2019 NFL Season: Week 4 picks

NFL Week 4 Picks.png
Source: https://www.norebbo.com/?s=nfl

Current Standings

Adam: 32-15-1

Aman: 29-18-1

Dan: 35-12-1

Joel: 30-17-1

Rahim: 31-16-1

 

Eagles @ Packers (Thursday night)

The Eagles have too many injuries right now. We’ve seen how big of an impact those injuries have made over the last two weeks. Those injuries will likely continue to play a big role against the Packers. Even at full strength it would be tough to beat this Packers defense, which is currently one of the best in the league. Aaron Rodgers and a tough defense might be too much for the Eagles with all those injuries.

Predictions

Adam: Packers

Aman: Packers

Dan: Packers

Joel: Packers

Rahim: Packers

 

Redskins @ Giants

This game will solely be focused on rookie quarterback Daniel Jones. He led a comeback last week against the Buccaneers, totaling four touchdowns. He looked good last week, but can he do it again? The Daniel Jones hype train is moving full speed, and we’ll see if he can keep it going against the 0-3 Redskins.

Predictions

Adam: Giants

Aman: Giants

Dan: Giants

Joel: Redskins

Rahim: Giants

 

Chiefs @ Lions

The Lions have had a nice start to their season, but now it’s time to really put them to the test. Patrick Mahomes looks like he’s even better than he was a season ago, which is scary for not only the Lions, but the entire league. We’ll see how the Lions play against one of the best offensive teams in the league.

Predictions

Adam: Chiefs

Aman: Chiefs

Dan: Chiefs

Joel: Chiefs

Rahim: Chiefs

 

Titans @ Falcons

I feel like neither of these teams are playing to their potential right. For one team, that will continue in this game, but the other will get a confidence boost after this win. Which team can put it all together offensively to get their team a win?

Predictions

Adam: Falcons

Aman: Falcons

Dan: Falcons

Joel: Falcons

Rahim: Falcons

 

Browns @ Ravens

Despite being one of the most hyped up teams in the offseason, the Browns still have a lot of holes to fill on their team. They hung in there against the Rams last week, but they still couldn’t overcome their problems. Lamar Jackson is not a quarterback to have problems against, and neither is this Ravens defense.

Predictions

Adam: Ravens

Aman: Ravens

Dan: Ravens

Joel: Ravens

Rahim: Ravens

 

Raiders @ Colts

Despite not having Andrew Luck, the Colts are playing pretty well right now. They’re still a competitive team, which shows how well they’ve been built. The Raiders are still the Raiders, meaning they’re still bad. I expect a still competitive Colts team to get the win over a still bad Raiders team.

Predictions

Adam: Colts

Aman: Colts

Dan: Colts

Joel: Colts

Rahim: Colts

 

Patriots @ Bills

Even though the Bills are one of the few 3-0 teams in the league, I can’t help but feel that they’re the worst of the group. Wins over the Jets, Giants and Bengals aren’t really that impressive. The Patriots are obviously their biggest test yet, and I can’t help but feel the Bills will fail this test. In this league, you just never know.

Predictions

Adam: Patriots

Aman: Patriots

Dan: Patriots

Joel: Patriots

Rahim: Bills

 

Panthers @ Texans

Kyle Allen looked awesome last week against the Cardinals. He looked much better than Cam Newton has this season. Now that he’s had a breakout performance, can he sustain it? The Texans are not an easy team to play against, especially for a young and inexperienced quarterback like Allen.

Predictions

Adam: Texans

Aman: Texans

Dan: Texans

Joel: Texans

Rahim: Panthers

 

Chargers @ Dolphins

The Dolphins…………. Yeah, I’ll go with the Chargers.

Predictions

Adam: Chargers

Aman: Chargers

Dan: Chargers

Joel: Chargers

Rahim: Chargers

 

Buccaneers @ Rams

The Rams continue to be one of the best teams in the league. The Buccaneers on the other hand, continue to be the Buccaneers. The offensive fire power of the Rams will simply be too much for Jameis Winston to keep up with.

Predictions

Adam: Rams

Aman: Rams

Dan: Rams

Joel: Rams

Rahim: Rams

 

Seahawks @ Cardinals

This game is interesting because it’s Kyler Murray against Russell Wilson. Murray has been compared to Wilson several times. Now we’ll get a chance to see just how similar they really are. Obviously, Wilson is the better quarterback right now, but it’s not just the quarterback position where the Seahawks have the advantage. They’re a better built overall, while the Cardinals are still building. They have been able to give us some interesting games so far though, so hopefully this one’s interesting too.

Predictions

Adam: Seahawks

Aman: Seahawks

Dan: Seahawks

Joel: Seahawks

Rahim: Seahawks

 

Vikings @ Bears

The Bears finally looked like the Bears we saw last season with a win over the Redskins on Monday night football. However, they were playing against the now 0-3 Redskins. You have to give them credit for doing what they did against an NFL team, but the Vikings will be much tougher. The key for the Bears will be to stop the run. If they can do that, they’ll force Cousins to beat them. The Vikings don’t want that, so they have to get Dalvin Cook going early.

Predictions

Adam: Bears

Aman: Bears

Dan: Bears

Joel: Bears

Rahim: Bears

 

Jaguars @ Broncos

Gardner Minshew has looked really good in his short time as the Jaguars’ starting quarterback. He’s making a lot of nice plays without doing too much. I believe the Jaguars’ defense will continue making big plays and getting stops, which will continue to put Minshew and the offense in good spots. The Broncos are seeking their first win of the season. Can they pressure Minshew enough to make him turn the ball over? If they can do that and give their offense good position, the Broncos might take this one.

Predictions

Adam: Broncos

Aman: Broncos

Dan: Jaguars

Joel: Jaguars

Rahim: Broncos

 

Cowboys @ Saints (Sunday night)

The Dallas Cowboys have looked explosive on offense this season, with Dak Prescott being a top MVP candidate right now. This week they play the Drew Brees-less Saints, but don’t count them out. Teddy Bridgewater and the Saints proved they’re not out of it yet after beating the Seahawks last week. This one is at home for the Saints, and this team will be seeking revenge for the loss the Cowboys handed them last season. This will be a hard fought game.

Predictions

Adam: Saints

Aman: Saints

Dan: Saints

Joel: Cowboys

Rahim: Cowboys

 

Bengals @ Steelers (Monday night)

Despite getting another loss and moving to 0-3, the Steelers looked much more competitive against the 49ers last week. Mason Rudolph made some nice throws, but now it’s time to build on them. Can he keep this offense moving? A game featuring two 0-3 teams isn’t usually exciting, but this a divisional game, so it should hold at least some interest.

Predictions

Adam: Bengals

Aman: Steelers

Dan: Bengals

Joel: Steelers

Rahim: Steelers

2019 NFL Predictions: AFC South

We continue our NFL kickoff  countdown with the AFC South. Over the past five days, we’ve given you a preview of what to expect from some of the top divisions in football. We’ll continue that here and see who has what it takes to win the AFC South.


It’s going to be an interesting season in the AFC South because of all the moves made via injuries, retirement, etc. I’ll break it all down as it leads to each team. How will they all benefit with the changes? Can the Texans and Colts make playoffs again? Can the Jaguars and Titans get back in? Let’s find out!

