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I Wrote The Playoff Gambling Manifesto For 2020
submitted by IReviewFakeAlbums to billsimmons [link] [comments]
Edit: Just saw the article in The Outline about this sub. As I worked on this for the better part of an hour, I'm gonna leave it up.
It's been nearly two years since the last Gambling Manifesto
was posted to TheRinger.com
. And while I hope Bill is enjoying retirement, I am enough of a degenerate gambler and pop culture consumer that I feel able to make a copy of a copy of Bill's classic work. Even more importantly, I'm a person who misses Bill's writing so much, that I decided to be the Vladimir Lenin to Bill's Karl Marx and take someone else's well-thought-out-but controversial manifesto, run with it and ultimately end up creating something that will horrify much of Western civilization.
So please enjoy the 2020 edition of the Gamblers Manifesto version 5.0, written by me, u/IReviewFakeAlbums RULE NO. 1: Beware the "Looked a Little Too Good the Previous Round" team
Both favorites on the NFC Wildcard side of the bracket are unlikely to fall into this category. The lines for both games feel a little low. I realize that Doug Pederson is still the coach of the Eagles, but when you are starting Corey Coleman and Sammie Coates in a playoff game, you should be a bigger home dog than 2 points. Neither Coleman nor Coates are starting for the Eagles, but the fact that you probably didn’t double-check that lie says all you need to know about the Eagles’ current WR corps. Should the Eagles keep the magic alive against the Seahawks (they won’t), they would be an automatic “Looked a Little Too Good” team.
As for the Saints, I fully anticipate they will come out looking to right so many postseason wrongs this season. And it begins with a revenge game against the team on the winning side of the Minneapolis Miracle. The Saints will be so sick of hearing “DIGGS! SIDELINE! TOUCHDOWN!” that they will do everything in their power to make people forget that ever happened. Even still, the Saints could still win this game 31-13 and that would fall in line with my expectations. Therefore, they wouldn’t look “too good.”
Nothing about Houston or Buffalo looked good in Week 17. I am willing to wager that Josh Allen and Devin Singletary, while great against middling-to-bad squads, won’t be able to keep up with Houston, despite Bill O’Brien’s best effort. The Bills went 1-4 this year against playoff teams, with two losses coming to inter-divisional rival New England and making The Bills this years Good Bad Team. While both contests with the Pats were competitive, their failure to win either ultimately swung the division (and a first-round bye) to the Patriots. Houston, meanwhile, rested many of their starters in preparation for this opening-round game. Bill O’Brien will never be confused for Bill Belichick, and his postseason record reflects as much, at 1-3. Outside a 2-touchdown win by either team, there is really no way anyone leaves Houston looking a little too good.
That leaves us with Tennessee and New England. Either of these teams could easily be the “Looked A Little Too Good” Team. The Patriots are limping into the playoffs. After starting 8-0 against one of the easiest schedules in living memory, the Pats finished the season 4-4, with two wins and three losses coming against playoff teams (Eagles and Bills for the wins, Chiefs, Ravens and Texans for the losses). However, their other two wins were an ugly victory against the erratic Cowboys and a tanking Bengals. One of the losses isn’t bad as it came at the hands of the Super Bowl favorite Baltimore Ravens. However… the final game of the season, with a first-round by on the line, the Pats were playing at home against a Dolphins team who were a 16-point dog with nothing to play for... And the Pats promptly pooed all over themselves. We might easily look back on the 2019 season and say with certainty that it was the time that Brady fell off the map, but it was masked by a hot start. This game is a perfect opportunity to throw everyone off the current Brady scent. Cover the spread against a hot Tennessee team and the Pats will definitely move the line a point or 1.5 against the Ravens. It might even drop the line against Lamar Jackson and the Ravens to single digits. But it won’t be enough. Stay away from whichever team comes out of Foxboro, no matter what.
RULE No. 2: Don't bet against God, puppies or gambling theories from Pakistan.
Tim Tebow has been out of the league since 2015. Kurt Warner doesn’t want his sons to play football. Nick Foles has been banished to The Bad Place with the Jacksonville Jaguars. No obvious teams to avoid, except perhaps, based solely on their name, the Saints.
RULE NO. 3: Don't try to talk yourself into a "Nobody Believes In Us" team
I originally had a whole section typed up for this, but that was before the Minnesota Vikings and Philadelphia Eagles were LEFT OUT OF ALL OF THE NFL’S PROMOTIONAL PLAYOFF MATERIAL. When even your own league forgets about you, then you can claim the “Nobody Believes In Us” mantle. However, the Eagles are part of my section on why they can’t be the “Nobody Believes In Us” team, so I will keep that in (see below) and award the title of “Nobody Believes In Us Team” solely to the Minnesota Vikings with Philly as an honorary mention.
This is a rule that is part science, part art. So I will do my best to quantify some sub-rules that should be considered for this rule.
- If you have 12 wins or more, people automatically believe in you. That rules out Baltimore, Green Bay, New Orleans, San Francisco, Kansas City and New England
- If you’ve played in a Super Bowl in the last three years, people will remember those wins and therefore believe in you. That rules out New England (again) and Philadelphia
- If your quarterback has won an MVP in the last decade, your team is never really out of it and therefore, people believe in you. That rules out the Patriots (again again), The Packers and Chiefs (again).
Despite playing against each other in the Super Bowl only two years ago, the most likely “Nobody Believes In Us” teams this year are the Eagles and Patriots. This is also insane considering these two teams account for four of the last five Super Bowl titles. A crazier stat, 8 of the last 10 Super Bowl champions and 4 of the last 10 runners-up are playing in the postseason. But with New England clearly struggling and the Eagles players forming lines to get into the medical tent, these are the two teams most likely to have nobody believe in them. You too should not believe in them. RULE NO. 4: Beware of any team that might use a major off-field distraction as a galvanizing force leading up to a big playoff game.
The Patriots could have qualified for this had the Antonio Brown story broke around Thanksgiving, but we’re now 3 months and 14 games since Mr. Big Chest left New England. By NFL standards, all the playoff teams are relatively tame. Either players are wising up and not behaving quite as badly, or players are wising up and are getting better at hiding their naughty behavior. Either way, no real team really falls into this camp. RULE NO. 5: Beware of the “Everybody Believes In Us” team.
Lamar Jackson will undoubtedly win MVP. Anything else would be a travesty. But unfortunately, with that comes the expectation that everyone believes in you. After starting the season 2-2, Baltimore ripped off 12 straight wins, with five coming against playoff teams. Needless to say, the Baltimore Ravens are above and beyond the “Everybody Believes In Us” team. RULE NO. 6: Never pick an underdog unless you genuinely believe that it has a chance to win.
Miraculously, Seattle is only a 2-point favorite so the easiest choice for this rule is Philadelphia. I know that they also get some juice for being an also-ran in the Nobody Believes In Us team, but playing at home is an enormous advantage. And while it’s not the early game, west coast teams traveling East have struggled. I don’t believe strongly enough in the Eagles winning outright so I’d advise betting the Hawks. RULE NO. 7: Beware of all dome teams playing outdoors, especially in cold weather.
I have no idea what this means, but 10 of the 12 playoff teams play outdoors. That’s 83% of teams in the playoffs that play outdoors, while 75% of NFL stadiums are outdoors. I’m guessing this is just statistical noise, but I already typed this out and did the research so I’ll leave it in. In this postseason, only the Saints and Vikings play indoors. And if the Saints win, they’ll be off to… oh… oh no…. Well let’s just not be surprised if the Packers waltz into the Conference Championship game after Drew Brees is frozen in carbonite like Han Solo at the end of The Empire Strikes Back (If Bill were still alive, he would hate that a Star Wars reference was being used in his manifesto). I have an update to this stat from the last manifesto, and can confirm: Dome teams are 4-25 in the playoffs when they’re outdoors and it’s 35 degrees or colder. Now, if Minnesota pulls off the upset, play in Santa Clara. This rule doesn’t apply nearly as much as the current temps are in the 60s. That’s like August for Minnesotans. Feel free to discard this rule for the first round at least. RULE NO. 8: Beware of any and all aging QBs in cold weather unless they drink half their body weight in water every day, get 10 hours of sleep, master every conceivable pliability exercise, have lots of sex with a supermodel wife, don’t drink alcohol, don’t eat inflammatory foods, don’t smoke or do drugs, improbably become faster in their late 30s and basically behave like an alien.
I think Bill sometimes writes these rules specifically with his team in mind. RULE NO. 9: Severely discount anything that happened in the first five to six weeks of the regular season.
This is where I remind you that the Pats started the season not only 6-0, but 8-0 and then I think Bill sometimes writes these rules unintentionally with his team in mind. I also should remind you that the Bills started the season at 4-1 with their only loss coming against the aforementioned Pats. Since then, they are 6-5 and have put up 20 points or fewer in 6 of those games.
Meanwhile, since back-to-back losses to the Texans and Colts - as well as a lucky come-from-behind win against the Lions in one of the weirdest three-week stretches any team had this season - the Chiefs have been ON FIRE. The defense has steadily improved and Mahomes has the offense firing on all cylinders. They’ve scored at least 23 points since week 6. RULE NO. 10: When in doubt, gravitate toward one pick that (a) would screw over the most gamblers and experts, and (b) would definitely go against the single worst gambler you know.
I don’t have an Adam Carolla in my life but I do have a few friends who thought that Oklahoma was gonna cover against LSU. And they seem to be picking the Chiefs. I’m quickly discovering this whole manifesto is a way for me to talk out of both sides of my mouth. No idea why Bill gave it up, it’s a blast! RULE NO. 11: Don’t ever talk yourself into a terrible QB, ever, for any reason.
This season isn’t a truly TERRIBLE QB that is in the playoffs. No, Kirk Cousins isn’t a world-beater like his predecessor Case Keenum (I can sense some eye twitching coming up from the Super Dome) but he’s probably the closest thing to a terrible QB this postseason. But compared to past years of Conner Cook, TJ Yates and Andy Dalton, Cousins is a shining star of competence and consistency.
It’s an incomplete proxy to NFL ability, but 9 of the starting QBs in this postseason finished the season in the top 15 in fantasy points-per-game. Only Cousins (18), Tom Brady (17) and Jimmy Garoppolo (22) fall outside that range. I see Cousins as simply one more of a reason to stay away from betting Minnesota than I see him as the one negative that is stopping me from picking them. RULE NO. 12: Beware of any team that celebrated the previous weekend’s victory like it had just won the Super Bowl.
Five of this year's playoff teams have backed into the postseason. Seattle lost to San Francisco, Houston lost to Tennessee, and we already mentioned New England. This rule really applies to wildcard teams because teams in the top 2-3 seeds definitely have higher aspirations and aren’t just happy to be here. The Bills, Vikings and Texans all lost but had nothing to play for. They most certainly don’t feel like they just won the Super Bowl.
Philadelphia (who I’ve already warned you about) fit this category pretty well. They not only won their fourth straight, but did it against all interdivisional rivals. That’s a pretty great way to do it, right? Not only do you win, but even better, your enemies lose.
In that vein, there’s one other team I’d worry about falling victim to this rule. I would worry juuuust a little about the 49ers. They didn’t simply lock up a playoff spot, they beat their divisional rival to take the 1-seed. With time off the field, is it possible that the 49ers lose their edge? It is, but I don’t even buy this cold take. RULE NO. 13: Before you wager on a team, make sure “Marty Schottenheimer, Herm Edwards, Wade Phillips, Norv Turner, Andy Reid, Dan Quinn, John Fox, Jason Garrett, Anyone Named Mike, Anyone Described As Andy Reid’s Pupil and Anyone With the Last Name Mora” isn’t its head coach.
Andy Reid, you old so-and-so! Bill’s article was written back in January of 2018. Over a year before the AFC Championship game where, with 2:03 left in the fourth quarter, the Kansas City Chiefs drove down the field, scored the go-ahead TD and we as a collective footballing body said in unison “Oh they’ve scored too early.”
You all remember what happened next. Brady ran ANOTHER 2-minute drill, scored the TD and reminded everyone why they love and hate Brady like they love and hate Walter White “HE CANT KEEP GETTING AWAY WITH IT!” we all screamed at our televisions after the touchdown. Yes the Chiefs tied it to send it to OT but Brady just re-did exactly what he did at the end of the 4th quarter and banished Andy Reid to another year of NFL Bridesmaidery.
Andy Reid has learned his lessons. That is something we’ve all been saying since 2004.
And while Mike Zimmer (EDIT: And Mike Vrabel) both meet the “Mike” portion of this rule, Zimmer is like the Kirk Cousins of coaches. Merely another factor to sit the Minnesota game out and not some unknown variable. You know you’ll be glad you stayed away from Minnesota when it’s 10 minutes left in the first half, the Saints are up 20-3 and Joe Buck says “Let’s see if Kirk Cousins has a little bit of Case Keenum’s secret stuff”. And you’ll smile at your television because you know he does not. As for Mike Vrabel, I think he can keep it close in New England, having spent so much time there. He could win and cover the spread. RULE NO. 14: Before every playoff game, rate the coaches and quarterbacks from 1 to 10, add up their scores, then make sure you’re OK backing a team with said score.
I wanted to tweak this rule just slightly. Instead of doing an arbitrary 1-10 valuation, I wanted to rank the coaches and the QBs 1-12 and then total up their scores, with low number being an indicator of a better combo. This may not work well, because you could say Lamar Jackson and Pat Mahomes both deserve that 1-spot. Or maybe you’d say both Kirk Cousins and Josh Allen deserve the 12 spot. But look at me. I’m the Sports Guy Now. So let me experiment.
Here are the results:
- Lamar Jackson (1) John Harbaugh (3)
- Drew Brees (4) Sean Payton (2)
- Pat Mahomes (2) Andy Reid (5)
- Russell Wilson (3) Pete Carroll (6)
- Tom Brady (8) Bill Belichick (1)
- Jimmy Garoppolo (7) Kyle Shanahan (4)
- Aaron Rodgers (6) Matt LaFleur (9)
- Carson Wentz (9) Doug Pederson (7)
- Deshaun Watson (5) Bill O’Brien (12)
- Ryan Tannehill (10) Mike Vrabel (8)
- Josh Allen (11) Sean McDermott (11)
- Kirk Cousins (12) Mike Zimmer (10)
This was a surprisingly difficult exercise. A quarter of the coaches on the list are first-timers: Vrabel, Shanahan and LaFleur. These are all Known Unknowns. Who knows what Jimmy G and Shanahan in the postseason are capable of together. Same for Tannehill and Vrabel. For teams like the Packers, coaching doesn’t much matter. Aaron Rodgers is going to give you a boost no matter who's calling the plays. You want to believe the 1-seed is safe, but going through this manifesto, I’m feeling like going to end up staying away from the 49ers, except for one bet. Right now, a George Kittle MVP futures bet is sitting at +3,300. If the 49ers have any chance at a Super Bowl, they're going to be leaning on Gronk 2.0. Put $10 on it and enjoy your $330.
After the Known Unknowns, we have the Unknown Knowns. This is Pete Carroll, Doug Pederson, Sean McDermott and Mike Zimmer. All have had some level of success but all have left the postseason feeling disappointed. Pete Carroll is one Marshawn Lynch run away from a second Super Bowl. Doug Pederson is so much a wildcard that who knows who he is. Sean McDermott has one other playoff appearance so he’s not entirely known, especially with Josh Allen, but having watched the Bills play the last 4 weeks of the season like it's the playoffs, I feel like I know McDermott’s Bills. Mike Zimmer is a perpetual yo-yo vacillating between euphoria with a touch of good luck (DIGGS! SIDELINE! TOUCHDOWN) and sheer horror with a pound of bad luck (we’re only a few postseasons removed from when Blair Walsh missed a field goal from the 10-yard line! I know it’s unfair to criticize kickers. They have an outsized role in games and they are often the first target of ire for fans. They’re kinda like refs in that you know they’re there and an integral part of the game, but you hate how hugely important they are). Have these men learned past lessons? It’s unknown.
