Season In Review – Chicago Bears

By Lee Wakefield (@wakefield90)

Today’s “Season in Review” focuses on the Chicago Bears. The team a double doink away from a deep playoff run last year, expectations where high in the windy city. Could Trubisky take another step forward or were the team going to succumb to the high price paid for Khalil Mack?


Entering the Season


Coming off a 12-4 season and and NFC North divisional crown, things were looking rosy for the Bears coming into the NFL’s 100th season.

The question was, could the Bears defense, led by Khalil Mack, reach the dizzying heights that they did in 2018 without Vic Fangio running the show as defensive coordinator. Chuck Pagano was hired to oversee the unit, which on the face of it, wasn’t a revolutionary hire but also could be seen as a safe pair of hands.

On the other side of the ball, questions loomed around quarterback, Mitchell Trubisky and whether he could take the leap in Matt Nagy’s offense in year two. Bears fans needed to start feeling like they were winning games because of Trubisky, not in spite of him.

The Bears didn’t do much business in terms of incomings and outgoings during the offseason.

The team swapped safeties with the Packers – switching Adrian Amos for HaHA Clinton-Dix – Elsewhere in the defensive backfield, slot corner Bryce Callaghan was deemed too expensive to resign and went to Denver, and GM Ryan Pace brought in Buster Skrine in his stead. Speaking on backfields, the offensive backfield also underwent some renovations, with Jordan Howard traded to the Eagles for a 6th round pick and in came Mike Davis from Seattle and David Montgomery with Chicago’s third round pick on the 2019 draft.

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Daniel Bartel-USA TODAY Sports

That brings us nicely on to the draft and for the Bears, it was a pretty quiet affair.

Due to the monster trade for Khalil Mack, Montgomery was the Bears first selection of the draft and certainly the headline of their haul.

Pace said before the draft that the team didn’t have “pressing, huge needs” and could “select the best players”.

In that case, I guess he thought the Bears were primed for another divisional title and playoff run…


During the Season


Let me tell you, it did not go down like that.

Opening night, the NFL was full of celebrations, the Bears and the Packers squared off, a meeting of two of the oldest rivals in sport… Time for an offensive masterpiece between two QB’s at the top of their games… Right?

The Packers actually ran out 10-3 winners in what was a defensive battle, where neither team could get the running game going and to be honest, neither team could keep their QB on his feet.

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After that came a season of streaks for the Bears, both good and bad. Three wins over the Broncos, Redskins and Vikings meant that the Bears travelled to London to kick off the international series in a healthy 3-1 position. One aspect of the team that wasn’t healthy, however, was the QB. Mitchell Trubisky had suffered a shoulder injury in the win against Minnesota – Although to be honest, he was struggling to ignite the offense before then anway, having thrown only 3 TD’s (all of which came against Washington) to 2 picks and only managing 5.6 yards per attempt.

Anyway, on to The Khalil Mack Bowl at the new Tottenham Hotspur Stadium – a stadium tasting its first NFL action.

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Tim Ireland/AP

The Raiders jumped out to a 17-0 halftime lead on the back of rookie running back, Josh Jacobs. The Bears answered back with 3 unanswered scores to make things very interesting indeed but eventually succumbed to another Jacobs touchdown that handed Chicago its first loss since week 1.

Mitchell Trubisky returned in week 7 but the victories did not. Three more losses followed after the bye and the Bears, sat at 3-5 at this point, were at the stage where it really was put up or shut up.

The defense, as the year before, wasn’t the issue – They were holding up their end of the bargain, the offense on the other hand were not.

A win against Detroit and a loss against the Rams didn’t do much to aid the cause, in effect it was just two more weeks that ticked by but the situation remained the same. 4-6, surely there was no hope?

However, 3 wins followed and hope was alive, the Packers were out in front by now but the Vikings were catchable – Plus, amazingly, it was still in the Bear’s hands as they had to play both Green Bay and Minnesota in the final three weeks of the season – 3 wins were needed but this was a tough ask because the meat in the sandwich of these divisional games was Kansas City.

Unfortunately for Bears fans, it wasn’t to be – the only win that was had was on the final day against Minnesota.

Too little, too late. 8-8 and a bit of a damp squib, really.


Offseason Outlook


Do the Chicago Bears need a new quarterback?

Yes, Chase Daniel is out of contract.

Wait… What did you think I meant?

Of course I wasn’t suggesting that the Bears admit defeat on Trubisky – The traded up to get him with the second overall pick. He’s only 3 years into his career too.

Or was I?

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Isaiah J. Downing

In all seriousness, the Bears need to get someone in to put pressure on Trubisky, at least. Year 4 really is make or break for Trubisky’s long term NFL career, in my opinion – If he doesn’t perform to a high level in 2020, the Bears probably won’t pick up his 5th year option and he’ll be done in the Windy City – In the event that happens, the Bears will want a replacement to be in the building already.

In my most recent mock draft for the Full 10 Yards, I gave them a QB in round 2, you can see whom that was here.

That leads me on to the Bears capital both draft and financial… It ain’t good. Not a position you want to be in when you’ve just gone 8-8 and need a jump start in a very tough division.

Chicago probably needs to do some roster surgery, currently sitting with a smidge over $5m in cap, which ranks 28th in the NFL (according to Overthecap.com).

HaHa Clinton-Dix, Danny Trevethan, Nick Kwiatkoski and Aaron Lynch are all veteran contributors who are set to hit the open market – I can see these guys having to find new homes this spring, along with the aforementioned Chase Daniel. This will free up around $17m and give the Bears some flexibility.

This would mean that the shopping list will have the following positions; QB, linebacker, pass rush depth and tight end.

Yes, let’s talk about tight end for a second… The Bears got absolutely no production from the position last year and since overpaying for Trey Burton because he threw a Superbowl TD, two years ago. Burton caught 14 balls for 84 yards in 8 games in 2019 and in 2018, he amassed 569 yards (ranked 13th amongst tight ends) on 54 catches, 6 of which were touchdowns.

That isn’t a lot of bang for their buck at an average of $8m per year! $18m of his 4 year, $32m deal is guaranteed – the highest guaranteed money for tight ends in the league, as things stand.

That is not great, boys and girls.

The next problem for the Bears is that when it comes to the draft and acquiring the young talent to fill these gaps is that they simply do not possess the requisite capital which gives them a good chance of doing so – Ryan Pace needs to hit a few home runs in April. 

Still paying back the Raiders for the Mack trade the Bears have two seconds, two fourths, a fifth, a sixth and a seventh round pick. That is hard.

So to sum up the offseason outlook for Chicago is, well, I wouldn’t say it’s bleak but man, they have some work to do.

Pace has to do some off-field surgery and keep his roster decent via clever drafting and free agent moves without premium capital with which to deal. Nagy also has to get Mitchell Trubisky and this offense firing – What he was hired to do – And turn the Bears into a force in a very, very, tough division.

Good luck.

Full10Takeaways – Week 7

By Tim Monk (Tim_MonkF10Y)

Week 7 is in the books. 2 teams going into the weekend undefeated remained so and a future hall of fame QB had himself a career day.

