Best Sites for Betting Lines, Spreads and Odds 2020
Best Sites for Betting Lines, Spreads and Odds 2020
Best 5 Sports Betting Sites Online 2020 | Top Sportsbooks
Best betting games for your Super Bowl bash | Touchdown Wire
Types of Football Bets | Football Betting Types Explained
Alternative Football Wagers - Different Ways to Bet on
Football - the most massive sports game, in which there are many different strategies and tactics. With all the complexities of the game anointed to understand BetOnChart and tell you how to make the right bets
Football - the most massive sports game, in which there are many different strategies and tactics. With all the complexities of the game anointed to understand BetOnChart and tell you how to make the right bets
https://preview.redd.it/b1v30yvtkn651.png?width=900&format=png&auto=webp&s=04f75a5416546b59550b162abe5940c65f12ce5d I started this exercise of choosing second- and third-year players in the NFL I expect to take the next step in their development, based on being in a better situation due schematic changes, the respective team not re-signing certain veterans and allowing their young guys to play a bigger role or just my evaluation of them coming out of college. Once again, my criteria was – they were not allowed to have a Pro Bowl so far, reached a major statistical milestone (1000 yard season, double-digit sacks, etc.) or are just looked at generally as one of the better players at their position already. I didn’t include guys that made my list already last year (Kemoko Turay, Justin Reid, etc.) or haven’t seen the field at all yet (Jonah Williams, Hakeem Butler, etc.). Across my two articles on these breakout players, you will only find one top ten pick, since I believe those are obvious choices anyway, if those guys just haven’t been healthy or whatever it may be. In this version, we are looking at eight more defensive players ready to break out in 2020 after talking about offense last week already: https://preview.redd.it/uiunf81mug651.png?width=720&format=png&auto=webp&s=6446a7cc2e40ba090abe9cc9e047103831cef1e1
When I did these write-ups, I actually realized later on that Odenigbo was originally drafted in 2017 in the seventh round by the Vikings, but he only made the practice squad that year and was later claimed and waived by the Cardinals and Browns respectively. So since he finally made an active roster in 2018 and that’s when he finally saw the field, I thought he still qualifies. With all those guys Minnesota has had on the D-line in recent years, it was a challenge for Odenigbo to get their coaches to believe in him, having only played in one game for Arizona before last season. However, he was on the field more and more towards the end of this past year and with little investment in the draft into the front, the Vikings are betting on him to continue to develop, similar to what happened with Pro Bowler Danielle Hunter. Odenigbo recorded seven sacks and tackles for loss respectively, while adding another 18 pressures to the mix. He also forced a fumble and returned another one for a long touchdown against the Chargers, while he was actually called down on another scoop-and-score, where he originally got the trifecta (strip sack, fumble recovery and return TD). That is much more impressive putting it into context, as he played just a third of the defensive snaps. Now with Everson Griffen off the roster (unless he somehow decides to re-sign with the Vikes, Odenigbo is almost a shoe-in for that second defensive end spot in the starting lineup. Number 95 was mostly used in passing situations, especially early on, as three quarters of the snaps he played came on pass-rushing downs, and Mike Zimmer used his inside-out flexibility on different sub-packages. Odenigbo was asked to line up anywhere from pretty much 2i in sort of a track stance pointed inside to a wide nine alignment. His favorite (and best) move at this point is the dip and rip, but he also flashes a nice up-and-under combined with a high swim move. However, he also has a lot of power behind those pads, as he set up one of his teammates as the initial slanter versus Detroit and just flattened a guy I talked about in my offensive edition of this breakdown last week already in Frank Ragnow. In addition to that, I think the Vikings DE already shows good timing and execution on twists, freeing himself up by using teammates appropriately. As he seems to be transitioning to a starting role, the biggest question now is – How much improvement can he show as a run-defender? He displays very good pursuit coming unblocked from the backside, but at the point of attack he has some issues holding his ground at times, due to not always playing half the man and getting drawn in and allowing cutback lanes. In the pass game, Odenigbo needs to work on being more successful on secondary maneuvers and not give away opportunities if that initial rush stalls. https://preview.redd.it/pq74mx0mug651.png?width=720&format=png&auto=webp&s=8182390c28e3747fbb0ed0e9ea04426d25cfaf2f
Leading up to the 2018 NFL draft, Bradley Chubb was considered the clear-cut number one edge rusher coming out of N.C. State and after him most people said there was a huge drop-off. The Saints however shocked everybody by trading up to the 14th overall pick – not for a quarterback, but rather an outside linebacker from UTSA. While there isn’t a lot of buzz around Davenport entering year three of his pro career, I can promise that New Orleans did not spend their 2018 and ’19 first-round picks on a player they didn’t believe in. I was very surprised at the time of selection, because I thought they were looking for a more immediate-impact type of player with Drew Brees arriving in his 40s and the team coming off a 13-3 record, but there was never any question about the talent this kid presented. Davenport has missed three games in each of his first two years in the league and “only” put up 10.5 sacks, but he went from 28 QB pressures as a rookie to 50 last season. He might have been even better against the run, helping the Saints finish as the fourth-best rush defense at 91.3 yards allowed per game. So this is kind of a case for the improvement he has already made and I think the coaches in New Orleans already looked at 2019 as his breakout season, but among more casual fans, I believe Davenport will move his name into more of the conversation as one of the better young edge rushers this year. I personally had the young phenom as my 13th overall prospect coming out of San Antonio. When you put on his tape in college, that combination of explosiveness, power and closing burst really stood out. He already flashed the ability to string his hand together to dominate as a pass-rusher, but he needed to do it more consistently, and he showed the shock in his hands to own the point of attack, if he played with better extension. Those to me were certainly coachable areas and with the situation he was in, I thought he could produce in year two or three. Well, we have arrived at his third season and I believe he is ready to roll. I don’t think there’s much to critique as a run-defender about Davenport. He may still be a tick late recognizing some schemes, but when he extends those arms and drops the anchor, you won’t see much movement and he just owns tight-ends. In the pass game, I do believe he needs to broaden his repertoire a little and rush under a little more control, but he has clearly shown signs of becoming a difference-maker in that area as well. He has burst to win around the edge if he times his swipes up correctly, but also the immense power to bull-rush big offensive tackles back right into the quarterback’s lap. If he just learns to convert speed to power a little better and works on finishing that under-and-under he flashes with a follow-through chop, he could be scary. With third-round pick Zack Baun probably rushing outside on sub-packages, it will enable the Saints to move this guy and Cam Jordan more inside and create mismatches that way. https://preview.redd.it/lfbciv0mug651.png?width=720&format=png&auto=webp&s=da4072897c2bdf3e5d48946f7a1ddc2c24292f42
Simmons was the 19th overall pick for Tennessee last year. In his debut game he had three pressures on eleven pass-rushing snaps. The rest of the season wasn’t as promising, but considering I didn’t expect him to suit up at all in 2019 after tearing his ACL in pre-draft workouts, the fact he did collect valuable on-field experience, playing less than 40 percent of the defensive snaps just once from that point on, only helps him more. Purely based off his tape, I had Simmons as my IDL3, behind only Quinnen Williams and Ed Oliver (both top five prospects for me) and ahead of the two Clemson standouts (Christian Wilkins and Dexter Williams). I even said without the injury he would have been at least around the top ten when I put out my big board a few days ahead of last year’s draft. In limited playing time as a rookie, he recorded 32 tackles, four of them for loss and two sacks. Simmons was an immovable object at Mississippi State and looked to be the same among grown men. I went back and watched the Raiders game in week 14, who have some maulers in the run game and you saw guys almost bounce off the rookie as if he was a brick wall. More importantly, they doubled him on pretty much every single snap he was on the field, probably because of what they had already seen on tape. This guy has some shock in his hands, the ability to look through the blocker on zone-runs and then get back to the gap behind him as the running back decides to cut up into it. He didn’t look as mobile working his way down the line laterally as I thought he did in college and he will have to do a better job working across the face of some blockers, rather than allowing them to wall him off at times. You see him just be a split-second late of actually stopping the ball-carrier rather than allowing him to stumble forward or barely miss altogether. If he gets back to his collegiate form, he can be an elite run-stopper. Having him out there will allow the Titans to run primarily sub-packages with Harold Landry and now Vic Beasley on the edges. The area he still needs to prove himself at is getting after the quarterback. Simmons is very straight-forward as a pass-rusher and didn’t show a lot of finesse to win in that area, getting stuck with stalemates for the most part if he couldn’t drive his guy backwards initially. He flashed a few quick wins on reps with the arm-over, but he has to get off the ball with more of a plan. I believe his ability to shoot upfield, the unbelievable power and just that disruptive style of play will show up big time in his first year at full strength. https://preview.redd.it/7paequ0mug651.png?width=720&format=png&auto=webp&s=2c2f4c31d5e75928dfdc684c30a956b575544062
This young man was my fourth overall prospect in last year’s draft behind only Quinnen Williams, Nick Bosa and Josh Allen (the edge rusher). Oliver was an uber-talented, explosive athlete coming out Houston, who I think is still learning the game to some degree. He came in as a freshman with the Cougars and immediately dominated, recording 22 tackles for loss and being named First Team All-American – an honor he would repeat his two other years there as well. While it was obviously a transition from the AAC, where he was just so superior to everybody else physically, compared to lining up against professionals every single week, I thought he started flashing more and more as his rookie season progressed. And while Jordan Phillips just put up double-digit sacks for Buffalo and got a big deal from the Cardinals in the process, I thought Oliver was already the Bills’ best interior pass rusher in December. Overall he recorded five sacks and TFLs each to go with 31 pressures on 374 pass-rushing snaps. That ratio may not be up there with some of the league’s best, but he definitely showed sparks on winning in that area and he finished up playing 53.7 percent of the snaps on defense overall, as part of a deep rotation. Coming out of Houston a year ago, it was clear Oliver needed some time to adjust to the NFL, after he was playing at the nose mostly in college and not having to stay true to his run fits all the time. While there are still moments where his pad-level gets too high and I feel like he is a tick late recognizing the run scheme, at 287 pounds his anchor is excellent and he has the ability to chase down plays laterally. In the pass game his natural power and quickness present problems for the opposition. What really stands out as well is he flexibility he possesses, as can be knocked from the side and somehow regain his balance to keep going and even if he ends up outside his pass-rush lane, he just continues to work. Something Oliver does really well already, which will give him a couple of “easy” sacks in 2020 is set up his loops to the outside on a twist, staying tight and aiming at the outside shoulder of the guard before pivoting outside suddenly. As a rookie, he had his issues going up against the better-schooled guards in the league, especially trying to beat the Steelers’ Ramon Foster and David DeCastro, who landed their hands inside his chest early and Oliver couldn’t gain an advantage. If he can work on being a little more pro-active and rushes the passer with more of a plan overall, I think he could be a Pro Bowler in year two. https://preview.redd.it/z1xft71mug651.png?width=720&format=png&auto=webp&s=58865bb25882e11cf324d4541eb9fd75ea088307
A four-year starter at Wisconsin, Edwards recorded 366 tackles over the course of his career and made several impact plays for the Badgers. Unfortunately he could not participate in any on-field drills at the 2019 NFL combine due to a banged up ankle and if you can trust his pro day results, his athleticism is still below-average. Labelled as a classic college linebacker with limitations to translate his game to the next level, Edwards ultimately went undrafted and signed with the Eagles. As a rookie, he mostly made an impact on special teams, with nine combined tackles on punt and kickoff coverage. He only played 11 percent of the defensive snaps, but when he was on the field, he earned close to an elite grade by Pro Football Focus and got involved on another 21 tackles. When you divide those 122 snaps by the amount of tackles he recorded, that actually gives him the highest tackle rate of any player at the position with at least 100 snaps played. In his first year under defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz, he was mainly utilized on early downs to stop the run, as he was on the field for 89 run downs compared to only 33 pass plays. That is somewhat understandable, since you just have to love his oldschool mind-set in the frame of a well-built, strong guy. Edwards aggressively shoots downhill on inside runs and drops the shoulder on lead-blockers trying to move him out of there, actually stonewalling some of those guys and creating traffic jams that way. At the same time, he shows enough patience with combo-blocks in front of him to not just give away free cutback lanes by overrunning plays, keeping bouncy feet as he deciphers what he sees in the backfield. He offers a sturdy base to absorb the contact by offensive linemen climbing up to him and keeps them at extension, while also showing the mobility to mirror pullers and beat them to the spot. Then he really brings some thump at initial contact on tackles to stop the forward momentum and missed only one attempt on the year (on special teams). It is kind of funny how Edwards was labelled a pure run-stopper because of some athletic limitations, when he actually intercepted ten passes and broke up another 15, while adding eight sacks throughout his career at Wisconsin. He may never be a candidate to shadow more dynamic backs or tight-ends one-on-one, but his feel in zone and ability to get involved as a blitzer should keep him on the field for third downs more. Edwards is also quick to recognize play-action and turn his head for potential crossers behind him before swiveling back towards the quarterback. I believe Edwards will be an excellent replacement for Zach Brown at MIKE, who left in free agency. There are some questions about linebacker trio with Duke Riley and Nathan Gerry, Jatavis Brown or Davion Taylor, but Edwards should be a fixture in the middle on first and second down at least. https://preview.redd.it/lgoeh60mug651.png?width=720&format=png&auto=webp&s=38e707ed0ad52312a4c01fc5f2f16153b2c83245
Murphy was my number one corner heading into the 2019 draft ahead of guys like Greedy Williams and DeAndre Baker and he was the first pick in round two. While he started all 16 games for Arizona and missed less than 30 snaps the entire season, I think barely anybody really knows about or watched this guy play for the Cardinals as rookie. There were definitely some learning experiences early on and if you look at the total yards and touchdowns allowed, it’s not a beautiful sight and 78 total tackles for any corner aren’t a great sign either. However, a lot of that had to do with the 105 targets coming his way (fourth-most by any player in the league) due to lining up on the opposite side of Patrick Peterson and the fact he was part of the 31st-ranked pass defense. I thought he improved every single week and he actually put up better marks in coverage than his running mate Peterson, despite being targeted at a much higher rate – 7.7 compared to 9.3 yards allowed per target. Murphy also intercepted one pass and broke up another ten. What I loved about Murphy coming out of Washington last year was his innate feel in zone coverage with an outstanding ability to click-and-close and be a play-maker. He can flip his hips with ease and has that gliding speed to stay on top of routes, rarely allowing opponents to detach from him late. In the run game, Murphy does not shy away from getting involved as a tackler, arriving low and up-ending bigger ball-carriers routinely. You see him fill the D-gap or squeeze plays from the outside on several occasions. He also won’t allow bigger receivers to bully him as blockers, keeping them away from his frame and leveraging the ball accordingly. The rookie mostly played in the slot versus 11 personnel once Patrick Peterson returned in week seven last season and he was utilized as a blitzer off the edge a few times, where he chased running backs down from behind or got into the face of the opposing quarterback. He was heavily exhausted when he was moved in the slot and had to follow receivers back-and-forth across the formation on motions at times. The one thing Murphy really struggled with as a rookie was playing with his back towards the quarterback on slot fades and such as, where receivers could use subtle push-offs and win with their frame, as he almost purely face-guarded them and didn’t even try to snap his head around. The Cardinals have added a super-rangy player is Isaiah Simmons and beef up front to stop the run on early downs, in order to set up third-and-long situations. Allowing the now second-year player to focus more on his coverage and now with veteran Robert Alford being brought in as another outside corner, I see Murphy taking the next step in his developing. By the way, re-watching those Cardinals tapes – Budda Baker is just a freaking baller. https://preview.redd.it/znok171mug651.png?width=720&format=png&auto=webp&s=18e3a805075eebfb64e6cea9726c1ceaaa2bd921