Lastly, we have our Known Knowns. Led by the leader of the Known Knowns, Bill Belichick, this group also includes Sean Payton, John Harbaugh, and for less jubilant reasons, Andy Reid and Bill O’Brien. It would not surprise me if any of these coaches won the whole thing (with one obvious exception). They are all at their peak, and that is a compliment (with one obvious exception) and all have QBs that fall into one of two lists: He is either so incredibly talented that he can win you the game single handedly or he was once so incredibly talented and has been around long enough that while he’s become slightly less talented, he’s far more intelligent than the opposing defense.
As for the QBs, there are some of the same issues. 8 of these QBs have some postseason experience. Wentz, Tannehill, Allen and Garoppolo have not played a postseason game before. So these four are easily Known Unknowns.
Our Unknown Knowns:
Lamar Jackson, Deshaun Watson & Kirk Cousins. All three have played in, and lost, one playoff game in their careers. While we think we know Lamar after his MVP 2019 season, anyone who watched the Divisional Round game last year against the Chargers will know that NOBODY was putting big bucks down on a Lamar-for-MVP futures bet. This will be Cousins first postseason game since 2015 when he played for the Washington Professional Football Franchise. I’ve already discussed his known quantities, but he is such a high-variance play, he’s still unknown in the postseason. Watson has shown since college that he can win, but what does Bill O’Brien have hidden up his sleeve?
The Known Knowns:
Pat Mahomes is what Lamar and Deshaun will be next year at this time. He’s already had his incredible playoff run that was turned sour by an inferior Pats team (it’s the fate that awaits all who challenge Vader and the Emper- sorry, Brady and Belichick). Tom Brady, Drew Brees, Russell Wilson and Aaron Rodgers round out the Known Knowns. To paraphrase the late Dennis Green: THEY ARE WHO WE [Think] THEY [are]!
Each has the pedigree and tenure to lead their teams to a title and each (aside from Brady) can benefit their legacy greatly by winning one more ring, or in Mahomes’s case, a first ring. RULE NO. 15: Don’t try to be a hero, just try to win money.
This article is getting long and has given me a new appreciation for the sheer volume of content that Simmons put out. In honor of that, I am taking his passage from the 2018 manifesto and simply updating the names for 2020. Back then, he wrote:
Take it from the guy who talked himself into Miami’s backup QB in Pittsburgh last January. My case included tidbits like “Could Adam Gase put himself on the map as this year’s Hot New Coach?” and “Could [Matt] Moore manage the game, avoid turnovers and make a couple of big throws?” before I ultimately and hilariously decided, “I’m grabbing the 10 points even if it violates about four different Playoff Manifesto rules.” The Dolphins lost 30-12. Don’t be a hero.
So I will just say:
Take it from the guy who talked himself into CHICAGO’S STARTING QB in CHICAGO last January. My case included tidbits like “Could MATT NAGY put himself on the map as this year’s Hot New Coach?” and “Could MITCH TRUBISKY manage the game, avoid turnovers and make a couple of big throws?” before I ultimately and hilariously decided, “I’m LAYING the 6.5 points even if it violates about four different Playoff Manifesto rules.” The BEARS lost ON A DOUBLE DOINK. Don’t be a hero.
We're just living in parallel universes. RULE NO. 16: Take one last look at the quarterbacks.
I’m OK taking any of the Known Knowns and Lamar. The rest? We just don’t know enough. See rule 15 RULE NO. 17: There’s plenty of time to bet against any QB or coach.
Whoever comes out of that AFC 4-5 matchup between Houston and Buffalo either has to go to an amped-up Baltimore or Kansas City in the dead of winter. Sit the wildcard game out and put whatever you would’ve bet on that game, put it on Lamar + John Harbaugh or Mahomes + Andy Reid in the Divisional round.
My picks for Round 1 …
(All picks losers or your money back)
(Home teams in CAPS.)
SAINTS (-8) over Vikings
New Orleans is going to do everything possible to have people forget about the 2018 Divisional Round game. And while that won’t happen, people might remember the 2009 matchup where the Saints came out on top and forced Brett Favre into retirement. Minnesota will need Dalvin Cook healthy. If he’s not ready, Stefon Diggs, Mike Boone and Alexander Mattison are basically the MadCatz GameCube controller version of Michael Thomas, Alvin Kamara, and Latavius Murray’s PS2 controller. As the game goes on and New Orleans puts up points by land and by air, the Vikings will be forced to make riskier and risker moves; which is NOT what this Vikings team was built on. As they do, the Saints secondary picks apart Cousins and Dalvin is pulled midway through the 4th. Saints win in a blowout 31-13 and it’s never close
Titans (+4.5) over PATRIOTS
Some day, Tom Brady will be done. He’s already looked done in the regular season. But Brady doesn’t care about the regular season. To him and the undying machine that is the New England Patriots, the postseason is the only time that matters. He will drag this Pats team kicking and screaming to one more victory. I can feel it in my bones. Pats win 24-20, and we take this as a sign of Brady’s mortality. Because good teams win, but great teams like Tennessee cover.
TEXANS (-2.5) over Bills
AKA The Shakeys Game. I have no idea what to think about this one. Both teams gave us nothing the final week of the season. In theory, there is lot of offensive firepower on the Houston side versus a stout Buffalo defense. And on the other side, a middling Buffalo offense against a so-so Houston defense. In the end, give me the team with Deshaun and Nuk over Josh Allen and John Brown and I’ll lay the points. Texans win, 23-16
Seahawks (-2.5) over EAGLES
This game will swing on one thing: Carson Wentz. He is the Three-Six Mafia of quartebacks: The Most Known Unknown. His wide receivers are actually unknown unknowns because we can’t be certain 1) he has any receivers and 2) that they’ve ever played professional football before this weekend. Yes Seattle is limping into the postseason (1-3 in their last 4), but with Marshawn back and a few more practices under his belt (and also, is it possible that Travis Homer is actually good? 62 rush yards and 30 receiving yards against SF is nothing to joke about) this team is ready to make a surprise run. But they can’t risk overlooking the Eagles, who they already played in Philadelphia and beat. I predict the Eagles will jump out to a hot start only to be let down by their anemic defense and near-dead wide receivers. Seahawks pull away late in the 4th and win 28-23.
If you’ve made it this far, I commend and appreciate you. I hope you enjoyed this iteration of the manifesto. If you do decide to take any of my stupid recommendations, In the words of Hill Street Blues (a show I only know about because of previous Gambling Manifestos), let’s be careful out there.
TL;DR: I miss Bill Simmons the writer. If you're gonna gamble, don't pick the Vikings with their sub-par (by playoff standards) QB. Don't pick the Saints to get much past round 2 when they have to go Green Bay in round 2. Everyone believes in the Ravens. Therefore, you shouldn't. The Eagles are too much of an unknown to be trusted. Andy Reid should never be trusted. The Pats will probably win it all, despite no one thinking they will.
2019 r/NFL Top 100 Players (of the 2018 Season) - #40 thru 31
Hello everyone and welcome to this installment of players for this year’s NFL Top 100. submitted by MikeTysonChicken to nfl [link] [comments]
Today we bring you the players whose average rank placed them from 40 thru 31, with write-ups for each player from some of this year’s rankers.
We say it in every post, every year, and this year it is truer than ever: these rankings are for the 2018 season, so all players are listed with their 2018 team and all performances are based on 2018 performances.
And a reminder, don’t miss out on the Thursday posts this year, as they will contain all of the polls, the rankings for kickers and punters as well as a write up from one of our rankers each week, laying out their strategy for ranking the players in their list.
Now, with all of that out of the way, here are the sixth group of names on the 2019 NFL
Top 100 Players (of the 2018 Season).
#40 – Alvin Kamara – RB – New Orleans Saints Previous Ranks
Player Profile Card
|2012 ||2013 ||2014 ||2015 ||2016 ||2017 |
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Written By: Lazy_Street
Alvin Kamara wrapped up his 2nd season in the league with his 2nd Probowl appearance, coincendentally he also finished 2nd in overall TDs. Everyone knew it would be hard to replicate his OROY season where he rushed at an unsustainable 6.1 YPC. Still he managed to top 1500 yards from scrimmage and increase his total TDs from 14 (rushing and receiving and returning) to 18 in 2018. Having arguable the leagues best tackle combination in Ramczyk and Armstead does make his job easier but his balance and anticipation is still tops in the league.
Unfortunately, he was overshadowed by even more spectacular RB play from players like CMC, Barkley, Zeke. and Gurley. Part of this is due to the Saints offense functioning different than those players offenses but also Kamara was much methodical in his yardage this year, only having one run that went for over 20 yards. This was the lowesst amount of "explosive" run plays by far in the leagues top 25 rushing, and I think it demonstrates in a single stat how Kamara was overlooked despite his gaudy TD numbers. That's not to say he was dominant or dangerous, because he absolutely was in 2018, it just happened in a much more measured clip..
With all that being said, I would still rank Kamara within the top 5 in the league and Top 3 out of the backfield as a receiver and has an otherworldly ability to make people miss in space or just straight up absorb contact and still keep his feet and is also absolutely filthy at running routes.
Kamara figures to have another special season in 2019 and he will continue to climb higher on this list and others.
#39 – Dee Ford – EDGE – Kansas City Chiefs Previous Ranks
Player Profile Card
|2012 ||2013 ||2014 ||2015 ||2016 ||2017 |
|--- ||--- ||N/R ||N/R ||N/R ||N/R |
Written By: Tdeath21
Depending on who you ask, Dee Ford either had a break out season in 2018 and is poised to be a superstar or he performed well in a contract year and that’ll be that. Regardless of what you personally believe, he was spectacular this past season. The Chiefs offense often did their part and allowed the Chiefs defense to focus on their pass rush. Ford feasted on this opportunity and elevated himself to that top edge level in 2018.
The most impactful thing a defensive player can do is to cause a turnover. Ford did his part there with 7 forced fumbles, tying him for the league lead. The second most impactful thing you can do is to cause the offense to lose yardage. His 13 sacks tied him for 8th in the NFL. So I think it’s pretty safe to say that Dee Ford was a big time impact player for the 2018 season.
Let’s take a peek at how he did it. Mostly, we can attribute it to his incredible speed and explosiveness. This allowed him to do things like line up inside and blow by the guard with ease. Poor guy had no chance. Nearly all of his sacks, however, were something similar to this one, where he just blows by the tackle on the outside with his speed and finesse. Playing in Arrowhead meant that speed rush around the outside was extremely tough to stop for the opposing tackle. And struggle they did. Those 7 forced fumbles he had were mostly strip sacks such as this one at the expense of Derek Carr. He mastered the art of swiping at the ball as the QB exposed it to make the pass. Of course he was an amazing pass rusher. We know that by the basic stat line. But let’s not overlook the fact that he was more than capable of using his athleticism to shut down the running game as well. Here we see him use his strength to close down the hole the run was designed to go through and force the running back to bounce it outside. He then uses his speed to contain the outside, get over to the sideline, and make the run stop. That's not a play every edge guy in the NFL can make, and Ford made it look fairly easy here.
No question about it. Ford was an incredible player in 2018 and was a top guy at the edge position, one which many consider to be the second most important position in all of football. His incredible explosiveness, speed, and athleticism allowed him to be one of the top playmakers in the NFL this past season. For his efforts, we have placed him at a well deserved 39 here on our list.
#38 – Cameron Jordan – EDGE – New Orleans Saints Previous Ranks
Player Profile Card
|2012 ||2013 ||2014 ||2015 ||2016 ||2017 |
|N/R ||70 ||N/R ||67 ||39 ||13 |
Written By: Lazy_Street
Cameron Jordan was signed to a much deserved three year extension after another fantastic season. He was dominant throughout the entire season playing the run and pass equall well, Cam is one of the strongest EDGE players in the game right now. He pairs that with great technique and very sharp football mind.
He plays with great awareness, being able to avoid blocks and shed. When that fails he will straight up stonewall someone like he did against Todd Gurly and his TE.
Really I can show you at least 2-3 plays a game where Cam gets doubled and still manages to affect the passer or stop a run. He has been adding more skills to his arsenal, as he has dabbled in standing up off the line and it has been really effective in certain packages
But still one of my favorite aspects of Cam's play is his underrated athleticism. He was able to chase down Lamar Jackson on an option play in what was one of the best defensive games in the league last season.
I think he is slightly underrated checking in a 38 on this list but it's not as egregious as it could be, I hope to see him even higher on the list next year.
#37 – Andrew Luck – Quarterback – Indianapolis Colts Previous Ranks
Player Profile Card
|2012 ||2013 ||2014 ||2015 ||2016 ||2017 |
|N/R ||N/R ||33 ||N/R ||35 ||N/R |
Written By: jaysrule24
Rejoice, for He is Risen! After an astonishing 616 days between games, many thought Andrew Luck would never be the same again. And after five weeks, some of those may have felt that they were right. While Luck boasted a career high 66% completion rate, and a respectable 12:5 TD:INT ratio, he also had a paltry 6.09 Y/A, prompting questions of whether his arm strength would ever return. Questions which were amplified in week 3, when backup QB Jacoby Brissett was brought in for the final play, to (over)throw a hail mary in less than ideal weather conditions.
But then, after the ugly Thursday night game in New England in which the Colts failed to dress a full 45 men, and lost more over the course of that game, Luck and the Colts started to turn things around. After one more tough game against the Jets, where the Colts were still getting healthy, Luck entered a stretch of 5 consecutive games with a passer rating over 100. A stretch where he threw for 16 touchdowns to just 3 interceptions and nearly 9 yards per attempt in which the Colts won each game by an average of 16 points.
The Colts' noble neckbearded leader cooled back off a bit over the final five weeks of the season, but still finished the season on a ten game stretch with 23 TDs to just 7 INTs, nearly 8 Y/A, a passer rating of 106.8, while the Colts went 9-1 to roar back from a 1-5 start to make the playoffs and win a game in the wild card round.
#36 – Mitchell Schwartz – Offensive Tackle – Kansas City Chiefs Previous Ranks
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|2012 ||2013 ||2014 ||2015 ||2016 ||2017 |
|N/R ||N/R ||N/R ||N/R ||N/R ||N/R |
Written By: TDeath21
Raise your hand if you’ve heard the following sentence: “The best and most elite tackles will always play the left side so they can protect the QB’s blind side.” If I could see you all, I’d bet that all your hands would be raised. That rule of thumb is not so true anymore, as the top tier pass rushers will often switch around to exploit the weaker tackle. Some will even almost exclusively line up on the offense’s right side. In today’s NFL, the right tackle position is just as important, and Mitchell Schwartz had that position on lock down for the Chiefs in 2018.
Are you a PFF fan? Some are and some aren’t. If you are a fan of them, his pass blocking efficiency was 98.1, good for fourth among qualifying tackles. His run blocking grade was 71.2, good for 8th among qualifying tackles. What about Football Outsiders? Do you like them? According to them, the Chiefs, when running behind the right tackle, gained an average of 5.64 adjusted line yards, FO’s statistic which attempts to separate the offensive line from the running back with regards to yards gained. This was good for 2nd in the league. I’d say it’s pretty safe to say that Schwartz was elite in both phases of the game. How about durability? He didn’t miss a single snap all season. Those ahead of him in PFF’s pass blocking efficiency missed at least one game and some missed a few more. Schwartz provided stability, durability, and elite play in both phases of the game at the right tackle position.
