Season In Review – Atlanta Falcons

By Dave Moore (@davieremixed)

Next up in our series is the Atlanta Falcons. I could have scheduled this for the 28th March but you know, too far to wait.


Entering The Season


It’s a strange and difficult time to be a fan of the Dirty Birds, after that turnaround in The Big Game, they managed to get back to the playoffs the following year only to be defeated in the Divisional Round by the Eagles. They seemed primed to make a run at The Big Game once again in the 2018 season only to be utterly wrecked by injuries.

The goal for this season? Get healthy, stay healthy, knock the Saints off the top of the NFC South and make the most of a favourable schedule against the unreliable AFC South and the Bizarro World that is the NFC West.


During The Season


The season did not exactly get off to a positive start with a 28-12 spanking on the road in Minnesota, the Falcons not scoring any points until there were nine minutes of the game remaining. No big deal, a get right 24-20 victory over the Eagles despite blowing a two-score lead with a three game stretch against the AFC South coming up? Could establish a spot in the wildcard spots at this rate, right?

Wrong.

Dead wrong.

TheAthletic.com

At stages against the Colts and Titans the Falcons were down 20-3 and 24-7 respectively. To compound this issue, they were blown out 53-32 by the Texans in Week 5. The return to NRG Stadium only inflamed the bad memories.

By the time the Week 9 bye rolled around, another three-game divisional stretch – this time against the NFC West – came and went the same way as the AFC South trio. Ugly, ugly defeats. A missed field goal as time expired on the road at the Cardinals, a 27-point defeat against the Rams and a loss to Seattle meant that Atlanta’s season was over before Halloween. Nevermind a spooky season, this was downright horrifying from Dan Quinn’s team.

There were more than a few whispers that Arthur Blank was going to take action against Quinn before the season was out, what a staggering fall from grace just a couple of years removed from Super Bowl LI and here was the Head Coach, 1-7 and without any apparent idea of how to stop the bleeding (31.25 PPG given up through the first eight weeks!).

Atlantafalcons.com

Meanwhile, the offensive line was just a whole heap of garbage, first round pick (31st overall) Kaleb McGary had a terrible year and it showed in not only Atlanta’s season overall with 50 sacks allowed, the fifth most in the entire league, but also in the run game which struggled so badly that not one Atlanta running back posted a triple digit game all year. How can a bad defense stay off the field when the offense can’t do anything other than pass? An impossible situation.

Spare a thought at this point for Julio Jones and Matty Ice. Two elite players who did their best whilst everything else was going to hell around them. Even Calvin Ridley chipped in as a solid WR2 and Austin Hooper was a good redzone threat. That isn’t enough, however. The season was basically over by November. What to aim for in the second half? A perfect 2nd half seals a 9-7 record that might be enough for the playoffs but with such a loaded NFC that’s a tall order.

The last thing Atlanta needed coming off the bye week then was a trip to the Superdome to face the 7-1 Saints who were on the verge of running away with the division. This could be the game that finally forced Blank’s hand to show Quinn the door.

Atlanta 26-9 New Orleans. What. The. Heck?

Chris Graythen/Getty Images

A transformed Falcons D smothered a Saints team that had scored 30+ points in five out of their first eight games. The Falcons line broke through and sacked Drew Brees six times and held the Saints to a paltry three field goals. Even Brian Hill (who?!) got in on the action with 71 scrimmage yards and a score. Was this the turning point of the season? A chance to put something together for pride, for their HC who was on the brink not long after being on the brink of winning it all?

Well they went one better against the Panthers, blowing them out 29-3, keeping them scoreless for 47 minutes. They couldn’t go on a run could they? An all-time second half of the season to sneak into the 6 seed?

Nope.

Consecutive home losses to the Bucs and the Saints saw to that, although let’s take a moment to talk about the wild end to the Thanksgiving matchup against New Orleans where the Falcons recovered THREE onside kicks in a row (the first being brought back for a penalty) in a somewhat amusing end to a comfortable revenge win for New Orleans.

3-9 going into December. Season over, time to play spoiler? On the road? Against the dominant 49ers? You betcha.

Nhat V. Meyer/Bay Area News Group

A touchdown with two seconds remaining (Julio from Matty Ice, who else?) gave the Falcons a 23-22 lead which would swell to 29-22 on a fumble return on the kick-off. How about that for a feather in your cap, Dan Quinn?!

Atlanta finished the season 7-9, going 6-2 in the second half of the season to achieve a modicum of respectability but the season was doomed after the AFC South fiasco in September.


Offseason Outlook


So where next for Atlanta? They’ve got eight draft picks to play with and need to hope that they land on better selections than 2019’s picks. An edge-rusher is something they’re in desperate need of as they finished with just 28 sacks on the year, tied for second least. If Austin Hooper isn’t to return in free agency then Tight End becomes a priority, also.

Meanwhile that 50 sack year indicates that they need to either coax more out of the O-Line they have or make it just as big of a priority.

There isn’t much room in free agency to pick up pieces either, $7.5 million to play with and not many players who can be sacrificed to make room. Devonta Freeman has arguably been ineffectual for two straight years now but his 2020 cap hit of $9.5m is offset by the fact that there’s $6m in dead money going to him this coming year.

TheFalconsWire.UsaToday.com

A lot of money is tied up in Chris Lindstrom, Jake Matthews and Grady Jarrett this year in what will be important years going forward for them as Atlanta cannot afford to take the cap hit on these guys. It could be a tricky year ahead for the Falcons, despite having a great QB and WR1-2 punch.

Atlanta’s road schedule for 2020? Green Bay, Minnesota, Dallas, Kansas City, LA Chargers, Saints, Bucs and Panthers. Ouch. If they’re going to get out of the NFC South, it’s going to be on the back of being near-perfect at home and steal two/three wins on the road because that is an absolute stinker of a road schedule.

