. The single biggest thing that needs to be proven is that we can stay healthy across the board. If they stay healthy, the Colts are a mid tier group, but under the assumption that TY’s health issues these past two years continue, I’m forced to assume they’re a bottom third group until we can trust someone to be a true WR1 in most games.
DL
The Colts starting lineup seems pretty strong, but for a position group that we want to rotate with depth players on, I’ve gotta question what kind of play we’re going to see out of guys like Tyquan Lewis and Ben Banogu. As such, I’ll call this group middling overall.
LB
It’s just a solid group all around. The fact that we can’t decide between Okereke and Walker as starters is primarily a question of which is better, not which is worse. Behind them is plenty of serviceable depth that holds an important role in special teams.
Secondary
This is the one group with question marks at basically every spot. Can Rhodes return to All-Pro form? Was the apparent growth for Ya-Sin real and can it continue? Can Moore stay healthy? Can Tell develop into a starting safety? Can Hooker stay healthy after missing significant time these past two years and can he prove he’s worth his draft position?
Special Teams
What just one year ago felt like a solid group for kicking and punting, now feels a bit questionable. I don’t want to get so down about Rigo’s down year as it was still overall decent. With the new search for a kicker, I can’t complain about either of the current options and I don’t believe either will get nearly the leash that Adam Vinatieri got last year, so I’d say the floor there is much higher. The returning seems like it’s best in years after Hines has impressed and our return team overall just seems to be getting stronger. With the addition of Isaiah Rodgers, this may be a group to beat.

Schedule Predictions

Week 1: @ Jaguars (W)
Ah yes, the Jaguars. An eternal question mark for the Colts. Generally believed to be one of the worst rosters in the league, I’d have to agree. There are plenty of question marks on their defense that they’re hoping will be filled in by rookies. I would expect them to have growing pains even without a shortened offseason. Week one, this seems to weigh heavily with the Colts who’ve added strong veteran talent in Rivers and Buckner.
Week 2: vs Vikings (W)
Despite having one of my favorite drafts of the year, the Vikings have many of the same struggles as the Jaguars. First, we must accept that moving from Diggs to Jefferson isn’t likely to be a smooth transition in Jefferson’s first year. Just as notably they’re losing their two corners that put up the most snaps for them in 2019. While neither of their 2018 corners were playing at their best, it currently looks like they’ll have two rookie starting corners with Gladney and Dantzler and I think all of reddit knows to expect cornerbacks to have rookie year struggles.
Week 3: vs Jets (W)
Can TY play corner? The Jets draft is another one of my favorites, but they’re still not quite there as a whole. Despite my love for Becton, I don’t think their list of offensive line changes have turned into a complete group. On top of that, I’m still not quite happy with their weapons. Bell looks like he’s still got mileage left in him if only he had a better line. Their tight end group is highly dubious, and their wide receiver group has really better hope Mims can actually play like a WR1. I think it’ll be a better game than some might assume based on a lot of opinions I hear on the Jets, but I’ve got the Colts with the edge.
Week 4: @ Bears (W)
As a fan of watching line play, this will be a game to remember. The Bears d-line is arguably the best run defense in the league and they’re not bad against the pass either particularly when backed by a good secondary. Unfortunately for the Bears, I’m expecting their weaker offensive line to struggle vs the Colts defensive line more than the opposite.
Week 5: @ Browns (L)
Ah, yes. I get to another one of my favorite offseasons. Just about everything the Browns did seemed like a good move. On paper, the Browns offense is scary as hell and I just don’t have any arguments for why they would be worse. Jack Conklin and Jedrick Wills are going to be great additions to fix that line, then you go and add Hooper as if you didn’t have enough weapons. With even half-decent coaching this team can be dangerous and I can’t trust the Colts secondary to handle every weapon.
Week 6: vs Bengals (W)
After five straight years of the Bengals losing their first round pick for a significant amount of time due to injury, maybe this year will be an exception. With the return of Jonah Williams, perhaps that line can actually have a half decent year, but I’m not going to bet the house on it. For the time being, the Bengals are still working on their rebuild.
Week 7: Bye
Week 8: @ Lions (W)
What little I watched of the Lions last year seemed like a decent quality team. As rarely as I like to bet on rookie corners, Okudah is as complete as any college corner I’ve seen. I’m not ready to call them a strong team, but they don’t seem weak by any means. A return from Stafford could make the NFC North one of the most internally competitive divisions to watch. Regardless, I feel like the Colts have a somewhat stronger roster.
Week 9: Ravens (L)
If only I could go to this game in person. I’d love to see how the Colts defense matches up against that Ravens offense in person. Top to bottom the Ravens have one of the strongest rosters in the league, so they get the strong edge.
Week 10: @ Titans (L)
I hate Thursday night games. The home team has a huge statistical advantage. Going into Tennessee tired after a tough Ravens game certainly isn’t going to do the Colts any favors when they’ve gotta try to tackle Derrick Henry.
Week 11: vs Packers (L)
This is just a long stretch of teams asking a lot of the Colts physically. Stopping the run week after week with the Ravens then Derrick Henry then Jones/Dillon is just going to be physically brutal. Luckily, the Colts are coming off a ten day bye at home, but the Packers are just an overall solid team all around and I think they’ll still be very competitive at every phase of the game.
Week 12: vs Titans (W)
I don’t think the Colts will be happy with their string of losses. I think they’re coming back hungry and trying to prove themselves against a divisional opponent at home.
Week 13: @Texans (W)
After the Texans split games in 2018 and 2019, the Colts are going to get the first win of 2020. For two closely matched teams in 2019, the Colts have lost nobody of any particular importance and purely added more talent, while the Texans sold off Hopkins in hopes that Cooks and Cobb will somehow elevate their offense. It’s a risky bet.
Week 14: @ Raiders (W)
Last year’s Raiders led the Colts by 7 points with just over 2 minutes to go in the half prior to Brissett’s pick 6. Looking at things from a clean slate, I’d fully expect the return of previously inactive Hilton, Leonard, and Hooker to cover the gap between the two teams and I have the Colts winning next year’s game.
Week 15: vs Texans (L)
Let’s not underrate Deshaun Watson. Having watched Luck carry a questionable offense for years, I think Deshaun’s got enough talent to pull some wins out of his ass. I’m certainly not so low on the Texans roster to believe Deshaun can’t push it to a win.
Week 16: @ Steelers (W)
Last year’s game was a 2 point Steelers victory after an Adam Vinatieri kick went awry with about a minute left in the game. So, they question is, were the Colts offseason improvements worth 2 points on the Steelers? Both of these teams are expected to improve greatly with the return and hiring of 2004 quarterback legends, but I’d have to give a slight nod to Big Ben as the greater improvement from Mason Rudolph vs Rivers replacing Brissett/Hoyer. For remaining Inactives, I’d have to credit the loss of TY Hilton as a more significant factor than that of James Connor. What I think finally takes the Colts over the top is the combination of their first round pick for DeForest Buckner as well as a stronger pair of second round additions with Pittman and Taylor vs Claypool.
Week 17: vs Jaguars (L)
If you don’t like the look of that L next to the Jaguars game, you don’t like AFC South football. The Jags always seem like a much better team about once a year. I’m looking at you 2018 Jags. At 10-5, I think the Colts have a good chance at being guaranteed a playoff berth and the Jags probably just want to prove themselves more.

Schemes

Offense
If you’re looking at last year’s team as a model for this year’s offense, you’re probably missing something. To quote Ozzurip from last year’s review, “The point is that there isn’t a specific scheme.” Frank Reich isn’t beholden to doing one thing every week. He wants to find every mismatch and exploit it to the best of his ability by using a diverse set of tools. Jacoby’s limitations as a player saw the passing offense get unnecessarily flat last year. Philip Rivers is the bet to run Frank Reich’s offense properly.
This starts by looking at your traditional West Coast offense utilizing a lot of nickel and dime throws in order to set up a rush. Of course with the Colt’s power running and more modern RPO usage, the run game is setting up this short passing game just as well. When teams are playing too close to the box, Frank will call up a play to push the ball deep where his new quarterback is more than willing to follow through. Ultimately, Reich will push whatever works. If the Colts are running over the opposing team, he won’t be afraid to lean into the run, but I personally believe the Colts will want to be a pass first offense once again. This is admittedly not a commonly agreed upon point among Colts fans. Feel free to take my opinion with a grain of salt.
The Colts have a diverse set of weapons that allow them to play just about any game they want to and will gladly lean on certain weapons to target specific weaknesses in the opponent’s defense. You want big guys? Let’s throw Doyle, Alie-Cox, Pittman, and Patmon out there. This not only puts out a selection of big bodies to have to defend against, but also a good list of run blockers for whichever running back they’re throwing out. Want speed? Hilton, Campbell, and Hines are each capable of stretching the field vertically. The last note I want to add would be a likely increase in 22 personnel. Just toss out Patmon and mix and match some running backs. Reich has mentioned seeing Mack and Taylor on the field at the same time, but I would fully expect plenty of plays with Nix holding a lead blocker role or even a more Tom Rathman-esque fullback that pulls in passes in the short game.
Defense
The Colts defense is a pretty simple scheme based on a 4-3 Tampa 2 defense. Despite some excitement after the Chiefs game where the Colts played man on 73.3% of snaps, expect for the Colts to play a vast majority of their snaps in zone coverage. Playing man for that one game was likely just taking advantage of a weakened receiving core than it was a proof of the Colts sudden willingness to move to a different scheme.
The Colts are heavily reliant on the front four to generate pressure and do so by rotating through 8-9 defensive linemen with the goal of keeping players fresh. The Colts defensive lineman with the highest snap count last year was Justin Houston who only played in 65.18% of snaps. Perhaps bringing in Buckner will cause the team to add a bit more consistency after Buckner’s 78.72% snaps on the 49ers last season. This focus on the front 4 is accentuated by the 6th lowest blitz rate in the league in 2019.
Part of what helps the defensive line be effective is their ability to focus on the passer while the linebackers work heavily to stop the run. The Colts run a lot of a concept called patterns where the play side linebacker’s goal is to control the offensive line and push the run outside where the other linebacker is meant to be athletic enough to cross the line and stop the run. For a more detailed look at the Colts implementation of this concept, read Zach Hicks’s writeup on this
Behind the linebacker group is typically a Cover-2 whose primary goal is to cover the deep zones and prevent any big plays. The idea is that forcing a team to dink and dunk down the field forces the offense to be successful on more plays to reach the end zone. More plays means more opportunities on each drive for interceptions, sacks, forced fumbles, and simply missed passes in order to set the offense back. The Colts were ultimately tied for 10th in the league at 13.1 percent of drives ending in a turnover.
Shoutouts to those who helped:
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Will the Seattle Seahawks win OVER/UNDER 9.5 games? By University Stats Prof!

1. Introduction

Upon hiring Pete Carroll as their new head coach back in 2010, the Seahawks had consecutive 7-9 seasons. Since then, the franchise has enjoyed eight winning seasons in a row, compiling an impressive 86-41-1 record (a 67.6% winning percentage).

Last year, Seattle stayed toe to toe with the 49ers atop the NFC West division by winning 10 of the first 12 games. However, the Seahawks lost three of their final four contests, including the season finale against the Niners that was lost by a matter of inches on fourth and goal.

The Seahawks opened the playoffs by traveling to Philadelphia. They took advantage of an early injury to QB Carson Wentz to take the game by a 17-to-9 score.

Seattle’s next stop was at Lambeau Field to face Aaron Rodgers’ squad. The Hawks almost rallied from a 21-to-3 deficit at halftime, but were defeated 28-23.

2. Offensive Position-by-Position Breakdown

2.1 Quarterbacks (QBs)

Russell Wilson is just a phenomenal quarterback. There are so many good things that could be said about him.

Before diving into the numbers, here’s a stunning fact: he hasn’t missed a single game over his entire 8-year career. That’s incredible considering the number of hits he’s taken and given that he rushes about 90 times per season.

If not for Lamar Jackson’s heroics, Wilson might have won the MVP honor. He had his second-highest completion percentage (66.1%) and passing yards (4,110) of his career. His 31:5 TD:INT mark was exceptional.