At the start of last year’s draft process, Ya-Sin wasn’t a huge name since he had only played one year at the FBS level for Temple. However, after he and now-49ers receiver Deebo Samuel went back and forth at the Senior Bowl, I started falling love with this guy and so did the scouting community. As a rookie with the Colts, wearing number 34 as the spot he was selected at, he started 13 of 15 games and played at least 93 percent of the snaps in ten of them. Ya-Sin was targeted on 15.2 percent of pass plays and he had some struggles, but he also improved a lot from the first to the second half of his debut campaign. There was one really rough showing versus one of the NFL’s young star receivers in Courtland Sutton, when he was penalized five times and was responsible for 75 receiving yards. However, the rest of the season he was called for defensive holding three times and for pass interference just once (40 total yards). That’s not too bad for a rookie who likes to get into the face of receivers and whose play-style out of college could be described as “grabby”. Over the final eight weeks, Ya-Sin held opposing QBs to a passer rating of just 75.8 and didn’t allow any touchdowns (after being responsible for two up to that point), while coming up with his first career pick. Ya-Sin can be described is a very sticky, quick-footed corner. As a rookie, he primarily played outside and faced some tough matchups, while even being asked to travel with some of the game’s elite, such as Michael Thomas. While I’m not saying that always went great, his competitiveness is off the charts and I think he has all the tools to develop into an excellent cover-corner. Ya-Sin was rarely just caught out of position. It was more about struggling to find the ball down the field and panicking a little when he did overcommit initially. The more experience he had, the more comfortable he felt turning his head and making a play on the ball. I still love his competitiveness, rapid feet at the line, ability to read the hips of the receiver and use his length to get his hands on the ball. He had a few textbook reps, staying in phase with the receiver from press alignmenz on hitch or curl routes and knocking the pass down coming out of the break. I thought playing in year one, he was also a pretty good edge-setter in the run game and he didn’t just wait for the ball-carrier to cut back inside to stay clean. You saw him fight off blocks and try to cut down the guy with the ball. Now with Pierre Desir gone in free agency, I expect Ya-Sin to step into the spotlight as Indy’s true CB1. The Colts also brought in veteran Xavier Rhoades, who I thought looked broken down last season, but will help this kid grow mentally as well. https://preview.redd.it/7m1nru0mug651.png?width=720&format=png&auto=webp&s=a0dea575bc086e12e446f31656bfcbab75acacb0
My top-rated safety from a year ago, I thought Adderley was a perfect match with Derwin James on the Chargers, because he has that range for a true deep middle safety to allow Derwin to roam and play more around the line of scrimmage. Unfortunately he had hamstring issues before even being drafted, which forced him to miss mandatory minicamp and most of training camp. He only appeared in one preseason game and then played 10 defensive snaps across four regular season games, making two pretty meaningless tackles, before the Chargers placed him on injured reserve. So with that little experience, Adderley barely meets my criteria, but he was active for four games and I want to grab the opportunity to talk about one of my favorites in last year’s draft. Coming out of Delaware, he filled the alley in the run game with the mind-set of a linebacker, while also showing the ability to cover ground to bail out his team-mates on the back-end. When the ball is completed in front of him, he punishes receivers and when it gets into his hand, he shows off his background as a kick returner, where we had one of the sickest plays I have ever seen, running an opponent over, staring him down and proceeding to go the end-zone. Outside of some questions about the level of competition in the FCS and how much different he moved different than anybody else, I loved everything about his game. The one time we did actually see him play with pros – week four of the preseason – Adderley made one interception and deflected another three passes, while one of them should have been another pick, with a receiver knocking the ball out of his hands late, and he got both hands on another ball down the seams to deny a touchdown. You could see him show up outside the numbers against go-routes and cut in front of deep in-breaking routes, which led to the one INT he actually made. In addition to that, you saw him try to go underneath offensive linemen and be willing to take on some contact on screen plays, instead of staying back and avoiding collisions, getting involved late on scrums or jumping on the back of a receiver trying to catch the ball at the sideline. Now with Chris Harris added to the mix, Casey Hayward on the opposite side and Desmond King in the slot, with the guys they have up front to get after the passer, plus Derwin possibly being sent as a blitzer with his stupid closing burst, Adderley has the ability to gamble and make plays. Plus he gives them somebody who plays with an attitude, which I really appreciated going back to my evaluations coming out of college. Before he can become an impact player, he first needs to beat out Rayshawn Jenkins, but I’d be shocked if he wasn’t on the field for the majority of snaps.
Top Ten Greatest Male Players in Challenge History - No. 4 - C.T. Tamburello
Honorable Mentions - Abram, Dan S., Jamie, Mike M., Theo V., Turbo, Wes No. 10 - Alton Williams (Real World: Las Vegas) No. 9 - Mark Long (Road Rules: USA - The First Adventure) No. 8 - Darrell Taylor (Road Rules: Campus Crawl) No. 7 - Derrick Kosinski (Road Rules: X-Treme) No. 6 - Kenny Santucci (Fresh Meat) No. 5 - Evan Starkman (Fresh Meat) No. 4 - C.T. Tamburello (Real World: Paris)
C.T. carrying the Johnny Bananas backpack is the greatest highlight ever recorded in Challenge history.
Before the backpack moment, we hadn’t seen C.T. in three years. He was rumored to be forever banned after almost killing Adam King on the Duel II. On Cutthroat, when T.J. announced the heavy hitters twist and C.T. came walking out the dark, challenge fans all around the world were not prepared for what they were about to witness. C.T. was finally let out of his cage and Johnny Bananas became absolute prey.
If there were ever to be a logo for the Challenge, a visual image of the C.T.-Bananas backpack moment would be it. Picture this: Replace the Jerry West silhouette in the red and blue NBA logo with a white silhouette of C.T. mid power-walk and Bananas in the back of him imitating a backpack. Then, replace “NBA” with “MTV”. Now, you got your MTV Challenge logo. C.T. being at the front and center of a hypothetical challenge sports logo makes perfect sense considering C.T.’s athletic performances changed the landscape of the Challenge from a regular game show to the series becoming known as America’s Fifth Sport.
C.T. is the Peyton Manning of the Challenge.
Peyton Manning is the greatest regular-season quarterback in the history of the NFL. C.T. is the greatest regular-season competitor in the history of the Challenge.
Peyton Manning only has two Superbowls (and won his second one in his final season in the NFL, while being a shell of his former self). C.T. has three championships (and won his final one while being in his worst physical shape ever).
Both, Peyton Manning and C.T.’s regular-season career numbers lead you to believe that they should have had twice as much championships than what they currently have. However, their own blunders (C.T.’s boneheaded mistakes and gassing out right before the finish line on the Exes 2 final = Peyton’s choking) throughout their careers hold them back from reaching extreme success in the post-season.
To continue this comparison, Johnny Bananas is Tom Brady (6 championships). C.T. is the more natural athlete and talented challenger between him and Bananas, but Bananas has had the better legacy (Peyton’s the more talented QB between him and Brady, but Brady accomplished a greater legacy).
C.T. has seven of the greatest regular season competitive performances that didn’t result in championships.
The Inferno: In C.T.’s rookie debut, the higher end competition consisted of Abram, Darrell, Mike Mizanin, Shane and Timmy. C.T. won 4 life shields. C.T. led all the males in life shields and actually won more life shields than the higher end competition as one whole collective (Darrell, Mike Mizanin, and Timmy each won one life shield, totaling up to 3). C.T. was the best performer of the season as a rookie. He made the final challenge, but his Real World team lost to Road Rules in a close race.
Inferno II: C.T. was the life shield king. He racked up 6 life shields this season in one of the most competitive male casts to ever be assembled in Challenge history. C.T. led the season in life shields again, Landon came in 2nd with four, Mike in 3rd with three, and Derrick came in 4th with two. C.T. made the final, but he and the final remaining Bad Asses got blown out the water in a triathlon.
The Duel: C.T. won three missions and landed in the top 2 seven times. In C.T.’s third season, he was the second best competitor behind Evan, who won six missions (but half of them were due to having the superior partner in Jodi in comparison to C.T. having Diem). Despite being a top 2 performer, C.T. got disqualified against Brad in the final male duel and didn’t make it into the post-season.
Gauntlet III: C.T. was co-captain of one of the most dominant regular season teams ever, the G3 Veterans. C.T. was either the best or second best athlete on the team (along with Evan, the other team captain). C.T.’s performance in Piñata Pit (which I delve into later) proved what a freak of nature of a competitor C.T. was.
Rivals: C.T. managed to win two missions and landed in the top three overall six times with an average partner (Adam). Rivals C.T. was the scariest. The whole season was based around J.E.K. and friends trying to take him out, because he was such a force to be reckoned with. C.T. lost right before the final because of Adam’s performance in the T-Bone elimination.
Exes: C.T. and Diem won two out of eight missions, only second to Bananas and Camila’s three. C.T. and Diem made the final, but got second place. C.T. and Diem had the lead the whole final, but C.T. collapsed moments before the finish line.
Dirty Thirty: C.T. was competing in his 11th season and still putting up the best scoring numbers in one of the toughest male casts ever assembled. C.T. won 6 missions. That’s the most out of all males on Dirty Thirty (Not a single other player won 5, Hunter won 4, Nelson and Leroy won 3, and the rest have 2 or less). C.T. made the final on D30, but got third place because his gas tank can’t keep up with the other two finalists.
C.T.’s ATG Physical Strength, Aggression, and Athleticism is the most lethal combination in Challenge history.
If the Challenge were to ever have a Madden-esque video game, C.T.’s player rating regarding his athleticism and strength would look something like: STR: 99. SPE: 99. AGI: 99. A prime C.T. was a cheat code. The Bananas Backpack moment attests to this. Below are some other missions and eliminations where C.T.’s strength and athleticism proved to us he was of a different breed.
In Piñata Pit (G3), players from both teams had to jump in a mud pit, retrieve a ball, and return it to the starting line. The mission was played in rounds. Each round, there were fewer balls than there were players. Players were getting eliminated round-by-round. The game of Piñata Pit came down to the two best players on each team, Veteran C.T. and Rookie Derek McCray. You’re probably reading this wondering who Derek McCray is. I don’t blame you. Let me give you some background information on him. The moment Derek M. first stepped into the Challenge, he was immediately viewed as a competition threat, even with no performance log to back for it. Derek M. came into the Gauntlet 3 with instant respect, based off the fact that he had been recruited by more than 200 colleges for his football talent. Considering Piñata Pit contained all the aspects of a game of football: running, tackling, stripping a ball away from an opponent, and taking it to the end zone, the average betting man would’ve bet on Derek to score and win it for the Rookies. Challenge fans, however, knew to bet differently. When the final round went underway, Derek reached the ball first, but C.T. was inches behind Derek as he gained possession of the ball. C.T. then proceeded to slam him to the ground effortlessly and Derek literally yelped as he was getting manhandled. C.T, with what looks like half an effort, popped the ball out of Derek’s arms and took it back to the end zone to win it for the Veterans. In Piñata Pit, C.T. basically took the manhood out of a Division 1 athlete.
In the T-Bone elimination (Rivals), C.T.’s “Choo! Choo!” train almost killed Johnny and Tyler. It’s the biggest near death experience in Challenge history. I have a theory: We haven’t seen C.T. in a physical combat elimination ever since for good reason. I’m positive that’s a calculated decision by the Challenge Gods, not one that’s left up to chance.
C.T. faced off against Leroy in Wrecking Wall (FA), an elimination where both players had to punch through a 30-foot dry wall to make holes to climb up until they were able to reach the bell at the top. First player to ring the bell won. Leroy is an elimination beast; he’s won 8 career eliminations because of his physical strength and athleticism alone. He was no match for C.T. though. Anyone who watched the Duel 2, knows C.T.’s punching power is nothing to be played with. His punching power knocked out a whole wall on that season.
In the Flying Leap mission (Duel), players, one at a time, had to jump back and forth from one end of a platform to another that was suspended from a crane 20 feet above water. Numerous flags were hanging from poles located on both sides of the platform. Players had to grab as many flags as possible within a three-minute time limit; Whoever collected the most flags won. C.T. won Flying Leap with flying colors. He was the only male to not land on his body when jumping or not use any running momentum to assist his jumping sequences. C.T. instead showed us his athletic prowess, by setting his feet, loading his hips, exploding and jumping across, landing on his feet every time. Everyone on the sidelines watched in awe. C.T. made it look like a walk in the park.
C.T.’s All-Time Great Intelligence.
C.T. is the perfect two-way player. He not only has the brawn, but he has the brain as well. His long history of solving puzzles makes him an ATG intelligent male player. Below are some of C.T.’s greatest moments in which he had to put his brain to work.
C.T. eliminated Evan in Ascender (Duel), an elimination game in which players had to climb up a rope, pull a handle at the top of the rope, to release a basket containing puzzle pieces. The players then had to climb back down the rope to assemble a tiling puzzle similar to a tangram. C.T versus Evan was the second last male elimination on the original Duel. Up to that point, Evan was the clear #1 best competitor of the season and C.T. was the second. The two best players were going mano a mano. Evan got raddled under the stage lights (got caught trying to cheat), and the brain of the cold blooded killer, C.T. solved the tangram with ease.
In the Rivals 2 final, C.T. completed the puzzle checkpoint in a flash that Johnny/Frank fell behind in. Upon seeing the puzzle, C.T. straightaway figured it out because the puzzle was one that he played when he was hungover at a breakfast country club.
In the Final Redemption Challenge on D30, players had to read a code that provided a combination to a lock that contained puzzle pieces. The first two players to retrieve and complete their puzzle would return to the game, while the rest were eliminated. C.T.’s competition in this challenge was Dario, Jordan, Leroy, and Bananas. C.T. was the first male to successfully figure out the code and complete his puzzle, and re-entered the game as a result.
C.T. eliminated Darrell in Knot So Fast (Invasion). It was the last champions elimination of the season. The grandest stage of them all was set and the two all-time great champions had to rely on their strategical intelligence to win this one. Darrell put up a good fighting effort in trying to undo C.T.’s knot, but it looked like a physically impossible task. It actually was. According to Darrell on Challenge Mania, C.T.’s knots were so tight that production had to cut them off with machetes after the elimination was over. C.T. broke the Knot So Fast elimination. That’s how intelligent C.T.’s strategy was. The elimination win versus Darrell gave C.T. a spot in the finals, where he faced off against underdogs Cory and Nelson, who were fifteen years younger and in the athletic prime of their lives. In the final challenge, C.T. still managed to acquire his second season win and proved to the rest of the Challenge world that the underdogs were no match for the champion of champions.
C.T. has the All-Time Greatest Eating Abilities.
Eating is such an important trait to have in the challenge. It’s often identified as the most difficult portion of the final challenge each season. Players hate it. We’ve actually seen players quit in the final before because they couldn’t stomach eating disgusting things. We’ve seen C.T. devour all types of disgusting things without looking fazed in the slightest, that makes you question whether or not he has taste buds.
Remember the pickled fish soup in the Rivals 2 final? C.T. drank his like he was chugging a beer, while everyone around him was vomiting all over the place. Wes couldn’t bother to even taste his drink, so C.T. chugged it down for him.