Half-Term Report: AFC/NFC South

Today’s Half-Term report focuses on the AFC and NFC South.

Which teams are heading south in terms of short term outlook and which teams will we be watching in January?

Let’s find out.


AFC South

By Shaun Blundell (@Shaun_F10Y)

Current Standings

  • Indianapolis Colts 5-2
  • Houston Texans 5-3
  • Tennessee Titans 4-4
  • Jacksonville Jaguars 4-4

*Indianapolis Colts*

Midseason Grade: B+

How has it gone so far?

Having your starting franchise quarterback retire on the eve of the season would knock many of a franchise for 6. Thankfully for the Colts, they had a very good back up plan in Jacoby Brissett. He has marshalled the troops to a 5-2 record and crucially a big win in the division against the Houston Texans. Another significant road win was earned at Arrowhead as the Colts took down the Chiefs. They are positioned nicely for any potential tie breaks that may come into play come the post season shake up.

Marlon Mack is on pace for over 1000 yards rushing as there has been a clear commitment to establish the running game. With that said, T.Y Hilton is also putting together a nice receiving campaign and has already found the endzone on 5 occasions. 

Rest of Season Outlook:

With games against the Steelers and Dolphins next on the slate you would have to fancy the Colts reaching a 7-2 mark ahead of a vital 3 game divisional game stretch. They then face 3 foes from the NFC South before closing out the campaign away at Jacksonville which could be a hugely important contest. 

Ranked as a top 10 defence, expect the Colts to continue to be involved in competitive games but get enough production offensively to come out on top more often than not, particularly if the ask is for Adam Vinateri to kick the game winning field goals, something he has done consistently better than anyone else ever has done.

Regular Season Record Prediction – 11-5 (Division Winners)


*Houston Texans*

Midseason Grade: B

How has it gone so far?

What a fun team to watch! The Texans always seem to be involved in a game packed with points or lead changes. DeShaun Watson is a special player who Texans fans can look forward to seeing playing for many a year, especially if he is protected. Thankfully the team took steps to address the protection issue by trading for Laremy Tunsil. Yes, the price was high but the pay off has been instant as the sack numbers have come down over the past month.

Carlos Hyde has been a nice addition in the backfield and DeAndre Hopkins is on pace to reach over 1200 yards receiving. The biggest surprise has been the production from tight end Darren Fells who along with Watson himself paces the team with 5 touchdowns.

Rest of Season Outlook:

Similar to the Colts, the Texans have a big stretch of key divisional games coming down the tracks. In an ultra competitive division it’s obvious to say how crucial these games will be. One of those games is this weeks matchup with the Jags in Wembley as they make the plane journey across the pound for the first time. A marquee matchup with the Patriots is also looming on the horizon which could have bearings on AFC playoff seedings all around. 

Expect more great value out of the Texans as we head towards the business end. The loss of JJ Watt is a massive blow and possible keeps them behind the Colts but still very likely to be playoff bound.

Regular Season Record Prediction: 10-6 (Wildcard spot)


*Tennessee Titans*

Midseason Grade: C+

How has it gone so far?

A huge opening day win had people talking about the Titans. 7 weeks on and rather unsurprisingly the Titans sit at a 500 record. A team so inconsistent they are impossible to get a read of.

The inconsistency has lead to a much overdue change at the quarterback position as former Dolphin, Ryan Tannehill has replaced the underwhelming Marcus Mariota. The Titans have responded with 2 wins in his 2 starts as he looks to stake his claim on the job for the long term.

AJ Brown has been a nice addition at the receiver position giving whomever plays quarterback a nice big target on the outside. Derrick Henry continues to churn out yardage and defensively Logan Ryan is having a nice campaign having forced 3 fumbles and compiled 3 interceptions so far on the year.

Rest of Season Outlook:

Almost impossible to predict what this team will do. One thing is for sure though, if nothing else, the next 8 weeks are a trial for Ryan Tannehill. The Titans only sit 1 game back on the divisional lead so they can not be written off by any stretch of the imagination but there can also be no amount of confidence placed in them either.

The only thing I can say with relative confidence is the Titans finish somewhere between 7-9 and 9-7.

Regular Season Record Prediction: 8-8


*Jacksonville Jaguars*

Midseason Grade: B-

How has it gone so far?

The Jags celebrated the off-season moves to address the quarterback position. Nick Foles threw a beautiful touchdown pass in his opening game but got injured on that play. It might be the best thing that could have happened to the Jags.

Enter Gardner Minshew.

The unfancied rookie has been phenomenal, throwing for just shy of 2000 yards with 13 touchdowns to just 2 picks.

Leonard Fournette has put together a nice season on the ground and the locker room looks a far more harmonious place following the trade of Jalen Ramsey to the LA Rams. 29 sacks on the season also has the “Sacksonville” label ready to return.

Rest of Season Outlook:

The biggest question ahead of the Jags, is can Minshew hold onto the job when Nick Foles returns to fitness? The London game starts a sequence of 3 divisional games which as per all of these teams will be vital given the tight nature of the standings.

Outside of the remaining divisional games the schedule is favourable with the Bucs, Raiders, Chargers and Falcons on the slate a realistic playoff opportunity is in sight.

I feel they just miss out on a tie breaking scenario.

Regular Season Record Prediction: 9-7

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NFC South

Image result for nfc south
By Chris Todd (@ctdk1980)

Current Standings:

  1. New Orleans Saints (7-1)
  2. Carolina Panthers (4-3)
  3. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2-5)
  4. Atlanta Falcons (1-7)

*New Orleans Saints*

Midseason grade: A

How has it gone so far?

After franchise icon Drew Brees’ injury in week 2’s loss to the Los Angeles Rams, most hoped backup QB Teddy Bridgewater could keep them in playoff contention until Brees returned. Bridgewater managed that and more, winning all 5 of his games during the future Hall of Famer’s absence.

