Half-Term report – AFC/NFC North

It’s just about the half way point in the NFL regular season. Sad times.

In this series of articles, we take a look back over those 8 glorious weeks of pigskin action and also project how the 2nd half of the season will play out.


AFC North

By Shaun Blundell (@Shaun_F10Y)

Current Standings

  1. Baltimore Ravens 5-2
  2. Pittsburgh Steelers 2-4
  3. Cleveland Browns 2-5
  4. Cincinnati Bengals 0-8

*BALTIMORE RAVENS*

Midseason grade: B+

How has it gone so far?

The Ravens came flying out of the blocks with bug wins against the Dolphins and Cardinals. Back to back defeats to the Chiefs and the Browns raised questions about if this team was “for real” but a subsequent 3 game winning streak including an impressive road win in Seattle sees the Ravens with a healthy lead in the division. 

Lamar Jackson is on historic pace for yards on the ground and has shown progress throwing the football in year 2. The defence isn’t as feared as it once was but still ranks highly and is 11th against the pass and 2nd against the run respectively.

Rest of Season Outlook

It’s fair to say that the schedule stiffens for the Ravens down the stretch. With games to come against opponents with a plus 500 record in the Patriots,Texans, Rams, 49ers and Bills. A weak division means this commanding lead would appear to be extremely secure however with a divisional game against each opponent and the lowly Jets providing the other contest. Even on a “worse case scenario” basis you have to fancy the Ravens getting to at least 9-7 from here and that should be ample to win the division.

Regular Season Record Prediction: 10-6 – Division Winners


*CLEVELAND BROWNS*

Midseason grade: D

How has it gone so far?

The product has certainly not lived up to the preseason hype. Steamrolled by the Titans and 49ers along with close losses to the Rams and Seahawks the Browns face an uphill tussle to get back to relevance in the division. A defeat coming out of the bye week to the Patriots has again raised questions about discipline and preparation 

A big road win at Baltimore was the lone bright spark on what has been a disappointing campaign. The promising end to the 2019 season seems like a distant memory and Baker Mayfield appears to be regressing in year 2.

Rest of Season Outlook

Ironically despite the record, everything is still in play for the Browns. The schedule is such that 5 divisional games remain and as stated earlier, they have won the only game of such nature to date. The plan will be to go 6-0 in the AFC North and hope that tie breakers enable them to find a way into a wildcard berth. For that to happen though they need to improve massively, reducing turnovers and penalties, a category that they lead the league in with an average of 10 per game.

The talent is there, can they turn it around?

Regular Season Record Prediction: 7-9 – Miss Playoffs


*PITTSBURGH STEELERS*

Midseason grade: C

How has it gone so far?

Smashed by the Patriots on opening night and losing your starting quarterback part way through your 2nd game isn’t exactly the way the Steelers drew up the plans for this season. The reality is though that the Steelers season was probably over before it had even really began following the QB injury. Mason Rudolph and Devlin Hodges have anchored the squad to some respectable performances and with a turnover differential of plus 7 they are getting opportunities within games.

Big names JuJu Smith-Schuster and James Conner have struggled to reproduce anything close to what they did a year ago and the offence lacks weapons outside these 2. Defensively the rank middle of the pack but an in season trade for Minkah Fitzpatrick signals intent to improve the playmaking on the back end.

Rest of Season Outlook

Similar to the Browns in that the division schedule is heavily back loaded so 4 games still to play in that regard and an opportunity if they can build momentum to make a late run. Difficult to trust that Mason Rudolph will be able to get them there however. Ranked 30th in both team passing and rushing there just isn’t enough production from this unit. The defence ranks 6th in points allowed so the Steelers will stick around in games but its hard to see anything better than a 500 record at this point.

Regular Season Record Prediction: 6-10 – Miss Playoffs


*CINCINNATI BENGALS*

Midseason grade: E

How has it gone so far?

