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Top Ten Greatest Male Players in Challenge History - No. 4 - C.T. Tamburello

Honorable Mentions - Abram, Dan S., Jamie, Mike M., Theo V., Turbo, Wes
No. 10 - Alton Williams (Real World: Las Vegas)
No. 9 - Mark Long (Road Rules: USA - The First Adventure)
No. 8 - Darrell Taylor (Road Rules: Campus Crawl)
No. 7 - Derrick Kosinski (Road Rules: X-Treme)
No. 6 - Kenny Santucci (Fresh Meat)
No. 5 - Evan Starkman (Fresh Meat)
No. 4 - C.T. Tamburello (Real World: Paris)
 
C.T. carrying the Johnny Bananas backpack is the greatest highlight ever recorded in Challenge history.
 
Before the backpack moment, we hadn’t seen C.T. in three years. He was rumored to be forever banned after almost killing Adam King on the Duel II. On Cutthroat, when T.J. announced the heavy hitters twist and C.T. came walking out the dark, challenge fans all around the world were not prepared for what they were about to witness. C.T. was finally let out of his cage and Johnny Bananas became absolute prey.
 
If there were ever to be a logo for the Challenge, a visual image of the C.T.-Bananas backpack moment would be it. Picture this: Replace the Jerry West silhouette in the red and blue NBA logo with a white silhouette of C.T. mid power-walk and Bananas in the back of him imitating a backpack. Then, replace “NBA” with “MTV”. Now, you got your MTV Challenge logo. C.T. being at the front and center of a hypothetical challenge sports logo makes perfect sense considering C.T.’s athletic performances changed the landscape of the Challenge from a regular game show to the series becoming known as America’s Fifth Sport.
 
C.T. is the Peyton Manning of the Challenge.
 
Peyton Manning is the greatest regular-season quarterback in the history of the NFL. C.T. is the greatest regular-season competitor in the history of the Challenge.
 
Peyton Manning only has two Superbowls (and won his second one in his final season in the NFL, while being a shell of his former self). C.T. has three championships (and won his final one while being in his worst physical shape ever).
 
Both, Peyton Manning and C.T.’s regular-season career numbers lead you to believe that they should have had twice as much championships than what they currently have. However, their own blunders (C.T.’s boneheaded mistakes and gassing out right before the finish line on the Exes 2 final = Peyton’s choking) throughout their careers hold them back from reaching extreme success in the post-season.
 
To continue this comparison, Johnny Bananas is Tom Brady (6 championships). C.T. is the more natural athlete and talented challenger between him and Bananas, but Bananas has had the better legacy (Peyton’s the more talented QB between him and Brady, but Brady accomplished a greater legacy).
 
C.T. has seven of the greatest regular season competitive performances that didn’t result in championships.
 
The Inferno: In C.T.’s rookie debut, the higher end competition consisted of Abram, Darrell, Mike Mizanin, Shane and Timmy. C.T. won 4 life shields. C.T. led all the males in life shields and actually won more life shields than the higher end competition as one whole collective (Darrell, Mike Mizanin, and Timmy each won one life shield, totaling up to 3). C.T. was the best performer of the season as a rookie. He made the final challenge, but his Real World team lost to Road Rules in a close race.
 
Inferno II: C.T. was the life shield king. He racked up 6 life shields this season in one of the most competitive male casts to ever be assembled in Challenge history. C.T. led the season in life shields again, Landon came in 2nd with four, Mike in 3rd with three, and Derrick came in 4th with two. C.T. made the final, but he and the final remaining Bad Asses got blown out the water in a triathlon.
 
The Duel: C.T. won three missions and landed in the top 2 seven times. In C.T.’s third season, he was the second best competitor behind Evan, who won six missions (but half of them were due to having the superior partner in Jodi in comparison to C.T. having Diem). Despite being a top 2 performer, C.T. got disqualified against Brad in the final male duel and didn’t make it into the post-season.
 
Gauntlet III: C.T. was co-captain of one of the most dominant regular season teams ever, the G3 Veterans. C.T. was either the best or second best athlete on the team (along with Evan, the other team captain). C.T.’s performance in Piñata Pit (which I delve into later) proved what a freak of nature of a competitor C.T. was.
 
Rivals: C.T. managed to win two missions and landed in the top three overall six times with an average partner (Adam). Rivals C.T. was the scariest. The whole season was based around J.E.K. and friends trying to take him out, because he was such a force to be reckoned with. C.T. lost right before the final because of Adam’s performance in the T-Bone elimination.
 
Exes: C.T. and Diem won two out of eight missions, only second to Bananas and Camila’s three. C.T. and Diem made the final, but got second place. C.T. and Diem had the lead the whole final, but C.T. collapsed moments before the finish line.
 
Dirty Thirty: C.T. was competing in his 11th season and still putting up the best scoring numbers in one of the toughest male casts ever assembled. C.T. won 6 missions. That’s the most out of all males on Dirty Thirty (Not a single other player won 5, Hunter won 4, Nelson and Leroy won 3, and the rest have 2 or less). C.T. made the final on D30, but got third place because his gas tank can’t keep up with the other two finalists.
 
C.T.’s ATG Physical Strength, Aggression, and Athleticism is the most lethal combination in Challenge history.
 
If the Challenge were to ever have a Madden-esque video game, C.T.’s player rating regarding his athleticism and strength would look something like: STR: 99. SPE: 99. AGI: 99. A prime C.T. was a cheat code. The Bananas Backpack moment attests to this. Below are some other missions and eliminations where C.T.’s strength and athleticism proved to us he was of a different breed.
 
In Piñata Pit (G3), players from both teams had to jump in a mud pit, retrieve a ball, and return it to the starting line. The mission was played in rounds. Each round, there were fewer balls than there were players. Players were getting eliminated round-by-round. The game of Piñata Pit came down to the two best players on each team, Veteran C.T. and Rookie Derek McCray. You’re probably reading this wondering who Derek McCray is. I don’t blame you. Let me give you some background information on him. The moment Derek M. first stepped into the Challenge, he was immediately viewed as a competition threat, even with no performance log to back for it. Derek M. came into the Gauntlet 3 with instant respect, based off the fact that he had been recruited by more than 200 colleges for his football talent. Considering Piñata Pit contained all the aspects of a game of football: running, tackling, stripping a ball away from an opponent, and taking it to the end zone, the average betting man would’ve bet on Derek to score and win it for the Rookies. Challenge fans, however, knew to bet differently. When the final round went underway, Derek reached the ball first, but C.T. was inches behind Derek as he gained possession of the ball. C.T. then proceeded to slam him to the ground effortlessly and Derek literally yelped as he was getting manhandled. C.T, with what looks like half an effort, popped the ball out of Derek’s arms and took it back to the end zone to win it for the Veterans. In Piñata Pit, C.T. basically took the manhood out of a Division 1 athlete.
 
In the T-Bone elimination (Rivals), C.T.’s “Choo! Choo!” train almost killed Johnny and Tyler. It’s the biggest near death experience in Challenge history. I have a theory: We haven’t seen C.T. in a physical combat elimination ever since for good reason. I’m positive that’s a calculated decision by the Challenge Gods, not one that’s left up to chance.
 
C.T. faced off against Leroy in Wrecking Wall (FA), an elimination where both players had to punch through a 30-foot dry wall to make holes to climb up until they were able to reach the bell at the top. First player to ring the bell won. Leroy is an elimination beast; he’s won 8 career eliminations because of his physical strength and athleticism alone. He was no match for C.T. though. Anyone who watched the Duel 2, knows C.T.’s punching power is nothing to be played with. His punching power knocked out a whole wall on that season.
 
In the Flying Leap mission (Duel), players, one at a time, had to jump back and forth from one end of a platform to another that was suspended from a crane 20 feet above water. Numerous flags were hanging from poles located on both sides of the platform. Players had to grab as many flags as possible within a three-minute time limit; Whoever collected the most flags won. C.T. won Flying Leap with flying colors. He was the only male to not land on his body when jumping or not use any running momentum to assist his jumping sequences. C.T. instead showed us his athletic prowess, by setting his feet, loading his hips, exploding and jumping across, landing on his feet every time. Everyone on the sidelines watched in awe. C.T. made it look like a walk in the park.
 
C.T.’s All-Time Great Intelligence.
 
C.T. is the perfect two-way player. He not only has the brawn, but he has the brain as well. His long history of solving puzzles makes him an ATG intelligent male player. Below are some of C.T.’s greatest moments in which he had to put his brain to work.
 
C.T. eliminated Evan in Ascender (Duel), an elimination game in which players had to climb up a rope, pull a handle at the top of the rope, to release a basket containing puzzle pieces. The players then had to climb back down the rope to assemble a tiling puzzle similar to a tangram. C.T versus Evan was the second last male elimination on the original Duel. Up to that point, Evan was the clear #1 best competitor of the season and C.T. was the second. The two best players were going mano a mano. Evan got raddled under the stage lights (got caught trying to cheat), and the brain of the cold blooded killer, C.T. solved the tangram with ease.
 
In the Rivals 2 final, C.T. completed the puzzle checkpoint in a flash that Johnny/Frank fell behind in. Upon seeing the puzzle, C.T. straightaway figured it out because the puzzle was one that he played when he was hungover at a breakfast country club.
 
In the Final Redemption Challenge on D30, players had to read a code that provided a combination to a lock that contained puzzle pieces. The first two players to retrieve and complete their puzzle would return to the game, while the rest were eliminated. C.T.’s competition in this challenge was Dario, Jordan, Leroy, and Bananas. C.T. was the first male to successfully figure out the code and complete his puzzle, and re-entered the game as a result.
 
C.T. eliminated Darrell in Knot So Fast (Invasion). It was the last champions elimination of the season. The grandest stage of them all was set and the two all-time great champions had to rely on their strategical intelligence to win this one. Darrell put up a good fighting effort in trying to undo C.T.’s knot, but it looked like a physically impossible task. It actually was. According to Darrell on Challenge Mania, C.T.’s knots were so tight that production had to cut them off with machetes after the elimination was over. C.T. broke the Knot So Fast elimination. That’s how intelligent C.T.’s strategy was. The elimination win versus Darrell gave C.T. a spot in the finals, where he faced off against underdogs Cory and Nelson, who were fifteen years younger and in the athletic prime of their lives. In the final challenge, C.T. still managed to acquire his second season win and proved to the rest of the Challenge world that the underdogs were no match for the champion of champions.
 
C.T. has the All-Time Greatest Eating Abilities.
 
Eating is such an important trait to have in the challenge. It’s often identified as the most difficult portion of the final challenge each season. Players hate it. We’ve actually seen players quit in the final before because they couldn’t stomach eating disgusting things. We’ve seen C.T. devour all types of disgusting things without looking fazed in the slightest, that makes you question whether or not he has taste buds.
 
Remember the pickled fish soup in the Rivals 2 final? C.T. drank his like he was chugging a beer, while everyone around him was vomiting all over the place. Wes couldn’t bother to even taste his drink, so C.T. chugged it down for him.
 
In the Exes 2 final, C.T. ate the deer head and sheep blood as if it was everyday dinner. When he finished his plate, C.T. decided to go for seconds and helped Diem finish up her plate as well.
 
C.T.’s eating abilities are inhumane. Not only is C.T. known for downing disgusting foods in final challenges as if it were nothing, but he’s also known for winning regular season competitions where you had to eat a ridiculous amount of food (Toss Your Cookies v. Shane, eating the entire birthday cake on Race to the Altar in Exes).
 
C.T.’s first championship and third championships (Rivals II and WOTWII) were social-political clinics.
 
C.T. played his first eight seasons without winning the big one. It wasn’t until Rivals II, his ninth season, where he finally got his first challenge gold medal. As usual, C.T. crushed it on the field, but off the field, in the Challenge house, he played one of the best political-social games I had ever seen. On Rivals II, the opposite sex had control over the votes on male elimination days. C.T. was wooing all the girls, and they thought they were going to be apart of the next love big story on the Challenge. C.T. was never voted in because at least one player within four of the female teams had a fling with C.T. or were falling heads over heel for him on Rivals 2 (Anastasia, Cooke, Diem, and Nany).
 
On War of the Worlds II, C.T. was a member of the U.K. Team. He was apart of Cara’s Cult/The Royal Family. The physical shape C.T. was in this season was his worst ever, so him not ever being considered for elimination by his own team is mind blogging. C.T.’s social game was on a whole another level this season. My favorite C.T. moment on WOTWII is when he turncoats on Cara’s Cult right before the final and saves Tori from elimination to strengthen U.K.’s team for the final. C.T.’s political-social finesse on WOTWII rightfully earned him his third championship.
 
C.T.’s social-political skill, in general, deserves more recognition. Every time I hear people talk about C.T.’s eliteness, people only bring up the competition juggernaut and not the social-political mightiness he’s established over the course of his sixteen season career.
 
C.T. has only done three less seasons than Johnny Bananas, but he’s been in 11 less eliminations. Other than the first Rivals, I don’t recall there being a time where he wasn’t at the top of social structures. He has a whole catalogue of seasons where he was either pulling strings from the top or aligning with the biggest playmakers that were ones doing the pulling (i.e: Inferno 2 – CT was in a four person alliance with Derrick/Brad/Darrell where there duties were to not nominate each other in the inferno selections; The Duel – CT/Evan/Derrick/Brad each were paired with the best athletic girls and controlled the chain selections; Exes 2 – in an alliance with Mark/Robin, Johnny/Camila, and DunbaPaula that ran the game till the very end).
 
C.T. made history twice on Invasion and War of the Worlds II.
 
C.T. won his second championship 22 seasons after his rookie season. He debuted on the original Inferno, which took place in 2004, and won Invasion of the Champions in 2017. That’s a span of 13 years. C.T.’s Invasion win broke the previous record of the longest span between a rookie debut and championship win, that was held by Johnny Bananas. J.B. won his sixth championship 16 seasons after his rookie season. He debuted on the original Duel, which aired in 2006, and won Rivals 3 in 2016 (a 10 year span).
 
C.T.’s new breaking record was broken again by none other than C.T, just a few seasons later. C.T. won War of the Worlds 2, which took place 27 seasons after the Inferno, and 15 years later.
 
C.T.’s Overall Assessment.
 
If you read up until this point, I’m guessing a lot of you probably refuse to agree with my opinion of C.T. being the fourth greatest male challenger ever. Here’s my argument: C.T. is the greatest Challenge talent ever, but he doesn’t have the greatest legacy. Like mentioned earlier, he’s the Peyton Manning of the Challenge and I don’t consider Peyton Manning the #1 G.O.A.T. of Football (Jerry Rice, Jim Brown, and Tom Brady fit that bill better). In my eyes, Bananas, Jordan, and Landon are those three guys. The combination of their talent, winning percentage, and accomplishments fair just slightly better than C.T’s.
 
C.T. has just three championships in a sixteen season career. The rest of my top three have won just as much in a lot lesser time (Jordan, Landon) or doubled his wins in the same type of lengthy career (Bananas). C.T.’s temper and poor decision making tossed three years of his absolute prime down the drain (Inferno III, Gauntlet III, Duel II) and his inability to perform in the clutch tossed another year (Exes). That’s five seasons where the ultimate competitor, C.T., missed out on championships.
 
On the Inferno III, C.T. is cast on the Bad Asses; He was the best player on the cast, but he gets sent home the first night in South Africa because he punches Davis. C.T. would’ve been a lock for the final this season, he threw another potential championship out the window.
 