With Ryan Ramczyk and the rest of the O-line performing at a high level, running lanes have been there for both Alvin Kamara and Latavius Murray, with Saints averaging well over 4 yards per carry this year and only giving up 12 sacks on the year so far, while largely neutralising rushers of the calibre of Khalil Mack and JJ Watt.

The defence has also more than played their part with the 2nd ranked rush defence, Cameron Jordan playing to all-pro standard and Demario Davis leading the linebacker core.

Rest of season outlook:

This squad is set up for a deep run in the playoffs and will hope to bring a 2nd Lombardi trophy back to the Big Easy. A matchup with the unbeaten 49ers looms large on December 8th which could go a long way to deciding playoff positioning.

Regular Season Record Prediction: 13-3 (#1 Seed)


*Carolina Panthers*

Midseason grade: B-

How has it gone so far?

Carolina’s season has been a confusing one to say the least, franchise QB Cam Newton continued to struggle in the early part of the season, continuing a worrying trend from the latter part of 2018.

When he succumbed to lingering issues after week 2’s loss to the Bucs most thought the Panthers hopes relied on him returning form injury in short order, however up stepped second year undrafted QB Kyle Allen, winning 4 four consecutive games to drag the Panthers to the edge of the NFC playoff race before week 8’s sobering blowout loss to the 49ers.

Rest of season outlook:

While the odds would appear to be against the Panthers making a playoff run, any team with the talents of all-pro LB Luke Kuechly and the electric Christian McCaffrey can’t be entirely ruled out. It will no doubt hinge on when (or maybe even “if” at this point) Cam Newton returns and how much ring rust there is to shake off.

Regular Season Record Prediction: 9-7


*Tampa Bay Buccaneers*

Midseason grade: C-

How has it gone so far?

Tampa look like a franchise approaching a turning point. With QB Jameis Winston in a contract year and the same old issues of turnovers blighting the offence, it would appear there are poised to reset at the position after this year. However, there are other issues that need to be addressed before the Buccaneers can make a realistic run at the postseason. While Winston is certainly not without blame for his poor ball security and decision making, the offensive line is porous at best.

There are certainly pieces promising a better future, with Chris Godwin making his awaited step forward this year, to give a formidable 1-2 at receiver with Mike Evans. Shaq Barrett, Carl Nassib and Devin White have all impressed at times this season, but the secondary is a real weakness surely that must be addressed this offseason, with the 31st ranked pass defence this season.

A huge plus so far has been the top ranked run defence, shutting down the likes of Gurley, McCaffrey and Barkley. Certainly however, the Bucs have a lot of question marks going into the offseason, surely they must identify a QB to take the team forward but will HC Bruce Arians stick around to be a part of it?

Rest of season outlook:

Bruce Arians has a lot of deadwood potentially to clear out on the roster on the offence whilst the secondary always seems to be a quandry for the Buccaneers so i would expect the HC to use the rest of the season to assess players that he wants to use going forward and those that he wants to chuck out.

That includes 1 Mr Jameis Winston.

*Atlanta Falcons*

Midseason grade: E

How has it gone so far?

Arguably no team has been more disappointing than the 2019 Falcons, the defence has had a myriad of problems leaving HC Dan Quinn under huge pressure to salvage his job over the second half of the season.

While only 7 sacks in 8 games tells its own story of where things have gone wrong, things have hardly been much better at the other end of the field with the secondary giving up big plays on a regular basis. Keanu Neal’s season ending injury in week 3 meant one of the big leaders in the secondary was missing for almost the entire season for the second year running.

While the offence has got plenty yards from messrs Ryan, Freeman, Jones et al turnovers have plagued the offence, giving away 9 interceptions and 6 fumbles, ranking 28th in the league for turnovers allowed.

Rest of season outlook:

While spirited showings late in games seem to show the locker room is still working for Quinn, big questions hang over this franchise’s future direction. Don’t be surprised that if by the time you are reading this, he is out the exit door.

The season is already over to the dismay of the Falcons’ faithful and you have to wonder whether it’s time to blow most of this team up and try to start again because despite all the talent on both sides of the ball, something just isnt right here. Maybe all it’ll take is a coaching change…

Full10Lookahead – Week 5

By Tim Monk and Shaun Blundell

As Thursday Night Football kicks off, most teams are now a quarter way through the season. Don’t forget to check out Thursday’s podcast for more of a preview on the weekend’s games including the London game between the Bears and the Raiders. Look out for a piece by Lawrence on that game specifically in a day or too.

Back to the rest of the week 5 games….

Dak and Pack

This is usually a highlight on any gameweek in the season. Recent matchups have been thrillers including the famous #dezcaughtit game but the game on Sunday Night is actually quite an important one.

Both teams coming off a loss to NFC rivals, both teams have been asked a question for the first time and it’ll be interesting to see how they respond. Teams in their division have made up the ground in what initially looked like 2 teams that should comfortably see January football.

Dallas stymied by New Orleans and Green Bay outgunned at home vs Philadelphia, the loser of this game at AT&T stadium could end up having to do a bit of soul searching.

A doubtful Davante Adams for Green Bay could prove pivotal, though Rodgers usually gets production from whoever is on the field.

Defences should both enjoy decent nights but the better QB and playcalling combination should see this one through.

A win for either team and their troubles should dissipate for the short term, but the team taking the loss will be starting to feel the pressure.

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West about to get wild

Hawks vs Rams go into their NFC West tussle on TNF with quite a lot at stake.

Not only is it a fiercely contested matchup, where a win will help with the tiebreaker that may come in to paly come week 17, but both teams will be trying to catch the currently unbeaten 49ers! The Seahawks get homefield advantage and face a Rams team that were just embarrassed at home by the Bucs and the Seahawks have been anything but convincing thus far despite being 3-1.