A record of 0-8 will pretty much answer that question. With the worst record in the NFL at the week 8 stage the Bengals can’t get any worse. Ranked 28th offensively and 27th defensively, unfortunately there is not an obvious quick fix as the poor play is on both sides of the ball. 

Offensively AJ Green has not been able to dress after picking up an injury in the preseason and Joe Mixon has not been able to get anything going on the ground. Defensively the pass rush has been a little non-existent with only 9 sacks and they have not taken the ball away with any regularity.

Rest of Season Outlook

There are some winnable games on the schedule with games against the Browns, Dolphins and Jets all on the horizon so nobody should be panicking around a 0-16 season just yet. Unfortunately for the Bengals, wins will now likely only hinder draft capital as the season is well and truly lost. 

The remaining games need to be used as an assessment of the roster and a decision needs to be made with regards to the long term future of Zach Taylor. The Bengals are very likely to pick high in the upcoming draft and now that Ryan Finley is in the driving seat, his performances over the back nine will determine how high up in the rounds they take their next QB (if at all).

Regular Season Record Prediction: 2-14 – Top 3 pick

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NFC NORTH

By Chris Todd (@ctdk1980)

Current Standings

  1. Green Bay Packers (7-1)
  2. Minnesota Vikings (6-2)
  3. Detroit Lions (3-3-1)
  4. Chicago Bears (3-4)

*GREEN BAY PACKERS*

Midseason grade: A

How has it gone so far?

One of the most intriguing storylines to follow at the beginning of the season was the union of new HC Matt Lafleur and franchise QB Aaron Rodgers, so far the results have been good with the offence improving with every game.

In the early part of the season, it was the defence that was leading the team, DC Mike Pettine’s unit looking vastly improved from the previous year. Free agent signees Preston Smith and Za’Darius Smith have contributed hugely, added to standout corner Jaire Alexander and leading tackler in the NFL Blake Martinez, have led to a unit that may have conceded yards but has stood up when needed.

Given the injury suffered by leading receiver Davante Adams, Rodgers has entered one of his hot streaks at precisely the right time.

Rest of Season Outlook

The Packers look well set for a playoff run, time will tell whether it will take them all the way to Miami in February. With the head to head wins vs all their division opponents thus far, they are looking quite rosy to maybe even push for a wildcard round bye.

Regular Season Record Prediction: 12-4

*MINNESOTA VIKINGS*

Midseason grade: B

How has it gone so far?

Behind the leading rusher in the NFL in Dalvin Cook, the Vikings have bulldozed their way into the playoff discussion. Beyond this though, there has been some discord within the group, notably receivers Stefon Diggs and Adam Thielen expressing frustration with the offence. Kirk Cousins’ improved play of late has helped to quell these noises, with Diggs especially going on a tear of late to the tune of 453 receiving yards in the last 3 weeks. The defence has continued to perform at a high level throughout, with Danielle Hunter, Everson Griffen and Eric Kendricks particularly impressing.

Rest of Season Outlook:

With the talent throughout on the defensive side of the ball, and if the offensive line can support Dalvin Cook, this team can compete with anyone. They’ll need continuing support from Kirk Cousins though, where for some, the questions remain. They’ll need to settle the score with the Packers in the return fixture and also negotiate a tough stretch immediately starting with the Chiefs and then the Cowboys. Negotiate that, they could look at a first round bye.

Regular Season Record Prediction: 11-5



*DETROIT LIONS*

Midseason Grade: C

How has it gone so far?

The Lions have been competitive in every game this season and could easily find themselves right in the mix for a playoff spot. However, poor execution at crucial times have led to a middle of the pack record. They have lost late leads in 2 of their losses to the Chiefs and the Packers as well as in the tie with the Cardinals, with redzone inefficiency plaguing them in the Packers loss in particular.

There have been high spots for the team with QB Matthew Stafford having a very good year. Kenny Golladay and Kerryon Johnson have also been playmakers this year before the latter’s injury, TJ Hockenson has hinted at what might be to come from the TE position too.