1. Houston Texans

 Last season’s record: 11-5

Postseason Result: Lost to Indianapolis Colts (21-7) in the Wild Card round

Offseason Acquisitions:

Signed:

  • RB Duke Johnson (Traded from Cleveland)
  • LT Laremy Tunlis and WR Kenny Stills (Traded from Miami)
  • RB Carlos Hyde (Traded from Kansas City)
  • DE’s Jake Martin and Barkevious Mingo (Traded from Seattle)
  • CB Keion Crossen (Traded from New England)
  • TE Darren Fells (Cleveland)
  • LT Matt Kalil (Carolina)
  • SS Jahleel Addae (L.A. Chargers)
  • P Bryan Anger (Tampa Bay)
  • CB Bradley Roby (Denver)
  • S Tashaun Gipson and CB Briean Boddy-Calhoun (Jacksonville)
  • QB AJ McCarron and RB Taiwan Jones (Buffalo)

Drafted: 

  • OT Tytus Howard (23rd)
  • CB Lonnie Johnson (54th)
  • OT Max Scharping (55th)
  • TE Kahale Warring (86th)
  • RB Cullen Gillaspia (220th)
  • CB Xavier Crawford (195th)
  • DE Charles Omenihu (161th)

Offseason Departures:

  • RB Lamar Miller (Injured ACL)
  • DE  Jadeveon Clowney (Traded to Seattle)
  • C Martinas Rankin (Traded to Kansas City)
  • LT Julie’n Davenport and CB Johnson Bademosi (Traded to Miami)
  • S Tyrann Mathieu (Kansas City)
  • CB Kareem Jackson (Denver)
  • CB Kevin Johnson (Buffalo)
  • TE Ryan Griffin (N.Y. Jets)
  • OT Kendall Lamm (Browns)
  • RB D’Onta Foreman (Indianapolis)
  • WR Demaryius Thomas (Free Agent)
  • Retired P Shane Lecher

The Big Question:

Despite all the news of DE Jadeveon Clowney being traded to Seattle, the Texans have other concerns to worry about.

How will the defense perform with the loss of Clowney? How about the offense? Can WRs Will Fuller, Keke Coutee and newly acquired Kenny Stills stay healthy enough for QB Deshaun Watson to have more weapons? Stills could be a secret weapon alongside DeAndre Hopkins.

What about the running game? With the injury to RB Lamar Miller, can Duke Johnson become a star? Will they look to add another RB in the mix via trade or free agency? I think the Texans defense might be good either way. They’ve continuously been a top tier defensive team.

If the receiving core can stay healthy, there’s a lot more opportunities to be successful on the offensive side, and the running game wouldn’t matter as much. Although, I think they’ll find a way to add more RB depth, whether it’s part of a trade or free agency.  Let’s see how well their season goes.

Prediction: 11-5

 

2. Jacksonville Jaguars

Last season’s record: 5-11

Postseason Result: N/A

Offseason Acquisitions:

Signed:

  • ILB Myles Jack (Extended)
  • TE James O’Shaughnessy
  • OL Tyler Shatley
  • RB Alfred Blue (Houston)
  • WR Terrelle Pryor (N.Y. Jets)
  • QB Nick Foles (Philadelphia)
  • ILB Jake Ryan (Green Bay) 
  • TE Geoff Swaim (Dallas)
  • WR Chris Conley (Kansas City)
  • OT Cedric Ogbuehi (Cincinnati)

Draft: 

  • DE Josh Allen (7th)
  • RT Jawaan Taylor (35th)
  • TE Josh Oliver (69th)
  • LB Quincy Williams (98th) 
  • QB Gardner Minshew (178th)
  •  DT Dontavius Russell (235th)

Offseason Departures:

  • DT Malik Jackson (Philadelphia)
  • RB T.J. Yeldon (Buffalo)
  • RB Carlos Hyde (Kansas City to Houston)
  • QB Blake Bortles (L. A. Rams)
  • WR Donte Moncrief (Pittsburgh) 
  • OT Ereck Flowers (Washington) 
  • RT Jeremy Parnell (New Orleans) 
  • TE Austin Seferian-Jenkins (Free Agent)

The Big Question: 

The Jaguars made one big change to their roster this offseason, and it was to the most important position on the team. That position is the QB spot. The Jaguars signed Super Bowl LII MVP Nick Foles, while getting rid of Blake Bortles.

There are several questions that could be asked here, like the impact RB Leonard Fournette will have this season after spending most of last season banged up with injuries.

There’s also the health of the Jaguars WRs too. Last year was another injury prone season for the Jaguars receiving core. It honestly made Bortles look worse then he was at times. 

I don’t think Bortles is a bad QB, it just wasn’t the right system for him. However, this will be a good season for the Jaguars with Nick Foles. They finish with a 9-7 record behind a tough schedule.

Prediction: 9-7

 

3. Tennessee Titans

Last season’s record: 9-7

Postseason Result: N/A

Offseason Acquisitions: 

Signed:

  • QB Ryan Tannehill (Traded from Miami)
  • DE Reggie Gilbert (Green Bay)
  • G Rodger Saffold (Oakland)
  • WR Adam Humphries and OG Kevin Pamphile (Tampa Bay)
  • DE Cameron Wake (Miami)
  • DT Brent Urban (Baltimore)
  •  

Draft:

  • DT Jeff Simmons (19th)
  • WR A.J. Brown (51st)
  • G Nate Davis (82nd)
  • S Amani Hooker (116th)
  • OLB D’Andre Walker (168th)
  • LB David Long (188th)

Offseason Departures: 

  • Retired RB Chris Johnson and OLB Derrick Morgan 
  • WR Taywan Taylor (Traded to Cleveland)
  • G Josh Kline (Minnesota)
  • S Johnathan Cyprien (Philadelphia) 
  • TE Luke Stocker (Atlanta)
  • QB Blaine Gabbert (Tampa Bay)

The Big Question: 

One of the biggest questions surrounding the Titans has to do with their receiving group. Can Corey Davis actually be the top receiver in the Titans offense? How long will it take A.J. Brown to adjust to the NFL game?

I’m not too worried about the Titans defense, because I think they will continue to be a good force. For the Titans to find success and be able to compete this season, they will need to be able to find a way. 

For the sake of the Titans, I hope their receiving core can find a way to come up big this season. It’ll take a lot pressure off of both Henry and TE Delaine Walker as two guys who look to be a huge part of the Titans offense. 

Prediction: 9-7

 

4. Indianapolis Colts:

Last season’s record: 10-6

Postseason Result: Beat Houston Texans (21-7) in Wild Card round, Lost to Kansas City Chiefs (31-13) in the Divisional round

Offseason Acquisitions:

Signed: 

  • G Evan Boehm (Traded from Miami)
  • CB Nate Hairston (Traded from N.Y. Jets)
  • C Jake Eldrenkamp and QB Hoyer (New England)
  • DE Justin Houston (Kansas City)
  • WR Devin Funchess (Carolina)
  • DB Pierre Desir
  • LB Luke Rhodes 
  • DB Clayton Geathers
  • WR Chester Rogers

Draft:

  • CB Rock Ya-Sin (34th) 
  • DE Ben Banogu (49th)
  • WR Parris Campbell (59th) 
  • LB Bobby Okereke (89th)
  • S Khari Willis (109th)
  • LB E.J. Speed (164th)

Offseason Departures:

  • Retired QB Andrew Luck
  • DT Hassan Ridgeway (Traded to Philadelphia)
  • WR Ryan Grant and TE Erik Swoope (Oakland)
  • WR Dontrelle Inman (L.A. Chargers) 

The Big Question:

The Colts were hit by the surprise announcement of QB Andrew Luck’s retirement. Now they’re faced with a lot of important questions.