It’s fair to say the Rams have not reached their peaks of 2018 and the cursed Super Bowl hangover seems to be there. Todd Gurley isn’t Todd Gurley, jared Goff is quite frankly not a great QB which is epitomised by an awful 500 yards passing performance.

Chris Carson has had a case of the fumbles early on, though managed to avoid that bug last week against the Cardinals and the Seahawks defence as a unit aren’t what they were a few years ago in prime legion of boom time.

How will the Rams respond? Can the Seahawks finally put in an assured performance? Plenty of storylines heading in to TNF and if last year’s games are anything to go by, should be a pretty good game for those staying up to watch it.


Daniel Jones first real test

Image Credit: Al Bello/Getty Images

Daniel Jones to date has faced the defences of Tampa Bay and Washington. Pretty vanilla stuff.

Next up on the docket is a Vikings defence that have only given up a 5th best average of 15.75 pts so far this season and a 6th best 312.75 yards per game.

Jones through his 2 games as starter is 46/67, 561 yards 5 Total TDs and 2INT. Is that good vs the defences he has faced? Probably not, but he is a rookie and you can’t expect him to be putting in Tom Brady type performances (he’s already at Eli Manning level).

The same can be said for the Giants’ offensive line too. It will certainly be interesting to see how Jones copes with the opposition this early on in his career, especially with no Saquon Barkley for a  while.


AFC South is up for grabs

For the first time since the AFL/NFL merger (and this blows my mind), all teams within a division are all 2-2 through 4 games.

That means it’s all to play for and looking at week 5, the Jags face Carolina, the Colts travel to Arrowhead, the Texans are at home to the Falcons and the Titans travel to Buffalo.

As the records suggest, there’s a lot of inconsistency in the division and it’s very hard to predict who will come away with the division title and likely be 1 and done in the playoffs.

Houston are the front runners purely as they have the best QB in the division (though he is getting VERY beaten up), despite Minshew Mania taking the league by storm. Titans haven’t won the division in over a decade and are strong on defence but aren’t putting up a great deal of points and then the Colts are very hot and cold on both sides of the ball.

It will only take a couple of wins to be strung together by one of these teams to steal a march on the rest. Who can achieve that though is anyone’s guess. Houston are the bookies’ favourites at around 13/8, but in a 4 horse race and with all the other teams around 3/1, it’s a wide open affair.


Dan Quinn’s hotseat starting to burn

Image Credit: Todd Kirkland/Getty Images

Matty Ice and the Falcons travel to Houston this week currently sitting at 1-3 and you cant but help thinking, what a waste of talent on this team. Yes, they’ve gone to the Super Bowl (anyone remember that game for any reason?) but this team should have achieved far more than they have.


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Head Coach Dan Quinn has had his ups and downs with this team but even at this early stage, they seem up against it to make the post season. Consequently, you have to wonder whether Quinn will be back. After hosting the Super Bowl last year in their back yard, to not make the playoffs was actually quite embarrassing for the owners.

The offensive line is shoddy despite having 2 first rounders plugged in to the right hand side and Matt Ryan’s attempts through 4 games are as high as they ever have in his career. For god’s sake, Austin Hooper is fantasy relevant!

They’ve had a hard schedule thus far against the Vikings, Eagles, Colts and Titans but I’ve got more bad news, they’ve not even had a divisional game yet and this is a division that will be hard to get wins from.

Talking of divisional games, how in the hell can a team not play a divisional game until after their bye in week 9?

Regardless, you can forgive Falcons fans for thinking that it’s going to take a huge overhaul here to change their fortunes as it just seems to be the same story every year and unfortunately, their Super Bowl run seems to be the anomaly.


And Then There Were 3

Image Credit – Gregory Shamus / Getty Images

“Any given Sunday” that is definitely the mantra when it comes to a teams chances in the NFL. As we pass the quarter mark of the season only 3 teams remain not knowing what a defeat tastes like.

Many would not have been surprised to see the New England Patriots and Kansas City Chiefs as part of this exclusive club but hands up those who had the San Francisco 49ers as the only NFC undefeated team at this stage?

Of course a bye in week 4 (how ridiculous) helps anyone’s quest to stay undefeated but all 3 open up as favourites for their week 5 matchups, so will anyone be on the wrong end of a result this week?


Can The Ravens Rebound?

Image Credit – Shawn Hubbard / baltimoreravens.com

After 2 weeks of dominant performances against inferior opposition followed by 2 weeks of poor displays the Baltimore Ravens hit the road to face old foe the Pittsburgh Steelers.

This has been a matchup down the years with huge implications on the destination of not only the AFC North crown but also playoff and tie breaker implications. The Steelers are trending upwards after notching their first W of the season on Monday Night Football as Mason Rudloph and co get to battle the wobbling Ravens defence.

Having given up over 500 yards in back-to-back games for the first time franchise history it’s that side of the ball that the Ravens need a kick start from, regardless of how good you think Lamar Jackson is or isn’t at quarterback.

Poisoned Chalice

Image Credit – Jeff Haynes / AP Photo

A quarterback currently wearing a walking boot, a quarterback who hasn’t played or practiced since training camp or a rookie quarterback who threw 2 picks on debut last week.

That is the dilemma facing Jay Gruden as he prepares to select his starting quarterback for week 5. Not exactly an ideal situation so fingers crossed that the schedule falls kindly……ooops.

Whomever gets the nod will have the leagues leading defence in the New England Patriots to combat. Having given up their first touchdown of the year last week it wouldn’t be a surprise at all to see them pitch another shutout as they travel to the nation’s capital, a popular daily fantasy play again this week for sure.

Defences Matter Too

Image Credit – Rich Barnes / USA Today Sports

I make no apology for admitting I love a bruising defensive battle in today’s day and age of high scoring, heavy offence NFL.

