Archive for the ‘New entries’ Category

U. of Minnesota Safety, Jacob Huff – Huff excelled as both a run-stop safety and in pass coverage, grading out in the top ten of both categories according to ProFootballFocus.com. His playing weight is 210 at the University of Minnesota, so Huff wouldn’t have to bulk up for the NFL. Huff batted down 7 passes, intercepted 2 passes, and forced 2 fumbles during his senior season. Overall Huff performed well throughout the season. During his 13 game senior season, Jacob Huff as the leader of the Minnesota Golden Gophers defense allowed a QBR (score out of max 100) of 54.64 between the 13 starting QBs he faced. That score ranks between Mason Fine of North Texas (#73/128) and Desmond Ridder of Cincinnati (#74/128). Huff faced some serious high level QB talent in first rounder Dwayne Haskins (OSU), Nate Stanley (Iowa), Adrian Martinez (Nebraska), and David Blough (Purdue) throughout the season. I contend Huff performed at a high level on a defense without tons of high level talent around him unlike, say,  safety Taylor Rapp at Washington who functioned as part of an elite defense or Deionte Thompson who played for the fearsome Crimson Tide Defense.

Penn State QB, Trace McSorley – McSorley had a nightmare senior season, completing 53% of his passes and a career low 7.0 (counting full time starter seasons) yards per attempt. In fairness to McSorley, Penn State lost starters Mike Gesicki (Tight End), Daesean Hamilton (wide receiver), and pass-catching fiend Saquon Barkley to the NFL. McSorley also had the #1 drop rate (10%) of receivers in division one college football. If we give McSorley an average drop rate (4%) instead, his completion percentage looks like 59%, which while still a far cry from the 66% he posted in his junior season, is much more forgivable than 53%. McSorley is extremely productive as a runner with over 700 yards rushing and 12 rushing touchdowns (career highs). Against THE Ohio State University, McSorley only completed half of his passes (16/32), for two touchdowns (0 INT), but roasted the Buckeyes defense for 175 yards on the ground with 25 carries. While McSorley likely will need an offense that’s maybe more QB-friendly (Chargers, Giants) but has the deep ball (PFF ranking of 10/53 eligible QBs in average depth of target, how deep a receiver is on the field when pass is thrown) and athleticism to be worth the gamble of a 4-6 round selection.

Utah State RB, Darwin Thompson – The 5’8″ 200-lber averaged 6.9 yards a carry at Utah State. Thompson’s low center of gravity can actually be an asset if we go back and look at the successful careers of Warrick Dunn and Maurice Jones-Drew. Thompson created substantial yards after the carry. Thompson forced 48 missed tackles on 151 handoffs, (PFF.com’s NFL draft guide, subscription required). So on just under one third of Thompson’s carries, he forced a missed tackle. Running backs are undervalued by the nature of playing a in pass-friendly league, and Darwin Thompson who didn’t even get a  combine invite will likely go overlooked in favor of large edge rushers and slot receivers. Thompson didn’t play at a larger program but has shown about as much as a running back can show in order to be a strong NFL prospect.

Northern Illinois EDGE, Sutton Smith – The undersized small school prospect excelled at both stopping the run and pressuring opposing quarterbacks (Top 25% ranking in run-stop percentage and pressures generated according to PFF.com NFL draft report). Smith showed up at the combine weighing in at 233 and ran an unconvincing 4.69 40 for a smaller pass-rusher. Smith may have to get his start on an NFL squad as a special teams contributor. Where Sutton Smith does show up is actual, real football. He sacked the ultra-athletic Utah QB Tyler Huntley twice in a performance where Northern Illinois was over-matched talent-wise and coaching-wise. 230-lb Sutton Smith sacked 6’7″, 245-lb Tyree Jackson twice in the MAC championship game. He can clearly compete against high level athletes despite his size and sub-par 40 time. Smith’s performance at Northern Illinois is no guarantee of success at the NFL level, but his ability to perform at a fundamental level against “better” talent suggests he can do the same at the pro level.

