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Post draft thoughts

survive&advance

Well-Known Member
Had some free time at work today so I decided to write down some random post draft thoughts. Hoping to do all 32 teams eventually. You see a lot of folks with draft grades after the draft but I wanted to take a slightly different approach, focusing more on how the team’s draft will impact their scheme, how they’ll be different compared to last season, etc. At the end of the day, the draft is extremely random and I’m just hoping by doing this I’ll be better prepared for handicapping week 1!


Atlanta- Atlanta used two first round picks on the OL and spent some free agency money there also. Clearly they’re prioritizing protecting Ryan and running the ball more effectively. Defensively, they didn’t add much to a defense that struggled in 2018. I really thought they’d add a quality pass rusher in the draft.
Arizona- Murray is a great fit for Kingsbury’s air raid offense. One thing is certain, you absolutely need to have the QB fit to make the scheme work and that’s why they traded Rosen. Isabella and Butler add speed and size to the WR corps. Personally, Butler was probably my favorite WR prospect in the draft. So Arizona now has the QB and WRs to make the air raid work in theory, but my major concern is their offensive line. They added a couple pieces in free agency but I’m not sure if it’s enough/long term options. If the line is as bad as it was last year, Murray will be scrambling a lot and things could go south quickly for Kingsbury.
Baltimore- Added a TON of athleticism and explosiveness to their offense via Hollywood Brown, Boykin, and Hill. Last year, their leaders in receptions were Crabtree and Snead…neither of them created much separation which absolutely downplayed to Lamar Jackson’s passing strengths. These offensive additions will be huge for Lamar Jackson’s success, giving him deep threats, more margin for accuracy errors, and opening up the offense in general.
Buffalo- Oliver is a great fit for McDermott’s defense and he should step right in to retired stud DT Kyle Williams’ spot. The offensive line overhaul continues with the addition of Ford. Singletary and Knox also have opportunities to contribute on day one.
Carolina- Burns will be a welcome addition to a defense that desperately needs an explosive pass rusher. Miller might be able to contribute here early on too. Little might start at LT on day one in Carolina. Grier provides Carolina with a quality backup option as Newton continues to be injury prone.
Chicago- Not much to say here as Chicago gladly forfeited their first round pick in the Mack trade. Montgomery has a great shot at opening week one as the RB1, he was one of my favorite RBs in the class. I don’t see any of their other selections contributing much this season.
Cincinnati- Williams should be a perfect fit for new HC Zac Taylor. Williams fits the bill as an athletic, albeit undersized, tackle in a zone blocking scheme which Taylor will implement (coming from McVay’s system). Sample is a high floor, low ceiling prospect as a blocking TE…which leads me to think they’ll look to emphasize the run a little more since they used a second round pick there. Not to mention, they added a couple more RBs to an already crowded backfield. I would’ve liked to see some EDGE additions.
Cleveland- No first round pick due to the heist they pulled off for OBJ. So in like 18 months they’ve gone from Kizer, Crowell, Coleman, Britt to Mayfield, Chubb/Hunt, OBJ, Landry… Greedy fell (due to health concerns) to them in the second and there’s potential for an elite CB pairing there with Ward for a long time. Quality press CBs coming out of college are a rarity these days. Wilson is raw, but could be a steal at MLB.
Dallas- No first round pick due to the Cooper trade. I don’t have much here. Hill will have a shot to start week one but otherwise it feels like a lot of dart throws on role players.
 

survive&advance

Well-Known Member

Denver- New HC Vic Fangio and GM Elway focused their draft on the offensive side of the ball. Fant is the most athletic TE in the class and he should start from day one. With Jimmy Graham comparisons, he’ll add much needed explosiveness to an otherwise middling offense with Emmanuel Sanders coming off an Achilles tear. Fangio believes he can be an in-line TE, we’ll see about that…Risner is another day one starter at G. Lock is a polarizing prospect but, regardless of your thoughts on him, the selection at #42 overall is a worthy investment for a potential QB of the future. Overall this a draft result that should make improve the Broncos offense immediately with some high upside future potential.
Detroit- I’m going to get a little more personal with this one as Hockenson was probably my favorite prospect in the draft and I think the “baby Gronk” comparisons are legit. Some say you should never draft a TE this early, but there haven’t been too many TEs with Hock’s skillset. Being able to utilize his elite blocking and receiving abilities offers the Lions offense versatility to use many different personnel packages, which is going to make this offense much more efficient overall (you’re keeping the defense guessing plus improving your run and pass game). Imagine Hock on the Patriots? Now, I don’t know if Detroit will utilize him to the maximum effect that New England did with Gronk…but I’m assuming that’s the goal considering Patricia is a Belichick disciple. Historically, rookie TEs struggle in their first year and Detroit brought in new OC Bevell to run the show…I’m intrigued to see how this plays out. Detroit’s next four selections were on the other side of the ball and they may be able to contribute immediately from what I’ve read.
Green Bay- The Packers used two first round picks on defensive players in Gary and Savage. They used their first three picks on defenders last year too, so you can see the trend here is to continue to revamp the defense which was very mediocre last season. Gary is a polarizing talent- an elite athlete who underwhelmed in college…some say he’s better suited for the NFL. I’ll be interested to see where he plays here; the GM believes he’s an edge rusher. I’m assuming they view Savage as their starting FS come week one. It’s a nice fit for Sternberger- playing for an elite QB and LaFleur utilizes the TE position quite a bit.
Houston- Houston led the league in sacks allowed last season…Watson seemingly had to run for his life every other dropback. I’m not going to pretend like I know their draft board but you have to think Philadelphia leaping up to select top pass blocking OT Dillard was devastating. Nonetheless, Houston added two OTs in Howard and Scharping. The bar isn’t too high for either to start right away in week one. Warring was utilized primarily as a blocking TE at SDSU but he’s also a decent athlete- I expect him to contribute immediately by helping to keep Watson upright at the least.
Indianapolis- No first round pick here. Ya-Sin is a great fit for a Colts defense that led the league in zone coverage last season…he should play quite bit in an improving Colts secondary. Banogu is an elite athlete and he’ll add some needed explosiveness to the pass rush but he wasn’t particularly productive at TCU.
Jacksonville- DE Allen fell to Jacksonville at 7 and this was a sort of a BPA selection. Allen’s elite pass rushing will contribute immediately as the Jags finished in the bottom half of the league in sacks. OT Taylor also fell to Jacksonville in the second round due to knee concerns. The Jags were absolutely ravished by injuries on the offensive line last year while allowing the third most sacks in the league- I expect this offensive line to be above average this year. My concern with the Jags draft is that they didn’t give Foles any receiving weapons…this is a pretty weak receiving corps.
 

B.A.R.

CTG Partner
Staff member
Yeah, I have a lot of friends who are lions fans and they didn’t like the draft. I’ve also learned Lions fans are generally pessimistic lol. What’re your thoughts there?
I'm fine with the first pick. I knew it was coming. Second round kid we could have gotten much later. After that a typical Lions draft... we'll find a gem later usually. I'd give it a C+ tops. The rest of the off-season was good though.
 

survive&advance

Well-Known Member
I'm fine with the first pick. I knew it was coming. Second round kid we could have gotten much later. After that a typical Lions draft... we'll find a gem later usually. I'd give it a C+ tops. The rest of the off-season was good though.
That’s what I’d grade it also but I’m trying to stay away from the grading stuff just because projecting whether a guy will pan out or not is so difficult with so many intangibles
 

cubsker

Sort of a Big Deal
Hock is the best blocking TE I've seen in a long time. Quite capable receiver as well. Dont think that pick was a reach at all.
 

B.A.R.

CTG Partner
Staff member
Hock is the best blocking TE I've seen in a long time. Quite capable receiver as well. Dont think that pick was a reach at all.
More than anything, it's the Lions history (Mike Williams, Eric Ebron, Charles Rogers) as far as the WR/TE position.
 