Lot’s of stories, lots of stats, so let’s get them injected in to your eyeballs.


Rodger that


Image Credit: Jeffrey Phelps / AP

If I said to you that Aaron Rodgers had a career day, you have to think of some pretty big numbers considering how glittering it has been thus far.

As a Cowboys fan, I have seen plenty of stellar performances from the Packers’ #12.

Sunday against the Raiders, Rodgers lit up the Black Hole for 25/31 429yds, 5 TDs and an extra one on the ground. It was the first time ever, a QB for the Packers posted a perfect passer rating and was the first time Rodgers had posted a 400+ yard passing game and 5TD combination.

For fantasy owners, he posted his 2nd highest score and the most since 2011 with a score of 43.76pts.

We mentioned last week that this Packers team looks pretty decent and Rodgers had not even really got going yet.

Now he’s gotten going, the league best be on notice.


There may be Trub-les ahead


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Image Credit: Stacy Revere / Getty Images

This Bears offence…yikes.

Prior to garbage time yesterday, Cordarelle Patterson’s 102yd kick off return was more yards than the offence had been able to muster.

There boos were deafening inside soldier field, the fans have no confidence at all in their franchise QB.

The Bears have yet to put up 300 yards of offence in ANY game this season and it’s not hard to see why.

What was probably the cherry on top for the Bears, Sean Payton on the other sideline put on yet another clinic on how to use all the tools at your disposal to go and win a game. No Cook, no Kamara, no Brees, no problem.

The problems are all with Matt Nagy and the Chicago Bears offence.


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Hush by Rush


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Image Credit: Steven Bisig

Lamar Jackson once again finds himself in our articles, in the spotlight of the NFL highlight reel and at the forefront of defensive co-ordinator’s nightmares.

Whilst you can try and account for his designed run plays, Lamar Jackson was like Harry Houdini in Seattle, scrambling for 86 yards, the most by any QB this season and a record high for Jackson.

Multiple times, the Seahawks defenders thought they had him pinned down for a loss, only for Jackson to get loose from the straightjacket and speed down the field for big chunk plays.

Century Link field is not an easy place to go to with the #12 screaming down on to the field but Lamar Jackson had long drives, which caused the stadium to hush somewhat.

Lamar Jackson is now 6th in rushing yards in the NFL amongst all players this season. 6th and is well on course to smash the 1000 yard mark.

Michael Vick’s record of 1039 is not looking like a difficult ask either.

I think his body though will appreciate the Week 8 bye. Rest up, champ.


Melvin Gor-done?


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Image Credit: Christopher Hanewinckel /USA Today Sports

Melvin Gordon bet on himself, and it seems to be a losing bet.

If you asked Melvin Gordon or even the Chargers “what would be the worst case scenario this year with the holdout?”, how it has played out so far wouldn’t be far off.

As per Evan Silva (@evansilva),  75% of Melvin Gordon’s carries (27/36) have gained 3 yards or less and had 2 fumbles. 11 of his 14 targets have gained 3 yards or fewer. All of Melvin Gordon’s plays since his return have averaged a gain of just 2.3 yards and only 4 plays where he has gained a first down.

This has culminated in a 0-3 record since his return and you have to wonder whether or not Melvin Gordon is a trade candidate in the next few weeks. On his current showing, there is no way the Charger’s pay him anything close to the going rate, especially with Austin Ekeler, who is making just over $550,000 this season.


Moore woes for KC?


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Image Credit: Justin Edmonds / Getty Images

Matt Moore will be the QB for Kansas City for at least the next few weeks.

On a fateful quarterback sneak on TNF against the Broncos, Patrick Mahomes dislocated his patella and thankfully that’s all that happened. Whilst it was a freak occurrence and is desperately unlucky (Madden curse continues!), Andy Reid now has to prepare for a few games with the 2007 undrafted rookie out of Oregon State.

To date, Moore has less than 1000 pass attempts, a rating of 81.2 and a 46-36 TD-INT ratio. It’s fair to say the 35 year old will not be what Patrick Mahomes is, but Andy Reid is a master at getting QBs to do what they need to with a bit of time and prep. This is a HC that made Alex Smith look like a world beater.

The red hot Packers come to town on Sunday Night Football so it will be a baptism of fire. Andy Reid will have his work cut out to try and devise a plan to take the W here. Luckily for the Chiefs, their divisional rivals are (knee) capped.


Don’t go Chase-ing my heart


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Image Credit: Noah K. Murray/USA TODAY Sports

If you fielded Arizona Cardinals backup RB Chase Edmonds in fantasy this week, chances are it was probably because you had to or it was in a bestball format. His 3 touchdowns, all over 20 yards in length was just the 5th time that this has occurred.

David Johnson played just 3 snaps against the Giants and apparently was never intending to see the field despite being made active on Sunday. It’s hard enough to get any appreciation in the NFL in any sphere, but annoying fantasy players isn’t a recommended approach.


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How very patriotic


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Image Credit: Robert Deutsch/Reuters

This Patriots’ defence….oh boy.

Before we get in to the details of what can only be described as a suffocating defence, let’s take a moment to commiserate those that would have lost their fantasy matchup despite being in a winning position when playing Sam Darnold at QB…

Right, there we go.

This was the 2nd occassion THIS SEASON that New England scored 30+ points and shut out their opponent after their thrashing of the Jets 33-0 on Monday Night Football. New England have now outscored opponents 223-48 (both lead league by the way), allowed only 1 passing TD Allowed and are 1st in YPG Allowed (223.1) and PPG Allowed (6.9) this season.

If you have them in fantasy, they are currently the 4th highest scoring player in the god damn game, posting double digit scores in every game this season.

They currently have 18 INT so far this season, a mark not bettered since the Packers in 1996. Why do i bring this up? The Packers beat the Patriots that year in the Super Bowl.

Yes they have had one of the easiest schedules (looking at you, AFC East) and it does get a bit harder, but this defence was epitomised when cameras cut to Belichick huddling in and laying the law down with the defence….24-0 up before halftime.

Oh, and they just traded for Mohammed Sanu.

Good luck, everyone else.


Maher-ful kicking display


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Image Credit: Tim Heitman/USA TODAY Sports

Brett Maher became the first Kicker in NFL Super Bowl era to kick 3+ 60 yard Field goals and the first ever to do it in back to back games.

The ups and downs of a kicker are well documented (another doink this weekend too!) and Brett Maher certainly has more thrills than a creeky rollercoaster. One thing that isn’t in doubt though, is his mentality and his self belief. The 63 yarder against the Eagles on SNF would have been good from 66 yards and I have a funny feeling that Maher is going to eclipse Matt Prater’s current record of 64 yards.

A lot was made in Cowboys Nation when he took over from Dan Bailey, hopefully his leash will be just a tad longer, which is always nice for a kicker.


San Fran-6-and-0


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Image Credit: Geoff Burke/USA TODAY Sports

If you go back and watch the game in 40 or the highlight, make sure to wear waterproof attire, because this one was wetter than a 10year old goldfish.