San Diego State WR, Fred Trevillion – Trevillion’s sample size at SDSU is smaller (22 catches, 598 yards, 27.2 yards per catch, 3 TDs) but he shows clear promise as a deep threat receiver in the vein of Brandin Cooks or Josh Gordon. Trevillion stands at 6’2″ but weighed in at 182 on his pro day, so he may struggle with strong press coverage. For those who value the 40 time, Trevillion ran a low-4.4 40 at his pro day (according to draftanalyst.com).  With the success of slot receivers in New England, more teams may be looking for a slot receiver, Trevillion didn’t make a name for himself as a slot receiver at SDCCU Stadium. In a pass-heavy offense, like in New Orleans, Kansas City, or Chicago Trevillion can be an extremely valuable deep threat as a mid to late round player.

 

 

Here’s what we know:

  • The Giants are clearly still a bad team even with Odell Beckham on the roster.
  • Championship teams don’t use superstar wide receivers to win (Patriots, Eagles, Seahawks, Broncos)
  • Odell Beckham’s blue-chip talent is being wasted away on an offense that uses the short-middle passing game, which he himself acknowledged during the 2018 season
  • The Giants need to find an elite QB in order to become relevant again. Elite QBs don’t need elite wide receivers to thrive. Tom Brady, Peyton Manning, Baker Mayfield, Phillip Rivers, Andrew Luck all performed consistently without stud wide receivers.

The Giants would not have gotten the value that a first, a third and safety Jabrill Peppers will give them if Beckham remained on the roster. Odell would have been an elite receiver stuck on a team that is either bad or otherwise doesn’t properly utilize him, like Larry Fitzgerald with the Cardinals. With two first round picks, the Giants can try to trade up for Kyler Murray if they feel the need, or more likely will try to trade back and set themselves up for a juicy 2020 QB draft class with Alabama QB Tua Tagovailoa and Georgia QB Jake Fromm becoming draft eligible.

Counter argument: “Dave, the Giants should restructure their offense to take advantage of what Beckham does well, not trade him.”

That’s certainly a move teams have made in the past. If the player is talented enough, the coach might says: “Let’s change up our scheme to maximize what we can get out of this player.”  Former Denver OC Mike McCoy famously did this with the Broncos during the Tim Tebow glory days. (Though that move more revolved around having Tebow do less of what he was bad at than doing more of what he’s great at.) This might actually work if the Giants were rolling with Dwayne Haskins or Josh Rosen at QB. At thirty-eight years old, Eli Manning is not likely to be the best fit for a downfield passing attack. You could then point the finger at the Giants’ front office for not having an appropriate successor to the QB crown (which I agree is a fair criticism). Dak Prescott fell to round three and became the starter for division foe Dallas while the Giants drafted poor team fits like Eli Apple and Davis Webb to build their roster. But that’s not the situation that’s happening now. Right now, in 2019, with a west coast style passing attack and a thirty eight year old quarterback, converting a powerful deep-threat receiver into precious draft capital is better long-term move considering the Giants waited three years too late to find a replacement at Quarterback.

The Giants did right by Odell by releasing him from Football Prison onto a roster with a competent QB and a real shot at the playoffs. Beckham repeatedly showed frustration with the outcome of the 2018 season after going from 11-5 in ’16 to 3-13 in ’17 with largely the same roster. The Giants were no longer using him for what made him famous-setting him up to burn defenders deep downfield.

The Browns on the other hand desperately needed a “true number one” receiver, or rather just a receiver who will reliably catch the football. Plus, Baker has a deep ball for years that will outlast Odell’s ability to catch deep balls.

No one likes to see the best player on their team get traded away. Raiders fans raged through the night as Khalil Mack was shipped off for two first round picks. Watching your team win five games a year with a couple of superstars on each side of the ball may be appealing to some, but general managers want to give their teams a chance to consistently compete every season, which the Giants did not have at the start of 2018, and are closer to now.

“Is Josh Rosen our quarterback? Yeah, he is, right now, for sure,” Keim said.” (Kevin Patra, NFL.com)

I thought only of this exchange:

Person: “Hey babe, do you love me?”

Significant Other: “Yeah I do. For right now. LOL”

The most benevolent (to Steve Keim) explanation for this quote from Keim is that it’s a smokescreen from the Cardinals GM to provoke trade offers from potential QB-needy teams lower in the draft. The surface-level interpretation of the quote could mean Rosen will soon be replaced come April.