In the Exes 2 final, C.T. ate the deer head and sheep blood as if it was everyday dinner. When he finished his plate, C.T. decided to go for seconds and helped Diem finish up her plate as well.
C.T.’s eating abilities are inhumane. Not only is C.T. known for downing disgusting foods in final challenges as if it were nothing, but he’s also known for winning regular season competitions where you had to eat a ridiculous amount of food (Toss Your Cookies v. Shane, eating the entire birthday cake on Race to the Altar in Exes).
C.T.’s first championship and third championships (Rivals II and WOTWII) were social-political clinics.
C.T. played his first eight seasons without winning the big one. It wasn’t until Rivals II, his ninth season, where he finally got his first challenge gold medal. As usual, C.T. crushed it on the field, but off the field, in the Challenge house, he played one of the best political-social games I had ever seen. On Rivals II, the opposite sex had control over the votes on male elimination days. C.T. was wooing all the girls, and they thought they were going to be apart of the next love big story on the Challenge. C.T. was never voted in because at least one player within four of the female teams had a fling with C.T. or were falling heads over heel for him on Rivals 2 (Anastasia, Cooke, Diem, and Nany).
On War of the Worlds II, C.T. was a member of the U.K. Team. He was apart of Cara’s Cult/The Royal Family. The physical shape C.T. was in this season was his worst ever, so him not ever being considered for elimination by his own team is mind blogging. C.T.’s social game was on a whole another level this season. My favorite C.T. moment on WOTWII is when he turncoats on Cara’s Cult right before the final and saves Tori from elimination to strengthen U.K.’s team for the final. C.T.’s political-social finesse on WOTWII rightfully earned him his third championship.
C.T.’s social-political skill, in general, deserves more recognition. Every time I hear people talk about C.T.’s eliteness, people only bring up the competition juggernaut and not the social-political mightiness he’s established over the course of his sixteen season career.
C.T. has only done three less seasons than Johnny Bananas, but he’s been in 11 less eliminations. Other than the first Rivals, I don’t recall there being a time where he wasn’t at the top of social structures. He has a whole catalogue of seasons where he was either pulling strings from the top or aligning with the biggest playmakers that were ones doing the pulling (i.e: Inferno 2 – CT was in a four person alliance with Derrick/Brad/Darrell where there duties were to not nominate each other in the inferno selections; The Duel – CT/Evan/Derrick/Brad each were paired with the best athletic girls and controlled the chain selections; Exes 2 – in an alliance with Mark/Robin, Johnny/Camila, and DunbaPaula that ran the game till the very end).
C.T. made history twice on Invasion and War of the Worlds II.
C.T. won his second championship 22 seasons after his rookie season. He debuted on the original Inferno, which took place in 2004, and won Invasion of the Champions in 2017. That’s a span of 13 years. C.T.’s Invasion win broke the previous record of the longest span between a rookie debut and championship win, that was held by Johnny Bananas. J.B. won his sixth championship 16 seasons after his rookie season. He debuted on the original Duel, which aired in 2006, and won Rivals 3 in 2016 (a 10 year span).
C.T.’s new breaking record was broken again by none other than C.T, just a few seasons later. C.T. won War of the Worlds 2, which took place 27 seasons after the Inferno, and 15 years later.
C.T.’s Overall Assessment.
If you read up until this point, I’m guessing a lot of you probably refuse to agree with my opinion of C.T. being the fourth greatest male challenger ever. Here’s my argument: C.T. is the greatest Challenge talent ever, but he doesn’t have the greatest legacy. Like mentioned earlier, he’s the Peyton Manning of the Challenge and I don’t consider Peyton Manning the #1 G.O.A.T. of Football (Jerry Rice, Jim Brown, and Tom Brady fit that bill better). In my eyes, Bananas, Jordan, and Landon are those three guys. The combination of their talent, winning percentage, and accomplishments fair just slightly better than C.T’s.
C.T. has just three championships in a sixteen season career. The rest of my top three have won just as much in a lot lesser time (Jordan, Landon) or doubled his wins in the same type of lengthy career (Bananas). C.T.’s temper and poor decision making tossed three years of his absolute prime down the drain (Inferno III, Gauntlet III, Duel II) and his inability to perform in the clutch tossed another year (Exes). That’s five seasons where the ultimate competitor, C.T., missed out on championships.
On the Inferno III, C.T. is cast on the Bad Asses; He was the best player on the cast, but he gets sent home the first night in South Africa because he punches Davis. C.T. would’ve been a lock for the final this season, he threw another potential championship out the window.
In the Gauntlet 3 final challenge, Big Easy cost C.T. and all the other final remaining veterans a championship win. You’re probably confused as to how this is C.T.’s fault, but he actually had a major hand in letting Big Easy ride to the final. If you go back to the first gauntlet deliberation where Johnny got sent in against Evan, Johnny plead to the rest of the Veteran males that Big Easy should have to go in, because he was going to lose them a final. C.T., who was the leader of the team, didn’t buy into Johnny’s plea; He had personal dislike towards Johnny and his reason for not throwing Big Easy in was because he loved partying with him. What’s the logic in that? C.T., the whole season was preaching about “trimming the fat” (getting rid of the girls on their team) and never worrying about Easy once was a horrific example of how to play a winning game. Prime C.T. was always finding a way to be the author of his own demise.
On the Duel 2, C.T. went into cannibalism mode. C.T. would’ve legitimately smashed Adam’s head and ate Adam’s head if it wasn’t for like thirty cast and production crew members successfully capturing him (and then tranquilizing him and putting him in his cage). There’s no guaranteeing C.T. would’ve won the D2, since the top crop of males this season was stacked. But this is an absolute peak C.T. we’re talking about, who’s in contention for the best men’s competitor all-time, so a championship victory is never out of the question.
In the Exes final, C.T./Diem lead the whole way until the final run up the mountain. Right before the finish line, C.T.’s tank ran out of gas (mirroring Peyton’s ability to choke in the playoffs) and he delayed winning his first championship for even longer.
C.T.’s competitive abilities (ATG physical strength, aggression, athleticism, intelligence, and eating) and his championship success in his career’s second half are sufficient enough to get him into the Challenge Mount Rushmore, but the four seasons he tossed down the drain in the first half of his career are a little too detrimental to have him in the top trinity. I think about it like this: Would I consider drafting Prime C.T. (Inferno - Free Agents) as my first pick when constructing a team in an-all time draft? Nope. He, was easily #1 in terms of competitive talent, but he was a complete hothead with bad decision making and only won one championship in ten seasons. Would I consider drafting Dadbod C.T. (Invasion - Total Madness) number one? Not at all. He’s won two championships in six seasons, with a phenomenal social-political game, but his competitive abilities are half of what they were before. Every version of C.T. comes with a small albatross that keeps him from having top three legacy.
NFL teams most likely to go from worst to first in 2020
We have talked a lot about the draft, biggest remaining needs for every NFL team, some breakout candidates and other stuff, so let’s now get back to more of a big picture and look at some teams from an angle of where could they go next season. In this article, I am analyzing those teams that finished fourth in their division this past year and why they could win it in 2020 or land at the bottom once again, plus an outlook where I actually see them. Of course much of this is about these eight teams and how much better or worse I feel about them than the general public, but it was heavily dependent on their three division rivals as well. The top half I could certainly see earn a playoff spot and surprise some people if everything goes right. After that a lot of my faith is more built around the lack of great competition and giving some hope to these respective fan bases. As the cliché goes – everybody is 0-0 right now. https://preview.redd.it/rs90lt6ckf751.png?width=720&format=png&auto=webp&s=3ddfc8945862472b52b5ef8c69076acde904c44c
1. Arizona Cardinals
Why they can win the division: Let’s just start with the main point here – this Cardinals squad has all the ingredients to make a big jump in 2020. I expect Kyler Murray to enter the superstar conversation in year two, after impressing with his arm talent and ability to extend plays in a (somewhat controversial) Offensive Rookie of the Year campaign. Steve Keim managed to unload a bad David Johnson contract and basically acquire an elite receiver in DeAndre Hopkins for a second-round pick. Kenyan Drake now has a full offseason to learn this offense and make himself a major factor once again, following up an outstanding second half of the season once the Cardinals traded for him with Miami. He perfectly fits into this offense with a lot East-West based rushing from shotgun sets and his involvement in the pass game, including those quick throws as an extension of the rushing attack. Arizona’s defense should be a lot better with run-stoppers being added in the draft that fit their 3-4 base front with Utah’s Leki Fotu and LSU’s Rashard Lawrence, since they can stay in those packages against the other teams in their division running a lot of 12 and 21 personnel probably. Add to that a do-it-all player with ridiculous range and overall athleticism in Isaiah Simmons at eight overall, plus all the other guys being in their second year under DC Vance Joseph. I love Budda Baker as a missile from his safety spot and I think some of the other young guys on that unit will take a step forward, like second-year corner Byron Murphy, who I talked about last week. Now let’s get to rest of the West – every other team in that division has some issues. The 49ers are facing the objects of a potential Super Bowl hangover and some limitations with Jimmy G at the helm. The Seahawks have question marks on the edge on either side of the ball with Cedric Ogbuehi and Brandon Shell fighting for the starting gig at right tackle and Jadeveon Clowney still on the open market, with a bunch of draft picks these last couple of years having to step up. And the Rams had one of the worst O-lines in football last season and they lost some pieces on defense. The Cardinals already gave all these teams issues in 2019 and have now added pieces that were clearly missing when last matching up against each other. Why they could finish last again: Most importantly, I am still not completely sold on the Cardinals offensive line, with D.J. Humphries being signed to a rather expensive deal as a below-average left tackle, third-rounder Josh Jones – while earning a late first-round grade from me – still needing an overhaul on his footwork before he can slide in at right tackle and guard Justin Pugh finally having played a full 16 games for the first time since 2015 last season. NFL coaches had a lot of time to study Kliff Kingsbury’s Air-Raid offense, which when you break it down is pretty simplistic in the amount of schemes they run. Yes, he diversified it a little as last season went along, going under center and running some pro-style rushing plays, but at its core, you can learn how to create some issues for all those mesh concepts and spread sets. As far as the Cardinals defense goes, it is more about pieces than proven commodities. Patrick Peterson is seemingly on the decline, they are thin in the secondary and could Chandler Jones follow soon, after he has been one of the most underrated pass-rushers in the league for a while now? You are staring the reigning NFC champs in the eyes, a team that was a few inches away from earning a playoff bye and another squad that went to the Super Bowl just two years ago. This is probably the best division in the entire league. Bottom line: I still believe the 49ers have done enough to repeat as division champs, re-tooling for all the losses they have suffered this offseason. However, I’m feeling pretty good about the Cardinals earning a wildcard spot. While I believe in the Seahawks quarterback and the Rams head coach respectively to not allow their teams to not have throwaway seasons, I also see enough issues with those squads to make me believe the Cardinals could have the second-best year of anybody in the West. To me they are pretty clearly the best of these eight teams, because they have a young phenom at quarterback, stars at pretty much every position, a different type of system around them and what I’d like to call “juice” coming into 2020. https://preview.redd.it/anrr9erfkf751.png?width=720&format=png&auto=webp&s=5655b4452baff2691a0e060e8d70918d58801a4c
2. Detroit Lions
Why they can win the division: Matt Stafford is back healthy and when he was in the lineup last season, this was a team that defeated the Eagles, Chargers and only didn’t finish the job against the eventual Super Bowl champion Chiefs because of some crazy stuff going on late. The veteran QB stood at 19 touchdowns compared to five picks and was playing at a near-MVP type level. However, Detroit’s identity will be built on the run game with re-investments in the offensive line as well as adding D’Andre Swift to form a dynamic one-two punch with him and Kerryon Johnson. Kenny Golladay and Marvin Jones may be the most underrated receiving duo to go with Danny Amendola as a tough guy in the slot and T.J. Hockenson coming into year two as a top-ten pick a year ago, having shown flashes when he was healthy. The defense is finally starting to take shape with third-overall Jeffrey Okudah as an elite corner prospect being added to an underrated secondary, Jamie Collins being a chess piece in the front seven after already having worked well with Matt Patricia and some young guys up front trying to prove themselves to go with the versatile Trey Flowers. Maybe more importantly than the Lions themselves – Nobody else got that much better and none of the other three really stand out to me. Other than the Vikings probably – who had the advantage of making a record-breaking 15 selections – the Lions might have had the best draft within the division. Thanks to that last-place schedule, they get to face the Redskins in the East (instead of Eagles & Cowboys) and Cardinals in the West, who I just talked about taking a step forward, but are still a better draw than the reigning conference champions or possibly having to travel to Seattle. I believe that new regime in Detroit has finally built an identity on both sides of the ball with the heavy investments in the run game and back-seven on defense. Winning ten games might earn you a division title, if everybody plays each other tough. Why they could finish last again: Can these guys finally stay healthy? Matt Stafford to my surprise played a full 16 games in eight straight years before last season, but a lot of that had to do with his toughness to fight through pain and he had major issues with that shoulder early on in his career before basically breaking his back after putting the team on it for the last decade. Kerryon Johnson has missed 14 of 32 possible starts and he has never carried the ball more than 118 times a season. Their receiving corp has been banged up quite a bit too. More glaring even – how will all these additions of former Patriots players work out? Can Matt Patricia build a New England 2.0 in Michigan or is he just bringing in players he knows will listen to him and the way he wants things to be done? Detroit could also rely on a lot of rookies to be immediate impact players – possibly two new starting guards on offense, running back D’Andre Swift probably sharing the load with Kerryon, Jeffrey Okudah having to immediately become their CB1 and Julian Okwara being asked to become a much more consistent player if they give him major snaps. And I recently talked about how their uncertainty at punter could be an issue for their ball-control, defense-minded style of play. They also have an early bye (week five), which I’m never a big fan of, after facing the Bears, Packers, Cardinals and Saints, which probably includes three playoff teams. If Chicago can get any competent QB play, all these teams should be highly competitive. Bottom line: I don’t think any team in this division wins more than ten games. Unfortunately I don’t see the Lions go over that mark themselves either. The Packers won’t come out victorious in so many close games (8-1 in one-possession affairs), the Vikings have lost a few proven commodities and look for young talent to immediately replace those and the Bears still have a quarterback competition going on. So if Detroit can do any better than just split the season series with those three teams, I see them finishing above .500, but ten wins is the ceiling for me. In terms of the competition inside the division, the Lions may be my number one team in this conversation, but I see a much clearer path to things crashing down for Matt Patricia and them having another disappointing season than I do with the Cardinals. No team in this division may finish below that 8-8 mark. https://preview.redd.it/7ivo914ikf751.png?width=720&format=png&auto=webp&s=d029ddd274b78e78f5bc932d00086b8c697a466e
3. Miami Dolphins