VirginiaCavs

Man Crush on Kyle Guy
Josh Allen can also play at outside linebacker. He's really a versatile player. The Jags were one of the top teams in pressure rate even though they didn't get a lot of sacks. I agree that the lack of receiving weapons is a big issue. Josh Oliver may bring a small boost as a backup tight end who doesn't block but can be a decent pass-catcher. Still, this team I think led the nfl in drops, so there's still a lot of work to be done to help out Foles.
 

survive&advance

Well-Known Member
Kansas City- KC sent their first round pick to Seattle to acquire Frank Clark. What a strange offseason in KC after coming so close to reaching the Super Bowl- Tyreek Hill’s season status is up in the air and Spagnuolo replaces Sutton at DC to shakeup the defense to a 4-3 scheme. Frank Clark will step in for Dee Ford, a better fit for Spagnuolo’s defense. Second round pick Hardman was a curious selection…he’s raw but he has elite speed and will contribute immediately as a returner. Thornhill tested in the 99thpercentile among safeties and has great coverage/ball skills…I think he’ll start at FS at some point this season. I expected KC to address CB more this offseason, this is a secondary that allowed the most pass yards against last season...the pressure will be on Clark and Jones to replicate their 2018 sack totals. I’m also concerned with the WR corps if Hill misses extended time as his skillset is invaluable.
Los Angeles Chargers- I liked this draft overall for LAC as they used their first two picks on players I’m relatively high on that fit their needs. DT Tillery will be a disruptor up the middle playing alongside Bosa and Ingram, he should start immediately. Second round selection S Adderley will fit right in at FS to pair with Derwin James…this defense is going to be sick. Now, the offensive line was a major weakness heading into the draft and they only addressed it by drafting small school OT Pipkins who may be a project. Needless to say, I’m not optimistic about this position group and it could be their downfall again this season after being manhandled by the Patriots last January.
Los Angeles Rams- No first round pick here. I think the overall focus here was simply to add depth to an aging offensive line and defense. The 2018 roster was sort of a “studs and duds” type of roster in my opinion- they acquired a lot of talent but at the price of draft picks and cap money which caused depth problems pretty much throughout the roster. I’m not sure if any of their selections will start immediately, but I think all eight selections can make meaningful contributions in 2019 as role players. RB Henderson was one of my personal favorite RBs in the draft class…he excels in outside, one cut runs and that matches perfectly for McVay’s outside zone system. Also, CB Long was one of my favorite CBs in the draft as he tested very well for the position and was an absolute lockdown corner in college.


Miami- Not a sexy draft by any means. This is a roster with major weaknesses at so many positions that this requires a full rebuild effort and they know it, as evidenced by stockpiling picks for 2020. Acquiring Rosen for the 62nd pick feels like a low risk gamble. Wilkins is a high floor prospect who consistently produced at Clemson, he should start immediately and he should have a solid career. This is a poor offensive line so Deiter might start early on too. Overall, I’m expecting Miami to be a bottom three team in 2019.
 

survive&advance

Well-Known Member
Minnesota- The offensive line in Minnesota has been mediocre to poor for the past few years and that’s been the Achilles heel for the team. Philosophically, Zimmer has stated he wants to be a more run oriented team which prompted the firing of OC DiFilippo in December and adding Gary Kubiak as an offensive assistant this offseason. Last season Minnesota rushed for the third fewest yards in the league while the eye test confirmed a poor pass and run blocking unit. First round selection C Bradbury is going to be a perfect fit in Stefanski/Kubiak’s zone blocking scheme- he’ll start immediately and I think he’s going to be a key piece in bolstering the line’s pass and run blocking efficiency. Centers usually aren’t thought of as first round selections but this dude is going to be a stud for a long time. After Kyle Rudolph trade rumors swirled, they drafted TE Smith- who I’m personally bearish on due to him being undersized and not particularly athletic for the position. OG Samia and OT Udoh were two picks I liked that will add depth to the aforementioned offensive line group. Overall, my takeaway here is that Minnesota is committing to the zone blocking scheme and the run game…I expect the offense to be more efficient in 2019 with better run and pass offense results.
New England- The Patriots had ten picks in this draft and they drafted just about every different position. First round WR Harry has drawn Dez Bryant comps, which might not be particularly flattering considering Dez has been out of the league for a minute but this is a great fit for Harry. Brady’s anticipation and accuracy are exactly what he needs to be productive in the NFL. We’ll see how quickly he earns Brady’s trust but the opportunity to contribute early is there…there aren’t a ton of weapons on paper here for Brady but that probably won’t matter. DE Winovich in the third felt like a steal after testing well and having a productive college career, obviously is a perfect landing spot for him. Dante Scarnecchia will probably turn OT Cajuste and OG Forholdt into studs. This feels like a typical Patriots draft…their culture and coaching will make a handful of these selections produce and they’ll continue to win.
New Orleans- No first round pick here due to the trade up last year for Marcus Davenport. They also gave up mid round picks for Eli Apple and Teddy Bridgewater. We know the Saints are in “win now” mode with Brees in his final years. They traded up in this draft to select C McCoy in the second round, he could start week one and fills a need after Max Unger’s retirement. S Gardner-Johnson fell quite a bit in the draft over character concerns but the talent is there and he’s a welcome addition to a secondary that was a 2018 disappointment. I would’ve liked to see WR addressed in the offseason or draft to take some pressure off of Mike Thomas. We saw the Saints offense drop off a bit towards the end of the year and I think it’s mainly because they relied so much on Thomas and Kamara. Jared Cook should help but the WR corps is still lacking beyond Thomas. Don’t get me wrong, the Saints are among the Super Bowl favorites for good reason but the lack of recent draft capital has created some depth concerns for me.
 

survive&advance

Well-Known Member
New York Giants- An extra first round pick here and a new starting S in Peppers after trading OBJ. Many experts had Daniel Jones as a tier two QB in this relatively weak QB class, my main issue here is that GM Gettleman has simply refused to trade down in his career and this was a prime opportunity to grab an elite prospect at #6. Nonetheless, the Giants got their guy and he’ll backup Manning to begin the season. DT Lawrence is a high floor prospect that’ll bolster the rush defense. Gettleman traded up for CB Baker at the end of the first round, then added CBs Love and Ballentine later on- Baker and Love should start week one. OLB Ximines has a chance to contribute immediately too- this is a team that had the second fewest sacks in 2018 and will desperately need more pass rushing help. Heading into the draft the Giants had many holes to fill, and I’m not so sure they addressed enough of them via free agency or the draft. They’ve upgraded their secondary and rush defense but I’m concerned about their LBs (pass coverage/pass rush), edge rush, offensive line, and, of course, QB.
New York Jets- First round selection DT Williams was arguable the top prospect in the entire class, drawing Aaron Donald comparisons by some. He’s going to step right in and this Jets defensive line is going to be a major problem for opponents. Third round OLB Polite had first round talent but fell due to off field concerns/poor combine, who knows what he’ll do. The Jets draft wasn’t particularly deep but they had a big offseason overall by adding Leveon Bell, CJ Mosley and Kelechi Osemele. I think this will be a much improved team in 2019, assuming Darnold continues to progress after a solid rookie year. The defense was mediocre in 2018 but I’m expecting a step forward after hiring DC Gregg Williams and adding more overall talent.
 

survive&advance

Well-Known Member
Oakland- Here’s another write up where I’ll get a little more anecdotal as a casual Raiders fan. Two extra first round picks here due to the Mack/Cooper trades on top of their fourth overall pick- this was a critical draft for Gruden and GM Mayock. Oakland had 13 sacks last year….13!! How comically bad is that? The second fewest team total was 30. It’s almost as if trading an all-pro pass rusher was a bad idea, go figure. Fourth overall pick DE Ferrell should start immediately and help this anemic pass rush. As I’ve said with all the other Clemson defensive linemen, he’s a high floor prospect…but his ceiling is lower than many defenders that Oakland passed on.(Interesting side note: looking at Clemson defensive players in the NFL, only one pro bowl appearance amongst them- Vic Beasley in 2016). RB Jacobs will bolster a plodding RB committee, but I’m not so sure how much he’ll contribute on the ground as he’s more of a receiving back and didn’t test well for athleticism. The Oakland pass defense was poor last season as well; late first round pick S Abram is a box safety who should contribute in run support. I expect CB Mullen and DE Crosby to see quite a bit of playing time in 2019 since Oakland will need all the pass coverage/rush help they can get. Going forward, I don’t think the defense will be as bad as it was in 2018 but it’s still going to be a bottom ten NFL defense…there’s still just too many holes on all three levels. Offensively, they were a bottom five team in 2018. Offseason additions of Trent Brown and Antonio Brown should help Derek Carr…but I still have concerns about overall talent across the board. I think they’ll be drafting in the top five again in 2020.
Philadelphia- This was an interesting draft for Philly. They traded up to snag OT Dillard, who was probably the best pure pass blocker in the draft. Now, Philly already has two quality OTs in Lane Johnson and Jason Peters but the thought is he’ll be Peters’ replacement when he hangs them up. Plus, having offensive line depth is always important. RB Sanders joins a crowded Eagles backfield- he has a potentially high ceiling as an all-purpose back in a good offense. I think this is a fairly loaded roster without many flaws which enabled them to draft a little more luxuriously and add depth. Last season, the secondary was absolutely ravished by injuries- they had 15 total DBs take snaps. I don’t think this is a subpar unit when healthy and I expect the defense to be improved as a whole.
 

survive&advance

Well-Known Member
Pittsburgh- Pittsburgh traded up with Denver to select MLB Bush in the first round. This is a perfect fit for Bush and the Steelers, who’ve absolutely missed Ryan Shazier after his devastating 2017 injury. Bush is going to bring elite speed and athleticism to a defense that has lacked those traits, he’ll be critical in pass coverage and run defense. Third round CB Layne has a chance to get a lot of playing time in his rookie season as he joins a relatively thin CB unit. Now, Pittsburgh obviously lost an elite weapon in Antonio Brown but I don’t really think they added much to help compensate that loss. WR Johnson, RB Snell, and TE Gentry all tested poorly and I can’t see much production out of them…so Pittsburgh will rely on James Washington and Donte Moncrief to pick up the load. It’s really difficult to replace the production of a hall of fame talent and this passing offense was elite last season, with a top five QB, WR, and offensive line. I expect the offense to run the ball a bit more (31stin rush attempts in 2018) and lose explosiveness/passing efficiency. Another question is whether this team can be consistent over the course of 16 games as we’ve seen them give far too many disappointing efforts over the past few seasons. I will say that I’m optimistic in the mental makeup of this team now that there should be fewer distractions with Leveon Bell and Antonio Brown gone.

