Updated Super Bowl Odds

An incredible week we saw this wild-card weekend with names such as Tom Brady and Drew Brees falling to Ryan Tannehill and Kirk Cousins. The only predictable thing in the NFL is unpredictability.

I even had the Saints as my favorite in the NFC only for them to lose to Kirk Cousins at home. Next week we’ll see the Green Bay hosting Seattle at Lambeau Field, the 49ers hosting the Vikings in the NFC. In the AFC we’ll see Lamar Jackson and the Ravens hosting the Titans and Patrick Mahomes hosting Deshaun Watson and the Texans.

With this let’s try and give some odds with the help of MyTopSportsBook:

Obviously, all the teams that won on Wild Card Weekend saw their Super Bowl odds improve, namely the Seahawks (+1200), Vikings (+1400), Titans (+2000), and Texans (+3300). But one team that didn’t even take the field got a big bump, as well. The Packers, who were around +1000 heading into last Sunday, are as short as +650 at some sites listed on MyTopSportsbooks. Oddsmakers had penciled in a meeting with the high-powered Saints in the Divisional Round, but now Green Bay gets to host the banged-up Seahawks instead.

Ravens (+200)

49ers (+300)

Chiefs (+330)

Packers (+600)

Seahawks (+1200)

Vikings (+1250)

Titans (+2000)

Texans (+2250)

Looking at these odds there is a clear tier one and two with the Packers being almost somewhere in between. Looking at these odds I like the Vikings at +1250 with volatile quarterback Kirk Cousins. I like their odds against the 49ers game this weekend and feel that should be more competitive than the rest of the game thinks it should be.

My least favorite odds here are probably the Seahawks who have a tough schedule ahead of them on the road vs Aaron Rodgers this week and then between the Vikings or the 49ers if they can beat the Packers at Lambeau.

Make sure to follow @prosportsfandom and @MyTopSports on Twitter and thanks for the help today from MySportsBook.

 

 

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Why the Patriots Need to Keep (and Move On From) Tom Brady

For the first time in a decade, the AFC Divisional Playoff is void of the team from Foxboro. The New England Patriots incredible run ended with a lackluster performance against the Tennessee Titans in the Wild Card round.

Aside from the rest of America celebrating outside the New England region, there was one key storyline afterwards: “Is that the final game for Tom Brady, at least in New England?”

It is hard to fathom but Brady, who was probably the best quarterback in the NFL in probably TWO eras, may end up looking around for a job come March.

If the Patriots are dumb enough to allow him to do so.

Nobody will doubt Brady’s greatness and the greatest quarterback ever moniker. We can say a lot about Brady with Deflategate and whatnot but the guy has performed at a level for almost 20 years in the NFL.

That said, Father Time has *finally* caught up with Tom Brady. We should have been somewhat forewarned even in last year’s Super Bowl when Brady only mustered 13 points despite the win over the Rams for his sixth ring. The accuracy was off and made questionable passes. Still, we overlooked it in part because the Rams had a stout defense and well, he is Tom Brady.

For the first half of the 2019 season, Brady looked similar to his old self, completing 65% of his passes, 13 TD, 4 INT and a QBR of a 95. Not the MVP numbers but he was doing his thing. Adding on top of things, New England was 8-0 and rolling especially on defense to the point many were penning the Pats going 16-0 en route to their 7th Super Bowl ring. I pointed out once New England’s schedule was pertty weak until that point (Jets twice, Redskins, Browns, and a weak Dolphins team in disarray), but people shrugged it off saying “well, it’s still the Patriots. They will beat the better teams when needed”

Then the second half arrived. New England had to go through foes of Baltimore, Kansas City, Houston, etc. And New England went 4-4 including a home loss to the same Dolphins team who they beat 43-0. And Brady in the second half? 57% completion pct, 11 TD, 4 INT and QBR of 80. In a run of five games (against the Cowboys, Bengals, Eagles, Chiefs and Texans) he barely completed 50% of his passes and had a QBR of 75. In that same time period Sam Darnold put up better numbers and had a 96 QBR. And if you really want to get technical, Darnold in the second half of the season outperformed Brady.

What was more alarming about Brady was the missing of open receivers and zeroing in too much perhaps on his favorite targets Julian Edelman & James White. Furthering problems was the Patriots run game disappeared as Sony Michel had a sophomore slump making New England VERY one dimensional. The playoff game against the Titans showed how much Brady was no longer the guy we deemed to be the GOAT but more of a game manager at best when he is on. However, he wasn’t on. Short screen passes, quick passes, and other key passes were missed. This wasn’t the Brady we knew that could make plays on a dime when absolutely needed. Yes, Brady’s impact on the game is non-existent.

WITH ALL OF THAT SAID…the Patriots need to keep Brady for 2020 if Brady is still inclined to play. The numbers may have been misleading to an extent with the halves, but Brady still threw for 4,000 yards and was not a turnover prone machine even when he was off. And New England needs to find their next quarterback in the draft. Jacob Eason? Jake Fromm? Those two seem to have similar styles to Brady when Brady was at a higher level. But Brady, for as much as he wants to play until he is 50, needs to understand he is finally on the decline of his career and maybe the adjustment from being “elite” to a “mentor” will be tough for him.

Brady may have one solid season left in him, but that is about the highest fans or even Brady can expect. The transition for New England to get another QB has arrived. Letting Brady go would be a bad idea as we know what happens with teams missing that stability at quarterback (Cleveland?) but at the same time, the Patriots need to look towards the future and find their future franchise guy. If they let Brady go and draft a rookie, fine but New England isn’t one to throw a rookie into the mix Week 1. Brady needs to stay and remain the starter. But for only one more year. The decline is finally real for Brady and the Patriots can’t afford to keep him, but can’t let him go right away either.

-Fan in the Obstructed Seat

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NFL Playoff Power Rankings

Sorry, I had procrastinated during the break. Well, to say “just wanted to relax” is an understatement.

So when the Playoff teams were decided after Week 17, it made me think: who will walk home with the Super Bowl Trophy? (sorry, Booger McFarland moment).

Honestly, it is a hard answer. Heck, it’s hard to even think of which two teams will get to the Super Bowl. In the past we have pretty much banked on New England and the NFC team of the year (sixth straight year a different team will represent the NFC unless it is Seattle). A lot of teams are great, but those same teams have holes. Even the Patriots are nothing but a lock. If anything, their mountain to climb is that more of Olympus Mons than Mt. Everest at this point. So let’s rank them and why they will win and why they won’t win.

(1) BALTIMORE RAVENS (14-2): Why they will win? The Ravens very balanced all throughout. They can run the ball like no other and the defense is beyond dangerous all over. And that Lamar Jackson dude is pretty good as he kows how to finish off drives. That’s a winning recipe for a third Lombardi Trophy near the Baltimore Harbor. Why they won’t win? IF IF IF Baltimore is down late and/or down big at any point Jackson will have to be relied on his arm and that isn’t a good thing. The lone two losses Jackson looked human in and albeit early was ridiculed for being a “meh” passer. I’m not sure if the Ravens will be put in that position, but if they do, that is when I’d be really worried with Baltimore.