In the Gauntlet 3 final challenge, Big Easy cost C.T. and all the other final remaining veterans a championship win. You’re probably confused as to how this is C.T.’s fault, but he actually had a major hand in letting Big Easy ride to the final. If you go back to the first gauntlet deliberation where Johnny got sent in against Evan, Johnny plead to the rest of the Veteran males that Big Easy should have to go in, because he was going to lose them a final. C.T., who was the leader of the team, didn’t buy into Johnny’s plea; He had personal dislike towards Johnny and his reason for not throwing Big Easy in was because he loved partying with him. What’s the logic in that? C.T., the whole season was preaching about “trimming the fat” (getting rid of the girls on their team) and never worrying about Easy once was a horrific example of how to play a winning game. Prime C.T. was always finding a way to be the author of his own demise.
 
On the Duel 2, C.T. went into cannibalism mode. C.T. would’ve legitimately smashed Adam’s head and ate Adam’s head if it wasn’t for like thirty cast and production crew members successfully capturing him (and then tranquilizing him and putting him in his cage). There’s no guaranteeing C.T. would’ve won the D2, since the top crop of males this season was stacked. But this is an absolute peak C.T. we’re talking about, who’s in contention for the best men’s competitor all-time, so a championship victory is never out of the question.
 
In the Exes final, C.T./Diem lead the whole way until the final run up the mountain. Right before the finish line, C.T.’s tank ran out of gas (mirroring Peyton’s ability to choke in the playoffs) and he delayed winning his first championship for even longer.
 
C.T.’s competitive abilities (ATG physical strength, aggression, athleticism, intelligence, and eating) and his championship success in his career’s second half are sufficient enough to get him into the Challenge Mount Rushmore, but the four seasons he tossed down the drain in the first half of his career are a little too detrimental to have him in the top trinity. I think about it like this: Would I consider drafting Prime C.T. (Inferno - Free Agents) as my first pick when constructing a team in an-all time draft? Nope. He, was easily #1 in terms of competitive talent, but he was a complete hothead with bad decision making and only won one championship in ten seasons. Would I consider drafting Dadbod C.T. (Invasion - Total Madness) number one? Not at all. He’s won two championships in six seasons, with a phenomenal social-political game, but his competitive abilities are half of what they were before. Every version of C.T. comes with a small albatross that keeps him from having top three legacy.
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r/NFL Top 100 Players of the 2019 Season - #20-11

Welcome to the reveal for players ranked 20-11 for this year’s NFL Top 100 Players for the 2019 Season!

Players whose average rank had them land in places 20-11 are on this portion of the list revealed today. Players are associated with the team they finished 2019 with.
Below you will see write-ups from rankers summarizing the players' 2019 season and why they were among the best in 2019. Stats for each player are from this season and are included below. Additionally, their previous ranks in this long running series are also available for all of you.
Methodology
LINK TO THE HUB POST WITH A MORE DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE METHODOLOGY
  1. A CALL FOR RANKERS just after the Super Bowl.
  2. Rankers for each team nominated players to rank. 10 Games Played Minimum Threshold. Players are associated with the team they finished the 2019 Season with.
  3. The Grind. Utilize ranking threads for individual rankers broken up by positional group. Users were tasked with ranking players within the following tiers based on their evaluation: T-25, T-50, T-100, T-125 based on 2019 regular season only. There were no individual case threads. There were no arbitrary position limit caps. Just questions and rankings.
  4. Users submitted their individual Top 125 list. Ranking out to 125 is new for this year.
  5. User lists were reviewed for outliers by me with assistance from two former rankers. Users were permitted to correct any mistakes found. Once complete, lists were locked.
  6. Reveal the list… right now.
So now, without further ado, here are the players ranked 20-11 in the NFL Top 100 Players of the 2019 Season!

#20 - Danielle Hunter - EDGE - Minnesota Vikings

Previous Ranks
2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017 2018
N/A N/A N/A N/R N/R N/R 32
Written By: uggsandstarbux
Khalil Mack. Von Miller. JJ Watt. Those are the names that come up when you mention edge players in the NFL over the last half a decade. Yet none have as many sacks as Danielle Hunter in the last two years. Hunter is continually passed over in the conversation of edge rushers. Even among young edge rushers like the Bosa brothers, TJ Watt, Myles Garrett, and Bradley Chubb, Hunter is forgotten. He only received 4 All Pro votes from AP (of a possible 50). He failed to make PFF’s All Pro team. Is it because he wasn’t a 1st round pick? Is it because the Vikings defense was already dominant before his arrival?
Hunter has improved every year he’s gotten into the league (88 pressures this year vs 67 last year vs 55 in 2016). His first couple years in the league, he rotated in behind Everson Griffen and Brian Robinson. Yet he holds the record for most sacks before his 25th birthday and was one of only a handful of players in 2019 with double digit sacks and 15+ TFLs last season. He earned an 89.0 overall grade from PFF and forced 3 fumbles this year.
Beyond the numbers, Hunter is a unit. He came out of LSU as one of the more raw pass rushers in his draft. However, under the tutelage of the mighty Andre Patterson, Hunter has become one of the most athletic, versatile, technical, dominant edge defenders in the game. He can beat you with a pure bull rush, but he can also beat you with his speed and agility. He’s picked up Everson Griffen’s deadly spin move and has the motor to work through double teams. He can win with an inside move, or he can play pure 3T for an entire game (a la vs NO). He’s got a great understanding of the game and is a force to be reckoned with. If you’re placing bets for DPOY in 2020, don’t waste your money on the big name guys like Aaron Donald (+750) or Khalil Mack (+1100). Don’t spend it on young up and comers, lke Nick Bosa (+1300) or TJ Watt (+1500) either. Place it on Danielle Hunter (+2300). He’s going to continue dominating as he gains more recognition and climbs toward stardom.

#19 - Chris Godwin - Wide Receiver - Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Previous Ranks
2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017 2018
N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/R N/R
Written By: MysticTyph00n
At the beginning of the 2019 NFL season Bruce Arians said:
"I think Chris Godwin is going to be close to a 100-catch guy, especially because I think he can play in the slot,"...."He's never coming off the field."
Bucs fans thought this could be very well true in BA's system, especially with the departure of Desean Jackson which only really left Mike Evans as the only other real target on the team.
The 3rd round pick from Penn State showed up big time this year after having two relatively quiet seasons. Through 13.5 games (missing the final 2.5 due to a hamstring injury) he amassed 86 receptions for 1,333 yards, 9 TDs and only one drop(In fact he's only had 2 drops total in 2018 & 2019)He very well could have gone over 100 receptions , 1,500 yards as well as double digit TDs, but that's just projecting right?
According to PFF he was an absolute monster in the slot with an outstanding 96.5 grade, which shows he can line up anywhere on the field and still produce big time for the Buccaneers.
In 2020, I honestly expect Chris Godwin to have close to the same production, and possibly even better with how much he produces from the slot.
Please don't leave us…

#18 - Quenton Nelson - Offensive Guard - Indianapolis Colts

Previous Ranks
2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017 2018
N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A 70
Written By: Zzyzx8
Selecting a guard 6th overall was a bold movie for second year GM Chris Ballard, even one as highly touted as Quenton Nelson. Casual fans hated it, while draft junkies loved it. Two years later, it’s become clear that the pick was a home run. Nelson’s selection single handedly turned around a unit that was largely responsible for a slew of injuries to Andrew Luck into one of the best units. Nelson’s second year was only better, cementing himself as one of the best guards in the league, a true road grader. He spent the past year terrorizing nfl defensive lineman en route to his second pro bowl and all pro selections. Plus, he pulled off what was by far the best touchdown celebration of the season

#17 - Jamal Adams - Strong Safety - New York Jets

Previous Ranks
2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017 2018
N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/R 18
Written By: the_fuzzy_stoner robdog1330
I would just like to start with a moment of silence for the fans of the New York Jets after Jamal Adams recently demanded a trade from that inept organization with a dumpster fire of a coach in Adam Gase.
Anyways, after an incredible sophomore season, Adams has kept up with his awesome play in his third season as one of the NFL's best and most versatile defensive players as well as the clear-cut best player on a football team that somehow won seven games. Adams, also known as President 'Mal, recorded an interception (which was returned 61 yards to the house), 7 passes defended, 11 hurries, and 36 stops, but that's not all! Adams also garnered 6.5 sacks (which is amazing for a DB) and forced two fumbles (like this one he returned to the house on my guy Daniel Jones 😔). With his exceptional play, the star safety was named to the 1st Team All-Pro as well as his second Pro Bowl selection (an honor which none of his other Jets teammates got this year).
What makes Adams so special is that he is exceptional against both the running and passing game. Whether he's with Gang Green or another franchise next year, I'd expect another stellar season out of Jamal Adams in 2020 (assuming there is one) and even as a Giants fan who watched him dominate my team this past season, I really appreciate the guy's play.

#16 - Derrick Henry - Running Back - Tennessee Titans

Previous Ranks
2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017 2018
N/A N/A N/A N/A N/R N/R N/R
Written By: broccolibush42
DERRRRIIIICK HENRY!!!
This part man part tractor was the plow that turned our barren field into a bountiful wheat field full of Nashville Hot Chicken. This beautiful muscly man with a poop rat tail decimated opponents and General Sherman'd the AFC South. Totaling at 1540 yards and 16 Touchdowns in 15 games, with 6 coming from a slow start in a Mariota lead offense, he caught fire and dragged his nuts all over teams like the Chargers, Chiefs, Jags, Colts, Texans, Raiders and was showing just absolute dominance on the field. (Sadly we arent able to take the playoffs into account otherwise i'd gush over how he embarrassed a couple of scrub one and done teams).
Henry has this certain tenacity and a godlike level of endurance that just makes him an absolute beast in the 2nd half. He is just able to keep going, and going, and going, until finally, players get tired of it and turn into lead blockers for him. He is extremely hard to tackle to. Take a look at this play against the Chiefs in week 10, guys just bounce off him like he's running through toddlers. Derrick Henry is so hard to tackle that, according to PFF, Henry had over 1200 of his 1540 total yards after contact. Like this dude was getting hit at the line of scrimmage and he is just like, fuck this shit, i aint no dion lewis, and keeps going. How is this guy even real???
Another thing about Henry is his speed! Henry is a 6'3" 240 pound dude running 20+ MPH down the field when he breaks the open one. Like look at this speed he gets vs the Browns in week 1. Or this one against the Jags where he outruns guys and stiff arms the ones who barely managed to keep pace. Speaking of stiff arms, Derrick Henry has one of, if not, the BEST Stiff Arm in the league. If I had to pick a way to die, I think I would like Henry to stiff arm me in the face running at me at 21 miles per hour with this face, because there would be no greater honor to a titans fan than death by Henry. That concludes my Henry jerk fest. Here are some more highlights. and here are the real link.

#15 - Travis Kelce - Tight End - Kansas City Chiefs

Previous Ranks
2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017 2018
N/A N/R 84 N/R 28 31 13
Written By: DTSportsNow
Travis Kelce was drafted in the 3rd round of the 2013 draft. He wound up missing his rookie season due needing to receive microfracture surgery on his knee over the offseason and dealing with a bone bruise during the season. Since then he's received 4 All-Pro designations and was named to the NFL 2010s All-Decade team. He's also become the 1st TE in NFL history to have 4 straight 1,000+ yard seasons. Not bad considering how his career got started.
In 2019 he finished his 2nd straight season of 1,200+ yards and 3rd straight season leading the league in deep receiving yards by a tight end (274). He finished top 4 in overall TE grade for the 4th straight year (85.1), and was named to his second 2nd-team All-Pro designation. In the Sunday Night Football contest against the Chicago Bears he caught his 500th career reception, becoming the fastest TE in NFL history to reach that mark.
There's no doubt that Kelce is one of the best tight ends in the game, and winding up in the top 20 proves many believe him to be one of the very best players in the league. Since Gronk's decline it's essentially been between him and George Kittle for the top player at the position. He's a key component of what Andy Reid and the Chiefs like to do on offense, even as stacked as the offence is. With a Super Bowl victory and a few records to his name already his legacy will be decided by how long he can keep up his premier play. His partnership with Patrick Mahomes should take him to a locked up Hall of Fame bust.

#14 - Ryan Ramczyk - Offensive Tackle - New Orleans Saints

Previous Ranks
2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017 2018
N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A 100 74
Written By: Dahki
In 2017, sb nation wrote an article claiming that Ryan Ramczyk wasn't a first round talent at LT. The site went so far as to say he would benefit from a switch to RT. In short, they ended up nailing that on the head. The three-year vet has spent almost the entirety of his career anchoring the right side of the Saints O-line after being picked at 32 overall, and boy, has it worked out for both the team and the Wisconsin alum.
Ram makes the /nfl top 100 list for two reasons. First, he was really good. Second, we really wanted to hammer in the idea that the Saints O-line as a whole was really good. Most notably, Ram exits the 2019 season with his first first-team all pro, and he was more than deserving of it. Similar to teammate Terron Armstead, Ram refused to allow Brees or Teddy to be touched, giving up no sacks on the season. Even better, Ram kept his QBs almost squeaky clean in the pocket, allowing just one hit on the entire season, good for 2nd best in the league among nominated tackles. And Ram didn't just do well in pass pro; he was PFFs top graded OT when run-blocking, showcasing his power and quickness from his spot. In total, Ram spent the 2019 season as the biggest challenge for opposing D-lines to overcome when facing the Saints.

#13 - Julio Jones - Wide Receiver - Atlanta Falcons

Previous Ranks
2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017 2018
32 93 23 8 2 21 17
Written By: CokeZ3ro
It's a bird, it’s a plane, no it's Jet Jones! In his 9th season Julio continues to be one of the most dominant receivers in the NFL, and the undisputed best player on the team. He’s a force that defenses must give their full attention, and even then he can explode. Even when he doesn’t get the ball, his influence and abilities still shape the play, and better everyone around him. This past offseason Julio agreed to a three-year contract extension worth $66 million, making him the NFL’s highest paid WR, and extending him to 2023. Even though 2019 was a down year statistically, Julio continued to show why the money is worth it. In a “down year” Julio was 2nd in reception yards, 3rd in Yards/Game, and 1st in Scrimmage Yards/Touch, and made his 6th consecutive Pro-Bowl.
But stats can hardly capture the elite combination of athleticism and skill that makes Julio so great. A combination perfectly captured here where Julio is able to jump over the coverage of CB Leodis McKelvin and then tiptoe to complete the coverage on the way down. Later that same game, with the Falcons against the wall, Julio showed that no man can catch him in a 53-yard burst (shoutout to Jake Matthews for the Pancake Block). Julio utilized his route skills to make CB Pierre Desir eat turf before making a 34-yard reception; which likely would have been much more if Ryan didn’t underthrow it. He’s pretty good at catching too, exhibited as reaches over CB Quincy Wilson and manages to hold onto the ball through tackles from Wilson and SS Clayton Geathers to score. Doesn’t matter who you are, Luke Keuchly, Marshon Lattimore, AJ Bouye; doesn’t matter. bUt hE dOEsn’T gET tOUchDoWnS I hear the Fantasy owners say. Watch this and notice how often in the redzone Julio is serving to support his team (blocks, inside presence, taking double defenders), or is just ignored. He’s open more often people realize.
Even in a disappointing season for the Falcons, Julio continues to shine through as one of the NFL’s premiere combos of athleticism and skill. Julio is and will continue to be an absolute force for the offense.