Perhaps surprisingly, given HC Matt Patricia’s pedigree, the defence has been the bigger issue. They have struggled especially against the run, where Mike Daniels’ injury has been especially problematic.

Quandre Diggs’ recent trade to Seattle has been met with scepticism too, depriving the back end of the defence with one of their key players.

Rest of Season Outlook

Judging by the 2 teams that preceeded them in this Half-Term report, it is probably a long shot that the Lions taste January football this year, but as a long term view, the Lions fans must be optimistic about some playoff football sooner rather than later. That being said, their schedule does not look too tough with games against Oakland, a double header vs the Bears along with tussles against the Broncos, Redskins and Buccaneers.

Regular Season Record Prediction: 8-7-1


*CHICAGO BEARS*

Midseason grade: D

How has it gone so far?

The expected step forward for the Bears offence in the second year of HC Matt Nagy’s reign has yet to come to fruition. The offence currently ranks 27th in PPG, with both the run and pass games struggling to get out of second gear.

While QB Mitch Trubisky has yet to prove his pedigree as a starting calibre player at this level, playcalling has also been an issue at times. The coaches have seemed to go away from the run too early at times, placing too much pressure on the young signal caller. While Trubisky’s development is crucial to the future success of the Bears, at the moment the best chance of success would surely involve committing fully to the rungame and using Trubisky to take judicious shots downfield to keep the defences honest.

The defence is still performing at a very high level (if not quite the league leading unit of 2018), Mack, Trevathan, Floyd, Goldman, Clinton-Dix, Fuller et al are still a fearsome unit, although lineman Akiem Hicks is a big loss after his loss to IR following his elbow injury.

It wouldn’t be a Bears season without kicking troubles either, following Eddy Piniero’s potential game winning missed kick in week 8.

Rest of Season Outlook

While this team certainly could go on a run, they have a hard road back to the playoffs with games remaining against fellow NFC playoff hopefuls Eagles, Packers, Cowboys, Rams. Possibly the best case scenario for the Bears would be that week 17 at the Vikings ended up a playoff eliminator, they have a lot of work in front of them to get that far.

Regular Season Record Prediction: 7-9

Full10Lookahead – Week 8

By Tim Monk and Lawrence Vos

Week 8 sees the 3rd of the London games take place between the Bengals and the Rams, the Bears, Chargers and Eagles fighting to save their seasons and lot’s of revenge on Thursday Night. Let’s get our binoculars out and look ahead to week 8!


DOUBLE REVENGE GAME ON THURSDAY NIGHT

The last time the Redskins and Vikings squared off in Week 10 of 2017, Kirk Cousins was Washington’s QB and Case Keenum was Minnesota’s.

The last time a starting QB faced each other for both teams in same match-up was Norm Snead and Sonny Jurgensen for Eagles and Redskins in 1963-64.

Add into the melting pot that Washington’s Adrian Peterson is a Minnesota Vikings legend.

He’ll look to somehow overcome a high and low ankle sprain to try and stick it to his former team but will have his work cut out to get anything against a Kirk Cousins led team that has found their groove in the last few weeks through the air.

Lot’s of revenge for Thursday Night Football which is apt for the time of year and it remains to be seen which players are in scary movies and which players escape unscathed. You have to feel the Kirk Cousins and the Vikings will be the killers, with Peterson and the Redskins the victims.

MWAHAHAHA


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Sanu and Sanders slip away from the slop


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Image Credit: Kevin C. Cox / Getty Images

What a difference a day makes for two veteran wide receivers Mohammed Sanu and Emmanuel Sanders. Both are swapping conferences, and far more importantly they are moving from cellar dwellers to a 30th floor VIP champagne bar.

For Sanu, who was a genuinely nice guy when he came to Birmingham recently as part of an NFL tour party, he moves from a septic Falcons team to the only undefeated AFC team the Patriots. For Sanders he escapes the Flacco floundering Broncos for the only team in the NFC that has not lost a game, the 49ers.