San Francisco- First round DE Bosa bolsters a San Francisco defensive line that suddenly looks really strong on paper. Bosa will compliment offseason addition Dee Ford on the opposite side of the line, providing more of a power pass rush to Ford’s quick/speed rush…the Niners already have a stud DT in DeForest Buckner. The Niners used their next two picks to upgrade their WR unit…second rounder Samuel has a strong chance to start week one while third rounder Hurd has a very unique skillset as a big slot WR/RB. I like the San Francisco offense to be improved this year with more talent around a healthy Jimmy Garoppolo. Defensively, I already mentioned the line being strong but I am pretty concerned with the secondary- they didn’t add much in free agency or the draft. In 2018, the secondary gave up the second most passing touchdowns in the league while finishing with only two interceptions. I think the pressure will be on the pass rush to help mask a below average secondary.

Seattle- Seattle had a busy offseason and draft. GM Schneider traded up and down throughout the draft for a total of 11 picks. I don’t foresee any of these picks being starters immediately but they offer necessary depth and I’m sure Pete Carroll will find a way to make a handful of them valuable contributors. First round DE Collier will look to replace Frank Clark, who was traded to KC after the Seahawks decided they didn’t want to pay him. Doug Baldwin’s retirement has created a thin WR unit with Tyler Lockett as the only really proven option. Second round WR Metcalf is a freak athlete but unpolished as a route runner…he’s the definition of a boom or bust prospect. Jumping ahead here, Seattle is a weird team for me to project. I think the losses of Clark and Baldwin are massive and I don’t think they did enough to help make up for their 2018 production. The offense should rely on the run game and Russ’ magic again…the defense looks the same but without a quality pass rusher. Now, I don’t want to discredit Pete Carroll or Russel Wilson but this feels like a team that will take a step back in 2019.
 

survive&advance

Well-Known Member
Tampa Bay- The first thing I noticed about Tampa’s draft is that they emphasized making their defense more athletic. Their first three picks- MLB White, CB Bunting, and CB Dean all had sparq scores above the 90th percentile for their positions. However you want to slice it, this Bucs defense was flat out bad last year. In 2019, the defense will shift to a 3-4 scheme under new DC Todd Bowles and Devin White is going to step right in to become a key piece to its success. Tampa used their next three picks on secondary help…which was torched in 2018. Fourth round DE Nelson has a shot to contribute immediately- this isn’t a particularly deep group of pass rushers after Pierre-Paul’s neck injury and Gerald McCoy’s departure. There are still some major holes on the defense- it’s a weak unit overall, but it should be slightly better in 2019. Offensively, Bruce Arians and OC Byron Leftwich will have their work cut out for them. They’ll need to make Jameis a more competent QB who makes better decisions and takes care of the ball. They also need to help him by establishing a better run game to create a more balanced offense- last year’s offense was too pass reliant (led the league in pass yards and interceptions thrown) and couldn’t rush efficiently (31st in yards per rush attempt).

Tennessee- First round DT Simmons suffered a torn ACL before the draft so he likely will sit out 2019. Second round WR Brown might’ve been the most “NFL ready” WR in the draft- I think he could start week one. From what I’ve read by a Titans beat writer, third round G Davis might start week one as well. At the end of the day, 2019 comes down to Marcus Mariota in his contract year. Can he stay healthy and produce? The Titans have given him support by improving their offensive line and adding more receiving help, this has to be the year that Mariota and the Titans make the next step. I expect the defense to be solid again in 2019- probably a top ten overall defense.
 

survive&advance

Well-Known Member
Washington- Washington’s patience during the draft paid off, as first round QB Haskins fell to them at number 15 overall. Haskins is an intriguing prospect to me and I have no idea how he’s going to pan out in the NFL. Regardless, the price was certainly right for Washington here to make an investment and find out if he can be a franchise QB. This battle for QB1 should be a good one between McCoy, Keenum and Haskins. Washington also traded up to select DE/OLB Sweat in the first round. Sweat was one of my favorite prospects in the draft and I think he’s going to be a star in the NFL based on his college production and freakish athleticism (broke the 40 yard dash record for a d-lineman) - he fell in the draft due to a possible misdiagnosed heart condition. This Washington front seven is quietly among the best in the league. Third round WR McLaurin has a chance to produce early due to the Skins WR corps being very thin but I’m skeptical- he was more valuable in special teams than receiver at Ohio State. For 2019, I think the Washington defense will be improved with a strong front seven that should help out a mediocre secondary. A bottom five offense in 2018 (granted they had absolutely brutal injuries to their QBs), there are still plenty of questions heading into the summer that make me wonder how much of an improvement there will be. The offensive line has been plagued by injuries over the past two seasons, when healthy this is one of the best in the league- key word “health”. Whoever wins the QB1 job isn’t going to have a lot of receiver support, there’s not much here in terms of talent or quality depth. I do think the offense will be slightly better in 2019, if only for better injury luck.

 

survive&advance

Well-Known Member
I’m back in the cubes tomorrow which means I’ll need to find something to write about to avoid working lol. Anyone have any particular interests for the nfl season they’d like me to look into?
 

VirginiaCavs

Man Crush on Kyle Guy
I’m back in the cubes tomorrow which means I’ll need to find something to write about to avoid working lol. Anyone have any particular interests for the nfl season they’d like me to look into?
Requests:

What impact you think Miles Sanders will make on the Eagles‘ run game
Jags‘ linebacker situation without Telvin Smith
Jags‘ safety situation
Whether you think Titans are legit AFC South competitors
Whether you think the Falcons can return to the playoffs this year
Strongest rsw bet

Or maybe specify what you‘d like to write about?
 
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survive&advance

Well-Known Member
Gonna look into some futures here...
AFC East
My win total projections: Patriots 12, Jets 7, Bills 6.5, Dolphins 4.5
Ho hum. I see more of the same out of the AFC East in 2019. The Patriots are around -500 favorites to win the division and their win total is 11, juiced on the over. On paper, this schedule looks easy- one of the benefits of playing in a division where the other three teams finished below .500 in 2018. I don’t think this roster is as strong as it’s been in the past few years in terms of talent but their brilliance in coaching/game planning continues to run circles around the rest of the league. Although I have the Patriots projected for 12 wins, we’ve seen them show a propensity for focusing more on the playoffs. The Jets will be a fascinating team in 2019 as they’ve already made the headlines for various reasons- firing their GM after the draft, Gase comments, and signing the enigmatic Leveon Bell. To me, this shows instability at the top level of the organization and that’s a possible major risk. That being said, on paper I don’t mind the roster mainly because I’m bullish on Darnold. Buffalo revamped their offensive line over the offseason which was a major weakness in their 2018 campaign. Their season success will simply come down to Josh Allen- can he take the next step and improve his accuracy? The upgraded offensive line should help keep him upright, at least. From an efficiency perspective, this was a top three defense and I do expect this unit to be strong once again. I’m just not ready to totally buy in to Josh Allen yet. I’ve already written about my concerns with the Dolphins but I do respect the philosophical approach they’re taking. They know they need to rebuild but they’re going to go about it with toughness and accountability- that’s why they hired Brian Flores. It’s all about the process with Flores, recently telling the media “We’re not going to conquer the world in one day”. I expect the Dolphins to play hard in 2019 despite their lack of talent, Flores and the front office are changing the culture and laying the foundation for future success beyond 2019. TLDR: nothing catches my eye here from an investment standpoint and everything looks priced right so far.
 

survive&advance

Well-Known Member
AFC North
My win total projections: Steelers 10, Browns 9.5, Ravens 8.5, Bengals 5