#12 - Chandler Jones - EDGE - Arizona Cardinals

Previous Ranks
2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017 2018
N/R N/R N/R N/R 60 24 100
Written By: Beehay
In my write up of ChanJo last year, I mentioned that the return to the 3/4 (even if it's under Vance Joseph) will be huge for his stats. And boy howdy was it! At 30 years old and after double digit sack totals for 5 straight years, Jones set a career high of sacks at 19 this year. He had 8 Forced Fumbles, 53 Tackles, and 26 QB hits. Most of his stats improved from 2018, some more drastically than others. His pass coverage marginally improved but why the hell would you really want him to cover guys? (Don't say it Niners fans, DON'T SAY IT)
Chandler Jones is the prototype for edge defenders. He is what all other Defensive Coordinators wish they had. Strong, fast, smart, consistent. Here's a guys opinion and a breakdown. Here's some highlights because not everybody watched all 16 Cardinals games last year and I don't blame them. I think he will rank even higher next year if he stays healthy because he will finally get to settle into a defense again. Even if it's Vance Joseph's.

#11 - Ronnie Stanley - Offensive Tackle - Baltimore Ravens

Previous Ranks
2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017 2018
N/A N/A N/A N/A N/R N/R 97
Written By: Letsgomountaineers5
Where to begin with Ronnie Stanley? Oh, how about a nearly minute long clip of him absolutely bullying First Team All Pro and NFC DPOY Chandler Jones. You like that? (Sorry Cards fans, but hey we all know Chandler Jones is a beast). Ronnie Stanley was the best LT in the league. No wait, actually he was the best overall tackle in the league. Actually, Stanley was the best lineman in the league, bar none. I truly believe Stanley was a top 5 player in the NFL last season and even tried (and failed/came to senses) to argue Stanley as a top 2 player. His dominance on the left side of that line was unprecedented.
I know stats don’t paint the entire picture, especially for OL, but I have to start there because his stats were unworldly as a blindside protector facing the best pass rushers the NFL has to offer. Going against the likes of TJ Watt twice a year, Carlos Dunlap twice a year, Myles Garrett, Chandler Jones, Nick Bosa, Shaq Barrett (need I go on), he allowed zero sacks and six pressures on 445 pass blocking snaps. Of tackles with at least 400 pass blocking snaps to allow 6 pressures or less, he was the only one. Wait, the only one? Let’s expand. 10 pressures on 400 snaps? Hmm. Only Ronnie Stanley. 15? Hmm only Ronnie Stanley. 20 and no sacks? Only Ronnie Stanley. Unreal.
So how does he do it? Well for starters, he has an elite pass rusher’s explosion as an offensive lineman. He can pack a pop that will knock the best rushers off line or on their ass without overextending. Just ask Nick Bosa. Refer back to the Chandler Jones lowlight reel for a second and check out how often he simply beats Jones (one of the most explosive and best bending edge rushers in the game) to his spot time and time again. Stanley is out of his stance so fast it looks like he’s false starting and, be it film review/sixth sense/sheer athleticism (my money is on all three), he hits the pass rushers’ marks before they do. Sometimes, he even chips defenders to the ground he doesn’t have a responsibility for. Because of these reasons, he’s basically the only lineman in the game not playing catchup and is tremendously equipped to react to counters. In the run game, he was a driving reason behind that team’s record setting running success. He can be a mauler, but with his speed also can pull like the best guards in the game and lead block for some of the fastest players in the game.
At the end of the day, his dominance in both pass blocking and run blocking makes him a worthy top 15 player, and if not for a tendency to underrate linemen, I believe he should’ve been a shoe-in for the top 10. If you read this far, thank you. Now I need to go puke after that glowing endorsement for a Raven.

LINK TO 2019 POSITIONAL GROUPING TRACKER

LINK TO 2019 RANKER SHEETS

LINK TO HUB

Schedule Change

Unveiling of ranks 10-6 will take place Monday, July 6 instead of Tuesday. Unveiling of ranks 5-1 will take place on Thursday, July 9. Thank you!
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Will the Green Bay Packers win OVER/UNDER 9 games? By University Stats Prof!

1. Introduction

Matt LaFleur’s first season as Green Bay’s head coach has to be considered a success. He led the team to a 13-3 record, which secured the NFC North title.

The Packers held off the Seahawks to a 28-23 home win in the first round of the playoffs, but were ousted by the Niners in a brutal 37-20 thumping (a game in which the Packers dugged themselves into an early 27-0 hole).

2. Offensive Position-by-Position Breakdown

2.1 Quarterbacks (QBs)

Aaron Rodgers will be entering his 16th NFL season. He had another excellent year with a 26-to-4 TD-to-INT ratio and over 4,000 passing yards. He finished as the 7th-best QB in the league according to PFF ratings.

At 36 years old, he is likely to have a few good years left. After all, Drew Brees and Tom Brady posted nice statistics in their late thirties.

Rodgers has been very durable throughout his career, but he’s not invincible either. Tim Boyle was the backup plan last year, and the team needed to upgrade the position while starting to think about the post-Rodgers era.

Still, drafting Jordan Love was the most questionable and talked-about pick in this year’s draft. People expected the Packers to go with a veteran backup QB. Rodgers has mentioned several times he wants to play in his forties; he can still offer a good five years of solid play in the frozen tundra.

Love has possesses great size, throws with velocity and he’s very mobile. The main knock on him is the decision-making and inconsistency.

As a sophomore, he threw 32 TD passes versus 6 interceptions. He regressed a lot last year by posting a mediocre 20:17 TD:INT mark. Granted, his surrounding cast was very weak and he had to go through a coaching change.

Love can throw from many different arm angles; he reminds people of Patrick Mahomes in this regard. He can throw a fastball or a soft touch pass.

Quick note: he almost quit football when he was 14 years old after his dad committed suicide. However, he knew his dad would want him to keep playing, so he did just that.

2.2 Running Backs (RBs)

Aaron Jones is a top running back in this league. Along with Jamaal Williams, they form a lethal duo.

Including the playoffs, Jones ended up scoring 23 touchdowns in 18 games. His 19 regular season scores were the second most in Packers history. His numbers have increased in each of his first three years as a pro. He is also excellent as a pass catcher.

Despite playing in the shadow of Aaron Jones, Jamaal Williams still finished as the 17th-best RB based on PFF rankings. He does not seem like a lead back, but he’s a perfect change-of-pace guy. Much like Jones, he can do some damage as a receiver as well.

Williams has been a steady performer thus far in his career. He has rushed for 450-550 yards in each of his three seasons, while catching a minimum of 25 balls. He has 15 total TDs over this three-year span.

If you thought GM Brian Gutekunst made a strange move by drafting QB Jordan Love in the first round, he doubled down with another head scratcher in the 2nd round when he took A.J. Dillon.

Message to Mr. Gutekunst: Aaron Rodgers needed pass catchers, not a third running back! I really don’t get this pick either. I’m not saying Dillon won’t be good in the NFL; only time will tell. However, it clearly wasn’t a position of need for the Packers.

Dillon is a power back who rarely breaks off huge runs. He racked up big numbers in three seasons in Boston College. He’s unlikely to become a three-down starter, especially since he’s not a good pass catcher. He will likely be used sporadically as a rookie.

2.3 Wide Receivers (WRs)

Davante Adams is one of the best at his position. He had a streak of three straight seasons with at least 10 TD receptions snapped last year, but he still caught 83 passes for 997 yards in 12 games (he missed four games because of a toe injury).

Outside of Adams, all pass catchers appeared lost on the field. None of them developed a good chemistry with Rodgers.

Marquez Valdes-Scantling was a huge disappointment last year. He showed promise as a rookie with over 500 receiving yards. Here’s a jaw-dropping statistic: after Week #7, MVS did not get more than 19 receiving yards in any meeting. That’s awful.

One of the guys benefiting from Valdes-Scantling’s poor play was Jake Kumerow. He got more playing time than expected, but still only caught 12 passes. He is closing in on 30 years of age and is limited as an athlete, so he’s not a long-term answer for sure.

Allen Lazard was also thrown into action far more than expected. He finished second in terms of receiving yards for Green Bay, but let’s face the reality: the undrafted guy remains more of a #3 or #4 WR for any team.

Geronimo Allison was another bust last year. His top performance over the last 12 games (including the playoffs) was a meager 33 receiving yards. He left for another NFC North team, the Detroit Lions.

In other words, the #2 role is wide open. The team hopes newly acquired Devin Funchess can step into that role. The former second rounder had his best season in 2017 with the Panthers with a 63-840-8 stat line. He signed with the Colts last year, but played just one game before breaking a collarbone. He will be 26 years old this season and provides an interesting prospect for the Packers.

2.4 Tight Ends (TEs)

We’re not done talking about 2019 busts. Jimmy Graham was one of them. He clearly looks washed. He received the lowest grades of his 10-year career, and deservedly so. The Packers released him and he signed a few days later with the Bears (a horrible mind-boggling two-year, $16 million contract).

Marcedes Lewis received surprisingly good marks from PFF. If you look into the numbers, the good grade occurred mainly because of efficient run and pass blocking. He’s not much of a pass catcher and he will be 36 years old when the season begins.

Robert Tonyan will also be in the mix, but the guy that has the best chance to break out as a receiver in 2020 only caught three passes last year (all in the playoffs): Jace Sternberger. Taken in the third round of the 2019 draft, Sternberger was a threat at Texas A&M in college. He missed most of the regular season because of injuries, but the door is wide open with Graham’s departure.

We might also see third-round rookie Josiah Deguara. He has a great motor and plays extremely hard. He’s undersized as a tight end, though.

2.5 Offensive Line (OL)

The Packers had a pretty solid offensive line in 2019. All five starters managed to play at least 84% of the offensive snaps. And they all finished above-average according to PFF ratings!

The bad news, however, is the Bryan Bulaga left for the Chargers. Despite turning over 30 years old, he still played at a high level.

The Packers decided to replace him by signing Rick Wagner, formerly of the Lions. Wagner’s PFF grades from 2016 to 2018 were as follows: 74.0, 75.2 and 71.4. Last year, his play deteriorated a lot and he was tagged with a 59.0 grade. He finished as the #61 tackle among 81 guys.

I like the fact that the team is returning four out of five guys, but replacing Bulaga with Wagner has to be viewed as a downgrade.

2020 VS 2019 OFFENSE

The Packers offense finished in the middle of the pack in points scored per game. Barring major injuries, I expect about the same production in 2020.

The QB and RB situations remain the same.

Adding Funchess is not a huge move, but it won’t hurt. The team clearly needs someone to step up opposite of Davante Adams. At tight end, losing Jimmy Graham means close to nothing since he was so ineffective. Sternberger might bring a nice contribution, but we can hardly expect him to be a game-breaker.

Finally, the OL will take a dip with the loss of Bulaga. I don’t believe Rick Wagner can do better than him.

All in all, I view the additions/departures as a slight negative for Green Bay, but having so many starters returning to the lineup for a second straight season is always a good thing in the NFL. For these reasons, I expect a similar output as 2019 from this unit.

Final call (2020 vs 2019): Stable

3. Defensive Position-by-Position Breakdown

3.1 Defensive Linemen (DLs)

Kenny Clark had a fantastic season! He is one of the best interior rushers in the NFL. He recorded six sacks for the second straight year, and PFF ranked him as the 13th-best interior linemen out of 114 qualifiers.

The same nice comments cannot be made about Dean Lowry. He had the worst season of his four-year career as a pro. He did not post a single sack and wasn’t great against the run either.

Reserve Tyler Lancaster is only there to provide some depth. He isn’t particularly good in any aspect of the game.

The team did not make any move regarding this position during the offseason.

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

During the last offseason, the Packers acquired two Smiths: Za’Darius and Preston. They burst onto the scene and got 13.5 and 12 sacks, respectively.

Obviously, both received high marks for their pass rushing abilities, but Preston finished as an average linebacker overall because of mediocre run defense and poor coverage.

Kyler Fackrell was a huge disappointment in 2019. After racking up 10.5 sacks in 2018, he only got one in 2019! He signed a one-year deal with the Giants.

First-round pick Rashan Gary wasn’t necessarily impressive during his rookie season. He played 23% of the snaps, while obtaining two sacks but very pedestrian marks from PFF (an overall 55.8 grade, which is near the bottom among edge defenders).

3.3 Linebackers (LBs)

Green Bay lost its leader in tackles from the past three years, Blake Martinez. After starting 61 of the last 64 Packers games, Martinez decided to join the New York Giants. He had the second-most tackles in the league last year, but don’t be misled by that number. Martinez still finished slight below-average (52nd out of 89 LBs) because of poor play against the run.

The Packers also lost some depth at the position when B.J. Goodson left for Cleveland.

Green Bay picked up a linebacker from the Browns roster: Christian Kirksey. He was picked in the 3rd round of the 2014 before being involved in all 16 games from his first four seasons in the NFL. However, he has been plagued with injuries over the most recent two years; he played 7 games in 2018 and only 2 games in 2019.

He is also capable of racking up tackles, as shown by his 2016 and 2017 seasons where he obtained 146 and 138. His PFF grades during his first four seasons varied between 61.9 and 69.3. Just to give you a rough idea, a 65.0 rating would have been good for 29th place out of 89 LBs.

3.4 Cornerbacks (CBs)

Jaire Alexander has done the job as the #1 corner. He has obtained 72.4 and 71.2 marks from PFF during his first two seasons, which is well-above average. He’s so-so defending the run, but his coverage skills are very good.

The number two corner, Kevin King had five interceptions last year after getting just one over his first two years as a pro. He did show some improvement after two rocky years. He finished 2019 as a middle-of-the-pack corner.

Tramon Williams played 74% of the snaps and had a surprisingly good season despite his age. He will be 37 when the 2020 season begins. He is currently a free agent and it remains to be seen if the Packers bring him back or not.

In summary, Alexander and King are both pretty young and could still be improving, but Tramon Williams provided quality play and it’s uncertain if someone else can pick up the slack.

3.5 Safeties (S)

Adrian Amos and Darnell Savage were the top two guys here.

Along with Za’Darius and Preston Smith, the Adrian Amos was another excellent signing by the Packers during the 2019 offseason. Amos had been a reliable guy in Chicago for four seasons, and he continued to excel in the frozen tundra.

After being selected as the #21 overall pick in the 2019 draft, Darnell Savage did show some flashes as a rookie last year. He finished as the #47 safety among 87 qualifiers, which is very satisfying for a rookie. He earned nice marks in coverage (77.4), but horrible ones against the run (37.7).

Will Redmond will be back as the number three safety. He’s not starter material for sure.

2020 VS 2019 DEFENSE

Most of the starters are returning in 2020. That’s the good news.

The team lost their leader in tackles, Blake Martinez, as well as pass rusher Kyler Fackrell and CB Tramon Williams.

The only acquisition worth of note is Christian Kirksey. Him not having played very much during the last two seasons brings some question marks.

The Packers defense struggled against the run last year, and there’s no reason to believe that will change in 2020. Green Bay still finished 9th in points allowed, which was a very acceptable result.

Unfortunately, a decrease in effectiveness is expected and I predict this unit will end 2020 as a middle-of-pack defense (12th – 19th in points allowed).