It wasn’t pretty and it’s one of those games that only come round every couple of years, but the 9ers did what they had to do. Win, and win ugly.

This game was only 2hrs 36 mins in duration, the shortest game since week 16 in 2009 when the Patriots smashed the Jags in the same amount of time.

Whilst this will help fuel some skewed stats that sound impressive, even the most stubborn have to doth their cap to the 49ers start. The pick of them being (as per @NFLReasearch) that the 49ers have allowed 98 pass yards in their last 2 games combined, which is the 3rd-fewest pass yds allowed by the 49ers in a 2-game span in the Super Bowl era & the fewest in a 2-game span by the 49ers since Weeks 8-9, 1977 (62 pass yds).


Cousins and Vikings


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Image Credit: Rick Osentoski /AP

It’s amazing what an apology and a bit of play action passing can do to your team.

Captain Kirk makes yet another appearance in the takeaways after another stellar performance (with the assist of some lovely catches, tipped cap to Adam Thielen).

The $84m guaranteed signal caller:

  • Leads NFL in yards per pass attempt (9.1)
  • Leads NFL in passer rating (114.3)
  • Ranks 5th in TD passes (13) and 4th in completion rate (69.8%)

In his last 3 games, he became the first QB in NFL history to have over 300 passing yards and a QB rating of over 130 and also became the first Vikings QB since Dante Culpepper to throw for 4TDs in consecutive games.

With the defence playing how it is, this team SHOULD be going deep in January, unless normal service either with paly calling or Captain Kirk himself resumes.

Until then, he has a revenge game on Thursday Night football againast the hapless Redskins.

Spurred on by a Big Mack

By Lawrence Vos (@NFLFANINENGLAND)

When the Oakland Raiders host the Chicago Bears tomorrow in London it will remarkably be the 85th NFL game played outside of the United States of America.

The game itself will be a landmark contest as it represents the first time NFL football will have been played at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, the first venue of its kind in England to have been built to specifically host and showcase the alternative brand of football.

Sunday’s contest, the 15th time the Bears and the Raiders have met, will be the 34th NFL contest to take place in London, including pre-season games. When you think 34 and NFL history there is only one image that comes to mind, that of the dearly-departed Bears Hall of Fame and Super Bowl winning running-back Walter ‘Sweetness’ Payton.

The NFL was first introduced to a completely bewildered audience of around 30,000 people in 1983 when British entrepreneur John Marshall hired Wembley Stadium for the day and arranged a game, called the Global Cup, between the St Louis Cardinals and the Minnesota Vikings.

Just three years later and the Chicago Bears, Walter Payton, William ‘The refrigerator’ Perry, Jim McMahon and head coach Mike Ditka, made their way to Wembley Stadium to play the Dallas Cowboys in the inaugural game of the ‘American Bowl’ series that lasted until 1993.

After a 14 year break the NFL formally returned to England in 2007 for real regular season matchups, and since then the Bears have been back once, a 2011 win over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Tomorrow will mark the third time the Raiders, who will be the home team, have played a meaningful contest at Wembley, having suffered losses in 2014 (14-38 to the Dolphins) and last year (3-27 to the Seattle Seahawks). 


HEAD TO HEAD


Season series – 7-7

Points totals – Bears 256 – Raiders 249

Overtime contests – 1  (1978 a 25-19 Raiders win)

Last meeting – 2015 in Chicago. Bears won 22-20 courtesy of a 49-yard Robbie Gould field goal in the final two seconds of the game. Derek Carr was the Raiders QB then, he got 196 yards and two td’s, including one to the departed Amari Cooper.

Times played since the Millennium – 4. Bears have won three of four, by margins of 3, 11 and 2. Raiders last beat the Bears in 2011.

Key Raiders stats

  • Allowed 16 first-downs by penalty
  • Opponent is 3 of 5 on 4th downs
  • Minus 1 turnover ration
  • Only had 5 sacks this season – Missing Khalil Mack still
  • Derek Carr completing 72% of his passes
  • Rookie running-back Josh Jacobs leads the team in rushing with 307 yards at an impressive 5.0 yards a carry.
  • 21st in yards per game (335.8)
  • 9th in rushing 125.8 yards a game

Key Bears stats

  • 28th in points scored – 16.5 a game
  • 30th in yards – 273.5
  • Allowed just 13 3rd down conversions all season
  • Giving up just 3.0 yards a rush attempt
  • Accrued 17 sacks – 4.5 of those by Khalil Mack the former Raiders pass rusher
  • Kicker Eddie Piniero is 8 of 9 on field goals
  • Turnover ratio +6
  • Before his injury starting QB Mitch Trubisky had thrown for 588 yards. ‘Bear’ in mind that Jared Goff threw for 517yards in Week 4 alone.
  • Rookie running back David Montgomery lead the team in rushing with 200 at a mediocre 3.4 a carry. He also has 8 catches.

Marquee matchups

  • Bears edge Khalil Mack v both Raiders tackles Trent Brown and Kolton Miller.

    Of all qualified edge rushers Mack is ranked number one by Pro Football Focus, both by position and by pass rush grade. Mack will be licking his lips against crocked left-tackle Trent Brown, but seeing as he lines up on both sides, the Raiders tackles will be both tested. Mack has continue his All-Pro form into 2019 with 4.5 sacks and 4 forced fumbles. With his engine running all game Mack will be eyeing up a British hat-trick of sacks against Derek Carr.
  • Bears WR Allen Robinson v Raiders CB Gareon Conley

    The Raiders pass defense is ranked 27th, and they have given up 9 touchdowns through the air. Even in limited snaps Bears QB Chase Daniel has built up an instant rapport with Robinson. In Week 4 against the Vikings Robinson caught all 7 of his targets for 77 yards. Conley, a 2017 first round pick will have a busy day, and he will need his 4.44 40 speed to be in constant action. Robinson is more than capable of a 100+ yard game, it’s the touchdowns that are harder. Look for Robinson to get 12 targets.

Bears and Raiders season surprises and disappointments

  • Bears WR Allen Robinson leads the team in catches (24) and yards (280) but he is yet to find pay-dirt. Look for this to change at the home of Harry.
  • Missing out on the game is Bears WR Taylor Gabriel who broke an NFL Monday Night Football record in a Week 3 win against the Redskins when he caught three touchdowns in a quarter.
  • Raiders tight-end Darren Waller was a fantasy darling coming into the season, but he has outperformed even the most optimistic projections. 33 catches for 320 yards leads the team in balls and yards by a significant margin, but like Robinson he is yet to score.
  • The biggest Bears let-down so far is second-year WR Antony Miller who was a high-ranked breakout projection. Miller has 4 catches for a paltry 28 yards so far.
  • Bears Swiss army knife RB Tarik Cohen has 116 offensive yards to date, averaging just over 2 yards a carry. 14 catches is good but 89 yards in the air is not so much.
  • Raiders rookie WR Hunter Renfrow was supposed to be a Julian Edelman type slot-machine, but he has 11 catches for just 89 yards at a pedestrian 8.1 a catch.