Division winner odds…pitt +185, cle +130, bal +270, cin +1800

I can’t wait to see how the AFC North plays out this season. The Browns have become one of the most intriguing teams in the NFL after a strong finish to their 2018 campaign/firing the inept Hue Jackson and having a very active offseason. At +130 odds, Cleveland is the favorite to win the division and it’s really tough to argue against this roster being the best on paper in the division. What John Dorsey has done in his short tenure in Cleveland is incredible- take a look at the winless 2017 roster and compare it to this season’s… Baker Mayfield is set up for a massive season with HC Kitchens and OC Monken running the offense and the new additions of OBJ/Jarvis Landry…not to mention promising young talents in Njoku and Chubb. Bottom line is this offense should be among the best in the league. My question with the Browns really comes down to chemistry and value- there are a lot of new pieces here and some interesting personalities which carries some risk. From a value standpoint, I threw some beer money on them to win the super bowl before the OBJ trade but now the odds have adjusted quite a bit (+1200, tied for 5thlowest odds). If you’re buying on the Browns, you’re now buying high. Football in Pittsburgh is going to be different this year with Leveon Bell and Antonio Brown out of town. The Steelers defense actually finished the 2018 season 6th overall in YPP while tied for the most sacks in the league. I’ve already mentioned Devin Bush previously but I really think he’s going to make this defense take another step forward…his fit is perfect in Pittsburgh. I’m expecting a top five defense in 2019 and I think this unit will be critical to make up for the potential drop off on offense. I don’t expect the offense to be as potent with Antonio Brown gone but it’s still led by one of the best in the business in Big Ben. In 2019, I expect a more focused, defensive minded Steeler team that we’re more accustomed to seeing and for that reason I think there’s some value here- I may look to invest in the Steelers to win the division. By whatever metric you want to look at, the Ravens defense was one of the best in the league in 2018. Yes, they lost some key contributors via free agency but they’re all replaceable. This is a franchise that just knows defense year in and year out, which includes one of the best DCs in the game in Wink Martindale. Perhaps the unit won’t be as elite again in 2019 but it won’t be taking a substantial step back. Offensively is where the bulk of the questions will be as new OC Romans revamps the offense centered around Lamar Jackson. The accuracy concerns around Jackson are valid however I don’t really think he was in a position to succeed last season. He took over for Joe Flacco in the middle of the season so the scheme/playbook had to be adjusted on the fly while his supporting cast of receivers were among the worst in the league at creating separation. Surrounded with more talent/athleticism, an OC who has been successful with mobile QBs, and another offseason to develop are reasons why I think Jackson should improve in 2019, albeit with some growing pains. Cincinnati finally fired Marvin Lewis and brought in former Rams QB coach Zac Taylor. Could this be the spark to get the Bengals out of perpetual mediocrity? I’m not sure, really. He’ll need to figure out how to optimize Dalton’s mediocre skill set similarly to how Sean McVay has with Jared Goff. There are some solid pieces here but it’s an aging roster in my mind and strong divisional competition makes me bearish on the Bengals this season. TLDR: I think the Steelers are being slightly undervalued and may be worth an investment to win the division at the current price.
 

B.A.R.

CTG Partner
Staff member
Terrific thread. On the last part, obviously the Browns value got zapped away long ago. For once the Steelers aren't the favorites and that creates rare value on them. How's the schedule break down?
 

survive&advance

Well-Known Member
Terrific thread. On the last part, obviously the Browns value got zapped away long ago. For once the Steelers aren't the favorites and that creates rare value on them. How's the schedule break down?
Overall it’s not a bad schedule- @NE is probably the only game where i can see them catching more than 3-4 points at the moment. Baltimore is theoretically supposed to have the more difficult schedule since they won the division last year, matched up with the other afc division winners. They’ll get Houston and KC while Pittsburgh gets Indy and LAC (both will have to face NE and the rest of the afc east).
 

survive&advance

Well-Known Member
AFC South
My win total projections: Colts 10, Texans 7.5, Titans 7.5, Jags 7

Division winner odds: Colts -105, Texans +250, Jags+500, Titans +550

The AFC South is setting up to be the most competitive division from top to bottom in 2019. One of the first things I noticed in my research is that the Texans are going from one of the easiest schedules in 2018 to the most difficult in 2019, based on Warren Sharp’s Strength of Schedule per Vegas Odds data. We already know this offensive line is poor- just how bad were they in 2018? Their adjusted sack rate led the NFL with 11.6% and they gave up a league high of 62 sacks. I give the Texans credit for at least investing in the line through the draft but it’s tough to say there will be an immediate return on the investments. I still project this being one of the worst pass protecting units in the league and for that reason Deshaun Watson’s development could be in jeopardy. The pressure will be on Watson to make quicker reads and the Texans coaching staff to scheme around this obstacle. On the defensive side of the ball, there’s already drama around Jadeveon Clowney’s contract- this will be something to keep your eye on. Otherwise the defense looks similar to last year- very strong against the run but poor against the pass since the pass rush has become more average.
The Colts schedule projects to be a bit easier than the rest of their AFC South foes. You couldn’t ask for a better first year out of Frank Reich, he’s already become one of the better coaches in the league. After a rough first few games, Andrew Luck absolutely went off in 2018…he’s back to being one of the best QBs in the league. Last year the offensive line ranked in the top five for adjusted line yards in run blocking while giving up the fewest sacks allowed. More weapons are at Andrew Luck’s disposal this season- Deon Cain and Jack Doyle are expected to be at full health while Devin Funchess and Parris Campbell were added during the offseason. Based on my reading of Colts beat writers, the defense is shaping up to prioritize speed and athleticism rather than size and strength. I’ll be interested to see how this plays out as the rush defense was among the best in the league last season, thanks in part to Darius Leonard’s DROY play. My only real question with the Colts is whether their mediocre 2018 pass rush is improved. Free agency signing Justin Houston hasn’t reached double digit sacks since 2014 so I’m not sure if he’s the answer there...we’ll see how rookie first rounder Ben Banogu fairs as well. However, at the end of the day the Colts are my dark horse super bowl pick because 1) great coach 2) great qb 3) great offensive line 4) quality depth throughout the roster.
Jacksonville is one of the harder teams to get a read on. The defense took a step back in 2018 but, on paper, this is still a unit with an abundance of talent even without Telvin Smith. This should be a top ten defense in 2019. On the other side of the ball, there’s a lot of uncertainty as Nick Foles and new OC John DeFilippo are reunited once again. Blake Bortles set the bar low enough where Foles should be an immediate upgrade but there are question marks everywhere else. Outside of Dede Westbrook, this is an unproven WR/TE cast to begin with. Leonard Fournette has been frequently injured with pedestrian efficiency over the past two years. The offensive line is strong when healthy but this unit suffered major injuries last season (Robinson, Linder, and Norwell). There should be better injury luck here for 2019 but a return to 100% form isn’t a guarantee for some. Ultimately, I’m unsure of the Jags offense, coaching and culture so they are sort of a fickle team for me.
In Tennessee, this absolutely has to be the year Marcus Mariota stays healthy and progresses into a legitimate franchise QB. Finishing in the bottom quarter of the league in passing efficiency simply won’t cut it in the NFL these days as the Titans did in 2018. The talent around Mariota should be good enough including the offensive line, receivers and RBs. I’ll be interested to see how new OC Arthur Smith calls plays, early indications point towards a prioritization of the run game. Defensively, the Titans finished 2018 with the third best defense in terms of pts per game but the efficiency numbers point towards this defense being a bit more average. At first glance I expected a top ten unit for 2019 but there are some question marks around the pass rush, nonetheless this should still be a solid unit. Overall, I do really like the depth that this team has built up but it all comes down to Mariota in 2019.
TLDR- I grabbed the Colts to win the division at plus odds a few months ago. At the current number, I still think it’s worth a gamble. For the rest of the division, I could realistically see finishes in any order. I’d like to get in a Colts Super Bowl future at some point but my buy price is +1800 or better.
 

VirginiaCavs

Man Crush on Kyle Guy
I like your take on the Jags. I think Bortles could even be missed a bit when perfectly thrown balls anyhow get dropped by Jax‘s awful receiving corps because Bortles was historically efficient as a running qb. One bright-ish spot that you could have mentioned, though, is the eventual return of top receiver Marqise Lee. It is very possible tho that he doesn‘t start the season totally healthy. He had missed all of last season with awful knee damage
 

scarf31

CTG Vice Partner
Staff member
Great write up, S&A...think top to bottom this is the toughest division in the league. Colts going to be a darling but much like the Browns are going to get a ton of love.

I see a lot of people on the Colts and a bunch down on Houston, but they still have a playmaking QB. Jax has its defense which isn’t going to disintegrate overnight and a guy who isn’t Blake Bortles undee center now...hate their off scheme is going to be spreading the field with an injury prone power back, but it is what it is.

Team and play I like a lot is the Titans under. I’d probably play a juicy 8.5 but I wouldn’t kill going under an 8 either.

They have the longest odds to win that division, arguably have the worst QB and now Mariota who cannot stay healthy has a new offensive coordinator because Green Bay was stupid enough to reward Matt Lafleur for doing nothing in Nashville offensively. And look at their first 6-8 games...they can easily start of 2-6 and with an offensively challenged coach...who wants to win football games establishing the run...you’ve got a team k. The dark ages like in Detroit and Nashville.