Final call (2020 vs 2019): Small downgrade

4. Regular Season Wins

According to sportsbooks, the Green Bay Packers are expected to win 9 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 (excluding the simulated years where the Pack won exactly 9 games, since in those cases your bet would have tied):

Estimated Probability Sportsbook Odds ROI
OVER 9 WINS 51.4% bwin +115 +10.5%
UNDER 9 WINS 48.6% Heritage Sports +100 -2.8%
Tip: Bet OVER 9 wins
Return On Investment (ROI): +10.5%
Rank: 25th-highest ROI out of 32 teams
Minimum odds required to bet (i.e. ROI = 0%): -106

Here are BetOnline’s point spreads for the Packers’ 16 regular season games:
HOME: -6 vs ATL, -10 vs CAR, -4.5 vs CHI, -6.5 vs DET, -11.5 vs JAX, -3 vs MIN, -2.5 vs PHI, -3.5 vs TEN.
ROAD: 0 @ CHI, -2 @ DET, 0 @ HOU, +2.5 @ IND, +3 @ MIN, +5.5 @ NO, +6.5 @ SF, +2.5 @ TB.

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

TOMORROW: I'll talk about the team whose ROI is the 24th-highest in the league, the Pittsburgh Steelers!

Did you like this write-up? If so, comment below! I'd like to know YOUR opinion on what to expect from the Packers' 2020 season!

Professor MJ
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Defending the Draft: Green Bay Packers

2019 OVERVIEW


The Green Bay Packers surprised just about everyone (except James Jones) with their successful campaign under first year HC Matt LaFleur. Before the season, he hired former Jaguars OC Nathaniel Hackett to fill the same role in his offense, and he elected to keep DC Mike Pettine who served in that capacity the year before under former HC Mike McCarthy.

The team ended the year 13-3 on the regular season, including a complete sweep of the division, plus a win against the Seahawks in the division round of the playoffs. Despite their success, there were many critics who considered them to be the worst 13-3 team in NFL history. The Packers were accused of "winning ugly" and not resembling a true contender. Those chickens would come home to roost in San Francisco as they were no match for the 49ers in the NFC championship game. The team gave a horribly flat performance on defense, plus an offense that had no answer to San Francisco's elite defensive front 7.

Even though they didn't achieve their Cinderella story, the Packers would go into the offseason with much of the starting roster returning intact for a chance at a second run in 2020. The roster is mostly comprised of players 27 or younger, and only three starters needed to be replaced from the prior season. The team is banking on the growth and development of their young players to help propel the team to that next level. Their upcoming schedule will be much more challenging than 2019's on paper, but working on building more consistency on both sides of the ball will hopefully produce a better overall "team" than the one which overachieved a year ago.

2020 FREE AGENCY


Departures:

This offseason saw the end of the road for two longtime Packers in Green Bay with RT Bryan Bulaga (EYE-WAH) and ILB Blake Martinez (aka pussyfucker69). They signed deals elsewhere after giving the team many years of consistent on field play. Replacing them will not come easy. Jimmy Graham, on the other hand, will not be greatly missed. His best games of the season came in the playoffs after two seasons of dropped passes, lazy routes, and non-existent blocking. (But at least he was better than Martellus Bennett.) The only other significant loss was Tramon Williams who played lights out as the nickel corner last year. At 36 years old, it is more likely the team will go with younger and cheaper alternatives to fill his role next season, but a return to the team isn't out of the question.

The contracts signed by Martinez and Bulaga, along with OLB Kyler Fackrell, should mean the Packers are in line to be rewarded three compensatory choices in 2021 in the 4th, 5th, and 7th rounds respectively. Bulaga's compensation is capped at a 5th rounder due to being a 10 year veteran.

* = former starter

Player Position New Team Contract
Bryan Bulaga * RT Chargers 3 yr / $30 mil
Blake Martinez * ILB Giants 3 yr / $30 mil
Jimmy Graham * TE Bears 2 yr / $16 mil
Kyler Fackrell OLB Giants 1 yr / $4.6 mil
B.J. Goodson ILB Browns 1 yr / $2.4 mil
Dan Vitale FB Patriots 1 yr / $1.3 mil
Jason Spriggs LT Bears 1 y $825 K
Geronimo Allison WR Lions 1 yr / $800 K
Ibraheim Campbell S Titans 1 yr / $750 K
Tramon Williams CB UFA NA
Jared Veldheer RT UFA NA
Additions:

The Packers used the $8 mil in cap savings they got back from releasing Jimmy Graham to add Christian Kirksey (ILB - Browns), Ricky Wagner (OT - Lions), and Devin Funchess (WR - Colts) once they were released from their former teams. Kirksey is an athletic ILB with 4.55 speed and playmaking ability, but he has missed substantial time due to injuries recently and only played in 9 games the last two years. Wagner has had one brilliant season with the Ravens in 2017 followed by two average ones with the Lions, but a starter is a starter. Funchess is a former 2nd round pick and still only 25, so hopefully he can finally reach the potential he has flashed now that he has Rodgers at the helm.

They did not sign a TE to replace Graham because the team will be using returning players instead. The favored starter is 2019 3rd round pick Jace Sternberger, after he missed most of his rookie season due to injuries. He is accompanied along with the returning ageless veteran Marcedes "Big Dog" Lewis (who is now famously known as the only 1st round player Rodgers has thrown a TD pass to).

By making these moves and essentially locking up their starters pre-draft, they allowed themselves some flexibility with their approach to how they would spend their picks.
*= projected starter


Player Position 2019 Team Contract
Christian Kirksey * ILB Browns 2 yr / $13 mil
Ricky Wagner * RT Lions 2 yr / $11 mil
Devin Funchess WR Colts 1 yr / $2.5 mil
Reggie Begelton WR CFL 3 yr / $2.3 mil
Treyvon Hester DT Redskins 1 yr / $850 K
Gerald Willis III DT Dolphins 1 yr / $675 K
Jamal Davis II OLB Dolphins 1 yr / $675K
Mason Crosby K Packers 3 yr / $13 mil
Marcedes Lewis TE Packers 1 yr / $2.3 mil
Tyler Ervin RB/RS Packers 1 yr / $1 mil
Will Redmond S Packers 1 yr / $750 K

2020 NFL DRAFT


1 (26) - JORDAN LOVE (QB - UTAH ST)
\pick acquired from Houston thru Miami for #30 and #133 overall*

The Packers shocked everyone by passing on a player who may have helped the team right away when they instead traded up for Utah St. QB Jordan Love. This has been an endless point of criticism and even ridicule since the draft ended. But this pick made a lot of sense at its core. I go into much greater detail in regards to this pick elsewhere, but here are the main points that led to this selection:


"I think it's always kind of been in my DNA that anywhere in the draft, if you have an opportunity to take a quarterback you really think can play, you need to consider it."
-Brian Gutekunst, GM of the Packers

Jordan Love is a 6'4 and 224 lb QB with large 10.5" hands and a rocket for an arm. He is a self-described playmaker, which is evident when you watch him on tape. At Utah St in 2018, Love put on a clinic, throwing for 3500 yards, 32 TD's, and only 6 INT's. This put him on the radar as a potential top 10 or even top 5 prospect heading into the 2019 season. Unfortunately, after a coaching change and losing 9 offensive starters, Love saw a major drop in his numbers (3200 yards, 20 TD's, and 17 INT's). Love started to develop some bad habits such as staring receivers down and forcing risky throws, which is what led to the spike in turnovers.

However, it needs to be mentioned that Jordan Love put the team on his shoulders all season. He frequently had limited choices available but to either try and make a play or take the sack. Had he not been dealing with this adversity, he probably would have heard his name called much sooner and the Packers would not have had a shot at him in the late 1st round.

"He’s not a bad decision-maker. That was one of my biggest pet peeves in the draft process was people calling that kid a bad decision-maker. He’s not. He’s a kid that’s played with nobody around him and he was competitive and he was trying to win football games. Did he force throws? Absolutely. Did he have to force throws? Absolutely. You didn’t see bad decision-making on ’18 tape, when he threw 32 touchdowns and six picks. You never heard those numbers brought up the whole process. All you heard was 20 touchdowns, 17 picks. Like, nobody ever went back and talked about ’18….. He is the only QB I’ve ever scouted who will be throwing into bigger windows in the NFL than he threw into in college.”
-Jim Nagy, Senior Bowl director and former NFL scout

Numbers aside, there are glimpses and flashes of his game that make you swear you are watching Aaron Rodgers himself. He flourishes when the play breaks down displaying the ability to throw off various platforms to keep the play alive. Love has that same gunslinger mentality that Patrick Mahomes had at TX Tech – no throw is impossible in their minds. And when I say that Jordan Love didn’t have any help, it isn’t just making an excuse. He was essentially the only threat Utah St. had on offense in 2019, so Love took it on his shoulders to will the team forward, similar to other top picks like Daniel Jones at Duke and Josh Allen at Wyoming.