Alright. That’s the stat sheet. Let’s see him in action shall we? I admittedly didn't watch every single snap from him this season on the coach's film. What I did do though is focus on the big match up of the season. Denver. A guy named Von Miller (maybe you’ve heard of him?) went head to head with Mitchell Schwartz for two games, and this was a matchup worth watching every snap from on the coach’s film. I came away even more impressed with Schwartz. I calculated up how many times Miller was chipped by a tight end or a running back and also how many times Schwartz was responsible for a pressure or a sack when going against Miller.
The results? In week 4, 1 pressure. That's it. No sacks. And that's according to PFF’s game grades. It’s honestly one I have to dispute. The only one I found all game that they could have possibly charged Schwartz with was THIS one. The now famous Mahomes left handed throw. What's he supposed to do here? It's an overload blitz and it's one on three. He chooses the inside guy, allowing Miller and one other one to go free. That's Miller's one pressure he had against Schwartz. I guess they charged Schwartz with this one, but I'm not sure how. Like I said, it's the only one all game that I felt PFF could have possibly charged Schwartz with a pressure. Throughout the game, Miller threw everything at him and it didn't work. Bull rush? Check. Outside speed rush? Check. In the second half, Denver just quit trying to get Miller to the QB one on one. They implemented a few stunts to try to free him up. They realized not even Miller was getting there one on one vs Schwartz. How did Schwartz do on those stunts you ask? If you guessed chip Miller, pass off the stunt perfectly, then proceed to be an elite pass blocker, you were right. In the week 8 game, it was more of the same. Schwartz dominating one on one. Miller did, however, get his in this one. A sack. Happens. Especially with Miller. This was also the only pressure of any kind in week 8. Miller made it count.
Oh yeah. About that one on one stuff I've been saying. I've been saying that because in all the snaps of both games Schwartz pass blocked against Miller, he received a chip or a double team from a RB, TE, or OG 3 times. 3. 3 times in I don't know how many snaps between the two games. The Chiefs 100% trusted Schwartz to lock down the best edge rusher in the NFL in two separate games, and he did it in all but one play. Due to his incredible pass blocking displayed throughout the season, his great run blocking, and his insane durability, he lands here on our list at number 36.
#35 – Zack Martin – Offensive Guard – Dallas Cowboys Previous Ranks
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|2012 ||2013 ||2014 ||2015 ||2016 ||2017 |
|--- ||--- ||59 ||41 ||24 ||17 |
Written By: readonlypdf
Zack Martin was one of the anchors of a strong Dallas Offensive Line. Despite playing 877 Snaps, split about 65/35 Pass/Run, he only allowed 3 Sacks, 4 Hits, and 12 Hurries for a total of 19 pressures allowed across the 14 games he played in. That is solid production from the Guard Position. (All plays in gif form from Twitter) Some great examples include This Play against the Giants, These plays against the Jags, This Play against the Seahawks, and This block on a Swing Pass to Zeke.
These plays are just a sample of how well he played in 2018. He is a big reason why the Cowboys made the playoffs.
#34 – Antonio Brown – Wide Receiver – Pittsburgh Steelers Previous Ranks
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|2012 ||2013 ||2014 ||2015 ||2016 ||2017 |
|N/R ||43 ||3 ||3 ||10 ||3 |
Written By: Letsgomountaineers5
What more can be said about Antonio Brown that hasn’t already been said in his many iterations on this list? Once again, AB continued to prove why he is the best pound for pound WR to ever play the game. With a propensity for big plays, AB continued producing in the most crucial moments. Never one to shy away from the spotlight, AB added another walk off TD to his resume.
What is it that makes AB so great, despite his average build and speed? Is it his elite footwork and stems off the line of scrimmage? Is it his uncanny ability to change directions without even breaking his stride, all while waiting until the very last possible millisecond to make a play on the ball (fooling his defenders)? Is it his ridiculous footwork, hand eye coordination, and grip strength that allows him to make plays like this (I know it’s from last year but come on!) or this ? Is it his uncoachable knowledge of field positioning, allowing him to almost always find the soft spots when he’s doubled or bracketed, or in this case, triple teamed?
In reality, it’s these traits and many more that make Brown a lock for the Hall of Fame one day, and in the discussion for greatest WR talent of all time (I said discussion, guys…). Even in a “down year” for his standards, it’s why he’s found himself so high up on this list. While his 62% catch rate might not scream “ELITE” consider that of his 164 targets, only 105 were “catchable.” Of those 105, he caught 104. Also consider that he faced a murder’s row of corners by the likes of Ward, Humphrey, Trufant, Ramsey, Bouye, CHJ, Hayward, Gilmore, and Lattimore. Even while facing coverage predominantly by this corners, he still received TRUE double teams 8.5% of the time. That’s assigning two men or more to shadow AB, not just safety help. Hell, Belichick had the best corner in football shadow AB all while doubling him at the highest rate he saw.
Antonio Brown was an incredible player this year, and his very deserving of his ranking. His greatness is outlined even more when comparing him to his Steelers, counterpart, Juju. Juju was incredible, but he benefited heavily from AB being AB. Antonio Brown faced press 30% more of the time than Juju, man coverage in general 70% to Juju’s 55%, played 76% of his snaps outside and on the line (Juju played 44% of his snaps outside and only 40% on the line), and was doubled at one of the highest rates in the league (Juju was doubled 5 times all year). I felt it’s necessary to illustrate just how much attention Brown received, even with one of the 15 best WRs lining up across or inside of him. I will greatly miss his football contributions next season.
#33 – Davante Adams – Wide Receiver – Green Bay Packers Previous Ranks
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Written By: packmanwiscy
Let’s play a game. Can you name all the Packers pass catchers that played more than ten games in 2018? You’ve read the title, so you already know Davante Adams is here. But who else? Jordy Nelson? Nope, he was in Oakland. Randall Cobb? Geronimo Allison maybe? Wrong again, both were injured all year. Jimmy Graham? Ah yes, the decaying corpse of a 32 year old former All-Pro did technically play all 16 games, congratulations. Times up! Did you get Marquez Valdez-Scantling, Equanimeous St. Brown, J’Mon Moore, Lance Kendricks, Mercedes Lewis, and Robert Tonyan? Maybe you did, maybe you didn’t. But all three wideouts listed were third day rookie draftees, and the three other tight ends caught less than 300 yards of passes combined.
In short, the Packers receiving corps was very talent deprived. Adams was the only guy that caught passes that wasn’t a rookie or a lumbering husk of a tight end. Did that mean that Adams saw a disproportionate amount of passes flying his way? Maybe. But opposing defenses also knew that he was the only real playmaker running routes and game planned accordingly. Still, in 15 games this year, Adams caught 111 balls (T6 in the league) for 1386 yards (7th, T4 if we’re going by YPG) and 13 touchdowns (T2).
The first thing that comes to mind about Adams is his route running. Tae is one of, if not the best route runner in the league, and an absolute master at creating separation. According to PFF, Adams had 1,242 receiving yards with a step or more of separation, which is the most in the league. He’s a master of releasing well off the line and using his footwork to get open.
If you want some examples, there’s plenty. See up top how Adams uses a stutter step to get by Prince Amukamara. Look at this single cut on Darius Slay in the slot to create separation. How about a textbook slant to get open? Here’s a great out route that catches Xavier Rhodes flat footed and creates enough space to dive into the end zone.
If you’ve had enough of Adams cooking divisional rivals, just watch him blow by Tre White on a slant, create enough separation to slip by the Niners D and get out of bounds to set up a game winning field goal, use another stutter step on Marcus Peters for a big gain, then do the same on Tre Flowers, and so on and so forth.
These skills also help him in the RAC game. Just watch how Adams cooks the Bears for a TD here. Tae also has great body control, as demonstrated by his touchdown grab against the Cardinals and another great grab in the same game here
Davante Adams is no doubt a Top 5 wide receiver in the league and is very deserving of his spot on the list. He’s a fantastic all around WR that excels in route running, great after the catch, and fantastic body control when needed. The fact that he can do all this despite the fact that opponents knew all last year he was the only receiver on the Packers that Rodgers had trust in shows how great of a player Tae is. With the Packers getting a new head coach and a new offensive scheme that isn’t as reliant on receivers running their way open, along with the other receivers growing older and better, Tae’s production may drop next year. But let this be a reminder on how talented Adams is.
#32 – Danielle Hunter – EDGE – Minnesota Vikings Previous Ranks
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Written By: uggsandstarbux
Danielle Hunter (pronounced duh-NEEL) was by far the best player on a loaded Vikings front 7 this season. He was everything any team would want in a starting DE. Not only was he an elite pass rusher (4th in sacks with 14.5), he was one of the best defenders against the run (4th among EDGE players in defensive stops with 44). His career high sack numbers now have Hunter holding the franchise record for sacks in a player's first 4 seasons ahead of Hall of Famer Alan Page. He was a versatile player that played the 4th most snaps among DL (1023) and played those snaps from both DE positions as well as on special teams. What's scary is that he was equally as effective in both DE positions. Hunter was 1st among EDGE players in tackles for loss (21) and 3rd among EDGE players in hurries (49). He was also voted to his first Pro Bowl and was a 2nd team All Pro in 2018.
Want to look at more than just numbers? Hunter's film supports his skills as well. (Detroit fans might want to look away). His hand technique has developed quite nicely since being a 3rd round SPARQed out rookie. His hands compliment a great side step that helps him get the edge against elite pass protectors like Jason Peters and Ricky Wagner. But Hunter is more than just one move. He can beat you inside. He can beat you on stunts. He can beat you with his power. He can swim past you like his last name is Phelps. He can even beat you when you double team him, as shown by this GB GB (Green Bay Gang Bang). Heck, most of the time he's just better than you, and there's no need to overthink it.
He's not just a brainless monster either. Hunter's intelligence shows on the field. He doesn't bite on play action and can sniff out the ballcarrier with ease. Just take this excellent read against Taysom Hill. He switches from pass rush to run defense gracefully as well. Look at this play where he manhandles the TE in pass protection and then identifies Stafford with the attempt to escape the pocket.
But among all of that, none is my favorite thing about Hunter. No, my favorite thing about Hunter is his heart. Hunter gives maximum effort on every down and plays through the whistle all the time. Take this play, where he goes from bull rushing the OG against Arizona to turning his momentum around and chasing down David Johnson (who has 4.5 speed) 20 yards downfield. Or maybe this one, where he works through Gronk twice and another Patriots blocker to get outside the numbers and stop James White behind the LOS. Or maybe this play, where he continues to pursue Stafford on the QB scramble, leading to perfect positioning for his 2nd career TD.
Needless to say, Hunter is no longer just an athletic project for Mike Zimmer to tinker with. He's a bona fide, gap protecting, edge rushing, QB hunting monster. And he's only 24. Just wait to see what more he can do.
#31 – Derwin James – Strong Safety – Los Angeles Chargers Previous Ranks
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Written By: milkchococurry
When I first covered the Derwin James acquisition in last season’s offseason review, I likened it to Melvin Ingram falling to the Chargers in the middle of the first round back in the 2012 NFL Draft. Then-GM AJ Smith called Ingram a “bonus pick” since Ingram was the kind of talent that shouldn’t have been available when he was. Derwin James was also a serious talent that fell farther than he should have. Unlike Ingram, though, James made an immediate and significant impact in his rookie season.
As far as the raw stats are concerned, James led the Chargers in total tackles last season (105), netted 3.5 sacks and picked off 3 passes. All of these are solid numbers that earned him a Pro Bowl nod and first-team AP All Pro at safety. But what really solidified his status as a serious up and comer at safety was the way he got those numbers. James became the Swiss Army Knife of the Chargers defense. He used all of his 6’2”, 215 lb frame to get in the way of passes and take down opposing ballcarriers. It didn’t seem to matter if the ballcarrier was bigger, already ahead of James, or even if it was a clear 1v1 matchup, there was a good chance James would be in on and make the play. He was in on seemingly every play, for that matter. James lined up in the box and played coverage, and no matter where he played, he usually played well. Did James have his rookie moments? Absolutely. But if you see the body of work from his rookie season, you couldn’t tell me he wasn’t up there as one of the best players on the Chargers defense.
Entering Season 2 in 2019, Derwin James now has more responsibility to learn and grow as a player and teammate. There are several seasoned vets in the defensive backs group, so James should not be in any rush to become the leader of the group. This doesn’t mean he shouldn’t spend 2019 grooming himself for that role though, as he has the highest ceiling out of all the DBs on the team. Combined with his youth, he will become a team leader soon enough. If James builds on and learns from his rookie campaign and continues to play his game with the same fervor that he showed in his rookie season, he may end his career as one of the all-time greats.
[OC] JaguarGator9's Weird Stat Thread- Eurovision 2018 Edition
submitted by JaguarGator9 to nfl [link] [comments]
The Eurovision Song Contest might be the strangest phenomenon that I love watching. Imagine American Idol, but each country sends one act to perform, ranging from really good
to really bad
to this song which almost won
. To give you an idea of how weird Eurovision is, this song sent by Lithuania in 2006
was a complete joke song… yet, that didn’t even come close to the strangest song of the night
, which might be my favorite Eurovision performance of all time and ended up winning the thing.
So what does all of this have to do with the NFL? For the past few years, whenever I’ve posted weird stats, I like to make a Eurovision connection. As it turns out, you can make a lot of accurate predictions on how the season will go just based on what happens in this competition. Last year, I did a thread like this in the offseason
; however, because I made the thread before the competition, a lot of the things that I said could not be true. I had stats about Turkey finishing last in the competition, even though they weren’t even in the competition that year. This year, I’m doing it after the competition with things that have actually happened. Everything that I’m writing down took place at Eurovision in 2018, and everything has a sample size of at least 4 (which is good for Bengals’ fans; last year, I made a post with Israel winning Eurovision three times, and the Bengals finishing with the worst record in the AFC all three times). With that being said, how will the 2018 Eurovision Song Contest impact this year’s season?
- Albania has sent a song in the Albanian language four times to the competition. All four times, the Colts made the playoffs AND won in week 17, while the Browns finished last in the AFC North
|Year ||Albania Song ||Language ||Colts Placement ||Colts Week 17 ||Browns Placement |
|2006 ||Zjarr e ftohte ||Albanian ||Won Super Bowl XLI ||Defeated Miami 27-22 ||4-12, 4th in AFC North |
|2008 ||Zemren e lame peng ||Albanian ||Lost wild card round ||Defeated Tennessee 23-0 ||4-12, 4th in AFC North |
|2012 ||Suus ||Albanian ||Lost wild card round ||Defeated Houston 28-16 ||5-11, 4th in AFC North |
|2013 ||Identitet ||Albanian ||Lost divisional round ||Defeated Jacksonville 30-10 ||4-12, 4th in AFC North |
This year, Albania sent their best song in years, sending “Mall” to the competition by Eugent Bushpepa. In Albanian, the word “mall” means “yearning.” It was just the fifth time that Albania sent a song in their native language. Bodes well for the Colts, and like most things, not so well for the Browns.