Colts SB ticket is a jump for me personally because they’ve got a much tougher schedule this year and I don’t know if they’re going to be able to get a bye even if they win that division. But I can’t kill people for liking what they turned into as the year progressed last year.
 

survive&advance

Well-Known Member
Good points, scarf. Unlike the browns the colts are coming off a trip to the divisional round, though. The colts just feel like they’re trending in the right direction with a strong coach and GM building the team the right way. Houston has sort of been the opposite, they haven’t drafted or spent particularly well. Let’s not forget Watson looked abysmal in their playoff loss to the colts last year, I’m a fan of his but he still has work to do.

For Tennessee, you’re absolutely right with that schedule. But I will say that I think establishing the run with their offense will be important. Henry ran like a beast down the stretch of 2018
 

VirginiaCavs

Man Crush on Kyle Guy
Good points, scarf. Unlike the browns the colts are coming off a trip to the divisional round, though. The colts just feel like they’re trending in the right direction with a strong coach and GM building the team the right way. Houston has sort of been the opposite, they haven’t drafted or spent particularly well. Let’s not forget Watson looked abysmal in their playoff loss to the colts last year, I’m a fan of his but he still has work to do.

For Tennessee, you’re absolutely right with that schedule. But I will say that I think establishing the run with their offense will be important. Henry ran like a beast down the stretch of 2018
The Jags really didn‘t try to tackle Henry. They were shamed for their efforts and that led them to play the Colts super tough
 

VirginiaCavs

Man Crush on Kyle Guy
That’s why I mentioned I’m unsure of the jags culture in my writeup. Lack of effort, leadership and discipline are inexcusable
The Jags brought in Marrone because he has a proven history of turning bad teams into good teams quickly.
Now we're seeing why he nevertheless gets bounced from everywhere he goes.
Marrone is on a sinking ship. He's tried to blame everybody else--he's dumped the OC, the play-caller, the quarterback. Verily I say unto thee, it's a matter of time until Moron gets dumped himself.
 

survive&advance

Well-Known Member
AFC West
My win total projections: KC 10.5, LAC 10, DEN 6.5, OAK 4.5
Division winner odds: KC -150, LAC +150, DEN +1400, OAK +2000

The Bolts have a considerably easier schedule compared to their division rivals- Warren Sharp’s Strength of Schedule per Vegas Odds data has them with the eighth softest schedule while the other three teams rank in the top ten for most difficult. All of their road games look winnable, especially when you consider this team went 7-1 in away games last regular season. On the other hand, the home schedule sets up to be tougher with a minimal home field advantage to begin with…plus they get KC “at home” in Mexico City before their week 12 bye. I’m really excited to see what this Chargers defense brings in 2019 with strong scheme fit rookies and all-pros amongst the d-line and secondary. Although there are some question marks at LB, this should be a top five defense overall. I have quite a bit of concern for other areas, mainly the offensive line and coaching which were exposed in their January playoff loss to the Patriots. With LT Okung questionable to return for training camp, this already weak offensive line may have even more questions…something to keep your eye on here. Another situation to monitor will be Melvin Gordon’s holdout threat if the Bolts can’t come to a contract extension agreement which seems quite possible at the moment. While the Bolts’ floor is relatively high due to a strong defense and passing offense, I do think Anthony Lynn and the offensive line lowers the ceiling as well.
Tyreek Hill avoiding suspension is an absolutely massive benefit to the Chiefs offense. Hill might be the most valuable WR in the league when you factor in his fit and how Pat Mahomes/Andy Reid utilize him. You don’t need me to tell you the reigning MVP is a stud but we have to assume some regression is in order- his 2018 stats are simply too good to be sustained. Now, I’m not saying this offense is suddenly going to become average… I still expect this to be a top five offense, at worst. On the flip side- can the Chiefs defense possibly get any worse this year? New DC Steve Spagnuolo is changing the Chiefs defense from a 3-4 to a 4-3 scheme and we’ve seen a lot of roster turnover as a result. We should see an improved secondary, particularly at both safety positions, but there are still plenty of questions throughout all three levels of the defense. Take a look at KC’s first four games- we may not get a true feel for the defensive improvements right away based on the weaker offenses they’ll face.
Denver’s schedule ranks as the second most difficult in the league and enters the season with a new head coach and QB. Vic Fangio, the longtime defensive guru, finally gets his shot at a head coaching gig. Fangio should be an upgrade over Vance Joseph and will stress a disciplined, fundamental focused approach…we already know he can coach defense. Notably, he hired one of the best offensive line coaches in the business in Mike Munchak and hired Rich Scangarello as OC…who was the OC at FCS program Wagner University just three years ago. I’m unfamiliar with Scangarello but he did spend the past two seasons in Kyle Shanahan’s system so we may see a variation of that type of offense in Denver. Here’s what I think I do know….the Broncos offensive line should be much better in 2019 based on their offseason moves and Munchak hiring, Joe Flacco is Joe Flacco, and the receiving options are fairly unproven. Combine those factors with Fangio’s defensive expertise and I think we can anticipate this being a run heavy team in 2019.
Oakland’s schedule is going to be just as difficult as Denver’s with only two true home games in their first seven games, one of which is against the Chiefs. It was a very busy offseason for new GM Mike Mayock with an influx of newcomers via draft picks, free agency, and trades. On the defensive side is where there needs to be improvement, mainly pass rushing- I already mentioned their egregious sack total (13) from 2018. There’s really only direction the unit can go as the pass defense finished dead last in DVOA and the pass rush has to be the catalyst to that improvement. However, I’m not sure if enough was done in the offseason to drastically strengthen their ability to rush the passer. The Raiders offensive line had been one of the league’s best in recent years but the unit struggled in 2018 in both the run and pass. With the free agency additions of Richie Incognito (suspended first two games) and Trent Brown, the unit should be better in 2019 but there are still legitimate concerns, especially at LT. Derek Carr had a decent first season in Gruden’s west coast system and now he’ll have an entirely new cast of WRs, RBs, and TEs. A bottom ten offense in terms of efficiency in 2018, we should see some improvement with the talent added- most notably future HOFer Antonio Brown. Overall, I’m not sure if it’ll be enough to take the offense above average (which will be needed to make up for the defense) but it surely will be entertaining nonetheless. I want to be optimistic about this Raiders team but anytime you have the enigmatic Jon Gruden mixed with a locker room with the likes of Burfict/Brown/Incognito mixed with ‘Hard Knocks’ mixed with a fairly dysfunctional franchise….you’ve got some major blowup potential in 2019.

TLDR: Everything looks priced about right in my opinion. I do like Oakland under 6 wins but I’ll probably pass on it for now.
 

survive&advance

Well-Known Member
Was in a time crunch for wrapping this one up today...

NFC East
My win total projections: Philadelphia 11.5, Dallas 9, Washington 5.5, NYG 5

Division winner odds: Philadelphia -105, Dallas +140, Washington +900, NYG +1200

All of the NFC East teams check in with relatively soft schedules but the Eagles benefit the most, ranking third overall in the league. Carson Wentz, returning from back compression fractures, avoided offseason surgery and signed a four year contract extension. When healthy there’s no debating Wentz’ talent but it’s fair to be skeptical of his ability to stay on the field. Based on the contract extension given, the Eagles front office appears confident in his health for this season and beyond. Wentz will be surrounded with an abundance of talent, the Eagles offense will be among the most talented and deepest in the NFL. The offensive line is elite with multiple All Pros along with strong, versatile backups. To me, this is the most talented offensive line group in the league from top to bottom. The depth and talent continues with the WR, RB, and TE units as well. DeSean Jackson returns to Philly and remains one of the premier deep threats in the league after leading the league in average yards per reception last year, his speed will be a major asset to open up the offense. Not to mention, you’ve still got Alshon Jeffery, Nelson Agholor, JJ Arcega-Whiteside (I swear he caught a touchdown in every Stanford game I watched), Zach Ertz, and Dallas Goedert. The RB group is too deep at the moment but there’s a mix of skillsets there. Ultimately, the Eagles offense is so deep with talent and different skill sets that they’ll be lethal out of many different personnel packages. The Eagles secondary was absolutely ravished by injuries in 2018- they used 15 different defensive backs last year and Malcolm Jenkins was the only week one starter healthy in the playoffs. Nonetheless, the unit held up well late in the season and the advanced metrics weren’t bad- with better injury luck and depth this season I expect this unit to be much improved. With strong additions at LB and the defensive line, I do think the front seven will be better also. GM Howie Roseman did a great job this offseason adding talent and building depth, it shows on both sides of the ball. If Carson Wentz stays healthy, I think this is the NFC’s strongest team.

America’s Team has put together a nice run over the past three seasons with 32 regular season wins in that period. In alignment, Ezekiel Elliott has led the NFL in rush yards per game in each of the past three seasons. Still only 24 years old, there’s no doubt that Elliott has been critical to the Cowboys’ success as he’s currently holding out for a contract extension…plenty of time to monitor what happens here. Kellen Moore replaces Scott Linehan as OC and early indications point towards a more explosive, creative, and open Cowboys offense. However, outside of Amari Cooper and possibly Michael Gallup the receiving options are lacking for Dak Prescott- Randall Cobb and Jason Witten are well past their primes. The Cowboys offensive line will be among the best in the league with All Pro Travis Frederick returning after missing all of 2018…Elliott is going to eat once again. Finishing in the top ten in defensive DVOA, the Cowboys defense took a big step forward in 2018. This defense is really solid on all three levels and it should be high performing again in 2019. Overall, it was a quiet offseason for Dallas in terms of their roster through free agency and the draft- the floor should be comfortable with 8 wins…I’ll be interested to see if Kellen Moore can take the offense to another level and raise the ceiling for this Cowboys team.