Was it really a surprise? As banged as Luck was,  he Colts should’ve seen this coming.  Now we worry about how QB Jacoby Brissett will play as the starter again. Can he have the “Luck” for the Colts?

I’m expecting the defense to be fine, but can Brissett and WR T.Y. Hilton build chemistry together? Hilton’s production was at a career-low with Brissett at QB in 2017, and we hope it’s not the same this year. 

The Colts added a lot of offensive pieces over the years, and they should be able to find some success this year with RB’s Marlon Mack and Nyhiem Hines to join Hilton, Devin Funchess and TE’s Jack Doyle and Eric Ebron as they look to make the playoffs again.

Prediction: 6-10

 

Predicted Division Standings:

  1. Houston Texans (11-5)

  2. Jacksonville Jaguars (9-7)

  3. Tennessee Titans (9-7)

  4. Indianapolis Colts (6-10)

 

Five NFL teams who could unexpectedly target a first round QB

The Arizona Cardinals, Oakland Raiders, New York Giants, Washington Redskins, Miami Dolphins and New England Patriots. What do all these teams have in common? They’ve all been heavily linked to a first round QB in the 2019 NFL Draft. 

The teams mentioned above are the teams we all expect to target a QB in the first round of the upcoming draft, along with a few others such as the Saints, Steelers and Chargers.

While these teams have all been heavily linked to first round QBs, there are several others teams who could surprise us all by selecting a QB in the first round when their time comes. Let’s take a look at five of those teams who could surprise us with their first round selections.

First round QB - Detroit Lions
Matthew Stafford” by Mike Morbeck is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

 

1. Detroit Lions

Everyone believes the Lions are set at the QB position, but it actually might be time for them to move on. Since entering the league in 2009, Matthew Stafford has led the Lions to the playoffs three times. In every one of those playoff appearances, the Lions have lost. Stafford is 0-3 in the playoffs.

In addition to only leading the Lions to three playoff appearances, Stafford has led the Lions to a season of 10+ wins just twice (2011 and 2014). Stafford has never led the Lions to a division title. Not one time.

If I were the Lions, I’d seriously consider trading Matthew Stafford and his huge contract away to a team who’s looking for a QB. I’m sure several teams would be takers. It’s obvious the Lions aren’t going anywhere with Stafford under center, and it’s time for them to move on. Holding the No. 8 overall pick, the Lions are in a great position to get one of the draft’s top QBs. It honestly wouldn’t surprise me if QB is where they ended up going.

 

2. Jacksonville Jaguars

I know, the Jags just got Nick Foles to be their starting QB, but is he really the answer? Foles was great for the Eagles over the last two seasons, but I’m not sure he’s consistent enough to be a franchise guy.

If you look at his career stats, his QB rating has gone up and down throughout his entire career. He started with an 88.5, but then went to a 79.1. After that, he jumped back up to a 119.2, but then dropped back down to 81.4. He actually dropped again the next season, going down to 69.0.

He went back up to 105.9 in a brief stint with the Chiefs in 2016, but then dropped back down to 79.5 with the Eagles the next season. Last season, Foles was back up to 96.0. However, if his career pattern continues, he won’t have a great season this year. He’s scheduled for a down year.

I’m waiting for Nick Foles to prove me wrong, because I just don’t think he’s a franchise QB. I think he’s an upgrade over Blake Bortles, but I also think the Jaguars should be looking to add a fresh, young talent to be their official franchise guy for years to come. They’re in position to do so in the draft, so keep an eye on them even though nobody thinks they’ll go that way after acquiring Foles.

 

First round QB - Philadelphia Eagles
Carson Wentz” by Keith Allison is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

3. Philadelphia Eagles

Carson Wentz is the starting QB for this team, no question. Even when Nick Foles was around, the starting job always belonged to Wentz. When he’s healthy, Wentz can play at an MVP level. Had he not been hurt during their Super Bowl year, he likely would have been the league MVP, but him being hurt is the problem.

Wentz has missed time with injuries over the last two seasons. The Eagles are lucky they had Nick Foles as their backup to carry them, but that’s no longer the case. What will they do now if Wentz goes down? Get Nate Sudfield to lead them to the playoffs? I don’t think so.

Without Foles sitting behind Wentz, the Eagles will be in trouble if he goes down. Selecting a QB in the first round may be a steep price for the Eagles to pay for a backup, but if any team knows the value of a backup, it’s the Eagles. Drafting a QB in the first round would give them another capable backup in the event Wentz can’t stay healthy again this season or in the future.

 

4. Minnesota Vikings

Yes, Kirk Cousins is owed a lot of money, but that shouldn’t stop the Vikings from trying to get a QB who can lead them where they want to go. It wasn’t just Cousins’ fault the Vikings missed the playoffs last season, but it was obvious he isn’t the guy they thought they were getting.

Considering the money Cousins is owed, it may be a stretch for the Vikings to target a QB in the first round, but it’s something they should at least think about. It’s not like Cousins is a proven winner in the league. He’s made the playoffs just once as a starting QB, and he lost his only playoff game.

With the No. 18 overall pick, the Vikings likely won’t be getting Kyler Murray or Dwayne Haskins if they went QB. They probably won’t have Drew Lock available either, but if they feel a future franchise QB is available when they’re on the clock, don’t put drafting a QB past them.

 

First round QB - Green Bay Packers
Aaron Rodgers, Da’Ron Payne” by Keith Allison is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

5. Green Bay Packers

Ever since the Packers let go of Mike McCarthy, all the talk has been about how this team can rebuild around Aaron Rodgers for another Super Bowl run before he retires. While I do think it’s important the Packers do everything they can to get another title with Rodgers, what if they decided to rebuild for a post Aaron Rodgers world?

Aaron Rodgers is 35, so he’s getting up there in age. It’s no secret he’s been hurt multiple times over the last two seasons. He played in every game last season, but that doesn’t mean he was fully healthy. Packers fans all remember how things went when Rodgers went down two seasons ago. By drafting a QB in the first round, the Packers could avoid that if something happened to Rodgers.

Having two first round picks, the Packers could draft a QB to sit behind Rodgers with one of those. With the other, they could still get a top talent to help their team. Nobody’s talking about the Packers drafting a QB early, but I actually think it’s not that unrealistic. Last time they drafted a first rounder with an already established starter, it turned out pretty well for them.

 

Buy or Sell: Harper, Raiders, Jaguars, Lakers, Atlanta United FC, and Lightning

We’ve changed things up a bit this time around, as another member of the team joins us for this supersized version of “Buy or Sell.” Aman Huda will be taking the place of Mickayeen from here on out!
This week we talk about six different topics, covering five sports. Yes, that’s right! We took supersize to the next level, and we would love to get your thoughts on everything we buy or sell this week! In last week’s article, we spoke of Nolan Arenado and his deal, but we left the real deal for Dan Piersman, as he tells us about Bryce Harper!

IMG_3979” by Dinur is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Harper is one of our several topics this week! We also have some big topics about the NFL, to talk about some possible QB moves that could change the landscape of the AFC next season. There’s also the question as to if a struggling NBA team will land a top player in free agency. We also include a bit on the NHL and the defending MLS champions. Let’s get started!

RahimAli: Bryce Harper will bring another title to the city of brotherly love.