All of the numbers above are great, but what makes them even more impressive is Wilson didn’t have a top-10 supporting cast. Keep in mind that he had just lost perhaps his top target, Doug Baldwin, who had decided to hang up his cleats at 31 years old. Wilson can clearly embrace the role of carrying a team on his shoulders.

The backup QB job is still up in the air. Geno Smith has yet to be re-signed, but it’s not impossible that he comes back.

2.2 Running Backs (RBs)

Chris Carson has now rushed for over 1,000 yards in each of the past two seasons, while reaching the end zone nine times in each of those years. His career yards-per-rush average of 4.5 is very respectable as well.

Carson suffered a pretty significant hip injury in the season finale. He avoided surgery during the offseason, but is questionable for training camp.

The second leading rusher in 2019, Rashaad Penny, also had a severe late-season injury. He went down with a brutal torn ACL and he seems unlikely to be ready in time for Week #1. The number 28 overall pick from the 2018 draft rushed for just 370 yards behind Carson last year, but he improved his yards-per-rush average from 4.9 in 2018 up to 5.7 last year.

Considering both Carson and Penny are nicked up, can Travis Homer take advantage? Last year’s sixth-round rookie didn’t do much in 2019. He had touched the ball just three times through the first 15 weeks of the season. He had to step in when the injury bug hit Seattle’s backfield. It’s hard to draw any conclusions from his 18-114-0 rushing stat line.

2.3 Wide Receivers (WRs)

Tyler Lockett is a very reliable guy. His worst career season has been 41 receptions for 597 yards. Last season he set career-best in receptions (82) and receiving yards (1,057), while also hauling in 8 TD passes.

Much like his signal caller, Lockett is very durable. He has missed just one game in five years.

Rookie D.K. Metcalf stepped up in a nice way to grab the number two role. His 58-900-7 receiving line was a resounding success. He has a great mix of size and speed. He set a new league record with 160 receiving yards as a rookie in a playoff game.

The Patriots finally pulled the plug on the Phillip Dorsett experiment. He packed his bags for Seattle where he’ll be looking to fill a role as a deep threat. He couldn’t get going in New England despite a very thin receiving corps and having Tom Brady throwing the ball his way. It does not bode well for him.

David Moore had the third-most catches among Seattle WRs last year, but 17 receptions isn’t something to get overly excited about. He can be an occasional deep threat, but he makes bad mistakes at times. As a former seventh-rounder, there is not much upside with him.

2.4 Tight Ends (TEs)

Greg Olsen decided to hold off his project to call games on television for at least another year. He signed a $7 million one-year deal to join the Seahawks. He’s clearly not the once-dominant tight end he used to be, but the 35-year-old still caught 52 passes 597 yards despite catching passes from Kyle Allen and Will Grier.

Jacob Hollister led the position in receptions last year with 41, but that’s unlikely to happen again in 2020. He did his best, but keep in mind he was an undrafted guy who had caught just eight passes in two years. He benefited from Will Dissly’s injury and with the lucrative contract awarded to Olsen, it seems obvious that Hollister will get his playing time cut out.

Will Dissly got drafted in the 4th round in 2018. He missed most of his rookie season due to a torn right patellar tendon. This time, he tore his left Achilles’ during the sixth game of the 2019 regular season after a promising start. His athletic abilities could be more limited after sustaining a major injury to both legs.

As for Luke Willson, he will be primarily used as a blocking tight end.

2.5 Offensive Line (OL)

Right tackle Germain Ifedi left for Chicago during the offseason, but that’s fine from Seattle’s perspective. The 2016 first-round pick has been a bust and clearly struggled throughout his career. The team will replace him with Brandon Shell, formerly of the Jets. He is a small upgrade, but far from a big-time acquisition.

Left tackle Duane Brown continues to provide quality play on Russell Wilson’s blindside, but you have to wonder how much longer he can do the job. Brown will be entering his age-35 campaign. He finished as the 23rd-best tackle out of 81 qualifiers last year, which is a nice accomplishment for a player in his mid-thirties.

The team lost some depth following the departure of their #3 tackle, George Fant, to the Jets. He wasn’t great, but he still represented a good insurance policy.

Center Justin Britt had started either 15 or 16 games in each of his first five seasons in the NFL. His lucky streak ended on a running play in Week #8 where he tore his ACL and missed the remainder of the year. His play has been uneven, and he graded out as a below-average center. The team decided to release him during the offseason.

Backup center Joey Hunt did even worse than Britt when called upon to fill in as the starter. He’s not a long-term solution for sure, but he will compete for the starting gig with B.J. Finney, who was complete dust when he stepped on the field for the Steelers last year.

Guards Mike Iupati and D.J. Fluker received almost identical marks from PFF last year: 60.3 and 59.1 (46th and 48th out of 81 guards).

Iupati is a 10-year veteran whose play has deteriorated since 2017 when injuries started to plague him. As for Fluker, he’s also a player in decline. His first 3-4 years were good, but the last three not so much. Seattle released him and he found a new home two days later in Baltimore.

One potential candidate to replace Fluker is third-round rookie Damien Lewis. He is a great fit for Seattle’s run-oriented offense since he’s great in run blocking; he was seen throwing defenders on the ground many times. However, he’s not nearly as good in pass protection.

Perhaps Ethan Pocic can take advantage of his last shot to play in the NFL. After being picked in the second round of the 2017 draft, he has been bad in all three of his pro years.

2020 VS 2019 OFFENSE

Russell Wilson, Chris Carson, Rashaad Penny, Tyler Lockett, D.K. Metcalf and Jacob Hollister are all back for the Seahawks this year.

Add the return of TE Will Dissly from an injury, along with the acquisitions of Greg Olsen and Phillip Dorsett and you have a recipe for another successful season on offense, right?

A major potential problem stems from the offensive line. Replacing Ifedi for Shell is fine. However, Duane Brown and Mike Iupati are getting older (35 and 32 years old, respectively) and the team lost some depth following Fant’s departure to New York. There are big question marks at center and right guard following the release of Britt and Fluker without having clear-cut solutions to replace them.

Russell Wilson has always been great at dealing with suspect offensive lines, but there’s a limit to what he can do. Also, the team’s success relies on the running game quite a bit, so you need guys that will open up holes.

Don’t forget about Carson and Penny both coming back from significant injuries. Also, Russell Wilson is coming off an amazing season in which PFF rated him as the best QB in the league. As much as I love Wilson, it will be difficult to replicate that kind of success.

Seattle’s offense posted the 9th-most points in 2019. For the reasons stated above, I envision a slight downgrade in 2020.

Final call (2020 vs 2019): Small downgrade

3. Defensive Position-by-Position Breakdown

3.1 Defensive Linemen (DLs)

The interior of the defensive line featured a mix of Quinton Jefferson, Poona Ford, Jarran Reed and Al Woods.

Let’s kick off the analysis with the two guys that left via free agency. Jefferson got drafted in the 5th round and had a slow start to his career. However, he showed nice improvement in each of the past two seasons, even reaching the #27 spot out of 114 DLs based on PFF grades. Seeing him leave for Buffalo wasn’t good news.

Al Woods also jumped off the ship to sign with the Jaguars. He won’t be missed as much as Jefferson, although he had a respectable 2019 season. He was more of a run-stuffer who turned 33 years old.

Poona Ford showed promise in limited time as an undrafted rookie in 2018, especially defending the run. He was an “okay” player last year and might see the field more often in the upcoming season.

Jarran Reed seemed like an up-and-coming star after generating 10.5 sacks in 2018. However, the 2016 second-round pick had a season to forget both on and off the field last year. He was slapped with a six-game suspension for domestic violence before having an ordinary season that included just two sacks.

He just signed a very lucrative contract, so the team is banking on him to rebound to his 2018 form. The talent is there for sure. Let’s see if he can put it together this year.

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

The Seahawks were pretty bad last year rushing the passer. They had the second-fewest sacks in the league.

The team’s leader in sacks was Rasheem Green with only 4! The third-round pick from the 2018 draft wasn’t super effective, as shown by his 92nd rank out of 107 edge defenders in the NFL. There’s not much hope he will become a game-changer.

The only guy receiving good grades was Jadeveon Clowney. He’s known for his pass rushing abilities, but he’s an underrated run stuffer. He had his lowest sack output in five years, but he is bound to get rack up more in 2020. The bad news is he left via free agency.

Ezekiel Ansah was a major bust in his first year as a Seahawk. After averaging 8 sacks per year over his first six seasons, he recorded just 2.5 last year. He was also a liability defending the run. An awful year across the board. Now 31 years old, he has yet to sign with any team.

As for Branden Jackson, he is a replacement-level player. He has 3.5 sacks in four years.

The team is attempting to boost the position via a couple of free agent acquisitions: Bruce Irvin and Benson Mayowa.

Irvin is a nice addition. He is reuniting with the team that selected him in the first round of the 2012 draft. He has 52 career sacks in eight seasons, which amounts to 6.5 on average per year. Not bad!

It’s harder to figure out what to anticipate from Mayowa. He’s playing for a new team for the 5th time in 7 years. After posting just two sacks in his first three seasons, he now has 18 over the last four years. He is coming off a career year in Oakland with seven sacks and three forced fumbles. He is likely to be used as a rotational pass rusher.

Why not attempt to boost a position that underwhelmed last year by adding one more piece through the draft? That’s what the Seahawks did when taking Darrell Taylor in the second round. Based on expert evaluations, he has the toolbox necessary to succeed, but he needs quite a bit of development.

3.3 Linebackers (LBs)

Bobby Wagner led the NFL with 159 tackles last year. He’s never had less than 104 tackles in a season (and that was over 11 games). I think it’s fair to call him a tackling machine.

During his eight-year stint in the NFL, Wagner also has 19.5 sacks, 10 interceptions and five forced fumbles. He can do it all! He will be playing his age-30 campaign.

K.J. Wright had a subpar year. He received his lowest PFF grades of his nine-year career, but still finished in the middle of the pack (46th out of 89 LBs). He missed 11 games in 2018 with lingering knee issues, so you have to wonder if that still affects him.

Mychal Kendricks is gone after spending two uneven seasons in Seattle. He tore is ACL in the season finale and he pleaded guilty to securities fraud accusations.

The Seahawks picked a guy that is likely to play a rotational role in 2020: Jordyn Brooks. Some experts thought he was a reach at the 27th overall selection. He is good chasing running backs and scrambling QBs (he can literally fly and won’t miss many tackles), but he is far from a finished product in coverage.

3.4 Cornerbacks (CBs)

After two run-of-the-mill seasons, Shaquill Griffin flipped the switch and performed admirably well last year. His coverage skills improved dramatically and he finished at the #10 spot out of 112 corners in the NFL based on PFF rankings. Can the 2017 third-round pick keep it up?

Tre Flowers received awful marks from PFF after getting burned repeatedly last year. He finished among the worst CBs in the league.

The team felt a need to upgrade the position, and they did so in a big way. Seattle signed Quinton Dunbar, formerly of the Redskins. He is coming off a career year where he picked off four passes and graded as the second-best corner in the NFL.

Still, let’s not get exhilarated too much. Dunbar is an undrafted guy that had four decent, yet unspectacular, seasons. He hasn’t proved he can be a top starter yet, but having him over Flowers is definitely an upgrade!

3.5 Safeties (S)

Quandre Diggs was acquired from the Lions last year to bolster Seattle’s secondary. He did a great job with three picks in just five games! He was a nice get and an upgrade over Tedric Thompson (who is now off the team).

The other starting safety is Bradley McDougald. He’s been fairly solid in each of his six seasons in the NFL. He is not a game changer, however.

2020 VS 2019 DEFENSE

Let’s evaluate how the 2020 Seattle defense should fare compared to the 2019 unit.

On the interior of the line, we detect a downgrade following the departure of Quinton Jefferson, and to a lesser degree Al Woods. Granted, there is hope that Jarran Reed might bounce back from his super disappointing 2019 season.

At edge, Clowney and Ansah are out, while Bruce Irvin and Benson Mayowa are in. What is the net outcome from those moves? I’ll go with a slight loss, in part because Clowney is likely to improve upon his 2019 sack total and he was great against the run.

At linebacker, Wagner and Wright aren’t young fellows anymore, but they’re not old either. Wright had a subpar year and he certainly has a shot to do better in 2020. However, losing Mychal Kendricks isn’t good news (albeit not a devastating blow either!). We’ll see if rookie Jordyn Brooks can fill his shoes.