Why they can win the division: When you ask the general public, the Buffalo Bills right now are the favorites to win the AFC East, but they haven’t done so since 1995 and they still have to prove they really are that team. The Patriots lost several pieces on defense and Tom Brady of course, which probably leads them to starting a quarterback, who over his four career pass attempts has thrown more touchdowns to the opposing team than to his own. The Jets are still building up that roster, with GM Joe Douglas trying to plant seeds on burnt earth, and they face a BRUTAL schedule. So Miami has a lot of things going in their favor for an organization that I believe in what they are trying to build. Depending on what happens at quarterback, you could have a veteran in Ryan Fitzpatrick, who was by far the best inside the division in several key categories last season and/or Tua Tagovailoa, who had one of the most prolific careers we have seen from anybody in the SEC. They added at least two new starters on the O-line, they now have one of the premiere cornerback trios in the league with the all-time highest paid player at the position in Byron Jones and first-round pick Noah Igbinoghene to go with Xavien Howard and with some added beef up front, they are finally looking a lot like what Brian Flores had in New England. DeVante Parker really broke out over the second half of 2019 and Miami should have a much better rushing attack because of the additions up front and two quality committee backs in Jordan Howard and Matt Breida being added. They have two other young pass-catchers ready to break out this upcoming season in tight-end Mike Gesicki and a UDFA receiver from a year ago in Preston Williams. Whenever Tua’s name is called upon, he will be a perfect fit for Chan Gailey’s horizontal passing game. Why they could finish last again: As much as I like what I see from this entire organization, it is probably just a year too early for Miami. So many young players could be thrown into the fire and a lot of them I look at as needing that experience – 18th overall pick Austin Jackson (USC) is more of a developmental tackle still with his footwork and hand-placement issues, 30th overall pick Noah Igbinoghene (Auburn) has only played cornerback for two years and was bailed out by his athletic tools at times, third-rounder Brandon Jones has to develop more of a feel in deep coverage and at least one more rookie lineman will likely start for them. Even outside of this year’s draft class, they already had several players on their roster that are still moving towards their prime. Whether you look at last year’s first-rounder Christian Wilkins, a lot of second- and third-year pass-catchers or their young linebackers outside of Kyle Van Noy. The Bills are entering year four of that turn-around under Sean McDermott and Brandon Beane, the Patriots still have the greatest coach of all time and will be a tough matchup solely based on that and the Jets at least have people playing for their jobs, plus a very talented young quarterback I still believe in. As much as I doubt Adam Gase, as long as Sam Darnold doesn’t get mono again, the offense should at least be competent, and the defense could potentially have a top-five player at every level with All-Pro Bowl safety Jamal Adams, an 85-million dollar linebacker in C.J. Mosley and my number one prospect in last year’s draft on the interior D-line with Quinnen Williams. Bottom line: As I mentioned before, the Bills are the front-runners in this division for me. As much respect as I have for Bill Belichick, I haven’t seen enough from Jarrett Stidham to make me a believer and he shrunk in some big moments at Auburn. The Jets to me could be a lot better than they were in 2019 and still go 6-10 just because of the type of schedule they are up against. So the Dolphins to me could easily finish anywhere from second to fourth, depending on how some of the players on that roster progress. I wouldn’t bet on them actually making the playoffs, but they could absolutely be a pain in the butt for some of the better teams in the AFC and in 2021 they might be the pick here. https://preview.redd.it/nme3explkf751.png?width=720&format=png&auto=webp&s=3998c6026125c1b9b48438e3fc9afaf9601b116e
4. Los Angeles Chargers
Why they can win the division: First and foremost, this Chargers defense is absolutely loaded with no real hole that you can point to. Derwin James is back healthy after a first-team All-Pro rookie campaign, Chris Harris Jr. comes in to make this secondary one the elite units in the NFL to go with two more Pro Bowlers among it and they have some guys I expect to break out like Jerry Tillery, Drue Tranquill and Nasir Adderley. In terms of having matchup pieces and a versatile pass rush to challenge Kansas City, nobody in the league may be on the same level as these guys. Offensively, Ihave talked about how the left tackle spot is concern for L.A. with a battle between Sam Tevi and Trey Pipkins for the starting job, but the other four spots are as good as they have been in a while, acquiring Pro Bowl guard Trai Turner via trade, signing a top five right tackle in Bryan Bulaga and getting Mike Pouncey back healthy. Tyrod Taylor can steer the ship and even if Justin Herbert is thrown into the fire – which I wouldn’t recommend – they have the skill-position players and willingness to run the ball to take pressure off those guys. While the Chiefs return 20 of 22 starters from a year ago, this wouldn’t be the first time we saw a Super Bowl champion have some issues the following season and as much as we want to hype up the Broncos and Raiders, both their quarterbacks (and other players of course as well) have a lot to prove still. Outside of KC, the Chargers likely have the smallest changes to what they do other than moving on from Philip Rivers and we saw that formula work the year prior, when they challenged Kansas City until the very end for the division crown and the conference’s top seed potentially. While they probably would have liked to bring in Tom Brady over the offseason, the fact they decided against signing Cam Newton to a roster that is ready to win right now, shows you the confidence they have in that quarterback room. Why they could finish last again: I’m not a huge fan of Derek Carr, but the Chargers will probably have the worst quarterback in the division in 2020. And their starting left tackle could be the worst in the entire league. As good as their defense will probably be, you can not consistently win games in which your offense doesn’t put up 20+ points in the league today – especially when all these teams in their division have spent so much on acquiring offensive firepower these last couple of years. I believe all three of their division rivals got better this offseason and the Chargers spent their top draft pick (sixth overall) on a young quarterback, who might not even help them win games this season. As I already mentioned, Kansas City brings back almost their entire starting lineups and they went 12-4 despite Mahomes seemingly having his knee cap facing the sideline while laying on his back. I have uttered my thoughts on Denver several times now, which you can read up on later. As for Las Vegas’ new team, they did start last season 6-4 and just heavily invested into their two major issues – wide receiver and linebacker. And while I don’t like to talk about it – injuries have been a huge issue for this Chargers team in recent years and I don’t really know what it is even, but I can’t assume that they all of a sudden can stay healthy. Bottom line: In terms of talent on the roster outside of the quarterback position, you could make a pretty compelling argument that the Chargers are ahead of all the other teams on this list. That’s the reason they have a pretty high floor of finishing around .500 and if everything works out, they could absolutely be a playoff contender. However, for this exercise in particular, I believe their upside is capped by what they have under center. Tyrod Taylor can be a top-20 quarterback in the NFL this season and in terms of upside, Justin Herbert has all the tools to become a difference-maker once he steps on the field, but they don’t have the explosiveness the Chiefs or the Broncos have for that matter. With so much continuity on a team that has the best player in the entire league, I can’t go against the Chiefs and in the end we are evaluating the chances to actually win the division. https://preview.redd.it/rywropjokf751.png?width=720&format=png&auto=webp&s=ed77a7303af810b862abb2100c4f0b86841a2d38
5. Washington Redskins
Why they can win the division: These guys are very reminiscent of the 49ers with their defensive line, in terms of having invested a lot of high draft picks into the unit these last couple of years and now with that second overall pick bringing in a true stud from Ohio State – this time in Chase Young. When you look at all those guys up front – with the Bama boys patrolling the middle, Matt Ioannidis capable of moving around the front, Montez Sweat looking to break out in year two and Ryan Kerrigan still being there as a productive veteran – they will wreak some havoc this season. Ron Rivera could finally bring some structure to this organization and help them turn it around on defense with the addition of an old companion in Thomas Davis, plus some high-upside players like Reuben Foster and Fabian Moreau looking to prove themselves. Quarterback Dwayne Haskins had a very underwhelming rookie campaign, but he clearly wasn’t ready to be out there and found himself in a bad situation in terms of the support system around him. I like a lot of their young skill-position players the front office has surrounded him with, when you look at Terry McLaurin trying to become a young star in this league, who produced despite shaky quarterback play last season, Kelvin Harmon and Antonio Gandy-Golden being two big-bodied targets I liked these last two drafts, Derrius Guice hopefully finally being able to stay healthy to lead this backfield and this year’s third-round pick Antonio Gibson being a chess piece that you can manufacture touches for. Somebody I forgot to mention in this discussion recently is Steven Sims Jr., who is a jitterbug with the ball in his hands. New offensive coordinator Scott Turner will implement a system that should make life easier on his second-year signal-caller as well, while relying heavily on the run game. Why they could finish last again: Haskins is by far the least proven QB of the bunch, with Daniel Jones even being head and shoulders above him in their respective rookie seasons. No pass-catcher outside of Terry McLaurin had any major production to speak. Counting on a 37-year old Thomas Davis to not only be a leader for them, but also make plays on the field, could create issues, and Washington lost some pieces in the secondary. This offseason is a challenge for any team, that is looking to implement a new system on each side of the ball, but I think especially for a motivator like Rivera, who can give his squad a heartbeat and push them to success, not being there in person with those guys will hurt. Most importantly however, this division to me will be a two-man race between the Eagles and Cowboys – as it has been for a while now. They both will likely have top ten quarterbacks, better receiving corps, better offensive lines and more experienced defenses. The Giants may not blow anybody away coming into 2020, but looking at the two matchups from last year between them and the Redskins, Big Blue beat them 24-3 the first time around, when Daniel Jones threw one touchdown compared to two interceptions and then he diced them up for five TDs and no picks in week 16. The one area Washington would have had the clear upper hand was with their front-four, but New York just invested a lot of draft capital into their O-line to prevent that. Just go through the Redskins’ schedule and show me more than six wins. I dare you. Bottom line: These last two sentences really say it all. Even if Philly and Dallas split the season series and Washington can get a game off either one of them, it will be tough to turn around this squad as quickly as this season – with reduced practice time and team activities – to a point where they can finish above both of them. Both of them could easily win double-digit games in 2020 and while I think the Redskins are on the right track if Haskins looks more like the Ohio State version of himself, other than their defensive line, no unit for them is ready to compete for the division quite yet. Just going through their schedule in an objective manner, it is tough to find any lay-ups and say Washington has some baseline of wins they count on. To not have them any lower than this is more due to the respect for Riverboat Ron and how high I was on a lot of the guys they drafted recently. https://preview.redd.it/szpawv9rkf751.png?width=720&format=png&auto=webp&s=62ca5fe882d8155d83eb3328e9bf1f1681a17384
6. Jacksonville Jaguars
Why they can win the division: I was going back and forth between my number six and seven teams, because the Jaguars are projected to pick first overall come next April for a reason – they did lose a lot of pieces. However, to me it came down to the fact that the AFC South might be won at 9-7 or 10-6 and this coaching staff actually has to win to keep their jobs. There is a lot noise about the Colts, but when you go back to last season, Philip Rivers was a turnover machine with serious questions about his arm strength. Bill O’Brien made some very questionable decisions for Houston and Tennessee is counting on a formula that is built on a 250-banger running the ball 25+ times and Ryan Tannehill finally repeating a career year, as they are coming off an AFC title game appearance. As far as Jacksonville goes, Gardner Minshew was the highest-graded rookie quarterback according to PFF and altogether I would have put him second only behind Kyler Murray. D.J. Chark broke out as one of the young star receivers and I had a first-round grade on Colorado’s Laviska Shenault if he can be healthy, because his talent is off the charts. I think the O-line would have benefitted from another tackle to kick Cam Robinson inside to guard, but those guys are some road-graders to make the run game work. Defensively the only real contributor from that Sacksonville group a couple of years ago who actually wants to be there is Myles Jack, but I really like their young duo off the edge in first-rounders Josh Allen last year and now K’Lavon Chaisson (LSU). There are some questions about the back-end, but they were built front-to-back with a lot of zone coverage behind it and depending on the development of ninth overall pick C.J. Henderson, they can roll away from him matching up with the opposing team’s number one receiver. Avoiding some of the better AFC squads altogether is pretty sweet as well, to go with facing no playoff team from last year outside their division until the middle of November. Why they could finish last again: I’m just not sure if all of these players are ready to fight for that coaching staff and organization. Two of their remaining veterans (Leonard Fournette and Yannick Ngakoue) have openly talked about how they want to be traded, they only have a few actually proven commodities on that entire roster and with the way they have unloaded big cap numbers, they have set themselves up for a true rebuild potentially, as they are expected to be in the Trevor Lawrence-Justin Fields sweepstakes come next April. Even if they can get a few breaks and the division is up for grabs, does this organization even want to win this season? If not for the injury to Jacoby Brissett in the middle of the season, all three other teams in that division would have almost certainly finished above .500 and the Colts are actually the team that improved by far the most among them. That Texans, who have actually won the South four of the last five years, including last season, may be the smallest challenge and still sweep Jacksonville. Vegas rarely misses completely and the Jaguars right now are the odds-on favorite to pick first overall come next April, with an NFL-low OveUnder of 4.5 wins on the season. And as favorable as the early portion of their schedule looks like right, check out this eight-game stretch after their week seven bye – at Chargers, vs. Texans, at Packers, vs. Steelers, vs. Browns, at Vikings, vs. Titans, at Ravens. Ouch. They might go winless over that period. Bottom line: The Jaguars to me are a very interesting team, because I believe they have accumulated a bunch of young talent, which gets lost a little when you see all the names that aren’t there anymore. There is a lot to like about this roster, when you look at what these players could develop into, but that doesn’t mean they will have success this year already. The Colts have the best 53 currently in the division (or 55 now), the Texans have the best quarterback and the Titans are coming off an AFC Championship game appearance. Gardner Minshew could make this kind of a tough decision if they end up picking anywhere after first overall and I think some of those other kids will put up pretty good numbers, but they are still pretty clearly fourth in the South as for now. https://preview.redd.it/5myv276vkf751.png?width=720&format=png&auto=webp&s=7fb25f47d0759e9b5a07876ea01787898c6cc817
7. Carolina Panthers