Eli Manning has clearly regressed over the past few years but he will open the season as the Giants starting QB once again. Perhaps unfairly criticized by pundits for where he was drafted rather than talent, rookie Daniel Jones should become the starter by mid season. The Giants slightly upgraded their offensive line in the offseason but this is still a bottom ten unit at the moment. Another problem for the offense is at WR… Golden Tate is suspended for the first four games while Corey Coleman will miss the season with a torn ACL. With Odell Beckham out of town, the Giants offense really lacks a perimeter threat. I expect opposing defenses to sell out to stop otherworldly Saquon Barkley this season, he’ll continue to dominate but he obviously can’t do it all. The Giants defense was subpar last season finishing in the bottom half in DVOA against the run and pass. Only the Raiders had fewer sacks in 2018…on paper, the pass rush doesn’t look to be too improved from last season. However, the secondary personnel does look improved.

The most intriguing preseason position battle may be in DC as the Redskins have a three way QB competition between Colt McCoy, Dwayne Haskins, and Case Keenum. There’s just a lot of uncertainty all around with this offense. Trent Williams’ holdout could have major implications for this Redskins offensive line…there’s still plenty of time for it to be resolved but without him the line becomes mediocre at best, with him the unit is solid. There’s a lot of uncertainty among their WRs as well- Josh Doctson, Paul Richardson, Trey Quinn, Terry McLaurin and Kelvin Harmon will all compete for snaps. Jordan Reed, following a surgery-less offseason, is probably the strongest and most reliable receiving threat. The run game featuring Derrius Guice, Adrian Peterson and Chris Thompson is an uninspiring RBBC. There’s ultimately too much doubt here to be optimistic about the offense. On the defensive side is where the Redskins may be underrated as all three levels have talent including Jonathan Allen, Ryan Kerrigan, Landon Collins, and Josh Norman. Washington looks like an “under” team with a poor offense and potentially top ten defense.

TLDR: I’m high on the Eagles. Eagles to win the division at -105 and +700 to win the NFC are investments I’m looking to make.
 

survive&advance

Well-Known Member
My win total projections: CHI 9.5, MIN 9, GB 8.5, DET 7

Division winner odds: CHI +160, GB +195, MIN +240, DET +1000

The Bears will face the fifth most difficult schedule in the NFL while the rest of the division sits right around the league average. While the Bears defense deserves plenty of acclaim for the team’s success in 2018, Mitchell Trubisky’s improvement can’t be overlooked. Personally, I haven’t been an optimist when it comes to Trubisky’s passing but I can’t argue with the development and improvement he showed in his sophomore season- I have to be objective in my analysis. Entering his second season with Matt Nagy along with most of his surrounding cast in tact from 2018, we should see continued improvement…the question is how much? All five starters on the offensive line return in 2019- this is a solid unit. There was very minimal turnover for Trubisky’s pass catching options as well. The only main newcomer to the Bears offense is rookie RB David Montgomery, who was my favorite RB prospect in the 2019 NFL draft. In his last two seasons at Iowa State, Montgomery led the nation in forcing missed tackles- his elusiveness and contact balance are immediately going to pay dividends for the Bears run game. Furthemore, Montgomery is an underrated pass catcher and pass protector…needless to say I’m excited to see how much of an impact he has on the Bears offense as a whole. On the defense side of the ball is where the Bears have seen much more turnover, perhaps most notably is Vic Fangio’s departure. Fangio’s role in Chicago was a bit more integral to the defensive success where he had complete control over the unit. Chuck Pagano will take over the Bears defense that clearly ranked as the top defense in the league, both the run and pass defense efficiency metrics were elite in 2018. The defense also led the league in interceptions and finished tied for the second most sacks. Although there are a couple of new starters in the secondary, the defense should once again be among the best in 2019. However, I do expect some regression simply because the 2018 statistics were too good and Fangio is no longer coaching the defense. Keep your eye on the kicker competition as well.

Green Bay made a curious decision by hiring Matt LaFleur as head coach over the offseason. The decision was somewhat unexpected due to LaFleur’s subpar stint as the Titans OC and his system contrasts with Aaron Rodgers’ play (under center vs shotgun, audible playcalling, pre-snap motions, etc.). All of this is not to say LaFleur won’t be a good coach but I do think it’s important to understand the importance of adjustments between a veteran QB learning an entirely new offense and a rookie head coach. The Packers offense under Mike McCarthy became stale and now in LaFleur’s system the hope is that more creativity will improve the offense’s efficiency. Finishing 12th in passing efficiency in 2018, Rodgers is too talented to lead a pass game finishing outside of the top ten. Outside of the coaching change/system overhaul, the Packers offensive personnel is very similar to last season with some added depth to the offensive line. Defensively is where Green Bay really struggled last season, finishing 29th in overall DVOA. As a result the Packers invested heavily in their defense over the offseason, most notably spending on free agents Adrian Amos, Za’Darius Smith, and Preston Smith while using first round draft picks on Rashan Gary and Darnell Savage. On paper, these additions should improve the defense with pass rush and secondary upgrades. The release of Mike Daniels may impact the defensive line depth and rush defense, however. Overall, the defense should trend up towards being average but the ultimate success of this team will come down to Matt LaFleur...Green Bay will be a fun team to monitor this year.

I firmly expect the Vikings to become a more run oriented offense in 2019. Kirk Cousins averaged 13 fewer pass attempts per game once Kevin Stefanski took over as OC in week 15 last year. Stefanski remains the OC heading into this season but Mike Zimmer also hired Gary Kubiak as assistant HC/offensive advisor. We’ll see Kubiak’s zone based system implemented which should greatly benefit the offensive line along with personnel upgrades over the offseason. This offensive line is still relatively below average but it will be better than 2018’s bottom feeder unit. After facing the sixth highest pressure rate in 2018, Cousins should have a cleaner pocket this season but I don’t expect him to drop back as often either. The position battle at TE will be interesting to watch as it could impact the personnel packages utilized. You can expect another strong defense out of Mike Zimmer again in 2019 and the defensive personnel is basically the same as last season’s. In 2018 the defense finished fourth in overall defensive efficiency and third in sacks. I had hoped to write more about the Vikings but there’s really not a whole lot to say about them. With the offensive philosophy becoming more run heavy and a strong defense, the Vikings are more of an “under” team for me. Although the modern landscape of the NFL is trending towards pass heavy offenses, I can’t blame Zimmer for this philosophical shift that fits his personnel better.

The Lions schedule is brutal to start the season before a week 5 bye. Perhaps the most important change to the offense is new OC Darrell Bevell, who was fired in Seattle after seven seasons as OC there... Bevell’s history as an OC points towards a more run oriented offense. Furthermore, HC Matt Patricia has shown that he wants a more balanced, adaptible offense in comparison to the previous Detroit offenses that ranked among the lowest in rush attempts from 2015-2017. Can Matt Stafford bounce back after a poor 2018 season? I do think he’ll have positive regression after the Lions offense faced many injuries in the second half of the season and offseason upgrades to his supporting cast. I already wrote about my fondness of TJ Hockenson but rookie TEs notoriously begin their careers slowly in the NFL, nonetheless I expect Hock and newcomer Jesse James to assist an improving Lions offensive line. Kerryon Johnson showed promise in his rookie season before getting injured and Kenny Golladay broke out in his second season, I think there’s some optimism here to improve upon their 2018 offensive efficiency (23rd overall). The Lions defense was a disappointment in Matt Patricia’s first season as they finished 27th in overall DVOA and the pass defense was rated in the bottom two…they’ll need to create more turnovers as well after finishing 31st in that statistic. As a result, the Lions added notable free agents in Trey Flowers, Justin Coleman, and Mike Daniels. On paper this defensive line looks strong with solid depth and I think it’ll be good enough to help out the back seven.. it’s fair to believe the defense will improve to be in the top half of the league. Similar to Minnesota, the Lions are an “under” type team to me based on how they project to play more conservatively.

TLDR: I don’t have any interest in making any investments here. This figures to be a really competitive division, I’m not too high or too low on any particular team here.
 

B.A.R.

CTG Partner
Staff member
Good NFC North stuff.

Also note that Stafford played with a broken back last year.

Also, with his wife's health an issue I do not think he was 'all there' last year in both cases.

He should have a solid year, imo.

That first month could just kill that team though, we'll see what kind of resolve they have.
 

survive&advance

Well-Known Member
Good NFC North stuff.