As far as his fit with the Packers, clearly they have to like his arm talent and his hand size, along with his experience playing in frigid environments - those are three important boxes that need to be checked if a QB wants to succeed at Lambeau Field. One could argue that of all the QB's in this draft, Love may have the most upside just due to his physical traits but is also the least ready to play. I don't think he could have landed in a better position than on a team built to win championships with a future Hall of Famer to learn from.
2 (62) - AJ DILLON (RB - BCU)
According to Peter King, the Packers were trying to trade up in round 2 for one of two specific WR's. Once Chase Claypool was selected at #49, they stopped calling teams. We can take this to mean that at that point, the Packers felt all the impact players at WR in the draft were gone. The Packers were content to look for other ways they could improve the offense. The team did not want to simply draft a receiver just to say they took one. And that's where AJ Dillon comes in.
Even with the breakout season of Aaron Jones in 2019, there is reason to suspect the Packers view AJ Dillon as the long term primary RB in this offense. Unlike Jones who is a quick and elusive 5’9 and 200 lb RB, Dillon is a north/south runner with surprisingly light feet for his 6'0 and 247 lb frame. He has proven he can withstand the workload of a RB1 posting three 1,000+ yard seasons in college. Similar to Jordan Love, he did it without much of a supporting cast. He led the FBS in the amount of stacked boxes he was facing by a wide margin (46% of the time). He also led the FBS in yards after contact (over 800) because teams knew he was getting the ball but it just didn't matter - he ran it hard just the same. Dillon is best known for his balance and being able to keep himself moving through first contact. He is knocked by evaluators by his lack of presence in the passing game, catching only 21 career passes, but not being asked to do it isn’t the same as not being able to do it. Dillon also has a tendency of not exhibiting the patience to let the play develop, which leads to him missing opportunities for cut back lanes on occasion. These two things are hardly fatal flaws, and he can improve with proper coaching.
But why Dillon, and why Round 2? That seems to be what gets people scratching their heads the most. Well, the Packers love to draft athletes, and as far as RB prospects go Dillon is a rare player. He is bigger than Eddie Lacy and faster than Aaron Jones. Dillon posted the best SPARQ score (97%) among all RB's at the combine, and his speed score (117) was in the 97th percentile. Running 4.53 and jumping 41" should simply not be allowed from a RB who is also 247 lbs. I also believe the front office had Dillon rated extremely high on their board compared to other options at RB. Dillon and Jonathan Taylor (96% SPARQ) had to be the 1a and 1b of this class for the Packers. Gutekunst just can't help himself, he loves size and speed.
The Packers will also be facing a lot of difficult decisions with their group of free agents in 2021, which includes #1 RB Aaron Jones and #2 RB Jamaal Williams. Drafting Dillon makes it so the team can choose to keep one of those two next year, while potentially grooming their long-term starter. Now LaFleur has his own Derrick Henry that will help him run the kind of offense he wants to execute. Short yardage and goalline situations will be a different story in 2020 compared to the struggles a year ago. Frankly, fewer positions are as NFL ready as RB's are, and few of them are as rare of an athletic prospect as Dillon. He is likely going to be a big part of the offense moving forward. Especially in December and January when it is freezing cold and actual football begins.
3 (94) - JOSIAH DEGUARA (TE/HB - CINCINNATI)
The Packers missed on all the WR's that might have made a difference for them, but they were ready to find a pass catcher in an unconventional way. So at pick #94, with only two TE's selected at that point (Cole Kmet and Devin Asiasi), the Packers had their choice of player at the position. It is safe to say the Packers got their preferred one with Josiah Deguara.
This pick was considered a reach by most analysts when it was made, but context is important. Matt LaFleur was the QB coach in Washington in 2010 under Mike Shanahan. That year Chris Cooley, a 6'2 and 250 lb TE/HB, had 77 catches on 126 targets for 849 yards. That position was currently vacant on the Packers depth chart, so it can't be underestimated how integral this role could be going forward as LaFleur continues to shape the team to fit his philosophy.
Josiah Deguara is the perfect player to fill that Chris Cooley (or Kyle Juszczyk) role in this Shanahan-style offense. At only 6'2, Deguara played in-line TE 60% of the time in college because they tried to move him around to take advantage of his versatility. He played TE, HB, FB, and WR at Cincinnati, where he ended his career as the school record holder for catches at the position with 92 catches in 2 years. The former record holder was Travis Kelce, so he is in good company. It also just so happens that Mike Denbrock, the OC for Cincinnati, coached alongside Matt LaFleur at Notre Dame previously - I bet the two discussed together all the ways Deguara could be a factor within the Packers offense.
The main thing that I keep reading about Deguara is how great his character is both on and off the field. The Packers believe strongly in finding players who "carry the G", and Deguara is just a high effort, hard-working, bring-your-lunch-pail-to-work kind of guy that everyone wants to root for. He will play on all the special teams units, learn to play in whatever role the offense asks him to, and he will always give 100% effort. It would be premature to say Josiah Deguara is an impact player as a late 3rd round pick, but he is a wild card who could potentially open this offense up and take it in several new and creative directions.
P.S. LaFleur showed this play during one of his team meetings in 2019 as the prime example of what it means to never give up on a play (he starts at the top of the screen as a blocker, then chases the defender down to make the TD-saving tackle).
https://twitter.com/ethanthomthom/status/1254590868507557890?s=19
Six months later, the Packers selected him with the #94 pick. It is clear looking back that Deguara was meant to wear green and gold. LaFleur was more excited about this pick in his post-draft interviews than any other player chosen that weekend.
4 (133) - to Miami
*traded along with #30 overall to move up to #26 for Jordan Love
5 (175) - KAMAL MARTIN (LB - MINNESOTA)
Kamal Martin is one of those LB's that would have been talked about more had he not been battling injuries and been able to compete in the pre-draft functions. Injuries cut his season short to just 8 games, but he still finished with 66 total tackles, 2.5 TFL, 1 sack, 2 FF, and 2 INT's - his knack of finding ways to always be around the ball had to stand out to Gutekunst. Jim Nagy, the director of the Senior Bowl, called Martin a top 3 senior LB and a steal for the Packers as a 5th round pick. He has prototypical size for a 3 down LB at 6'3 and 240 lbs along with 34" arms and an 81" wingspan. The Packers scouts estimated that he runs between 4.55 - 4.65 in the 40, but he wasn't able to participate in the drill while recovering from his knee injury.
Martin is a former high school QB, and he uses that experience on the defensive side to help give him a unique perspective of the action in front of him. He lined up at both OLB and ILB at Minnesota and was a playmaker at both positions. And that position versatility is what attracted the Packers to him. He will need to get stronger and play with better pad level, but there is a lot going for Martin as a prospect.
As the first defensive selection in the draft for the Packers, Martin will be given a chance to compete with other young players, such as Oren Burks, Ty Summers, and Curtis Bolton, for a chance to be the #2 ILB next to Christian Kirksey. Burks and Summers are two very athletic guys who have played mostly on special teams, and Bolton was a UDFA last year who made waves in preseason before getting hurt. This group is young, athletic, and horribly inexperienced, making it the most open of all the roster competitions on the team.
Kamal Martin is the definition of a sleeper who could have landed in a fortuitous situation based on the uncertainty surrounding the LB group in Green Bay. He is a proven playmaker who finds ways to get to the ball, and those instincts could serve him well as he fights for a spot. Martin is hoping to follow in the footsteps of Blake Martinez to become an every down starter as a day 3 selection.
6a (192) - JON RUNYAN JR (G/T - MICHIGAN)
*pick acquired from Raiders for WR Trevor Davis
The Packers have had a very positive track record selecting OL on day 3 of the draft. They had three picks to spend in the 6th round, and considering they have veterans with expiring contracts coming up and nothing but UDFA's as depth, they felt it was an area of the team that could use an infusion of new competition. They have a good shot of one of the next three players becoming a starter down the road.
With their first of three IOL choices in round 6, they selected Jon Runyan Jr who comes to the Packers with a great NFL pedigree (his father had a very long and successful career for the Oilers/Titans and Eagles). After being a backup OG for his first few seasons, Jr. made the switch to RT and then LT under the coaching of Ed Warriner who coached Packers center Corey Linsley at Ohio St. Jon Runyan would go on to start 25 games at LT for Michigan over the next 2 years, earning 1st team all-Big 10.
While Runyan is a bit smaller than you would like out of an NFL tackle (6'4 and 306 lbs with 33" arms and a 79" wingspan), his agility and athletic ability were near the top of the draft class. He had the 3rd best 3-cone time at 7.57, and his 40 time of 5.08 was 9th best in the class. His 10 yard split of 1.79 met the threshold that you want for OL by 0.01 (good enough by NFL standards and that's all that matters). Due to his size, Runyan is more of a pass blocker than run blocker at this point in his career. He excels by using his quickness and athleticism to keep up with dangerous pass rushers but sometimes struggles with moving bigger guys back in the ground game.
Runyan will compete at guard, which is what he was announced as during the draft, but his versatility makes him a potential swing tackle and utility guy in the early part of his career. Fortunately he comes from a zone blocking scheme at Michigan, which will help him adjust to the Packers version. A lot will depend on how well he transitions inside and how he makes the jump to the speed and complexity of the NFL. If he can make a similar leap like he made entering his junior season, the future looks very bright for him in the NFL.
6b (208) - JAKE HANSON (C - OREGON)
*pick acquired from Titans for OLB Reggie Gilbert
There is always something to be said when the Packers select a true center in the draft because they rarely do. Elgton Jenkins played 4 different positions at Miss St and JC Tretter played OT before the Packers moved him inside. The only true center Ted Thompson ever drafted was Corey Linsley - an athletically limited and undersized player but a consistent technician who played in a big time program at Ohio St.
Now, Linsley at 28 years old is heading into 2020 as the 6th highest paid member of the team and 3rd highest paid center in the NFL. He is also entering the final year of his contract. Next year is going to be judgment day for many starters on the team, and decisions will need to be made to see who will be offered an extension including David Bakhtiari (LT), Kevin King (CB), Aaron Jones (RB), and Kenny Clark (DT). The Packers may not have the cap space to keep Linsley around beyond this season. The Packers also dislike handing out third contracts to their players who may be starting to head towards the back end of their careers. That means the search to find a successor is part of the plans, and that leads us to this next pick.
Jake Hanson may not have had the flashiest combine (5.5 in the 40 at 6'4 and 303 lbs), but when it comes to centers, it is more about their technique and ability to make the right calls at the line. That being said, he did have 33 reps in the bench press which was #4 among all OL. Hanson comes to Green Bay as a 4 year starter who boasted 49 career starts. He was the anchor of one of the best lines in the country since he first won the job as a true freshman, and Oregon may not have been as successful without him in the middle making sure the assignments were correct.
Hanson plays with an incredible motor, even if he lacks the desired size to compete against linemen one on one, but the Packers' zone system should be able to hide some of those deficiencies. He has strong hands and a sticky grip (which I'm sure will make our division rivals happy), and he works well with guards in double teams. He still needs some fine tuning with his snap placement as he can occasionally misfire out of the shotgun. But as a developmental 6th rounder, Hanson can continue working on those techniques while learning behind one of the best technicians in the game. Not to mention he can use this valuable time on the scout team practicing with Jordan Love. Should the time come when both players are ready to start, they would have already developed a rapport thanks to their time on the practice field together.
6c (209) - SIMON STEPANIAK (G - INDIANA)
With the selection of Simon Stepaniak, the Packers believe they got a player who could have been selected as early as the 4th round had he not tragically torn his ACL last December. Stepaniak is the opposite of Runyan and Hanson - he is a tough-nosed mauler in the run game who likes to pick fights and look for people to punish. He played RG at Indiana, and it is likely with his 32" arms that he may be limited to play interior OL as a pro. His 37 reps (!!!) on the bench press in Indianapolis frequently showed up on tape where he routinely manhandled defenders in one-on-ones and would flatten other guys out on double teams. (The fact he could even do 37 reps while recovering from his surgery is astounding.)
His main issues will be dealing with poor agility when matched up against quicker speed rushers, where relying on his upper body strength alone won't be enough. Despite his athletic shortcomings, Stepaniak allowed a pressure on only 3.3% of passing plays per PFF. With some fine tuning of his game, there is potential that Stepaniak could become the top OL of the three the Packers selected in round 6.
Stepaniak resembles a guard in a power running scheme from 1993, who would rather be out hunting for defenders than settling back and waiting for them to come to him. In a way, this could be a pick for the future direction of the offense, especially after the Packers selected AJ Dillon and Josiah Deguara earlier. This shows a subtle shift in the offense away from 5 WR shotgun formations and hinting more towards pounding the rock to punish the new mold of smallefaster defenses. It makes sense that they would take a gamble on Stepaniak late this year. Even though he may wind up on the PUP/IR list, the Packers liked his talent this late in day 3.
7a (236) - VERNON SCOTT (S - TCU)
*pick acquired from Browns for OG Justin McCray and #244
Who the hell is Vernon Scott?
He was only Dane Brugler's 61st ranked safety out of 62 in the 2020 draft, of course! But really, this is a name that most people just shrugged their shoulders to and probably overlooked. Let me now be the one to introduce you to him. Vernon Scott is a player that is all about two things: versatility and upside.
At 6'2 and 206 lbs, he has the prototype size you are looking for in a modern defensive back. He wasn't invited to the combine, and his pro day was canceled hence why he was invisible to the draft community. His athletic testing will unfortunately remain a mystery, but the Packers estimated he ran a 4.40, which would be outstanding for a player at his size.
Scott was a one year starter at TCU who lined up all over the secondary. He was primarily a key contributor on special teams for all 4 years before taking over as a starter this past season. While Texas WR Devin Duvernay made him look silly in 2019 (seriously, don't watch the tape), Vernon Scott really started to come on towards the end of the year. In the last three games of the season he had 4 total takeaways, a sack, and a TD. He had a particularly strong game against Oklahoma where he made 7 tackles, a fumble recovery, and a 98 yard INT for a TD. He would finish the year with 44 tackles (4th on the team) and 7 PBU's (ranked 3rd).
Where did this sudden playmaking skill come from? Scott moved to the nickel corner role, and he was told to let loose. The Packers are clearly banking that his ability as a slot CB, while also having experience playing the other 4 positions in the secondary, will translate to the NFL and give him an edge to win a roster spot. Not often is a player drafted because of a 3 game stretch, but hey, it is the 7th round so why not? He joins a secondary that is led with Darnell Savage and Adrian Amos but was often exposed when other players such as Will Redmond had to see meaningful snaps. The team also allowed Ibraheim Campbell to walk this offseason who had been with the team for two years. Needless to say, the Packers liked the direction where Vernon Scott’s arrow was pointing, and the more competition in the secondary the better.
7b (242) - JONATHAN GARVIN (OLB - MIAMI)
*pick acquired from Ravens for RB Ty Montgomery
Jonathan "Spider" Garvin comes to Green Bay with a nice resume from his last two years at Miami. He is an impressive physical specimen at 6'4 and 263 lbs with 34" arms and an 80" wingspan. While his 4.82 probably didn't help him, when you watch the tape his explosiveness jumps off the screen - literally. His 36" vertical was #1 among edge rushers and DL at the combine.
Garvin put up 60 tackles, 17 TFL, 5.5 sacks, 2 fumble recoveries, and 5 pass breakups his sophomore season (not to mention a fumble returned for a TD) while playing across from Joe Jackson. That sort of production tends to get a player noticed, and so his junior season in 2019 was all about fighting for whatever he could get while dealing with the extra attention. Garvin would enjoy much of his time fighting off double- and triple-teams in 2019, which caused a dip in his overall numbers from the year prior. Garvin ended the season with just 37 tackles, 9 TFL, 5 sacks, 4 hurries, and 2 FF. However, his pressure rate of 14.8% was still 5th best in the ACC according to PFF.
The drop in production along with the 4.82 in the 40 is likely why he didn't hear his name called in the early part of day 3. Even so, at his size, length, and explosiveness, he could find a home as part of the rotation at OLB in Green Bay. Kyler Fackrell played over 400 snaps on defense as the #3 OLB last year while 1st round pick Rashan Gary played 245. Now that Fackrell left to join the Giants in free agency, Gary will presumably be in line to pick up the snaps left behind which still allows enough opportunities for Garvin to find a role as a situational pass rusher on defense if he can win the #4 spot.
Garvin comes to Green Bay with very similar measurables as Za'darius Smith. He has the strength to hold up on the edge but also the explosiveness off the line to get up field to rush the passer. Garvin has a lot of tools to work with, and having both the Smith's as mentors could go a long way as far as how he learns to master them. The OLB depth has a lot of juice on the team for once, and Garvin makes this group even more exciting.
7 (244) - to Cleveland
*traded along with OG Justin McCray for #236

OVERALL DRAFT EVALUATION

The Packers were in an interesting position heading into the draft, coming in as a 13-3 team without any major holes on the roster. All the starting spots were filled ahead of time, which already put this draft class at a disadvantage compared to other teams in the league. The rookies may not be relied upon to start or play much in 2020, barring an injury to someone ahead on the depth chart. It isn't too farfetched to think that the Packers could have selected 9 completely different players and would have received the same level of impact from this class year 1.
That isn't to say some of the members of this class can't find a role as part of a rotation - I expect Dillon, Deguara, and Martin to all get involved - but there isn't a need to have any of these guys start right out of the gate. Which can be a good thing. It reminds me of the old school days where rookies yielded to veterans and had to bust their asses to earn playing time, rather than being handed a job as soon as they walked through the door.
At the end of the day, regardless of what happens with any other player, this draft will ultimately be judged based on the success or failure of one single player: Jordan Love. The legacy (and possibly the future employment) of GM Brian Gutekunst is also now firmly tied to this selection. The coaching chops of Matt LaFleur will also be thoroughly put to the test to see how he develops. A lot is riding on getting this one right.
But in the end, because Jordan Love plays the most important position in the game, if he becomes a successful starter, this whole draft is a win. For now all he needs to do is focus on being the best scout team QB the Packers have had the luxury to have on the team since Aaron Rodgers himself. Nothing will be easily given to Love. Proving to the organization that he is worthy of being the heir apparent to Aaron will greatly depend on how he prepares himself for what comes next.
We drafted him in the first round, we certainly think he has that kind of talent. But that’s not enough in the National Football League. You’ve got to work, you’ve got to earn it, you’ve got to become a good enough player. Again, we have one of the best to ever lace them up, and we’re shooting for championships as long as he’s here, and we expect him to be here for quite a while. -Brian Gutekunst
submitted by nootfloosh to NFL_Draft [link] [comments]

Will the Baltimore Ravens win OVER/UNDER 11.5 games? By University Stats Prof!

1. Introduction

The Ravens finished as the top team in the NFL with a 14-2 record. However, the season ended on a sour note as they lost 28-to-12 at home against the Titans in the divisional round.

Baltimore finished 1st in points scored and 3rd in points allowed. It doesn’t get any better than this!

Their running game was historically great! They racked up 206 rushing yards per game on average, while the second-best in the NFL was San Francisco at “just” 144…

Can they replicate last year’s success?

2. Offensive Position-by-Position Breakdown

2.1 Quarterbacks (QBs)

Lamar Jackson was nothing short of spectacular. He was a lot of fun to watch. He was only the second unanimous MVP winner ever.

He ran for 1,206 yards, but he surprised many with his arm. He threw 36 TD passes versus just 6 picks.

While those numbers are jaw-dropping, I find it hard to believe he can be as good in 2020. Maybe teams will figure him out better and find ways to contain him. You cannot ask Baltimore’s quarterback position to do better in 2020 than they did in 2019.

Note that Robert Griffin III remains the Ravens’ backup QB this year.

2.2 Running Backs (RBs)

Mark Ingram and Gus Edwards were a very good one-two punch (on top of having Lamar Jackson running like crazy). They will be 30 and 25 years old, respectively, so there shouldn’t be too much of a dropoff.

At first, it was believed that Justice Hill might push Gus Edwards for the number two role in 2020. The fourth-round pick out of Oklahoma State had a good rookie season.

However, Baltimore’s backfield is pretty stacked with the addition of rookie J.K. Dobbins. He is very likely to pass Edwards and Hill on the depth chart. It won’t be easy to unseat Ingram, though.

Dobbins rushed for over 2,000 yards last year, while also punching the ball in the end zone 21 times! He can also catch the ball well out of the backfield. He has the tools to become a three-down back in the NFL.

2.3 Wide Receivers (WRs)

Not much change at this position either, except for the loss of Seth Roberts who caught 21 passes for 271 yards and 2 TDs. Not a big deal.

The top two targets will be back in 2020: Marquise Brown and Willie Snead.

Brown’ rookie season was a success as he caught 46 passes for 584 yards. He finished third among rookies with 7 receiving TDs. However, his college career ended with a foot injury and he says it hampered him at times during the 2019 season. He faded down the stretch, despite nice numbers in the lone playoff game. Indeed, he scored just one touchdown over the last six meetings.

Snead wasn’t particularly good. He ranked 101st out of 122 wide receivers by PFF. During the regular season, he cleared 50 receiving yards just two times. He caught 4 passes in one game, and hauled in 3 passes or less in the remaining 15 matchups.

Overall, this is a bit of a shaky group. Given his history, Marquise Brown is a likely candidate for injuries and if that happens, they will be in trouble at the wideout position. As mentioned above, Snead isn’t very strong. Seth Roberts is gone. And Miles Boykin isn’t scaring anyone either. Depth was clearly an issue here.

Most observers believed the Ravens would address the position in the draft. However, Baltimore waited until late in the 3rd round to pick a WR: Devin Duvernay out of Texas. He’s a slot weapon who caught 106 passes for 1,386 yards and 9 TDs last year. Obviously, the 106 receptions are impressive, but keep in mind that he benefited from 42 screen plays going his way.

2.4 Tight Ends (TEs)

The team was loaded at this position with Mark Andrews, Nick Boyle and Hayden Hurst. These guys finished 2nd, 12th, and 14th out of 66 tight ends! Having three of the top 14 TEs in the league within the same team is unbelievable!