Plugging Quinton Dunbar opposite Shaquill Griffin is an upgrade for sure since Tre Flowers struggled mightily last year.

At safety, we know what to expect from McDougald: respectable play. Now, having Diggs for a full season instead of Tedric Thompson is a vast improvement.

For all of those reasons, I am pegging Seattle’s defense to stay around the same level as 2019. They finished 22nd in points allowed last year and I expect them to secure a similar spot in 2020.

Final call (2020 vs 2019): Stable

4. Regular Season Wins

According to sportsbooks, the Seahawks are expected to win 9.5 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 9.5 WINS 49.4% William Hill +130 +13.6%
UNDER 9.5 WINS 50.6% Pinnacle -118 -6.5%
Tip: Bet OVER 9.5 wins
Return On Investment (ROI): +13.6%
Rank: 21st-highest ROI out of 32 teams
Minimum odds required to bet (i.e. ROI = 0%): +102

Here are BetOnline’s point spreads for the Seahawks’ 16 regular season games:
HOME: -7.5 vs ARI, -2.5 vs DAL, -3.5 vs LAR, -3 vs MIN, -4.5 vs NE, -9 vs NYG, -8.5 vs NYJ, 0 vs SF.
ROAD: -2.5 @ ARI, -1.5 @ ATL, +2.5 @ BUF, +1.5 @ LAR, -4 @ MIA, +2 @ PHI, +6.5 @ SF, -6 @ WAS.

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

Tomorrow, we're previewing the Indianapolis Colts 2020 season! Will they win oveunder 8.5 games?

Cheers!

Professor MJ
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Will the Tennessee Titans win OVER/UNDER 8.5 games? By University Stats Prof!

1. Introduction

Tennessee’s season completely turned around once they benched quarterback Marcus Mariota in favor of Ryan Tannehill.

After a 2-4 start, the Titans won seven of their final 10 games to sneak into the playoffs as the 6th seed in the AFC. Fun fact: it was the fourth straight season that the Titans finished with a 9-7 record!

In the playoffs, they knocked off the defending Super Bowl champions New England Patriots, as well as the top seed in the conference, the Baltimore Ravens. Derrick Henry ran like a mad man in those games, becoming the first player in NFL history to rack up at least 175 rushing yards in two games in the same postseason.

In the AFC Conference Championship Game, Tennessee grabbed a 17-7 lead in the second quarter, but couldn’t hold off the Chiefs any longer in a 35-to-24 defeat.

2. Offensive Position-by-Position Breakdown

2.1 Quarterbacks (QBs)

Ryan Tannehill was clearly one of the best Cinderella stories in 2019. After taking over as the starting QB over Marcus Mariota, he led the league in QB rating.

He crushed his previous career-high in completion percentage with as astounding 70.3%; his personal best was 66.4% in 2014.

During his first six years in Miami, he posted a 123:75 TD:INT mark. That equates to a 1.64 ratio. In 2019, he threw 22 TD passes versus 6 interceptions, which amounts to a 3.7 ratio. As you can see, once again he obliterated his past numbers.

The team thinks he can keep playing at that level after handing him a hefty contract. I do believe he’ll do a good job in 2020, but not at the 2019 levels, obviously.

As of now, the backup QB is Logan Woodside since Mariota signed with the Raiders. Woodside was drafted in the 7th round of the 2018 draft out of Toledo. During preseason games, he completed 46-of-76 passes (a 60.5% completion rate) for 539 yards with 4 TDs and no interception. It’s hard to tell what he can bring to the table.

2.2 Running Backs (RBs)

Derrick Henry was a true beast last year. He won the rushing title with 1,540 rushing yards and 16 TDs on the ground (he added two more as a receiver). His 5.1 yards-per-carry average is mind-boggling considering the high volume.

He didn’t slow down in the playoffs. After rushing for 182 yards in New England, he single-handedly destroyed the Ravens with 195 rushing yards. He was quieter in K.C. by accumulating 69 yards on the ground.

Few people remember how he finished the previous year on a high note as well. In the final four meetings of the 2018 season, he averaged 146 rushing yards and 1.75 rushing TDs per contest. Obviously, he followed up with a season to remember.

Henry’s numbers have steadily increased every single year since he joined the league in 2016. Now 26 years old, defensive coordinators must be getting up at night to game plan against him.

Dion Lewis was a nice change-of-pace back, even though he didn’t have a great year. At least he had NFL experience, which is not the case of the remaining potential backup backs. Both Dalyn Dawkins and David Fluellen are undrafted guys who have combined for 19 rushing attempts in the league.

Tennessee filled a need by drafting Darrynton Evans in last April’s draft. The third-rounder complements Henry’s skillset well, as Evans can spell him on passing third-down situations (a role that used to be played by Dion Lewis). Also, he isn’t great running inside the tackles due to his small size, but he is more of a change-of-pace runner who has home-run hitting capacities.

2.3 Wide Receivers (WRs)

Rookie A.J. Brown was hyped as a big-play guy, and he did not disappoint. He didn’t catch that many balls, but when he did he made the most of it.

The Mississippi product led all receivers that caught at least 50 passes with a jaw-dropping 20.2 yards-per-catch average. He scored 8 TDs, while also topping the 1,000 receiving-yard mark (he had 1,051).

Will former #5 overall pick Corey Davis live up to his draft status? It seems unlikely after watching his first three years as a pro. He raised hopes by posting a 65-891-4 receiving line in 2018, but he regressed to 43-601-2 last year. Talent and youth play on his side, though. He may not be a true No. 1 wideout, but he can clearly do the job as a number two or three receiver.

Adam Humphries is an efficient, yet not explosive player. He is good to pick up key first downs. He caught more than 70% of his targets in his final two years in Tampa, and he reached that goal once again in his first season in Tennessee.

Was he worth a four-year deal worth $36 million? Probably not, but having him as your slot receiver is a bonus. His numbers were down last year, but he will be a useful tool as a 27-year old this year.

Tajae Sharpe also made a nice contribution last year with 25 receptions, 329 yards and 4 TDs. He was a nice luxury to have on your roster, but he signed with the Vikings during the offseason.

2.4 Tight Ends (TEs)

Jonnu Smith and Delanie Walker received the most playing time at tight end.

Walker did a decent job, but father time seems to have caught up to him. After being very durable for 11 years, he stayed healthy for just one game in 2018 and seven games last year. Accordingly, the team cut ties with him as he was going to enter his age-36 campaign.

Walker’s absence gave more room for Jonnu Smith to shine. The 2017 third-rounder has seen his numbers increase every year. His 35-439-3 receiving line is nothing to write home about. He could make a jump in 2020, but don’t expect huge steps.

Anthony Firkser will be back with the squad. He doesn’t have the size and speed to become a great TE, but he does a fine job for a guy that was never drafted.

MyCole Pruitt will be the #3 TE. He has never caught more than 10 passes in any of his five years in the NFL. Enough said.

2.5 Offensive Line (OL)

Ben Jones has done a great job at the pivot throughout his entire eight-year career. He raised his game to a higher level last year by finishing at the second-best center in the NFL according to PFF grades. He’s been an awesome pickup when acquired from the Texas a few years ago.

Right tackle Jack Conklin broke the bank in Cleveland, which left a glaring hole in Tennessee. He was a very solid player, and Dennis Kelly or Isaiah Wilson will try to fill his shoes.

Kelly has received his two best PFF grades of his seven-year career in 2018 and 2019, which is a good sign. However, he doesn’t play at the same level as Conklin.

The organization figures to have a better chance at replacing Conklin adequately with Isaiah Wilson, who was taken late in the first round of this year’s draft. This guy weighted close to 400 pounds coming out of high school! He is a mauler.

The rookie needs work for both his footwork and technique, which led to uneven play in college. He has exceptional physical traits and high potential, but may not be great right from the start.

At left tackle, Taylor Lewan is a cornerstone of this offensive line. He’s been good his whole career, never receiving a PFF mark below 76.4, which is remarkable!

Rodger Saffold is the starting left guard for the Titans. He ranked as the sixth-best guard in the NFL last year; needless to say he’s been a valuable piece of the puzzle for this franchise.

The weakest link is Nate Davis at right guard. The third-round rookie struggled big-time last year.

2020 VS 2019 OFFENSE

The Titans did not make a single free agent acquisition on offense.

They lost some depth with the departures of RB Dion Lewis and WR Tajae Sharpe. The team hopes 3rd round pick Darrynton Evans can spell Henry appropriately.

The backup QB will also be weaker due to Mariota leaving for Vegas. And despite his advanced age, Delanie Walker was a decent TE, although he only appeared in seven games last year.

The biggest loss occurred on the offensive line. Seeing Jack Conklin go to the Jets hurts the team. Rookie Isaiah Wilson will do his best to hold the fort, but he is unlikely to play at the same level as Conklin in his first year as a pro.

Finally, how could we expect better production out of Ryan Tannehill in 2020 as opposed to his 2019 heroics?

In conclusion, I am tagging the Titans offense with a moderate downgrade in comparison to 2019.

Final call (2020 vs 2019): Moderate downgrade

3. Defensive Position-by-Position Breakdown

3.1 Defensive Linemen (DLs)

Jurrell Casey is a strong run stuffer, while also averaging 5.7 sacks per year over a nine-year period. He was traded to Denver for cap reasons, which will hurt Tennessee’s interior of the line a lot.

With Casey gone, the team will hand a much heavier workload to Jeffery Simmons. After missing the first seven games due to a knee injury, he showed fairly good promise as a #19 overall pick from the 2019 draft. His sophomore year will be critical.

The team will also rely on DaQuan Jones to step up his game. He is an above-average DL, whose main strength is defending the run. He only has seven sacks in six years.

The Titans lost some depth as Austin Johnson went to the Giants.

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

Harold Landry played twice as many snaps in his sophomore year as his rookie season, and he doubled his sack total (going from 4.5 to 9 to lead the team in that category). He graded as the 62nd-best edge defender in the league out of 107 players. He has the potential to take a leap.

The team hopes to improve its pass rush by adding Vic Beasley, formerly of the Falcons. His numbers are a bit puzzling. He led the league with 15.5 sacks in his second season back in 2016. Since then, he has posted 5, 5 and 8 sacks.

Those are not bad numbers, but they are clearly below expectations coming from a fellow that was the 8th overall selection in the 2015 draft. Also, he is a liability in run defense. In other words, he’s been more name than game recently.

Kamalei Correa racked up five sacks despite playing 39% of the snaps. He had just 3.5 sacks over his first three years as a pro. He’s not a game breaker.

Reggie Gilbert is a role player. The undrafted guy has 4.5 sacks in three years is no more than depth.

3.3 Linebackers (LBs)

Jayon Brown and Rashaan Evans are the leaders of this group. Based on draft status, Evans is supposed to be the superior player, but that wasn’t the case at all last year.

Evans received poor marks from PFF with a 47.6 grade; he obtained spot #74 out of 89 LBs. He struggled a lot in coverage and wasn’t that great rushing the passer. He does a fine job defending the run though.

As for Brown, his 68.8 PFF grade allowed him to finish as the 20th-best linebacker in the league. His sack total went from 6 in 2018 down to just one a year ago. The former fifth-rounder will try to bring that number back up this season.

Wesley Woodyard’s career is clearly on the decline. He lost his starting job, his PFF grades are falling, he’s 34 years old and he is now a free agent after the Titans failed to re-sign him.

3.4 Cornerbacks (CBs)

Adoree’ Jackson is the team’s number 1 CB. He was the 18th overall pick from the 2017 draft. Even though he has only two career interceptions, he is still a fairly solid coverage guy. He constantly ranks among the upper tier.

Logan Ryan played almost all defensive snaps last year and he filled the scoresheet more than ever in his seven-year career. He had career-highs in tackles (113), sacks (4.5) and forced fumbles (4). He also picked off four passes, his second-best performance.

Yet, he graded as an average corner by taking the 62nd rank out of 112 CBs because of ordinary run defense and coverage skills. The Titans couldn’t meet his salary demands, so he left via free agency.

Malcolm Butler finished once again in the middle of the pack among all NFL cornerbacks last year. The Super Bowl XLIX hero has seen his PFF grades decrease in each of the past three seasons, but he still manages to intercept 2-4 passes every year. He missed seven games last year with a broken wrist.