Also note that Stafford played with a broken back last year.

Also, with his wife's health an issue I do not think he was 'all there' last year in both cases.

He should have a solid year, imo.

That first month could just kill that team though, we'll see what kind of resolve they have.
Great points, I totally forgot about the personal stuff going on with him
 

survive&advance

Well-Known Member
NFC South
Division winner odds: NO -180, ATL +350, CAR +500, TB +1200
My win total projections: NO 9.5, ATL 8.5, CAR 8.5, TB 6

Atlanta checks in with the toughest schedule in the division but check this- Atlanta will play 13 out of 16 games in a dome this season and the outdoor games are all in relatively warm locations in the second half of the season. Dirk Koetter returns to Atlanta as the OC, replacing Steve Sarkisian. In 2018, the Falcons were a pass happy team and Koetter’s history points towards pass heavy playcalling. However, HC Dan Quinn stated over the offseason he’d like to see a more balanced offense. I’ll be interested to see how this coaching dynamic plays out, for now I’m expecting a slight uptick in rushing attempts. Atlanta also invested heavily into their offensive line over the offseason by drafting two first round linemen and signing James Carpenter, Jamon Brown, and Ty Sambrailo…Atlanta now boasts a deep, talented line. The rest of the offense is unchanged from 2018. Defensively is where the Falcons must see improvement after finishing 31st overall in DVOA in 2018…both the pass and rush defense metrics were terrible. Dan Quinn is taking over as the Falcons defensive coordinator but there might not be much of a difference in scheme change as they’ll continue with his Cover 3 base. Injuries played a big role in last year’s defensive struggles- Deion Jones, Keanu Neal, and Ricardo Allen all suffered season long injuries. Keep your eye on Jones’ status for week 1, he’s absolutely critical to this Falcons pass and rush defense. Having better injury luck should immediately help improve this Falcons defense but they’re still a relatively thin defense lacking on defensive line talent. I really would’ve liked the Falcons invest more in their defense over the offseason via free agency and the draft. Overall the defense should get out of bottom three territory but it’ll take a lot to get back to being around the league average. I do believe Quinn’s job is on the line this season.

The first thing I noticed about the Saints schedule is that they travel to Los Angeles to face the Rams in week 2. Now, we know this will likely be an emotional revenge game for the Saints but they’re on the road the following week at Seattle…this could be a major letdown spot. Moving on…we saw the 2018 Saints move towards a more balanced offense as they finished 5th in rush attempts while playing at a slower tempo. Drew Brees was an MVP front runner for most of the 2018 season until his play clearly declined in his final six games. I think age was a factor along with opponents being more familiar with a Saints offense that relied heavily on Michael Thomas and Alvin Kamara. To the latter point, New Orleans added TE Jared Cook who’s coming off a career year in Oakland. Cook’s middle of the field presence should open up some more space for Thomas and Kamara but I really would’ve liked the Saints to add another quality WR in the offseason. The offensive line will be elite once again with four starters returning to a line that graded out exceptionally well in both run and pass blocking. Which version of 2018 Drew Brees will we see this year? Not much of a hot take here but the ceiling of this team is dependent on that answer. On the defensive side, the Saints defense slightly regressed as a whole last season but the secondary took a considerable step back (from 5th to 23rd in pass defense DVOA). The defensive personnel is relatively the same, DT Malcolm Brown signed with New Orleans after a down final season in New England and stud DT Sheldon Rankins is still rehabbing a torn achilles. It’s a relatively thin defensive line when accounting for Rankins injury- I expect the rush defense and pass rush to regress as a result, leading me think this will be around an average defense overall in 2019. As of right now, I think the Saints are being slightly overvalued.
The Panthers got off to a 6-2 start in 2018 before a seven game losing streak in the second half of the season. An injury to Cam Newton’s throwing shoulder is partially to blame for the struggle, he underwent surgery to repair the shoulder which was his second in the past two years. Before the injury, Newton was putting up MVP caliber numbers in his first season with OC Norv Turner. With a better supporting cast and better injury luck, this Panthers offense should improve in 2019. Newton has three ascending talents to throw to- Christian McCaffrey, DJ Moore, and Curtis Samuel. McCaffrey has already established himself as a bonafide stud whereas Moore and Samuel saw increased playing time and production towards the second half of 2018. The offensive line is quietly underrated, bordering on top ten status after upgrading three starters. On the defensive side is where things get a little more interesting as the Panthers move towards a 3-4 scheme. Carolina’s defense was below average across the board in 2018 but the offseason additions here fit well with the scheme change. Gerald McCoy and rookie first rounder Brian Burns should bolster the front seven and improve the pass rush..we’ll see what Bruce Irvin can contribute. This unit’s ability to rush the passer is going to be critical as the secondary looks weak on paper but I am cautiously optimistic that the pass rush will be improved.

Bruce Arians takes over as HC in Tampa Bay which was widely regarded as a positive hire. Arians’ aggressive, vertical passing offense should fit really well with Jameis Winston’s play style. The Bucs passing offense finished in the top ten in pass offense efficiency in 2018 and it has the potential to be better with Arians. Furthermore, the weapons at Winston’s disposal are very strong with Mike Evans, Chris Godwin, and OJ Howard. We’ll have to keep an eye on the Bucs offensive line- a vertical passing offense means they’ll need to pass protect longer and more often…right now it looks to be a below average line on paper. It doesn’t help that the rush offense is projected to be poor once again in 2019- the running backs are unproven/lacking talent plus the offensive line graded out poorly in adjusted line yards in 2018. Todd Bowles will coach the Bucs defense, which should be a coaching upgrade after having success in previous DC stints. Tampa’s defense finished dead last in overall defense DVOA for the second year in a row. To make matters worse, Jason Pierre-Paul is out for at least the first half of the season while Vita Vea and Lavonte David are questionable for week 1. There’s only one direction this defense can go and that’s up, so I do expect it to be slightly better in 2019 with Bowles as DC. However, it’ll still rank somewhere in the bottom ten. Ultimately, I’d like to be higher on the Bucs out of respect for Arians and his staff but I think the market has them priced about right. Note: Tampa went over in 8/10 games to start 2018 before five straight unders.

TLDR: I’m not looking to make any investments here. New Orleans looks slightly overvalued and Carolina looks slightly undervalued to me right now. This should be a really fun division to watch.
 

twinkie13

Over 1 Trillion Questions Served
Minnesota- The offensive line in Minnesota has been mediocre to poor for the past few years and that’s been the Achilles heel for the team. Philosophically, Zimmer has stated he wants to be a more run oriented team which prompted the firing of OC DiFilippo in December and adding Gary Kubiak as an offensive assistant this offseason. Last season Minnesota rushed for the third fewest yards in the league while the eye test confirmed a poor pass and run blocking unit. First round selection C Bradbury is going to be a perfect fit in Stefanski/Kubiak’s zone blocking scheme- he’ll start immediately and I think he’s going to be a key piece in bolstering the line’s pass and run blocking efficiency. Centers usually aren’t thought of as first round selections but this dude is going to be a stud for a long time. After Kyle Rudolph trade rumors swirled, they drafted TE Smith- who I’m personally bearish on due to him being undersized and not particularly athletic for the position. OG Samia and OT Udoh were two picks I liked that will add depth to the aforementioned offensive line group. Overall, my takeaway here is that Minnesota is committing to the zone blocking scheme and the run game…I expect the offense to be more efficient in 2019 with better run and pass offense results.
New England- The Patriots had ten picks in this draft and they drafted just about every different position. First round WR Harry has drawn Dez Bryant comps, which might not be particularly flattering considering Dez has been out of the league for a minute but this is a great fit for Harry. Brady’s anticipation and accuracy are exactly what he needs to be productive in the NFL. We’ll see how quickly he earns Brady’s trust but the opportunity to contribute early is there…there aren’t a ton of weapons on paper here for Brady but that probably won’t matter. DE Winovich in the third felt like a steal after testing well and having a productive college career, obviously is a perfect landing spot for him. Dante Scarnecchia will probably turn OT Cajuste and OG Forholdt into studs. This feels like a typical Patriots draft…their culture and coaching will make a handful of these selections produce and they’ll continue to win.
New Orleans- No first round pick here due to the trade up last year for Marcus Davenport. They also gave up mid round picks for Eli Apple and Teddy Bridgewater. We know the Saints are in “win now” mode with Brees in his final years. They traded up in this draft to select C McCoy in the second round, he could start week one and fills a need after Max Unger’s retirement. S Gardner-Johnson fell quite a bit in the draft over character concerns but the talent is there and he’s a welcome addition to a secondary that was a 2018 disappointment. I would’ve liked to see WR addressed in the offseason or draft to take some pressure off of Mike Thomas. We saw the Saints offense drop off a bit towards the end of the year and I think it’s mainly because they relied so much on Thomas and Kamara. Jared Cook should help but the WR corps is still lacking beyond Thomas. Don’t get me wrong, the Saints are among the Super Bowl favorites for good reason but the lack of recent draft capital has created some depth concerns for me.
You are doing a great job on these man and have been a pleasure to read