(2) NEW ORLEANS SAINTS (13-3): Why they will win? The Saints may be the most complete team in these playoffs. I thought after last year Father Time caught up with Drew Brees. Wrong. Had it not been for the injury he would have put up well over 4,000 yards passing (again) and 30+ TD’s. Compile that with Alvin Kamara (who is healthy now) and Michael Thomas and all the gimmick plays they have using Taysom Hill, teams will have nightmares to figure out how to stop them. And the defense while not dominant like Baltimore or Buffalo, is solid but with a deadly pass rush. Why they won’t win? Of all the teams on here, the Saints are the hardest one to figure out why. Yes, people will argue going out of the comfortable elements of the dome to the Frozen Tundra of Lambeau Field in the Divisional round is going to be too much but this team is built to win anywhere honestly. The ONLY thing I’d worry are the unexpected plays as we have seen those plays be demons to the Saints the last few years in the postseason when the games are close.

(3) KANSAS CITY CHIEFS (12-4): Why they will win? Kansas City has improved tenfold on defense, notably against the pass. You can thank Tyrann Mathieu for that as he has become their saving grace. Oh yeah, and they have that Mahomes guy at QB to pair up with Hill and Kelce and also their X Factor in Mecole Hardeman. Why they won’t win? The running game on both sides of the ball. The Chiefs struggled badly on that which will definitely be a problem if they have a rematch against Baltimore in the AFC Championship. Of course, like the Saints, the Chiefs have their playoff demons to contend with, just more.

(4) SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS (13-3): Why they will win? They can run the ball well with the guys they have. They play some strong defense especially against the pass and Jimmy Garoppolo makes passes when he absolutely needs to. Compiling it on, they have homefield throughout the NFC. Why they won’t win? Down the stretch proved some concerns notably if teams hang around with San Francisco. Pretty much their final five games came down to the last play and they went 3-2. Good had one of those losses were not to a 7-9 Falcons team at home. But the 49ers need to close games out or else they could end up like the 2016 Falcons if you get my drift.

(5) HOUSTON TEXANS (10-6): Why they will win? Watson, Hyde, Hopkins. Houston when clicking has the best tandem in the NFL. Why they won’t win? A bit of where 3 years ago game is that the Texans got in on the account of their offense would have been a laugh as their defense was the one that got them in. But the poor play on defense gives the Texans those games where they implode on very bad teams (Denver). They are that Jekyll-and-Hyde team that can go far if they can get out of the first round but can they? The defense will decide.

(6) GREEN BAY PACKERS (13-3): Why they will win? Compared to years in the past the Packers have been more of a balanced team. They have one of their best rushing attacks in recent memory with Aaron Jones and Jamal Williams. Defense is solid against the pass. And the Packers *could* host two games in Lambeau where they went 7-1. Why they won’t win? Dare say it, but it is Aaron Rodgers. While the Packers have gone more to the ways of a balanced approach and “taken pressure” off Rodgers in the run game, he hasn’t looked sharp at all especially the last few weeks. It also seems like he is not having any fun out there and just unhappy with how the offense is being built differently. Of course he is saying nothing about it because, well, the Packers are winning. The other issue Green Bay has? Aside from beating Minnesota twice, Green Bay has had to win squeakers against the Redskins, Bears, and Lions down the stretch. I don’t know even with having a possible matchup against New Orleans at Lambeau if that will play into Green Bay’s favor.

(7) NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS (12-4): Why they will win? The defense has been the reason why the Patriots have won another division title and won a few games with it. And do you really doubt Brady and Belichick? Why they won’t win? Hard to imagine just 3 years ago that Rodgers and Brady would now be considered more liabilities than keys to winning the game. But right now Brady is just looking “average” but unlike Rodgers, Brady’s issue may be Father Time. Does he have enough for one more Super Bowl run? Also compiling on it is the three other division champs in the AFC, the Patriots have lost to and have been pretty much outplayed on both sides. They just are not being the same dominant Patriots we have come to know.

(8) PHILADELPHIA EAGLES (9-7): Why they will win? Laugh all you want, but the Eagles are coming in hot in the playoffs. Yes, beating the NFC East teams the final four weeks doesn’t say much, but they got momentum heading in and that is a major problem. Carson Wentz has been ridiculed all year but he really hasn’t done anything wrong down the stretch. They key thing to take in is, the Eagles are actually getting healthier at the right time, especially on defense. Why they won’t win? Just what kind of offense are we going to see in the playoffs from the Eagles? At times the offense looks solid and then at times they are a giant mess. The consistency will end up biting Philadelphia if it continues.

(9) BUFFALO BILLS (10-6): Why they will win? They fight to no end and every time you think they are down, they keep fighting. That’ super scary for the powers of the AFC. They won’t stop fighting. And their defense is sick. They can run the ball very well and another scary thing is they play stronger on the road. Compiled that with Josh Allen getting more and more comfortable at quarterback an having a target of John Brown, and you has a possible sleeper in the AFC. Why they won’t win? As much improved as Allen has been, he’s not ready for that next level yet. And while it is very possible Buffalo could upset the Texans, a date in Baltimore would expose Allen’s remaining inconsistencies. And you need a consistent quarterback in the playoffs.

(10) MINNESOTA VIKINGS (10-6): Why they will win? The run game. Dalvin Cook is their offensive cog. If he goes, so do the Vikings. And Kirk Cousins for all the grief he gets, has pretty much played mistake-free football. Why they won’t win? The Vikings defense isn’t the one who could dominate on that side like they used to. The defense is just missing something or they are just not scheming well against opposing offenses. And that is a problem for Minnesota. Also, despite Cousins ability to not make mistakes, he isn’t a guy that you can rely on late in the fourth quarter for that game-winning drive. That isn’t is thing and that is a problem for Minnesota moving forward.

(11) SEATTLE SEAHAWKS (11-5): Why they will win? Russell Wilson. We give love to Lamar Jackson for everything this year, but Wilson is starting to be taken for granted on everything he’s done in Seattle. Never doubt this guy at all. If not for Jackson, Wilson is probably the MVP in the NFL. Tyler Lockett and DK Metcalf have been a great receiving duo this year, averaging around 1000 yards each. Why they won’t win? Injuries have destroyed Seattle’s chances tremendously. Chris Carson was rolling until he got injured and the offense isn’t the same. The Seahawks brought back Marshawn Lynch but what is he capable of as his final year weren’t anything to write home about. And the defense is a far cry from the Legion of Boom days, finishing near the bottom of the NFL in a lot of key defensive categories. It will be a long road to the Super Bowl with Seattle.