LeShaun Sims played 30% of the snaps, while producing poor play on the field. He’s never been a good corner, but he still found a new home in Cincinnati when the Bengals signed him in March.

The Titans took Kristian Fulton late in the 2nd round this year. Many reports suggest he’ll be an average NFL starter. He is best in man coverage due to his physicality. He lost the entire 2017 season when he was caught trying to tamper with a PED test sample, where he submitted a friend’s urine.

3.5 Safeties (S)

Kevin Byard is one of the league’s highest paid safety and he deserves it. He has 17 interceptions over the last three years. In those seasons, his PFF rankings were 4th, 3rd and 10th among close to 90 qualifiers.

Byard turned out to be a huge bargain as a former third-round pick out of Middle Tennessee State. Now 27 years old, there is no reason to believe his play will deteriorate in 2020.

Kenny Vaccaro is well known among fans, even though his play is not great. He probably gets recognition due to his former first-round status, but his best PFF grade was 66.7 back in 2013. Just to give you an idea, such a mark would have yielded him the #48 spot out of 87 safeties last year. And that was his best season.

Amani Hooker played 30% of the snaps last year as a rookie. The Titans had actually traded up to secure his rights during the 2019 draft. He did a decent job, but the jury is still out about the fourth-rounder’s future.

2020 VS 2019 DEFENSE

The Titans allowed the 12th-fewest points in the league last year. Should be expect better or worse play in 2020?

Jurrell Casey’s presence will be missed in a big way on the interior of the line. Also, not getting CB Logan Ryan back is hardly good news. Overall, he was an above-average corner who was constantly on the field and has been very durable in his career.

The only good addition is Vic Beasley. I feel like he’s overrated since his sack numbers are lower than what most people think and due to poor run defense, but he still has valuable pass rushing abilities.

Based on this information, I anticipate a small downgrade from this unit.

Final call (2020 vs 2019): Small downgrade

4. Regular Season Wins

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

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

Here are the results:

Estimated Probability Sportsbook Odds ROI
OVER 8.5 WINS 50.9% FanDuel -110 -2.8%
UNDER 8.5 WINS 49.1% Pinnacle +129 +12.4%

Tip: Bet UNDER 8.5 wins
Return On Investment (ROI): +12.4%
Rank: 22nd-highest ROI out of 32 teams
Minimum odds required to bet (i.e. ROI = 0%): +104

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

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

I hope you found this article informative, I've got every NFL team covered so check out my other posts! Have a nice day!

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

Will the Jacksonville Jaguars win OVER/UNDER 5 games? By University Stats Prof!

1. Introduction

This franchise has been struggling quite a bit since 2008, except for the 2017 season where they rode a stout defense all the way to the AFC Championship Game. During this 12-year time span, the Jaguars have compiled a 63-129 record, which equates to a mediocre 32.8% winning percentage.

What puzzling is the team does not seem to have a sound plan in place. From looking at their roster, there does not seem to be much hope for short-term, nor long-term success.

2. Offensive Position-by-Position Breakdown

2.1 Quarterbacks (QBs)

The million-dollar question is whether Gardner Minshew is a starting NFL-caliber quarterback or not.

Minshew clearly exceeded expectations that you would normally have for a rookie sixth-round pick. He threw 21 TD passes versus just six interceptions, while racking up 3,271 passing yards and 344 more yards on the ground. His 60.6% completion rate wasn’t great, though.

All in all, he showed nice flashes, but was inconsistent at times. He did develop a nice rapport with second-year receiver D.J. Chark.

You can tell that the organization is not 100% sold on him. There were strong rumors that the franchise had a lot of interest in Andy Dalton when the Bengals released him. However, he signed with the Cowboys.

The backup QB role will be settled through a battle in training camp between Joshua Dobbs and Jake Luton.

Dobbs was acquired via a trade with the Steelers after Nick Foles went down to an injury in the season opener. He was drafted in the 4th round of the 2017 draft out of Tennessee. He has attempted 12 passes in three years.

As for Luton, the Jags took him in the sixth round in this year’s draft. He played his college ball at Oregon State, where he mostly played the role of a game manager. He repeatedly completed short passes and he completed a very low percentage of his throws under pressure.

2.2 Running Backs (RBs)

Leonard Fournette was on the trading block, but the Jags weren’t able to find any suitors. His career got off to a fast start with 1,040 rushing yards, 302 receiving yards and 10 total TDs as a rookie in 2017.

However, things didn’t go too well for him as a sophomore. His 2018 season was shortened due to an injury and he averaged a dreadful 3.3 yards per rush.

Last year, he had season-highs in rushing yards (1,152), yards-per-rush average (4.3) and receptions (76). The only problem was that he reached the end zone on only three occasions. For the first time of his career, he stayed relatively healthy by playing 15 games.

Fournette does not seem like a good three-down back. He is probably best suited as a power back in a committee-approach in the backfield.

The number two runner last year was Ryquell Armstead. He was a rookie fifth-rounder who had received just 34 touches prior to the season finale. He filled in as the starting RB in Week #17, a game in which he rushed 10 times for 33 yards, while catching 5 passes for 52 yards. He finished the season with a mediocre 3.1 yards per carry average.

I really like how the team addressed the lack of depth at the position by signing free agent Chris Thompson, who played the first seven years of his pro career with the Reskins. I really liked him early in his career, as he showed great flashes and big-play ability both as a runner and as a receiver. He was a great change-of-pace back.

However, his production on the ground has dipped many years in a row. Take a look at his yards per carry average since 2015: 6.2, 5.2, 4.6, 4.1 and 3.7. At least his pass catching output has remained consistent, hauling in between 35 and 49 passes in each of those seasons.

In my own humble opinion, he’s an underrated player who has a chance to revive his career. He’s 29 years old, but he has plenty of gas left in the tank considering the relatively small number of career touches. He has a good burst and nice playing experience. He will be reuniting with OC Jay Gruden who was his head coach in Washington.

2.3 Wide Receivers (WRs)

D.J. Chark was the go-to guy in the passing game last year. He really blossomed in his second year after catching just 14 passes as a rookie. In 2019, he posted a nice 73-1008-8 receiving line. He is pretty fast for a 6’4’’ guy. He stumbled a little bit down the stretch, but he was slowed by an ankle injury.

Starting opposite Chark was Chris Conley. It’s unclear yet whether he can be a good No. 2 WR, but he had a good first season in Jacksonville after spending four years with the Chiefs. He set career marks in receptions (47), receiving yards (775) and 5 TD catches. His 16.5 yards per catch average was very solid.

Conley is likely to fight with rookie Laviska Shenault for some playing time. Shenault was used in a variety of fashions with the Buffalos. Head coach Doug Marrone said he might also use him in the backfield or as the F tight end. Shenault has been plagued with injuries, so we’ll see how the team uses him if he can stay on the field.

The starting slot receiver, Dede Westbrook, underwhelmed a little bit last year. His receiving yards and TDs regressed. His 10.0 yards per catch average was fairly disappointing as well. He is still a decent weapon, though.

Keelan Cole’s time in the NFL could very well be running out. He burst onto the scene as a rookie undrafted free agent in 2017 with 42 catches for 748 yards and 3 TDs. Things have gone in a downward spiral since then. He reeled in just 24 grabs last year and finds himself on the outside looking in, especially after the team drafted Shenault.

2.4 Tight Ends (TEs)

James O’Shaughnessy led all Jags tight ends with 14 receptions, despite playing just five games. It seems fair to affirm the position underperformed in 2019.

If you project O’Shaughnessy’s numbers into a full 16-game season, you would obtain a 45-490-6.4 receiving line, which isn’t bad. He was on pace for his best season before tearing his ACL. Can he really become a starting TE in this league, considering he has never caught more than 24 passes in any of his first five years?

The most likely starter is Tyler Eifert, who signed a two-year contract with Jacksonville after a seven-year career that has been marred with injuries in Cincinnati. He showed great flashes, especially in 2015 where he scored 13 TDs on 52 grabs. In the following three years, he has played 14 games and he has missed 34 of them. Unreal!

For the very first time of his career, he played all 16 bouts last year. His workload was reduced, though. He is a big question mark that could either be a boom or a bust in 2020.

Seth DeValve and Nick O’Leary both left via free agency, but they didn’t play a big role last year anyway.

How does second-year man Josh Olivier fit in? He was taken early in the 3rd round of the 2019 draft out of San Jose State. He only caught three passes in four games and struggled to make his mark in limited time.

2.5 Offensive Line (OL)

Brandon Linder is a much underrated center in this league. He does not get much publicity playing in a small market like Jacksonville, but he has done a phenomenal job at the pivot for six consecutive years for the Jags. Last year’s 75.3 PFF grade was his worst of the past four seasons, and yet he graded as the fifth-best center in the league!

Minshew’s blindside protector is Cam Robinson. That’s not necessarily good news for the signal caller. Robinson has been among the most terrible tackles in the NFL since he was drafted in the second round of the 2017 draft.

At the other end of the offensive line, at right tackle, the starter is Jawaan Taylor. He enjoyed a respectable rookie season by finishing 50th out of 81 tackles last year. He slid out of the first round and was a good value pick for the Jaguars during the 2019 draft.

Left guard Andrew Norwell came out of nowhere and played great in four seasons with the Panthers as an undrafted free agent out of Ohio State. Indeed, his PFF marks during this time frame lied between 73.6 and 81.1, which is well above average. He then signed a hefty contract with the Jags, and his PFF grades dropped to 69.3 in 2018 and 65.5 last year. His pass blocking is very efficient, but he has more trouble opening holes for the running game.

Right guard A.J. Cann is another guy whose career is going south. He showed promise in his first two seasons as a pro, but has regressed big time in the last three years. Last year, he graded out as the number 60 guard out of 81 qualifiers.

Will Richardson is ready to step in if an offensive lineman gets hurt. He missed his entire rookie season with a knee injury and was horrendous in spot duties last year.

2020 VS 2019 OFFENSE

The Jags scored the 26th most points in the league last year. Can we expect an improvement in the upcoming season?

The starters remain the same, except at tight end where the team upgraded with the acquisition of Tyler Eifert. Can the often-injured big fellow stay healthy for the second year in a row?

The team added depth with running back Chris Thompson and rookie WR Laviska Shenault. Both could provide a boost to a suspect offense. The whole receiving corps is pretty young and likely to improve.

The entire OL is back, which is good for continuity reasons. Some studies have shown that continuity is a key factor to an offensive line’s success. LT Cam Robinson and RG A.J. Cann are a source of concern, though.

An offense often goes as far as his quarterback takes them. In Jacksonville, that’s a big question mark.

Will Gardner Minshew grow in his second year? As a former sixth-round pick, that’s not a gimme. The depth at the position is worrisome as well after Nick Foles left for Chicago, leaving Joshua Dobbs and Jake Luton as the lone alternatives (unless GM Dave Caldwell signs a veteran before the season kicks off).

On paper, I would normally tag this group as a small upgrade over 2019. However, I find it difficult to project them to finish much higher than last year’s 26th rank. If Minshew goes down, things will get even uglier (again, unless the Jags add another QB).

Final call (2020 vs 2019): Stable

3. Defensive Position-by-Position Breakdown

3.1 Defensive Linemen (DLs)

Abry Jones played the most snaps on the interior of the line last year, and he wasn’t great. He graded out as the 82nd DL out of 114 qualifiers based on PFF rankings. He had a subpar season, receiving a 60.1 mark after getting over 70 in each of his previous three seasons. The undrafted alumni from the Georgia Bulldogs has spent his entire seven-year career with the Jags.

Taven Bryan was pretty solid against the run last year. The 2018 first-rounder has only picked up three sacks in his two years as a pro, but he’s an efficient run-plugger.

Marcell Dareus played just six games last year; he underwent core muscle surgery during the offseason. He has yet to sign with any team; Jacksonville GM Dave Caldwell is open to bringing him back if they can agree on a deal. Dareus posted 28.5 sacks in his first four seasons in the NFL compared to just nine over the last five years! He has always been a very good run-stopping force, but even this aspect of the game dipped last year. He would be playing his age-31 campaign.

The team signed former Cardinal Rodney Gunter to a three year deal. His PFF grades have been very consistent year-over-year; he regularly finishes in the middle of the pack among all interior defenders.