Unfortunately, Hurst left for Atlanta. As good as he was, it won’t be a huge blow to the Ravens considering the depth they had.

2.5 Offensive Line (OL)

All guys on the offensive line finished above-average according to PFF. Unreal!

The bad news is Marshal Yanda announced his retirement, which leaves a glaring hole at right guard. Yanda played 88% of the offensive snaps and finished as the 4th-best guard in the league (out of 81 guys). His replacement will have big shoes to fill.

One of the main candidates to replace him is free agent D.J. Fluker, who is coming over from Seattle. The 29-year-old’s play has fairly dipped over the past three seasons after four promising years with the Chargers. Fluker graded out as the number 48 guard out of 81 players in 2019.

Still, this is a very strong group, but expect a dropoff compared to last year.

2020 VS 2019 OFFENSE

How can you not expect this unit to decrease its production? They were unbelievably effective last year. They are probably going to regress towards the mean.

They didn’t add any key players on offense (except maybe rookie J.K. Dobbins?), while losing Hayden Hurst, Marshal Yanda and Seth Roberts. Teams have had several months to find ways to slow down Lamar Jackson and company. It’s highly unlikely that his numbers improve over the 2019 campaign.

Also notice how the Ravens’ offense didn’t suffer any big injury all season long to key players. It may not be the case once again in 2020. Injuries occur on a regular basis in the NFL.

Final call (2020 vs 2019): Moderate downgrade

3. Defensive Position-by-Position Breakdown

3.1 Defensive Linemen (DLs)

The Ravens had three guys on the interior of the defensive line: Brandon Williams, Michael Pierce and Chris Wormley. Each of them received “ok” ratings from PFF, as they finished 67th, 45th and 63rd respectively (out of 114 inside defenders).

Pierce and Wormley are gone. However, the team acquired Derek Wolfe from the Broncos. He recorded 7 sacks in 12 games last year and he ranked as the 46th-best inside defender.

Justin Madubuike was taken early in the 3rd round of this year’s draft. He seems like a boom-or-bust player. He’s athletic, but he is a bit short and light. He’s more likely to become a backup in the NFL.

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

Matthew Judon led the way with 9.5 sacks and Tyus Bowser got a career-high 5 sacks in 2019. Both are above-average rushers.

As for Jaylon Ferguson and Jihad Ward, they received fairly bad marks from PFF.

The Ravens made a big splash by acquiring Calais Campbell from the Jaguars. The 33-year old may slow down in 2020, but his numbers have been impressive. He has averaged 8 sacks per season over an 11-year period!

He’s also been extremely durable; he has not missed a game since 2014. As a matter of fact, he’s played at least 13 games in each of his 12 years in the NFL! He finished the 2019 season as the #2 edge defender according to PFF (only behind T.J. Watt from the Steelers).

3.3 Linebackers (LBs)

Patrick Onwuasor and Josh Bynes received a good share of playing time. However, both are gone. Onwuasor was the #73 linebacker while Bynes got a surprisingly high 6th spot out of 89 linebackers.

The only inside LB left with playing experience is L.J. Fort. He’s a 30-year old veteran who has played for five teams. He doesn’t look to be the long-term answer.

The good news is the Ravens selected Patrick Queen from LSU with the 28th overall pick last April. The main knock on him is clearly is lack of experience since he’s was a one-year starter in college.

However, his game film is impressive. He is very fast and he diagnoses plays quickly. He may be the only NFL-caliber linebacker the team has on their roster. It’s not as bad as it looks since Baltimore often plays with six DBs and one LB. Malik Harrison, who was picked late in the third round out of Ohio State, might get some limited playing time.

3.4 Cornerbacks (CBs)

The Ravens have a strong group here, even though Brandon Carr was let go.

The team still has Marlon Humphrey (37th-best CB), Marcus Peters (4th-best CB) and Jimmy Smith (42nd-best CB). Baltimore has a lot of ammunition and don’t need to worry about this position.

3.5 Safeties (S)

Earl Thomas is a safe value. He’s been consistently good throughout his career and at 31 years old he still has a few good years left.

Chuck Clark just signed a three-year contract and he deserved it. He really flourished in 2019 and finished 36th out of 87 safeties according to PFF. He is the main reason the team let Tony Jefferson go.

2020 VS 2019 DEFENSE

Baltimore’s defense allowed the third fewest points in the league in 2019. They are still going to be difficult to score against.

Calais Campbell was a great free agent acquisition. To a lesser degree, Derek Wolfe too.

However, losing Michael Pierce, Chris Wormley, Patrick Onwuasor, Josh Bynes, Brandon Carr and Tony Jefferson will hurt. Most of these guys played about 50% of the snaps and will need to be replaced.

The team has little to no depth at linebacker. Patrick Queen has a lot of pressure on his shoulders to step in and perform right away in his rookie season.

Overall, I believe the Ravens defense will see a slight decrease in its effectiveness to stop opposing offenses.

Final call (2020 vs 2019): Small downgrade

4. Regular Season Wins

According to sportsbooks, the Baltimore Ravens are expected to win 11.5 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 11.5 WINS 52.3% FanDuel +105 +7.2%
UNDER 11.5 WINS 47.7% bwin +100 -4.6%

Tip: Bet OVER 11.5 wins
Return On Investment (ROI): +7.2%
Rank: 27th-highest ROI out of 32 teams
Minimum odds required to bet (i.e. ROI = 0%): -110

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

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

Tomorrow, I'll discuss the team whose ROI is 26th in the NFL.

Thanks for reading, I hope you appreciated this write-up!

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

League Winner Alert: Draft Mike Evans, TB's New TB TD King

The Man:

Mike Evans, 26-year-old outside receiver going into his seventh season for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Current ADP #23 (ECR #21) on FantasyPros, WR8 on Yahoo, WR7 on ESPN (PPR).

The Myth:

Mike Evans, who was successful as the deep threat for former QB Jameis “YOLO” Winston, will SUFFER from new QB Tom Brady’s inability to make deep throws and penchant for short passes to breakout slot receiver Chris Godwin.

The Legend:

Mike Evans, king of jump-ball bombs and contested catches, will THRIVE as an WR1 from TB12’s accurate long throws and efficient red-zone looks, and will be the Bucs leading pass-catcher in fantasy points.

Justifying the Hype:

Mike Evans is currently being disrespected with a lower ADP than his slotty counterpart, Chris Godwin, who exploded last year as the league’s overall WR2. Now that reckless gunslinger Jameis Winston has been replaced with soft-lipped boomer Tom Brady, the expectation is that Godwin will prosper from TB’s "dink-and-dunk" short passes, while Evans will be a forgotten part of the offense due to the lack of desperate Hail Mary’s from TB's apparently disintegrating arm. However, that could not be further from the case. Evans may be inconsistent each week, but he has always been – and will continue to be – a guaranteed WR1 producer that will prove to benefit from Brady's improved accuracy and higher football IQ. To answer some of the questions lowering his perceived value:
CAN HIS NEW QB, TOM BRADY, SUPPORT A BIG-BODIED DEEP THREAT/RED-ZONE RECEIVER?
He’s already done it before – Brady has a well-documented (but quickly forgotten) history of success throwing to tall, big-bodied receivers…especially in the endzone. His love affair for these big boys first started when Randy Moss was fatefully traded to New England in 2007. Prior to the trade, Moss was fading away with career lows in Oakland. How did his first season with Brady go? He resurged his already legendary career by catching 98 passes for an astounding 1,493 yards and 23 touchdowns, becoming the new (and still!) record holder for most TD receptions in a single season. In fantasy terms, he averaged an incredible 21 fantasy points per game (ppg) in half ppr!
Moss had a great tenure with the Pats - even with Brady’s injured 2008 season - until their eventual breakup in the middle of the 2010 season. Brady rebounded his lost red-zone connection with a childlike ogre named Rob Gronkowski. And boy oh boy was Tom able to move on quickly. Gronk had a great first year with Brady, especially considering how notoriously difficult it is for rookie pass catchers to excel during their first year, particularly so for Tight Ends. Despite only starting 11 games, Gronk caught 42 passes for 546 yards & 10 TDs. He followed that with his best year to date: 90 catches for a spectacular 1,327 yards and 17 TDs, averaging 17.9 ppg. Brady would continue to feed Gronk with quality targets and touchdowns to make him an annual first round pick and one of the top scoring TEs in NFL & fantasy history.
But what about Godwin? – If you're worried about the emergence of Chris Godwin stealing looks, don't be. Brady has a proven history with supporting both his large RZ receiver and his smaller slot receiver. For every highlight-reel game Moss played with TB, there's also Wes Welker averaging 15 ppg. For every league-winning match with Gronk, there's still Wes Welker out there averaging 14.5 ppg until he left for Denver in 2013, where Edelman took over and averaged 13 ppg.
But he hasn’t done it lately? – True, but that’s partly because NE only recently focused on utilizing world-class defense and a battering run game. The Pats started their 2016 season with Brady suspended for the first four games due to his involvement with the controversial "Deflategate" scandal. To prepare for this, Bellichick created an effective game-plan based on employing a disciplined "bend, don't break" defense while establishing the run. Their defensive ranks previously hovered between above average to mediocre per PFR.
The Patriots rampaged all the way to a Lombardi via human battering ram LeGarrette Blount, who produced an amazing 1,161 rushing yards and 18 rushing TDs! It obviously helped that their defense was also ranked number one in the league. In fact, this was one of only two seasons in the past decade (at that point) where a single Pats receiver hadn’t scored 10 or more TDs. FYI, 2013 was the other season, and Gronk just happened to be injured during both years. Which brings me to the next topic...
But what about Gronk? – Gronk is back! But is he really? Has any offensive player ever “retired” for at least a year, verified their retirement with a worrying change in physique or hobbies, then come back and had a successful fantasy season? Not Marshawn Lynch. Not Jason Witten. Not even Ricky Williams, who “retired” after only his third season for legal reasons. While Gronk may get a few RZ looks, he retired for a reason, and Evans will easily demonstrate why he deserves to be TB's new goal-line favorite.
But can TB12 still do it? – The rumors of Brady's arm's death are greatly exaggerated. NFL.com ranked Brady as the #4 best deep passer last year. If you don't trust their opinions, then PFF provides a more analytical approach and ranked Brady at #14. Keep in mind that he only had a single game with Antonio Brown's Big Chest, six games with the ghost of Josh Gordon's, then had to rely on Phillip Dorsett the rest of the way. Regardless of these obstacles, TB actually had the fourth largest improvement in his deep ball accuracy when compared to 2018.
So we addressed Evan's "new QB" questions. On to the next concern...
CAN HIS COACH, BRUCE ARIANS, SUPPORT AN AGING QB?
He’s already done it before – Buccaneers head coach Bruce Arians has experience working with another "aging, old timer" QB. In 2013, Arians became head coach of the Arizona Cardinals, who acquired veteran QB Carson Palmer via trade with the Oakland Raiders. When Palmer was traded to the desert, the public viewed him as "unspectacular," "lost," and "nearing the end of his career."
During his first season under BA, Palmer threw the most passing yards (4,274) he’s ever thrown at that point. So no “new offense” jitters with a seasoned vet like Palmer, and I would bet the same for a pro like Brady. Additionally, Palmer’s next full season (he was injured early during his following season) saw him throw not only his highest passing yards ever at 4,671 yards, but also broke the Cardinals single season TD record with 35 TDs! BA was able to coach Palmer into playing at his personal best during the twilight of his career, and I anticipate the same happening with Brady.
CAN MIKE EVANS BE A WR1?
HE'S ALWAYS DONE IT – Seriously, look at his stats. In his entire NFL career, he's never gone under 1K receiving yards, and averages 8 TDs/year. This includes his rookie year, where both Mike Glennon & Josh McCown shared duties as his starting quarterback. His career fantasy average is 14.0 ppg (0.5 ppr). He led the league in drawing PIs last year, which I'm sure Brady will love to exploit often. Even FantasyPros predicts 2020 will be his best season yet. The biggest drawback with Evans is that while his season total numbers are impressive, he is wildly inconsistent from game-to-game. This reminds me of another highly drafted WR who routinely has extreme boom or bust weeks but always finishes the year as a WR1. That man is Quintorris Lopez "Julio" Jones.
Everyone loves Julio Jones because he has a proven history of high season totals. Even the savviest of managers are willing to draft him early year-after-year, despite being fully aware of his unpredictably volatile weekly production. The allure of Julio lifting your whole team to reach the highest of highs is worth suffering through sporadic weeks of the lowest of lows. Well, if it’s crazy boom-bust potential that you’re seeking, look no further than Mike Evans. Still-anxious owners last year can remember nervously watching each week to witness Evans either conquering insanely high peaks or suffering through soul crushing valleys. If watching Jones play is as anxiety-inducing as watching a film like "Parasite," then Evans is like watching "Uncut Gems."
In just 14 games last year, Julio Jones finished the fantasy season (weeks 1-16) as the #4 WR in all formats. Mike Evans? He ended the season early as #5 in std, #8 in 0.5ppr, and #11 in ppr in only 13 games started. Had he played another game like Julio and scored his fantasy average in std (12.8 ppg vs Julio’s 12.0 ppg) and half ppr (15.3 ppg vs 15.2 ppg), Evans would’ve topped Jones and outranked him. And his two missed games were against Detroit and Houston’s weak secondaries!
Jones has a proven track record of inconsistent consistency, yet he is currently going in the late first/early second round of fantasy drafts as the consensus WR5 with an ADP of #14 (ECR #12). Meanwhile, Mike Evans is going in the late second/early third round as the consensus WR8 with an ADP of #25 (ECR #24).

Mike Evans is a volatile WR1 who should thrive as TB12's new favorite deep threat target and red-zone toy. He's proven to be good for at least 1K yards, regardless of QB. His new QB has proven he can support a deep threat with a strong slot receiver. His coach has proven his offense can support multiple wideouts with a new, aging QB. Evans is a WR1 available at a discount with great TD upside and an improved floor. Don't forget about him.

TL;DR - DRAFT MIKE EVANS. HE'LL HELP YOU WIN YOUR LEAGUE.

Previous posts:
League Winner Alert: Draft Melvin Gordon, TD King
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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]

Indianapolis Colts Top 5: Quarterbacks

Indianapolis Colts Top 5: Quarterbacks
With the season (hopefully) on the way I thought I'd put together some lists for top 5 players at each position in Indianapolis (not Baltimore) Colts history. I'll start with QB, and work my way through. This list is purely my opinion as a die hard fan since the early Manning days, and if you think I have no clue what I'm talking about, please feel free to let me know.
Fun fact, out of the 26 QBs to start a game for the Indy Colts there are only 7 players that have a winning record. Three of them are Colts legends Josh Freeman, Gary Hogeboom, and Craig Erickson.