- Belarus has sent a song with a one-word title five times to the competition. All five times, the Seahawks not only made the playoffs, but ended up winning a playoff game
|Year ||Belarus Song ||Words in Title ||Seahawks in the Playoffs |
|2006 ||Mum ||1 ||Won wild card round against the Cowboys |
|2010 ||Butterflies ||1 ||Won wild card round against the Saints |
|2013 ||Solayoh ||1 ||Won Super Bowl XLVIII |
|2014 ||Cheesecake ||1 ||Won 2 playoff games and made it to Super Bowl XLIX |
|2015 ||Time ||1 ||Won wild card round against the Vikings |
This year, though it didn’t qualify for the finals, Belarus sent the song “Forever,” which has one word in its title. After not making the playoffs last season, this is a really good sign for Seattle this year
- Belgium has sent an artist starting with the letter “S” four times. All four times, the Browns not only won their final home game of the season, and not only won their second-to-last game of the season, but actually made the playoffs.
|Year ||Belgium Artist ||Browns Final Home Game ||Browns Second-to-Last Game ||Postseason Result |
|1972 ||Serge & Christine Ghisoland ||Defeated Buffalo 27-10 ||Defeated Cincinnati 27-24 ||Lost wild card round |
|1982 ||Stella ||Defeated Pittsburgh 10-9 ||Defeated Houston 20-14 ||Lost wild card round |
|1986 ||Sandra Kim ||Defeated San Diego 47-17 ||Defeated Cincinnati 34-3 ||Lost AFC Championship |
|2002 ||Sergio & The Ladies ||Defeated Atlanta 24-16 ||Defeated Baltimore 14-13 ||Lost wild card round |
Keep this in mind with the Browns. Since 1972, in years where Belgium sends an artist starting with the letter “S”, they have made the playoffs 4 times in 4 years. In that same stretch, in years where Belgium does not send an artist starting with the letter “S”, they have made the playoffs 6 times in 39 years. This year, Belgium sent the artist named Sennek with the song “A Matter of Time,” which was a poor man’s James Bond theme. It didn’t qualify for the finals (so if the Browns don’t make the playoffs, we can easily change the stat to “years where Belgium sends an artist starting with the letter ‘S’ and makes it to the finals”), but this is promising for the Browns. Only problem is that you have the Albanian stat working against the Browns, so one of these will come to an end in 2018.
- Croatia has sent a song with no Croatian language in it six times. All six times, a team scored a game-winner within the final 10 seconds of the game in the divisional round.
|Year ||Croatia Song ||Language ||Divisional Round Drama |
|2001 ||Strings of My Heart ||English ||Patriots defeated the Raiders in OT on a game-winning field goal by Adam Vinatieri (final play of the game) |
|2002 ||Everything I Want ||English ||Titans defeated the Steelers in OT on a game-winning field goal by Joe Nedney (final play of the game) |
|2004 ||You Are The Only One ||English ||Steelers defeated the Jets in OT on a game-winning field goal by Jeff Reed (final play of the game) |
|2011 ||Celebrate ||English ||49ers defeated the Saints on a game-winning TD pass by Alex Smith to Vernon Davis (9 seconds left; second-to-last play of the game from scrimmage) |
|2016 ||Lighthouse ||English ||Packers defeated the Cowboys on a game-winning field goal by Mason Crosby (final play of the game) |
|2017 ||My Friend ||English & Italian ||Vikings defeated the Saints on a game-winning TD pass by Case Keenum to Stefon Diggs in the Minneapolis Miracle (final play of the game) |
This year, Croatia sent the song “Crazy” by Franka, which was only in English, and featured no Croatian language. What does this mean? Expect some drama in one of the divisional round games this year; based on recent memory, expect the Saints to be on the wrong end of history.
- Cyprus has finished inside the top six at Eurovision five times. All five times, the New York Jets had a winning record, and had a record good enough to make the playoffs
|Year ||Cyprus Song ||Cyprus Placement ||Jets Record ||Postseason Result |
|1981 ||Monika ||6th ||10-5-1 ||Lost wild card round |
|1982 ||Mono i agapi ||5th ||6-3 (strike-shortened season) ||Lost AFC Championship |
|1997 ||Mana mou ||5th ||9-7 ||N/A* |
|2002 ||Gimme ||6th ||9-7 ||Lost divisional round |
|2004 ||Stronger Every Minute ||5th ||10-6 ||Lost divisional round |
*- remember that I said that they had a record good enough to make the playoffs. That year, the Jets finished with a 9-7 record, which was the same record that the Miami Dolphins had. However, the Dolphins won the tiebreaker. Either way, the Jets are going to be good this year if that holds up, because Cyprus’ entry this year, “Fuego,” finished second in the competition (and arguably should’ve won). This was Cyprus’ highest finish ever at the competition.
- Czech Republic (still going under that during this competition and not Czechia) has sent an English-only song to the competition four times. All four times, the Cleveland Browns finished last in their division, and the Super Bowl was held between an AFC team that had won consecutive Super Bowls in the past and an NFC team that had never won the Super Bowl before. Sound confusing? Let’s tackle the Browns part first, since that’s essentially the free space in Bingo.
|Year ||Czech Republic Song ||Language ||Browns Result |
|2008 ||Have Some Fun ||English ||4-12, 4th in AFC North |
|2015 ||Hope Never Dies ||English ||3-13, 4th in AFC North |
|2016 ||I Stand ||English ||1-15, 4th in AFC North |
|2017 ||My Turn ||English ||0-16, 4th in AFC North |
The song for Czech Republic this year was a combination of Ed Sheeran and Jason Derulo that actually worked really well. The song, “Lie to Me,” finished sixth, and had some really good staging, resulting in Czech Republic’s highest ever finish. Unfortunately for Cleveland, their song was in English only, so that’s not good. In fact, if the song has any English in it at all, the Browns finish last in the division; in 2009, the song “Aven Romale” featured both English and Romani elements, and the Browns went 5-11, finishing last in the AFC North.
As for the second component regarding the Super Bowl, the AFC team had, at some point before, had won back-to-back Super Bowls in franchise history. The NFC team, meanwhile, had never won the Super Bowl before that game.
|Year ||Czech Republic Song ||Language ||AFC Team ||Back-to-Back Champions? ||NFC Team ||Super Bowl Wins Prior to Game |
|2008 ||Have Some Fun ||English ||Pittsburgh ||Yes (IX and X, XIII and XIV) ||Arizona ||0 |
|2015 ||Hope Never Dies ||English ||Denver ||Yes (XXXII and XXXIII) ||Carolina ||0 |
|2016 ||I Stand ||English ||New England ||Yes (XXXVIII and XXXIX) ||Atlanta ||0 |
|2017 ||My Turn ||English ||New England ||Yes (XXXVIII and XXXIX) ||Philadelphia ||0 |
As mentioned before, “Lie to Me” was the song this year for Czech Republic. This narrows the Super Bowl down to four teams in the AFC (New England, Denver, Pittsburgh, Miami), and five teams in the NFC (Carolina, Atlanta, Minnesota, Arizona, Detroit). In fact, we can even expand this stat a bit further; if we include any Czech Republic song to feature English and include all championships in the equation (which adds 2009 with “Aven Romale”), then the criteria still fits. The Colts went back-to-back in 1958 and 1959 (pre-Super Bowl era), and faced off against the Saints, a team that had never won the Super Bowl prior to that game.
- Estonia has finished inside the top 10 of the competition with a solo artist four times. All four times, not only did the Denver Broncos and New York Giants finish with a winning record, but the Arizona Cardinals finished last in their division
|Year ||Estonia Artist ||Estonia Song ||Placement ||Broncos Result ||Giants Result ||Cardinals Result |
|1997 ||Maarja-Liis Ilus ||Keelatud maa ||8th ||12-4 ||10-5-1 ||4-12, 5th in NFC East (out of 5) |
|2000 ||Ines ||Once in a Lifetime ||4th ||11-5 ||12-4 ||3-13, 5th in NFC East (out of 5) |
|2002 ||Sahlene ||Runaway ||3rd ||9-7 ||10-6 ||5-11, 4th in NFC West (out of 4) |
|2012 ||Ott Lepland ||Kuula ||6th ||13-3 ||9-7 ||5-11, 4th in NFC West (out of 4) |
This year, Estonia sent an operatic solo artist by the name of Elina Nechayeva to the competition. Her performance of “La forza” finished 8th, which is good news for the Broncos and Giants, and bad news for the Cardinals
- Finland has sent an artist starting with the letter “S” four times. All four times, the Dallas Cowboys not won the NFC East, but made it to at least the divisional round of the playoffs
Year | Finland Artist | Dallas Cowboys- NFC East | Dallas Cowboys- Postseason Result --- | --- | --- 1978 | Seija Simola | 12-4, 1st in NFC East | Lost Super Bowl XIII 1985 | Sonja Lumme | 10-6, 1st in NFC East | Lost divisional round 2014 | Softengine | 12-4, 1st in NFC East | Lost divisional round 2016 | Sandhja | 13-3, 1st in NFC East | Lost divisional round
This year, Finland sent Saara Aalto with the song “Monsters,” which surprisingly qualified for the final (largely due to good staging; I can’t tell you a thing about the song itself because it’s quite forgettable). However, seeing as her name starts with the letter “S”, the Dallas Cowboys will win the NFC East and make it to the divisional round. As it turns out, you can predict the entire divisional round on the NFC side of the bracket
purely by Eurovision results. You’ll see what I mean as we get further along in this post
- Finland has sent a song starting with the letter “M” four times. All four times, the Minnesota Vikings won their home game against the Detroit Lions by 3 points or less
|Year ||Finland Song ||Vikings Home Game vs. Lions Result |
|1963 ||Muistojeni laulu ||Vikings defeat Lions 34-31 |
|1972 ||Muistathan ||Vikings defeat Lions 16-14 |
|2008 ||Missa miehet ratsastaa ||Vikings defeat Lions 12-10 |
|2013 ||Marry Me ||Vikings defeat Lions 14-13 |
This year, as mentioned before, “Monsters” was the song sent by the Finnish. In week 9, pick the Vikings straight up, but if the spread is anything more than 3, take the Lions. You can do that now, no matter what part of the country you live in. It’s perfectly legal.
- France has sent an artist starting with the letter “M” four times. All four times, the Sporting News MVP was a running back.
|Year ||France Artist ||Sporting News MVP |
|1956 ||Dany Dauberson ||Frank Gifford |
|1973 ||Martine Clemenceau ||OJ Simpson (AFC) |
|1977 ||Marie Myriam ||Walter Payton (NFC) |
|1998 ||Marie Line ||Terrell Davis |
Note that for a period in the 1970s, the MVP was split up by conference into AFC and MVP, so two MVP awards were given out in a year (similar to how MLB does it). I didn’t use AP for this one, since the Associated Press MVP did not become a thing until 1957. However, since sent Madame Monsieur to the competition this year, this looks like a year where a halfback will go off and get MVP consideration, even getting named MVP from one publication.
- Since first joining Eurovision in 2007, Georgia has not participated in the finals four times. All four times, the Cleveland Browns… you guessed it… finished last in the AFC North
|Year ||Georgia Result ||Cleveland Browns Placement |
|2009 ||Withdrew/Disqualified ||5-11, 4th in AFC North |
|2012 ||14th in semifinal (failed to qualify) ||5-11, 4th in AFC North |
|2014 ||15th in semifinal (failed to qualify) ||7-9, 4th in AFC North |
|2017 ||11th in semifinal (failed to qualify) ||0-16, 4th in AFC North |
You might be wondering how a country got disqualified at a competition like Eurovision. No political messages are allowed; it hasn’t stopped artists from trying before, but basically, you can’t make it blatantly obvious. Georgia’s song submitted that year was called “We Don’t Wanna Put In”. Combine the final two words of that title into one word, and you can easily see why Eurovision didn’t allow the song to compete. This year, Georgia didn’t qualify, as their song “For You” by the Ethno-Jazz Band Iriao (easily the most boring song of the entire competition) didn’t even come close, finishing dead last in its semifinal. Not good news for the Browns.
- Germany has finished inside the top 10 of the competition with an English-only song four times. All four times, not only did the Buffalo Bills finish last in the AFC East, but the NFL team playing in Baltimore at the time made it to at least the divisional round
|Year ||Germany Song ||Germany Language ||Germany Placement ||Bills Placement ||Baltimore NFL Team ||Baltimore NFL Placement |
|1977 ||Telegram ||English ||8th ||3-11, 5th in AFC East (out of 5) ||Baltimore Colts ||Lost in divisional round |
|2010 ||Satellite ||English ||1st ||4-12, 4th in AFC East (out of 4) ||Baltimore Ravens ||Lost in divisional round |
|2011 ||Taken by a Stranger ||10th ||6-10, 4th in AFC East (out of 4) ||Baltimore Ravens ||Lost AFC Championship || |
|2012 ||Standing Still ||8th ||6-10, 4th in AFC East (out of 4) ||Baltimore Ravens ||Won Super Bowl XLVII || |
This year, Germany sent an English-only song, “You Let Me Walk Alone.” It was a great turnaround for the Germans, as Germany came in dead last in 2015 and 2016, and finished 25th in 2017. However, with this song by Michael Schulte, they had the highest placement of any Big Five nation, and finished in fourth. Bad news for the Bills, and really good news for the Ravens
- Hungary has finished outside the top 20 of the finals (excluding times where Hungary did not qualify for the finals) four times. All four times, the Atlanta Falcons made it to the playoffs
|Year ||Hungary Song ||Hungary Placement ||Atlanta Falcons Postseason Result |
|1995 ||Uj nev a regi haz falan ||21st ||Lost in wild card round |
|1998 ||A holnap mar nem lesz szomoru ||23rd ||Lost Super Bowl XXXIII |
|2011 ||What About My Dreams? ||22nd ||Lost in wild card round |
|2012 ||Sound of Our Hearts ||24th ||Lost NFC Championship |
This year, Hungary finished in 21st place with “Viszlat nyar.” Picture a Puddles of Mudd or Ataris song, and now picture it in Hungarian. Because of this, though, the Atlanta Falcons should be able to make it back to the postseason.
- Israel has sent a song starting with the letter “T” four times. All four times, the Colts made the playoffs, the Browns finished last in the AFC North, and the Ravens made it to at least the divisional round
|Year ||Israel Song ||Colts Placement ||Browns Placement ||Ravens Placement |
|2006 ||Together We Are One ||Won Super Bowl XLI ||4-12, 4th in AFC North ||Lost in divisional round |
|2008 ||The Fire In Your Eyes ||Lost in wild card round ||4-12, 4th in AFC North ||Lost AFC Championship |
|2009 ||There Must Be Another Way ||Lost Super Bowl XLIV ||5-11, 4th in AFC North ||Lost in divisional round |
|2012 ||Time ||Lost in wild card round ||5-11, 4th in AFC North ||Won Super Bowl XLVII |
This year, Israel sent “Toy,” which ended up winning the whole thing. That’s good for the Colts, once again good for the Ravens, and really bad for the Browns. If you’re betting against the Ravens after back-to-back stats saying they’ll make it to the divisional round, then you’re stupid just like your smartphone (yes, that’s an actual line from the song).