The Cards also acquired Al Woods via free agency. The 33-year-old is an above average player defending the run, but only has 4.5 sacks in 10 years. He is projected to be a rotational player in this defense.

Another guy who is likely to be a reserve player is rookie Davon Hamilton, who was taken early in the third round last April. He will be groomed for a starting defensive tackle job in 2021. He is extremely strong, but needs to improve his burst in order to become a disruptive force in the big league.

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

Ouch. This group took a big hit during the offseason.

First, stud DE Calais Campbell was traded to Baltimore in return of a fifth-round pick (!!!). This was clearly a cap-clearing move since Campbell finished as the second-best edge defender in the whole league last year, based on the PFF rating system. He has averaged 8 sacks in the last 11 years, which is quite impressive. He is known for his pass rushing skills, but he was an awesome run defender. A big loss for the Jags.

Yannick Ngakoue has demanded a trade and has been fighting publicly via Twitter with co-owner Tony Khan. No deal has been done yet. It seems unlikely he will be in a Jaguars uniform again. Ngakoue is in his prime years and has recorded 37.5 sacks in four years as a pro. Another big blow to this defense.

Josh Allen’s rookie season was a success. He led the team with 10.5 sacks. He could improve against the running game and in coverage, though. Overall, he obtained the number 48 rank out of 107 edge defenders.

Things weren’t as pretty for Dawuane Smoot last year. Sure, he racked up six sacks, but he graded out as the worst edge defender in the NFL. One of the main reasons was his abysmal run defense performance.

With the 20th overall pick, the Jags selected K’Lavon Chaisson out of LSU. He’s a great pass rusher with elite burst. He still needs development due to his young age, but his raw talent is impressive. A good get for Jacksonville.

The team also acquired Cassius Marsh, formerly of the Cardinals. Don’t hold your breath hoping he’ll be a star. This is his fifth team in seven years and he has never received very good PFF grades in his career.

3.3 Linebackers (LBs)

The Jaguars had a putrid linebacking corps last year, and it does not bode very well for 2020 either.

Sure, they signed Joe Schobert away from Cleveland, who has stuffed the score sheet with at last 100 tackles in each of the past three years. He also plays all downs, but his run defense is suspect. He grades out as an average LB in the NFL.

Myles Jack’s career is not going in the right direction. His PFF grades have deteriorated in each of the past three seasons, going from 79.2 in 2017, down to 68.1 in 2018 before plummeting to 46.1 last year. Following the signing of Schobert, he will slide to outside linebacker, a move that he is excited about. The young former second-rounder is primed for a bounce back year.

Quincy Williams had an awful rookie season. The 2019 third-round pick was amongt the worst LBs in the league. So was his teammate Donald Payne. 31-year-old Najee Goode isn’t a viable solution either.

Jacksonville claimed Preston Brown off waivers late last year after getting depleted by injuries at the position. He has not been good in any of his six years in the NFL, so why would it change in 2020?

Perhaps Leon Jacobs can provide adequate play? He was taken in the 7th round of the 2018 draft, but he has surprised with strong play as a tackler in limited time. He played just 31% of the snaps last year, but we’ll see if the team gives him a heavier workload in 2020.

3.4 Cornerbacks (CBs)

Jacksonville made another cap-related trade by getting rid of their No. 1 corner, A.J. Bouye. He had a surprisingly bad 2019 season and he will be looking to rejuvenate his career in Denver.

In order to compensate for the loss, the Jags took C.J. Henderson with the 8th overall pick in this year’s draft. He is at his best when shadowing the opposing team’s top receiver. He has outstanding athleticism, but his play took a step backward last year.

A potential starter opposite Henderson is newly acquired Rashaan Melvin, formerly of the Lions. He played every down in the 13 games he played last year. He is great against the run, but struggles in coverage. Overall, he is clearly a below average corner who is joining a 6th team in seven years.

Let’s not discard Tre Herndon too soon. He played 86% of the snaps last year and picked off three passes last year. He received equally poor PFF grades as Melvin, though.

D.J. Hayden is the favorite to land starting slot corner duties. After five very ordinary seasons in Oakland and Detroit, he has elevated his game a lot since suiting up with the Jaguars. PFF rated him the 11th-best CB in the league last year, his second straight solid season.

Fourth-round rookie Josiah Scott might push Hayden for the slot man job, but he is unlikely to supplant him at the moment. He could become the starter next year if Hayden leaves via free agency.

3.5 Safeties (S)

This is the lone position on defense where no changes were made during the offseason. Finally some stability!

Jarrod Wilson was undrafted coming out of Michigan. His snap count increased big time last year; after playing 30 snaps in 2016, 89 snaps in 2017 and 222 snaps in 2018, he saw the field on over 1,000 snaps last season. He responded very well by grading out as the number 25 safety out of 87 players. A very nice story. He has done a nice job in coverage throughout his career.

The other starting safety is Ronnie Harrison. The 2018 third-round pick out of Alabama received a 61.1 PFF grade as a rookie before receiving a 60.9 mark last year. That put him as the 67th-best safety. There is not much hope he will develop into an upper tier safety in this league.

Harrison missed two games due to injuries; in those contests, Andrew Wingard stepped in to replace him, but he wasn’t very effective. The undrafted prospect out of Wyoming is more of a reserve player.

2020 VS 2019 DEFENSE

The linebacking corps received an upgrade after signing Joe Schobert; he will become the team’s MLB right away. The interior of the line was slightly improved by adding Al Woods and Rodney Gunter, while losing Marcell Dareus who only played six games last year anyway.

The defense suffered a big hit with the departures of three star players: Calais Campbell, A.J. Bouye and most likely Yannick Ngakoue (although his situation is still up in the air). Drafting K’Lavon Chaisson and C.J. Henderson was smart, but you cannot ask them to fill such big shoes in their rookie season.

At safety, Ronnie Harrison is a perennial below average player, while Jarrod Wilson did a very fine job last year. He’s an unproven guy and I’m worried he might regress significantly this season.

For these reasons, I expect a moderate downgrade for the Jaguars defense in 2020.

Final call (2020 vs 2019): Moderate downgrade

4. Regular Season Wins

According to sportsbooks, the Jacksonville Jaguars are expected to win 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 Jags' 16 games):

Estimated Probability Sportsbook Odds ROI
OVER 5 WINS 35% Pinnacle +154 -11.2%
UNDER 5 WINS 65% 10Bet -115 +21.6%

Tip: Bet UNDER 5 wins

4.2 Based on BetOnline's Point Spreads

Here is the methodology I used here:
Here are the results:
Estimated Probability Sportsbook Odds ROI
OVER 5 WINS 38.4% Pinnacle +154 -2.5%
UNDER 5 WINS 61.6% 10Bet -115 +15.2%
Tip: Bet UNDER 5 wins (18th-highest ROI out of 32 teams)

For your information, here are BetOnline’s point spreads for the Jags’ 16 regular season games:
HOME: -1 vs CHI, -1 vs CLE, +1.5 vs DET, +3 vs HOU, +6.5 vs IND, 0 vs MIA, +6 vs PIT, +3.5 vs TEN.
ROAD: +16.5 @ BAL, +3.5 @ CIN, +11.5 @ GB, +9 @ HOU, +10.5 @ IND, +7 @ LAC, +11.5 @ MIN, +11 @ TEN.

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

Thanks for reading my 32 NFL team previews!

Professor MJ
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Will the New Orleans Saints win OVER/UNDER 10.5 games? By University Stats Prof!

NEW ORLEANS SAINTS
  1. Introduction
The Saints secured the #2 seed in last year’s playoffs following a great 13-3 season, despite Drew Brees missing five games.
Unfortunately, for the third straight season, the Saints were eliminated in dramatic fashion. After suffering through the “Minneapolis Miracle” in 2018 and the non-call on a critical blatant interference penalty against the Rams in 2019, the Saints lost a 26-20 overtime thriller at home against the Vikings. Once again, officials were questioned when the replay showed Kyle Rudolph possibly pushed P.J. Williams on the game-winning touchdown.
Bad luck just continues to stick to this franchise. Will it be THE year where they shake it all off?

  1. Regular Season Wins
According to sportsbooks, the New Orleans Saints are expected to win 10.5 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 10.5 Wins 52% Fan Duel +100 +4.0%
UNDER 10.5 Wins 48% William Hill -110 -8.4%
Tip: Bet OVER 10.5 wins
Return On Investment (ROI): +4.0%
Rank: 30th-highest ROI out of 32 teams
Minimum odds required to bet (i.e. ROI = 0%): -108
Note: The “Best odds” from the table above were obtained after looking at 13 well-known online sportsbooks on May 18th, 2020.

3. Offensive Position-by-Position Breakdown
QUARTERBACKS (QB)
Drew Brees is simply unbelievable on the field, and a wonderful human being. He donated $5 million to deliver meals to needy people in the Louisiana state. A great gesture from him and his wife.
Will he ever slow down or what? He is now 41 years old, but his numbers have kept impressing. He has completed at least 70% of his passes in each of his past four seasons, which is jaw-dropping! He led the league in that category last year.
His TD-to-INT ratio has also improved of late. Over the past two years, he has thrown 59 TD passes versus just 9 picks.
Backup QB Teddy Bridgewater left for Carolina during the offseason. Who can blame him? He deserved a chance to be a starter in this league once again. He’s joining a much weaker team, though. He did a very good job when Brees went down to a thumb injury.
For a moment, the backup QB became Taysom Hill, who has been the jack-of-all-trades in this offense. He can throw, he can run, he can catch.
However, it’s unclear who gets the #2 role following the signing of Jameis Winston, also known as “The Turnover Machine.”
Winston threw for 5,109 yards last year, which turned out to be the 8th-most in league history. However, the 30 interceptions (!!!) and five lost fumbles put a big blemish on his 2019 season. A 60.7% completion rate wasn’t all that great, either. He has great weapons to work with, including stud receivers Mike Evans and Chris Godwin.
Playing for the Saints could end up being the best thing that has ever happened to Winston. He will get great tips from Drew Brees who, unlike Winston, doesn’t turn the ball over often. The former Buc has a great arm and he is in his mid-twenties; not all hope is lost for the former #1 overall pick out of Florida State.

RUNNING BACKS (RB)
Alvin Kamara’s numbers have been incredibly steady since entering the league in 2017. He has rushed for 728, 883 and 797 yards during that time frame, while catching exactly 81 balls (!!!) in each of these three seasons. His TD output was his lowest of his career though, as he only scored six total touchdowns in 2019.
It is worth noting, though, that he battled through injuries last year. He had more trouble breaking tackles down the stretch. He will be back at 100% when the 2020 season begins.
Latavius Murray is nice luxury as a backup running back. He picked up almost as many rushing yards as Kamara, while posting a nice 4.4 yards-per-carry average. This figure has never been lower than 3.9 in any of his six years in the NFL, which is remarkable.
Kamara missed two games last year; in those games, Murray racked up 150 and 157 total yards with a couple of touchdowns in each of those contests. The Saints will be in good hands if Kamara gets hurt.

WIDE RECEIVERS (WR)
Michael Thomas broke Marvin Harrison’s single-season record for receptions by catching 149 balls. He caught a minimum of four passes in all games and cleared the 100-receiving yard mark on 10 occasions.
Thomas was truly dominant. What’s even more incredible is he caught 149-of-185, which amounts to a mind-boggling 80.5% catch rate (an unbelievable percentage given the high volume).
With Thomas and Kamara catching so many passes, that didn’t leave many targets to the other receivers. Ted Ginn’s play seemed to drop off quite a bit, as he caught 30-of-56 balls thrown his way. He has his second-worst PFF grade over his 13-year career. At 35 years old, you have to wonder whether he has some gas left in the tank or not. I don’t believe he can rebound in 2020.
Meanwhile, Tre’Quan Smith was a disappointment last year. He did catch 5 TD passes for the second straight year after being selected in the 2nd round of the 2018 draft, but catching 18 passes for 234 yards won’t be anyone very excited.
As if the team needed more playmakers, they went on to get Emmanuel Sanders who started the year in Denver before getting traded to San Francisco.
Sanders suffered a brutal Achilles injury in 2018, but that did not prevent him from having a very nice 2019 season. He totaled 66 receptions for 869 yards and 5 TDs. He’s a nice get considering Ginn is getting older and Smith has yet to pan out.