Murray’s a much more complete passer than Rosen stats-wise (Rosen’s 2017 vs Murray’s 2018) while competing against at LEAST as difficult a schedule in the Big 12 than Rosen in the Pac-12. Personally, I believe the Cardinals storyline makes little sense to hire Kliff Kingsbury and hold on to Josh Rosen when Kyler Murray is openly available, but then, at one point it almost made sense for the Cowboys to draft Johnny Manziel instead of Zack Martin. If the Cardinals roll the dice on Murray at One overall, the first handful of picks may look like this:

  1. Arizona – Kyler Murray
  2. San Francisco – Quinnen Williams (SF has two first rounders starting at Edge right now)
  3. Oakland (Trade with Jets) – Nick Bosa (Oakland has the league’s worst pass rush)
  4.  New York Jets – Josh Allen (Allen plays at outside linebacker and is a better scheme fit for what Jets are doing.
  5. Tampa Bay – Andre Dillard – Getting a left tackle who can pass-block is pretty damn important. Jawaan Taylor, Jonah Williams and Greg Little are sexy tackles when it comes to measurables, but Dillard grades out at the best pass-protecting tackle in the top group of college tackles according to the nerds at PFF.  Washington State throws the ball a ton and Dillard performed well during his time there.
  6. New York Giants – Dwayne Haskins – There is zero need to overthink this. The Giants should have drafted a QB three years ago.
  7. Jacksonville – Ed Oliver – Maybe the Jaguars sign Nick Foles, or trade for Josh Rosen. As much of as need they have here, Oliver is a really JUICY prospect and the Jags don’t need to reach for Daniel Jones here.
  8. Detroit – Rashan Gary – Admittedly a copout selection Gary could hypothetically play Tackle or End for Detroit depending on if DaShawn Hand works out as Ansah’s replacement or not. Gary’s been praised for his inconsistent if awe-inspiring athleticism for a 280-lb human being.
  9. Buffalo – Christian Wilkins – The Bills are paying enormous sums of money to Star Lotulelei to be an okay defensive tackle. Wilkins has demonstrated effectiveness to stop the run and consistently pressure the quarterback.
  10. Denver – Greedy Williams – Denver may draft a passer but has the luxury of waiting for a deeper class in 2020 with Tua Tagovailoa and Jake Fromm who will be draft eligible.

Just like my post-college life, that mock draft spiraled out of control pretty damn fast. It also leaves many questions unanswered. Who would the Cardinals trade Josh Rosen to? Will the Jaguars ACTUALLY sign N̶a̶p̶o̶l̶e̶o̶n̶ ̶D̶y̶n̶a̶m̶i̶t̶e̶ Nick Foles to a fat contract only to see him turn into the 2018 version of Case Keenum? If the Cardinals don’t draft Murray, how far would he drop? How could Steve Keim look at this face and not envision the future of his franchise?josh-rosen

Find out the answer to all of these questions and MORE on the next episode of NFL Football (now with 29% fewer concussions).

 

Today’s song: Wonder by Adventure Club featuring The Kite String Tangle

 

Texans coach Bill O’Brien has had only one losing season in his five years as head coach in the NFL. Good for him. He also has a 1-3 playoff record including a 7-21 loss to the ragtag Indianapolis Colts (AT HOME). The Colts leaned on castoffs like Eric Ebron, Margus Hunt and Pierre Desir who underperformed at their old teams and thrived in their roles in Indianapolis. The Colts don’t have a strong ground game. They don’t have a true number two wide receiver. They have a rookie head coach.

O’Brien has a career coaching record of 42-38 (.525). For reference, Jim Harbaugh has an NFL coaching record of 44-19-1 (.695) and Wade Phillips (Rams DC) 82-64 (.562). The real measuring stick here for O’Brien isn’t his regular season record. It’s postseason success. The Texans have a slew of star players on both sides of the ball. Beating the Colts at home should be a cake walk for this organization.