(12) TENNESSEE TITANS (9-7): Why they will win? Derrick Henry. If the Titans ground game dominates and they can because Henry is a true beast of epic proportions, then Tennessee could make a fun run. Compiling on is that Ryan Tannehill has been what the Titans offense needed from a passing perspective as Marcus Mariota just lost all confidence behind center. It will also create for some doom for teams like the Patriots early on. AJ Brown is becoming a force in the passing game too. Why they won’t win? Do we really trust Ryan Tannehill to hold a Lombardi Trophy? I mean if Nick Foles can, it is possible. That said, the concern of the Titans isn’t Tannehill but the defense which can be problematic (notably against the pass, which will turn out to be a problem given the quarterback they will see in the AFC). And it just feels like the team doesn’t have enough depth as the 11 other playoff teams in front of them. But as they say…on any given Sunday…

LAST SECOND PREDICTIONS:

WILD CARD (AFC): Patriots over Titans (overtime), Texans over Bills

WILD CARD (NFC): Saints over Vikings, Eagles over Seahawks

DIVISIONAL (AFC): Ravens over Texans, Chiefs over Patriots

DIVISIONAL (NFC): 49ers over Eagles, Saints over Packers

AFC CHAMPIONSHIP: Ravens over Chiefs

NFC CHAMPIONSHIP: Saints over 49ers

SUPER BOWL XLIV: Ravens over Saints

-Fan in the Obstructed Seat

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Why Should the Falcons Move on From Dan Quinn

For the second straight season, the Atlanta Falcons have failed to live to expectations and in a bit of a recurring situation. Despite the record not looking abysmal such as the Cincinnati Bengals, Washington Redskins, and Detroit Lions (which the former two are in massive rebuild modes), Atlanta has been pretty much out by the start of November. The December run has made the team look “not horrible” and will have a shot at another 7-9 season.

Had this been 20-25 years ago in Atlanta, fans would have gone “okay, there is some hope that the team could compete next year.” But those days are LONG gone. It is unacceptable.

For the last twelve years Atlanta has seen one of the best quarterbacks in this era in Matt Ryan play nearly every snap (why he gets ridiculed in this town on a consistent basis is beyond me). For the last 9 years Atlanta may have seen the most dominant receiver of this generation in Julio Jones. Pieces have come and gone in that time period that have made an impact (early on: Michael Turner, Tony Gonzalez and now it’s Grady Jarrett, Deion Jones, and Alex Mack) so it isn’t a two-man band in the ATL. Early on, Atlanta’s offense could score at will with anyone, but the defense kept on imploding.

Enter Dan Quinn to coach after Mike Smith couldn’t cut it anymore. We know the story: Quinn was the defensive coordinator for Seattle’s legendary Legion of Boom defense. The hope was he would turn the defense around.

He did…for a brief moment in time.

Quinn’s fingerprints of the defense in 2016 loomed large especially at the right time where the Falcons streaked to the Super Bowl by easily handling Seattle and Green Bay in January with the young defensive stars of Vic Beasley, Jarrett, Jones, Keanu Neal thus bringing in the “Brotherhood” on defense.

The next year, the defense held their own (wasn’t as strong) but the offense sputtered a bit). The Falcons still ended up making the playoffs dominating the Rams and then losing on the last play to the Eagles.

Then 2018 happened. The defense was ravaged by injuries to Jones and Neal and the Falcons defense could not match the re-born offense and the team finished 7-9. What was the talk during training camp? “Okay, we were dinged up, but a healthy defense will put us back in playoff contention in 2019. Quinn is taking over like he did in 2016 and the defense is flying all over the place!”

And….no. Aside from Keanu Neal being hurt again, the defense was healthy. Desmond Trufant is regressing like Ray Buchanan did late in his Falcons career, Beasley was AWOL for the first half of the year and the ONLY constant seemed to be Grady Jarrett. They were giving up points and yards like crazy and making quarterbacks like Marcus Mariota and Jacoby Brissett look like Pro Bowlers. The Falcons were 1-7 heading into the bye week.

So…Quinn switched things up internally on his coaching staff as he was more hands off. Since then, Atlanta has gone 5-2 including road wins against quite possibly the two best NFC teams in New Orleans and San Francisco. Instead of the fan base feeling very excited, it’s “oh great, here we go again of coming up too little too late.” And now the “debate” is has Quinn did enough to keep his job after Week 17? Most fans have said no. However, Arthur Blank, Falcons owner, is known for a level head and isn’t a reactionary owner (hence why he kept Quinn after the 1-7 start) and many “experts” feel like the second half run for Quinn may keep his job. To me, this is a VERY. BAD. IDEA.

While I actually like Dan Quinn, he isn’t a Super Bowl championship caliber coach (despite the 2016 run), it just seems like something is missing with him. I’m not sure what it is, but I think it is time to move on. Here are a few things why.

(1) JEFF FISHER 2.0. The local sports radio station I listen to, they made a comment I think was spot on: “Dan Quinn is ‘just ok’ as a head coach. He’s like that doctor in the AT&T commercial.” And aside from 2016 & 2017, Quinn has been an 8-8 or 7-9 coach. He reminds me a lot of Jeff Fisher with the Titans and Rams. Fisher seemingly had 8-8 or 7-9 seasons constantly save for those years of Steve McNair and Eddie George in Tennessee in 1999-2000 (also getting to a Super Bowl and losing in heartbreak fashion). The argument can be made however, that Fisher had less talent than what Quinn has in Atlanta now. Right now seeing Atlanta be 12-4 or 11-5 under Quinn seems to be less of a reality anyway.

(2) SLOW TO REACT AND ADAPT: Quinn’s inability to react earlier before the Falcons went 1-7 is a telltale sign that he isn’t a championship coach. It seems like it was “hey, now that the season is over, let’s analyze what went wrong and fix it for the second half.” Great coaches are quick at adapting and reacting and Quinn did it way too late for the 2019 season. Had Dan Quinn made these changes let’s say after the Titans drilled Atlanta early on, we may be talking about the Falcons first round opponent instead.

(3) PLAYERS COACH: It’s not necessarily a BAD thing to be a players coach and it seems like the players are rallying behind Quinn. However, save maybe Pete Carroll in Seattle, most of the Super Bowl champions (Ravens, Giants, Patriots, Eagles), don’t have a coach that is considered that. Quinn may be a tough guy to the players behind closed doors, but he doesn’t have that feel and has that “loyal to a fault” thing going. I think that hurts a team if things aren’t going well. Also Falcons fans point out he seems more of that guy “who will say the right things” not to tick off anyone whether it’s his players or the media.

(4) DISHEARTENED FAN BASE: Anyone who knows the Atlanta sports base is that when the teams aren’t winning, the fans aren’t showing (i.e. bandwagon). It’s an unjust label as EVERY CITY has that same issue, but when Mercedes Benz Stadium, which is the newest NFL stadium with the bells and whistles currently, is sitting half-empty in December for the second straight year (like it was last year when the 4-9 Falcons played a pathetic Arizona Cardinals team-which I was actually at that game) has that issue then, it doesn’t look good for anyone. But the thing is, what gives any Falcons fan hope that 2020 is going to be very different under Dan Quinn? Fans are starting to say “well, I’m done going to the games and won’t renew for the season.” It may not be a main factor, but when fans stop coming out and tickets start to go to visiting teams (which we’ve seen in Atlanta time after time with fan bases packing it in) it eliminates any homefield advantage. And next year the Falcons host the Bears, Raiders, and the hated Saints who get their fans packing the place.