TIGHT ENDS (TE)
Jared Cook is another aging player who has done surprisingly well. He hauled in 43 passes for 705 yards, which was not that close from being career-highs. However, his 9 TD receptions and his 16.4 yards-per-catch average were his career best. He started the season slowly, but seemed to develop a great chemistry with Drew Brees down the stretch.
Josh Hill is not much of a receiver, but he does the job as a blocker. He’s been with the team for seven years and 2019 was his best season in terms of receptions (25) and receiving yards (226). He is not a threat to take away Cook’s number one role.
The team traded four picks in order to select Adam Trautman out of Dayton in the third round of this year’s draft. His receiving production increased in each of his four years in college; it culminated with a 70-916-14 receiving line in 11 starts. Wow, 14 TDs in 11 games?!?
The only question surrounding Trautman is: can he handle a much higher level of competition than what he faced with Dayton? He could become a starter in 2021, considering Jared Cook’s age.

OFFENSIVE LINE (OL)
This is an exceptional group and all players are returning for the 2020 season, which does not bode well for opposing defenses.
Center Erik McCoy was picked in the second round of the draft last year and he competed with Nick Easton and Cameron Tom during training camp. McCoy won the job and finished as the number 4 center out of 37 guys, based on PFF ratings. I think it’s fair to say it was a great season for him.
Left tackle Terron Armstead made it to the Pro Bowl for the second consecutive year. He has received good marks in each of his seven seasons with the Saints. Drew Brees can rest easy with his blindside being protected by Armstead.
At right tackle the Saints have Ryan Ramczyk. PFF made him the #1 tackle in the entire league with a 90.9 grade last year. He has improved in each of his three seasons and has started all games but one.
At guard, New Orleans has Larry Warford and Andrus Peat. Warford was the 8th-best guard in the NFL according to ProFootballFocus ratings, while Peat was the only guy to struggle on this offensive line. Indeed, he finished at spot #70.
We observe a weird tendency regarding Peat. His PFF grades in his first three seasons were 68.0, 71.5 and 68.3, which is decent. Then, his marks took a huge dip in 2018: an abysmal 39.8. He followed it up with a 48.5 grade last year. The team doesn’t seem too concern about his level of play since they re-signed him to a lucrative five-year, $57.5 million contract.
Taking center Cesar Ruiz in the first round last April was a bit surprising. New Orleans already has a great center with McCoy. Head coach Sean Payton already claimed that right guard Larry Warford will have to compete for his job with either Ruiz or McCoy. Even though Warford played well last year, he is entering the final year of his contract.
For your information, Ruiz did not allow a single sack as a junior with Michigan last year. He also does a good job run blocking.

2020 VS 2019 OFFENSE
My opinion won’t be popular, but I do see a downgrade here. Sure, returning pretty much the entire 2019 lineup is great, but I’m wary of a few things.
First, the age factor. Brees is 41 years old and your body gets hurt more easily when you reach your forties. You can’t deny he has a higher likelihood of getting injured this season. If that happens, losing Teddy Bridgewater is going to hurt the offense, although Winston might pick up the slack if he can cut down on the turnovers.
Jared Cook, Emmanuel Sanders and Ted Ginn are also getting up there in age. Also, how in the world could you expect Michael Thomas to play at a higher level than last year? He is much more likely to regress than to improve upon his 2019 performance.
Finally, the offensive line did not suffer many injuries last season, except Andrus Peat who missed six games, but he was the weakest link on the line anyway. I don’t wish them bad luck, but one of their top four guys could easily get hurt, due to the physical nature of the game.
The Saints scored the third-highest number of points last year, and I’ll cautiously put them in the #5 to #8 spot.
Final call (2020 vs 2019): Small Downgrade


4. Defensive Position-by-Position Breakdown
DEFENSIVE LINEMEN (DL)
Signing a contract extension with David Onyemata was a priority for the organization. They did just that during the offseason. The team clearly likes him, despite a mediocre 55.3 PFF grade last year (he finished as the number 97 DL out of 114 qualifiers).
Sheldon Rankins is a former first-round pick who had a breakout 2018 campaign, which included a career-high 8 sacks. He was much quieter last year.
Rankins tore his Achilles’ in early 2019, and landed on injured reserve in December 2019 after coming close to tearing the other one. That’s a major question mark since such injuries are always tricky for football players.
Malcom Brown played close to 50% of the snaps last year. After spending four years in New England as a former first-rounder, he had a decent first year in New Orleans. He’s more effective defending the run than he is rushing the passer (he has recorded just two sacks in the past two years).
Shy Tuttle is more of a rotational player. His rookie season as an undrafted free agent exceeded expectations and he clearly deserves a shot to be back this year.

DEFENSIVE ENDS (DE) / EDGE (ED)
The Saints have a fantastic duo with Cameron Jordan and Marcus Davenport, two former 1st round picks.
Jordan set a career-high with 15.5 sacks last year, after posting 12 and 13 sacks the previous two seasons. He’s an incredibly tough guy; can you believe he hasn’t missed a single game throughout his nine-year professional career? That’s phenomenal!
Davenport took a nice forward leap in his sophomore year. His PFF grade went up from 69.7 to 84.1. According to this grading system, Davenport was the 18th-best edge defender out of 107 guys.
Trey Hendrickson provides good depth for the Saints. He has shown improvement in each of his first three years in the league. He sacked opposing QBs on 4.5 occasions last year, after racking up just two in his first two years. The 25-year old is primed for another leap in 2020.
After a promising rookie season, Mario Edwards has been released a couple of times. He works as a rotational pass-rusher; he played 28% of the snaps last year. He’s been bothered by neck and hip injuries throughout his first five years in the league.

LINEBACKERS (LB)
Demario Davis was exceptional in all facets of the game last year. He played so well that he earned the #1 spot out of 89 LBs based on the PFF grading system.
He seems unlikely to repeat his 2019 performance, though. His PFF marks never exceeded 63 during his first five years. They went up to 73.7 and 75.1 in 2017 and 2018 before exploding to an astounding 90.4 last year. Entering his age-31 campaign, I find it hard to believe he could duplicate his success.
A.J. Klein’s career has been a roller-coaster ride. He’s had up-and-down years. Most recently, he had horrible 2016, 2017 and 2019 seasons, but above-average years in 2015 and 2018. He signed with Buffalo, so the Saints won’t need to deal with his inconsistencies anymore.
Is Kiko Alonso ready to embrace a bigger role in this defense? The answer is unclear. He played fairly well last year after two straight dreadful seasons in Miami, but his health is an issue. He tore his ACL during the playoff loss to the Vikings. That required the third ACL surgery of his career, which leaves some doubt about whether his quickness will be affected or not.
Considering the lack of depth at the position, drafting Zack Baun in the third round made sense. The former Badger has a high chance of starting right away. He collected 19.5 tackles for loss and 12.5 sacks as a senior. He’s a bit undersized for the position, which means he could potentially struggle against the run but he’s a fierce pass rusher. Many mock drafts had him going in Round 2, so it seems like a good value pick that also fits a need.

CORNERBACKS (CB)
Eli Apple was let go during the offseason. He’s been nothing short of a disappointment since being selected as the No. 10 overall pick in 2016. He’s fine against the run, but his covering skills have been below standard.
Strangely enough, Marshon Lattimore’s PFF grades have decreased every year: 86.1 as a rookie first-round pick in 2017, 78.5 in his sophomore season and 65.6 last year. Granted, a hamstring injury limited him in 2019.
Lattimore picked off 5 passes in his rookie season, then just three over the past two years. He does have the potential to make it back among the best corners in the league.
P.J. Williams was primarily used as a slot corner last year, and things didn’t go so well. Just like Lattimore, his PFF grades have dipped every year. He finished as the 100th-bets CB out of 112 players.

SAFETIES (S)
Marcus Williams enjoyed a very successful rookie season before being the victim of the sophomore slump. However, he came back super strong last year. PFF ranked him as the third-best safety in the league, only behind Minnesota’s Anthony Harris and Denver’s Justin Simmons. He has a knack for big plays, as shown by his 10 career interceptions, one TD and two forced fumbles.
New Orleans lost its other starting safety, Vonn Bell, in the free agency market. His coverage skills were below-average, but he was one of the best in the business defending the run.
The team figures to replace him with Malcolm Jenkins, formerly of the Philadelphia Eagles. He is seven years older than Bell, but he’s a proven veteran.
After five rocky seasons with the Saints during the 2009-2013 period, Jenkins had six consecutive good seasons in Philly. Now back with the team that drafted him 11 years ago, Saints fans are crossing their fingers he can keep up his nice level of play. Last year, Jenkins was the 32nd-best safety in the NFL based on PFF rankings.
I just don’t understand the length of Jenkins’ deal: a four-year deal with a 32-year old guy? Really?
The Saints traded up during the 2019 draft to secure the rights to Chauncey Gardner-Johnson in the 4th round. He showed promise in his rookie season with very decent grades, especially against the run. He played 51% of the snaps and picked up his first interception and forced fumble of his career.

2020 VS 2019 DEFENSE
The Saints allowed the fourth-fewest rushing yards in the league last year. That seems unlikely to happen again in 2020. Rankins’ health concerns me. I don’t believe Onyemata is that good. And Demario Davis’ play is extremely likely to regress after an unexpected phenomenal 2019 season.
As for the pass defense, I expect similar production as last year. Plugging Malcolm Jenkins instead of Vonn Bell at safety seems like an upgrade to me. However, losing Eli Apple is hardly good news. He was “okay” last season, but he had potential and he still needs to be replaced. Hopefully, plan B is not P.J. Williams because he does not appear to be the answer.
New Orleans finished 13th in points allowed last year. I expect a small drop, perhaps to a spot ranging between 15 and 19.
Final call (2020 vs 2019) : Small downgrade
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[Game Preview] Playoff Edition Wildcard Round - Seattle Seahawks (11-5) @ Philadelphia Eagles(9-7)