Why they can win the division: Nobody knows for sure what Matt Rhule and his new coaching staff will throw at them. Joe Brady gets to work with Teddy Bridgewater once again, who he already coached in New Orleans – so there will be familiarity for him in this system and they already “speak the same language”. That young receiving corp with D.J. Moore, Curtis Samuel, free agency addition Robby Anderson and even an up-and-coming tight-end in Ian Thomas is pretty underrated actually, plus of course they have one of the truly elite weapons out of the backfield in Christian McCaffrey, who is probably set to break his own RB reception record once again. The Panthers defense-only draft has brought them a monster in the middle in Derrick Brown (Auburn), a really talented edge rusher in Yetur Gross-Matos (Penn State) on the opposite of last year’s rookie stud Brian Burns, a super-rangy safety with linebacker size in Jeremy Chinn (Southern Illinois), what I think is a starting corner in Troy Pride Jr. (Notre Dame) and some other pieces in the secondary. The talent is clearly there and now you bring in a scheme that is probably going to be unique for the NFL level as well, when you look at that 3-3-5 Baylor ran under Rhule and defensive coordinator Phil Snow. As much as we want to praise our legends of the game, the quarterbacks of the two front-runners in this division will be 41 and 43 years old respectively and let’s not forget that Atlanta started out last season 1-7. Why they could finish last again: Especially this offseason, without certainty if there will be anything like training camp or even a real preseason, that completely new staff with new systems they are trying to teach will certainly have some growing pains. Bridgewater has been a top-20 starting QB maybe one year of his career and even when he was applauded for the way he filled in for Drew Brees last season, he finished dead-last in intended air yards among quarterbacks with at least 100 pass attempts. How will that mesh with a lot of vertical targets around him? When he has those guys running free on slants and dig routes, the ball will get there, but will he be willing to throw that deep post or give his guys a chance on go-balls? Defensively they are counting on a lot of young players and they have nobody to even come close to replacing Luke Kuechly, as well as making the switch to an unproven scheme possibly, if they actually use some of those 3-3-5 looks coming over from Baylor. When you look at Rhule’s track-record, it always took him until year two to show improvement and then in that third season is when those teams can really make some noise. And that was in the AAC and Big 12 respectively. Now he is in the NFC South with a team that just went 13-3 in the Saints and a Bucs squad that already was 7-9 and lost six of those games by one score, only because despite finishing fifth in takeaways, they ranked in the bottom five in turnover differential due to easily leading the league with 41 giveaways. That should get a lot better with Tom Brady coming in, who has never even quite thrown half of Jameis Winston’s 30 interceptions in any of his 20 years in the league. Even the Falcons – for as poorly as they started last season – went 6-2 after really coming together and making some changes in their bye week last season. Bottom line: The Panthers are clearly the most unproven team in this division. While new systems that haven’t been scouted yet certainly have an advantage in terms of game-planning early on, especially in this offseason with heavily limited live reps most likely, that might equal a net minus. You have to root for a guy like Teddy Bridgewater and the way he has worked his way up to a starting spot again, but I just don’t look at him as a surefire franchise signal-caller. The other three teams in the South all have top ten quarterbacks in the league in my opinion and much more continuity around them. Until the Panthers finally get to their bye week at the start of December, I don’t see them winning more than four of those twelve games. At that point they may have their eyes on a different goal already, if Teddy B isn’t the clear answer under center. https://preview.redd.it/y7agj2n2lf751.png?width=720&format=png&auto=webp&s=221af0a1f689d3b19d5e250fac0b58a35877edad
8. Cincinnati Bengals
Why they can win the division: We’re not that far away from 2015, when the Bengals won the AFC North with a 12-4 record as the fifth year in a row making the playoffs. Since then this is the first time I feel like there really is change happening with this team. Marvin Lewis was replaced by a young Zac Taylor, trying to prove himself to the league, they drafted Heisman trophy winner Joe Burrow first overall to replace as average a quarterback as we have had over the last decade in Andy Dalton and the front office finally spent some money in free agency. While you would think a quarterback going first overall usually comes into a situation, where he is devoid of talent around him, Cincinnati suddenly has one of the better group of skill-position players in the entire league, assuming A.J. Green is back healthy. Tyler Boyd is a stud in the slot, who will be Burrow’s version of Justin Jefferson, a 50-50 ball specialist in second-round pick Tee Higgins (Clemson) matches perfectly with Burrow’s expertise of winning with ball-placement and if they get anything from former first-rounder John Ross at least as a decoy with his speed, that’s a plus. I expect Joe Mixon to be among the league leader’s in running back receptions and be more effective in space with those receivers around him as well. The signings the Bengals have made on defense gives them a lot more talent and complements very well what they already had. D.J. Reader is one of the most underrated defensive linemen in the league and frees everybody up along the front, they completely overhauled that linebacker group, which was a major issue these last couple of years, they brought in a starting CB2 and nickel from Minnesota to pair up with William Jackson III, who is ready to announce himself as one of the best corners in football, and Von Bell is a great match with the rangy free safety Jessie Bates. Why they could finish last again: As talented as all those guys throwing, catching and running the ball may be, it all starts with what’s happening up front and the Bengals offensive line is still in transition. They could have two of the worst starters in the league at both guard spots and right tackle once again, with the prior ones close to reaching that bust status and Bobby Hart still somehow having a starting job. As great as Joe Burrow was last year at LSU and how clean his evaluation was, how much better than Andy Dalton will he be right away, especially going up against those scary defensive fronts inside his division? Defensively they could easily have six new starters, which obviously can be looked at as a positive sign, considering they allowed 20+ points in all but two games last season, but there is also a lack of continuity and reduced time to fit all those pieces together. Cincinnati’s coaching staff hasn’t really proven anything yet and they will be facing a massacre of a schedule, with three occasions of back-to-back road games and while three of their final four games of the season are at home, they will face the Cowboys, Steelers and Ravens, to go with a trip to Houston in-between. If they don’t beat the Chargers in the season-opener, they probably don’t get that first W until week four against the Jaguars and then they have to hope they can sneak out another one until their bye week. Baltimore is tied with Kansas City for the highest projected win total with reigning MVP coming into just his third season, Pittsburgh is favored to make the playoffs with Big Ben back under center and Cleveland was the offseason favorite in 2019, while fielding an even better roster this year. Bottom line: I feel bad for putting this team last, because I thought Joe Burrow was the top quarterback and definitely worthy of that number one pick and the Bengals finally spent big money in free agency to retool the defense. To me this is less about them than the Ravens, who just were the number one overall seed in the playoffs at 14-2 and haven’t done anything other than get better themselves, a Steelers team that made a run at the playoffs with the worst quarterback play in the league now getting Ben back and a Browns roster that is among the top ten league-wide in most people’s opinion. Still, there is a lot to like about this team at the skill-positions, which is probably behind only Cleveland in terms all the weapons they have, some young standouts on defense and hope that all of this brings a fresh breath of air. If you enjoyed this content, I would really appreciate if you could visit the original piece (with video clips) - https://halilsrealfootballtalk.com/2020/06/16/nfl-teams-most-likely-to-go-from-worst-to-first-in-2020/ You can also listen to my breakdown on Youtube - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R9kCcuPobNU
Tier 1 1 Joe Burrow, QB, 6'2/221, CIN (1.01) Depending on roster need and team makeup, I would be fine taking one of the other tier 1 players above Burrow but Burrow is absolutely worth the #1 overall pick in any year. While he lacks elite arm talent, Burrow has incredible accuracy, poise, and mobility to manipulate the pocket. As a prospect, I prefer him to Kyler Murray from last year by a decent amount. CIN isn't the greatest situation from an organizational standpoint but they've assembled a decent amount of talent around him in AJG, Boyd, Higgins, Ross, and Mixon. 2 Clyde Edwards Helaire, RB, 5'7/207, KC (1.32) Small, bowling-ball shaped runner with incredible contact balance, lateral agility, and pass catching ability. Has decent burst but lacks prototypical long speed and size. Pre-draft, CEH was my RB5 but he moves up here with the landing spot and draft capital. Even as my RB5, I was still a big fan of CEH and in KC he doesn't need to have bellcow type size in order to produce at a high level. His game vs Alabama my be the best game from any RB prospect this year. 3 Jonathan Taylor, RB, 5'10/226, IND (2.09) My RB2 pre-draft, Taylor is right there with CEH in the top tier. Taylor is a huge RB that excels in a power rushing attack where he can use his combo of size and burst to explode into the second level. That's exactly what he gets in IND, the perfect landing spot for his skillset. Potential issues with pass catching usage may limit his ceiling a little but the floor is incredibly high. Tier 2 4 D'Andre Swift, RB, 5'8/212, DET (2.03) My pre-draft RB1 and the #2 RB drafted, Swift is a huge value right now in all the rookie drafts I've done. Even when on the field with Chubb and Michel as a freshman, Swift stood out as the best RB of the three. Ridiculous lateral agility to make defenders miss, great burst, fantastic receiver, and solid contact balance. The DET landing spot doesn't worry me as much as it seems to worry others. It's clearly below KC and IND (otherwise he'd be in tier 1) but he's tied to a very good, reasonably young QB and I like the offense as a whole with Golladay, Hockenson, MJ, and a solid OL. Kerryon does worry me, however, and there is some risk that Swift never take over as a bellcow. 5 Cam Akers, RB, 5'10/217, LAR (2.20) My Predraft RB3 in the same tier as Swift and Taylor, Akers has all the tools you look for in a stud RB - size, violence, burst, contact balance, lateral agility, and pass catching. Moreover, he landed in a great landing spot in LA and received very good draft capital. This time last year people were describing the Rams as the best system for RBs in the NFL. Huge upside here for Akers' usage as a bellcow and he has the best opportunity of any of the RBs this year except for CEH. https://gph.is/g/apb5eq6 https://gph.is/g/aKAbBy3 https://gph.is/g/4bB5Yen 6 JK Dobbins, RB, 5'9/209, BAL (2.23) I really liked Dobbins coming out but had him a tier below Swift, Taylor, and Akers. Very solid runner in all areas but lacks an elite, defining trait. I really like the landing spot in BAL long term but there is concern about this year with Ingram plus I don't see the potential for much receiving usage with LJax. Really like the player and I'd be ecstatic to have him but I don't see him as the consensus RB3 as recent trends suggest. 7 Tua Tagliovola, QB, 6/217, MIA (1.05) If you really need a QB I'm fine moving Tua to the top of this tier. Like Burrow, Tua lacks ideal arm talent but wins with his mobility and accuracy. While Tua has a longer track record than Burrow, he never put up a season like Burrow did last year. The injuries scare me and there are some question marks about how well Tua can go through his progressions - at Alabama there were a lot of first read throws. The situation in Miami is ok, I like the OL picks that MIA made but this is still a rebuilding team with a ton of holes. Tier 3 8 Jerry Jeudy, WR, 6'1/193, DEN (1.15) The best separator in the class, Jeudy reminds me of Stefon Diggs. Very pro ready WR with advanced releases off the line and route running. Phenomenal YAC ability with the ball in his hands. Knows how to manipulate his speed to set up defenders. Not a very physical WR and you won't see him making many contested catches. Situation isn't great with Sutton next to him but Lamb is in a similar touch squeeze so I'll take my preferred talent. 9 CeeDee Lamb, WR, 6'1/198, DAL (1.17) The best playmaker in the class. Much better ball skills than Jeudy but lacks the quick twitch and ability to separate. Plus he faced easier competition and didn't have to deal with a lot of press coverage. While he's competing with a locked in WR1 in DAL, Lamb landed in an explosive offense with a young QB. Think he can be very productive as Dak's #2 target. 10 Jalen Reagor, WR, 5'11/206, PHI (1.21) Loved Reagor pre-draft and he received premium draft capital in my favorite landing spot. Reagor immediately stands out when watching him. Extremely twitched up and explosive, Reagor separates as well as defenders struggle keeping up. Provides a deep threat but has also flashed the ability to make tough contested catches and good sideline footwork. PHI was my favorite WR landing spot in the class as I'm a big fan of that offense and Wentz and they have a huge hole at WR. https://gph.is/g/4w8d3Lx https://gph.is/g/4L5bpev https://gph.is/g/ZPm5zPX 11 Justin Herbert, QB, 6'6/235, LAC (1.06) I don't like Herbert as a player but this is the value play in superflex. Herbert has great arm talent and mobility but he had lots of easy reads at Oregon and consistently disappointed. Struggles out of rhythm and a little robotic as a player. Still, the Chargers situation is great and the top 10 draft capital should guarantee him a starting role for a while. Great value in drafts if you can get him at the end of the 1st. Tier 4 12 Brandon Aiyuk, 5'11/205, WR, SF (1.25) One of my favorite players pre-draft. Can win all over the field in a variety of ways - explosion out of breaks, YAC ability, deep speed, or physicality. Has the rare ability to come out of his breaks without losing any explosion. Love the draft capital and the landing spot is ok. I trust Shanahan and that should be a productive offense for a long time. Issues arise given the run first nature of the offense and competition with another great young WR in Deebo. Watch the Oregon game if you want to get excited. https://gph.is/g/Zd75D5D https://gph.is/g/4zqY3DK https://gph.is/g/4AjblvO https://gph.is/g/Z2mbxg7 13 Justin Jefferson, WR, 6'1/202 MIN (1.22) The safest WR after Jeudy and Lamb, Jefferson should be able to step into the slot immediately and produce. If you want to lower your risk then pick Jefferson. He's very quick out of his breaks, creates consistent separation from the slot, very good YAC ability, and flashes contested catch ability. I don't see him playing outside and he's not as dynamic as other WRs in this class. Very good landing spot in MIN with Diggs' departure. Watch the Oklahoma game if you want to get excited. 14 Henry Ruggs, WR, 5'11/188, LVR (1.12) The first WR drafted, Ruggs could be a great value where I have him ranked. Still, I love the WRs above him and I wasn't a big Ruggs fan coming out. Incredible speed and flashes some toughness and decent route running as well. Think he struggles with physicality and didn't separate as much as he should because he's a long strider rather than a compact, twitched up player. I think Gruden is going to feed him a ton of targets and thus could be very productive early on. 15 Laviska Shenault, WR, 6'1/227, JAX (2.10) Absolutely love Shenault. Comp is Sammy Watkins. Great combo of size, physicality, explosivenes and YAC. Needs refinement but it'll be hard to keep his playmaking off the field. Biggest concern is injuries. His 2018 games vs Nebraska and game vs USC this year are great. https://gph.is/g/apbqw33 https://gph.is/g/Z7ge57R https://gph.is/g/46vO5Dd https://gph.is/g/ZrdDloG 16 Tee Higgins, WR, 6'4/216, CIN (2.01) Big WR with huge frame to extend himself for difficult balls. Timed speed was disappointing but had the ability to threaten deep at Clemson. Fantastic hands and advanced footwork. Risky as he struggles with physicality (he'll see a LOT more of that in the NFL) and not a great separator. Love the situation with Burrow and the draft capital. 17 Michael Pittman, WR, 6'4/223, IND (2.02) Decent speed and explosion for his size, some YAC ability, fantastic jump ball catcher, huge frame which he uses to shield defenders. Landing spot in IND is good for the next few years with Rivers but some worries once Rivers leaves. Has a clearly defined role as the X WR and complements Hilton and Campbell very well. 18 Jordan Love, QB, 6'3/224, GB (1.26) Probably the best value in SF leagues of all the rookies. I'm a big Jordan Love fan (especially at his price). Has jaw dropping arm talent and extremely mobile. Unlike Herbert, Love was asked to make extremely difficult plays and delivered. His issues aren't with accuracy but moreso decision making. He'll lock onto his first read at times and make incredibly stupid throws. I'm ok with the landing spot as I trust GB as an organization, however, he'll probably sit for a few years. Huge upside here. https://gph.is/g/aKAgJje https://gph.is/g/Z5YbQ36 https://gph.is/g/4L5bqK0 https://gph.is/g/aQO5gDA 19 AJ Dillon, RB, 6/247, GB (2.30) Like Love, he's another amazing value in drafts this year given the depth and quality of the class. In any other year, a 2nd round RB with his size, athleticism, and production would be a top 5 pick but you can get him in the mid/late 2nd consistently. I didn't love the player coming out, but I recognized that he has the ability to be a big time producer if put in the right type of offense and that's exactly what happened in GB. I think his production this year has been undersold and with Aaron Jones' contract expiring next year, he'll likely take over as the RB1 in 2021. Tier 5 20 Antonio Gibson, RB, 6/228, WSH (3.02) Big upside low floor pick. Gibson is one of the most exciting players to watch in this class with his big play ability, size, and explosion. At Memphis he played mostly slot WR but he was a pretty shitty WR and his upside lies at RB. He has a lot of work to do as he doesn't know what he's doing yet as a RB but the traits are really exciting - contact balance + burst. Could be David Johnson if things hit right. Don't love the landing spot as I'm still very high on Guice plus there is still a question mark regarding how Washington plans to use him. If he's used as a Wgadget guy then I don't have much interest in him. https://gph.is/g/ZOk5mNj https://gph.is/g/EGgbr8M https://gph.is/g/aeA5wDX https://gph.is/g/aXJ53nR https://gph.is/g/aKAb9z9 21 Denzel Mims, WR, 6'3/206, NYJ (2.27) I was never as high as others on Mims and didn't get the round 1 hype. However, his combination of athleticism and ball skills are very exciting and worth betting on here. He's a very boom/bust type of prospect. Landed in a very good spot with a young, good QB in Darnold lacking a #1 WR. 22 Bryan Edwards, WR, 6'3/212, LVR (3.17) Absolutely loved Edwards pre-draft and had him in my top 50 overall players. He's big, physical, explosive, versatile, and has fantastic ball skills. Landing spot is ok - the Raiders have a long term need at X WR but the team drafted Ruggs first so I think Gruden is going to prioritize Ruggs. Could be a few years before Edwards pays off. https://gph.is/g/EJYbRne https://gph.is/g/a99bdlP https://gph.is/g/EGgb9Ml https://gph.is/g/aRW5N7w 23 Zack Moss, RB, 5'9/223, BUF (3.22) Very similar player as David Montgomery. Excellent contact balance, toughness, pass catching ability, plus some wiggle but lacks juice. If there is a crease it takes him too long to hit it. Still, pretty good value to get a David Montgomery level player at 2.12. Landing spot is ok and your feeling about it is dependent on how you feel about Singletary. I love Singletary so I'm not high on the landing spot but its very possible that BUF doesnt see Singletary as a lead back. 24 Ke'Shawn Vaughn, RB, 5'10/214, TB (3.12) Didn't like Vaughn pre-draft and I was very surprised when he went this early. Vaughn is a solid all around RB that should be able to produce if given volume but I don't see any dynamic traits. Very much a replacement level RB. Still, TB has a potential opening at RB and the team spent good draft capital on him. Tier 6 25 KJ Hamler, WR, 5'9/178, DEN (2.12) Could easily have Hamler at the end of tier 5. Immediately stands out on film with his twitchiness and speed, defenders simply cannot hang with him. Don't see a huge difference between him and Hollywood Brown purely as prospects coming out. Effortless separation with his quickness and speed. Could be more valuable in real football than the NFL. Don't like the landing spot for fantasy as he's stuck behind two great, young WRs. 26 Chase Claypool, WR, 6'4/238, PIT (2.17) Freaky player with his combo of size and athleticism. Great draft capital to a team that has consistently developed WRs. Massive player with explosiveness to put CBs on their heels quick. Biggest asset right now is his YAC - should immediately be a weapon on screens and crossers. Flashes ability to box out defenders but is not natural attacking the ball and lacks overall smoothness to his game. Landing spot is odd with JuJu and Diontae already in place, however, if JuJu leaves a lot of opportunity opens up. Watch the Iowa St game to get excited. 