A hard hitting, turnover hungry, physically intimidating defence sets the attitude of a team and the Buffalo Bills @ the Tennessee Titans pits 2 such units against each other. Buffalo made even Tom Brady look ordinary last week so expect Marcus Mariota to struggle to move the Titans. Buffalo is likely without Josh Allen and this represents a really tough start for Matt Barkley if that is indeed what ends up happening.

It’s a game not likely to spend much time on Scott Hanson’s read zone coverage Sunday, but expect a tight and tense battle that will likely be a 1 possession differential as the clocks hit zeroes.


Feeling Dangerous

Image Credit – Ken Blaze / USA Today Sports

A certain contributor to this regular article dubbed them the San Francisco “Phoney”Niners, this week is a true test for what they really are.

The Browns finally put it all together last weekend and head over to the West coast to close out the weeks action on Monday Night Football. This is a great barometer for both of these sides with the undefeated niners favoured at home.

It’s a bet that I will gladly take though as last week felt more of a statement than it did just a win for the men in orange and brown. The production as mentioned should continue to come from Nick Chubb on the ground but the attitude undoubtedly starts with the polarizing quarterback Baker Mayfield.

To use his own words, he “plays better with a swagger” and he is certainly portraying that as he looks to lead the Browns over 500 for the first time since Brian Hoyer was playing quarterback. 


NFC South Breakdown

By Tim Monk – @Tim_MonkF10Y

Last Season

  • New Orleans 13-3
  • Atlanta 7-9
  • Carolina 7-9
  • Tampa Bay 5-11

New Orleans slayed all before them whilst the wagon wheels of the other teams either fell off (Carolina) or never got attached on properly (Atlanta, Tampa). But it’s not crazy to think that at least 2 teams come from this division for the playoffs. New Orleans are the favourites and rightly so, but this division is ripe for an interchangeable division winner if all teams put their best foot (or wagon) forward.

New Orleans:

Draft selectionsErik McCoy (#48), Chauncey Gardner-Johnson (#105), Saquan Hampton (#177), Alize Mack (231), Kaden Elliss (#244)

Offseason key additions: TE Jared Cook, RB Latavius Murray, DT Malcolm Brown, G Nick Easton

Offseason key departuresRB Mark Ingram, C Max Unger, DE Alex Okafor, TE Ben Watson

Super Bowl odds: 10/1

Analysis:

Couldn’t have gotten more heartbreaking last year for the Saints (didn’t we say that the year before? #MinnesotaMiracle).

The #1 seed from 2018 returns once more in the quest for ring #2 for Drew Brees. No doubt they will be front runners again for the NFC crown and rightly so.

Signal caller Brees had a record in completion % last year which star wideout Michael Thomas was the main beneficiary. Expect these two to produce similar numbers, especially with Thomas signing a $100m, $61m guaranteed deal a few weeks ago.

Latavius Murray brings his hammer looking to emulate Mark Ingram’s production from the past few years but expect him to be a bit more of a short yardage guy meaning that Kamara has a #1 RB ceiling in fantasy.

The shock retirement of Max Unger means that Brees will be touching the buttocks of draft pick Erik McCoy this season but I’m not sure that this will be to the detriment of a top offensive line.

Jared Cook has come over from the Raiders and feels like a bit of a trap for fantasy football but does have a high ceiling if being utilised.

Not much fresh blood through the draft, after trading up last year to get Marcus Davenport but another Super Bowl run is expected in Louisiana and maybe this time, there is no more heartbreak. The creeking of the Drew Brees Super Bowl opportunity window is getting louder though…

Look out for:

Drew Brees dropoff – the veteran and future hall of famer showed hints that the cliff edge may be nearing and there always seems to be rumours circling this could be his final hurrah no matter the result. The offence in place is perfectly suited to his abilities which are as explosive as they once were. He still has it between the ears and sometimes that’s enough for talented guys like Brees. It never did Tom Brady any harm though, did it?

Atlanta:

Draft selectionsChris Lindstrom (#12), Kaleb McGarry (#31), Kendall Sheffield (#111), John Cominsky (#135), Qadree Ollison (#152), Jordan Miller (#172), Marcus Green (#203)

Offseason key additions: G James Carpenter, DE Adrian Clayborn

Offseason key departuresDE/OLB Bruce Irvin, CB Justin Bethel, RB Tevin Coleman, K Matt Bryant

Super Bowl odds:  33/1

Analysis:

Not too much in the way of big disruption here for the Falcons both on the playing roster or in the coaching staff. Yes, Dirk Koetter comes over from Tampa Bay but he and Matt Ryan have already had slumber parties together so it’s not a transition to a new scheme, something which Matty Ice has struggled with previously.

Matt Ryan must be one of the top 5 most happiest players after the offseason; the amount of bodies and depth the Falcons went and acquired either in the draft (2 1st round draft picks on lineman) or Free Agency (James Carpenter) will put a massive smile on #2. It also put a massive smile on my face as a fantasy owner and also as I project him to be the #2 QB this year. Poetry.

Julio Jones has kept his toys in the pram pretty much considering others all around him in the NFL haven’t. he trusts that he will get a new contract and I bet he cant wait judging by what Michael Thomas just got. The 2018 leading yardage receiver will be up there once again in 2019, especially as 2nd year wideout Calvin Ridley show flashes last year and helped take a tiny bit of coverage away. Add the return of Devonta Freeman who missed last season with injury, this is a serious offence and it will do a lot of damage… even Austin Hooper has a ceiling of TE4 in fantasy (did I just say that?!?!). For those people that are a bit wary of Devonta Freeman, take solace in the fact that they let Tevin Coleman go. He wasn’t quite as mustard as they thought I guess.