Philadelphia Eagles (9-7) vs Seattle Seahawks(11-5)
For the third season in a row the Eagles are limping into the playoffs with a multitude of injuries at key positions. But for the first time in those 3 seasons, starting QB Carson Wentz is at the helm and playing at his best. Wentz has won 4 straight must win games against division rivals and leading the Eagles offense complied mostly of backups and practice squad players to over 400 yards of total offense in each game. He will need to extend that winning streak to 5 games this week week against the Seattle Seahawks, the same Seahawks Wentz had his worst game of the season against where he turned the ball over 4 times. Wentz will need to stay hot and play much better than he did in the week 12 loss to the Seahawks. Like that game Wentz will be without his top targets at WR, and starting RG Brandon Brooks and RT Lane Johnson. Unlike last time, Wentz seems to have found a way to win without those key players. Key players have stepped up including Greg Ward and Boston Scott in those wins and they will need to again in their first playoff action of their careers. On the other side of the ball the Eagles will need to do something they have struggled with for years, stop Russel Wilson who is currently undefeated against the Eagles. Wilson has had an outstanding season and should be in conversation for MVP if not for Lamar Jackson’s amazing season. The Eagles defense will need to hold him in check if they hope to win, especially since the Seahawks will be without their top running backs. If the Eagles defense can hold, and Wentz can keep up his hotsteak, we may just see another week of postseason football in the Doug Pederson era with a hot team which can always be dangerous. Go Eagles!
General Information
Posting Rules and Guidelines
Remember to Join us on Discord during the game!
New to the Eagles? Take a look at our New Fan Page!
Date
Sunday, January 5th, 2020
Game Time Game Location
4:40 PM - Eastern Lincoln Financial Field
3:40 PM - Central 1020 Pattison Ave
2:40 PM - Mountain Philadelphia, PA 19148
1:40 PM - Pacific Wikipedia - Map
Weather Forecast
Stadium Type: Open Air
Surface: Grass
Temperature: 43°F
Feels Like: 37°F
Forecast: Clear. Clear throughout the day.
Chance of Precipitation: 0 %
Cloud Coverage: 11%
Wind: WNW 11 MPH
Betting Odds
Oddsshark Information
Favorite/Opening Line: Seattle -1.5
OveUnder: 45.5
Record VS. Spread: Eagles 7-9, Seahawks7-8-1
Where to Watch on TV
NBC will broadcast Sunday’s game to a national audience. Al Michaels will handle play-by-play duties and Chris Collinsworth will provide analysis. Michele Tafoya will report from the sidelines.
Play off TV Coverage
Internet Streams
NFL Streams - Look here 30 minutes before the game for Streams
Radio Streams
Disclaimer: Subscription Based Official NFL Radio Streams available via TuneIn
List of Eagles Radio network member stations with internet broadcast availability
Radio.com 94.1 Desktop Streaming
Listen to Merrill Reese and Mike Quick
Calling the game on 94WIP and the Eagles Radio Network will be Merrill Reese, the NFL’s longest-tenured play-by-play announcer (42nd season). Joining Reese in the radio booth will be former Eagles All-Pro wide receiver Mike Quick, while Howard Eskin will report from the sidelines.
Location Station Frequency
Philadelphia, PA WIP-FM 94.1 FM and 610 AM
Allentown, PA WCTO-FM 96.1 FM
Atlantic City/South Jersey WENJ-FM 97.3 FM
Levittown, PA WBCB-AM 1490 AM
Northumberland, PA WEGH-FM 107.3 FM
Pottsville, PA WPPA-AM 1360 AM
Reading, PA WEEU-AM 830 AM
Wilkes-Barre/Scranton, PA WEJL-FM 96.1 FM
Salisbury/Ocean City, MD WAFL-FM 97.7 FM
Salisbury/Ocean City, MD WEJL-AM 630 AM
Salisbury/Ocean City, MD WBAX-AM 1240 AM
Williamsport, PA WBZD-FM 93.3 FM
Wilmington, DE WDEL-FM/AM 101.7 FM
York/LancasteHarrisburg, PA WSOX-FM 96.1 FM
Philadelphia Spanish Radio
Rickie Ricardo, Macu Berral and Gus Salazar will handle the broadcast in Spanish on Mega 105.7 FM in Philadelphia and the Eagles Spanish Radio Network.
Location Station Frequency
Philadelphia, PA LA MEGA 105.7 FM
Allentown, PA WSAN 1470 AM
Atlantic City, NJ WIBG 1020 AM; 101.3 FM
Seahawks Radio
Seahawks Radio Network Steve Raible returns for his 37th season in the radio booth, his 15th as the play-by-play announcer and “Voice of the Seahawks” after 22 seasons as the Seahawks analyst. Hall of Fame quarterback, Warren Moon, returns to the Seahawks radio team for his 15th season as an analyst.
National Radio
Westwood One will broadcast the game to a national audience with Kevin Harlan on play-by-play and Brian Griese providing analysis and Ross Tucker reporting from the sidelines.
Satellite Radio
Station Eagles Channel Seahawks Channel
Sirius Radio SIRI 83 (Internet 825) SIRI 82 (Internet 828)
XM Radio XM 225 (Internet 825) XM 226(Internet 828)
Sirius XM Radio SXM 225 (Internet 825) SXM 226 (Internet 828)
Eagles Social Media Seahawks Social Media
Website Website
Facebook Facebook
Twitter Twitter
Instagram Instagram
Snapchat: Eagles Snapchat: Seahawks
NFC East Standings
NFC EAST Record PCT Home Road Div Conf PF PA Net Pts Streak
Eagles 9-7 .563 5-3 4-4 5-1 7-5 385 354 +31 4W
Cowboys 8-8 .500 5-3 3-5 5-1 7-5 434 321 +113 1W
Giants 4-12 .250 2-6 2-6 2-4 3-9 341 451 -110 1L
Redskins 3-13 .188 1-7 2-6 0-6 2-10 266 435 -169 4L
NFC Playoff Picture
Seed Team Division Record
1 49ers West 13-3
2 Packers West 13-3
3 Saints South 13-3
4 Eagles East 9-7
5 Seahawks West 11-5
6 Vikings North 10-6
This Weekends NFC Games
Game Time Location
Vikings @ Saints 1/5/2020 1:05PM EST Mercedes-Benz Stadium, New Orleans, LA
Seahawks @ Eagles 1/5/2020 4:40PM EST Lincoln Financial Field, Philadelphia, PA
AFC Playoff Picture
Seed Team Division Record
1 Ravens North 14-2
2 Chiefs West 12-4
3 Patriots East 12-4
4 Texans South 10-6
5 Bills East 10-6
6 Titans South 9-7
This Weekends AFC Games
Game Time Location
Bills @ Texans 1/4/2020 4:35PM EST NRG Stadium, Houston, TX
Titans @ Patriots 1/4/2020 8:15PM EST Gillette Stadium, Foxboro, MA
Series Information
The Seattle Seahawks lead the Philadelphia Eagles (10-7)
Series History
Head to Head Box Scores
First Game Played
December 12th, 1976 at Veteran's Stadium Philadelphia, PA. Philadelphia Eagles 27 - Seattle Seahawks 10
Points Leader
Seattle Seahawks lead the Philadelphia Eagles (350-319)
Coaches Record
Doug Pederson: 0- against the Seahawks
Pete Carroll: 5-1 against Eagles
Coaches Head to Head
Doug Pederson vs Pete Carroll: Carroll leads 3-0
Quarterback Record
Carson Wentz: Against Seahawks: 0-3
Russell Wilson: Against Eagles: 4-0
Quarterbacks Head to Head
Carson Wentz vs Russell Wilson: Wilson leads 3-0
Records per Stadium
Record @ Lincoln Financial Field: Seahawks lead the Eagles: 4-0
Record @ CenturyLink Field: Seahawks lead 3-2
Rankings and Last Meeting Information
AP Pro 32 Ranking
Eagles No. 11 - Seahawks No. 7
Record
Eagles: 9-7
Seahawks: 11-5
Last Meeting
Sunday, Nov 24th, 2019
Seahawks 17 – Eagles 9
In a sloppy rainy game with high winds both QBs struggled, but the Wilson made plays when it counted and got help from running back Rashaad Penny who had a career day running for 129 yards including a 58 yard TD run. The Eagles defense was again fooled by a trick play on a flea flicker which saw Wilson hit Malik Turner for a 33 yard TD. The Eagles offense was terrible struggling to get anything going all day and missing key players including Jeffrey, Jackson, Agholor, Howard, Johnson and Brooks didn’t help. It was the worst game of the season for Wentz who turned the ball over 4 times in the Eagles loss. Russel Wilson continued his dominance over the Eagles and remained undefeated against them in his 8 year career.
Click here to view the Video Recap
Click here to view the Stats Recap
Last 10 Meetings
Date Winner Loser Score
11/24/19 Seahawks Eagles 17-9
12/3/17 Seahawks Eagles 24-10
11/20/16 Seahawks Eagles 26-15
12/07/14 Seahawks Eagles 24-14
12/01/11 Seahawks Eagles 31-14
11/02/08 Eagles Seahawks 26-7
12/02/07 Seahawks Eagles 28-24
12/05/05 Seahawks Eagles 42-0
12/08/02 Eagles Seahawks 27-20
09/23/01 Eagles Seahawks 27-3
Injury Reports Depth Charts
Eagles Eagles
Seahawks Seahawks
2019 “Expert” Picks
Week 12 - "Expert" Picks
2019 Team Stats
Eagles Season Stats
Seahawks Season Stats
2019 Stats (Starters/Leaders)
Passing
Name CMP ATT PCT YDS TD INT RAT
Wentz 388 607 63.9% 4037 27 7 93.1
Wilson 341 516 66.1% 4110 31 5 106.3
Rushing
Name ATT YDS YDS/G AVG TD
Sanders 179 818 51.1 4.6 3
Carson(IR) 278 1230 82.0 4.4 7
Lynch 12 34 34.0 2.8 1
Receiving
Name REC YDS YDS/G AVG TD
Ertz 88 916 61.1 10.4 6
Lockett 82 1057 66.1 12.9 8
Sacks
Name Sacks Team Total
Graham 8.5 43
Green 4.0 28
Tackles
Name Total Solo Assist Sacks
Jenkins 80 62 18 2.5
Wagner 159 86 73 3.0
Interceptions
Name Ints Team Total
Gerry/Jones/Darby/McLeod 2 11
Wright/Flowers/Diggs 3 16
Punting
Name ATT YDS LONG AVG NET IN 20 TB BP
Johnston 71 3292 61 46.4 42.3 28 4 0
Dickson 74 3341 63 44.1 40.9 34 5 0
Kicking
Name ATT MADE % LONG PAT
Elliot 26 22 84.6% 53 35/37
Myers 28 23 82.1% 54 40/44
Kick Returns
Name ATT YDS AVG LONG TD
Sanders 14 314 22.4 67 0
Lockett 14 279 33 0
Punt Returns
Name RET YDS AVG LONG TD FC
Scott 6 43 7.2 13 0 4
Lockett 13 66 5.1 20 0 10
League Rankings 2019
Offense Rankings
Category Eagles Stat Eagles Rank Seahawks Stat Seahawks Rank
Total Offense 360.8 14th 374.4 8th
Rush Offense 121.2 11th 137.5 4th
Pass Offense 239.6 11th 236.9 14th
Points Per Game 24.1 12th 25.3 9th
3rd-Down Offense 45.4% 4th 39.5% 16th
4th-Down Offense 33.3% 28th(t) 50.0% 13th(t)
Red Zone Offense (TD%) 66.7% 3rd 63.3% 9th
Defense Rankings
Category Eagles Stat Eagles Rank Seahawks Stat Seahawks Rank
Total Defense 331.7 10th 381.6 26th
Rush Defense 90.1 3rd 117.7 22nd
Pass Defense 241.6 19th 263.9 27th
Points Per Game 22.1 15th 24.9 22nd
3rd-Down Defense 34.2% 4th 38.3% 16th
4th-Down Defense 61.1% 27th 58.5% 24th
Red Zone Defense (TD%) 55.8% 14th(t) 61.5% 26th
Team
Category Eagles Stat Eagles Rank Seahawks Stat Seahawks Rank
Turnover Diff. -3 22nd +12 3rd(t)
Penalty Per Game 6.8 9th(t) 7.1 16th(t)
Penalty Yards Per Game 52.3 9th 55.1 13th
Connections
Eagles HC Doug Pederson was born in Bellingham, WA, and grew up in Ferndale, WA. Pederson recently admitted that he "Grew up a Seahawks Fan" and used to attend Seahawks games at The Kingdome.
Eagles LBs coach Ken Flajole is from Seattle and previously coached the Seahawks’ DBs (1999, 2001-02) and LBs (2000).
Eagles Safeties coach Tim Hauck played for the Seahawks in 1997.
Eagles Defensive Line coach Phillip Daniels was selected by Seattle in the 4th round of the 1996 NFL Draft.
Seahawks Northeast Area Scout Todd Brunner worked for the Eagles for four seasons (1994-97) as an area scout covering the Northeast. He joined the Eagles as a scouting intern in 1992 and worked as a scouting assistant in 1993.
Eagles CB Sidney Jones attended University of Washington.
Seahawks LB Mychal Kendricks played 6 seasons for the Eagles from 2012-2017 including winning a Super Bowl with him in Super Bowl LII.
2020 Pro Bowlers
Eagles Seahawks
DT Fletcher Cox (Starter) QB Russel Wilson (Starter)
OG Brandon Brooks (Starter) MLB Bobby Wagner (Starter)
TE Zach Ertz
C Jason Kelce (Starter)
LS Rick Lavato (Starter)
Recap from Last Week 17’s Games.
Eagles
Video
With the division on the line, the Eagles controlled their own destiny as they took on the division rival New York Giants on the road. The Eagles were already short and then they lost running back Miles Sanders and three-time Pro Bowl right guard Brandon Brooks in the first half. But Scott, Josh Perkins, Greg Ward, Deontay Burnett and Robert Davis combined for 16 catches on 25 targets, 225 yards receiving, 54 yards rushing and four TDs. The five players were cut a combined eight times by four teams since Aug. 31. But Carson Wentz got the most out of them as he lead the Eagles to their 4th must win game in a row beating the Giants 34-17.
Seahawks
Video
The Seahawks were playing for the division title against the 49ers in week 17 with a playoff spot already locked in for both teams. In the first half, the 49ers dominated, taking a 13–0 halftime lead aided by a Deebo Samuel 30-yard touchdown run on a pitch and catch. The 49ers also held Seattle to just 79 yards of total offense, including stuffing running back Marshawn Lynch on 4th and inches from the 49ers 31-yard line, causing a turnover on downs. In the second half, the Seahawks proved resilient, scoring multiple times. The Seahawks would never lead in this game however, as the 49ers countered every Seahawks score with one of their own, including a Raheem Mostert 13-yard touchdown run to make it 26–14 with 5:51 left. After Seattle cut the lead to five, a questionable personal foul call against Ben Garland forced a punt, giving them the ball back with 2:27 left. They marched all the way down to the 49ers 1-yard line, but a delay of game penalty pushed them back to the 6-yard line. After three incomplete passes, the Seahawks faced 4th and goal. Russell Wilson hit receiver Jacob Hollister with a pass to the 49ers 1-yard line, but Hollister was stopped inches short of the goal line by linebacker Dre Greenlaw, causing a turnover on downs with nine seconds left that sealed the victory.