- Israel has sent a song that finished inside the top three of the competition six times. All six times, the Cowboys made the playoffs
|Year ||Israel Song ||Israel Placement ||Cowboys in the Playoffs |
|1978 ||A-Ba-Ni-Bi ||1st ||Lost Super Bowl XIII |
|1979 ||Hallelujah ||1st ||Lost in divisional round |
|1982 ||Hora ||2nd ||Lost NFC Championship |
|1983 ||Hi ||2nd ||Lost in wild card round |
|1991 ||Kan ||3rd ||Lost in divisional round |
|1998 ||Diva ||1st ||Lost in wild card round |
Additionally, Israel has finished inside the top 10 of the competition eight times with a song that has one word in the title. Aside from the aforementioned six songs, Israel finished 7th with “Halayla” in 1981, and finished 8th with “Amen” in 1995. The Cowboys made the playoffs in 1981 (lost NFC Championship) and in 1995 (won Super Bowl XXX), so anytime Israel does well with a one-word title, it’s a good sign. And “Toy” won the competition this year, so the Cowboys have a lot of positive history on their side. When this season is done, their fans could be dancing on the motha-bucka beat (yes, another actual line from the song; remember that this was the winner).
- Italy has sent a song starting with the letter “N” four times that was strictly in Italian. All four times, the Green Bay Packers ended up tying one game
|Year ||Italian Song ||Italy Language ||Green Bay Packers Record |
|1958 ||Nel blu, dipinto di blu ||Italian ||1-10-1 |
|1964 ||Non ho l’eta ||Italian ||8-5-1 |
|1967 ||Non andare piu lontano ||Italian 9-4-1 || |
|1980 ||Non so che darei ||Italian ||5-10-1 |
This year, Italy sent the purely Italian song “Non mi avete fatto niente,” which means the Packers will tie a game this season if history holds up. Who will that tie come against? This next stat involving Italy might help.
- Italy has finished fifth at the Eurovision Song Contest four times. All four times, the Detroit Lions ended up tying one game
|Year ||Italian Song ||Italian Placement ||Detroit Lions Record |
|1961 ||Al di la ||5th ||8-5-1 |
|1965 ||Se piangi, se ridi ||5th ||6-7-1 |
|1971 ||L’amore e un attimo ||5th ||7-6-1 |
|1984 ||I trendi di Tozeur ||5th ||4-11-1 |
This year, by sending “Non mi avete fatto niente,” Italy finished in fifth place. If both the Lions and Packers have to tie a game this year under this rule, then if you’re going to pick a tied game this year, it’ll be Packers/Lions.
- Malta has sent a solo artist starting with the letter “C” five times. All five times, a team that had never won the Super Bowl before was in the game. This goes along with the earlier stat featuring the Czech Republic
|Year ||Malta Artist ||Featured Super Bowl Participant |
|1998 ||Chiara ||Atlanta Falcons |
|2000 ||Claudette Pace ||Baltimore Ravens |
|2005 ||Chiara ||Seattle Seahawks |
|2009 ||Chiara ||New Orleans Saints |
|2017 ||Claudia Faniello ||Philadelphia Eagles |
Neither of those five teams had won a Super Bowl prior to playing in that game. This year, Malta once again sent an artist starting with the letter “C,” sending Christabelle with the song “Taboo” to the competition. Though she didn’t qualify for the final, the stat holds up regardless of qualification results, which means that a potential first-time champion will be in the game.
- Portugal has sent an artist starting with the letter “C” five times. All five times, the Denver Broncos improved on their result from the season before, either in terms of regular season record or postseason result
|Year ||Portugal Artist ||Broncos the Year Before ||Broncos the Year After |
|1968 ||Carlos Mendes ||3-11 (1967) ||5-9 (1968) |
|1972 ||Carlos Mendes ||4-9-1 (1971) ||5-9 (1972) |
|1976 ||Carlos do Cormo ||6-8 (1975) ||9-5 (1976) |
|1981 ||Carlos Paiao ||8-8 (1980) ||10-6 (1981) |
|1997 ||Celia Lawson ||Lost in divisional round (1996) ||Won Super Bowl XXXII (1997) |
This year, Portugal pulled a first-to-worst. Salvador Sobral won the competition in 2017 with the beautiful “Amar pelos dois,” which not only gave Portugal its first win ever, but meant that Portugal automatically qualified for the final and hosted the competition. Claudia Pascoal finished in dead last this year with “O jardim.” Her name starts with the letter “C,” which is good for Denver, as they should improve on their 5-11 performance from 2017. I don’t think that was in doubt anyways, but if you wanted another reason to believe in Denver to turn things around, here you go.
- Spain has sent an artist starting with the letter “A” four times. All four times, the San Francisco 49ers made it to the divisional round, and the Pittsburgh Steelers finished at least tied for the division lead
|Year ||Spain Artist ||San Francisco 49ers Postseason Result ||Pittsburgh Steelers Division Result |
|1990 ||Azucar Moreno ||Lost NFC Championship ||9-7, 3rd in AFC North* |
|1994 ||Alejandro Abad ||Won Super Bowl XXIX ||12-4, 1st in AFC North |
|1995 ||Anabel Conde ||Lost in divisional round ||11-5, 1st in AFC North |
|1996 ||Antonio Carbonell ||Lost in divisional round ||10-6, 1st in AFC North |
*- I said that they finished tied for the division lead, which is true. That year, the Steelers missed the playoffs at 9-7, and although they finished third, the two teams ahead of them were both 9-7. Cincinnati won the division with a 9-7 record, and the Houston Oilers finished second at 9-7.
This year, Spain sent Amaid y Alfred, and they didn’t do too well, as “Tu cancion” finished 23rd in the final. That’s now four straight years that Spain has finished outside the top 20 (unfairly deserved in 2016 with “Say Yay!”, and completely deserved in 2017 with
The Lazy Song
“Do It for Your Lover”). That’s pretty good for both San Francisco (as if people needed another reason to hop on the Jimmy G hype train) and Pittsburgh.
- Sweden has sent an artist starting with the letter “B” four times. All four times, the AP MVP was a QB who led his team to the Super Bowl/NFL Championship
|Year ||Sweden Artist ||AP MVP ||Team ||Postseason Result |
|1959 ||Brita Borg ||Johnny Unitas & Charlie Conerly ||Colts/Giants ||Both teams competed in the 1959 NFL Championship |
|1978 ||Bjorn Skifs ||Terry Bradshaw ||Steelers ||Won Super Bowl XIII |
|1981 ||Bjorn Skifs ||Ken Anderson ||Bengals ||Lost Super Bowl XVI |
|1997 ||Blond ||Brett Favre ||Packers ||Lost Super Bowl XXXII |
This year, Sweden sent Benjamin Ingrosso to compete, as he finished in seventh place with “Dance You Off.” Sweden is like the Alabama of Eurovision; they’ve finished inside the top five in six of the past eight competitions, and have won the competition six times. The winner of the AP MVP will be a QB who goes to the Super Bowl, and the winner of the Sporting News MVP will be a halfback, if these stats hold up.
- Ukraine has sent an artist going by one name four times. All four times, the Atlanta Falcons made it to at least the divisional round
|Year ||Ukraine Artist ||Atlanta Falcons Postseason Result |
|2004 ||Ruslana ||Lost NFC Championship |
|2010 ||Alyosha ||Lost in divisional round |
|2012 ||Gaitana ||Lost NFC Championship |
|2016 ||Jamala ||Lost Super Bowl LI |
This year, Ukraine sent Melovin to the competition, who is an artist that goes by one game. The Hungary stat already showed that the Falcons would make it to the playoffs, but this is showing that the Falcons will go pretty far. And just like that, you can predict the entire NFC divisional round off of Eurovision
- And finally, the winning song of the competition has started with the letter “T” four times. All four times, the Arizona Cardinals finished fourth in their division, and the Kansas City Chiefs had 2 more wins than losses (which would come out to a 9-7 season in 2018)
|Year ||Winning Song ||Cardinals Result ||Chiefs Result |
|1960 ||Tom Pillibi ||4th in NFL Eastern (6-5-1) ||8 wins, 6 losses (8-6) |
|1973 ||Tu te reconnaitras ||4th in NFC East (4-9-1) ||7 wins, 5 losses (7-5-1) |
|1996 ||The Voice ||4th in NFC East (7-9) ||9 wins, 7 losses (9-7) |
|1999 ||Take Me to Your Heaven ||4th in NFC East (6-10) ||9 wins, 7 losses (9-7) |
As mentioned a few times, “Toy” won the competition this year, so that means that the Cardinals will finish last in the NFC West and the Chiefs will finish with a 9-7 record What Does This Mean?
It can be tough to keep track of all of that, so what do all of these stats mean when put together? Let’s go division by division. AFC East:
Jets will finish with a winning record, while the Bills will finish in last AFC South:
Colts will make the playoffs and beat the Titans in week 17 AFC North:
Steelers will have at least a tie of the division lead, the Ravens will make it to at least the divisional round, and the Browns will either make the playoffs or finish last in their division (two stats contradict each other); however, the Browns will win their final home game (which comes in week 16) against the Cincinnati Bengals on 12/23 AFC West:
Chiefs will go 9-7, Broncos will have a winning record and improve on last season’s total NFC East:
Giants will finish with a winning record, Cowboys will win the NFC East and make it to at least the divisional round NFC South:
Falcons will make it to at least the divisional round NFC North:
Both the Lions and the Packers will tie a game, and the Vikings will beat the Lions at home in week 9 NFC West:
Cardinals will finish last, the Seahawks will win a playoff game, and the 49ers make it to at least the divisional round General:
There will be a dramatic finish in one of the divisional round games, the AP MVP will be a Super Bowl QB, the Sporting News MVP will be a running back, the AFC will be represented in the Super Bowl by either the Patriots, Broncos, Steelers, or Dolphins, and the NFC will be represented in the Super Bowl by the Falcons*
*- the four teams in the divisional round out of the NFC from these stats are the Cowboys (Finland stat), Falcons (Ukraine stat), Seahawks (Belarus stat), and 49ers (Spain stat). However, the Czech Republic stat states that the NFC team will be a team that has never won the Super Bowl. Of those four teams, only the Falcons have never won the Super Bowl. Therefore, the Atlanta Falcons will be in Super Bowl LIII in their home stadium according to these stats Whether or not these weird stats will be right or not remains to be seen. However, I’ll leave you with this song that I have not mentioned yet from 2008, where Ireland sent a turkey onto the stage. That’s Eurovision for you.
Offseason Review Series Day 9: The Baltimore Ravens
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AFC North 2015 Record:
Coming into 2016, the Ravens have more question marks than the Riddler. Is our QB healed? Is our young WR star
healthy ? Are Steve Smith Sr., Terrell Suggs, Dennis Pitta, Crockett Gilmore, Maxx Williams, Justin Forsett, or indeed anybody
who was a week-one starter last year healed? How the Ravens bounce back from one of the most injury-ridden seasons in recent history will be one of the most compelling stories of the season. If fans hold their breath every time one of last year’s injured players takes a hit, we’ll all turn blue and pass out before the end of the first pre-season drive.
Coaching changes in the secondary and front-seven mean that our defense could perform at just about any level and nobody would be surprised. New faces at safety and a fresh infusion of talent in the trenches suggest our most severe depth problem is at CB. Far more important than who
plays will be how
they play as a unit. Giving up long TD drives late in the half was our ugly signature move last season, and has plagued John Harbaugh’s Ravens his entire tenure here. It needs to change now.
Protecting the front office’s investment in Joe Flacco was the offense’s off-season priority this year. We took a left tackle with our top-ten pick, and we have so much depth at TE and RB that other teams may get starters or solid backups from our camp cuts. Giving Joe weapons downfield looks like it probably was on our shopping list as well -- picking up veteran Mike Wallace already looks like a savvy insurance policy after Perriman’s close call with his knee, and Ben Watson may yet take the field in place of Dennis Pitta. Will the left side of our line gel in time for week one? Will anybody besides Kamar Aiken be a reliable WR target for Joe this year? Let’s find out.
Coaching Changes The biggest coaching change was the addition of Leslie Frazier, a Super Bowl winning DB from the 1985 Bears, former head coach of the Vikings, and former DC for the Bengals (among others). He’ll be coaching the Ravens’ secondary this year. John Harbaugh has long lamented the Ravens’ tendency to let teams drive with impunity at the end of the half, and we have to face Antonio Brown and A.J. Green twice a season each. Bringing Leslie Frazier in to challenge the DBs to do better is an A+ hire.
We lost linebackers coach Ted Monachino to the Colts, who intend for him to serve as Chuck Pagano’s defensive coordinator. The Colts get a B+ for this pickup in my book -- our linebacking has been a strength even without old #52 around, and Monachino probably gets a lot of the credit.
Clarence Brooks coached our defensive line and is our longest-tenured coach with over 10 years’ experience. His fight with esophageal cancer -- including radiation and chemotherapy -- is unlikely to leave him healthy enough to endure the physical toll that NFL coaching takes on a body. He’s been retained with the title of ‘senior defensive assistant’ and it’s hard to see whether that’s a sinecure or whether he’s expected to contribute.
To fill his shoes, the Ravens have brought in Joe Cullen, who has been influential in improving teams like the Buccaneers, Jaguars, and Browns, and whom the Buccaneers were considering for DC. Say what you like about those teams’ offenses in the last few years, but they’ve all had solid defensive line play, and that’s what we expect to get from hiring Cullen. With Brooks’ coaching foundation, Cullen should be able to find some youth & nastiness on our roster and continue to help the Ravens’ D-Line be a fearsome front. I give this hire a B for now.
With Frazier solidifying our secondary, Matt Weiss is moving from DB coach to LB coach (probably coaching coverage) and Don ‘Wink’ Martindale (OLB coach last year) will be leading the linebacking coaching staff. Martindale has been a DC for the Broncos before and shouldn’t have any problem with a leadership role; Weiss has a little more to prove but may improve our linebackers’ coverage skills. Until we see the unit working together, there’s no way to predict what kind of chemistry that arrangement will have; I give those moves an Incomplete until I can see some results.
Speaking of incomplete, Marc Trestman hasn’t really had a full season for us to honestly judge his progress as OC. What we saw last season looked good until our starters began imploding, exploding, losing limbs, etc.: Flacco was on pace for his first 4,000-yard season and even rotating in second- and third-string players, we were just below the NFL average in points and yards. We’re all eager to see whether his offense works better with a healthy slate of players.
Scott Cohen is taking a title change from coaching consultant to coaching assistant and opponent analyst. I’m a firm believer in using an adversarial mindset to discover an enemy’s weaknesses, and great organizations throughout the NFL amaze their opponents when they do this well. The Patriots are infamous for it, and Aaron Rodgers always credits the Packers’ scout team with helping him to prepare for what he’ll face each week. That said, I have no idea whether he’ll be any good at it! He gets a C until I see us get rid of our most obvious tendencies (e.g. starting every drive with a pass to Juszczyk).
While we’re talking about coaches, it’s a good time to point out that Brian Billick has the most regular-season wins of any Ravens coach with 80, but John Harbaugh currently has 77. This year expect a fourth-quarter announcement when Harbs passes our other Super-Bowl-winning coach to take the throne.
Free Agency Players lost/cut
Defenders like Upshaw almost never get to stick around Baltimore for long. A long-armed edge-setter and pass deflector who can come through with sacks like this one is going to have a market value far in excess of what notorious
|Player ||Position ||New team |
|Courtney Upshaw ||OLB ||ATL |
|Kelechi Osemele ||OG ||OAK |
|Daryl Smith ||LB ||Released |
|Will Hill ||S ||Released |
|Chris Canty ||DE ||Declined 2016 Option |
|Marlon Brown ||WR ||Waived |penny-pincher value-seeker Ozzie Newsome is willing to shell out. Osemele was one of the NFL’s best guards over the last two seasons, but with the Ravens choosing early in a class full of O-Line talent, Ozzie elected to let K.O. walk away as well. Will Hill got us the kick-six against Cleveland and a couple of game-saving INTs, but his career here hasn’t been anything stellar; most fans believe we’ve upgraded by grabbing Eric Weddle. Chris Canty has performed well in a veteran role, but played just over 32 games in three seasons and never put up flashy numbers; it’s possible that we’ve seen the last of Canty in an NFL uniform. Marlon Brown looked like the future of the Ravens’ WR corps, but a failed physical cost him his spot.