Sanu will look to be the recipient of the targets that were going to Josh Gordon, who sadly went onto I/R on Wednesday. Sanu has excellent hands and will be able to support Brady by running routes that would have been made by the likes of Rob Gronkowski in the past.

Sanders has been signed to immediately move into the number one spot, to improve a rather eclectic bunch of WRs, none of whom were anywhere near as good as their top catcher – TE George Kittle.

The Patriots wanted Sanu before the start of the season, so they will be happy the Falcons form has been that bad that Atlanta has started jettisoning players before the half-way point in the season.

Both the Patriots and the 49ers play in the second game window this weekend, so expect to see Sanu and Sanders in some RedZone highlights on Sunday. 


Ty goes to the runner 


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Image Credit: Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports

If you are a Detroit Lions fan and you bought a replica shirt with second-year RB Kerryon Johnson’s surname on the back then you can arguably save a few quid after yet another high-profile injury claimed an NFL star.

Kerryon Johnson went down in the first half of his Week 7 contest against Minnesota and was yesterday put on I/R. Johnson was leading the Lions in rushing with over 300 on the ground. Next man up in the Motor City is rookie Ty Johnson who has shown some burst in his limited appearances so far this season.

Former Maryland Terrapin Ty had a stellar college career, racking up 4,196 all purpose yards, third highest in team history. Ty is a dual threat, as he impressed as a kick return specialist too, going to the house against Ohio State and Michigan. The Lions had high hopes for Kerryon Johnson before his injury, but apart from a 125 yard outing against Kansas City he has been underwhelming.

Ty was drafted in the sixth round by the Lions after a trade with the Falcons, with little expectation as a rookie. That has all changed now and Ty will be under the spotlight at home to the dreadful Giants defensive unit.

This is another situation to watch out for on Sunday if you tune into RedZone, as Ty makes his first start. Expect 70-80 yards rushing and 3-5 catches in a winning effort. 


Is it now Gumbo and cheese instead of Texas BBQ and California Rolls? 


At the start of the 2019 season the NFC ‘on-paper’ favourites looked to be the Rams and the Cowboys, just as Zeke signed his new contract.

Almost at the half-way point and one surprise package, the Green Bay Packers, are now heading the NFC power rankings with the New Orleans Saints just a smidge behind.

Teddy Bridgewater has performed admirably whilst future Hall of Fame enshrinee Drew Brees recovers from his injury, guiding New Orleans to five wins on the bounce and an overall 6-1 record. The age old adage of ‘offense wins games but defense wins championships’ has never rung truer than this season as the Packer and Saints would not both be 6-1 if their defense wasn’t performing at such a high level.

After being robbed of a potential trip to the Super Bowl thanks to a horrendous non-call the Saints have rallied around the injustice and come back fighting even harder. The Packers have got the ‘real’ Aaron Rodgers back, after a few seasons filled with injury and underperformance.

The 49ers may be the conference’s only undefeated team heading into Week 8 but anyone sensible knows the true class of the NFC at this point in time is the Saints and the Packers.

Both teams have very winnable games, the Saints play a rather hot Cardinals team, and the Packers travel to KC, to face Matt Moore and not Patrick Mahomes. 

Bungling back to Wembley

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Image Credit: Getty Images

The last time the Cincinnati Bengals travelled to London to play a regular season NFL contest they came away undefeated, but because they are the Bungles they didn’t come away with a win, they in fact tied a contest against the Washington Redskins.

The Bengals (0-7)  travel over this week to face the Los Angeles Rams (4-3) in the third English game of the season.

Andy Dalton is looking frustrated, the Cincy running game is looking non-existant and their defense is looking raggedy with nine games left to play. You only have to look at their ‘star’ running back Joe Mixon’s stat line last week – 10 rushes for 2 yards and 2 catches for 1 yard (ok yes one did go for a touchdown). That’s 3 yards of offence in a game. Mixon’s stats have been historically awful – in four out of seven games his ground output has been 35 carries for 39 yards. That can’t be all his fault, this ineptitude has to be shared with the offensive line and the play calling.