I think the argument for Dan Quinn to keep his job is that he is a likable guy. He doesn’t offend anyone with his comments. Players love him. Ownership loves him. I like him and I don’t WANT him to lose his job, but he isn’t the guy that will put Ryan, Jones, and Company over the top. He’s had 5 seasons to show for it and while he was VERY close one year, it may be the closest the Falcons will ever get under Quinn.

-Fan in the Obstructed Seat

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NFC Overview: Week 6

Week 5 brought us upsets, blowouts, and nail biters.  There are now only two undefeated teams, four winless teams and 10 teams in the league with a record of 3-2. The NFC became even more uncertain in some divisions, but it seems that we may have found the team to beat in the conference.   Find out below where each team is trending, and if they will be competing on wildcard weekend.  

NFC NORTH

1. Green Bay Packers (4-1)

Aaron Rodgers owns Dallas.  He was 4-0 when playing the Cowboys on the road coming into Sunday, and this one was never really close.  The Packers sprinted out to a 31-3 lead before coasting in the second half.  Although the score indicates a closer game, you never felt that the Cowboys had a chance.  The Packers proved that they are a top 3 team in the conference.  Next week is a big divisional matchup on Monday Night Football as they host the Lions

2. Detroit Lions (2-1-1)

The Lions moved into second place during their bye week thanks to the Bears’ loss.  This Lions’ team has looked competitive in every game, and some people are considering them legitimate contenders for the division title.  Right now it looks like the NFC North will go through Green Bay, but a Lions’ win on Monday night would change everything.

3. Chicago Bears (3-2)

Sunday was a tough loss for the Bears in London.  They came out flat and the Raiders took advantage, putting up 17 points in the first half, exposing the Bears’ defense along the way.  The third quarter belonged to the Bears who scored three touchdowns and took the lead.  In the end, the Raiders put together a 93-yard drive for the winning score late in the fourth.  The Bears head into the bye week with many injuries and are hoping to get back Mitchell Trubisky for a big game against the Saints in two weeks

4. Minnesota Vikings (3-2)

The Vikings responded well to the criticism they received during last week.  They threw the ball well and took care of the Giants to remain just a game back of the Packers. Next up is a tough game at home against the Eagles who seem to have found their identity in the past few games.  A win at home could loom large for wild card tiebreakers later in the season.  Although the passing game looked corrected, Stefon Diggs still might not be sure if he wants to be in Minnesota.  Check out his reaction to being asked: “Do you want to be in Minnesota?”source

NFC WEST

1. San Francisco 49ers (4-0)

The 49ers look for real.  They beat up on the Browns on Monday night forcing four turnovers and rushing for over 200 yards.  Although the Browns certainly have their own issues, the 49ers embarrassed a team that put up 40 points last week in Baltimore.  Now, the 49ers have a target on their back and will get everyone’s best shot.  Week 6 takes the ‘Niners to L.A. for a big divisional game against a Rams team looking for a bounce-back win after back to back losses.

2. Seattle Seahawks (4-1)

The Seahawks and Rams put on the best Thursday night game of the season.  Russel Wilson looked unstoppable and the Seattle defense came up with a big interception to seal the game late in the fourth. This game also contained an early “play of the year” candidate in Russel Wilson’s Touchdown throw to Tyler Lockett during the second quarter (see below).  At 4-1, the Seahawks look like an elite contender in the NFC.  This week the Seahawks travel to play the Browns who haven’t lived up to their preseason hype just yet.

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3. Los Angeles Rams (3-2)

The Rams have lost two in a row and are not looking like last year’s 13-3 division winners.  Jared Goff is having a terrible start and Todd Gurley doesn’t seem like he will ever reach the level he did last year.  The defense looks uncertain on every drive and they have now given up 85 points in the last two games.  With the NFC West looking this good, the Rams need to straighten things out to remain in wild-card contention.  A win against the 49ers this Sunday would put them right back into the mix for the division crown, but that’s easier said than done against this ‘Niners’ team.

4. Arizona Cardinals (1-3-1)

Winless no more! The Cardinals won the battle of the worsts with the Bengals and secured their first victory of the season 26-23.  Kyler Murray rushed for a touchdown and the defense did just enough to hold off Cincinnati.  Now the Cardinals come home to host the abysmal Falcons for a chance to start a nice win streak.

NFC EAST

1.Dallas Cowboys (3-2)

The Cowboys got dominated by the Packers.  Sure they showed some life in the second half, but they never had a chance.  Dak Prescott had another forgettable performance when facing a good team, and just like that the Cowboys and the Eagles have drawn even.  After a trip to New York to face the Jets, the Cowboys will host the Eagles in two weeks on Sunday Night Football.

2. Philadelphia Eagles (3-2)

The Eagles quietly took care of the Jets and improved to 3-2.  The Eagles look to have found themselves and are gaining a lot of momentum before their first showdown with the Cowboys in two weeks.  Standing in between that is a tricky road game in Minnesota where the Vikings are 2-0 this year. 

3. New York Giants (2-3)

Although this Giants’ loss proves that they aren’t quite playoff competitive yet, they still show great signs of growth.  Week 5 will be a forgettable one, but with Saquon Barkley’s return on the horizon, the Giants could definitely upset some teams who are overlooking them down the road.  That first chance for a huge upset will come this week on Thursday Night Football against the undefeated Patriots in Foxborough.

 4. Washington Redskins (0-5)

The deed is done! Gruden is gone!  The only problem is the Redskins are still winless and now without a head coach.  Whatever they do, they need to find someone interested in developing Dwayne Haskins while the team continues to lose.  It’s looking like the Redskins and Dolphins are leading the charge for next year’s number one pick…and how convenient that they play each other this week.  Don’t miss the tank bowl!!

NFC SOUTH

1.New Orleans Saints (4-1)

Teddy Bridgewater is 3-0 as the Saints’ starter and as it stands right now, they look like one of the top teams in the conference, even without Drew Brees.  This week the Saints head to Jacksonville to take on Gardener Minshew and the Jaguars. The Saints are the team to beat in the conference, and considering the lack of competition in this division, it looks like the Saints could have the South clinched by December.

2. Carolina Panthers (3-2)

 The Panthers put together a nice win against the Jaguars last week and are back above .500. Cam Newton continues to remain on the sideline and has already been ruled out for Week 6. With a win this week, the Panthers would remain just one game back of the Saints, while virtually erasing any chance the Bucs had of winning the division crown.

3. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2-3)

The Bucs put up a good fight in New Orleans last Sunday but ultimately fell short against the Saints.  This is a tough game to swallow as the Bucs are now two games behind for the division lead.  This week, the Bucs head to London for another big divisional matchup with the Panthers whom they have already beaten this season.  A win would draw them even with the Panthers, and keep them within shouting distance of the Saints. A loss might derail any slim playoff hopes the Bucs still have.

5. Atlanta Falcons (1-4)

The Falcons continue to lose. The offense put up 32 points, but giving up 53 points will never win a game in the NFL.  Clearly, the Falcons are the biggest disappointment of the season thus far.  Many thought they could compete with the Saints, but even with the weapons the Falcons have, they remain in the basement of the NFC.  Week 6 takes the Falcons out to Arizona where they should have a good chance to get back in the win column.  With each week, their win against the Eagles in Week 2 looks even more surprising.