27 Van Jefferson, WR, 6'1/200, LAR (2.25) I had a 3rd round grade on Jefferson pre-draft so I like the player. Projects as an NFL-ready slot WR with quickness and route running nuance. Got the best of LSU star freshman CB Stingley this past year. Odd landing spot as the Rams already have Kupp in the slot and I can't see either moving outside. Tier 7 28 Darrynton Evans, RB, 5'10/203, TEN (3.29) One of the most explosive players in this class, Evans is a threat to break off a big run at any time. With his lack of physicality and size, I don't see him projecting as a starting RB even if Henry leaves next year. Likely a career committee back. 29 Anthony McFarland, RB, 5'8/208, PIT (4.18) Really fun, explosive player that should get on the field immediately. Like Darrynton Evans, I struggle seeing him taking over a feature back but should have a long term role given his explosivness. 30 Cole Kmet, TE, 6'6/262, CHI (2.11) Not a very flashy or exciting player but projects as a solid starting NFL TE. The draft capital really helps and has a decent floor given his ability as a blocker. Think Kyle Rudolph type of career if he hits. 31 Adam Trautman, TE, 6'5/255, NO (3.41) Big, physical TE that dominated small school competition and can win in traffic and over the middle of the field. Isn't especially fluid out of his breaks and doesn't project as a potential top tier TE. Really like that NO traded so much for him and I trust Sean Payton. 32 Devin Asiasi, TE, 6'3/257, NE (3.27) If any TE in this class develops into a top tier fantasy TE, I wouldn't be surprised if it was Asiasi. Former high recruit that transferred to UCLA and didn't produce until his last season. He's smaller than Kmet and Trautman but he's just as good of a blocker and he's way more fluid than both. Really like the landing spot and draft capital as well. 33 Joshua Kelley, RB, 5'11/212, LAC (4.06) This could be too low as the situation is phenomenal and draft capital is decent but I'm not high on the player. He's solid and can produce if given volume in a good situation (both very possible in LAC) but doesn't have any standout trait and looks like a replacement level player to me. 34 Lamical Perine, RB, 5'11/216, NYJ (4.14) A better version of Joshua Kelley to me but in a worse situation. Very solid all round back that is a very good receiver. Lacks juice or standout qualities but solid overall. If Bell declines, leaves, or gets injured I think Perine could step in and surprise. Some worry about the Frank Gore signing. 35 Devin Duvernay, WR, 5/10/200, BAL (3.28) Slot WR with strong hands and great ability with the ball in his hands but struggles to create separation out of his breaks. Should be great on screens and special teams. 36 Gabe Davis, WR, 6'2/216, BUF (4.22) Big body WR with great physicality and decent speed/explosion for his size. Project player with some upside. 37 Joe Reed, WR, 6/224, LAC (5.05) Really love the player, Reed is a twitched up YAC guy with RB type of size and ability with the ball in his hands. 38 JaMycal Hasty, RB, 5'8/208, SF (UDFA) My favorite 3rd down/satellite back in this entire class, Hasty is lighting quick and explosive with great pass catching ability. If any team can turn a UDFA into a star it's Kyle Shannahan and there is a ton of opportunity in SF. 39 Darnell Mooney, WR, 5'10/176, CHI (5.28) Deep ball threat with good production and CHI has a clear need for that type of deep threat. 40 Mike Warren, RB, PHI, 5'9/226, PHI (UDFA) Not sure that I would actually draft him here but I wanted to get his name on the list. Really fun player to watch, he's like a 95% version of Zack Moss. Great size, awesome power, surprising wiggle and pass catching ability but lacks the requisite explosive qualities. I actually really like the landing spot in PHI as they do not have a bigger back to complement Sanders. NOTICE THAT JALEN HURTS IS NOT ON THIS LIST. He'd probably be around #35 but I have him low enough to where I probably won't every draft him so I didn't include him on the list.
The truth behind Puskás Akadémia FC - How Hungarian PM Viktor Orbán stole a legend, built a stadium in his backyard and guided his team to Europe
The 2019/2020 season of the Hungary’s National Football League (NB1) – being one of the first leagues to restart play - came to an end on 27 June. If a casual observer (for whatever reason) decides to check out the final standings, he would be not surprised at the first two positions: record-champion Ferencváros defended their title, while regional powerhouse Fehérvár (Videoton) came in second. However, the third place team,Puskás Akadémia FCmight seem unusual and one could think that there is a story behind that. Is there a team named after Ferenc Puskás? Did some academy youths make an incredible run for the Europa League qualification? Well, the observer is right, there is a story behind all this, but it’s absolutely not a fun story. It’s a story about how one powerful man’s obsession with football stole a legend, misused state funds and killed the spirit of Hungarian football.(Warning: this is a long story, feel free to scroll down for a tl;dr. Also, I strongly advise checking out the links, those images are worth seeing). Naturally, political influence in football has been present ever since the dawn of the sport and we know of numerous state leaders who felt confident enough to use their influence to ensure the successful development of their favored clubs – Caucescu’s FC Olt Scornicesti and Erdogan’s Basaksehir are well-known examples of such attempts. However, I fear that very few of the readers are aware of the fact that Puskás Akadémia FC is nothing but Hungarian PM Viktor Orbán’s grandiose project for establishing his hometown’s club as one of the country’s top teams. Considering that Orbán managed to achieve this goal using state funds in an EU member democracy in the 2000s, one might even say that it might be one of the most impressive attempts of cheating your way through Football Manager in real life. Now that Puskás Akadémia FC escaped the desolate football scene of Hungary and is getting ready for the European takeover, I feel that it’s high time to tell its true story.
Part 1: Part time striker, part time PM
Our story begins in 1999 when the 36-year-old striker Viktor Orbán (recently elected as the country’s Prime Minister) was signed by the sixth-tier side of Felcsút FC residing in rural Fejér County. It might sound surprising that an active politician would consider such a side job, but given that Orbán has been playing competitive low-level football throughout his whole life and has always been known as a keen football enthusiast, people seemed to be okay with his choice for a hobby. Orbán spent most of his childhood in the village of Felcsút (population: 1,800), so it seemed only natural that he would join the team after one of his old-time acquaintances became team president there. Orbán’s arrival to the club seemed to work like a charm as Felcsút FC immediately earned a promotion to the fifth league. The Prime Minister’s busy program did not allow him to attend every training session and game but Orbán did make an effort to contribute as much as possible on the field – there is a report of a government meeting being postponed as Orbán was unavailable due to attending Felcsút FC’s spring training camp. The 2001/2002 season brought another breakthrough for the side as Felcsút was promoted to the national level of the football pyramid after being crowned the champion of Fejér County. Sadly enough for Orbán, he suffered a defeat on another pitch – his party lost the 2002 election and Orbán was forced to move to an opposition role. No matter what happened on the political playing field, Orbán would not abandon his club. Just before the 2002 elections, Felcsút was surprisingly appointed as one of the regional youth development centers by the Hungarian FA. Orbán continued contributing on the field as well (he had more spare time after all) but his off-the-field efforts provided much more value for the team as he used his political influence to convince right-wing businessmen that they should definitely get sponsorship deals done with the fourth-division village team. Club management was able to transform the influx of funds into on-field success: Felcsút FC was promoted to the third division in 2004 and achievedpromotion to the second division in 2005. Although these new horizons required a skill level that an aging ex-PM is not likely to possess, Orbán regularly played as a late game sub and even appeared in cup games against actual professional opponents. The now-42-year old Orbán did not want to face the challenge of the second division, so he retired in 2005 – but this did not stop him from temping as an assistant coach when the head coach was sacked in the middle of the 2005-2006 season. Success on the playing field did not translate to political success: Orbán lost the elections once again in 2006. However, this was only a temporary loss: the ruling party committed blunder after blunder and by early 2007 it became absolutely obvious that Orbán would be able return to power in 2010. Now confident in his political future, Orbán opted for the acceleration of football development in Felcsút – by late 2007 he took over the presidency of the club to take matters in his own hands. Sponsors seeking to gain favor with the soon-to-be PM were swarming Felcsút FC, so the club was able to stand very strong in an era where financial stability was a very rare sight in the Hungarian football scene, accumulating three medals (but no promotion) between 2007 and 2009. On the other hand, Orbán realized the value of youth development as well, and started a local foundation for this purpose back in 2004 that gathered funds for the establishment a boarding school-like football academy. The academy opened its doors in September 2006 (only the second of such institutions in the country) and Orbán immediately took upon the challenge of finding an appropriate name for the academy. He went on to visit the now very sick Ferenc Puskás in the hospital to discuss using his name, but as Puskás’ medical situation was deteriorating rapidly, communication attempts were futile. Luckily enough Puskás’ wife (and soon to be widow) was able to act on his incapable husband’s behalf and approved the naming deal in a contract. According to the statement, naming rights were granted without compensation, as “Puskás would have certainly loved what’s happening down in Felcsút”. However, there was much more to the contract: Puskás’ trademark was handed to a sports journalist friend of Orbán (György Szöllősi, also acting communications director of the academy) who promised a hefty annual return for the family (and also a 45% share of the revenue for himself). Ferenc Puskás eventually died on 17 November 2006 and on 26 November 2006 the football academy was named after him: Puskás Academy was born. Orbán shared his vision of the whole organization after the opening ceremony: “It’s unreasonable to think that Felcsút should have a team in the top division. We should not flatter ourselves, our players and our supporters with this dream. Our long term ambition is the creation of a stable second division team that excels in youth development and provides opportunity for the talents of the future.” Let’s leave that there.
Part 2: No stadium left behind
Orbán became PM once again in April 2010 after a landslide victory that pretty much granted him unlimited power. He chased lots of political agendas but one of his policies was rock solid: he would revive sports (and especially football) that was left to bleed out by the previous governments. The football situation in 2010 was quite dire: while the national team has actually made some progress in the recent years and has reached the 42nd position in the world rankings, football infrastructure was in a catastrophic state. Teams were playing in rusty stadiums built in the communist era, club finances were a mess, youth teams couldn’t find training grounds and the league was plagued by violent fan groups and lackluster attendance figures (3100 average spectators per game in the 2009/2010 season). Orbán – aided by the FA backed by business actors very interested in making him happy – saw the future in the total rebuild of the football infrastructure. Vast amounts of state development funds were invested into the football construction industry that warmly welcomed corruption, cost escalation and shady procurement deals. In the end, money triumphed: over the last decade, new stadiums sprung out from nothing all over the country, dozens of new academies opened and pitches for youth development appeared on practically every corner. The final piece of the stadium renovation program was the completion of the new national stadium, Puskás Aréna in 2019 (estimated cost: 575 million EUR). Orbán commemorated this historic moment with a celebratory video on his social media that features a majestic shot of Orbán modestly kicking a CGI ball from his office to the new stadium. Obviously, Orbán understood that infrastructure alone won’t suffice. He believed in the idea that successful clubs are the cornerstone of a strong national side as these clubs would compete in a high quality national league (and in international tournaments) that would require a constant influx of youth players developed by the clubs themselves. However, Orbán was not really keen on sharing the state’s infinite wealth with private club owners who failed to invest in their clubs between 2002 and 2010. The club ownership takeover was not that challenging as previous owners were usually happy to cut their losses, and soon enough most clubs came under Orbán’s influence. Some clubs were integrated deep into Orbán’s reach (Ferencváros and MTK Budapest club presidents are high ranking officials of Orbán’s party) while in other cases, indirect control was deemed sufficient (Diósgyőri VTK was purchased by a businessman as an attempt to display loyalty to Orbán). Pouring taxpayer money into infrastructure (stadium) projects is relatively easy: after all, we are basically talking about overpriced government construction projects, there’s nothing new there. On the other hand, allocating funds to clubs that should be operating on a competitive market is certainly a tougher nut to crack. The obvious solutions were implemented: the state media massively overpaid for broadcasting rights and the national sports betting agency also pays a hefty sum to the FA, allowing for a redistribution of considerable amounts. However, given that the income side of Hungarian clubs was basically non-existent (match day income is negligible, the failed youth development system does not sell players), an even more radical solution was desperately needed. Also, there was definite interest in the development of a tool that would allow for differentiation between clubs (as in the few remaining non-government affiliated clubs should not receive extra money). The solution came in 2011: the so-called TAO (“társasági adó”= corporate tax) system was introduced, granting significant tax deductions for companies if they offered a portion of their profits to sports clubs – however, in theory, funds acquired through TAO can be only used for youth development and infrastructure purposes. Soon enough, it became apparent that state authorities were not exactly interested in the enforcement of these restrictions, so some very basic creative accounting measures enabled clubs to use this income for anything they wanted to. Companies were naturally keen on cutting their tax burdens and scoring goodwill with the government, so TAO money immediately skyrocketed. Opportunistic party strongmen used their influence to convince local business groups to invest in the local clubs, enabling for the meteoric rise of multiple unknown provincial teams (Mezőkövesd [pop: 16,000], Kisvárda [pop: 16,000], Balmazújváros [pop: 17,000]) into the first division. Although it’s not the main subject of this piece, I feel inclined to show you the actual results of Orbán’s grandiose football reform. While we do have our beautiful stadiums, we don’t exactly get them filled – league attendance has stagnated around 3000 spectators per game throughout the whole decade. We couldn’t really move forward with our national team either: Hungary lost 10 positions in the FIFA World Rankings throughout Orbán’s ten years. On the other hand, the level of league has somewhat improved – Videoton and Ferencváros reached the Europa League group stage in 2019 and 2020, respectively. Too bad that the Instat-based top team of 2019/2020 Hungarian league consists of 10 foreigners and only 1 Hungarian: the goalkeeper.