The Rams are fresh of a monster win over the equally poor Falcons, and will take this game as another walkover. For Bengals fans this season of woes brings back memories of Akili Smith the Bengals biggest bust at QB ever. Head Coach Zac Taylor could be out the door at the end of the season if he can’t show some sort of backbone.

Maybe Wembley is time to unleash rookie passer Ryan Finley. If this does happen remember you read it here first.


Eagles got Bills to pay?


Interesting matchup this weekend up in Buffalo as the Eagles travel over to New Era Stadium.

The Bills are an impressive 5-1 after victory over the lowly Dolphins last week whilst the Eagles are in all sorts of trouble after being embarrassed by Dallas on primetime. Philadelphia can’t lick their wounds for too long considering this is the start of a fairly difficult schedule and if they aren’t careful, could slip in to the “No football in January” quicksand.

The Bills matchup pretty well on both sides of the ball, with Josh Allen and John Brown having that exposed Eagles Secondary and the Bills pass defence being one of the best in the league.

On paper, not the most eagerly anticipated matchup of the year, but there is actually quite a lot on the line.


brees-y does it


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Image Credit: David Banks / Getty Images

Drew Brees is practising this week and hoping to play in the week 8 clash at home to the Cardinals. I, for one hope that he sits this one out and uses this and the bye week to get back to 100%.

The future hall of famer obviously knows his time is up soon and wants to savour every possible second on the pitch, but it is surprisingly short sighted in my opinion from #9 if he want’s to continue playing in to next season. A thumb injury is hardly the most likely to end a career but even putting yourself in a position to reinjure a less than 100% body part is not something that should be recommended. His backup and potentially next Saints starting QB Teddy Bridgewater has done more than enough in his absence, leading them to 5 straight wins against some decent opponents. OK, maybe the defence can take more than the fair share of credit for that run, but why risk Brees against Arizona on Sunday? I’m sure Teddy B can take care of business once more and hand the reins back to Brees in Week 10.

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Cleveland and Carolina try and take the 0


San Francisco and New England remain undefeated as we head into week 8 so undoubtedly everyone now looks at the teams trying to be the first to score a victory over those teams.

Out of the two teams this week, you have to feel that Carolina (+5.5 currently on the handicap) are the more likely to kill the streak as they travel to Levi’s Stadium to face the 49ers after a bye with the hapless Baker Mayfield and his Browns (+13) tackling the red hot Patriots in Foxborough.

Whilst both New England and San Francisco will start to see their schedule get that little bit tougher, the bullseye on their backs will also get that little bit bigger.


if at first you don’t succeed, trade, trade again


If you don’t know by now, the trade deadline shuts next week. Don’t worry, the USA doesn’t have an equivalent of Jim White in a yellow tie, but there’ll certainly be more deals going through on deadline day.

Look for veterans (AJ Green) or guys on rookie deals (Kenyan Drake) to keep the rumour-mill busy over the next few days as teams try and jostle around their rosters to help give them the best chance at not only January football and the Super Bowl but also more picks as those planning rebuilds can start to get a handle on the picks they have for the next NFL Draft. Like Free Agency, some may overpay, whilst some may get players at bargain basement prices. With Sanders, Sanu and Quandre Diggs already heading to their new teams, there’ll be plenty of movement to come before the trade deadline slams shut.


Dan Quinn bye bye?


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Image Credit: Kevin C. Cox /Getty Images

We’ve mentioned it a few times already, but keep an eye out on how the Falcons get on this weekend. Once again embarrassed at home against the Rams, they face a Seahawks team smarting from a defeat at home against the Ravens. If the Falcons lose considerably once more in their own back yard, you can fully expect Arthur Blank to fire HC Dan Quinn during their bye week and look to rebuild.

It’s somewhat telling that they allowed Mohammed Sanu to go to New England for a 2nd round draft pick (which is pretty much a 3rd, let’s face it) and the other usual life saving technique of firing their co-ordinators already happened last offseason. So the are not many lives left at all for Dan Quinn and it’ll be interesting to see the fight the players show on the field this Sunday.