Joel: I’ll buy Bryce Harper bringing another title to Philly. I can’t say exactly when that will be, but he’s got a long time to make it happen, so I’ll buy it.

Bryce Harper is one of the best players in baseball. Having him on the team instantly made the Phillies better. Most of the time when you have a star player, especially one of Harper’s caliber, it’s easy to attract other stars as well. I think the Phillies can put together a nice roster over the next few years and really be able to get into not only playoff contention, but championship contention.

Again, I can’t say exactly when this championship will come. I doubt it will be this coming season or the season after, but maybe it could be. You just never know. I can see it happening over the course of Harper’s lifetime Phillies deal.

Aman: I too buy that Bryce Harper can do the job for Philly. If he impresses this season, he’ll definitely make others want to play with him, which will only make the team stronger and better in the future. Perhaps not this season, but within the next five years, it’s definitely a strong possibility seeing a World Series title being delivered to Philadelphia.

 

Joel: The Oakland Raiders will trade QB Derek Carr to target a top QB in the 2019 NFL Draft.

Aman: I sell the Raiders trading him away. It seems as of late that Carr might be important in getting the Raiders to land Antonio Brown, and the Raiders wouldn’t want to compromise on an opportunity like that. If a receiver like Brown can help the rest of the offense for the Raiders next season, the performance of everyone else will only improve. Along with that, if Carr and Brown can form an excellent partnership together, they’ll be crucial to the Raiders winning games next season.

RahimAli: I buy! When the Raiders somehow convinced Jon Gruden to come out of the play-by-play booth to coach again after 10 years, we all thought it was going to be a great thing for both him and quarterback Derek Carr. However, the Raiders and Carr didn’t have a great season at all, as they went 4-12. In fact, before the season started, Gruden traded the teams best defensive player, Khalil Mack, to the Chicago Bears for a first-round pick.

He also traded the teams best receiver, Amari Cooper, to the Dallas Cowboys for another first-rounder.

It’s clear Gruden is ready to clean house. With the offense getting older with guys like Marshawn Lynch, Doug Martin, Jared Cook and Jordy Nelson, who are all 30 plus, it’ll be hard to get rid of them for younger talent or picks.

Carr is 27 and still has plenty of upside. Last season, Carr had a career high in passing yards (4,049) and completion percentage (68.9) in a failed season for the Raiders. That alone should be reason enough for anyone to want to trade for Carr. At the right price, Gruden will do it.

After all, Gruden loves QBs. This year’s class is one of the most interesting, with all eyes on Kyler Murray and Dwayne Haskins. If the Raiders were to trade Carr, they would most likely be looking to use their 4th overall pick to get a QB like Murray or Haskins instead of ta defensive end as predicted in the most recent mock draft.

 

Aman: The Jaguars can make playoffs with Nick Foles next season.

RahimAli: I buy the Jaguars will make the playoffs next season with Nick Foles. I don’t completely put the failure of last season on the shoulders of QB Blake Bortles, because they had several issues. However, Bortles is one of the issues. I think all the issues will be a point of focus by the Jaguars coaching staff in this offseason and training camp.

One issue was the lack of depth at receiver and running back. The Jaguars’ offense runs through RB Leonard Fournette, who missed half the season with injury, which left T.J. Yeldon to pick up the slack. Yeldon was later joined by Carlos Hyde in a trade. Their WRs were banged up all season long as well. They lost WR Marquise Lee during the preseason.

All that alone was a cause of the Jaguars’ disappointing season. Bortles and the Jaguars went from 10-6 and making the AFC Championship game, to being 5-11 and the last place team in the AFC South. Last place is a regular position for the Jaguars with Bortles,  and it’s clear they need a change at QB.

With all their offensive weapons getting healthy and Foles having success running a similar offense in Philadelphia, I think this is a good move in the right direction. Now only if Jalen Ramsey and the defense can get their act together.

Joel: I buy the Jaguars being able to make the playoffs next season with Nick Foles. For starters, they made the playoffs with Blake Bortles two years ago. Nick Foles is a better QB than Blake Bortles. Not only is he a better QB in terms of talent, but he’s a much better leader. There was something different about the Eagles when Foles was in compared to Carson Wentz, and I believe it was Foles’ ability to lead a team. Blake Bortles isn’t a leader.

Then there’s the fact that Leonard Fournette was injured a lot last season, as RahimAli said. If Fournette can get healthy again, things will go back to the way they were during his rookie season, when he dominated on the ground. With Fournette returning to himself, that will open a lot of things up for Foles. They do need to address their receiver position, but I think they can easily take care of that either in free agency or the draft, at least well enough to get them by offensively.

Finally, there’s the defense. Despite what people might think, the defense was still pretty good last season. They weren’t as good as two years ago, but they ranked tied for fourth in the NFL in points allowed, allowing an average of 19.8 per game. That’s really good! With the offense getting healthier and being upgraded at the most important position, they’ve got a good chance to get back in the playoffs.

 

Joel: Despite probably missing the playoffs, the Lakers will sign at least one big name free agent this coming off-season.

RahimAli: As a Lakers fan hoping for another championship, I buy! But as a Lakers fans frustrated with this season, I SELL! I don’t think the Lakers will land a big name player this offseason.

In fact, I think LeBron will push for coach Luke Walton to get replaced, like he has done to every coach that has coached him not named Erik Spoelstra. It’s part of what LeBron does in his career. I think the Lakers will get a big name coach from outside the organization and have them try their luck; maybe somebody who can coach defense.

The Lakers will definitely miss the playoffs again this season, and everybody is going to be second guessing themselves. All these moves they made to set themselves up for a bright future with the “greastest of all time,” and it’s probably LeBron James’ worst season of his career.

Early last week, I gave three additional things the Lakers lack that has caused the situation they are in. But the biggest thing they lack right now is leadership, and no big name player wants to come to a team with a new head coach and no real leadership. We don’t even know who all will be part of the team next year, besides LeBron James.

But let’s go back to his season stats real quick, he’s shooting a career low, 66.9 percent from the free throw line. Instead of getting the basket and foul, James gets one free throw. I mean, I get he’s trying to get the rest of the players involved and be the playmaker that we all know and love him for, but he has to know when to take control without having a supporting cast like Dwyane Wade or Kyrie Irving.

Also, I don’t think any big name player wants to be the second best on their team. Isn’t that why Irving left in the first place? I mean, you can’t argue that James isn’t great when he just passed Michael Jordan for 4th all-time on the NBA scoring list, but you think scorers like Klay Thompson, Anthony Davis, and Kawhi Leonard won’t have a problem? I don’t know, maybe Aman’s synopsis is a better one to go with, as I’ll continue to watch the Lakers fight and fail to make the playoffs.

Aman: I buy! The Lakers will definitely have the money to do so. Along with that, the team will be quick to make changes if they miss the playoffs, which includes buying a player or two. Also, coming from a player’s point of view, despite not being as credible of a team right now, it won’t be too hard to attract players to the Lakers, given a chance to play alongside LeBron James and live in a city like Los Angeles.

 

Aman: Atlanta United will defend their MLS title with a new manager.

Rahim: I’m going to sell this one! Sorry Atlanta fans, but repeats are the hardest thing to do. As much as I would love to see them do it again for the city of Atlanta, I don’t think it’s going to happen, and it has nothing to do with the new manager.