NFC POWER RANKINGS (Week 4 Ranking)

  1. New Orleans Saints (1)
  2. Seattle Seahawks (6)
  3. Green Bay Packers(3)
  4. San Francisco 49ers (8)
  5. Detroit Lions (7)
  6. Los Angeles Rams (2)
  7. Chicago Bears (4)
  8. Dallas Cowboys (5)
  9. Philadelphia Eagles (9)
  10. Minnesota Vikings (12)
  11. Carolina Panthers (13)
  12. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (11)
  13. New York Giants (10)
  14. Atlanta Falcons (14)
  15. Arizona Cardinals (15)
  16. Washington Redskins (16)

NFC Overview: Week 5

With Week Four in the books, we’ve gained some more clarity on which teams will be playoff contenders come January.  As it stands now, the conference looks very competitive with a log jam of teams at 3-1.  Some teams impressed, and others didn’t show up. Here is the Week 5 overview in the NFC with the updated Power Rankings below.

NFC NORTH

1. Green Bay Packers (3-1)

The Packers had a tough game against the Eagles on Thursday night, and Carson Wentz and his squad delivered. Beating Rodgers and the Packers in Lambeau is tough to do especially in a short week. The offense looked a little better, but still has room to improve. The Packers would have loved the 4-0 start but are still sitting atop the NFC North heading into a big game against the Cowboys this week.

2. Chicago Bears (3-1)

The Bears won a huge divisional game against the Vikings on Sunday despite being without 3 defensive starters, a starting offensive lineman, and Mitchell Trubisky.  On the first drive Trubisky went down with a shoulder injury and backup Chase Daniel came into the game and played very well.  The Bears defense overpowered the Vikings in every aspect and showed why the Bears can be a Super Bowl contender despite the uncertainty on offense.  Next up is a trip to London to face the Raiders.  Trubisky will not play in Week 5.  The early indication is a dislocated shoulder, but he will not need surgery.

3. Detroit Lions (2-1-1)

Although the Lions were not able to pull off the upset against the Chiefs, they definitely proved that they are no pushover.  In recent years the Lions have been mediocre at best, usually at the bottom of the NFC North.  After the start through four games, folks in Detroit are very excited.  Yes, the loss does bump them in the standings, but in the large scope, the Lions took large steps this past week.  To get back in the win column, the Lions will have to wait until their trip to Lambeau field in two weeks on Monday Night Football after their bye. 

4. Minnesota Vikings (2-2)

The worst performance on Sunday belonged to the Vikings.  I understand they played the Bears’ defense on the road, but that’s no excuse for the pitiful effort they put out.  The offense certainly has some soul searching to do after this one.  Even though their rushing game should bounce back against the Giants, we found out how bad the Vikings pass attack is.  Kirk Cousins is essentially stealing from the Vikings with his forgettable performances in primetime games.  Next week the Vikes head to New York, which is looking like a much tougher game than many originally thought after the emergence of Daniel Jones.

NFC WEST

1. San Francisco 49ers (3-0)

The 49ers took Week 4 off and benefitted from the Rams loss.  San Francisco sits atop the NFC West and is the lone unbeaten team in the conference. This Monday the 49ers host the Browns who impressed many with their win on Sunday in Baltimore.  A Monday night win at home to improve to 4-0 will surely boost their stock and put them into serious playoff talks.

2. Los Angeles Rams (3-1)

The Rams were the biggest surprise of the weekend…in a bad way.  The offense looked out of sync, Todd Gurley only rushed for 16 yards, and Jared Goff turned the ball over four times.  Although the Buccaneers gave the Rams a few chances to get back into the game, a better opponent would almost certainly not allow for those opportunities.  A loss at home giving up 55 points is a real gut-check, and the Rams need to do some soul searching.  This comes at a horrible time, as the Seahawks await Thursday night in Seattle.

3. Seattle Seahawks (3-1)

The Seahawks beat up on the Cardinals this past week.  Russel Wilson is playing some of the best football of his career (must be the fat paycheck) and the Seahawks are right in the thick of things at 3-1.  The biggest concern with the Seahawks is their weak schedule to open the season.  The three wins have come against teams with a combined record of 1-10-1.  This Thursday they welcome the Rams for a pivotal division matchup that could loom large come December. 

4. Arizona Cardinals (0-3-1)

On Sunday the Cardinals got a real taste of how far away they form being competitive.  This organization is focused on piecing together a roster to compete for division titles in a few years.  For now,  developing Kyler Murray and seeing if Kliff Kingsbury is the right fit are the top priorities.  This week they travel to Cincinnati where they will play the winless Bengals. 

NFC EAST

1.Dallas Cowboys (3-1)

The Cowboys played a tough game in New Orleans but fell short despite scoring the game’s only touchdown.  The offense looked a bit confused at times and had trouble establishing the run game.  Although there were questions surrounding the Cowboy’s ability to compete against playoff-caliber teams, they definitely proved that they should still be considered a top team in the conference. Putting up a close game in New Orleans is a tough feat with or without Drew Brees suited up. The road doesn’t get much easier though, as the Packers come to Dallas next Sunday looking for a bounce-back win.

2. Philadelphia Eagles (2-2)

The Eagles put on one of the more impressive performances of Week 4.  Even with some injuries, and a Thursday night game on the road, the Eagles came out and weathered the storm from the Packers.  In the second half, they made some big plays and despite some questionable play calls from the Packers late in the game, the Eagles rose up to the challenge and picked-off Aaron Rodgers to seal the road win.  This seemed to be a turning point for the Eagles who were sort of spiraling.  Now, they look like they will give the Cowboys a run for the division crown.  This week the Eagles host the Jets looking to build off of Thursday’s progress.

3. New York Giants (2-2)

Daniel Jones is 2-0! The Giants took down the Redskins rather easily on Sunday and are back at the .500 mark.  Daniel Jones didn’t look quite as sharp this week, but a win is a win.  The Vikings are coming in this week, and getting to 3-2 seems a bit more doable, especially after the Vikings performance in Chicago.  Despite the rough start, the Giants’ season is still alive and well.

4. Washington Redskins (0-4)

…Fire Gruden and move on.  An all-time horrible coaching move putting your rookie quarterback into the middle of a game on the road.  The Redskinds should move on from Gruden and find someone to develop Haskins.  This franchise is scrambling right now and the fan base is uneasy.  Oh, and the Patriots come to town on Sunday as 16 point favorites.  Prayers go out to Redkins faithful everywhere.

NFC SOUTH

1.New Orleans Saints (3-1)

No Drew Brees? No problem.  The Saints took care of the Cowboys Sunday night and look like they will be just fine until Brees returns.  Nobody expected the Saints to be 2-0 after losing Brees (especially with their schedule) but here they are at 3-1 with a home contest with the Bucs to get to 4-1.  When Brees does come back, it will be hard to say they aren’t the team to beat in the NFC.

2. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2-2)

The Bucs won a big game in L.A. on Sunday and looked pretty good while doing it. There were still some defensive issues and a pick-six thrown which opened the door up to the Rams, but they got the win.  There is definitely room to improve still, but with each week it seems less and less improbable to see the Bucs snag a wildcard spot. Remember, this team is a missed field goal away from being 3-1.  The Bucs now have a trip to New Orleans where a win would put them in first place.