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.

Full10Lookahead – Week 6

By Tim Monk and Lawrence Vos

Eau de Toilet Bowl

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In the game widely regarded as the #tankbowl, Bill Callahan takes charge of his first game as interim head coach of the Washingotn Redskins as they take on the Dolphins.

Many will see the loser of this one in prime position to bag that lucrative #1 spot in the 2020 draft but you could argue that the #1 pick is needed by one of these teams more than the other.

Miami have a plethora of early picks in the next few years after some trading that has gone on from the Dolphins front office but Washington are in a bit of a mess.

Seemingly lacking in direction, focus and with barely any foundations in which to build this team on for both sides of the ball, Washington and their fans probably wouldn’t mind a terrible performance here to get ahead in the race for #1, even if that means it gives them the ability to acquire more picks by trading back from the 1st overall selection which will be highly sought after next year.

Miami do not have much more talent on their roster but have the war chest of picks in order to ease the pain the Dolphins fans are currently suffering and hopefully the light is at the end of the tunnel.

I think Washington’s tunnel may have caved in.

There once was a time that the Washington Redskins and the Miami Dolphins were NFL powerhouses. The teams were gritty, and won games by using a dominant running game to outmuscle opponents and break their will.

In fact the two teams have met twice in Super Bowls, once in the 70s and the second time a decade later. The results were split, the 1972 Dolphins ended up undefeated and the 1982 Redskins survived a strike-shortened season to lift the trophy thanks to the irrepressible RB John ‘The Diesel’ Riggins. Fast forward to 2019 and you have debatably the most pitiful NFL matchup since the woeful games of the 2018 0-16 Dan Orlovsky led Detroit Lions. Even they managed a fairy-tale ending as the Lions DE Cliff Avril went on to win a Super Bowl ring with the Seattle Seahawks.

Either Case Keenum or Josh Rosen will be responsible for their once-proud franchise falling to 0-6 with absolutely no end in sight. Redskins new interim head-coach Bill Callahan will be feeding Adrian Peterson the rock faster than a five-year old after consuming a selection box at a Christmas Day game of Hungry Hippos. The Dolphins will be looking for absolutely anything to stick, including any balls throw in the direction of UDFA WR Preston Williams. If rubbernecking is your thing, and you like to slow down at a motorway car crash then get your dash cam at the ready as the footage from this game will be a live recording of a crime against football. It should just about be a Redskins win (there I said it and thus the curse begins) but who is to say that Washington GM Bruce Allen is huge military fan. After all he may like a ‘tank’ as much as the Dolphins ownership.

When these two teams met in Super Bowl VII one of the greatest mistakes ever was committed when Dolphins kicker Garo Yepremian had a kick blocked, and instead of doing anything sensible he passed the ball right into a Redskins player who ran it back for a touchdown.

It is absolutely possible that the only scorers on Sunday are defensive players. 


Can Cousins continue chucking?

Image result for kirk cousins
Image Credit: Icon Sportswire (Getty Images)

There was definitely a focus on making sure the Cousins throwing narrative was chucked out of the window vs the Giants. The Big Blue defence provided a timely opportunity for Cousins to quell the detractors (which included some of his teammates) of the fully guaranteed signal caller as he was able to have time in the pocket and throw multiple touchdowns in a game for the first time since week 16 last year.

Will that continue as they welcome the Philadelphia Eagles?

Whilst they aren’t quite as bad as the Giants defence, they are no world beaters either due to injuries. It will be interesting to see if Cousins continues to throw as much as he did last week or whether they revert back to type and hand the ball off to Cook.


Watson vs Mahomes

Image result for deshaun watson patrick mahomes
Image Credit: Kevin Jairaj /USA Today sports

2 quarterbacks that always put on a show get it on in week 6 with the Texans travelling to the recently Colt conquered Arrowhead stadium.

Both QBs combined account for just under 3400 yards so far this season and when they are healthy, they are definitely up there as the most exciting players to watch with the ball in their hands.