Players signed or extended
Fans of the Steelers and Bengals have already announced that they’re going to follow the Browns’ lead and make 2016 a rebuilding year. Why? Well, the Ravens have re-signed the most critical piece of their team to a great high-value deal. I’m talking, of course, about our Pro Bowl long snapper Morgan Cox -- arguably one of the best players in the league at what /nfl agrees is the single most important position on the team.
|Player ||Position ||Old Team ||Length ||Contract Value |
|Morgan Cox ||LS ||Ravens ||5 years ||$5.6M |
|Joe Flacco ||QB ||Ravens ||3 years ||$66.4M |
|Shareece Wright ||CB ||Ravens ||3 years ||$16M |
|Justin Tucker ||K ||Ravens ||1 year ||$4.57M (franchised) |
|Kamar Aiken ||WR ||Ravens ||- ||2nd Round Tender |
|Albert McClellan ||ILB ||Ravens ||3 years ||$3.75M |
|-- ||-- ||-- ||-- ||-- |
|Eric Weddle ||S ||Chargers ||4 years ||$26M |
|Mike Wallace ||WR ||Vikings ||2 years ||$11.5M |
|Ben Watson ||TE ||Saints ||2 years ||$8M |
|Trent Richardson ||RB ||Indy ||1 year ||$625k |
|-- ||-- ||-- ||-- ||-- |
...Alright, I’ve gotten that out of my system. Restructuring Joe Flacco’s deal and getting Justin Tucker franchised secure for us two young Ravens who are both already on the Ravens’ Top 20 all-time scoring list. Flacco’s a franchise QB who will grow into a Top-10 veteran, and we’re paying market value for him. Tucker has captured the hearts of Ravens fans in a way that few other kickers ever have -- Matt Stover and Josh Scobee being the obvious exceptions. It will be interesting to see how the Ravens use Tucker’s leg with the new kickoff rules. Kamar Aiken was our leading receiver last year; while he’s unlikely to put up numbers quite that flashy again, he’s now spent most of a season going up against #1 CBs -- so expect to see him absolutely brutalize the weaker depth chart guys as a slot WR. Wright and McClellan both add veteran depth to our defense, and their occasional appearance on Special Teams highlight reels doesn’t hurt.
If you don’t already know the answer, ask Broncos fans how well Ozzie Newsome poaches veteran talent from other teams. They’ll be happy to see that we grabbed Pro Bowl safety Eric Weddle from their hated rivals in San Diego. We also got Mike Wallace as insurance against Perriman’s injuries persisting and shallowing out our WR depth chart, and right now that’s looking like a brilliant move. Similarly, Ben Watson shores up our roster in case Williams, Gilmore, or Pitta aren’t able to stay healthy or perform during camp. Trent Richardson was spotted at a variety of Baltimore-area businesses before he signed his “prove-it” deal for no money down; whether Ravens fans will see him at The Gap this fall has been a matter of debate. Every one of these veterans could boom or bust, and Ravens fans should trust Ozzie and DeCosta to write low-risk papers for all these guys.
My only quarrel with Ozzie’s off-season moves is that the TE and RB signings seem to heavily overstock our roster at positions where we already have considerable starting-caliber depth. Perhaps with Joe’s injury last season, our offense will focus more on players who can excel at those positions and also pass-block? I trust Ozzie, though, and give the whole slate of moves a solid B+.
Draft Ozzie Newsome led several GMs through the NFL Draft do-si-do, moving down twice in the second to pick up additional middle-round picks. Our juggernaut of five fourth-rounders (trades & comp picks) make this draft class look like an armload of lottery tickets. If even half of them pan out, we’ll be a threat to hang unexpected losses on a lot of other teams.
Ronnie Stanley was a solid first-round pick; passing on Laramy Tunsil was a no-brainer for our front office after his (cough cough) respiratory issues and Bisciotti’s stance on domestic violence. Correa and Kaufusi both project as long-armed pass-rushers with run-stopping potential, building depth behind Suggs and potentially replacing Upshaw, but it’s always tricky to evaluate pass rushers before they play in the pros. Tavon Young is an undersized CB who competes physically to make up for his height -- he wore the coveted #1 jersey at Temple, where the team awards the single-digit jerseys to the top nine toughest players on the squad. (For comparison, their RB who wore #5 last year went back into the Notre Dame game nursing what looked like a broken rib, and scored a goal-line TD.) A DB with toughness like that is going to find a spot on Harbaugh’s roster.
|Round ||Number ||Player ||Position ||School |
|1 ||6 ||Ronnie Stanley ||OT ||Notre Dame |
|2 ||42 ||Kamalei Correa ||OLB ||Boise State |
|3 ||70 ||Bronson Kaufusi ||DE ||BYU |
|4 ||104 ||Tavon Young ||CB ||Temple |
|4 ||107 ||Chris Moore ||WR ||Cincinnati |
|4 ||130 ||Alex Lewis ||OT ||Nebraska |
|4 ||132 ||Willie Henry ||DT ||Michigan |
|4 ||134 ||Kenneth Dixon ||RB ||La. Tech |
|5 ||146 ||Matt Judon ||DE ||Grand Valley St. |
|6 ||182 ||Keenan Reynolds ||WRB/PQB/LS ||Navy |
|6 ||209 ||Maurice Canady ||CB ||Virginia |
Chris Moore is a WR who definitely has a 9-route and a post route in his bag of clubs to go with Joe Flacco’s Dragonball Toss, and he contests the catch well. The knock on him is that he may struggle to learn NFL-caliber route-running for routes that bend or turn sharply. Lewis & Henry figure to be depth players at their positions as rookies, but the rumor is that John Harbaugh got the inside scoop on Willie Henry from his brother at Michigan, and with the right spark in camp, he could pass Timmy Jernigan on the depth chart. RB Kenneth Dixon could surprise everyone and earn a spot -- his breakaway speed and his uncanny balance remind me of Ray Rice. If he doesn’t get a RB spot, he could shock our first few opponents as a deceptively fast punt return man. Judon and Canady are more likely depth guys who will have to work hard to make the team. And of course, Ensign Keenan Reynolds has been given permission from the Secretary of Defense to play in the NFL rather than immediately serving his active-duty obligation -- we’re all looking forward to seeing whether he picks up some KPR duties, gets a depth spot at WR, or does something else entirely. His training as an option QB gives us a trick-play option that we’ll almost certainly put on tape specifically so the Patriots have to prepare for it.
We also snagged eleven UDFAs, any of whom could be Ravens in September. Be honest with yourself as a fan: they rarely make the 53-man roster, but there’s always a chance that Ozzie found us a diamond in the rough. Our haul this year includes a poly-lingual tackle from Colorado, a guard (Jarell Broxton) from Baylor, a pair of centers from Harvard and Duke to keep up the team’s GPA, a “camp leg” kickepunter for special teams drills, and a brace of linebackers and trench defenders to serve as rotational guys. Broxton has the most long-term experience at guard; with Osemele and possibly Monroe leaving, he has the experience at what may be a position of need. Our other O-line prospects could also compete for the reserve guard spot: Center Anthony Fabiano is a former teammate of starter Kyle Juszczyk and has played every position on the O-Line; his smarts & versatility might help his stock. Duke center Matt Skura seems less likely but will get a fair shot at the job. You can look at each one’s résumé and see a guy who’s obviously just there to provide a body for camp drills… or you can watch the tape and convince yourself that you’re seeing an NFL starter. The pros know how to evaluate talent better than we do, so sit back and keep an eye on the pre-season games.
Other Offseason News that Affected the Team At the end of last season, the Ravens looked like Napoleon’s Army returning from Stalingrad in the dead of winter, or Washington’s Continental Army dragging their asses around eastern Pennsylvania before the battle of Trenton. We were far and away the most critically-injured team, with nearly our entire starting offense on IR, as well as key players at each level of the defense. So the off-season has largely been about rehabilitating those injuries:
Last but not least, the Ravens will all be wearing a #25 patch on their uniforms this season to honor the memory of CB Tray Walker, who died in a dirt-bike accident in March at the age of 23.
- Joe Flacco (QB) tore an ACL and MCL. His recovery has been largely private, so we don’t know how well he’s coming along. Not throwing passes during OTAs or conducting offseason “chemistry” drills with his WRs and TEs is never a good thing, but he probably will be healthy by camp.
- Dennis Pitta (TE) is an absolute cipher. If he’s good to go, he’s a starter; otherwise we keep him parked on IR or even IR-DR for $3.2M ‘early retirement’ money.
- Breshad Perriman (WIR), last year’s first-round pick, is
coming back from a hard-to-describe series of leg or knee injuries, the rehabilitation of which is a matter of intense debate and speculation. having a possible ACL injury examined, with the long-term prognosis unclear as of this writing. It takes a Jesuit, a psychic, and two Federal prosecutors to get a straight answer out of Coach Harbaugh on Perriman’s current recovery status. He could start week one, or start the season on IR; but may potentially earn our coveted “designated to return” spot.
- Terrell Suggs (LEO) blew out an Achilles in week 1, and has been recovering well. The biggest question for him is whether he has enough left in the tank to put in another NFL-caliber season. He’ll be trying to rush the QB and chase down RBs on a pair of Achilles tendons that have both been torn during his football career.
- Steve Smith Sr. (WR) also blew an Achilles, and spent the off-season icing up. Nobody has ever made a dime betting on Smith’s career to be over, but eventually if you keep predicting it, you’ll be right. Is this year that year?
- Nick Boyle (TE) showed flashes of talent before being suspended four games last year for PEDs. This season he’s out for another ten games for the same reason. Coach Harbaugh will likely use the suspension doghouse as a ‘free’ 54th roster spot, in case we lose a TE like Dennis Pitta mid-season. If our TE situation is still solid late in the season, though, expect Boyle to get cut.
Projected Starting Lineup
The Ravens have long been famous for our defense, but since the departure of Lewis & Reed after SB47, Ravens fans have been looking to Joe Flacco and the offense to help carry the load. Joe has always had at least one legitimate weapon but has rarely also had a deep threat and a reliable TE; when he had Boldin, Smith, and Pitta, we won a Super Bowl. This year we appear to have depth at all of those positions, but depth doesn’t matter if the guy at the top of the chart isn’t good enough. If Joe can find three pass-catchers he can trust, we have a shot at winning 10 or more games. He’ll also need an offensive line he can trust, and that’s still up in the air.
|Position ||Starter ||Backup ||Depth (if applicable) |
|QB ||Flacco ||Mallett ||Reynolds? |
|RB ||Forsett ||Allen ||Taliaferro |
|FB ||Juszczyk ||- ||- |
|TE/Y ||Pitta/Watson ||Gilmore ||Williams |
|WR1/Z ||Aiken ||Perriman ||Moore |
|WR2/X ||Smith Sr. ||Wallace ||Daniel Brown |
|LT ||Stanley ||Lewis ||Hurst |
|LG ||Jensen ||Broxton? ||- |
|C ||Zuttah ||Urschel ||- |
|RG ||Yanda ||Jensen ||- |
|RT ||Wagner ||Lewis ||Hurst |
|LEO ||Suggs ||Correa ||? |
|DE ||Guy ||Urban ||Kaufusi |
|DT ||Williams ||Jernigan ||Davis |
|ILB ||Mosley ||Brown ||Orr |
|OLB ||Dumervil ||Z. Smith ||Correa |
|CB ||J. Smith ||Wright ||Young |
|S ||Weddle ||Webb ||Lewis |
|K/P/LS ||Tucker ||Koch ||Cox |
|KR ||Clay ||Ross ||Dixon |
|PR ||Clay ||Campanaro? ||Reynolds |
The story in the running game is much the same: we are prepared to take advantage of whatever the O-Line will give us. We have plenty of depth at RB, plenty of players who might surprise us with their talent, but no obvious superstars in sight. A good offensive line, especially under the Kubiak-derived offense we use, can make even a shabby RB look good. Every Ravens fan will be watching the preseason games with interest, scrutinizing the replays for something to clear away the fog and show us a future we can believe in.
Defensively we lack starter-caliber depth at the cornerback position, and have some interesting questions at safety. Weddle was an All-Pro (is he still?) and Webb may turn out to be very good at safety (especially as Frazier & Weddle coach him up). Elam and our other safeties are good-not-great. Jimmy Smith can be a shutdown superstar or a merely good CB, but we don’t know which one we’ll get now that his Lisfranc is healed up. Shareece Wright is not a star but played very well, and Will Davis looked good before his ACL injury. Further down the DB roster, though, you find replacement-level talent or unproven rookies. If our defensive front struggles to generate pressure without Clarence Brooks’ coaching, our secondary is going to have a very long year going up against Antonio Brown (twice), A.J. Green (twice), Tom Brady, and even Tyrod Taylor.
Position Group Strengths and Weaknesses Position groups:
- QB - Our elite dragon is back! The completeness of his recovery from the ACL injury is the strength or weakness of this position group. It’s hard to overstate just how much of our performance this year is predicated on Flacco’s healthy return from ACL/MCL rehab.
- Backfield - We have a ton of depth at RB this year. Justin Forsett is 30 this year and needs to watch his back. Javorius “Buck” Allen is our most likely backup. Trent Richardson has been out of football for a year but is still young and could earn a spot as a pass-blocker or goal-line back. Terrance West and Lorenzo Taliaferro have both shown the ability to carry the load as a backup or potentially a starter. Terrance Magee (LSU) and Kenneth Dixon (La. Tech) could push the Louisiana rivalry during camp and either one could surprise us. It’s anybody’s job.
- OL - John Harbaugh is none too pleased with Eugene Monroe’s offseason remarks about marijuana. He’ll start the five best linemen, and so the question is whether Ronnie Stanley will steal Monroe’s job, or whether Monroe will stay at LT and Stanley will do a rookie season at guard. Just before deadline, Harbaugh admitted in a press conference that the Ravens were shopping Monroe for a trade, which appears to leave the LG position open. Jensen, Hurst, and Urschel are battle-tested reserves but it seems unlikely that we’d keep all of them around with the rookies we’ve drafted -- watch for Alex Lewis to challenge the sometimes-disappointing Hurst for the role of Stanley’s LT understudy. LG starter and chemistry in the absence of Osemele is the looming question, but we have starters and three viable backups.
- Pass catchers - Historically, receiving is a weak spot for us: the Ravens always seem to have a good-but-really-old guy, a fast guy on the outside, and a bunch of guys from the plumbers’ union on the depth chart. Depth at TE is a blessing for the bunch formations we use frequently. We have reasonable depth at WR as well, but it’s all unproven, aging, or just-barely-good-enough. Even if Mike Wallace returns to his prime, Steve Smith Sr. comes back 100%, Perriman is injury-free or Chris Moore steps up to fill Perriman’s shoes, and Kamar Aiken continues to perform, Joe Flacco might still only have the third-best receiving corps in the AFC North.