3. Carolina Panthers (2-2)

The Panthers didn’t play particularly well this past week, but they got the win against the Texans despite 3 Kyle Allen fumbles.  At 2-2 and no Cam Newton timeline, it is unclear if the Panthers can still push for a playoff spot.  For now, beating the Jaguars at home would keep them on track to make a wildcard push in December.

4. Atlanta Falcons (1-3)

The Falcons 2019 season is already a disappointment.  Many people thought they could surprise and compete with the Saints. Instead, they have made no progress and sit at the bottom of the division.  This week, they travel to Houston to face a tough Texans team.  A 1-4 start for the Falcons may turn up the heat in Dan Quinn’s seat.

 

NFC POWER RANKINGS (Week 4 Ranking)

  1. New Orleans Saints (4)
  2. Los Angeles Rams (1)
  3. Green Bay Packers(2)
  4. Chicago Bears (9)
  5. Dallas Cowboys (3)
  6. Seattle Seahawks (7)
  7. Detroit Lions (6)
  8. San Francisco 49ers (8)
  9. Philadelphia Eagles (11)
  10. New York Giants (12)
  11. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (13)
  12. Minnesota Vikings (5)
  13. Carolina Panthers (14)
  14. Atlanta Falcons (10)
  15. Arizona Cardinals (15)
  16. Washington Redskins (16)

NFC Overview: Week 4

After three weeks of football, I think it is finally appropriate to analyze each team’s progress and future path with three performances to critique.  The NFC is shaking out to be a very competitive conference with many teams sitting at 2-1 or better.  Read below to find out how I see each division playing out, as well as a preview for Week 4. Finally, in the end, I will provide a power ranking for each team in the conference.

NFC NORTH

I think it is only fitting, to begin with the NFC North because of its combined record of 9-2-1.  Every team looks like it could make a run for the playoffs.  Although some teams may have executed and performed better in some games, I think we can get a true sense of each team’s identity heading into Week 4.

1. Green Bay Packers (3-0)

Heading into the season, Green Bay was holding its breath as new coach Matt LaFleur was beginning his tenure as the leader of one of the NFL’s most coveted franchises.  Of course, there has been some drama regarding Aaron Rodgers in the past few seasons on his coachability, but thus far that doesn’t seem to be an issue. After three games, the Packers are undefeated and their defense is leading the way.  The offense has had some forgettable moments (The ugly win in Week 1 at Chicago) but it seems to be trending in the right direction.  Being 2-0 in the division is certainly an added bonus to this unbeaten start, and they will look to improve to 4-0 on Thursday Night Football as the Packers will host the Eagles who have gotten off to a rocky start themselves.  I predict the Packers to win against a beat-up Eagles squad who is having difficulty on the defensive side of the ball.  Look for the Packers to get an early lead and coast.

2. Detroit Lions (2-0-1)

WOW! What a start for the Lions.  Coming into the year I don’t think many people expected much from this team, but they have proven everyone wrong. At times, they have looked sloppy (4th Quarter against the Cardinals Week 1, and Most of the game against the Chargers) but at the end of the day, they have beaten two playoff teams from a year ago, and have been able to withstand late-game pressures. Matthew Stafford looks solid again this year, and the team is playing well in the early parts of the game, which was often a problem in recent seasons.  This week the Lions host the Chiefs.  Although it seems like a daunting task, I think the Lions are a pesky team that could hang around for a little in this game.  In the end, I expect the Chiefs to remain undefeated and the Lions to fall to 2-1-1, which is by no means a failure considering their early-season opponents.

3. Minnesota Vikings (2-1)

The Vikings look like a playoff team. They have dominated the Falcons and Raiders at home, but in between, they fell to the Packers at Lambeau.  Although they need to improve their ability to play on the road, the Vikings defense is once again looking dangerous, and Dalvin Cook has returned to his rookie form.  Kirk Cousins, however, still leaves questions about his ability to be a reliable quarterback each week in the NFL. Upcoming, the Vikings travel to Chicago where a very important road divisional game awaits.  As good as the Vikings may seem, if they fail to win road games, especially in the division, they could be a team that misses out on a playoff spot with a seemingly worthy record.  All that said, I don’t think the Vikings will be able to pull out a victory against the Bears this week.  The game being at 3:25 pm will only add more pressure to Kirk Cousins who can simply look overwhelmed when he faces pressure, and I expect the Bears to be very hungry to win at home after their Week 1 letdown.

4. Chicago Bears (2-1)

The Bears came into this season with Super Bowl aspirations. After adding pieces to an already stellar defense (HaHa Clinton-Dix) the Bears seemed like they might be on their way to just that.  Although being 2-1 isn’t bad, the Bears have certainly left room for improvement on the offensive side of the ball.  Third-year quarterback, Mitchell Trubisky showed some signs of development and growth last season but hasn’t been able to put together a complete performance.  His play on Monday Night Football against the Redskins was the best it has been, but he still threw a poor interception in the endzone and missed some rather simple throws.  I like the Bears to win this week against the Vikings, but the only way for them to accomplish that is with a good performance from Trubisky. 

NFC WEST

The NFC West is another strong division with a combined record of 8-3-1.  The Rams look like they are definitely capable of returning to the Super bowl. The Seahawks and 49ers have good records but haven’t beaten any team with a winning record yet. Although the Cardinals have a poor record, they have shown positive signs with a rookie quarterback.

1. Los Angeles Rams (3-0)

The Rams are coming off a solid win in Cleveland on Sunday night.  The most promising part of the Ram’s performances up to this point is the fact that Todd Gurley hasn’t gotten going.  He still has much more to offer in this fire-powered offense, which is benefitting immensely from the return of Cooper Kupp.  The defense looks solid yet again, and I expect them to handle the Buccaneers rather easily this Sunday before a tough Thursday Night Football matchup with the Seahawks in Seattle. A return to the Super Bowl certainly seems possible if things continue this way.

2. San Francisco 49ers (3-0)

The 49ers look like the team everyone expected last season before Jimmy Garoppolo got injured. The offense is producing very well even with injuries and uncertainty in who the top receiver is. The biggest concern at this point is the quality of the opponents they have faced. Combined, the Buccaneers, Bengals, and Steelers are 1-8. This Monday the 49ers host the Browns who are still trying to find themselves as well. Nonetheless, a Monday night win at home to improve to 4-0 will surely boost their stock and put them into serious playoff talks.

3. Seattle Seahawks (2-1)

The Seahawks hosted the New Orleans Saints last Sunday who were without Drew Brees. Even so, the Saints dominated that game. Although the final score was 33-27, the game was over halfway through the third quarter. With their two wins coming against winless opponents, (By slim margins) I still cannot tell if the seahawks will be true playoff contenders. They have a divisional game at Arizona this Sunday which they most likely will win, but I think the Seahawks’ true colors will show next Thursday against the Rams.