Final word


This will be my 25th NFL game I will be seeing live, and my 18th in London (including pre-season and Twickenham) so I look forward to celebrating with a healthy Bears win. Former Heisman Trophy winner Chase Daniel will be making only his 5th start in his 10-year career. The archetypal backup played two games for Chicago in 2018, going 1-1 so he knows his team strengths well. The Raiders will look to feed rookie RB Josh Jacobs the ball early and often, but the Bears defense is akin to a great white shark’s mouth. You break the front teeth and another row simply grows from behind. The Bears depth is phenomenal. Look out for defensive end #95 Roy Robertson-Harris who has stood out amongst a quality defensive line.


Prediction


Bears 27-10 Raiders


The Bears to get a big game out of utility back Tarik Cohen and Chase Daniel’s command of the offense will be making Windy-city faithful wonder if he can do a better job than Mitch Trubisky longer-term.

Full10Takeaways – Week 4

By Shaun Blundell (@Shaun_F10Y) and Lawrence Vos (@NFLFanInEngland)

Week 4 is done and dusted! It goes so quick! Before you get ready for the waiver wires in fantasy and don your NFL shirt to go to the Wembley game, here are the main stories to take away from last weekend’s action!


The New Monsters of The Midway

Image Credit – Quinn Harris / USA Today

We knew going into the game at Soldier Field on Sunday that the strength of both the Vikings and Bears lied on the defensive side of the field. We left the game without a doubt that one of those defences is far superior to the other and that defence belongs to the Chicago Bears.

The loss of Vic Fangio has not led to any drop off as Chuck Pagano is marshalling a defence that is the most loaded in the league. On pace for 32 takeaways, 2nd in the league for sacks and 2nd in the league for pts allowed per game this unit as awesome.

Khalil Mack is obviously the star but bear in mind they did this Sunday without Roquan Smith and Akiem Hicks, the sky is literally the limit for these monsters.


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Run CMC

Image Credit – Eric Christian Smith / AP Photo

He probably will not win it, but, Christian McCaffrey should be considered for MVP honours. Remember what MVP stands for? Is there any single player more valuable for their team than the Panthers running back?

Playing in a ridiculous 98.3% of the offensive snaps so far on the season, McCaffrey once again was the offence on Sunday. A career high of 37 touches produced 93 rushing yards on 27 carries and 86 further yards through the air on 10 catches. The all important touchdown was also produced inevitably by CMC as the Panthers improved to 2-0 without Cam Newton.

Carolina is proving it can survive without their grandma impersonating quarterback, they will keep everything crossed they don’t have to deal with life without #22.


Step Away From The Kliff Edge

Image Credit – Chritian Peterson / Getty Images

Remember when we were excited to see what Kliff Kingsbury would bring to the NFL? A promise of an air raid offence, ran at speed that defences would have no clue of how to stop it.

Well that was the advert at least.

The reality? How do I put this politely? A bit of a snooze fest. Yes the Cardinals run a lot of plays, that is backed up by the fact Kyler Murray is averaging 42.5 pass attempts per contest so far in his short (no pun intended) NFL career. The problem is the lack of explosiveness, it’s all a bit too safe, a bit too dink and dunk.

Of course the problem for the Cardinals is that’s all well and good until you get behind on the scoreboard as was the case again this weekend. They are not built to play from behind and the supposed revolution is certainly yet to materialise.


Feed The Chubb

Image Credit – John Kuntz / cleveland.com

It took 4 weeks but the “real” Browns showed up in Baltimore. Powered behind a career day from Nick Chubb, Cleveland dominated the Ravens by a score of 40-25 to take the early lead in the AFC North.

Chubb gashed the Ravens for 165 yards and 3 scores on the ground and unsurprisingly with that level of production on the ground, Baker Mayfield looked the best has all season in this one. Jarvis Landry also has a career day with 167 yards receiving as the much talked about group finally produced.

All of a sudden things are looking up in NorthEast Ohio and the talk of Freddie Kitchens being in over his head and Baker Mayfield being overrated will be silenced for a week.

If the Browns continue with this formula they should be the team to beat in the division, as the saying goes “feed the Chubb and he will score”.


Vontaze- Far From Burfict

Image Credit – Justin Casterline / Getty Images

In quite possibly the shortest ever takeaway….. Goodbye and don’t ever come back! How on Earth this guy was made a team captain I will never know. His shot on Jack Doyle was disgusting and the league has rightfully acted by suspending him for the remainder of the season. Fingers crossed he never sees a field again!


Clever Trevor earns his Spurs

Image Credit: AP Photo/AJ Mast

Staying with the Raiders, when the Green Bay Packers traded WR Trevor Davis to the Raiders after Week 2 the transaction barely made a ripple. Now it’s making a king size bar of Fruit and Nut.

In the first quarter of the Raiders Week 4 victory over the Colts Davis returned a punt one yard but remained on the field. Chucky must have been impressed by Davis’s running ability when he faced him in the 2019 pre-season, as he gave the former Cal star the handoff on first down. The result a spectacular 60 yard rushing touchdown and a 14-0 lead. Brought in as a return specialist Davis is no replacement for AB but he has an excellent opportunity to impress.

The development continues for Davis at Tottenham Hotspur’s new ground on Sunday against an opponent he will be very familiar with from his former NFC division. Davis may be a gadget player, but if he continues to make highlight package plays then we could see his role expand. Not a bad debut to make in Silver and Black.


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Kerryon impressing please

Image Credit: Getty Images

Sid James, if he would have been a Detroit Lions fan, would have plenty of reasons to unleash his trademark cackle in years past at a moribund running game in the Motor City, but it’s all change now.

Once considered a laughing stock, and even cursed since the shock retirement of Hall of Fame RB Barry Sanders, Detroit went a stupendous 70 games without a 100-yard game on the ground from an individual player. That was finally called to a halt in 2018 when Kerryon Johnson finally reached the century mark. Week 4 2019 saw Johnson have his third 100+ yard game in just 14 career contests.

If he remains injury free Johnson can establish himself as a top 10 NFL RB. 26 carries at almost five yards a carry against the Chiefs will be pleasing Coach Beardtricia. Johnson had been having a rough start to the season, failing to reach a ground-based half-century between weeks 1-3.

This game may not have resulted in a Lions win, but it shows Kerryon is reliable and on his way, if the climate controlled dome wind goes in his direction, for a 1,000 yard plus rushing season.


Somebody is melting away their window of opportunity

Image Credit: Associated Press

There is a QB who is second in the NFL in passing yards, has recorded four consecutive 300+ yard performances, is third in TD passes thrown and is completing over 70% of his passes. This is the same QB who leads the league in interceptions thrown and has managed a maximum of 24 points in four games to date. Stand up, or in the case of a rookie led offensive line, sit down on your backside Matt Ryan.