2019 won’t get any easier for Houston. While the Jaguars are no longer a threat, the Titans arguably improved from last year going 9-7 on a cupcake schedule to 9-7 this season a schedule that’s more middle of the road. The Colts are obviously back on track as well. The Texans won the AFC South but that doesn’t mean a thing if they get knocked out by their baby brother in the wild card match-up. O’Brien was hand picked by former Texans GM Rick Smith, so Brian Gaine, Smith’s replacement may decide to bring in a face he feels is a better fit for his vision of the team. Firing a head coach after a 12-4 season may seem questionable on the surface, but O’Brien is 1-3 in the postseason and has one of the more talented rosters available. Bill O’Brien is shaping up to be the 2018 version of Jeff Fisher with a barely above 500 record.

Young names like Kliff Kingsbury or Lincoln Riley may be more available than previously let on if the price is right.

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Another team was scheduled to play the Playoff Nick Foles Eagles’ this season. Although I will say this may have been a closer match-up than it at first appeared as Chicago had one of the softest schedules in the NFL. Defending the Matt Nagy/Trubisky duo didn’t seem to be too tough for the Eagles’ severely injured secondary. Thirty-five year old Darren Sproles will be healthy to face his former team in New Orleans next week. A rematch of a game that saw the Saints dropping a forty-burger and only allowing one score against Philly. Logic would dictate that Drew Brees and Sean Payton should win this contest by just doing their Saints thing. But Logic has not been in the building for some time now and my undying need to doubt Nick Foles only seems to make him stronger. 

If you watched football in the 2000s you’ll remember Chargers/Patriots games involving overly talented Chargers teams losing to old man Troy Brown on freak-accident fumble recovery plays. We have another Chargers/Patriots game with two QBs who are salty and mentally unhinged in their own special way.

Take care of yourself. I love you.

1 – DEN (TRADE from AZ) – Dwayne Haskins, OSU QB – The Cardinals are not close to being playoff ready. Nick Bosa is the pick here if they stand pat at One, but I’m willing to bet one of the QB needy teams (Miami, Jax, Denver) will try to move up for a passer. Denver is actually close to being competitive so trading away future draft capital won’t hurt as bad as their roster is relatively competitive if you ignore the QB position. Haskins’ stock is at peak levels right now

2 – SF – Nick Bosa, OSU DE – This is obviously a dream selection for San Francisco. Josh Allen or Quinnen Williams are natural fits here if Bosa is not available.

3 – NYJ – Quinnen Williams, Alabama DL – The Jets run a three man front and wont benefit from Josh Allen’s skills like other teams might.  The Jets could trade down and take a franchise left tackle.

4 – OAK – Josh Allen, Kentucky Edge – The Raiders have the worst pass rush in football. This class is not QB heavy, so I believe the Raiders will take a passer in round two if at all.

5 – DET – Rashan Gary, Michigan DL – Detroit will not likely retain the services of Ziggy Ansah, at least not at full MSRP. The Lions need receiving options and help at defensive back. Bob Quinn would be foolish to allow Gary to leave the state. Gary is extremely disruptive against the pass and will be more consistent than Ansah.

6 – NYG – Justin Herbert, Oregon QB – The Giants need help on the offensive line, but I can’t imagine them not drafting a QB again. 

7 – BUF – Ed Oliver, Houston DT – Oliver routinely penetrated the pocket for Houston. Brandon Beane actually already has a competitive defense in Buffalo and can put Oliver in for Trent Murphy who has an out in his contract this off-season.

8 – TB – DeAndre Baker, Georgia CB – The Buccaneers were regularly made an example of by opposing defenses this throughout the season. Baker, while not a HUGE corner, has been dominant against Alabama and other top shelf college talent.

9 – JAX – Clelin Ferrell, Clemson DE – The Jaguars obviously didn’t see value in retaining Dante Fowler’s services. Jacksonville has a booming need at QB, but unless they fall in love with Drew Lock or Daniel Jones I believe they will wait later in the draft to address the position.

10 – CAR – Jonah Williams, Alabama OT – Carolina’s decline this season was accompanied by Cam Newton’s apparently untreated shoulder injury.  They could probably use some help blocking for their All-World Super QB.

11 – ATL – Greedy Williams, LSU CB – Atlanta has a structurally sound roster but got particularly dinged by injuries early in the season. Greedy is a tall-a** corner who should be better able to hang with Mike Evans and Michael Thomas who like to bully the ATL secondary.

12 – AZ (From DEN) – Greg Little, Ole Miss OT – The Cardinals offensive line really struggled to protect Josh Rosen this season. Trading with Denver will allow them to net a starter at a position of need from this round and receive an additional first rounder next season.