General
Referee: Shawn Smith
Including playoffs, Philadelphia has the 2nd-best home winning percentage (.735, 25-9) in the NFL since 2016, trailing only New England (.838, 31-6).
In Week 17, the Eagles totaled 400+ yards for the 4th consecutive game, which is Eagles the longest stretch of 400+ yards since 2013 (6 games).
The Eagles captured their 2nd division title in the last three seasons and 3rd consecutive postseason berth (2017-19).
Philadelphia owns the No. 4 seed in the NFC Playoffs heading into Wild Card Weekend (Jan. 4-5, 2020).
Doug Pederson is the first Eagles head coach to lead his team to three straight postseason appearances since Andy Reid from 2008-10.
Philadelphia has made the playoffs in three-or-more consecutive seasons for the 6th time in team history.
The Eagles have earned a postseason berth for the 27th time in franchise history (since 1933).
Since 2000, Philadelphia is tied for the 4th-most playoff appearances (13) in the NFL, behind New England (17), Green Bay (14) and Indianapolis (14).
The Eagles are NFC East Champions for the 11th time in franchise history.
Philadelphia’s nine NFC East championships since 2001 are the most in the division, ahead of Dallas (5), N.Y. Giants (3) and Washington (2)
Draft Picks
Eagles Seahawks
OT Andre Dillard DE L.J. Collier
RB Miles Sanders S Marquise Blair
WR JJ Arcega-Whiteside WR DK Metcalf
WR Shareff Miller LB Cody Barton
QB Clayton Thorson WR Gary Jennings Jr.
G Phil Hayes
CB Ugo Amadi
LB Ben Burr-Kirven
RB Travis Homer
DT Demarcus Christmas
WR John Ursua
Notable Off-season Additions
Eagles Seahawks
WR Desean Jackson DE Jadeveon Clowney
DT Malik Jackson DE Ziggy Ansah
DE Vinny Curry DT Al Woods
DT Hassan Ridgeway WR Josh Gordon
QB Josh McCown QB Geno Smith
G Mike Iupati
K Jason Myers
FB Nick Bellore
Notable Off-season Departures
Eagles Seahawks
QB “Big Dick” Nick Foles FS Earl Thomas
DE Michael Bennett SS Kam Chancellor
DE Chris Long WR Doug Baldwin
S Chris Maragos WR Paul Richardson
RB Jay Ajayi DE Frank Clark
RB Josh Adams K Sebastian Janikowski
RB Wendell Smallwood G J.R. Sweezy
DT Haloti Ngata CB Justin Coleman
DT Shamar Stephen
SS Maurice Alexander
QB Brett Hundley
Pro Football Focus Matchup Charts courtesy of PFF Edge (join.profootballfocus.com/edge/)
WDB Matchups (CAPS = expected shadow coverage)
Stats to Know
Russell Wilson’s Deep Ball
The Eagles have not been great at defending the deep ball. Russell Wilson is good at the deep ball. I should just leave it at that, but that’s not what you’re here for. In 2019, Wilson’s averaging the 2nd-highest percentage of total throws targeting 20+ yards downfield (16.5%). Over the previous 3 seasons, Wilson has been 3rd, 2nd, and 8th. His Adjusted Completion % (accounting for drops) is 48.2%, good for 8th. His Passer Rating on Deep Balls is 119.2, good for 4th.
Matchups to Watch
Seahawks Pass Defense vs. the Eagles Pass Offense
Well, now the Eagles are in the playoffs after this tumultuous season. Anything can happen with this team, whether it's one and done or a Super Bowl run. Before we can all think about the future of this postseason, the Eagles need to get by a tough opponent in the Seattle Seahawks. Pete Carroll's Seattle teams, with or without Wilson, has owned the Eagles. That extended into this season with the Seahawks winning an ugly game against the then hapless Eagles. A lot has changed for Philly since then, mainly their success through the air. The Nobodies have stepped up to help Carson eLeVaTe the passing offense as he nearly averaged 300 yard passing per game in the final 4 weeks of the season. Carson has played really well and the coaches stepped up big to help get the passing game going. Their game plan can't, and won't, be a repeat of their early "death by one thousand slant/flats" if they want to win. And the offense can't turn the ball over at the rate they did if they expect to win. This is an athletic pass defense with two great LBs that excel in coverage. The Eagles will need to continue to move the pocket for Wentz to extend the time to throw which will allow deeper shots to open up. Due to personnel, this isn't an offense that can rely on its skill position players to consistently win 1v1. They'll need to continue to be creative in their usage of screens to prevent the defense form keying on them again. If Zach Ertz is able to play, that would be a huge win for the Eagles as he is their best natural separator. Seattle is an easy defense to scheme for as there is very little they change on a week to week basis. It's just being able to hit on the plays they scheme up. One injury for the Seahawks that important to watch is the status of safety Quandre Diggs; he was acquired from the Lions on the cheap (for some reason) and is a key player in their coverage schemes. As of now, the Seahawks should be expecting him to go as he was a full participant in their latest practice report. Either way, this is the 15th ranked passing defense by DVOA. They can be beat through the air. It would be wise for them to build off the game plan the Niners used last week to win in Seattle.
Seahawks Run Defense vs Eagles Running Backs
Philly wasn't able to have a lot of success on the ground the last time they played for a number of reasons. One big reason for that was the injuries on the offensive line - which remains the same for the rematch. Lane Johnson's status for Sunday is still unknown and stud Guard Brandon Brooks landed on IR after the week 17 win against the Giants. The backups have played decently well in reliefof the two key linemen but their absence will always loom large. The variety of concepts the Eagles use in the run game is a big factor in its success as it keeps opposing defenses off-balance. Being down Brooks and Lane could hinder what the Eagles like to do if their replacements can't adequately step up. Moreover, Sanders sustained an injury last week (ankle) and should play, but his effectiveness really won't be known until game time. Since the bye, Sanders has stepped up in a big way when Jordan Howard's shoulder died. Sanders proved he is a capable receiver and pass blocker early on but really improved his ability as a runner very quickly when the team needed him the most. If he is able to be effective on Sunday, that would be a huge boost to the undermanned Philly offense. Additionally, Boston Scott has continued to step up for the Eagles when they need him the most. Scott doesn't profile as an every down back but was able to take that role last week when Sanders left the game. His ability to consistently find the open rush lanes has been paramount to his success. Like Sanders, when Scott is able to get the ball in space he is able to create chunk plays to move the sticks. Jordan Howard returned to the line up last week; while he only played one snap, his ability to now play should help the Eagles rushing attack. This Seattle defensive line is a weak unit that is missing key players. Jadeveon Clowney has been banged up for most of the season and his status for Sunday is questionable. His absence would be a huge boost for the Eagles. This Seattle rushing defense is 26th in DVOA; if the Eagles offensive line was 100% heading into Sunday, this would be the single biggest mismatch in this contest. As it stands now, the Eagles should have enough in their reserves to be effective against this front, but that is a risky bet. They weren't effective in their first meeting - they need to change that to win.
Russell Wilson and the Seahawks Receivers vs the Eagles Secondary
Russell Wilson has owned the Eagles in his career but will be entering Sunday's contest off his worst performance against this team in his career. He was sacked 6 times and was generally inaccurate for most of the game. He struggled to pick up some of the coverage changes the Eagles implemented in their secondary and lead to below average play. He's still Russell Wilson and this is still the Eagles pass defense: you simply cannot bet on the Eagles secondary anymore. Wilson has been a top 2 QB this year in an MVP caliber year carrying the Seahawks to this point in the season. There are very few instances in his time with the Seahawks where the Seahawks are down by double-digits late in a game. This is an Eagles secondary that struggles to stop the big play and cover outside receivers - the Seahawks have two dangerous weapons outside. The Eagles should have everyones favorite terrible CB back for this contest... Jalen Mills. The starter opposite him will be a mystery. Since his early season benching, Sidney Jones has been absolutely clutch for the Eagles on their current run. While his play hasn't been perfect, he's been less of a disaster than he previously was. Avonte Maddox and Cre'von Leblanc are fresh off really good performances against the Giants. If I had to guess, Maddox will start outside and Leblanc will see the slot; Jones would work into the rotation in more CB heavy looks. As previously mentioned, not only was Russ generally inaccurate in the first meeting, his receivers had a lot of key drops as well. Here is a big gain dropped by DK Metcalf. How about this dropped TD by DK Metcalf? Or this bricked layup TD pass from Wilson? My point is this: I generally think the Eagles pass defense, namely the secondary, has been more lucky than good in the second half of the season en route to an NFCE title. They are still here, which is awesome, but until they actually clean up their games it's hard to bet on them succeeding. Russ is one of the best passers in the league; it doesn't matter if he is scrambling or in the pocket, he'll generally eat you alive. This is a WR group, especially with Lockett and Metcalf, that will make defenses pay. They didn't last time, I don't think the Eagles will be so lucky this time. If I'm the Seahawks, I throw early and often. The Eagles defensive ranks against outside WRs: Yards allowed: 32nd, Explosive receptions: 29th, TDs: 29th, Yards per target: 27th. If Pete Carroll and Brian Schottenheimer maintain status quo, like they do for some inexplicable reason, the Eagles have a real chance.
**Seahawks Decimated Offensive Line vs Eagles Pass Rush
The biggest aid to a struggling secondary is a strong pass rush. This is the foundation of the Eagles defense. While it isn't the stupid good group from the Super Bowl, it is still one of the best units in the league in getting pressure. Seattle has had bad offensive lines for years now and the group that'll start on Sunday fits that mold. Stud LT Duane Brown should miss this contest with a knee issue; this is a bad injury for the Seahawks as he is their best offensive lineman. The rest of their group is a well-below average unit that struggles in pass protection. The Eagles were able to get after Russell Wilson with 6 sacks in the first meeting and will need that kind of pressure again. Wilson can still make plays with his arm and legs while under pressure but it's still a difficult task for him. Fletcher Cox and Brandon Graham will need to continue to create havoc in the trenches. Derek Barnett must continue to build off his strong outing against the Giants. And if Timmy Jernigan can continue to play well, instead of up and down, then the Eagles should be able to get after Russ like they did Daniel Jones one week ago. The Eagles need to put this Seattle offense in bad situations to help out the secondary and help force some turnovers.
Special thanks to MikeTysonChicken and abenyishay for their help in creating this Game Preview.
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However, even in the case of a handicapper with a long-term expected winning percentage of 55%, a 70% win rate over a whole season (with 1,000 plays) would still be a hugely unexpected event. In fact, this is still an almost-impossible “9 standard deviation event” with the odds of a 70% or better win rate occurring less than one in a About: TheSpread.com is the largest sports betting news site in the United States. We provide point spread news, odds, statistics and information to over 175 countries around the world each year. Our coverage includes all North American College and Professional Sports as well as entertainment, political and proposition wagering news. The Dallas Cowboys have the highest all-time winning percentage during the regular season of the National Football League. The franchise has an impressive win percentage of 57.3 percent. A person of average intelligence can become a winning handicapper if they have the desire. Based on the odds of -110 for a straight football or basketball bet a handicapper only need to be right 52.38 percent of the time to break even however many sports bettors cannot achieve that percentage of winning over the long run. The chart below shows This section is showing information as of the end the 2019-20 season. To join our email list and get notified when we launch the 2020-21 NFL section (about a week before the season starts), register for a free account.

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