One thing I will add about the Saints, I agree with most if not all of what you say; but the Jared Cook signing is absolutely GIGANTIC for the offense. Likely better than going to get a real deal "number 2 WR" big name......Brees has shown when he has that TE that is GRADE A...the cup runeth over
 

survive&advance

Well-Known Member
You are doing a great job on these man and have been a pleasure to read

One thing I will add about the Saints, I agree with most if not all of what you say; but the Jared Cook signing is absolutely GIGANTIC for the offense. Likely better than going to get a real deal "number 2 WR" big name......Brees has shown when he has that TE that is GRADE A...the cup runeth over
Thanks for the kind words and chiming in! Cook was a stud last season in Oakland too. It looks like a great fit for Cook and the saints offense
 

survive&advance

Well-Known Member
Let’s keep in mind Brissett has a MUCH more favorable situation this year compared to 2017. In 2017, the colts offensive line ranked dead last in every pass protection metric (they gave up the fewest sacks last year). He’s also got a very good offensive coach in Reich, better weapons, and an improved defense. This team is night and day compared to 2017. Obviously you have to downgrade the colts when you lose one of the best QBs in the game, but I’m not writing off Brissett as a competent starter yet either
 

2daBank

Well-Known Member
Let’s keep in mind Brissett has a MUCH more favorable situation this year compared to 2017. In 2017, the colts offensive line ranked dead last in every pass protection metric (they gave up the fewest sacks last year). He’s also got a very good offensive coach in Reich, better weapons, and an improved defense. This team is night and day compared to 2017. Obviously you have to downgrade the colts when you lose one of the best QBs in the game, but I’m not writing off Brissett as a competent starter yet either
Yep, as you said Everything is far better about his situation now, from supporting cast to coaching to familiarity w the offense., honestly I think they 8-8 type team, where the difference lies for me is qb like luck wins you 2-4 games a year where he either puts team on his back and/or makes the big plays late. Brisset will have them in just about every game they woulda been in anyways, question is can he steal those close games? I dunno. I do know I’ll happily take +7 against chargers who let everyone hang around!!
 

2daBank

Well-Known Member
Good NFC North stuff.

Also note that Stafford played with a broken back last year.

Also, with his wife's health an issue I do not think he was 'all there' last year in both cases.

He should have a solid year, imo.

That first month could just kill that team though, we'll see what kind of resolve they have.
If fat Matt can write On a laminated play sheet w that pencil in his ear his team should be able to withstand a tough start! Lol., In seriousness I’m not so sure that fragile locker room can withstand poor results before guys quit on this coach, maybe it not what it looks like from a distance but it really doesn’t look like fat Matt has total buy in.
 

survive&advance

Well-Known Member
NFC West

Division winner odds: LAR -150, SEA +275, SF +400, ARZ +2500
My win total projections: LAR 10, SEA 7.5, SF 7, ARZ 3.5

The defending NFC champions check in with the easiest schedule in the division, seventh softest in the NFL. Jared Goff’s play noticeably regressed in the later stage of the season after losing his security blanket WR Cooper Kupp to a torn ACL. Goff’s splits were much worse on the road and under pressure- when pressured his completion percentage was 30% lower compared to a clean pocket…I think it’s fair to say Goff has greatly benefited from Sean McVay and his offensive line. The Rams offensive line was a big part of the team’s 2018 success, ranking #1 in run blocking and #6 in pass protection. Now, this unit replaces two veteran starters with inexperienced options…this will still be a good unit but I don’t think we can project another elite performance like last season. We already know about Todd Gurley and his knee, Los Angeles brought back Malcolm Brown and drafted Darrell Henderson which suggests the Rams are concerned here. We’ll have to wait and see how Gurley looks but I’m not downgrading the Rams rush offense too much- McVay’s system is so schematically strong and there are talented backups. I have a lot of respect for Wade Phillips but I’m not sure what to think of the Rams defense this season. The overall defensive efficiency was slightly below average for 2018 but we saw the defense really turn it on in the playoffs and basically carry the team to nearly hoisting the Lombardi Trophy. There’s some turnover here…for me, the loss of Ndamukong Suh is big as he played outstanding in the playoffs and complimented Aaron Donald really well. Phillips’ defense will once again be a veteran group with some depth concerns, the question is whether they’ll perform like the 2018 regular season or playoff version of themselves. Ultimately, I don’t really see many areas where I think the Rams will be better compared to last season but the schedule is favorable and there’s still talent and elite coaching.

Seattle quietly put together a top ten offense in terms of efficiency in 2018 despite the fewest pass attempts in the league. Even in a very run heavy offense with minimal receiving weapons, Russell Wilson put together one of his more impressive seasons yet. The offensive line made major improvements in run blocking, going from 31st to 12th in adjusted line yards which catapulted the overall rush efficiciency. However, the pass protection was among the worst in the NFL. With the retirement of Doug Baldwin, the receiving options for Wilson are fairly unproven save for Tyler Lockett. The Seahawks defense was perfectly average across the board in 2018. Key contributors in DE Frank Clark, FS Earl Thomas, and CB Justin Coleman have departed and DT Jarran Reed is suspended for the first six games. I can’t help but think there will be regression here, particularly in the ability to rush the passer and stop the run. Another factor working against Seattle is that they led the league in turnover differential in 2018- I don’t think we can project the same fortune with an even weaker defense for 2019. I hate to doubt Pete Carroll and Russell Wilson- they’ve finished with a winning record in each of the past seven seasons- but I have to lean towards thinking they’re being overvalued right now. With a weaker defense, we may see the offense needing to pass more to catch up so we could see some value on their game total overs.

San Francisco might be the most intriguing team in the league this year, despite winning only 4 games in 2018 their win total for this season is set around 8. Jimmy Garoppolo is fully healthy from an ACL tear that cost him most of the 2018. Garoppolo has struggled so far in training camp/preseason but he has a 6-2 record as a starter in San Francisco…I’m not too concerned yet. Garoppolo’s weapons look to be on the upswing- TE George Kittle broke out in 2018 and is now one of the best TEs in the league, WR Dante Pettis had a very strong rookie season, and rookie WRs Deebo Samuel and Jalen Hurd are promising talents in my opinion. The offensive line looks average on paper and returns all five starters but the issue is that this unit underachieved in pass protection last season. It was only a preseason game but this unit got absolutely embarassed by Bradley Chubb and Von Miller last week- I still have concerns here. On the defensive side San Francisco has notable new faces in DE Dee Ford, DE Nick Bosa, and LB Kwon Alexander- these are impactful additions to improve the defense in just about every facet. It’ll be critical for the secondary to make improvements after grading out as a bottom five pass defense in 2018. The defense will also need to generate more turnovers after setting the record for fewest takeaways in a season with 7 (only 2 interceptions!)…leading to a whopping -25 turnover differential. There are already some injuries here to monitor, Bosa in particular, otherwise I have to think we’ll see positive turnover regression in 2019 along with more talent to make the defense improved to around the league average. In conclusion, many folks think the 49ers are a sleeper team and primed for an improved season which I don’t disagree with. However, the market price has been well adjusted to this from the start. Yes, there should be improvements on both sides of the ball but there’s still enough uncertainty here for me to question whether they’ll meet the market’s expectations.

Arizona is another intriguing team with their offseason hire of Kliff Kingsbury. Ranking dead last in offense DVOA in 2018 by a wide margin, the Cards have overhauled their offense by implementing Kingsbury’s Air Raid scheme with Kyler Murray. Murray’s quick release, accuracy, arm strength, and mobility are a perfect fit for Kingsbury’s uptempo, Air Raid spread style. While Murray’s raw talent is outstanding, the question is whether his size can withstand an NFL season and if he can read/make progressions against defenses much better than what he saw in the Big 12 last year. Then there’s the massive question of whether Kingsbury will be successful in the NFL after underwhelming as HC at Texas Tech, I’m not optimistic about it but it should be fun to watch anyway. Another concern I have here is the Cardinals offensive line which didn’t do the offense any favors last season as they graded out poorly in both run and pass blocking. Despite two new projected starters, this line is still talent deficient and injury plagued. I project this line to be poor again in 2019 but it certainly helps having a mobile QB and a quick passing scheme. Vance Joseph takes over as DC for an Arizona defense that graded out around the league average due to a strong pass defense and pass rush- they’ll go back to a 3-4 scheme. I don’t expect the pass defense to be as strong this season with both starting CBs missing extensive time early- Patrick Peterson is suspended for the first six games and Robert Alford has a broken leg. Furthermore, I’m not sure if they did enough to improve upon a bottom five run defense. We already saw Kingsbury’s Texas Tech defenses struggle mightily, partly due to his offensive scheme…I see this Cardinals defense struggling this year and regressing towards being a bottom 5-10 defense in the NFL.

TDLR- I think all of these teams are being slightly overvalued
 

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