13 – CIN – Jeffery Simmons, Miss. State DT, – Geno Atkins needs some help on that defensive line pressuring the QB. It would be very reasonable for the Bengals to go offensive line here with Dalton Risner here as well.

14 – GB – Deionte Thompson, Alabama FS – The Packers defense allowed three air TDs to Sam Darnold who has looked awful for most of the season as a passer.

15 – MIA – Will Grier, WVU QB – The Tannehill era is over. Grier’s been consistently high performing through his college career, especially in 2018.

16 – WAS – Drew Lock, Mizzou QB – I was originally going to not mock a QB for this position, but Alex Smith is not even a lock to return next season. Drew’s not been perfectly accurate, but he checks every other box for a QB to succeed at the next level. Smith knew all along he wasn’t the long term answer anyway.

17 – CLE – Dalton Risner, Kansas State OT – The Browns don’t have an answer long term at left tackle. They could sure use some wide receiver help, but Greg Robinson starting at left tackle should be deeply concerning for a team with a young, promising QB. RIP Sam Bradford.

18 – PHI – Byron Murphy, Washington CB – The Eagles have been absolutely torched in the secondary this season. They need help in the ground game and at left tackle as well.

19 – PIT – Devin White, LSU MLB – The Steelers need help at corner. Drafting at nineteen means they won’t get their top picks. White will help the team cope with the still-felt effects of Ryan Shazier not being available.

20 – TEN – Zach Allen, BC OLB – Former teammates with current Titan Harold Landry, Allen’s shown value as an all-around disruptor with fifteen stops for a loss at Boston College. Tennessee’s GM Jon Robinson has New England Patriots history and will continue to have an east coast bias.

 

Turnover Machine C.J. Beathard is out for the Thursday Night Football Game of the year contender 49ers/Raiders matchup, so the 1-6 Raiders will face 3rd string QB Nick Mullens tonight at Levi’s Stadium. Mullens might be the best college QB to ever play at Ole Miss and certainly the overall defensive production from Jon Gruden’s squad right now will be slightly lesser than the 3-4 Southern Miss Golden Eagles football team from the prestigious Conference USA.

Recently signed Bills wide receiver Terrelle Pryor happens to have a higher career completion percentage and Passer rating than projected starter Nathan Peterman. Peterman has thrown eighty-one passes in the NFL (regular season) nine of which have been caught by a member of the other team. So he has an eleven percent chance to throw an interception whenever he throws the ball. I’m CONFIDENT the Bills have a chance to beat Chicago this Sunday.

In Miami, rookie passer Sam Darnold of the Jets will face off against Brock “the oz” Osweiler for the Dolphins. Osweiler has a sub-60 career completion percentage in an era where it’s easier than ever to throw the ball and whose level of play at Houston compelled the Texans organization to surrender additional draft picks to trade up for DeShaun Watson. Darnold, who certainly has a high ceiling in the NFL has in his rookie season thrown ten interceptions in eight games and accumulated a QBR rating of 35.4 (out of 100).

I can certainly understand people have strong feelings about racial/social inequality and the treatment of minorities in the U.S. today. For many people Colin Kaepernick represents the problem of a black man not being able to find employment because lesser qualified white men are given priority. I don’t know what it is like to be a minority, or an African-American in a primarily white country.

I do know that Colin Kaepernick performed at a high level between 2012 and 2014, and if that quarterback were on the free agent market he would be a steal for any team without top QB play. But that quarterback is no longer available. A quarterback who failed to eclipse a total QBR of 50 in his last two seasons of play is available. A Quarterback who failed to get more than a PFF rating of 50 in his last two season of NFL play is available. If Cam Newton started kneeling and vehemently denouncing police brutality, he would still have his job. Because Cam Newton can do his job well. Any time a QB throws an interception twitter demands explanations as to why Kaepernick remains unsigned. The Jaguars don’t improve by replacing their bad Quarterback with another bad Quarterback. They have to replace him with a good one.

NFL team ownership has been blamed for Colin’s unemployment in the NFL. Jaguars owner Shahid Khan is himself an immigrant to the United States and is not some rich white guy/white supremacist who hates players kneeling for social justice. He wants his team to be good. And Colin’s not a guy who helps his team be good. So they haven’t signed Colin. Why they’ve continued to trust in Blake is baffling, but that’s for another time.