4. Arizona Cardinals (0-2-1)

The Cardinals will not make the playoffs this year. The focus is all on developing Kyler Murray and preparing him for important games in November and December for seasons to come. Coach Kliff Kingsbury was criticized for not exploring enough with Murray in the first few weeks. In week three Murray looked overwhelmed at times in the second half against the Panthers, and turnovers killed any chance of pulling out the victory at home. As disappointing as it may be for a Cardinals fan, every young quarterback needs games where they perform poorly because it motivates them for weeks to come. I am excited for this team’s future with Murray at the helm.

NFC EAST

1.Dallas Cowboys (3-0)

The Cowboys look unbeatable right now. Dak Prescott has shown up this season. The move for Amari Cooper gets better with each game he plays, and Zeke is…being Zeke. The defense is strong, and the Cowboys have cruised to every win easily. The strong start is nice, but this Sunday night they will travel to play the Saints in New Orleans. This is the most intriguing matchup this week, but I am leaning slightly towards the Saints at home. Even still, the Cowboys look to be on their way to winning the NFC East again.

2. Philadelphia Eagles (1-2)

The Eagles are in a tough spot. after three games they are 1-2 and have a difficult road game in Green Bay on Thursday. Starting out 1-3 was not on the agenda for anyone in Philadelphia, but maybe this game could turn everything around. They haven’t looked particularly sharp in any game. The offense is banged up and the defense can’t keep teams out of the endzone. If a 1-3 start is the case, the panic meter will be tapped out.

3. New York Giants (1-2)

The Giants have entered the Daniel Jones era. Week 3 marked Jones’s first start in a Giants uniform and boy did he show up. Although a missed field goal from the Bucs ultimately decided the game, it would be hard to imagine the Giants in that position with Eli Manning under center. No disrespect to Eli, I believe he will be in the hall of fame someday. For now, he should either find a team who needs another quarterback or just retire. This week I think they will easily handle the redskins and be 2-2. As for the Giants season, I don’t expect them to make the playoffs but they should be much more fun to watch and be competitive each week.

4. Washington Redskins (0-3)

Jay Gruden should be sweating after Monday night. The Redksins did not show up at all, Case Keenum turned the ball over 5 times, and the “boos” were out early and often. Dwayne Haskins should be ready at any moment because at this point they have nothing to lose. The lone bright spot has been rookie receiver Terry McLaurin. He has made an instant impact and scored a touchdown in each game. Things only get worse as the ‘Skins travel to New York to face Daniel Jones in his first home game.

NFC SOUTH

1.New Orleans Saints (2-1)

The Saints got robbed last year in the NFC Championship. With most of the team returning, reaching the Super Bowl is almost the expectation in New Orleans. Everything was on course until Drew Brees broke his thumb and needed surgery which sidelined him for 4-6 weeks. The game against the Rams wasn’t pretty and losing Brees just added insult to injury. The bounceback against the Seahawks was impressive, but another tough test against the Cowboys awaits this Sunday. Although Brees is crucial to the Saints’ success, I think they will stay afloat and then capture the division after his return.

2. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (1-2)

The Bucs do look improved under Bruce Aryans. Jameis Winston looks more like himself and although they had a tough loss to the Giants Sunday, I wouldn’t be surprised if they won 7 or 8 games this season. The winning, however, might have to wait a few weeks as road games against the Rams and Saints are up next.

3. Atlanta Falcons (1-2)

The Falcons are a tough team to figure out. After a poor performance week 1 against the Vikings, they responded with a hard-fought, dramatic victory against the Eagles on Sunday Night Football. Week 3 however, they could not secure a road victory against the Colts on the road and are now at 1-2. This week they travel to Houston to play a tough Texans’ defense and Deshaun Watson and Deandre Hopkins. I truly think the Falcons are better than their record, but that doesn’t mean much in this league. Each week is a crapshoot and you have to execute to earn victories.

4. Carolina Panthers (1-2)

I have lost all faith in Cam Newton. Even before his injury in week 2 he looked awful. Kyle Allen, on the other hand, seized his opportunity, and after an impressive win in Arizona, some people are saying there could be a quarterback competition in Carolina. I know it seems impossible that a former MVP could have his job at stake, but this is an unforgiving league and winning is the most important. If that isn’t being done, then changes will be made. Carolina hosts the Jaguars this Sunday and has a good chance to get back to .500.

NFC POWER RANKINGS

  1. Los Angeles Rams
  2. Green Bay Packers
  3. Dallas Cowboys
  4. New Orleans Saints
  5. Minnesota Vikings
  6. Detroit Lions
  7. Seattle Seahawks
  8. San Francisco 49ers
  9. Chicago Bears
  10. Atlanta Falcons
  11. Philadelphia Eagles
  12. New York Giants
  13. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
  14. Carolina Panthers
  15. Arizona Cardinals
  16. Washington Redskins

 

Bears Dominate Redskins

The Chicago Bears jumped out to a 28-0 lead in the second-quarter on the road against the Washington Redskins when Mitchell Trubisky threw a 36-yard touchdown pass to Taylor Gabriel with 49 seconds remaining.

The play was not called a touchdown on the field, but their was a booth review because there was less than two minutes remaining in the first-half. Chicago looked more energized than Washington in the first-half.

Dustin Hopkins made a 35-yard field goal before halftime for the Redskins. Washington made it 28-15 at one point, but a Case Keenum fumble with 7:08 remaining in regulation on a fourth-and-1 at the Bears 22-yard line was forced by Danny Trevathan and Chicago recovered and hanged on for a 31-15 victory.

Ha Ha Clinton-Dix picked off Case Keenum in the first-quarter for the Chicago Bears and Clinton-Dix returned it 37 yards for a touchdown. He picked him off twice in this game.

In the second-quarter, Trubisky threw a 3-yard touchdown pass and also a 1-yard touchdown pass to Gabriel along with the 36-yard touchdown pass before the end of the first-half.

Mitchell Trubisky completed 25-of-31 passes for 231 yards three touchdowns and one interception. He also rushed for two yards on one carry.

Taylor Gabriel caught six passes for 75 yards receiving and three touchdowns. He also rushed seven yards on one carry.

Chicago’s leading rusher was David Montgomery with 67 yards rushing on 13 carries. Cordarrelle Patterson also rushed for 14 yards on four carries.

In the third-quarter, Case Keenum threw a 15-yard touchdown pass to Trey McLaurin (missed 2-point conversion). McLaurin caught six passes for 70 yards receiving and a touchdown.

Keenum threw a 2-yard touchdown pass to Paul Richardson Jr. in the fourth-quarter for Washington (failed 2-point conversion). Case Keenum completed 30-of-43 passes for 332 yards two touchdowns and three interceptions. He also rushed for three yards on two carries.

Keenum had a total of five turnovers in this game.

Richardson caught eight passes for 83 yards receiving and a score.

Adrian Peterson was the Washington Redskins leading rusher with 37 yards on 12 carries. He also caught one pass for -3 yards receiving.

Washington’s Head Coach Jay Gruden was asked after the game if would consider switching to rookie quarterback Dwayne Haskins in Week 4 and Gruden is not considering the option.

Haskins was taken with the 15th overall pick out of Ohio State University in the 2019 NFL Draft.