There is no denying Ryan is a savvy veteran passer who knows how to move the ball, is accurate, and calm in the face of pressure, but 1-3 is not what Falcons fans were expecting. Ryan was one period of greatness from a Super Bowl win just three years ago, and expectations were high coming into the 2019 season.

Ryan is being let down by a sub-par running game especially Devonta Freeman who is yet to find the end-zone through the ground or in the air, and is averaging a six-year career low 3.3 yards a carry. The Falcons have winnable games coming up, but they need the running game to mirror Ryan’s consistent output.

The irony of Matty Ice needing to warm up the rest of the team is not lost, but he needs to cut out the interceptions and quickly. When you have Julio Jones catching the ball you know there is a game-breaking threat available on any play.

The weapons are in place for a team to be performing better than the 1-3 record they currently boast at the quarter point, let’s just hope Ryan goes full Elsa in October.


More tanks than an aquatic superstore

Image Credit: Kirby Lee / Associated Press

The narrative before the season was that the Miami Dolphins would be tanking for Tua (Tagovailoa) and nothing has been done on the field to contradict that position. The only problem is there are three other teams vying for absolute dreadfulness and possibly a shot at the number one pick in the 2020 NFL draft.

The single most disastrous team in the NFC is the Washington Redskins, who gave their rookie QB Dwayne Haskins his first NFL regular season outing in Week 4. Poor Haskins looked out of place and frankly befuddled by a Giants defense that scares nobody. Three interceptions in relief of Case Keenum will be a hard debut game to forget for Haskins.

In the AFC the Bengals and the Broncos are also winless. At least Joe Flacco is helping Denver to be competitive. Devastating last second field-goal losses in Week 2 (v Chicago) and this past week against Jacksonville will be hard to cope with. In Ohio the Bengals are back bungling. The red rifle Andy Dalton has suffered 19 sacks in four contests and seems to be struggling making reads and avoiding pressure. Dare it be mentioned, but is it time to give fourth-round rookie Ryan Finley a shot in the stripy helmet before the mid-point of the season?

The Dolphins are still favourites to finish the season 0-16, but this is going to be a bizarre race to the finishing line with a Redskins team that will be matching Miami week by week for on-field inadequacy.

The fact they play each other in Week 6 will be entertaining, with the winner losing their grip on the keys to the tank.


Singing the praises of two superb secondaries

Image Credit: Associated Press

When you make Tom Brady look like a backup and hold a potential league MVP to no touchdowns then you need to be recognised for doing your job well.

Both the Buffalo Bills and the New Orleans Saints secondaries excelled in Week 4, one in a six-point loss and one in a two-point win. Perhaps the biggest single difference maker was the Saints third-year corner Marshon Lattimore who punished Cowboys number one WR Amari Cooper all day. Cooper caught a season low 62.5% of balls thrown his way, had his lowest yards per target (6) and was held under 10 yards a catch for the first time in 2019.

Often corners and safeties get recognised for big plays such as the Rams Marcus Peters who returned the pigskin to the house against the Buccs on Sunday just a few plays after being burnt alive by Mike Evans for a 60 plus yard score. However, it is the performance that might not show up on the individual’s defensive stat sheet, but is instead reflected in the game’s final outcome that is the true definition of excellence.

Between the Saints and the Bills secondaries we could be looking at a couple of All Pro’s and at least four Pro Bowl nods. When you hold Tom Brady under a 50% completion rate you deserve a cheer, and was it not for the injury to Josh Allen this could have been a week where secondaries clearly decided the fate of their team.

It’s no surprise the Bills and the Saints are both 3-1. This is a passing premium league, so if you can neutralise the primary threat you stand a good chance of being alive when it comes to January.

Full10Lookahead – Week 2

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Week 2 is already here folks. Time flies when you are having fun!

Hope everyone enjoyed their stay at overreaction town, now it’s time to depart for context city, where hopefully you’ll be able to see some indicators as to what was the real deal and what were outliers from last week.

Here are 10 things we are looking forward to this week in the NFL:

Me-Cam-ical Issues?

Cam Newton’s Pass attempts vs LA Rams

The Panthers QB will be looking to rectify a performance from week 1 that was classic Cam. Some good plays but also a few errant and shocking high passes.

66% completion rate is about where Cam has been with Norv Turner pulling the strings but if it wasn’t for Christian McCaffrey, these numbers would not be great at all. You could argue that this is now the offence the Panthers will employ going forward.

As per next gen stats, Cam only attempted 1 pass over 20 yards in the week 1 game vs the Rams which agrees with the narrative that the offence is going to show similar results this season. Yes he attempted around 40 passes, but if they are averaging on 5 yards in the air, is it really a proper NFL throw?

The players they have in McCaffrey, DJ Moore and Curtis Samuel suit the style they are trying to enforce on other teams but I think this merely could be covering over some cracks. Is this the play style because of Cam’s shoulder or is this a coincidence?

The problem is, every team needs a vertical threat; if it becomes too predictable and similar to the chart above, Christian McCaffrey may struggle to be as efficient as he has been thus far because teams will just load the box and ask Cam throw longer passes. Below is DJ Moore’s routes run vs the Rams, not even an indication that there was an interest in throwing deep. Unfortunately, i dont have Curtis Samuel or Greg Olsen’s routes run because i feel these would probably be a bit more vertically orientated.

DJ Moore routes run vs LA Rams

Back to Cam though, the reason I say all this is and that it is something we are intrigued in seeing in week 2 is that we still probably require further confirmation that Cam’s shoulder is #fine and that his play is not restricted by the multiples surgeries endured over recent years. We’d all love to see him at least attempt a few more deeper passes right?

What wont help is a short week this early on in the season so all eyes will be on Cam in Thursday Night Football as we try to ascertain whether or not everything is ok with #1.


Da do Ron Run Run da do Ron Run

IMAGE CREDIT: MONICA HERNDON

Arguably the single most disappointing rookie performance by anyone drafted in the top two rounds of last year’s draft was Tampa Bay’s Ronald Jones II, who recorded 44 yards at 1.9 a pop in the whole season. Already Jones has almost doubled his performance with 75 yards on the ground in Week 1 (at 5.8 a carry) along with an 18-yard catch. If Jones keeps up this rate of rushing he can end up with 1,200 yards of ground and pound.

The Buccaneers face the Panthers in Week 2, a team that gave up over 150 yards rushing and two scores to the Rams combo of Gurley and Brown. Jones may not be listed as the starter but if his contributions remain positive then he will take carries away from Peyton Barber. Buccs fans will likely be in for another season of mediocrity but they could have bit of a dusty gem that is starting to sparkle in the Florida sunshine.


Don’t You Forget About Me!

Image Credit – Sam Greenwood/Getty Images

It’s easy to forget that Sammy Watkins came off the draft board earlier in 2014 than both Mike Evans and OBJ. The former Clemson star has often been out performed when compared to his peers in the same draft class, but maybe, just maybe 2019 will be different. Watkins exploded out of the gate on Sunday with a 9 catch, 198 yard, 3 touchdown performance. Showing plenty of breakaway speed to pile up yards after the catch, he was the best friend of Pat Mahomes to open up the season. With the news that Tyreek Hill will miss 4-6 weeks through injury, Watkins is in a prime position to remind everyone of the talent he possesses for a red hot Chiefs offence that will surely have too much for the Raiders. Let’s see if his week 1 performance wasn’t just another tease of his brilliance and he can find some consistency.