Part 3: Small place, big game!
As seen in the previous chapter, Orbán did have a strong interest in the improvement of the football situation Hungary, but we shouldn’t forget that his deepest interest and true loyalty laid in the wellbeing of Felcsút and its academy. Now that Orbán had limitless means to see to the advancement of his beloved club, he got to work immediately. Orbán handed over formal club management duties to his friend / protégé / middleman / businessman Lőrinc Mészáros in 2010, but no questions would ever arise of who is actually calling the shots. First of all, no club can exist without a proper stadium. Although in 2011 Orbán explicitly stated that “Felcsút does not need a stadium as stadiums belong to cities”, no one was really surprised in 2012 when the construction of the Felcsút stadium was announced. Orbán was generous enough to donate the lands just in front of his summer home in the village for the project, locating the entrance a mere ten meters away from his residence. Construction works for the stunningly aesthetic 3,800-seater arena (in a village of 1,800 people) started in April 2012 and were completed in April 2014, making Felcsút’s arena the second new stadium of Orbán’s gigantic stadium revival program. The estimated budget of the construction was 120 million EUR (31,500 EUR / seat) was financed by the Puskás Academy who explicitly stated that they did not use government funds for the project. Technically, this statement is absolutely true as the construction was financed through the TAO money offered by the numerous companies looking for tax deduction and Orbán’s goodwill. However, technically, this means that the country’s budget was decreased by 120 million EUR unrealized tax revenue. Naturally, the gargantuan football stadium looks ridiculously out of place in the small village, but there’s really no other way to ensure that your favorite team’s stadium is within 20 seconds of walking distance from your home. Obviously, a proper club should also have some glorious history. Felcsút was seriously lagging behind on this matter as though Felcsút FC was founded in 1931, it spent its pre-Orbán history in the uninspiring world of the 5th-7th leagues of the country. Luckily enough, Orbán had already secured Puskás’ naming rights and they were not afraid to use it, so Felcsút FC was renamed to Puskás Academy FC in 2009. The stadium name was a little bit problematic as the Hungarian national stadium in Budapest had sadly had the dibs on Puskás’ name, so they had to settle with Puskás’ Spanish nickname, resulting in the inauguration of the Pancho Arena. But why stop here? Orbán’s sports media strongman György Szöllősi acted upon the contract with Puskás’ widow and transferred all Puskás’ personal memorabilia (medals, jerseys, correspondence) to the most suitable place of all: a remote village in which Puskás never even set foot in. While the off-field issues were getting resolved, Orbán’s attention shifted to another important area: the actual game of football. Although academy players started to graduate from 2008 on, it very soon became painfully obvious that the academy program couldn’t really maintain even a second division side for now. In 2009, Orbán reached an agreement with nearby Videoton’s owner that effectively transformed Felcsút FC into Videoton’s second team under the name of Videoton – Puskás Akadémia FC. The mutually beneficent agreement would allow Videoton to give valuable playing time to squad players while it could also serve as a skipping step for Puskás Academy’s fresh graduates to a first league team. The collaboration resulted in two mid-table finishes and a bronze medal in the second division in the following three seasons that wasn’t really impressive compared to Felcsút FC’s standalone seasons. It seemed that the mixture of reserve Videoton players and academy youth was simply not enough for promotion, and although Orbán had assured the public multiple times that his Felcsút project was not aiming for the top flight, very telling changes arose after the 2011/2012 season. Felcsút terminated the Videoton cooperation deal and used the rapidly accumulating TAO funds to recruit experienced players for the now independently operating Puskás Academy FC (PAFC). The new directive worked almost too well: PAFC won its division with a 10 point lead in its first standalone year which meant that they would have to appear in the first league prior to the completion of their brand-new Pancho Arena. Too bad that this glorious result had almost nothing to do with the academy - only two players were academy graduates of the side’s regular starting XI. Orbán did not let himself bothered with the ridiculousness of an academy team with virtually no academy players being promoted to the first division as he stated that “a marathon runner shouldn’t need to explain why the other runners were much slower than him”. Orbán also displayed a rare burst of modesty as he added that “his team’s right place is not in the first league, and they will soon be overtaken by other, better sides”. The promotion of PAFC to the first division made a lot of people very angry and been widely regarded as a bad move. Supporter groups were united in hatred all along the league and not surprisingly, away fans almost always outnumbered the home side at PAFC’s temporary home at Videoton’s Sóstói Stadium (demolished and rebuilt in its full glory since then). One of the teams, however, possessed an extraordinary degree of anger against PAFC: supporters of Budapest Honvéd – the only Hungarian team in which Ferenc Puskás played – felt especially awkward about the transfer of their club legend’s heritage to Felcsút. Tensions spiked at the PAFC – Honvéd game when home security forced Honvéd supporters to remove the “Puskás” part of their traditional “Puskás – Kispest – Hungary” banner – the team answered the insult with style as they secured a 4-0 victory supported by fans chanting “you can’t buy legends”. Despite Orbán’s prognosis, other better sides did not rush to overtake his team, so PAFC, now residing in their brand new Pancho Arena, came through with a 14th and a 10th place in their first two seasons. Naturally, conspiracy theories began to formulate, speculating that government-friendly owners would certainly not be motivated to give their best against PAFC. However, as the league size was reduced to 12 for the 2015/2016 season, PAFC found themselves in a dire situation just before the final round: they needed a win and needed rival Vasas to lose against MTK in order to avoid relegation. PAFC’s draw seemed to be unlucky as they faced their arch-enemy Honvéd at home, but Honvéd displayed an absolute lackluster effort – fueling conspiracy theories – and lost the fixture 2 to 1 against a home side featuring four academy players. Vasas, however, did not disappoint, their 2-0 victory resulted in PAFC’s elimination and a very relaxed sigh all over the football community. PAFC’s relegation seemed to be in accordance with Orbán’s 2013 statement, so public opinion supposed for a while that Orbán’s project came to a halting point and the Academy would go on to actually field academy players in the second division (especially as rostering foreign players was prohibited in the lower leagues). However, if you have read through this point, you know better than to expect Orbán to retreat – obviously, PAFC came back with a bang. With a ballsy move, PAFC didn’t even sell their foreign players, they just loaned them across the league, promising them that they would be able to return next year to the newly promoted team. The promise was kept as PAFC went into another shopping spree of experienced players (easily convincing lots of them to choose the second division instead of the first) and easily won the second league. Orbán – now aware of his negligence – opted for the doubling the team’s budget,making PAFC the third most well-founded club in the whole country (only coming short to his friend’s Videoton and his party minion’s Ferencváros). With an actual yearly influx from TAO money in the ballpark of 30-40 million EUR, PAFC management had to really work wonders in creative accounting in order to make their money look somewhat legitimate. The books were now full of ridiculous items like:
Construction of a new tea kitchen for youth players for 650,000 EUR
Employment of a 45 person “cleaning and maintenance staff” for the academy.
Naturally, in the country of no consequences, absolutely nothing happened: PAFC went on with its spending and signed 35 foreigners between 2017 and 2020. They did so because they could not hope to field a winning team in the first league consisting of academy players, despite the fact that Puskás Academy has been literally drowning in money since 2007. This seems to somewhat contradict Orbán’s 2013 promise, stating that “Puskás Academy will graduate two or three players to major European leagues each year”. To be fair, there have been players who managed to emerge to Europe (well, exactly two of them: Roland Sallai plays at Freiburg, László Kleinheisler played at Werder Bremen) but most academy graduates don’t even have the slightest the chance to make their own academy’s pro team as it’s full of foreigners and more experienced players drawn for other teams’ programs. Despite their unlimited funding, PAFC could not put up a top-tier performance in their first two years back in the first division, finishing 6th and 7th in the 12-team league. Many speculated that the lack of support, motivation and even a clear team mission did not allow for chemistry to develop within the multinational and multi-generational locker room. Consistency was also a rare sight on the coaching side: club management was absolutely impatient with coaches who were very easily released after a single bad spell and there were talks of on-field micromanagement request coming from as high as Orbán. Even so, their breakthrough came dangerously close in 2018 as PAFC performed consistently well in the cup fixtures and managed to reach the final. Their opponent, Újpest played an incredibly fierce game and after a 2-2 draw, they managed to defeat PAFC in the shootout. Football fans sighed in relief throughout the country as ecstatic Újpest supporters verbally teased a visibly upset Orbán in his VIP lounge about his loss. Obviously, we could only delay the inevitable. While this year’s PAFC side seemed to be more consistent than its predecessors, it seemed that they won’t be able to get close to the podium - they were far behind the obvious league winner duo of Ferencváros and Videoton and were trailing third-place Mezőkövesd 6 points just before the pandemic break. However, both Mezőkövesd and PAFC’s close rivals DVTK and Honvéd fall flat after the restart while PAFC was able to maintain its good form due to its quality roster depth. PAFC overtook Mezőkövesd after the second-to-last round as Mezőkövesd lost to the later relegated Debrecen side. (Mezőkövesd coach Attila Kuttor was fined harshly because of his post-game comments on how the FA wants PAFC to finish third.) PAFC faced Honvéd in the last round once again, and as Honvéd came up with its usual lackluster effort, PAFC secured an effortless win, confidently claiming the third place. PAFC celebrated their success in a nearly empty stadium, however neither Orbán, nor Mészáros (club owner, Orbán’s protégé, now 4th richest man of Hungary) seemed to worry about that. While Orbán high-fived with his peers in the VIP lounge, Mészáros was given the opportunity to award the bronze medals (and for some reason, a trophy) to the players dressed up in the incredibly cringe worthy T-shirts that say “Small place, big game!”. Big game, indeed: in the 2019/2020 season, foreign players’ share of the teams playing time was 43.6% while academy graduates contributed only 17.9%. On Sunday evening, less than 24 hours after PAFC’s glorious success, György Szöllősi, now editor-in-chief of Hungary’s only sports newspaper (purchased by Orbán’s affiliates a few years back) published an editorial on the site, stating that “the soccer rebuild in Felcsút became the motor and symbol of the revitalization of sport throughout the whole country”. Well, Szöllősi is exactly right: Felcsút did became a symbol, but a symbol of something entirely different. Felcsút became a symbol of corruption, inefficiency, lies and the colossal waste of money. But, hey, at least we know now: you only need to spend 200 million EUR (total budget of PAFC and its academy in the 2011-2020 period) if you want to have a Europa League team in your backyard. Good to know!
Epilogue: What's in the future?
As there is no foreseeable chance for political change to happen Hungary (Orbán effortlessly secured qualified majority in 2014 and 2018, and is projected to do so in 2022 as well), PAFC’s future seems to be as bright as it gets. Although consensus opinion now seems to assume that Orbán does not intend to interfere with the Ferencváros – Videoton hegemony, we can never be really sure about the exact limits of his greed. One could also argue that entering the European theater serves as a prime opportunity for making splashy transfers who could be the cornerstones of a side challenging the league title. However, as all political systems are deemed to fall, eventually Orbán’s regime will come apart. Whoever will take upon the helm after Orbán, they will certainly begin with cutting back on the one item on Orbán’s agenda that never had popular support: limitless football spending. Puskás Academy, having next to zero market revenue, will not be able to survive without the state’s life support, so the club will fold very shortly. The abandoned, rotting stadium in Felcsút will serve as a memento of a powerful man who could not understand the true spirit of football. But let’s get back to present day, as we have more pressing issues coming up soon: PAFC will play their first European match in the First qualifying round of the Europa League on 27 August. We don’t have a date for the draw yet, but soon enough, a team unaware of the whole situation will be selected to face the beast. I hope that maybe one of their players does some research and maybe reads this very article for inspiration. I hope that the supporters of this club get in touch with Honvéd fans who would be eager to provide them with some tips on appropriate chants. I hope that other teams gets drawn as the home team so Orbán wouldn’t get the pleasure of walking to his stadium for an international match. But most importantly, I very much hope that this team obliterates PAFC and wipes them off the face of the earth. 5-0 will suffice, thank you. And if this team fails to do that, we don’t have to worry yet. Due to our shitty league coefficient, PAFC would need to win four fixtures in a row. And that – if there’s any justice in this world – is a thing that can’t, that won’t happen. Ball don’t lie – if I may say. TL,DR Hungarian PM Viktor Orbán redirected some 200 million EUR of taxpayer money over 10 years to fuel his ambition of raising a competitive football team in his hometown of 1,800 people. He built a 3,800-seater stadium in his backyard, expropriated football legend Ferenc Puskás’ trademarks and heritage and built up a football league where almost all clubs are owned by his trustees. His team, Puskás Akadémia FC was originally intended to be a development ground for youth players graduating from Orbán’s football academy, but eventually the team became more and more result-orianted. Finally, a roster full of foreign and non-academy players came through and finished third in the league, releasing this abomination of a team to the European football theatre. Please, knock them out asap!
Will the Philadelphia Eagles win OVER/UNDER 9.5 games? By University Stats Prof!
The Eagles have been a good model of consistency. Over the past 20 years, they have had just four losing seasons. It wasn’t always pretty, but Philly managed to secure the NFC East title with a 9-7 record last year. They closed out the regular season with a four-game winning streak to edge the Cowboys atop the division. Unfortunately, Carson Wentz exited the wildcard playoff game early and the team couldn’t overcome his absence in a 17-9 home loss to the Seahawks.