Although, I think Frank de Boer can lead the Five Stripe to the playoffs again, winning it all is highly unlikely. Frank de Boer is a European manager who’s more used to a European style of football. In the MLS, de Boer will need to adapt to the high-paced attacking and high-pressure from defenders. Also, the Atlanta United team is based on a South American style of football, something which will take time for de Boer to adapt to.

Plus, there are other teams who look more hungry for the title this year. Zlatan Ibrahimovic and the Los Angeles Galaxy are still looking to prove themselves. LAFC was pretty impressive in the opening season, and it seems they can only get better. We just saw usual favorites Seattle Sounders pound FC Cincinnati 4-1. And DC United, with Luciano Acosta and Wayne Rooney look like a proper football team.

That’s just the nature of the game we call Soccer. All it takes is one goal and a season can be over. For the sake of Atlanta United FC, it was a late first half goal in the Cup final that sparked the championship and ended a curse of the city of Atlanta. Read more about what that curse meant here.

Joel: I’m going to sell Atlanta United defending their title with a new manager. As is the case for RahimAli, it has nothing to do with the new manager. RahimAli also stated how hard it is to repeat championships.

It happens every once in a while, but it’s extremely hard to do. I know the NFL is completely different, but I’ll use the New England Patriots as an example. They’ve won six Super Bowl titles with Tom Brady and Bill Belichick. Out of those six, how many times have they repeated? Just once.

Yes, they’ve made it back to the Super Bowl in back-to-back years, but they’ve only won it in back-to-back years once. This is proof that it’s extremely hard to win a title after winning it the year before. I think Atlanta United will be a good team, but I’ll sell on them defending their title.

 

RahimAli: With the Tampa Bay Lightning being the only team in the NHL with 50 wins, they are the favorite to win the Stanley Cup?

Aman: What makes a hockey team great? Their offense. The team with the best offense, the team which scores the most typically becomes strong favorites to win the Stanley Cup.

Having 257 goals under their belt, the next best team in terms of goals is the Toronto Maple Leafs. When it comes between the Lightning and the Maple Leafs, the Lightning are favorites to advance further, and most likely to a Stanley Cup final. The Lightning’s playoff experience has been a lot better in recent history, and their confidence will likely be higher than that of Toronto’s. Therefore, I buy Tampa Bay taking the Stanley Cup home this time around.

Joel: I’ll buy the Tampa Bay Lightning being the favorite to win the Stanley Cup. If you look at the standings, they have 51 wins. The next closest team has 41 wins. Having 10 more wins than any other team means they’re not just the best team, but they’re quite a bit better than the rest of the field. I also think that anytime you’re the best team in the league, you should be favored to win the championship.

It just makes sense for the team with the best record to be the favorite. To give some statistics to back their record up, Tampa Bay ranks first in Goals For per game (3.84) and fourth in Goals Against per game (2.61). So not only are they a great offensive team, they’re a great defensive team too. That’s a great combination for winning a championship.

 

************************************************************************************

And there you have it! Now, what do you think?

  • Could Bryce Harper bring a title in Philly?
  • Will Nick Foles lead the Jaguars to the playoffs if he were to sign there?
  • Could Derek Carr be traded?
  • Will any big name player join LeBron James as a Laker after possibly missing out on the playoffs?
  • Can Atlanta United FC defend their crown?
  • Are the Tampa Bay Lightning the favorites to win the Stanley Cup?

Let us know your thoughts in the comments!

The Canton Worthy: Linemen

Today, I’m taking a look at the five linemen who are finalists for the NFL Hall of Fame. Among them, one is a center, two are guards, one is an offensive tackle and one is a defensive end/defensive tackle. I’ll first take a look at the three interior linemen before moving on to the lone tackle. Then I’ll wrap up with the sole defensive player.

Steve Hutchinson blocks B.J. Raji in a November 14, 2011 game between the Minnesota Vikings and the Green Bay Packers.” by Mike Morbeck is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

Interior Linemen

Kevin Mawae, Center: Seattle Seahawks, 1994-1997; New York Jets, 1998-2005; Tennessee Titans, 2006-2009

Though he began his career as a guard, Mawae moved to center in 1996 and played there for the next 14 seasons. As of today, there are only 12 centers in the NFL Hall of Fame. Mawae stacks up well with all of them.

One thing that can’t be overlooked is longevity in the league. That can incredibly help a player who’s able to play at a high level for years on end, but lack thereof can also be detrimental, as I’ll get to shortly with a different player.

For Mawae, it helps.

Mawae spent 15 of his 16 years as his team’s primary starter at his position, either avoiding or playing through injuries. He made All-Pro three times with a period of nine seasons coming between his first and third selections. He was elected to his first Pro Bowl when his was 28 and his last when he was 38. In 12 seasons, he not only played in, but also started all 16 games.

Among Hall of Fame centers, only one was his team’s primary starter at his position more than Mawae–Mick Tingelhoff, who is allegedly a real person, did it 17 times. Only three centers were named to more Pro-Bowl teams than Mawae. The biggest hit against Mawae is the low number of times he made All-Pro.

However, Mawae should overcome that. From his rookie year until he hung ’em up, Mawae was a stalwart on his team’s offensive line. Not only that, he anchored the lines as a center for 14 seasons. This LSU product should become the 13th center elected to the NFL’s Hall of Fame.

 

Alan Faneca, Guard: Pittsburgh Steelers, 1998-2007; New York Jets, 2008-2009; Arizona Cardinals, 2010

Steve Hutchinson, Guard: Seattle Seahawks, 2001-2005; Minnesota Vikings, 2006-2011; Tennessee Titans, 2012

Perhaps unfairly, Faneca and Hutchinson are squaring off against each other for a single spot in Canton. Because their careers overlapped so much, from 2001-2010, these two will be compared against each other and will most likely take away votes from one another.

And now that I’ve pointed out how unfair it is comparing these two great guards against each other, I’m going to do exactly that.

First, let’s take a look at Faneca. Another LSU product, Faneca went to the Steelers as the No. 26 pick in the 1998 draft. He immediately stepped into the fray, playing in all 16 games the following season, starting 12 of them. For the following nine seasons, Faneca helped hold down the left side of Pittsburgh’s offensive line en route to seven Pro Bowls, six All-Pro selections and a victory in Super Bowl XL. After leaving Pittsburgh, he’d make another two Pro Bowls with the Jets before retiring as a member of the Cardinals after the 2010 season.

Then there’s Hutchinson, taken with the No. 17 overall pick by the Seahawks in the 2001 draft out of Michigan. In 10 seasons, Hutchinson would start at least 12 games, going the full 16 games on eight occasions. Between his time in Seattle, Minnesota, and Tennessee, he made seven Pro Bowls and five All-Pro teams. His teams reached the Super Bowl only once, where his Seahawks lost to Faneca’s Steelers.

There are exactly 20 guards in the Hall of Fame. Only three of those 20 have made more All-Pro teams than Faneca, with only five making more Pro Bowls and a mere two having been his team’s primary starter at his position longer. For Hutchinson, five made more All-Pro teams, eight made more Pro Bowls and 12 were primary starters for a longer period of time.

This year, Faneca gets the nod. Hutchinson may in the future, but not in 2019.

 

Offensive Tackle

Tony Boselli, Tackle: Jacksonville Jaguars, 1995-2001 & Houston Texans, 2002 (DNP)

A stalwart at left tackle for the expansion Jaguars beginning in 1995, Boselli made five consecutive Pro Bowls from 1996-2000. In the middle of that run, he also made three straight All-Pro teams, from 1997-1999. Throughout his time in Jacksonville, he helped legitimize the young squad, helping the team reach the playoffs in 1996 (when they reached the AFC Championship game), 1997 and 1998.