5. Jack Trudeau

https://preview.redd.it/a54mr7g9g3b51.jpg?width=361&format=pjpg&auto=webp&s=2d086a51719ff08e2c1a8cb651100c0a37f8458f
Years Record Playoffs Comp % Yards TDs INTs Y/A Rating
198-93 18-29 0-1 52.9 9,647 41 62 6.3 64.4

How He Got Here

After the complete disaster that was attempting to draft John Elway #1 in 1983, the then Baltimore Colts stuck with Mike Pagel at QB, who had just led them to a winless season in 1982. Team owner Robert Irsay decided to move the team to Indianapolis before the 1984 season the team stuck with Pagel as their main QB despite him clearly not being their future at the position. This led to 2 season with losing records and last place finishes in the AFC East. Entering the 1986 draft, the Colts were clearly looking for a franchise player at QB. The obvious choice was Jim Everett out of Purdue, but unfortunately he was selected #3 to the Houston Oilers when the Colts had the #4 pick. Instead of drafting the only other franchise QB in the draft, Mark Rypien, the Colts decided to select promising Illinois QB Jack Trudeau in the 2nd round. Trudeau had shown a lot of promise in his career, leading Illinois to a Rose Bowl in 1984 and finishing 2nd in the Davey O'Brien Award (Best College QB) to Doug Flutie. Unfortunately for him and the Colts, this talent would not translate well to the NFL

Colts Career

After trading Mike Pagel to the Browns the starting job was set for Trudeau entering the 1986 season. Unfortunately the Colts were still a very bad team overall and Trudeau was not set to overcome that. In 11 starts he had 8 TDs, 18 INTs, and a 48.9% completion rate for an 0-11 record. It was immediately clear he was not the savior the Colts needed to bring legitimate football to Indy.
Fortunately, a contract dispute between Hall of Fame RB Eric Dickerson allowed the Colts to trade for Dickerson midway through the 1987 season. Dickerson was an immediate breath of life to the fledgling Indianapolis Colts franchise and helped lead them to their first playoff berth. Trudeau shared starting duties with Gary Hogeboom, and both were successful in not screwing things up too bad, giving the ball to Dickerson, and staying out of the damn way. Trudeau started in his only playoff game and actually played decently well: 251 yards, 2 TDs, and 1 INT, but it wasn't enough as the Colts lost 38-21 to the Bernie Kosar led Cleveland Browns who would eventually lose in via "The Drive" in the AFC Championship.
It was clear the Colts would need a better QB to compliment their new superstar in Dickerson, and thus they drafted future Pro Bowler Chris Chandler in the 3rd round in 1988. However, Chris Chandler was most definitely not a Pro Bowler for the Colts. Chandler didn't impress despite an 9-7 overall record, and was replaced by Trudeau following a bad start to the 1989 season. Trudeau had his best year as a pro in 1989: 2,317 yards, 15 TDs, 13 INTs, but the Colts still finished 8-8 and outside of the playoffs.
Trudeau was improving, but was still clearly not the QB of the future, which they hoped to get by trading All-Pro Tackle Chris Hinton, Future All-Pro WR Andre Rison, and the #3 Pick in 1991 for the #1 Pick in 1990 which they used to draft QB Jeff George (Wow). Trudeau was kept as the backup and was a spot starter for the Colts from 1990-93. Despite the horrific play of George, Trudeau couldn't muster much better in his limited playing time and was released in 1994.

My favorite highlight

https://youtu.be/kM0APJieAME?t=678

Legacy

Jack Trudeau was at best a mediocre QB you could somewhat rely on to manage the game and allow more talented players to make plays. Unfortunately the late 80s, early 90s Colts didn't have too many of those so his play suffered as well. His numbers aren't great and he wasn't much beloved by Colts fans, but he did help lead the Colts to their first playoff appearance which helped me put him on the list over Matt Hasselbeck and others. Trudeau has actually hung around Indy doing various radio and TV appearances talking about the Colts and even has a couple of DUIs as well.

4. Jacoby Brissett

https://preview.redd.it/96cmm0sag3b51.jpg?width=1200&format=pjpg&auto=webp&s=4a578fcdd25c1a0830d6d6b7fc8b5dde43309455
Years Record Playoffs Comp % Yards TDs INTs Y/A Rating
2017- 11-19 0-0 59.8 6,042 31 13 6.6 84.6

How He Got Here

The Colts had their franchise QB in Andrew Luck, but leading up to the 2017 season it was revealed during the preseason Luck had a shoulder injury which would eventually lead to him missing the entire 2017 season. This left the Colts scrambling as they knew QB Scott Tolzien was not the answer at QB, so 8 days before the start of the season the new GM Chris Ballard traded 1st round bust Phillip Dorsett for 3rd string QB for the Patriots Jacoby Brissett. Brissett had looked at least competent spot starting for the suspended Tom Brady and hurt Jimmy Garoppolo in 2016, so he was the best option the Colts had available so close to the beginning of the season.

Colts Career

Bringing in a new QB for a team 8 days before the start of the season and asking him to play is like asking a train engineer to launch a rocket to the moon, so Tolzien started week 1 for Colts. He continued to not impress going into week 2, and was replaced for Brissett. Brissett was an improvement, but it was clear he was overwhelmed by the change of scenery and the rest of the Colts roster and staff was not talented enough to make up for it. He finished with competent numbers: 3,098 yards, 13 TDs, 7 INTs, 58.8% completion rate, 6.6 Y/A, but was merely a game manager for a bad team as the Colts finished 4-12.
Andrew Luck was ready to return in 2018 and the Colts were willing to give Brissett the benefit of the doubt and kept him on as the backup. The Colts saw a major resurgence with Luck and an incredible draft and free agent class by Chris Ballard, leading to their first playoff appearance since 2015, eventually losing to the Patrick Mahomes led Chiefs. The Colts were looking to improve going into 2019, but a now too familiar announcement led up to the season when it was revealed a calf injury was going to cause Andrew Luck to retire 2 weeks before the start of the regular season. The spotlight was once again shown on Jacoby Brissett, who was asked to take over Luck's team. Fortunately this time Brissett was able to get all the first team reps in the preseason leading up to week 1 and was much more familiar with the system.
That familiarity paid off as Brissett led the Colts to a 5-2 start, including wins over playoff teams like the Texans and Titans along with the eventual Super Bowl champion Kansas City Chiefs. Brissett was not putting up All-Pro numbers, but had clearly improved from 2017 and was still not making game losing mistakes. Through week 9 he had 190 YPG, 11 TDs, and 6 INTs, and and the eye test had shown he was a good leader and could occasionally make big plays when needed. However, after a knee sprain in week 10 he was clearly not the same player. His injury either hampered his physical abilities or his confidence but his poor play for the rest of the season allowed the Colts to fall to 7-9, including an embarrassing 34-7 loss to the Saints that I made the trip over to New Orleans for and watched as Brissett sailed the ball over every receiver's head. Brissett will likely be the backup for the 2020 season behind free agent Phillip Rivers, but he's shown enough flashes of ability that his career is long from over, whether that ends up being on the Colts or somewhere else in the league.

My favorite highlight

https://youtu.be/Q1bFNE0CGXY?t=287

Legacy

I believe I'm with the majority of Colts fans in that when I see Jacoby Brissett I see somewhat of a tragic figure. He got thrown to the wolves in 2017 and did the best he could, but was basically set up to fail. It's honestly not too much of a stretch to say his play through week 9 of 2019 was the best QB play by an Indy Colts QB not named Manning, Luck, or Harbaugh. You could tell he was well-liked by both fans and teammates, especially through the first half of 2019, but his limitations as a player were clear. Colts fans have been spoiled in the 21st century by 2 all-time great QBs, so any deviation from that, especially when it's not by a QB we drafted #1 overall, will be seen as a major failure. I think people came down a little too hard on Jacoby by the end of 2019, and that he's still a solid pro capable of being the QB on a winning team in the right situation. However, he showed in the 2nd half of 2019 that situation is probably not in Indy going forward.

3. Jim Harbaugh

https://preview.redd.it/ka0f9imcg3b51.jpg?width=300&format=pjpg&auto=webp&s=f34fa86258b0e403bfe000b84ba246bcf11dfc42
Years Record Playoffs Comp % Yards TDs INTs Y/A Rating
1994-97 20-26 2-2 60.7 8,705 49 26 7.1 86.6

How He Got Here

The Colts had come out of the Eric Dickerson/Jeff George era looking like an absolute dumpster fire. The Colts had been in Indy for 10 years and Indy was still very much a basketball town. The only signature player the Indy Colts had was Eric Dickerson, and he had a very sour exit in 1992 after 2 bad years. The Indianapolis Colts were still in the woods, searching for the player that could give their franchise hope that they would be treated as a legitimate threat in the NFL and generate significant interest from the fanbase. That hope came from an unlikely source in Jim Harbaugh. Harbaugh had led the Chicago Bears to 2 playoff appearances in the late Mike Ditka-era, but his play had fallen off and by 1994 he looked somewhat washed. The desperate Colts made a surprisingly wise decision in not drafting QBs Heath Schuler or Trent Dilfer. Instead they drafted future Hall of Fame RB Marshall Faulk to replace Eric Dickerson (this is the "Who the hell is Mel Kiper?" draft) and signing Jim Harbaugh.

Colts Career

Harbaugh didn't come out guns blazing in 1994 as he traded starting duties with Green Bay castoff Don Majkowski. Harbaugh put up decent numbers but the Colts finished 4-5 in games Harbaugh started, 8-8 overall. Harbaugh entered the 1995 season as no sure thing, the Colts actually traded their 1996 first round pick for young Tampa QB Craig Erickson in another baffling trade for an unproven QB. Erickson and Harbaugh competed for the starting position in training camp and Erickson was selected as the starter by head coach Ted Marchibroda.
Erickson played poorly the first 2 weeks, being replaced and outplayed by Harbaugh in both games. By week 3 Harbaugh was the full time starter and didn't look back. Harbaugh was showing that he meshed well with new Offensive Coordinator Lindy Infante as Harbaugh put up some of the most efficient passing numbers of any QB in the NFL in 1995: 2,575 yards, 17 TDs, 5 INTs, 63.7% completion rate, and a league leading passer rating of 100.7 (ahead of guys like Brett Favre, Troy Aikman, Steve Young, and Dan Marino). Even more importantly he was a becoming the tough effective leader to energize the entire team, leading the Colts to 4 game winning drives that season, including one over the 1994 Super Bowl champion 49ers. The Colts were just outside of the playoffs going into week 17, but Harbaugh led the Colts to a win over the Drew Bledsoe led Patriots in the RCA Dome to sneak the Colts into the playoffs at 9-7. Harbaugh earned his first Pro Bowl appearance along with NFL Comeback Player of the Year.
The Colts were going into the playoffs as 5.5 point underdogs against the San Diego Chargers, a team they had just lost to in week 16. However, thanks to 3 TDs from Harbaugh and an out-of-nowhere 147 yard, 2 TD performance from rookie FB Zach Crockett, the Colts overcame the odds. They were heading into a gauntlet of Arrowhead stadium against the best defense in the league and a Marcus Allen led 13-3 Kansas City Chiefs. In an ugly game where the wind chill was -15oF, luck worked in the Colts favor. Harbaugh didn't throw well, but picked up several key 1st down with his legs. He had 1 INT and 3 fumbles, but fortunately lost 0. Chiefs QB Steve Bono had 3 INTs and K Lin Elliot went 0/3 on field goals in a season where he made 80%. Colts K Cary Blanchard made 1/3, and that was enough to upset the heavily-favored Chiefs 10-7. Harbaugh's most defining moment as the Colts QB would come in the AFC Championship against the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Harbaugh's cinderella story continued on against Bill Cowher and Neil O'Donnell's Steelers. The Colts and Steelers traded scores throughout the game. With 8 minutes left in the 4th quarter, Harbaugh threw a dime to WR Floyd Turner for a 47 yard touchdown to put the Colts up 16-13. Unfortunately the Colts couldn't run out enough clock on their next drive and the Steelers rushed down the field for the go-ahead score to put them up 20-16. Harbaugh wasn't done yet. With 88 seconds needing 84 yards, Harbaugh willed the Colts down the field to the Steelers' 29-yard line for a hail mary shot with 5 seconds left. Harbaugh tossed up a prayer that was very nearly caught by Colts WR Aaron Bailey, but he couldn't come up with it. The Cinderella story was over, but it was a defining moment for the Colts franchise. The 1995 Colts were within a hair of making the Super Bowl, and that 1995 playoff run led by Harbaugh created a real fanbase for them.
Harbaugh's stats regressed some in 1996, but he still led the Colts to a 9-7 record and the playoffs, this time getting whooped by the Steelers in the wild card. In 1997 his stats improved some but the wheels fell off of the team as they started off 0-10, eventually falling to 3-13. Fortunately their record would net them the #1 pick in the 1998 draft. After it was clear the Colts were using the pick on QB they traded Harbaugh to the Ravens.

My favorite highlight

https://youtu.be/FT4vF24WanE?t=155

Legacy

“A lot of people use (the word) ‘culture,’ but the attitude, everybody was team-first, from the front office, together with the coaches, together with the ownership, together with the players, the equipment staff, the training staff, I mean it felt like we were family.” - Jim Harbaugh on 1995
I don't think enough can be said about the effect of Harbaugh and that 1995 team had on the Colts. He gave us our first source of pride in the Colts and set the tone for the franchise to not be the laughingstock of the league. He paved the way for the decades of excellence that came after. Harbaugh will never be a HoF QB, but his effect on the Colts is severely underrated.
For more details on the 1995 Cinderella season, read this IndyStar article: https://www.indystar.com/story/sports/nfl/colts/2016/01/21/1995-indianapolis-colts-jim-harbaugh-aaron-bailey-afc-championship-game-ted-marchibroda/78291676/

2. Andrew Luck

https://preview.redd.it/8nh7p6pdg3b51.jpg?width=1800&format=pjpg&auto=webp&s=bc67a67720b82f9294b9283924f61d9f261e4d85
Years Record Playoffs Comp % Yards TDs INTs Y/A Rating
2012-18 53.33 4-4 60.8 23,671 171 83 7.2 89.5

How He Got Here

After a serious neck injury to franchise stalwart Peyton Manning, the Colts went from perennial playoff contender to nearly winless in 2011. It was unknown if Manning would ever be the same QB again, so the Colts opted to release their most valuable player and use their #1 pick in 2012 on a QB. There was some debate on possibly drafting the Heisman winner out of Baylor, Robert Griffin III, but new GM Ryan Grigson made no doubt in the fact that he was drafting Andrew Luck. Son of former Oilers QB Oliver Luck, Andrew Luck blossomed under head coach Jim Harbaugh to revitalize the Stanford football program while also graduating with a bachelor's degree in architectural design. Luck was hailed by nearly every scout as a can't miss prospect, having nearly every physical tool you want from a QB along with a clear handle on the mental and intangible aspects of the game.