For the record, I don’t hate Kaepernick, I watched him lead my 49ers to a SuperBowl berth and a narrow loss to Baltimore. I feel I understand players kneel because they believe they are helping impoverished minorities get attention and resources they need to climb out of poverty and depression. Even if you disagree with his strategy, he’s not trying to harm anyone, he’s trying to help people at least from his perspective. But the notion that he should be forced into the NFL because Blake Bortles and Nathan Peterman are bad is not correct in my view. Those teams need to find ACTUAL good Quarterbacks. Not a different kind of bad Quarterback.

In the end I’m probably just an ignorant sack of shit who doesn’t know anything. Here is a highlight reel of Kyler Murray, the best QB in College Football, who is going to play Baseball because he doesn’t want his brain to turn into the pink slime they use to make Taco Bell meat.

Week Eight

Posted: October 21, 2018 in Football, New entries, NFL

Dave so far:

Week (4) 9-6, Week (5) 8-7, (6) 12-3

DEN over ARI – Denver’s suffered some narrow defeats to two of the NFL’s elites: the LA Rams and the Chiefs. As bad as Case Keenum’s been, Denver fields a more complete roster than Arizona. They are running well with Freeman and Lindsay, they have receiving weapons when Keenum does throw well, and the defense is strong at every level. The Cardinals defense is surprisingly competitive and Josh Rosen hasn’t been too bad for a rookie, but the Cardinals haven’t established a rhythm on offense and are the last place rushing team. Expect several field goals. UPDATE: I expected the game to be a low-scoring affair but Denver’s defense recorded multiple pick sixes and Denver UNLOADED on Arizona. Keenum didn’t play terrific football but the defense and ground game more than won the game even if a lesser QB were at the helm.

LAC over TEN – Tennessee has a home game so they technically have a chance. The Chargers have a plus four turnover ratio (Titans have zero), a successful balanced offensive attack and an OKAY defense. The Titans have been particularly vulnerable to the run this season and the Chargers should be able to punish this. The Titans have a chance if they can limit the Chargers to field goals, but Mariota hasn’t shown success in throwing the team back into the game. Rivers has a deep ball threat in Tyrell Williams and can mount a comeback if needs be.

NE over CHI – Chicago looked to be gaining steam until they fell in overtime to Miami and Brock Osweiler. The Bears still field a strong core on defense. The Bears haven’t been consistent on offense and only seem to be able to capitalize against bottom five defenses. The game should be fairly close as the Bears will at worst have a strong defense. The Patriots defense has been reliable since their two early losses and their offense showed they can score early and often against Kansas City. If you subscribe to the “common foe” theory, both of these teams played the Dolphins. The Patriots whooped their ass and the Bears lost to Brock Osweiler. Super Bear Khalil Mack is questionable for this game.

IND over BUF – What an awful game. I don’t want to try and pick a winner here. The Colts this season have been hamstrung by rampant injuries on their defense. They are less injured than normal and get to play at home. Derek Anderson in at QB for Buffalo is a much better option than Nathan Peterman but the Colts offensive line is much better than Houston’s and shouldn’t surrender as many sacks.

JAX over HOU – On the one hand, Houston has a quarterback, two great receivers and some playmakers on defense. On the other hand, Jacksonville has an offensive line, a pretty good defense and home field advantage. Jacksonville is rocking a -9 (Houston -1) turnover ratio, second to last in the NFL. The difference in talent and competitiveness between Jacksonville’s front seven and Houston’s pass protection is expected to be enough to make Jacksonville heavy favorites by people who know more about this type of thing than I do. While Jacksonville is a flawed team, their defense should propel them to a victory over the woeful Texans.

DET over MIA – Lions HC Matt Patricia is very familiar with how Miami does things from his indentured servitude in New England. While Miami deserves credit for rocking a winning record and playing at home, Detroit is a much more stable roster on October 21st. Brock Osweiler rocked the NFL world with a win over the Chicago Bears, but Patricia’s group is not going to fall to a trap game, especially when they are the team with the worse record at this juncture. The Lions can choose to favor the run with Kerryon Johnson and their revamped offensive line or the pass as Matthew Stafford remains one of the league’s better QBs. There’s no remotely scientific explanation for Miami winning a competitive football team right now.