A lot of people want to see this because of how well Daniel Jones played for the New York Giants on the road this past Sunday against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

With not starting Haskins, this proves that he is not ready and Gruden doesn’t want to get him killed by this horrendous offensive line.

Their is speculation that Jay Gruden might be fired before the end of the season if this dumpster fire keeps up and it is very possible that offensive coordinator Kevin O’Connell would take over as the interim head coach.

The Redskins would want to make this move because they are afraid he will be a head coach somewhere. Washington had Sean McVay as the offensive coordinator a couple of years ago and he then took the Los Angeles Rams head coaching job.

The biggest problem with Washington is team President Bruce Allen. They have only won 39 percent of the time in his tenure. Allen needs to be shown the door along with Gruden when the time comes.

The Chicago Bears (2-1) will host the Minnesota Vikings (2-1) next Sunday. The Washington Redskins (0-3) will be on the road and face the New York Giants (1-2) next Sunday.

 

Jon Gruden-Not Antonio Brown-is the Raiders Problem

Yes, another post or comment about Antonio Brown and the saga that has just become stranger, stranger, and stranger. Ever since the last week of the 2018 season when Brown was suspended from his former team the Steelers, it has been a whirlwind of silliness honestly. People blamed the Steelers and Ben Roethlisberger for Brown’s actions. He then gets traded to Oakland for a 3rd and 5th round pick. Things were semi-subdued to start as there wasn’t much drama. But when the football helmet issue came to play, that’s when everything began.

Needless to say, Antonio Brown is probably done as a Raider before Week 1 ever gets here.

Or is he?

The one guy that has been front & center of the whole thing aside from Antonio Brown has been Jon Gruden. When word passed on Thursday that Brown was going to be suspended by GM Mike Mayock after “conduct detrimental to the team” (let’s just say that to avoid any major details), Gruden did not come out and really support the idea that Brown was going to be suspended.

For me, at that minute, I figured Brown would not be suspended or at least get it overturned.

Friday arrives and the “breaking” came up on my phone: “Jon Gruden says Antonio Brown will play Week 1.”

Brown apologized to his team “with tears in his eyes” and then apologized in front of cameras. Okay, fine. The team captains said they “would back whatever Gruden wants to do with Brown.”

Then the video of Brown talking to Gruden on the phone on what felt was like his own Nike ad. Gruden found it amusing and loved it. Okay…..(personal note: if I was being secretly recorded on a phone about a matter like this, it’s probably not something I’d find amusing.)

Wake up this morning and now Brown wants his release and that is “no way he will play for the Raiders” after Oakland voided his guarantees. Now the rumor is already going around that Gruden still expects Brown to play and still planning it like Brown will play.

Now, I want to hit on a few things here, notably about the team captains. Nobody has really come out in public and defended the embattled wide receiver and if the message was “whatever you think is best, coach” towards Gruden, that to me is a tell-tale message that the players don’t want Brown to be back there. But Gruden is already insistent of keeping Brown in Oakland, no matter what the issues are with the Raiders.

And that’s the problem.

Brown apologists and Gruden apologists alike will say that Gruden is giving Brown a second chance. Fine. But he’s blown that already when he bucked up to the boss. He blew that when he did a holdout for his helmet. So now we are on the 4th or 5th chance at it. Another thing has been somebody erroneously said how Gruden won a Super Bowl with another diva prima donna receiver in Keyshawn Johnson and having Warren Sapp. To those arguments, Gruden and Johnson hated each other and by the second season Gruden was with the Bucs he suspended Johnson for the second half of the season. And Sapp was not an issue. PS-Gruden won a Super Bowl with Dungy guys on defense. Just saying. After that, he was just an “average” head coach with the Bucs as the Dungy guys started to leave or retire.

Secondly Gruden has already undermined his GM Mike Mayock for all of this. From the moment when Mayock told Brown you’re “all in or all out” to even now, Gruden has been what from the outside has been the opposite of Mayock. It looks bad from that perspective that the head coach (who has an insane deal to stay) and the new GM there are not on the same page. That is a key issue.

We have already seen Gruden have his issues with the Raiders since he came back, notably with his prior GM Reggie McKenzie. The trades of Khalil Mack (which is the most dumbfounding of all of the moves until Brown arrived) and Amari Cooper are just unexplainable. If anything they came to work and did their jobs. But if Gruden has total control of the team over the GM, then why does Oakland have a GM at all when he keeps undermining the decisions Mayock makes?

Again, we know Antonio Brown has baggage. We saw that in full force last year in Pittsburgh. But what Jon Gruden is doing is enabling his behavior time after time to the point that it may just plague the team in what looks to be the Raiders final season in Oakland. It doesn’t set a good precedent for the other players and it is very harming if you are a teammate that is watching this on the side going “how many chances will Brown get from this guy?” or “if it was me, I’m out of a job!” or “well, Khalil Mack was pretty much kicked out of here because he wanted a new contract though he’s a stand-up guy and wants to play here.” Just because somebody may be very talented and have a strong practice regiment does not necessarily mean it off-sets all the issues. Gruden fails to see it right now that it is killing his team.

Maybe the guy that needs to miss the first week of the regular season and the entire season is Jon Gruden. All he’s doing is taking the Raiders into a black hole of futility. And trying to fight to keep Antonio Brown on the team is just another example. And the question is, what is the next example for Gruden and the Raiders? Or better yet how many examples will it take before the Raiders figure out Gruden is not any answer at all? Maybe Gruden is the one that has the issues destroying the team, not Brown.

-Fan in the Obstructed Seat

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Mookie Betts Lifts Red Sox over Twins

The Boston Red Sox entered the game against the Minnesota Twins with being 5.5 games back for the second wild card spot in the American League. Mookie Betts hit a solo home run on the first pitch he faced in the first-inning off of Jose Berrios for Boston.

Betts also hit a three-run homer for the Red Sox in the second-inning off of Berrios. The Red Sox won the game 6-2 over Minnesota.

Boston remains 5.5 games back of the Cleveland Indians and the Oakland Athletics for the second wild card spot in the American League.

In the sixth-inning, the Boston Red Sox scored two more runs on a Christian Vazquez double and a Mooke Betts RBI single. He went 4-for-5 in the game.

Eddie Rosario hit a two-run homer in the eighth-inning off of Ryan Brasier for the Twins.

Eduardo Rodriguez (17-5) was the winning pitcher for Boston. He pitched seven scoreless innings and gave up five hits. Rodriguez walked four batters and struck out eight.

Jose Berrios (11-8) was the losing pitcher for Minnesota. He pitched five innings and gave up eight hits and six runs. Berrios walked three batters and struck out six.

Brandon Workman recorded his 11th save of the season for the Red Sox. He pitched 0.2 innings.

The Minnesota Twins currently led the Cleveland Indians by 5.5 games in the American League Central.

The projected starting pitchers for the rubber game of this three-game set on Thursday night at Fenway Park in Boston will be between Martin Perez (9-6, 4.89 ERA) for the Minnesota Twins and Nathan Eovaldi (1-0, 6.23 ERA for the Boston Red Sox.