Colts Career

Expectations for Luck were high going into 2012, but not so for the team overall. Many experts put the Colts at or near the bottom of all power rankings. Not only had the team lost Peyton Manning that year, but also many key pieces from the Manning era such as Pierre Garçon, Joseph Addai, Dallas Clark, Jeff Saturday, and Gary Brackett. To make matters worse, new head coach Chuck Pagano was diagnosed with leukemia and missed weeks 5-16. However, despite all odds, Luck led the Colts to an 11-5 record. Interim Head Coach Bruce Arians proved to be a diamond in the rough by helping Luck turn a 2-14 team that lost multiple starters into a playoff team. Luck's stats weren't always pretty: 23 TDs, 18 INTs, 54.1% completion rate, and a 76.5 rating, but he could clearly make plays happen with an absurd 7 game winning drives. The miracles came to an end with a shellacking by the eventual Super Bowl champion Baltimore Ravens in the playoffs, but this season proved Luck would be no bust, he was a force to be reckoned with.
Luck continued to grow in 2013 and 2014, improving in every category to crescendo in 2014 with a league-leading 40 TDs, 16 INTs, 61.7% completion rate, and a 96.5 rating. In 2013 he led the Colts to his first playoff victory in spectacular fashion. After being down 38-10 early in the 3rd quarter to the Alex Smith led Chiefs, Luck led a furious and unbelievable comeback 45-44 victory. Any Colts fan could tell you after seeing all the comeback victories Luck had led to never count him out, and he cemented that in this game. In 2014 Luck led the Colts past their old god of Peyton Manning in Denver in the divisional round, but were given a thorough ass-whooping in the AFC Championship by the soon-to-be Super Bowl champions New England Patriots in what is now infamously known as the "Deflategate Game."
Andrew Luck was a very physical player and was known to take many hits, sometimes making spectacular plays through those hits. However, that punishment started to pile up and wasn't helped by GM Ryan Grigson's poor draft classes and inability to build a competent offensive line to block for Luck. This culminated in the injury plagued 2015 and 2016 seasons. Luck only played 7 games in 2015 and severely regressed in every statistical category, clearly hampered by various injuries such as a lacerated kidney. Luck's stats improved in 2016, but the team did not as they finished 8-8, partially due to an astounding 7% sack of Luck. Either some of Luck's good fortune had finally run out or the team and culture built by GM Grigson had completely failed to support their superstar QB. Owner Jim Irsay bet on Luck and fired Grigson after 2016.
Hopes were high heading into 2017, but unfortunately an unknown snowboarding accident aggravated a previous shoulder injury for Luck. News was very slow to come out, but fans were shocked to find out he would likely miss the entire season 8 days before week 1. New GM Chris Ballard made a quick trade for Jacoby Brissett, but fans were worried after 3 years of being hampered by injuries Luck may never be the same player.
In 2018 we believed those doubts were proven wrong. Luck had an incredibly resurgent season, leading the new look Colts back into the playoffs for the first time since 2014 with a 10-6 record. Luck's numbers were back to form: 39 TDs, 15 INTs, and career bests of 67.3% completion rate and 98.7 rating. Fans were pleased to finally see Luck playing behind a solid offensive line that prevented which prevented him from being sacked for 5 weeks and giving him a career low 2.7% sack rate. Luck led the Colts to a Wild Card win over the Deshaun Watson's Texans, but were stopped in the cold in Arrowhead against Patrick Mahomes' Chiefs. However, hopes were high leading into 2019 that the structure given by GM Chris Ballard would protect Luck and allow him to lead us to our Super Bowl.
Sadly that did not work out as Luck appeared to have a calf injury leading up to the 2019 season. Fans held out hope he would be ready to go for the start of the season, but after the years of rehabbing Luck had finally had enough. 2 weeks before the season opener during a preseason game against the Chicago Bears it was leaked that Luck planned to retire. Fortunately his backup Jacoby Brissett was put in a better position to take his place as opposed to 2017, but the sudden and unexplained retirement of their franchise QB right before the season led to some fans to boo Luck as he left the field at Lucas Oil Stadium for the last time.

My favorite highlight

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=teNLH0p6WHs
or
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zBHhO2yWRMo
or

Legacy

Andrew Luck will forever be one of the greatest "what if?" stories in American sports history. Unlike many "what if?" stories, we got to see what we could have had with Luck. What the Colts had in Luck from 2012-14 along with 2018 was nothing short of incredible and it was clear he was improving to potentially become one of the greatest QBs in NFL history. Instead he's a tragic story where fans will forever be left to wonder what could have been with Andrew Luck. Would Luck have brought the Colts back to the Super Bowl if he he didn't play the majority of his career under the poor management of GM Ryan Grigson and HC Chuck Pagano? All we do know is that his sack rate under Grigson was 5.5%, and in one year on GM Chris Ballard's team it was 2.7%, coincidentally also one of his best statistical seasons. Peyton Manning's sack rate for his career? Tied for the NFL record with Dan Marino at 3.13%. Maybe if Luck had been better protected and coached better to avoid hits he could have made it up there with Manning, but as fans he'll forever be a "what if?" Luck seems like a smart and content man who's just starting a family, so I doubt he will ever return for any team. Even if he did we'll forever be robbed of what the best version of Andrew Luck could have been. However, in his short time here, he delivered enough incredible moments to give us hope and make us love the team. I, along with hopefully many other fans, will forever love Andrew Luck for his time with the Colts and am grateful for a helluva run.

1.Peyton Manning

https://preview.redd.it/5lr1v2heg3b51.jpg?width=1200&format=pjpg&auto=webp&s=0b42edf31a7f2e4910e9adc0dcceb11b045a8630
Years Record Playoffs Comp % Yards TDs INTs Y/A Rating
1998-11 141-67 9-10 64.9 54,828 399 198 7.6 94.9

How He Got Here

The Indianapolis Colts under Jim Harbaugh had finally established themselves as a legitimate team, but the Colts knew Harbaugh wasn't the long-term answer at QB. He was 35 going into the 1998 season and had just led the Colts to a 3-13 season, bad enough for the #1 overall pick. There was some debate about drafting Heisman finalist out of Washington, Ryan Leaf, but new GM Bill Polian made no doubt in the fact that he was drafting Peyton Manning. Leaf had some incredible athletic abilities, but there were some doubts raised about his ability to handle the mental aspects of the game. He also basically made the decision for the Colts when he skipped their draft interview, a passive-aggressive declaration he wouldn't play for the Colts. Peyton Manning, son of former Saints QB Archie Manning, was also a Heisman finalist out of Tennessee. No scout doubted Manning's ability to become a franchise QB in the NFL, but some wondered about his potential ceiling due to a complete lack of running ability and some arm strength concerns. However, he was clearly one of the most mature and mentally ready players to ever come out of college for any position.
"I'll leave you with this thought. If you take me, I promise you we will win a championship. If you don't, I promise I'll come back and kick your ass" -Peyton Manning to Colts GM Bill Polian on the day before the 1998 draft

Colts Career

The 1998 Colts were still a pretty bad team overall, and the rookie Manning was not enough to overcome that. He had one of the best statistical rookie seasons ever: 3,739 yards, 26 TDs, 28 INTs, 6.5 Y/A, and a 56.7% completion rate, setting records for yards, TDs, and INTs (yards and TDs are currently held by Andrew Luck and Baker Mayfield respectively). However, the deficiencies of the team and Manning's record number of interceptions helped give the Colts a 3-13 record, including a week 5 win over Ryan Leaf's San Diego Chargers.
Fortunately Manning helped lead one of the biggest turnarounds in NFL history in 1999, turning the 3-13 Colts in 1998 into the 13-3 Colts in 1999. People weren't exactly ready to give up on Manning after 1998, but 1999 was critical for showing Manning could improve and be at the helm of a winning team. Partially this was helped by sending Hall of Fame RB Marshall Faulk to St. Louis in exchange for the draft pick to select Hall of Fame RB Edgerrin James, who had a phenomenal rookie year. The Colts ended up losing to the Tennessee Titans in the playoffs, who had just completed the Music City Miracle the week before and would come within an ass hair of winning the Super Bowl against the Greatest Show on Turf St. Louis Rams.
Manning was up and down from 2000 to 2002, still posting good stats but missing the playoffs in 2001 ( https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-oSFYxDGKy8 ) and having first round exits in 2000 and 2002. Whispers started turning into legitimate arguments about how Peyton Manning was a good stats, dome team, regular season QB that just didn't have it in the playoffs. In 2003 Manning started his absurd streak of 12+ win seasons (7 years) and picked up his first MVP award, the first (and still only) Indy Colt to win it. He also got his first playoff wins in 2003, but was quickly put to shame in a 4 INT performance in the AFC Championship against the Patriots, now known by Colts fans as "The Ty Law Game."
The 2004 season is well known by Colts fans for cementing Manning among the all time greats. Manning was white hot all year, throwing for 4,557 yards 49 TDs, 10 INTs, and a 121.1 rating while only getting sacked 13 times. The 49 TDs was a record, which has since been broken by Tom Brady and Manning again while a member of the Broncos. Manning won MVP for the 2nd year in a row, but once again disappointed in the playoffs with a 0 TD, 1 INT performance against the Patriots in the divisional round, losing 20-3. Those arguments of Manning's postseason jitters were starting to feel more and more like reality for Colts fans. They knew they had their franchise QB, but his inability to perform in the playoffs continued to be baffling.
2005 was supposed to be the season that changed all that. Manning's numbers came back to earth somewhat, but he still posted a very efficient performance (104.1 rating) for a much improved overall team. GM Bill Polian had proved his days building the "Four Falls over Buffalo" Bills dynasty was no fluke, he now had a team with the #2 scoring offense and the #2 scoring defense. This was the year to break the Manning postseason curse. Unfortunately in one of the most upsetting games of my life, the Colts could not break that curse against the Steelers in the divisional round. Manning played relatively well: 58% completion rate, 290 yards, and 1 TD with no INTs, but watching the game the Colts struggled to maintain momentum and get stops against the rookie Ben Roethlisberger. Despite the inconsistent play, the Colts still had a shot. Steelers HoF RB Jerome Bettis attempted to ice the game with a goal line carry, but fumbled for the first time all year. With the entire Steelers offense stuffing the line, Colts CB Nick Harper was free to pick up the ball with a nearly open field ahead of him. Normally Nick Harper is one of the faster players on the field, however, as every Colts fan knows, Harper had been stabbed in the leg by his wife in a "supposedly accidental" altercation the night before. This possibly allowed the falling down Ben Roethlisberger to catch Harper by his shoe strings, preventing the nearly sure thing TD by Harper to put the Colts ahead. Instead Manning led the Colts into basically chip shot field goal position for one of the most accurate kickers in NFL history (Mike "Idiot Kicker" Vanderjagt) to tie the game. We all know what happened next. It was a shocking loss to say the least, and it was hard to blame it all on Manning, but it still felt like there was some sort of mystical VooDoo curse hanging over Manning and our franchise.
If the Colts couldn't win it all in 2005 it felt like they never would. 2006 wasn't looking like anything special compared to the past few seasons, especially considering the defense regressed from #2 in scoring in 2005 to #23 in 2006. Manning was still putting up great numbers, but those were starting to feel like an exercise in futility. Fortunately the Colts caught fire at the right time, with oft-injured All-Pro Safety Bob Sanders getting healthy towards the end of the season and the trade deadline addition of Buccaneers DT "Booger" McFarland. That momentum pushed them to an AFC Championship, where Manning would match up against the source of his ultimate playoff failures, Tom Brady and the New England Patriots. Fortunately, this time it was in the RCA Dome, not Foxborogh, MA. Manning and the Colts started off cold, being down 21-3 at one point after a Manning pick-6, but the Colts rallied behind some incredibly orchestrated drives by Manning to finally get the monkey off his back. On a last second drive, Manning drove the Colts down the field to put them ahead 38-34 with 1 minute to go. A Marlin Jackson interception of Tom Brady sealed it, Manning and the Colts were going to the Super Bowl for the first time in Indy history. Manning played well in the Super Bowl, winning the MVP against the league-best Chicago Bears defense.
Manning continued his solid play in 2007 and 2008, including his 3rd MVP in 2008. Both seasons ended with heartbreaking first round playoff exits to the San Diego Chargers, 2008's being the "Sproles and Scifres Game." 2008 also showed the first signs of physical weakness from Manning, having a knee surgery before the season that led to a slow start for the Colts. That was not the case in 2009, as Manning led the Colts to start the season 14-0. In a decision that's still derided today, new head coach Jim Caldwell decided to effectively bench Manning along with many other starters rather than go for the perfect season to prevent any injuries. Many had seen the Patriots in 2007 nearly complete the perfect season, but fall in heartbreaking fashion in the Super Bowl against a less talented Giants team. Caldwell, like many others, decided that any rust from not playing for nearly a month was worth the decreased risk of injury to his stars. That decision nearly backfired in spectacular fashion as the Colts were behind the New York Jets (a team they effectively let into the playoffs by letting them win in week 16) in the AFC Championship game until Manning led a furious comeback. It all ended poorly in the Super Bowl however as Manning threw a pick-6 to Tracy Porter that still haunts my dreams to Tracy Porter, allowing the Colts to lose to Drew Brees and his stupid baby and the New Orleans Saints.
2010 was one of the first signs of weakness from Manning. He had apparently injured his neck on this play in 2006 ( https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9gjdmww3vgM ) on a hit that would now be extremely illegal. Manning apparently aggravated that injury in the lead up to the 2010 season, and it showed in the stats as he had how lowest rating since 2002 (91.9). For most other QBs a rating of 91.9 is a pretty solid season but for Manning it was a massive fall. This led to a quick playoff exit to the Jets in the first round. In the lead up to the 2011 season, Manning had several surgeries to relieve the pain in his neck which led to him missing the entire season. It was unknown if he would ever be the same QB again, or even play again. Manning's absence showed how incredibly important he was to the franchise, the only major difference between the rosters in 2010 and 2011 is Manning, yet the Colts went 10-6 in 2010 and 2-14 in 2011. This poor record led to the Colts earning the #1 pick in the 2012 draft, which fueled their decision to release Manning and draft a QB in 2012 (Chandler Harnish...and Andrew Luck).

My favorite highlight

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DttfyOeU3vw
or
https://youtu.be/al13DoOFp78
or
https://youtu.be/UE4UgMc2QqA?t=581

Legacy

"Fellas, if 18 goes down, we're fucked, and we don't practice fucked." -Offensive Coordinator Tom Moore on why the backup QBs don't get more reps
Nothing to me cements Peyton Manning's role in Indy as much as this quote. Even his first 5 years before he became an all-time great, that was still the best sustained stretch of QB play in Indy Colts history. Once he ascended to another level in 2003, it was clear we needed to put every egg we could find into his basket. Manning was the perfect franchise QB: a steady presence on and off the field, consistent delivery of either incredible numbers or game winning performances (usually both), and he made nearly everyone else on the team a better player. His drive and commitment to team victory made him the guy every franchise needs if they want to field a consistently great team. Peyton had somewhat of an authoritarian leadership style, my way or the highway, but you can do that when you show that you're willing and able to give every ounce of yourself to the team and deliver the kind of results that he can.
I think some people are disappointed in the Manning Era considering how historically great his stats are but he was 1-1 in Super Bowls in 12 years here. Honestly I think that's not too far off for any all-time QB. Drew Brees is 1-0, Brett Favre is 1-1, Aaron Rodgers is 1-0, Fran Tarkenton is 0-3, Jim Kelly is 0-4, Dan Marino is 0-1, all of these guys are all-time great franchise QBs but it's not abnormal for them to only win 1 or lose several. There are some exceptions: Tom Brady (6-3), Joe Montana (4-0), Terry Bradshaw (4-0), and Troy Aikman (3-0), but honestly you could trade any of the former QBs for Terry Bradshaw and they would also probably be 4-0. There's lots of luck in every playing career, and some get luckier than others. The only season I'd say the Colts were "robbed" of a Super Bowl is 2005, otherwise I think Manning's Colts career went about as good as it could have.

Honorable Mentions: Matt Hasselbeck (5-3 record, probably our best backup ever) and Dan Orlovsky (just for saving us from a completely defeated season).
Dishonorable Mentions: Jeff George and Kerry Collins (being very bad at QB isn't very uncommon for Indy Colts QBs, but these guys were so bad and toxic they dragged down the abilities of everyone on the team and are actively hated by most fans)
submitted by chadowan to Colts [link] [comments]

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