MIN over NYJ – The Jets defense deserves credit for getting them to three wins and Sam Darnold while not always perfect hasn’t been garbage either. The Vikings offense has taken off with Kirk Cousins likely to set franchise passing records this season with Thielen and Diggs playing EXTREMELY well as the top duo of wideouts in the NFL. The Vikings have backslid from their dominance in 2017, they should be able to win by sticking to the script against a rookie QB and rarely effective running backs Bilal Powell and Isaiah Crowell.

PHI over CAR – Carolina can win football games when they’re establishing a run game rhythm and have an early lead. They didn’t do that last week and tried to pass the whole (3/4ths) of the game and failed in claiming the lead in doing so. If Carson opens the game with a few turnovers, Carolina can score, say, ten points and control the game with Newton, some short passes, and McCaffrey. Carson Wentz is far too talented a passer to do that. The Panthers are a competitive team but the Eagles are more dynamic and can throw when the run is not there, or run when facing extra defensive backs, etc. The Panthers haven’t shown they can reliably do that this season. This could be a preview of a playoff matchup. The Eagles should win this.

TB over CLE – Tampa Bay has an awful defense and we could see Baker’s best game of the year on Sunday. Cleveland has shown grit in close games with heavyweights Pittsburgh and New Orleans but they haven’t been consistent as a unit. Jameis wins the shootout with better weapons that Cleveland simply lacks the depth to cover. Nick Chubb would have to absolutely take the game over for Cleveland to win in Tampa, and he doesn’t have the offensive line play for that to be likely.

BAL over NO – This should be a great game. Drew Brees has certainly been impressive all season but John Harbaugh gets paid the big bucks in part because he’s shown the ability to win chess matches with coaches of Sean Payton’s caliber over the years. The Ravens have excellent depth in the secondary and a strong offensive line which has allowed them to eat the clock when they need. Ravens kicker Justin Tucker can kick it from sixty yards if it gets to that. The Saints offense is elite but their defense hasn’t been dominant like they were in 2017.

WAS over DAL – This almost smells like a tie to me. Washington’s defense should have no problem covering Dallas’s receivers. Dallas defense should also have no problem covering Washington’s backups as Paul Richardson and Jamison Crowder are out. Old timer Redsksin QB Alex Smith has earned his stripes more than Dak Prescott and knows when to throw it away when Dak may still throw an interception in what I expect to be a low scoring game where every PAT counts. It should also be mentioned that the Redskins have a plus four turnover ratio (Cowboys 0), are playing at home, and just outphysicaled (not a real word) a VERY physical Carolina Panthers team last week. Dallas has been great at ATT Stadium but winless on the road.

LAR over SF – San Francisco has no business attempting to win this game. Sure the players naturally want to compete but John Lynch should be wanting his team to be looking forward to 2019. We could see Sean Mannion taking snaps for Los Angeles by the third quarter if both teams are playing in their own best interest. In all seriousness, San Francisco has imitated a competitive team after CJ Beathard has taken over. If Sean McVay gets caught looking ahead to Green Bay, this could be a potential trap game as Matt Breida will want to make his presence felt against a vaunted defense that’s surprisingly soft against the run, though that’s statistically unlikely to be enough to win the game. The Rams should win by 14 plus.

KC over CIN – The Bengals have looked impressive this season with Geno Atkins maybe pacing for his best season ever. The Chiefs went to Foxboro Stadium and lost by three because of a freak accident misplay by rookie defender Breeland Speaks. These Chiefs are not to be trifled with. Dalton and the Bengals can beat teams not on their A game, like an injury-riddled Falcons defense or Miami when they have to go on the road. These Chiefs are on their A game. The game also happens to be in Arrowhead Stadium. We can expect another 70+ point game. The Chiefs win.

ATL over NYG – The Giants offensive line is still awful. Matt Ryan’s offense can score all over the place and Ito Smith has made the loss of Devonta Freeman not hurt so bad. Backup right tackle Chad Wheeler should allow several pressure to Takk Mckinley and Co. limiting the Giants ability to stay on the field.