Sadly, after playing a possible 47 out of 48 games between 1998-2000, injuries hit Boselli hard. He played in only three games in 2001. Later, the Houston Texans selected Boselli with their first pick of the expansion draft, but he never played for them, retiring after the 2002 season.

Though Boselli was dominant for a solid six seasons with Jacksonville, longevity is taken into account when being considered for the Hall of Fame. Of the 28 tackles in Canton, all of them played at least eight seasons. Of the three who played a mere eight seasons, two retired before 1930 while the other retired after the 1955 season.

While there’s no doubt that Boselli is one of the greatest Jacksonville Jaguars, he didn’t play long enough to make it in the league’s Hall of Fame.

 

Defensive Lineman

Richard Seymour, Defensive End/Defensive Tackle: New England Patriots, 2001-2008 & Oakland Raiders, 2009-2012

The No. 6 overall pick in the 2001 draft out of Georgia, Seymour enjoyed a very successful start to his career with the Patriots, making five straight Pro Bowls from 2002-2006 while being named to three All-Pro teams from 2003-2005. Perhaps more importantly, he won three Super Bowls during his New England tenure, capturing Super Bowls XXXVI, XXXVIII and XXXIX. With the Patriots, Seymour accumulated 39 sacks, 357 total tackles, 64 tackles for loss and at least 37 quarterback hits.*

*Quarterback hits is a stat that pro-football-reference began keeping during the 2006 season.

After the 2008 season, the Patriots traded Seymour to the Raiders for a future first-round draft pick (used in 2011 to take tackle Nate Solder). While in Oakland, he made back-to-back Pro Bowls in 2010 and 2011 before retiring after the 2012 season. In his four seasons in Oakland, Seymour collected 18.5 sacks, 139 total tackles, 27 tackles for loss, and 42 quarterback hits. Except for 2009, Seymour spent the majority of his Raiders career as a defensive tackle.

But despite Seymour’s versatility to slide back and forth between end and tackle, he didn’t do enough to get into the Hall of Fame. He was one of the defensive stars of those early Patriots dynasty teams, and yet the Patriots continued winning after he departed. He never collected more than eight sacks in a single season, nor did he disrupt offenses enough to ever threaten to win any Defensive Player of the Year awards.

Richard Seymour was good, not great, and won’t make it into Canton.

 

Recap Through Two Articles

Yesterday, I took a look at head coaches Tom Flores and Don Coryell, passing on both of them. With today’s selections of Kevin Mawae and Alan Faneca, I’ve elected two of a maximum of five players. Tomorrow, I’ll look at five members of the secondary before wrapping up next Monday with an article on three offensive play makers.

Of the eight remaining players, only one is a lock.

New Year’s resolutions for every AFC team who missed the playoffs

A new year has come, and with it the many resolutions we swear to. Each year we promise we are going to go to the gym more, or see the world more. Some short lived, some we actually see through.

NFL teams have New Year’s resolutions just like us. Below I’ve provided you with the resolutions for every AFC team who did missed the playoffs. I decided to keep the playoff teams out, because it is pretty obvious what their resolution should be. Win a Super Bowl.

Gregg Williams” by Erik Drost is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Just like ours, some are probably not going to be seen through, while others I think have a chance of happening up to the kickoff of 2019. Along with the teams, I also provided resolutions for each division and what they hope to accomplish for 2019.

Part two, the NFC resolutions will come out early next week.

 

AFC East

Resolution: For any team but the Patriots to win the division next season

New England has had a stranglehold on the crown for ten years straight. I think I speak for everyone when I say it’s getting pretty old. No one has seemed to come close to the top. It really has made the division a laughing stock in the league. One has to assume the Patriots’ success has to be tied to the fact that New England plays the Bills, Jets and Dolphins twice a year. This year the Patriots’ road to clinching the division was through Buffalo and the Jets at home. The NFL will be a better place if just one team decides to be consistently competitive in the AFC East.

New York Jets

Resolution: Get Jim Harbaugh/No sophomore slump for Darnold

The Jets’ resolution is two parts. The first, the Jets have to do whatever it takes to ensure Sam Darnold does not go through a sophomore slump in 2019. They cannot afford to have Darnold regress in 2019 with a new coach. Darnold did not have an overly impressive rookie season. Though he had a bunch of bright spots, the Jets need Darnold to have a coming out party in 2019 to show 2018 was not a waste. Something good has to come out of this miserable season.

The second part of this resolution is in regards to the recent reports the Jets are pursuing Michigan’s Head Coach Jim Harbaugh. Though the reports have been refuted by Ian Rappaport, Jets ownership has been supposedly going to make the Michigan man an offer he can’t refuse. One that is well north of his already lucrative seven million a year contract. If that part can happen, you can almost guarantee Darnold is going to take steps in the right direction in 2019. They just  may be able to take over as the Kings of New York, at least for one year.

Buffalo Bills

Resolution: Spoil Josh Allen

The Bills’ resolution revolves around taking care of their prized possession, Josh Allen. I am fairly confident Allen has proven to most he has all the tools and intangibles to be a productive quarterback. The issue is, he did not have the ability to display those skills on a consistent basis. He is not good enough to make bad receivers look good. Throwing the ball to the likes of Robert Woods or Zay Jones did not help out Allen at all. No offense to them, but they are not clear cut number ones who can change the course of a game. The Bills have struck out as of late trying to get viable weapons at the Wide Receiver positions. Drafting Sammy Watkins, who ended up being a bust. Making a trade for Kelvin Benjamin, which showed the front offices incompetency. They need to do better for Allen. If they can’t get someone to throw to, then write a big check on the insurance policy and revamp the offensive line. Do something that will help Josh Allen carry this franchise to success, not make it harder.

Miami Dolphins

Resolution: Hire a coach with the intention of keeping them for more than three years

The Dolphins magically were on the cusp of a possible playoff birth with a few weeks remaining in 2018. The most inconsistent team in the NFL this year, the Dolphins looked like a dangerous playoff team one week, only to look like a team with no identity the next. The quick flashes of great play though were not enough to keep Adam Gase’s job, as he was fired a few days after their embarrassing 42-17 loss to the Bills.

The Dolphins are starting another off-season in the all to familiar position of finding a new head coach. They yet again let go of another coach after three seasons and mediocre numbers. Gase was 23-25 with one playoff appearance in three years. Wins matter, and owners have zero patience when it comes to waiting for them, so I get the move. 2019 has to be different for the Dolphins though. Thus their new year resolution has to be the either finding the right man for the job, who brings them back to the winning culture of the past, or they grow enough patience to at least give their new coach the time to get it right. I am not talking Marvin Lewis kind of time, but maybe four years, especially if they show some kind of promise. No Dolphins coach has lasted more than four seasons since Don Shula left in 1995. 2019 needs to be the year that changes.

 

AFC North

Resolution: The Browns win the division next year

This resolution is pretty easy for me. The North has long been dominated by the Steelers and Ravens. There needs to be a change, since the Steelers are looking more like a circus than a football team and the Ravens are too boring for the NFL’s liking to be the face of the North. Enter Baker Mayfield and the Cleveland Browns. The North needs the Browns and Baker Mayfield to win the division in 2019 in a big way.