- DL - A good defensive line can mask a lot of problems in the secondary, and when ours is not injured we have one of the most stacked DL depth charts in the league. Terrell Suggs is our aging LEO who still knows how to bring down a gazelle. Brandon Williams is a early-career NT coming into the last year of his rookie deal, and he knows that planting Andy Dalton or Ben Roethlisberger on national TV is a great way to get paid. Carl Davis was the player whose bear-paw blocked the Browns’ kick for the win last year, and he’ll have to rotate in with Timmy Jernigan and maybe Willie Henry. It’s not clear that we have anyone who can replace Suggs’ physical gifts on the edges. Bronson Kaufusi was an early draft pick and might have what it takes to leapfrog the oft-injured Brent Urban and Kapron Lewis-Moore, if he himself can stay healthy. We saw a lot of our defensive depth last year (since our offense couldn’t stay on the field) so we have a comparatively deep and experienced bench -- few stars, but no obvious weak links either.
- LB - Ravens fans still remember some amazing linebacking corps from the early ‘00s. Nobody can ever replace #52, but C.J. Mosley does as much as any mortal man can. Even non-fans put him in the conversation with Luke Kuechly for best ILB in the game today. Dumervil on the edge still has some gas in the tank but needs a good scheme to compensate for his rust and get him to the QB early. You’ve probably never heard of Zach Orr but he’ll likely see more reps and could have a good year as well. Kamalei Correa is listed as OLB but might surprise everyone by making a splash rotating to ILB (he could just as easily rotate to LEO if Suggs doesn’t return to form). Za’Darius Smith could have a second-year growth spurt and dazzle everyone with flashy play off the edges.
- Secondary - Cutting Will Hill and not picking up Matt Elam’s fifth year deal were both easy moves for Ozzie to make financially. CB Lardarius Webb has had back issues, but still excels when he can keep the play in front of him; he is also one of the only DBs left who studied under Ed Reed, so it’s no surprise that he’s enjoying the transition to safety. Will he slot in with Eric Weddle and leave Kendrick Lewis in reserve? Will we play some more three-safety defense? The Ravens’ secondary has been an area of concern since Ed Reed left, and this year is no different. Let’s see if Leslie Frazier and a couple of Pro Bowlers can start scaring opposing QBs into holding the ball a bit longer.
- Special Teams - The Wolf Pack is one of the best Special Teams units in the NFL. Justin Tucker has excellent accuracy inside the 50 and the leg to make attempts from further away. Sam Koch changed the game by being able to ‘show’ one style of punt and then deliver multiple other styles, frequently pinning opponents inside the 10. Our elite long snapper Morgan Cox rounds out the Wolf Pack and provides a consistent anchor for the unit. Coach Harbaugh’s pedigree as a special teams coach means that players who can contribute on teams get the last few roster spots -- that emphasis means the Ravens give up comparatively few punt and kick return TDs. Can Justin Tucker learn to pin opponents deep on kickoffs, or will we play conservatively and settle for touchbacks?
Now, we haven’t talked about … strangeness. Strangeness is blowing the Pats out of the water and then dropping an easy home game to Philly. Strangeness is going into the bye wondering how the hell Geno Smith’s backup QB burned us for 300 yards and 3 TDs, and then handing the Cowboys their first loss of the season a few weeks later. Strangeness is beating Cincy 37-10 at home, and then letting the Dolphins beat us 14-9 the next week. If we get hot -- or in a rut -- you’re going to be swapping around W’s and L’s in places you never dreamed of. You can’t predict strangeness.
- [email protected]: Week one marks Tyrod Taylor’s homecoming to Baltimore. The defense will need to keep Buffalo from getting a lead; Rex’s teams play very well with a lead. (L)
- [email protected]: Week 2, we travel to Cleveland and pick up a win. They’re in rebuilding mode and we’re not. (W)
- [email protected]: The Jags are a Florida team that beat our farm team last year by kicking a FG on an unearned untimed down. They don’t keep it within 3 this year. (W)
- [email protected]: Oakland demolished our secondary last season, but 🎺🎺🎺 BAH GAWD KING, THAT’S ERIC WEDDLE’S MUSIC! Watch for our new safety to keep Amari cooped up, and put the brakes on Carr. (W)
- [email protected]: Another Battle of the Beltways! I sound like a homer picking us to win so many, but our schedule is front-loaded with teams that we can beat. So we’d better. (W)
- [email protected]: A tough contest. Last time we had their number and out-schemed them in an embarrassing beat-down. This year it’s more of a one-score game. I’ll give this road game to the Giants. (L)
- [email protected]: We host the Jets for our second week in a row at the Meadowlands. I say “host” because they’re off in Buffalo or something the week before. So we’re basically the home team. I honestly don’t think Geno gets it done against our pass rush. (W)
- BYE couldn’t be more ideally placed.
- [email protected]: In the absence of sleeper agents on Special Teams, it is traditional to split the series home & away. The Ravens are at home and coming off a bye, so we’ll take the (W).
- [email protected]: Does a rejuvenated Browns squad steal a win from a Ravens team that had to pay for their nail-biter division win in bumps and bruises? ...No. No they don’t. (W)
- [email protected]: The Cowboys have never beaten the Ravens. This year, as long as Romo is healthy, they finally get the win. (L)
- [email protected]: I’d love to tell you guys that we’re going to thrash the Bengals, but we’re not. We’ve kept it within one score of them every time, but it’s always a goddamn deep ball to A.J. Green in the 4th, or a shitty flag, or both, that holds us back. More of the same. Buy extra whiskey. (L)
- [email protected]: Speaking of Florida teams that beat our second string last year, Miami beat our decimated roster only because a phantom OPI call negated a TD pass to Daniel Brown. Who? That’s right. I expect that this year, if Miami even sees him, it’ll be because we’ve decided to put him in during the 4th quarter of a thrashing. Watch the Ravens play three solid quarters and then put some goofy stuff on tape just to make Belichick game-plan against it the next week. (W)
- [email protected]: Nobody but Tom Coughlin & Eli Manning strike fear in the hearts of Patriots fans like John Harbaugh & Joe Flacco do. It’s a regular season matchup, and a Monday Night Game to boot, so watch us make it close and then fritter away a shot at a solid win. John Harbaugh coaches our defense to keep hitting Brady until we get flagged, and then back it off just a little bit, so expect at least one Raven to be fined, ejected, or suspended for a vicious but ba-a-a-a-asically legal sack. Listen closely as Gruden avoids saying “that really deflated his balls”, and watch Harbaugh call at least one pass to Juszczyk in the flat just so Gruden can talk about SPIDER 2 Y BANANA. (L)
- [email protected]: We’re at home against a weak Eagles team that probably won’t even be playing for a playoff spot at this point, and I suspect most people would give the Ravens the edge. (W)
- [email protected]: It is written that we split the series. Who am I to argue? (L)
- [email protected]: It is also written that we spend Week 17 in Ohio. The NFL wants us playing the Bengals on the road every Week 17 and I can’t figure out why. Key personnel on the Bengals are dinged up -- or resting for the playoffs!? -- but Baltimore’s bench is full of guys who know how to adjust when someone gets carted off. We steal this (W) from Cincy, throw everyone’s brackets into disarray, and stagger into the playoffs at 10-6. If Andy Dalton’s going to win a playoff game this year, it’s going to have to be as a Wild Card team on the road.
That said, the AFC North has averaged two teams in the playoffs over the last ten years, and there’s no reason to think it’s going to change this year. Barring major injuries or suspensions, I think the Steelers and Bengals probably make it in this year ahead of us. That doesn’t mean we couldn’t end up with the third WC spot, or catch a break if one of them stumbles. I think Pittsburgh’s bench is shallower than ours, especially on defense, so that late-season game could be a bloodbath rather than the perennial struggle. The Bengals lack mental discipline - watch for teams to test their hot-headed players to provoke the new suspension rules. (I’m looking at you, Ryan Brothers’ defense. I’m looking at you, Steve Smith Sr. I’m looking at you, completely expendable Patriots training staff carrying booklets of oddly-specific Cincinnati-themed insults.)
So: realistically, the Ravens finish with 9 wins and squeak into a WC or a bone-headed play early in the season comes back to bite us as we drop that WC spot to an opportunistic AFCE team that holds the head-to-head over us. Or maybe, just maybe, we beat Cincy in Week 17 and secure a well-earned playoff spot with 10 wins. As always in the AFC North, it’s going to come down to the last two minutes of the last week of the season.
Training Camp Battles to watch The biggest training camp battle will be for the running back position. We have Forsett, who’s been a starter before but suffered a gruesome injury to his forearm last season in the same game where we lost Flacco. His age and injury potentially open the door for anybody -- will Trent Richardson finally prove himself? Will Lorenzo Taliaferro or Buck Allen step up from their backup roles and show starter talent? Or will Terrance Magee or Kenneth Dixon lap them all with youth and enthusiasm? Before we have any pre-season tape, you’d be a fool to bet on any of them. We’re not going to keep all six of them on the roster, so fifth prize might be a season stashed on IR pink slip.
The left side of the offensive line is another assignment the fans will be watching. Eugene Monroe is last year’s veteran starter at the LT job, but Harbaugh doesn’t like his public stance on marijuana and the team has been frustrated with his difficulty staying on the field. Just yesterday, Harbaugh admitted that he’s shopping Monroe around for potential trades. If Monroe stays, expect to see Stanley slotted in at LG for a year to develop. Reserve LG Ryan Jensen (or reserve C John Urschel) could move into a starting spot with Stanley on the outside if Monroe leaves Baltimore, but that leaves us shallow at reserve guard. Also keep an eye on 4th-round pick Alex Lewis to potentially beat out James Hurst for the reserve LT position. Harbaugh has been cryptic as ever, promising that he’ll start the five best guys, but he has also made it clear that a #6 overall pick like Stanley is expected to earn himself a starting job.
At wide receiver, a lot of our junior depth players from last year will now be trying to protect their spots from Mike Wallace and Chris Moore, both of whom are auditioning for the role of speedy WR alongside Breshad Perriman. Kamar Aiken’s performance last year probably earned him a spot, and Steve Smith Sr. will have to have a leg amputated before he stops competing. That leaves Mike Campanaro, Daniel Brown, and rookie Chris Moore the favorites to earn maybe two total depth positions. Everyone else wearing a WR number is on notice: learn to play good special teams, or pack your bags.
On the defensive side of the ball there aren’t as many questions -- we’ve done a decent job of retaining talent and buying depth where we didn’t have it. The line has plenty of big bodies with a fairly uniform level of talent, barring injuries. The array of defensive backs is less of a question than how well they can perform as a unit (although watch Will Davis, back from an ACL, to try to beat Kyle Arrington for a spot). One place to look is in the trenches at defensive tackle, where Timmy Jernigan could lose his starting job or face slightly fewer snaps if Willie Henry shows up loaded for bear.
The best way to make John Harbaugh’s roster if you’re on the bubble is to be a standout on Special Teams. Our presumptive returners, Kaelin Clay and Jeremy Ross, need to keep an eye on our long-shot DBs, WRs, and RBs. Keenan Reynolds and Kenneth Dixon both have the athleticism to get a returner job, and Tavon Young’s small stature -- a liability at CB -- combined with his physicality could make him a stealth favorite for PR.
Discuss Offensive and Defensive Schemes Offensively, the Ravens have a West Coast offense built on a zone-blocking scheme inherited from Gary Kubiak’s time with the team. We run lots of traditional “11” groupings (1 RB, 1 TE) and rotate our fullback into our “21” package (FB, RB, TE). In 11, we favor bunch formations: they dare the defense to single-cover our deep threat, and put a tangle of confusing routes underneath on the strong side. A trailing TE can come under the formation like a pulling guard and turn an obvious passing formation into a variant on the Power-O run. From 21, we love play-action passes to the fullback. All of the trickery underneath exists to set up the play that everyone in the NFL knows is coming: Flacco’s deep ball, which we typically unleash on first-and-ten once we get inside the opponent’s 45. Completion rates on the deep ball vary based on receiver, route, and defender technique, with the “go” route (the Torrey Smith DPI Special) having about a one-in-three chance of completion, and angled routes like a post being more like a fifty-fifty proposition (but with higher risk of INT). We build our offense around the threat of Joe’s arm -- which keeps defenses deep for our runs and short game -- and delivering on that threat as soon as they ‘cheat shallow’ to try to take away the dink-and-dunk game.
Defensively we show a 4-3 Under, which challenges the opponent’s protection starting at the pre-snap read and gives your defensive front a one-gap play style. LEO (Suggs) is a pass-rusher and run-blocker on the strong side who can decide whether to pressure the outside edge or cut underneath and inside. The 1-technique NT has to go straight up against the center and play two-gap, while the 3-tech NT can pick his gap and go man-on-man. Jernigan and Williams will share those inside responsibilities with Carl Davis and rookie Willie Henry; other than Brandon Williams none of them is a proven starter. Lawrence Guy was last year’s standout DE, but this year he figures to share snaps with Brent Urban or Bronson Kaufusi. With the coaching changes in our front seven, the key is going to be veterans like Suggs coaching continuity on behalf of Clarence Brooks. Never underestimate the effectiveness of DB blitzes from these formations, especially after showing double-A-gap pressure on multiple sequential downs. Our tendency last year to drop giant lumbering DEs into coverage (a key feature of the old ‘Fire Zone’ blitz) was a liability -- QBs knew when it was coming and targeted the DE. We need to do a better job of applying and disguising pressure this year, or we’re sunk.
Shoutouts to those who helped:
Link to hub
- First priority, an overflowing purple helmet full of gratitude for skepticismissurvival for organizing this, and to Hail_to_Caesar for taking the time to write up a detailed post about a team they’re not even cheering for this year. SKOL to both of you!
- A huge thanks to /ravens for saving me a ton of research with the great sidebar information, and for answering my “Open Mic” thread with additional information I would have missed for sure. That goes double for the mods who edit the sidebar and keep the subreddit full of good reliable sources.
- Also thanks to my friend & copy-editor Cory M., who was a great help to me both for his knowledge of the Ravens and his excellent writing.
Week 12 - Panthers @ Jets - Pregame Report
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|TEAM ||Record Against the Spread |
| CAROLINA PANTHERS ||7-3, 6-4-0 ATS |
| NEW YORK JETS ||4-6, 6-3-1 ATS |
INJURY REPORT Panthers Injuries
|Player ||Position ||Injury ||Thu ||Fri ||Sat ||Gameday Status |
|Mario Addison ||DE ||Shoulder ||DNP ||FP ||FP ||- |
|Ryan Kalil ||C ||Neck ||LP ||LP ||LP ||Questioniable |
|Tyler Larsen ||C ||Foot ||DNP ||LP ||LP ||Questionable |
|Captain Munnerlyn ||CB ||Illness ||DNP ||DNP ||DNP ||Questionable |
|Cam Newton ||QB ||Right Thumb ||LP ||LP ||FP ||- |
|Player ||Position ||Injury ||Thu ||Fri ||Sat ||Gameday Status |
|Matt Forte ||RB ||Knee ||DNP ||DNP ||LP ||Questionable |
|Rontez Miles ||S ||Ankle ||LP ||FP ||FP ||- |
|Morris Claiborne ||CB ||Foot ||LP ||FP ||FP ||- |
|Rashard Robinson ||CB ||Illness ||LP ||FP ||FP ||- |
|Muhammed Wilkerson ||DE ||Foot ||LP ||LP ||LP ||Questionable |
|Brian Winters ||G ||Abdomen ||LP ||LP ||LP ||Questionable |
PICKS All 2017 expert NFL Picks compared for accuracy. A free, advert-click funded service tracking every analyst at ESPN, Bleacher Report, CBS, FOX, Yahoo!, ProFootballFocus, USA Today, Accuscore, NFL Network, NFL.com, SI.com and more – sorted by season win percentage.