On the other side of the ball, this defence was so decimated by injury last year, even the Redskins Offensive line raised their eyebrows at the list. They have the pieces in Grady Jarrett,Tak McKinley, Vic Beasley, Deion Jones, Keanu Neal and leading INT from 2018 Damontae Kazee. On paper, this is easily a playoff calibre team and after underwhelming last year, HC Dan Quinn must be in the hot seat. Especially after a bad year when they could have been the home team in the Super Bowl. A lot will depend on the new right side of the offensive line and how they acquit themselves but seems to be that they’ll get the bulk of returns from those investments after next year.

Look out for:

Devonta Freeman – After missing last year through injuries picked up in week 1 and then week 5, many have concerns. I am going to trust the Falcons’s actions though for my opinion after letting Coleman go to San Francisco. The 27 year old out of Florida State is in the 3rd year of his $41.25m contract which was a record high at the time. I think the Falcons will make him earn his money and that should translate to seeing him as a top 10 RB at the very least and return to the 2015/2016 form that saw him earn that contract.

Carolina:

Draft selectionsBrian Burns (#16), Greg Little (#37), Will Grier (#100), Christian Miller (#115), Jordan Scarlett (#154), Dennis Daley (#212), Terry Godwin (#237)

Offseason key additions: WR Chris Hogan, DE Bruce Irvin, C Matt Paradis

Offseason key departuresWR Devin Funchess, WR Damiere Byrd , CB Captain Munnerlyn, OL Matt Kalil, LB Thomas Davis

Super Bowl odds: 50/1

Analysis:

The Carolina Panthers’ season is there for all to see on All or Nothing. In a way it was an epitome of the show’s title.

First 8 games, they had it all; Wins, great performances and momentum. The hit from TJ Watt in the Pittsburgh game to the right shoulder of Cam Newton was when it all starting to go to nothing. A gutsy 2pt play by Ron Rivera came up bearing no fruits against the Lions away from home and it all started to unravel.

Cam barely practiced at all last season because of the shoulder injury and it’s been said that he could barely throw the ball further than 10 yards in some of those games.

Due to dip in performances on the defence, there were coaching changes and led to Rivera calling plays too. There wont be many teams that started 6-2 that then went on to not play January football.

They said goodbye to a few veterans in the offseason including Matt Kalil, Thomas Davis and Captain Munnerlyn so this team certainly will have a younger, quicker and fresher feel in 2019. That includes Brian Burns at linebacker who will immediately improve this defence. Greg Little was a nice pickup to for that offensive line along with Free Agent signing Matt Paradis from the Broncos.

OC Norv Turner worked wonders in introducing a shorter passing game last season and utilising the tools available to him in DJ Moore, Curtis Samuel and of course Christian McCaffrey. He’ll have to be clever in the way he utilises #1 this season to avoid a repeat of injuries but Cam is THE difference maker for this team. They have a legitimate top 10 offensive line and an underrated defence so the Panthers in my view are a dark horse for a deep playoff run. Getting there may be harder than the actual playoffs themselves due to the quality in this division.

Look out for:

Resurgent Cam –  I for one, really enjoyed watching All or Nothing as we got an insight in to the enigma that is Cam Newton. It certainly showed his love and appetite for the game and that he wants to win above all else. He has always come back from adversity well and I expect no different here. There is a concern that his second surgery to that shoulder is 1 too many but has been looking good in practice and there have been no limitations. He is a steal in fantasy drafts and Norv Turner, the OC, knows how to get him to perform to his best. Cam was a top 5 fantasy QB prior to the Pittsburgh game on TNF.

Tampa Bay:

Draft selectionsDevin White (#5),

Offseason key additions: DT Ndamukong Suh, WR Breshard Perriman (yes, I went there)

Offseason key departuresWR Adam Humphries, WR DeSean Jackson, LB Kwon Alexander

Super Bowl odds: 100/1

Analysis:

Everybody’s favourite Bruce Arians comes in at Tampa Bay closely followed behind by new OC Byron Leftwich. These 2 are creative and explosive minds who will ensure that even if they lose, they’ll go gung ho about it. Luckily for them, they have the players to compliment that. Everyone has an opinion on how Jameis Winston will get on and it’ll be interesting to see if there is any transformation and any step forward in maturity and whether that translates in to his play on the field (and off to be fair). There are losses on both sides of the ball but on offence, expect Chris Godwin and OJ Howard to have stellar seasons as well as Mike Evans, who has had 5 straight 1000 yard seasons every year since he came in to the league as the trio look to hoover up the targets and touchdowns vacated by slot receiver Adam Humphries and speedster DeSean Jackson.

The leaky defence is still there, especially on the back end but losses of Kwon Alexander and Gerald McCoy certainly wont help. Ndamukong Suh will try and plug the gap as will Devin Bush and the 5 other defensive players draft by the Bucs in this year’s draft.

Expect the high yardage and high scoring games for the Bucs once again this year, meaning Winston and the WR could be returning great value this year. At running back, who knows? 2018 2nd round pick Ronald Jones struggled to get on the field and was even a healthy scratch some weeks as he AVERAGED 1.9ypc and looked like he had Jason Pierre Paul’s gloves on when catching the ball last year. The usual buzz has been released around his prospects this year but for someone who can’t beat out Peyton Barber is already destined for the XFL.

In an extremely tough division, it’s an absolute banker that these boys finish bottom of the pile, so go find a treasure chest full of money and go bet on it.

Look out for:

Jameis Winston – It’s put up or XFL for Jameis this year. Play well and he’ll be rewarded with a huge deal. Play poorly, and he could well wind up with Vince McMahon. Ok, maybe more a transition to a journeyman backup quarterback awaits but talking of which, the release of Ryan FItzpatrick is a sign of faith in the former #1 overall pick in 2014 and Bruce Arians apparently loves him and can fix him (though that’s what women say about a******e boyfriends).