Cincinnati Bengals

Resolution: DO NOT HIRE HUE JACKSON

So the Bengals already accomplished my resolution for 2019, which was to fire Marvin Lewis and just start over. I honestly didn’t think that it would actually happen, so I am kind of surprised. I figured the only way he was to leave was if he just resigned. But the Bengals finally decided they are better than being mediocre every year.

I naturally felt good for the city of Cincinnati and all of their fans. That was until I remembered they hired Hue Jackson earlier in the season. There is a big possibility of him being their next Head Coach. Jackson saw great success while he was their offensive coordinator, enough success that landed him the job in Cleveland. Judging by the fact Bengals ownership allowed Lewis to stay their head coach for 16 years, they just may pull the trigger on a familiar face and name.

So now my resolution for the Bengals has transformed into them NOT HIRING HUE JACKSON. If they were to do that, you can bet they would be winless against the Browns and probably every team during the duration of his tenure there. Based off of the Bengals’ track record, that may be a long time!

Cleveland Browns

Resolution: Keep Gregg Williams as their Head Coach

The Browns are in unfamiliar territory. They are coming off one of their most successful seasons in recent memory and for once are going into an off-season with a lot of expectations. None of that will matter though if they decide to go in a different direction and get them a new head coach not named Gregg Williams.

The Browns clearly transformed once Jackson was let go and Williams took over. They adopted his demeanor and played with a relentless drive to win. Besides that, Williams, along with his offensive coordinator Eddie Kitchens, were able to harness Mayfield’s talent and bravado and turned it into a style that led men on and off the field. Williams is the perfect fit at head coach because his attitude matches his starting quarterback. No nonsense, “not here to make friends” mentality, that done right can result in many wins for a team and fanbase that has not seen many.

Pittsburgh Steelers

Resolution: Hope Ben Roethlisberger retires

It is time. The Steelers need an obvious shot of life right now. One of the most historic, iconic NFL franchises is being viewed as a joke right now. To many Steeler faithful, that is unacceptable.

Julius in Remember the Titans said it best when he told captain Gary Bertier that “Attitude reflects leadership, captain.” The Steelers have a mixed bag of personalities, egos and talent that have brought them a long way, but the name that leads them all is their quarterback Ben Roethlisberger. The team goes as far as he does. Recently, though putting up gaudy numbers, his attitude and questionable leadership skills have been dragging down a proud organization and fanbase. From him putting everyone on retirement watch to him blowing his injuries out of proportion, to calling people out on radio shows, Big Ben’s attitude is rubbing off on the rest of the team finally and the Steelers need him out.

They need 2019 to be the year he exits the league on his own, because the Steelers will never let him go, so in turn they will continue to get worse.

 

AFC South

Resolution: Prove they are a strong division

The South once again has two teams in the playoffs. An underrated division going into the season, the South has once again proven that in a dogfight, they will win. They need this momentum to carry forward into 2019 and make sure what we saw in 2017 and 2018 was not a fluke. Their division as a whole needs to be more competitive outside their own and prove the only reason why two teams represent the south for the second year in a row is not that of the fact that they have a weak division.

Jacksonville Jaguars

Resolution: Make people forget how bad the 2018 season was

I do not care what the Jaguars have to do, but they need to do something that makes their fans forget just how disappointing the 2018 season was for them. Very similar to when the Raiders went 6-10 in 2017 after going 12-4 with a playoff appearance the year before, the Jaguars came into 2018 with a tremendous amount of hype and expectations. Not only did they fall short to the lofty expectations, but they also managed to make 2018 into a train wreck, where there are more questions than answers.

Bortles was their answer, but now he is not. Fournette was poised to be the next great NFL running back to start 2018, but it ended with his future as a Jaguar in question. Jalen Ramsey was more worried about other teams’ quarterbacks other than his own. Their elite defense crumbled under the pressure of carrying their team once again to the playoffs.

The Jaguars need something to happen. Anything to happen to make everyone talk about something else and not how bad 2018 was in Jacksonville. From either firing their coach to making a big signing or trade, Jacksonville needs some kind of reprieve from the madness and aggravation.  

Tennessee Titans

Resolution: Make Marcus Mariota the main man

The Titans are a well-disciplined football team. They play smart fundamental football and take away a gutsy failed two-point conversion call late in the fourth because they did not want to tie against the Chargers, then I may be writing about the Colts right now instead.

Just like the Dolphins, the Titans played inspired football, only to follow it up with dismal performances which make you question which team is the real Titans. Part of their success is that they finally got Derrick Henry moving. He provided a jolt to the team and put an identity to them. The issue is though, Henry is not the answer. Mariota is. Until they provide him the weapons he needs, Tennessee will find themselves in this situation more often than not. They need to make sure that going into the 2019 season, Delanie Walker is not their number one weapon in the passing game. They need to make a big but smart splash in either free agency or the draft that builds Mariota’s confidence to see if he is the franchise quarterback they all thought he would be a couple of years ago.

 

AFC West

Resolution: Their two playoff teams right now need to make it to the Super Bowl

This resolution is more for the teams who are in the playoffs right now, the Chiefs and Chargers. The West needs to have one of their two teams in Super Bowl, and at the very least make the AFC Championship. The Chiefs for the past couple of season have been on top of the division, only to be bounced out in their first playoff game. That cannot happen this year as the top dog in the AFC. The Chargers are riding the coattails of Philip Rivers in what could be his last chance of a Super Bowl. The Chargers have disappointed the West way too much in the past and could use a run from the second-best team record-wise in the AFC, but the fifth-ranked team in the playoffs.

Denver Broncos

Resolution: Build around Phillip Lindsey

When the Broncos have been successful, there has always been a Hall of Fame caliber quarterback behind it. When the Broncos made the Super Bowl, it was with either Elway or Manning under center.

Denver will not find that with Case Keenum. He is a game manager, not a game changer. There is nothing wrong with that though, as long as you have a good running back who can carry the load. The Broncos have struck out in recent memory with drafting running backs, so it is pretty ironic that the one they found success with is one they did not draft. Phillip Lindsey is a dynamic multi-faceted running back who played more of a role in Broncos’ victories than Keenum did.

Elway needs to realize this and bring in a coach who will build a system around him who will run first to set up the pass, which I think is the exact system Keenum will excel in. The question is, will Elway do this or try to sign a big-name quarterback?

Oakland Raiders

Resolution: Settle on any place to play their home games this year that is not in San Francisco

It is well known the Raiders most likely played their last game in Oakland Coliseum. Yes, it is sad, but long overdue. The Raiders are the only NFL team who was still playing their home games on a converted baseball field. Though it helped win two of their games this year, they deserve a lot better. One of the solutions that was suggested was to have their home games played in Levi Stadium, which is the home field for the 49ers.

That is like recommending Michigan play its home games in Ohio State’s stadium. It is just a bad idea. The Raiders hate the 49ers and the Niners hate the Raiders. It is just how it is, and I do not see good things happening if the Raiders and Niners shared a field for 2019. Though it is not ideal, I would rather see them play at UNLV or even Bishop Gorman High School in Vegas (before you question my decisions just Google them and you will see their facilities rival those of top Division 1 football programs.)

Yes, I get the Raiders have a lot more problems than where to play, but if they want their loyal fans continuing to come, then they need to provide them with a better solution than playing at their rivals home.  