Hype Train Derailed?

Image Credit – Ken Blaze/USA TODAY Sports

Freddie Kitchens wanted to know how his team would handle adversity, He gets his wish in week 2. Humbled by the Titans in a week 1 blow out, the eyes of the nation will be looking for a response on Monday Night Football. The talent in the skill positions offensively appears to be in place but can the Browns find a way to keep Baker Mayfield upright? He was harassed all throughout the opener as the obvious preseason concern was exposed by Cameron Wake and co. One storyline that has slipped under the radar in this one, is the fact that the Jets DC is now Gregg Williams who was actually the man in charge of the Browns during their renaissance in the 2nd half of last year. He will be out to inflict more misery on his former employers after not securing the job permanently. With the Rams ahead on the week 3 schedule could we already be talking about a must win game for the off seasons most talked about franchise?


Time to call a Gardner

IMAGE CREDIT: Getty

After winning a Super Bowl by coming off the bench in the regular season, the irony is not lost in Jacksonville, as the Jaguars starting quarterback Nick Foles is now the one injured whilst his backup is now in the spotlight. The big difference here is the guy in the spotlight is the 2019 version of Nick ‘who the hell is that’ Mullens.

Gardner Minshew bounced around three colleges in four years of eligibility, starting at tiny Northwest Mississippi Community College (who gave us Damon ‘Snacks’ Harrison) and ending up at Washington State, helping them to 11 wins in 2018. The Jaguars drafted Minshew in the sixth round of this year’s draft, and we all know what happened to a certain gentleman who got drafted in the sixth round. Minshew’s surprise debut was special, 88% completion rate, two tds and almost 300 yards in the air.

Minshew will be an underdog against the Texans, but we have seen they are vulnerable in the air (Brees torched them for 370 yards in Week 1) so this suddenly becomes a fascinating contest where we get to see if the grass is greener when you use a Gardner.


I’m arriving on a Jet plane

The Antonio Brown saga has taken a turn this week that is beyond any form of joke, but  keeping this strictly on the field the Jets are now part of this extrapolated storyline after the Patriots traded Demaryius Thomas to the Big Apple, the green ones of course.

Thomas comes into the Jets just as the incredibly unlucky Quincy Enunwa is put on season-ending I/R with a recurrence of a neck injury that cost him the 2017 season. Thomas is four years older than Enunwa and is more prone to dropping the ball, but the important factor of chemistry will be eased by the fact Demaryius was coached by Jets head coach Adam Gase when he was receivers coach and offensive coordinator in Denver from 2010-2014. Sam Darnold and Enunwa had worked on exclusive routes together and now it will be a case or re-establishing part of the offensive game-plan.

The Jets face the Burst Bubble Browns in Week 2 and they match-up well against Cleveland. It might only be Week 2 but the loser here goes 0-2 and starts facing a lot more scrutiny. Worth staying up for in the unsavoury hours of Tuesday morning to see how this one plays out.


Best Of A Bad Bunch?

Image Credit – Aaron Ontiveroz, The Denver Post

They say that defence wins championships, the Broncos will be hoping that statement rings true based on the state of their quarterback room. Joe Flacco looked as advertised in week 1, not the worst quarterback in the league but immobile (always) and inaccurate (at times).

Vic Fangio, the former Bears DC who will surely have a perfect game plan to get the best of the Bears at home whilst also trying to confuse Trubisky with disguised coverages, I expect a turnover feast.

Both sides need to bounce back from opening week defeats and maybe for one of the few times this year, Denver will get superior quarterback play.


Sh*tcago?

IMAGE CREDIT: Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

Talking of Chicago, many folk in Illinois including Matt Nagy, were not happy with the way the Bears performed on opening night.

“3 points is ridiculous” said the Bears HC after the game and he’s right. You do not win games scoring 3 points.

How will he, Trubisky and the Bears team rebound?

It gets even spicier once you realise that they travel to Denver, an already difficult away destination to get a W from. Why is it spicy? They not only travel to a hard and hostile environment, but they also travel to play a team whose HC is Vic Fangio, a guy who will know a hell of a lot about the team after being their DC last year.

Other storylines include how will the Chicago backfield work in the rotation? Will they lean to their defence once again to try and get a win on the road?

More importantly, are Chicago in trouble??

As for Mitch Trubisky, you want to give young guys time and we shouldn’t forget he only started 13 games in college but the fact is he still looks like a rookie in year 3. Several of his passes give opponents chances for picks, particularly when he throws across his body to the left.

Lot’s of intrigue in this one, just like a cabaret (Chicago reference).


DOING THE BARE MIN-IMUM

IMAGE CREDIT: AP Photo/Bruce Kluckhohn

Staying in the NFC North, a tasty game for the eyeballs at Lambeau.

This game is another one of those that the fully guaranteed Vikings QB Kirk Cousins has to try and get the monkey off his back in the sense that he can’t do it when it matters.

Only attempted 10 passes in week 1, so his arm is going to be sore and you would expect him to throw more in this one.

Packers squeaked a win at Soldier field on opening night whilst the Vikings could not have been more dominant vs a fancied Falcons team.

A win for a the Cheeseheads here wouldn’t mean at the very worst, split records against their divisional rivals, something Minnesota probably need to avoid to have a chance at winning the division or perhaps even a wildcard spot.

The same fixture last year ended in controversial tie with 2 missed Field Goals both at the end of the game and 2 in OT, multitude of bad referee calls on hits. It had everything. The final spice in the melting pot.

If Minnesota get the win here, it’ll be another “really unique” thing for Cousins this season.

Remember, dont do the wave!

Revenge time!

IMAGE CREDIT: AP Photo/Gerald Herbert

Every angle has been covered about the notorious non PI call from last year’s championship game (wonder if Paddy Power will do a special on whether a PI call will be reviewed).

Luckily for the Rams, this isn’t back at the scene of the crime but judging by LA’s fanbase, there will be a lot of Saints fans in the stands with referee uniforms on.

Can emotions stay in check for the Saints? Can Goff and company put the saga to rest? And will there be any more incidents as bad as that one back in late January?

Both of these teams met in a classic in the regular season too and this one should be no different. Two high powered offences with great players and playcallers. One for the everyone to sit down and enjoy on the late slate of games. Both will no doubt be expecting to make the post season and likely write in another log of this recently fierce rivalry.

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!