Jameis is a polarising player here at Full10Yards; Rob loves him and i just cant have him personally. Does he have the talent? Possibly but we shouldn’t still be asking that question for a guy in his 5th year option. He has a 21-33 record and an 88-58 TD-INT ratio.

That being said, Byron Leftwich at OC coming over from the Cardinals could be the key that unlocks the box to Jameis. I’m just not betting my bottom dollar on it, and neither should you.

2019 Season Prediction

  • New Orleans 11-5
  • Atlanta 10-6
  • Carolina 9-7
  • Tampa Bay 6-10

Predicting the Playoff Merry-Go-Round

By Shaun Blundell – @Shaun_F10Y

One of the great things about the NFL is its designed to produce parity across its competing teams. Recent history suggests that roughly half of the teams that make the playoffs one year do not repeat 12 months later. Predicting the playoff field in August is a tough gig but without further ado let’s predict the 12 strong field and detail those that have been replaced and why.

Dropping Out

Chicago Bears – The formula for the Bears last year was to win tight games and win the turnover battle. It’s tough to win close games 2 years in a row, and can the defence turn over the ball as regularly? It’s a lot to ask, add in the fact that it’s a loaded division and I can see the Bears slipping out of the playoff field this season.

Seattle Seahawks – Russell Wilson is brilliant, but I just don’t see an awful lot else to get excited about on the Seattle roster. The once feared defence is certainly lacking star quality outside of Bobby Wagner and although Pete Carroll will have them competitive as always, but I can’t see another playoff run this year.

Philadelphia Eagles – I think it will be tight in the division (see below) but I don’t think the runner up record in the NFC East will be good enough for a wildcard spot. So much will depend on Carson Wentz after the safety net that was Nick Foles has been removed.

Houston Texans – The Texans roster has plenty of individual star power with the likes of Watt, Clowney, Hopkins and Watson but lacks overall depth. The offensive line and secondary are big concerns in what is a pass first league, and I believe they will not overcome both.

Baltimore Ravens – How long will it take for defences to catch up with the run heavy approach of Lamar Jackson and co? The Chargers handled them comfortably in last year’s playoffs and Jackson will have to develop quickly as a passer to allow the offence to be more balanced. I don’t think that happens this year, if at ever does.

Repeat Performances

New Orleans Saints – Drew Brees has possibly 1 last chance to win at all and despite a strong division, I can see the Saints playing in January again next year.

LA Rams – I don’t buy a post Super Bowl hangover as there is just too much talent on this team along with question marks on others in the division.

Dallas Cowboys – QB question marks for the Skins and Giants probably make the NFC a 2-way fight between the Cowboys and Eagles. I’ll take the Cowboys, just!

Kansas City Chiefs – Still questions defensively but the offence will more than carry the Chiefs with MVP, Pat Mahomes entering year 3.

New England Patriots – Don’t they just always win the AFC East? Hard to see past yet another divisional crown in 2019.

LA Chargers – It could be another wild-card berth for the Chargers but expect them to go back and forth with the Chiefs all season.

Indianapolis Colts – After a poor start in 2018 a red-hot finish followed. Andrew Luck should be able to lead the Colts to the postseason as division winners this time around.

New Kids on the Block

Minnesota Vikings – Expect a greater return from the Kirk Cousins investment in year 2 with a better O-line in front of him. I still see the Vikings as the most complete team in the division and if they can keep Thielen and Diggs healthy along with Dalvin Cook I expect the offence to roll. Defensively the return most of the key players and Anthony Barr’s U-turn on the New York Jets in free agency is a massive plus.

Atlanta Falcons – The Falcons were dealt huge injury blows to the defence last year and assuming that they don’t suffer the same fate they should be a middle of the road unit this time around. Matt Ryan and the high-powered offence will carry this team and Julio Jones thinks he might put up 3,00 yards receiving! I can’t see that but I can certainly see a big season from Atlanta and expect them to find a wild card berth.

Green Bay Packers – Call it blind faith but assuming Aaron Rodgers plays a full 16 games, I think the Packers find a way to get it done. Mike Pettine plays good aggressive defence and has plenty of young talent to work with. They are always so strong at home so if they can find a couple of road wins I believe they will sneak into a wildcard.

Cleveland Browns – I know…..believe it when you see it, it is the Browns! It is just impossible to look past how much talent has been assembled on this roster in just a year and a half under John Dorsey. Baker Mayfield, OBJ, Jarvis Landry, Nick Chubb, Denzel Ward, Myles Garret to name but a few of the stars that will be suiting up in orange and brown. It’s been a while, and as Browns fan it’s been painful, but this season promises to be great.

Pittsburgh Steelers – Similar to what I said about the Patriots, they just don’t miss the postseason party very often. Minus the diva that is Antonio Brown and the diva that is Le’Veon Bell, look for Ju-Ju Smith-Schuster and James Conner to have nice campaigns. The Steelers have a habit of playing up or down to their competition and if the Browns do indeed fire then look for the AFC North to be sending 2 representatives into the January competition.

In Summary

So there you go, your 12 playoff teams are as follows: –

NFC – Saints, Rams, Cowboys, Vikings, Falcons & Packers

AFC – Chiefs, Patriots, Colts, Browns, Chargers & Steelers

Prediction for the Superbowl? Don’t be silly, nobody can predict what is going to happen that far advance in the NFL!

Pick It Apart; Kaleb McGary

Pick it Apart!

The Draft is in the books and the dust has settled. But how well did your team do in the first round?

We are taking a look back at every selection in the first round and giving you the lowdown on the pick; Was it a reach? Was it a steal? We’ll tell you and give you the impact for fantasy football….

Pick: #31

Player: Kaleb McGary

Drafted by: Atlanta Falcons

Grade: B

Analysis:

Lee doesn’t like this pick, do you? One person that will like the pick is Matt Ryan.