An NFL team in London? Bad idea

Oh, the NFL is quite luxurious. So much so that the NFL’s luxury has attracted eyes from the outside. For the last few years, the NFL has entertained Britishers by hosting a few fixtures every year in London. Although it seems strange to offer American football to a public which values a football of their own, the NFL has seen success in London. As the number of matches held in the UK grows every year and British fans come to a liking of the sport, London will only be bound to have an NFL franchise of their own. But that’s problematic.

NFL on Regent Street, London” by Tony Webster is licensed under CC BY 2.0

First, if American football is relatively new in the UK, what stadium does the NFL use for these matches? Well, soccer and football playing dimensions are relatively the same, so a soccer pitch technically can be used, and has been. The NFL has managed to use Britain’s largest stadium, Wembley, granted that there were no soccer matches scheduled there. Up until last season, that worked out perfectly, as Wembley only hosted a few soccer matches every season. But around a year and a half ago, something changed within English soccer.

North London soccer club Tottenham Hotspurs, after destroying their old, classic home ground, White Hart Lane, agreed with the English Football Association (the English FA) to use Wembley for their home matches for the season. Meaning, Wembley’s pitch was to be used for soccer anywhere from once to even thrice a week.

Although based on size, a soccer pitch can most definitely be used for a football game, but the transition from one to the other is not easy nor quick. So to combat this, it would make sense the NFL schedules their Wembley matches on a weekend when Tottenham have an away match and don’t need to use Wembley. But what happens when the two parties clash in scheduling ends up in a terrible result?

Along with the painted markings on the field, the equipment which both sports play with is far different. Tough football cleats damage the grass which Wembley uses for soccer. The ground staff needs time, in the form of days, to regenerate the grass for a soccer match after a football game. But when there is a lack of time, the pitch quality is quite atrocious.

When Tottenham played Manchester City the day after the Philadelphia Eagles played the Jacksonville Jaguars, the pitch at Wembley was truly embarrassing for a Premier League level match. Forget the giant NFL logo left in the center or the blurred yard markings, the middle area of the pitch was missing a good layer of grass due to the football players from the previous day.

Therefore, if the NFL were to host a team in London, they would only run into trouble using a soccer ground and would have to make a stadium of their own. Quite costly. But here’s the bigger problem. When there is one team in London, there are 31 more teams in a completely different country on a completely different continent. Meaning, that’s eight or more times a London based team would have to travel across the Atlantic and eight or more times the other teams have to travel to the UK.

Logistically, this causes many problems. Forget travel costs, there’s also visas and security teams would have to deal with. Also, depending on where in the US you are, the UK is anywhere from five to nine hours ahead. For teams, having to travel across time zones, train and then play a game at an irregular time can be difficult for players. For fans, that means matches would be starting far earlier in the morning, leading to less viewership, and potential loss of profit for the NFL.

Also, a team in London would most likely be made up of American players as the pool of British American football players isn’t large enough for a scale like the NFL. But would the players themselves be willing to spend a good chunk of their year in the UK, away from home? With this in mind, many players would probably be reluctant to play for a London-based team.

And even if players magically agreed to play in London for such a prolonged period of time, teams can’t pay them the same amount as they would here. The cost of living in London is far higher than most American cities, along with the larger amount of taxes. In order to support a London team, the NFL would have to raise the salary cap, and doing so for just one team may be seen as unreasonable by the other 31.

So despite no matter how much the NFL would want a team outside of the US in London, they’ll keep running into large problems again and again. Perhaps, to cater to a British audience and grow American football in England, the NFL could invest in starting up a small British American football league and expand that with time. This way, interest, competition and growth and development of players will be created in the UK. But as far as the NFL itself goes, it’s best if all the teams stay within the US for mostly logistical reasons. After all, the NFL is the National Football League.

The QB Ghosts of Florida

Halloween.png
Jameis Winston” by Keith Allison is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0 and “Halloween Pumpkin Dark” is licensed under CC0 Creative Commons

Lean in and I’ll tell you not one, but three ghost stories this Halloween. These harrowing tales of NFL “franchise quarterbacks” gone awry and mediocre management are sure to make you gasp with shock and tremble in fright (or, at the very least, ponder, rub your chin, and let out a pensive “hmm.”) These accounts are not for the faint of heart, and may hit a bit too close to home if you’re a fan of any of these three NFL franchises in Florida. So before you continue, don’t say you weren’t warned. For those who aren’t fans of any of the Florida franchises, sit back, pop some leftover Halloween candy, and enjoy the haunting ride.

 

Tampa Terror

Upon being drafted with the first overall pick in the 2015 NFL Draft, “Famous Jameis” Winston was supposed to be the savior the Bucs needed at the quarterback position. He was expected to improve each year and lead Tampa to playoff contention. Instead, his tenure has brought about contention and unmet expectations. While his numbers largely stayed steady from 2015-2017, this season, he has been humbled. With just 6 touchdowns to 10 interceptions, “Famous Jameis” is remaining famous for all the wrong reasons. Winston has only himself to blame for missing the first three games of the season. With all of his disturbing off-the-field baggage, it’s a wonder he’s still plugging away as an NFL QB. On the field, Jameis is officially becoming a ghost – Ryan Fitzpatrick will start for the Bucs in this week’s game against the Carolina Panthers. The memory of Winston’s subpar starts will linger and haunt fans in Tampa until they reach the heights of playoff contention again, whenever that may be.

 

Dolphin Doom

Oh how fans of the Miami Dolphins must yearn for the days of Dan Marino. Since his retirement in 1999, the Dolphins have started a number of quarterbacks who were unable to match his glossy statistics or playoff acumen (I get that he never won “The Big One,” but hey, at least he made it there.) From Jay Fiedler to Matt Moore and beyond, nothing has seemed to work. This is a franchise that hasn’t made it out of the divisional round of the postseason since 1992. At 4-4, the Dolphins postseason hopes for this season aren’t dead yet. But, when will they find a reliable, statistically sound signal caller to drag them from the dark depths of mediocrity? Ryan Tannehill and Brock Osweiler are workable QBs, but they are not Marino. This is an ongoing ghost tale that will be fascinating to watch unfold.

 

Jacksonville Jaws

In Florida, one has to beware the jaws of alligators. The way this year’s Jaguars are playing, the Florida Gators probably believe they can challenge and chomp this unit. For a team that made it all the way to the AFC Championship game last season, 2018’s Jaguar squad is off to a bumpy start. At 3-5, the Jaguars’ playoff chances are already on life support. The ever-outspoken Jalen Ramsey has been silent and their injury prognosis is grim. Lest they become offseason zombies without a playoff berth, the Jaguars must take inventory and assess their quarterback position. Statistically, Blake Bortles is arguably having his worst season since his rookie year in 2014. With 10 TDs to 8 INTs, his reliability appears to be in question. The Jags are still pinning much of their hopes on Leonard Fournette coming back and frustrating opposing defenses, but they need Bortles to be effective and relatively error free to truly contend for a Super Bowl. If Landry Jones takes the place of Bortles due to injury, does anyone really think he is the one who will lead Jacksonville to their first Super Bowl appearance? Stranger things have happened. Kurt Warner went from grocery stocking to Super Bowl MVP. A sixth-round man named Brady became the GOAT. But would I bet on Jones (or Bortles, for that matter) to elevate their team to similar heights? I’m ‘afraid’ not.

Which ‘cursed’ Florida team do you think will find the fastest success at the quarterback position? Fellow ghost hunters: contemplate and comment your perspective. Happy Halloween!