2. Offensive Position-by-Position Breakdown
2.1 Quarterbacks (QBs) Carson Wentz needs to be applauded for his 2019 performance. He had to deal with numerous injuries to his receiving corps and yet, he led the team to a playoff spot and he finished with a career-high in passing yards with 4,039. He threw 27 TD passes versus 7 interceptions, while playing all 16 games for the first time since his rookie season in 2016. In the season finale, his top targets were Boston Scott, Dallas Goedert, Josh Perkins, Deontay Burnett and Greg Ward. Outside of Goedert, none is an established starter in the NFL. The Eagles still secured the NFC East title with a 34-17 road win in New York. Philadelphia selected Jalen Hurts late in the second round of this year’s draft. He transferred from Alabama to Oklahoma for his senior year since Tua Tagovailoa was projected to be the starter. Hurst was actually replacing Kyler Murray who had just been taken as the number one overall pick in the 2019 NFL draft by the Cards. Hurts did not disappoint in his lone season with the Sooners. He completed 237-of-340 passes (69.7%) with 3,851 passing yards, along with 32 TD passes and eight interceptions. He also rushed for 1,298 yards with 20 TDs on the ground! His weaknesses are an average accuracy, inconsistent decision-making and a tendency to take off as a runner too often (sometimes when a receiver was open). He is likely to be used as a gadget player by Doug Pederson this year. Nate Sudfeld will compete for the backup job. He missed the entire 2019 season due to a wrist injury he suffered during preseason. He was a sixth-round pick out of Indiana in the 2016 draft. He has attempted just 25 passes in the NFL in four years, so it’s hard to tell what to expect from him. 2.2 Running Backs (RBs) Miles Sanders’ rookie season was a resounding success. He led all rookies with 1,327 yards from scrimmage. He carried a heavier workload as the season went on. During the first eight games, he averaged 8.3 carries per game, as opposed to 14.1 over the last nine contests (including the playoff loss to the Seahawks). Jordan Howard’s injury at midseason contributed to the increased usage of Sanders in the backfield. With Howard gone to Miami, the sky’s the limit for second-round pick out of Penn State. Darren Sproles retired and Jay Ajayi was waived. That leaves the door wide open for third-year man Boston Scott. He flashed big time last year and unquestionably passed my eye test. The 5’6’’ back is very explosive. Scott made a name for himself in Week #17 as he had to step in for Sanders who sprained an ankle in the first quarter against the Giants. Scott went on to rack up 138 total yards and three touchdowns. 2.3 Wide Receivers (WRs) This unit was decimated by injuries last year. DeSean Jackson pretty much played just one game, while Alshon Jeffery and Nelson Agholor missed six and five games, respectively. Despite playing under his age-32 campaign, Jackson showed he still has field-stretching abilities in his lone meeting last year. He was spectacular with 8 catches for 154 yards and a couple of scores. He hasn’t played a full 16-game season very often in his career though. Jeffery is another aging receiver coming off a significant injury. He underwent Lisfranc surgery, which requires a long rehab period. He’s questionable for the start of training camp. Since two outstanding seasons in 2013 and 2014 with the Bears, Jeffery has missed four games per year on average, while showing signs of slowing down on the field as well. His 11.4 yards-per-catch average last year was a career low. To be honest, I feel like Jeffery’s time in the league is coming to an end soon. Lisfranc injuries can be tricky for wide receivers, and full recovery is even more difficult for guys above 30 years of age. Nelson Agholor was a younger WR who could have provided adequate depth, but he signed with the Raiders. The former first-rounder has not lived up to expectations, but he was still a decent pass catcher, albeit his drops were a big issue last year. Maybe a change of scenery will help rejuvenate his career. Philly drafted Jalen Reagor with the #11 pick overall last April. He’s a smallish deep threat who is at his best on straight routes. He was good with contested catches, but will it still be the case in the NFL given his size? That’s a big question mark. Reagor opened a lot of eyes by scoring eight touchdowns as a freshman with TCU after being a high recruit out of high school. He followed up with a great 72-1061-9 receiving line as a sophomore. Reagor’s numbers dropped quite a bit as a junior (43-611-5), but you can attribute that to having a freshman QB at the helm. He’s an electrifying player who can take it to the house every time he touches the ball. The competition for the number three role is also likely to involve Greg Ward and J.J. Arcega-Whiteside. These two guys have had completely different paths before making it to the NFL. Ward went undrafted before joining the AAF. He eventually was added to the Eagles’ practice squad, and later on promoted to the 53-man roster until a depleted receiving corps forced him onto the field. Meanwhile, Arcega-Whiteside had more of a “conventional” journey by being drafted in the second-round of the 2019 draft. Such resumes would suggest Arcega-Whiteside would be the superior wideout, but that’s not what we saw on the field. He only caught 10-of-22 targets for a disappointing 45% catch rate. He was rarely targeted down the stretch, despite the numerous injuries at the position. On the other hand, Ward filled in admirably late in the season. Over the final four meetings, including the playoff game, he caught 20-of-25 targets (an 80% catch rate). He clearly deserves a shot as a top reserve for the upcoming season. 2.4 Tight Ends (TEs) The Eagles have a nice duo at the tight end position with Zach Ertz and Dallas Goedert. Ertz is a true warrior. He hasn’t missed more than two games in each of his first seven season in the league. Last year, he played with two rib fractures one week after lacerating his kidney. Talk about a tough guy. His numbers are also staggering. His lowest figures in terms of receptions and receiving yards over the past five years are 74 and 816. That’s truly remarkable! Please note that he’ll be turning 30 years old during the season. Just like Ertz, Goedert is also a former second-rounder. However, he is four years younger. He caught 58 passes for 607 yards and 5 TDs, all career-highs. He was targeted 4 times per game on average before the team’s bye week versus an average of 7.9 for the remainder of the year. Granted, injuries to other targets probably boosted his numbers, but he still developed nice chemistry with Wentz. 2.5 Offensive Line (OL) The Eagles have a heck of an offensive line. You cannot blame Jason Kelce for anything over the past five years. He hasn’t missed any start, while consistently being one of the top centers in the league. As a matter of fact, he was rated as the #1 center in the NFL according to PFF grades last year. He’s now 32 years old. Left tackle Jason Peters has been just as good as Kelce. He was nominated to nine Pro Bowls in his career and he finished as the number 6 tackle in the league with his 83.4 PFF mark. Unfortunately, the team decided to let the 38-year old hit the free agency market. EDIT: he was re-signed three days ago (this article was written several weeks ago). He is projected to play guard instead of tackle. Peters will be replaced with 2019 first-round pick, Andre Dillard. Is he ready to take on the full-time job? It remains to be seen, but it will be difficult to fill Peters’ shoes. As for Lane Johnson, the right tackle finished as the 3rd-best tackle in the league based on the PFF grading system. He’s been very good throughout his seven-year career; the former #4 overall pick has not disappointed at all! Brandon Brooks also had a huge 2019 season! He ended the year as the top guard in the NFL with a jaw-dropping 92.9 PFF mark. Much like Lane Johnson, Brooks is another player above 30 years old who’s been reliable his entire career. Left guard Isaac Seumalo started all 16 games for the first time of his career. He’s the one that received the lowest grades on this OL, but finishing 17th out of 81 guards is nothing to be ashamed of! The former third-round pick from the 2016 draft is not as talented as his colleagues, but you could do worse than having him as one of your starters. The team lost good depth with the departure of Halapoulivaati Vaitai to Detroit. The 2019 season was clearly his best year; it would have been nice to retain him but he signed a huge contract with the Lions. 2020 VS 2019 OFFENSE When comparing the upcoming 2020 season with last year, there are some positives and some negatives. Let’s discuss the negative stuff first. I do expect a downgrade on the offensive line. They played at an extremely high level last year with four guys finishing among the 6 players at their respective position (based on PFF rankings). That’s unlikely to happen again, especially with three linemen aged 30 years or above. Also, second-year man Andre Dillard has good potential, but it will be difficult to match Jason Peters’ 2019 performance. I do expect a drop-off here. At quarterback and tight end, the situation remains stable. At the running back position, losing Jordan Howard to free agency won’t hurt too much with the emergence of electrifying Boston Scott. Also, Miles Sanders is expected to take a leap in his sophomore season. Finally, how could you not expect better production from the WR group? They were hit by the injury bug a lot last year. Agholor’s departure is a moderate blow; getting DeSean Jackson back is a bonus! Hopefully, speedy rookie Jalen Reagor can provide a spark to an offense that sorely missed game breakers last year. The Eagles offense scored the 12th-highest number of points last year. My final conclusion, based on the arguments above, is that I expect similar production in 2020. Final call (2020 vs 2019): Stable
3. Defensive Position-by-Position Breakdown
3.1 Defensive Linemen (DLs) Fletcher Cox is an animal. Plain and simple. Despite posting his second-lowest sack output of his illustrious eight-year career, he still graded as the 4th-best interior defenders in the NFL based on PFF rankings. On average, he has recorded 6 sacks per year (he only got 3.5 last year) He has also been very durable; he’s missed just three games out 128. He still has good years to come at age 29. Tim Jernigan was a decent starter next to Cox, but he clearly wasn’t needed on the team anymore after the Eagles signed stud DT Javon Hargrave. The former Steeler showed steady improvement in each of his first four years in the NFL. His 83.4 PFF mark last year put him in the 8th spot out of 114 DLs. With Hargrave entering his prime years and Fletcher Cox being a perennial beast, good luck running the ball inside the tackles against the Eagles in 2020. After playing three years in Indy, Hassan Ridgeway had a below-average season in his first year with the Eagles. He’s more of a rotational player, whom you hope won’t be needed as a starter. 3.2 Defensive Ends (DEs) / Edge Rushers (ED) Brandon Graham is 32 years old, but he refuses to slow down. He led the team with 8.5 sacks last year, and he has averaged six sacks over an eight-year period! The guy also finds a way to stay on the field. Can you believe he has missed a single game in eight years! He’s been consistently good and remains a force, both against the run and rushing the passer. Derek Barnett is a former first-rounder coming off a career-high in sacks with 6.5. However, his 2019 PFF grade was the lowest of his three-year stint in the NFL and he finished as the number 83 edge defender out of 107 qualifiers. He’s an “okay” player. Vinny Curry played 38% of the snaps last year, but it does not appear like he will be back with the team. At the time of writing, he was still a free agent. He did pick up five sacks last year, but teams seem reluctant to sign him because he’ll be playing his age-32 campaign. He actually played pretty well when called upon. With Curry gone, the team must hope Josh Sweat will elevate his game. The 2018 fourth-round selection posted his first four sacks of his career last year, but his 62.5 overall PFF mark ranked him as the 76th-best edge defender out of 107 guys. 3.3 Linebackers (LBs) After playing four years in Buffalo and four years in Philly, Nigel Bradham was cut by the Eagles, mainly for cap reasons. He provided average play at the LB position; he was good in coverage, but he was a liability defending the run. The team also lost Kamu Grugier-Hill, who signed with the Dolphins. You could characterize him as a decent player, albeit far from being great. That leaves the team pretty thin at the position. Nathan Gerry is the lone 2019 starter that is still with the team. He ranked as the 34th-best linebacker out of 89 players. He does not offer much upside, though. It would be stunning to see him crack the top 25 someday. Can Duke Riley and/or T.J Edwards crack the starting lineup? Neither seem to be an up-and-coming star. Riley was acquired for peanuts prior to last year and he played 35 snaps. As for Edwards, he was an undrafted rookie out of Wisconsin that did well in limited time last year. He proved to be stout against the run. 3.4 Cornerbacks (CBs) Philly’s back end has been revamped for the upcoming 2020 season. The Eagles signed one of the best slot corners in the league: Nickell Robey-Coleman. He has received consistently good grades from ProFootballFocus over the past four years. At 5’8’’ he is pretty small, but you couldn’t tell from the quality of his game. He’s a nice addition. Philly also acquired Darius “Big Play” Slay, who played the first seven years of his career with the Lions. He had a down year in 2019, but I’m not worried he can rebound in a new environment. He’s been covering opponent’s top receivers for a while in this league, and he’s done a good job at it. He has 19 career interceptions. Ronald Darby’s career has been plagued with injuries recently and he was let go during the offseason. His PFF grade took an enormous drop last year, all the way from a respectable 70.6 in 2018 down to an abysmal 44.8 last year. He signed a one-year deal with the Redskins. Rasul Douglas and Avonte Maddox are still on the team, but neither has proven to be an impactful contributor. Both graded as very below-average corners in 2019. 3.5 Safeties (S) Malcolm Jenkins and Rodney McLeod both played the entire 2019 season. They ranked as the 32nd- and 52nd-best out of a bunch of 87 safeties. The organization and Jenkins couldn’t agree on a deal, so the Eagles had to let him go after six very successful seasons. He picked off 11 passes during his six-year stint in Philly. He signed with the Saints, with which he spent the first five seasons of his career. Even though he wasn’t getting any younger, his present will be missed. McLeod’s 2019 PFF grade was the lowest he had obtained over the past five years, but he still did a decent job. Jalen Mills will be one piece of the puzzle in replacing Jenkins. But let’s face the reality: he has been pretty awful throughout his four-year career, except 2017 where he did better. Another option will be newly acquired Will Parks, who is coming over from Denver. However, he’s clearly not a long-term solution either. He’s pretty versatile, but he’s a below-average player. 2020 VS 2019 DEFENSE This unit was upgraded quite a bit during the offseason at two positions, but it also suffered a severe downgrade at a couple others. First, acquiring Javon Hargrave to team up with Fletcher Cox on the interior of the line was big! At CB, getting Darius Slay and Nickell Robey-Coleman will provide much needed help at a position that has caused headaches for years in Philly. Unfortunately, the defense lost its best safety when Malcolm Jenkins signed with the Saints. Also, even though none of them was a true difference maker, losing linebackers Nigel Bradham and Kamu Grugier-Hill creates a hole. Since the team acquired some big time players while losing good/average players, I envision a small improvement. In 2019, the Eagles finished in the middle of the pack in terms of points allowed per game (15th out of 32 teams). I envision Philly finishing around the #10-#13 spot this year. Final call (2020 vs 2019): Small upgrade
4. Regular Season Wins
According to sportsbooks, the Eagles are expected to win 9.5 games this season. Should we bet the “over” or the “under”? Here is the methodology I used in order to answer this vital question:
Use BetOnline.ag’s point spreads on all 256 regular season games.
Convert those point spreads into win probabilities.
Simulate each of the 256 games, according to those win probabilities, via the R statistical software.
Repeat the previous step one million times (you get 1M simulated seasons).
Count the proportion of seasons where the Eagles won more or less than 9.5 games.
Here are the results:
OVER 9.5 WINS
UNDER 9.5 WINS
Tip: Bet UNDER 9.5 wins Return On Investment (ROI): +13.7% Rank: 19th-highest ROI out of 32 teams Minimum odds required to bet (i.e. ROI = 0%): -136 Here are BetOnline’s point spreads for the Eagles’ 16 regular season games:
HOME: +2 vs BAL, -10 vs CIN, -2.5 vs DAL, -4 vs LAR, 0 vs NO, -5 vs NYG, -2 vs SEA, -10.5 vs WAS.
Note: The “Best odds” from the table above were obtained after looking at 13 well-known online sportsbooks on May 18th, 2020. I invite you to take a look at my other 31 NFL team previews! Good information if you are involved in fantasy football and/or if you want to be up-to-date on player movement and teams' strengths and weaknesses (for betting purposes)! Cheers, Professor MJ
Best Football Bets: Betting for Money or Fun. There are two different types of football bettors – possibly more, but in general two main types. There are those who bet for fun and passion, and those who make a wager to make a profit. The latter type are the bettors using football betting strategies. The types of football bets facing any punter may be cause for confusion. These days, there are many different ways of betting on football matches. The majority of people only bet on the final outcome of a game based on 90 minutes. However there are several other ways that you can bet to on football games. Different Types of Football Bets. One of the first things you should understand about betting on football is the fact that there are several different types of wagers that can be placed. You won’t necessarily use all the different types, depending on what strategies you employ, but it’s still advisable to learn at least a little about each one. I’ve been playing Super Bowl party betting games for years, and I’d like to share some of my favorites. Before we get to the list, remember: Communication is key. Make sure to inform your guests in advance about what betting games you will offer (and the stakes) at your party, so that they will arrive prepared. Hockey Stanley Cup and Football Super Bowl Point Spreads Understanding NFL football betting odds & weekly point spread is important. If you plan on NFL football picks, this document will be of essence. It's imperative to use live NFL odds for every spread, total and money line for the games in a given week.
Sports Betting: How to Bet and How to Win! - Part One
Before you can actually deploy a model for betting purposes you need to test it to make sure it works. You can test it in real time as the season goes on, day by day, but this is a slow process ... Football is one of the most popular sports to place bets on. Learn how to effectively make profit while gambling on football matches and become the pro punter with MightyTips! 00:00-00:15 ... If you just want the picks, skip ahead to 6:55 This year for college football Week 1 I have decided to place $100 on every single Week 1 game. I went to 7 different sportsbooks here in Las Vegas ... Learn how to bet ATS, or against the spread, with this informative breakdown. These Sports Betting 101 videos are meant to help you learn and start winning today. There is an explanation about how to use the platform and how your clients can easily bet on the different football leagues and tournaments that Golden Race offers, in both instant and schedule modes.