NFC North Breakdown

by Trevor Griswold – 7/8/2019

Last Season

Chicago 12-4

Minnesota 8-7-1

Green Bay 6-9-1

Detroit 6-10

Chicago:

Draft selections: David Montgomery (3.9), Riley Ridley (4.24), Duke Shelley (6.32), Kerrith Whyte Jr. (7.8), Stephan Denmark (7.24)

Offseason key additions: CB Buster Skrine, S Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, WR/KR Cordarrelle Patterson, RB Mike Davis

Offseason key departures: CB Bryce Callahan, S Adrian Amos, RB Jordan Howard, K Cody Parkey

Super Bowl odds: 14/1

Analysis:

The Bears had a breakout season last year led by the addition of Khalil Mack. The defence rocked opponents to the tune of a divisional crown. After a successful season the DC Vic Fangio departed for a head coaching position in Denver. Chicago did a wonderful job in replacing him and the rest of the players lost in free agency. Chuck Pagano will have reinforcements in the names of Buster Skrine and Ha Ha Clinton-Dix. The key to defending the North will be to continue shutting down opponents and grinding out the clock on offense. If David Montgomery has a fast start it will be a long year for the rest of the division.

Look out for:

Mitch Trubisky. He must continue to improve as this team is beginning to look like the Jaguars of a couple seasons ago. In order for this team to be a legitimate super bowl threat Trubisky must progress into a franchise QB.

Detroit:

Draft selections: TJ Hockenson (1.08), Jahlani Tavai (2.11), Will Harris (3.17), Austin Bryant (4.15), Amani Oruwariye (5.8), Travis Fulgham (6.11), Ty Johnson (6.13), Isaac Nauta (7.10), PJ Johnson (7.15)

Offseason key additions: EDGE Trey Flowers, CB Justin Coleman, WR Danny Amendola, TE Jesse James, RB C.J. Anderson, DT Mike Daniels

Offseason key departures: EDGE Ezekiel Ansah, CB Nevin Lawson

Super Bowl odds: 100/1

Analysis:

Head coach Matt Patricia is trying to emulate the New England Patriots, his old employer. By signing several ex-Patriots to the roster this team is equivalent to a New England Patriots B squad. Last season was a disaster in Detroit as it was riddled with injuries and losses. Detroit fans are growing restless with GM Bob Quinn and Matthew Stafford as the team hasn’t won a playoff game since 1992 and has never won the NFC North division. However, some may say Coach Patricia is re-aligning the ship towards calmer seas as this offseason looks promising. Key additions of Trey Flowers and Justin Coleman should help limit opponents scoring opportunities. Jesse James and first round draft pick TJ Hockenson should help in both the run and pass game this Fall.

Look out for:

This season will be the best ground game in Detroit since the great Barry Sanders danced around the field. Wit the addition of two new tight ends and a new offense coordinator that likes to run Kerryon Johnson may put up monster numbers this season.

Green Bay:

Draft selections: Rashan Gary (1.12), Darnell Savage Jr. (1.21), Elgton Jenkins (2.12), Jace Sternerger (3.11), Kingsley Keke (5.12), Ka’dar Hollman (6.12), Dexter Williams (6.21), Ty Summers (7.12)

Offseason key additions: S Adrian Amos, EDGE Za’Darius Smith, EDGE Preston Smith, G Billy Turner

Offseason key departures: EDGE Clay Matthews, LB Jake Ryan, WR Randall Cobb, CB Bashaud Breeland, EDGE Nick Perry, DL Muhammad Wilkerson

Super Bowl odds: 14/1

Analysis:

Green Bay has underperformed the last few seasons and Aaron Rodgers can’t seem to stay healthy. Matt Lefleur is now the man in charge in Green Bay. After an offseason of adding talent and protection for Rodgers there is no excuses to miss out on the playoffs once again. This team is built to win now, only time will tell if they do.

Look out for:the health along the offensive line. There is little depth behind the starting line. If one gets injured Rodgers may have to do a lot of running once again this season.

Minnesota:

Draft selections: Garrett Bradbury (1.18), Irv Smith Jr. (2.18), Alexander Mattison (3.38), Dru Samia (4.12), Cameron Smith (5.24), Armon Watts (6.17), Marcus Epps (6.18), Olisaemeka Udoh (6.20), Kris Boyd (7.3), Dillon Mitchell (7.25), Olabisi Johnson (7.33), Austin Cutting (7.36)

Offseason key additions: G Josh Kline, DT Shamar Stephen

Offseason key departures: DT Sheldon Richardson, C Nick Easton, RB Latavius Murray, RT Mike Remmers, G Tom Compton, S Andrew Sendejo, S George Iloka, CB Marcus Sherels

Super Bowl odds: 25/1

Analysis:

Last year there were incredibly high expectations for the Vikings. After signing Kirk Cousins to a massive deal the Vikings were unable to keep up with the NFC North darlings in Chicago. This offseason Minnesota was unable to resign many of their playmakers who helped them reach the NFC championship game two seasons ago. There is no more pressure than ever on Cousins to live up to his massive contract to fight for the division crown. With many holes left unfilled it will be a hard task.

Look out for:With a lot of losses in the defensive backfield I predict a regression as Harrison Smith struggles to cover the whole field. The defence as a whole will not be as intimidating after losing a lot of depth from a year ago.

2019 Season Prediction

Green Bay 10-6

Detroit 9-7

Minnesota 8-8

Chicago 7-9

Slot Machines

By Lawrence Vos – @nflfaninengland – 25th July 2019

It’s somewhat fitting that the global marketing machine that is the NFL is soon to have a presence in the city that never sleeps, where day is night and night is day, where it seems people actually have tried to break the will of chefs at an ‘all you can eat’ buffet, and where Mike Tyson’s tiger once got stolen by an orthodontist.

Las Vegas is the home to the grandest casinos and the brightest lights, along with an abundance of slot machines. In fact, it is estimated the region is home to around 200,000 slot machines. The biggest win from one of these machines was just under $40m by a software engineer from Los Angeles.

So why the gambling references in a fantasy football article you say? Well if we are to talk about slot machines, especially ones that can yield the jackpot then let’s examine 10 of the top NFL slot machines, just before you go looking for a 3rd or 4th wide receiver in your upcoming PPR (points per reception) fantasy drafts.

On our visit to Sin City let’s also stop-off at a diner or two and play the 5c machine by the broken payphone and see if we can get a few bucks worth of cheap fantasy slot action too.

To add some show-time flair let’s commence my personal countdown, sung by none other than the nippletastic Janet Jackson, who is only a few days from a two-month residency in yes, you guessed it, Las Vegas (in fact for just $4,102 per person you can get a VIP banquet ticket !!!).

Now I’m not dismissing the likes of Adam Humphries talent but unfortunately he has gone to the team where wide receivers die (the Tennessee Titans) so he does not make my top 10.

10) Braxton Berrios – New England Patriots

Berrios may not have caught a regular season ball in his short NFL career, but he landed in perhaps the single greatest place to develop, under the tutelage of Tom Brady and Sith Lord Belichick. Drafted in the 6th round of the 2018 draft Berrios was a fan favourite at ‘The U’, where he caught clutch touchdowns and established himself as potential replacement material for the likes of Danny Amendola or Julian Edelman if he ever made the pros. It was inevitable that he would end up with the Patriots, and with Edelman currently side-lined with a thumb injury this is Berrios’s opportunity to fight for a place on the 53-man roster. 