Click HERE for breakdown of all expert picks
| CAROLINA PANTHERS ||96% |
| NEW YORK JETS ||4% |
TOP TEN EXPERT PICKS
|Rank ||Expert ||Network ||Season Record ||% ||Pick |
|1 ||Jeff Ratcliffe || ||113-50 ||69% || |
|2 ||Neil Greenberg || ||98-47 ||67% || |
|3 ||Numberfire || ||108-53 ||67% || |
|4 ||Jared Dubin || ||109-54 ||66% || |
|5 ||Prediction Machine || ||104-52 ||66% || |
|6 ||Harry Lyles Jr || ||108-55 ||66% || |
|7 ||Kevin Sherrington || ||108-55 ||66% || |
|8 ||Mike Clay || ||108-55 ||66% || |
|9 ||Jon Beason || ||107-55 ||66% || |
|10 ||Josh Katzowitz || ||107-56 ||65% || |
PROJECT FIVETHIRTYEIGHT - 2017 TEAM PREDICTIONS
Click HERE for complete breakdown of Project FiveThirtyEight predictions for the 2017 season)
| CAROLINA PANTHERS ||57% |
| NEW YORK JETS ||43% |
| ||ELO Rating ||One Week Change ||Pred Wins ||Pred Losses ||Playoffs? ||Win Division ||Win Super Bowl |
| ||1561 ||+ 17 ||10.1 ||5.9 ||65% ||15% ||2% |
| ||1450 ||- 17 ||6 ||10 ||3% ||<1% ||<1% |
WHAT TO WATCH FOR Greg Olsen
Greg is supposed to take his first snaps in 9 weeks Sunday against the Jets. For a guy who's only missed 2 games in his 10 year career, this season must've been frustrating so far. You can bet Greg is itching to make an impact this week. With Samuel out and Byrd not allowed to play for another week, Greg's mainstay- the seam route- will be a big part of keeping the Jets defense honest and allowing the run game to flourish.
Greg's counterpart filled in admirably while Third Leg sat out. It will be interesting to see if Greg's return will push Dickson back to a fullback role that we saw earlier in the season. If so, that likely means Alex Armah's brief stint on the active roster is over. If Dickson stays in at more traditional TE role look for him to make an impact in the redzone where he, Greg and Devin will create matchup problems for LBs and DBs.
With Samuel out for the season and Byrd out for one more week, Clay and Shepard will take the 2 & 3 WR spots. Shepard has already seen an increase in snaps and targets, but hasn't made the most of them so far. Clay has the opportunity to pass Shepard on the depth chart if he makes the most of this week. Clay will need to show his 4.45 speed, but more importantly he'll need to prove he can catch passes from Cam consistently.
Mario and Pep
The Jets enter this game having allowed Josh McCown to get sack 32 times. That's one of the worst in the league. Those numbers have to have Mario and Julius licking their chops like they're staring a Thanksgiving turkey. Leading the team with 6.5 and 7.5 sacks, respectively, Mario and Pep will look to continue the trend of harassing poor Josh and keeping him from progressing through his reads and make life easier for...
I (u/ACraftyRooster) have made a few comments here before about the lack of theft on the street this year. We're winning games so I can't complain much, but if McCown has time he has a strong arm. It was refreshing to see the defense hold a lead against Miami, but until we do it two or three weeks in a row it's not a trend. With New Orleans coming up the secondary needs another confidence boosting game before facing off against Drew Brees again. With only two of the team's five interceptions on the season it'd be nice to see the secondary play a little more aggressive against a bad offensive line that will force McCown to make less than perfect throws.
Entering this week New York is tied (with KC) for the 3rd most penalized team in the league at 81. Carolina, by contrast, is dead last with just 45 (11 less than the next closest team in Washington). As long as the Panthers maintain the same discipline they've shown this season they should benefit greatly from this. Just as special teams play a major role in the field position battle, so do penalties. However, more than half of the Panthers' penalties have come on the road this season so the cats will need to be sure to keep their cool.
BY THE NUMBERS
2-4 Under coach Ron Rivera, this is the Panthers' record in the regular season following a bye: 2 wins and 4 losses. That's actually four straight losses in the first four years of his tenure and then back-to-back post-bye wins in 2015 and 2016. If you include the postseason, the record expands to 3-6. The sample size is too small to determine whether or not this is a specific failing of Rivera's teams, but it's still interesting.
41 The Panthers have been absolutely lethal at the end of the first half this season. Per @pantherstatsguy on Twitter, the Panthers are second in the NFL with 41 points scored in the final two minutes of the second quarter. Combined with the fact that the Panthers generally prefer to defer to the second half, those are some big momentum builders.
548 I mean, you know this by now, but in case the bye week made you forget, the Panthers set a franchise record with 548 yards of total offense in their Monday Night Football win against the Dolphins. So it's safe to say that the Kelvin Benjamin trade was not actually a disaster. Whether or not the Panthers "won" that trade, only time will tell, but things appear to be going smoothly.
557 Now let's talk about defense. The Panthers have only allowed 557 offensive plays by an opponent this season. This is actually both a function of the offense sustaining drives and dominating time of possession AND the defense getting opposing teams off of the field. That number is first in the NFL, by the way. The second lowest? 593.
28 Greg Olsen has officially been reactivated to the active roster. He only recorded 28 receiving yards before his injury, but now he returns to an offense that is absolutely humming. And against a defense like the Jets, look for him to have a pretty easy time returning to form.
MATCHUP HISTORY All Time Record: 3-3 (Tied)
Largest Victory: 30-3 (11/13/2005)
Current Streak: 1W
- Since Cam came to Carolina, the Panthers are 1-0 against the Jets.
- The Panthers may sweep the AFC East for the first time in franchise history, after beating the Bills, Patriots, and Dolphins earlier this year.
HEAD TO HEAD
|CAROLINA ||OFFENSE ||VS. ||NY ||DEFENSE |
|Points/Game ||21.3 (#17) ||➡ ||22.2 (#16) ||Opp Points/Game |
|Yards/Game ||336.6 (#15) ||⬅ ||346.9 (#23) ||Opp Yards/Game |
|Points/Play ||0.324 (#22) ||➡ ||0.336 (#15) ||Opp Points/Play |
|Yards/Play ||5.1 (#20) ||➡ ||5.3 (#17) ||Opp Yards/Play |
|3D Conversion % ||46. 85% (#1) ||⬅ ||40.14% (#19) ||Opp 3D Conv % |
|4D Conversion % ||33.33% (#21) ||➡ ||16.67% (#3) ||Opp 4D Conv % |
|RZ Scoring % (TD) ||53.12% (#17) ||⬅ ||56.25% (#21) ||Opp RZ Scoring % (TD) |
|TDs/Game ||2.2 (#18) ||⬅ ||2.7 (#20) ||Opp TDs/Game |
|NY ||OFFENSE ||VS. ||CAROLINA ||DEFENSE |
|Points/Game ||30.1 (#23) ||➡ ||18.0 (#5) ||Opp Points/Game |
|Yards/Game ||306.9 (#24) ||➡ ||278.0 (#2) ||Opp Yards/Game |
|Points/Play ||0.336 (#18) ||➡ ||0.323 (#11) ||Opp Points/Play |
|Yards/Play ||5.1 (#19) ||➡ ||5.0 (#11) ||Opp Yards/Play |
|3D Conversion % ||37.14% (#20) ||➡ ||35.48% (#9) ||Opp 3D Conv % |
|4D Conversion % ||62.50% (#4) ||⬅ ||26.67% (#5) ||Opp 4D Conv % |
|RZ Scoring % (TD) ||57.89% (#10) ||⬅ ||68.42% (#30) ||Opp RZ Scoring % (TD) |
|TDs/Game ||2.2 (#18) ||➡ ||2.0 (#7) ||Opp TDs/Game |
PANTHERS POWER RANKINGS
|Outlet ||Rank ||Last Week ||Weekly Change ||Notes |
| ||7 ||8 ||↑ 1 ||The Panthers thought they were going to get a break during the bye with a New Orleans loss, but the Saints' comeback win means the Panthers are still down a full game and a head-to-head tiebreaker. To win the division or at least secure a wild card, they need a consistently good Cam Newton from here on out. |
| ||8 ||10 ||↑ 2 ||Two of Carolina's three losses are to the 9-1 Eagles and 8-2 Saints. The Panthers also have rushed for 200 yards and multiple scores in back-to-back games, and if that type of success on the ground continues, the sky could be the limit for Carolina. |
| ||8 ||9 ||↑ 1 ||Recap: It’s been a very uneven season for Ron Rivera’s club. And despite a little drama and at times some erratic play from both quarterback Cam Newton and his offensive line, the Panthers seem to be getting their act together on offense. After back-to-back losses to the Eagles and Bears back in mid-October, Carolina has ripped off three straight wins and scored a combined 10 offensive touchdowns in those contests. That compared to only 12 offensive TDs during the team’s 4-3 start. The defense has bounced back in a big way this year, allowing the fewest yards per game in the league through 10 weeks. Next Week: The Panthers head north to East Rutherford, New Jersey to take on another team that had last week off. The 4-6 New York Jets welcome Newton and company to MetLife Stadium. It is safe to say that Carolina has had the AFC East on its mind this season. They’ve already beaten the Bills, Patriots and Dolphins this season. Playoff Hopes: Thanks to that late rally by the Saints on Sunday, 8-2 New Orleans remains one game ahead of the 7-3 Panthers in the NFC South. And despite already winning one more game than all of last season with six weeks to go, Carolina is guaranteed nothing in a very stacked conference. That’s should keep this team very hungry. |
| ||7 ||8 ||↑ 1 ||The Panthers return from their bye to face the Jets on Sunday at the Meadowlands. Carolina can’t afford a misstep, with key games against the Saints and Vikings looming. The offense should get a major boost from the expected return of TE Greg Olsen, while a decision is to be made later in the week on whether center Ryan Kalil also will be back in the lineup. |
| ||6 ||6 ||- ||Last time out, they scored 45 points and racked up franchise record 548 yards. Try not to screw up this offensive operation, Greg Olsen. |
| ||6 ||8 ||↑ 2 ||The Carolina Panthers have lost three games, two of which have been against the 9-1 Philadelphia Eagles and 8-2 New Orleans Saints. It's hard to sugarcoat the third loss to the 3-7 Chicago Bears, but let's try: It was a sloppy weather day, the Panthers out-gained the Bears, 293-153 and won the time of possession battle by 18-plus minutes. But two turnovers for touchdowns did the Panthers in. Otherwise, this team has looked quite good. They beat the 8-2 New England Patriots and 6-4 Detroit Lions on the road in addition to a 20-17 win against the 6-4 Atlanta Falcons. Quarterback Cam Newton is starting to resemble his 2015 MVP form, and rookie Christian McCaffrey and third-year pro Devin Funchess are improving week by week. The defense is one of the best in the league, led by linebacker Luke Kuechly and team sack leader Julius Peppers. |
| ||8 ||10 ||↑ 2 ||The Panthers were off this week, with the same benefit all teams with a late bye receive: a chance to get healthy for the stretch run. Is that an advantage? That depends on when significant injuries take place, obviously, but in Carolina's case, it means the return of tight end Greg Olsen, who has been on injured reserve since breaking his foot in Week 2. To make the most of his off time, Olsen pinch-hit as FOX's color guy for the Rams- Vikings game. Minnesota brass was concerned Olsen would try to get inside information and wanted Olsen taken off. Request denied. Just my thought: Teams worry far too much about spying and schemes. The sign of a great outfit is when the opponent knows what's coming and can't stop it. The only way Olsen would get that insider info is if a Vikings player shared it, which would be that player's own fault, anyway. Kinda dumb. |
| ||7 ||8 ||↑ 1 ||They come off their bye with a winnable game against the Jets. They seemed to be getting it going before the bye on offense, and now they get back Greg Olsen and Ryan Kalil. |
| ||Team ||Overall Record ||Division ||Division Record ||Conf Record ||PF ||PA ||Streak |
| ||Eagles ||9-1 ||NFC East ||4-0 ||7-0 ||320 ||188 ||W8 |
| ||Vikings ||9-2 ||NFC North ||3-1 ||7-1 ||271 ||195 ||W7 |
| ||Steelers ||8-2 ||AFC North ||3-0 ||6-1 ||227 ||165 ||W5 |
| ||Patriots ||8-2 ||AFC East ||1-0 ||5-1 ||290 ||203 ||W6 |
| ||Saints ||8-2 ||NFC South ||2-0 ||6-1 ||302 ||196 ||W8 |
| ||Jaguars ||7-3 ||AFC South ||2-1 ||7-2 ||245 ||141 ||W4 |
| ||Rams ||7-3 ||NFC West ||2-1 ||4-3 ||303 ||186 ||L1 |
| ||Panthers ||7-3 ||NFC South ||2-1 ||4-3 ||213 ||180 ||W3 |
| ||Chiefs ||6-4 ||AFC North ||2-1 ||4-2 ||262 ||220 ||L2 |
| ||Titans ||6-4 ||AFC South ||2-1 ||5-4 ||222 ||253 ||L1 |
| ||Falcons ||6-4 ||NFC South ||0-1 ||5-1 ||231 ||210 ||W2 |
| ||Seahawks ||6-4 ||NFC West ||3-0 ||4-3 ||242 ||199 ||L1 |
| ||Lions ||6-5 ||NFC North ||3-1 ||5-4 ||294 ||264 ||L1 |
| ||Ravens ||5-5 ||NFC East ||2-1 ||4-3 ||213 ||171 ||W1 |
| ||Bills ||5-5 ||AFC East ||1-1 ||3-3 ||208 ||250 ||L3 |
| ||Packers ||5-5 ||NFC North ||2-2 ||4-4 ||204 ||230 ||L1 |
| ||Chargers ||5-6 ||AFC West ||2-2 ||3-5 ||249 ||202 ||W2 |
| ||Cowboys ||5-6 ||NFC East ||2-1 ||4-4 ||248 ||270 ||L3 |
| ||Redskins ||5-6 ||NFC East ||1-3 ||4-5 ||258 ||276 ||W1 |
| ||Dolphins ||4-6 ||AFC East ||1-1 ||3-3 ||157 ||254 ||L4 |
| ||Jets ||4-6 ||AFC East ||2-3 ||4-4 ||201 ||222 ||L1 |
| ||Bengals ||4-6 ||AFC North ||1-2 ||4-5 ||169 ||199 ||W1 |
| ||Raiders ||4-6 ||AFC West ||1-2 ||4-4 ||204 ||247 ||L1 |
| ||Cardinals ||4-6 ||NFC West ||2-2 ||3-5 ||176 ||254 ||L2 |
| ||Bucs ||4-6 ||NFC South ||0-2 ||2-4 ||203 ||228 ||W2 |
| ||Texans ||4-6 ||AFC South ||1-2 ||3-4 ||267 ||262 ||W1 |
| ||Colts ||3-7 ||AFC South ||1-2 ||2-4 ||179 ||280 ||L1 |
| ||Bears ||3-7 ||NFC North ||0-4 ||1-7 ||174 ||221 ||L3 |
| ||Broncos ||3-7 ||AFC West ||2-2 ||2-5 ||183 ||259 ||L6 |
| ||Giants ||2-9 ||NFC East ||0-3 ||0-8 ||172 ||267 ||L1 |
| ||49ers ||1-9 ||NFC West ||0-4 ||1-8 ||174 ||260 ||W1 |
| ||Browns ||0-10 ||AFC North ||0-3 ||0-8 ||150 ||259 ||L10 |
- (x) Clinched Division
- (z) Clinched Bye
- (y) Clinched Playoff Berth
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