The Falcons trade back in to the first round to pick up their 2nd offensive lineman of the round to go with Christian Lindstrom. Whilst O-Line wasn’t their biggest weakness last year, it certainly could be a strength going in to the 2019 season.

I’m quite surprised that they moved up to go and get the OT from Washington, especially with guys like Jawaan Taylor, Greg Little, Cody Ford and a whole host of offensive lineman still there plus added on top of that, the talent at Corner.

Let’s focus on McGary for a second;

He’s 6”7 (!), 317lbs, ran just a smidge over 5 seconds in the 40 yard dash and in general, his combine was good.

He was a conference defensive player of the year and first team all-conference at Tight End (wonder what his odds are to catch a TD in 2019) in high school. That carried over into College, with first team accolades coming at him left right and centre.

He has a strong character built up from all the personal adversity he has gone through; medical conditions and family issues among them.

He isn’t the most athletic, as determined by his combine and film so you could see him go from Tackle to Guard. He isn’t the quickest going laterally but could be a good run blocker going forward with the right coaching. Whilst he wont be an every down guy in year one, he has the potential to be, which is the reason why the grade is a B where you should be picking someone with a higher ceiling and safer floor at the back end of the first round. The Falcons must have seen something in him in order to trade back in to the first round giving up their 2nd and 3rd rounders, though.

Fantasy Football Impact:

McGary’s impact on fantasy is an indirect one. Opening up the holes for Devonta Freeman and *shudders* Ito Smith. He’ll also be tasked with keeping last year’s fantasy QB2 upright.

Draft Recap 2, 100 up.

In podcast 100, Tim and Rob talk about the NFL Academy and what it means for the game over here before they recap picks 17-32 of the draft and the bigger picture for their respective team’s draft hauls. We also look at those teams that didn’t draft in the 1st round.
Lee from All32 attempts to go top of the leaderboard in the Full10Questions.
Enjoy!

Where Do They Go From Here; Buccaneers

After our divisional season review podcasts, we are now looking to the future and asking where each franchise goes from here. We put ourselves in the chair of being GM or the owner and going over what moves we would make in order to win a Superbowl, make the playoffs or just regain some pride…

Today we take a look at the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Don’t forget to check out the NFC North podcast where we talked to Murf from 5yardrush and Tom from Head On A Swivel podcasts and got their thoughts on the team!

How Did Last Season Go?

Last season had more ups and downs than the Big Dipper at Blackpool. Jameis Winston started the season with a 3 game ban due to being Uber silly (see what I did there?) so Ryan Fitzmagic lived once again. They stunned the Saints in week 1 and the Eagles in Week 2 and arguably could’ve been 3-0 with their late surge vs the Steelers not quite getting them over the line. After that it was like riding a horse at a fairground at the QB position with Winston and Fitzpatrick chopping and changing on a nearly weekly basis which starting in GW4 when getting blown out of the water by the Chicago Bears.

After beating Cleveland in OT and having a 3-3 record, the Bucs went 2-8 the rest of the way.

The Bucs finished with the most passing yards in the NFL (3rd in total yards) but also the worst defence in terms of points given up. Tampa Bay games last year were not boring.

At the skills positions, Mike Evans surpassed 1500 receiving yards, breaking some Tampa Bay and NFL records along the way. Career high in Yards, Yards per rec, yards per game, catch % saw Evans go to his 2nd Pro Bowl.

The backfield was the total opposite in terms of production with 2nd round pick Ronald Jones struggling to even get on the field.

Housekeeping

The Buccaneers have the number 5 pick in the 1st round of the 2019 draft along with picks 39 (round 2), 70 (3), 107(4), 145(5) and 215(7).

The Bucs are not wealthy in terms of salary cap at this precise moment being bottom of the pile with a smidge over $2m cap space.

Outgoings

Dirk Koetter has left after a puzzling season at the HC position.

Following him out the exit door is WR speedster DeSean Jackson who goes back home to Philly and one of the most reliable slot receivers in Adam Humphries snubbed New England for Tennessee.

On defence, Kwon Alexander has changed Tampa Bay for the Bay area and San Francisco and Vinny Curry didn’t work out.

Finally, Ryan Fitzpatrick will not be sprinkling his magic anymore as he goes to Miami.

Incomings

Bruce Arians replaces Dirk Koetter but not many other names of note to fill the holes.

Linebacker Shaquil Barrett, Safeties Kentrell Brice and Deone Bucannon along with unloved Cleveland and Baltimore cast-off WR Breshard Perriman.

Outlook for Next Year

Bruce Arians will ruffle the feathers in Tampa and raise the level of all the players there. It’ll be interesting to watch what happens with the backfield as Peyton Barber and the aforementioned Ronald Jones do not strike fears into anyone’s eyes. Furthermore, Arians would’ve been used to a 3 down back like David Johnson so I expect moves to be made (not for David Johnson however).

The success of Tampa will hinge on how much Arians can get out of QB Jameis Winston who is in the final year of his contract. They will not be afforded the time to transition over into the Arians offence judging by how competitive the division is going to be.

Prediction

The Bucs had my money for a playoff push last year, they wont have it again this season. I think it’ll be a push to say they’ll have a winning record but if Arians works his magic, Winston steps up and the defence is not too porous then who knows. They haven’t got the toughest of schedules outside of their division, with the NFC South being paired with the NFC West, AFC South and the Lions and Giants.

They’ll get to around 7-9 in my opinion.

Fantasy Football

Jameis Winston – double digit round pick – potential QB1 – *SLEEPER ALERT*

Peyton Barber – 7th Round – high RB3/ low RB2

Ronald Jones – undrafted / waiver wire fodder

Mike Evans – 2nd Round pick – WR1

Chris Godwin – 6th Round pick – WR2 ceiling – *BREAKOUT CANDIDATE*

OJ Howard –  8th Round pick – Mid-Low TE1