9) Trey Quinn – Washington Redskins

Unless you are a hard-core Redskins fan or you have some love for the 2018 Mr Irrelevant (the person drafted last) then you may not be familiar with this guy. Another product of the SMU wide-receiver factory that has produced the likes of Courtland Sutton, Emmanuel Sanders, Aldrick Robinson and Cole Beasley, Quinn is in a position to explode onto the NFL scene in 2019. He will likely have two quarterbacks throwing to him early in the season, which may not help in terms of building confidence. Quinn made a small cameo as a rookie, scoring once in a three-game stint in November and December. The stage is set for a huge upsurge in production – possibly 70 catches for 750 yards and 7 scores, but only if he can stay healthy for at least 15 games.

8) Randall Cobb – Dallas Cowboys

Not quite a Swiss Army knife, but not far off, Randall Ladonald Cobb II has been darting his 5ft 10-inch frame around NFL fields since 2011, starting 100 games and gaining over 5,000 yards on 470 catches. Cobb has been listed as a RB/WR back in 2012, but manning a slot position is the reason he is still around, and in a game of SwapSlot he now replaces Cole Beasley in Dallas. Cobb had a quiet 2018, in part due to injury, and is expected to bounce back in 2019 catching balls from Dak Prescott. Not necessarily great expectations for Cobb in Dallas, as Amari Cooper will look to put up All-Pro numbers in 2019, but he can carve out a quality role and hope for 60-70 catches and around 5 touchdowns.

7) Jamison Crowder – New York Jets

It was always a case of ‘next season he will be a breakout beast’ but it never quite happened in Washington, so the Redskins cut ties and Crowder ended up in the snazzy new Green of the New York Jets in free-agency. Before injury cut short his 2018 season Crowder had averaged 64 catches a year, and also had a cameo role as a returner, but occasional dazzling displays have never gained the momentum to move him into the realm of a fantasy stud. Now in the Big Apple and catching the pigskin from second year passer Sam Darnold we could finally be witness to a Crowder breakout that has been threatening for almost half a decade. With Darnold’s safety blanket Chris Herndon suspended and LeVeon Bell drawing coaches’ attentions Crowder roaming the slot could be an awfully familiar sight for Jets fans by the time the white stuff makes an appearance.

6) Anthony Miller – Chicago Bears

No not the second last criminal to be executed in Scotland (look it up), and no not the son of former Chargers legend with the same name, Anthony Miller the Bears second round pick from 2018 went a little under the radar in his first professional season. 33 catches were par for the course for a rookie, a huge dip considering his junior and senior seasons at Memphis yielded 191 catches for a smidge under 3,000 yards and 32 scores. The Bears were locked on grabbing Miller and traded up to grab him, and his seven rookie touchdowns were a pleasant surprise, they in fact led the Bears and were the most by a rookie since Willie Gault in 1983. Miller will be stronger and more confident in 2019 and will enjoy his trip to London, where he will be able to show a global audience that he is going to be a star.

5) Cole Beasley – Buffalo Bills

If Cole Beasley was a cartoon character he would be Scrappy Doo, as he is a hairy fighter who fights for every yard. Another free agent signing, moving from the warmth of Texas to the chill of upstate New York and the Buffalo Bills. Josh Allen was a fantastic fantasy rookie, surprising everyone with his legs, but now he has weapons, including John ‘Smokey’ Brown, All-Pro returner Andre Roberts and Beasley, who will become a snuggle blanket. With breakout candidate Robert Foster and Brown running the medium to long routes Beasley will be that 8 yards and a smack in the mouth kinda guy, and every team needs one. Beasley won’t set the stats sheet on fire but he will keep it simmering throughout 2019 with 75-85 catches and around 800 yards.

4) Dede Westbrook – Jacksonville Jaguars

I have taken part in a bunch of PPR (Points Per Reception) drafts so far and this guy seems to be one of my mid to late round picks that I simply can’t avoid. With a legitimate, but still erratic, quarterback Nick Foles now taking the reins in Jacksonville now is the time for Westbrook to make his first Pro-Bowl appearance. 16 games in 2018 and 66 catches was a big step in the right direction for a guy who made three playoff appearances as a rookie (in 2017) but failed to make any significant impact in those postseason contests. Now Westbrook can move that production up by 1.5x and push for an eye-popping 90 catches and over 1,200 yards. Not a big name now but give it a year and he will be a legitimate 2nd round fantasy pick.

3) Cooper Kupp – Los Angeles Rams

Blighted by injury, Kupp tore his ACL in a Week 8 game last season and missed the Rams playoff run, including a trip to the Super Bowl, where he was sorely missed. Jared Goff had a torrid time against the Patriots and the lack of a wily fox in the middle of the field was apparent. Now recovered Kupp has a high ceiling, and 2019 could see him catch between 90-100 balls. In half a season he managed 40 catches and a very respectable 14 yards a catch. He caught 73% of passes thrown and caught touchdowns in 5 of his 8 outings. Kupp is a terrier and his FCS college statistics gained at Eastern Washington are in fact legendary, that legendary that he has 6,464 yards in four seasons, more than Jerry Rice. Kupp is waiting to replicate his college production in the NFL and keeping injury free he can lead the Rams in targets, receptions and touchdowns in 2019.

2) Jarvis Landry – Cleveland Browns

Not so much a YAC (yards after catch) monster as he is a ball magnet, Landry does the dirty work, the 6-yard buttonhook on 3rd and 5. With OBJ taking up the mantle of the superstar wide-out in amongst the Dawg Pound, you can’t ask for any more than someone who runs beautiful routes and is not afraid to operate in the trenches. Landry has 481 catches in his 5-year career, mostly by playing disciplined football. If London had a 2020 franchise they could not do much better in the slot than grabbing Jarvis Landry and his superglue hands. Landry boasts the most receptions in the first four years of a career in NFL history, including two seasons with over 110 catches. Simply put Landry is on target to break NFL all-time catching records if he continues this pace. With Baker Mayfield throwing him the ball who is going to bet against him becoming the fastest player to 1,000 catches by 2023. (Incidentally the record is held by former Colts great Marvin Harrison who did it in 167 games.)

1) Julian Edelman – New England Patriots

If Tom Brady is the goat then Edelman is the ferret, wriggling into places that seem impossible to reach, making clutch catch after clutch catch. What more can be said for Edelman than winning a Super Bowl MVP award, one that he fully deserved in a game that even Patriots fans won’t want to watch ever again. Edelman has already written himself into Hall of Fame contention, and on that front is a published children’s author to boot. With Rob Gronkowski retired (well temporarily) Edelman will be the leader of the skill players both on and off the field. Providing his thumb injury heals nicely in August Edelman could produce a season for the ages with 100-110 catches and around 1,150 yards. Tom Brady may not be human, and that cyborg mentality has rubbed off on Edelman who has made more clutch catches than Ben Stokes and the rest of the England cricket team put together.