Mahomes is a bit dinged up, a feeling that Watson knows oh so well after having to resort to bus as a means of transport to and from games last season. Watson wasn’t actually touched by the Falcons last week so it’s possible this is the healthiest Watson will feel all season. The Chiefs’ defence isn’t the greatest, nor is the Texans, so we should get a shootout here in an all AFC clash.

On one of the rare occasions, Mahomes and the Chiefs have to bounce back from a defeat.


jack in the box

Image Credit: Mitch Stringer-USA TODAY Sports

People are starting to question the credentials of the 2018 #32 overall pick after a couple of poor performances.

A trio of interceptions on Sunday saw him fail his fantasy owners and now everyone is wondering whether or not Lamar Jackson has actually improved in his 2nd year.

First few games were plain sailing and as it turns out, against 2 very poor teams. Now that he’s faced a few tougher defences (and Arizona), things aren’t looking as rosy in the Baltimore garden.

We’ve mentioned on the NFL podcast before that he’ll have these questions to answer for pretty much every week of this season because of the nature of his play and the polarising opinion he gives the analysts and that will continue this week as he faces a Bengals team that should provide some respite for Jackson and his fans as a QB of similar ilk in Kyler Murray just got the win in the Jungle and a decent rushing performance.


Sunday Night Footb-oh

Image Credit – Joe Sargeant / Getty Images

Prior to the start of the season, the Steelers and Chargers were two teams expected to make the playoffs and produce an entertaining game.

Fast forward to now and this game looks like it’s not even worth the paper it’s written on.

Pittsburgh down and out for the 2019 and now down to possibly their 3rd QB after Mason Rudolph got walloped against the Ravens whilst the Chargers have whimpered so far this season losing last time out to Denver at “home”.

I think it’s fair to say that only the fans of these two teams will watch this one in the UK in the early hours, purely because I don’t think there are any Chris Collinsworth fans. Now here’s a guy who can get on your nerves…


Showcase showdown in London 

Image result for white hart lane nfl
Image Credit: Pitchcare.com

I haven’t got the intestinal fortitude to check if this has happened before in a regular season contest in England. This Sunday’s clash between the English noobs the Carolina Panthers and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers features three current major statistical category leaders.

The leading rusher, the leading tackler and the leading sack master all belong to teams who will be competing in the 26th NFL London matchup. Most surprising or impressive depending on your lens is Shaquil Barrett the Buccaneers edge who leads the league in sacks with 9 so far in 5 games. Not far behind him is the Panthers DE Mario Addison with 6.5 to his name.

What makes both of these feats truly impressive is that neither actually were drafted by any of the 32 teams. Addison bounced around three teams (Bears, Colts and Redskins) in his first two years before being signed by the Panthers in 2012. He has a solid 52 sacks in his career. Barrett, who has a Super Bowl ring from his stint with the Denver Broncos, had only started 15 games in four seasons at Mile-High, notching his best sack total of 5.5 as a rookie. Now he stands alongside the legendary Jets pass rusher Mark Gastineau (who sported a fine moustache) with the most sacks ever in both the first three and first four games in a season.

To see both players coming over to play at the impressive Tottenham Hotspur stadium will be a highlight for the 60,000 fans this Sunday. 


Fools Gold or real prospects? 

Image Credit: Tony Avelar/AP/Shutterstock

The Jimmy Garoppolo led San Francisco 49ers have been patient, they have had a plan and GM John Lynch and Head Coach Kyle Shanahan are starting to show that they know their way around a football field.

Both the GM & HC signed epic six-year deals just days apart in 2017, and vowed to bring back the 49ers to a time when they were as dominant as the New England Patriots are right now. The plans to progress were seriously scuppered in 2018 when both QB Jimmy Garoppolo and highly-touted RB Jerrick McKinnon both got injured. McKinnon is still crocked but Jimmy G has been kept upright and his team are now 4-0. No they have not faced the likes of the Saints or Bears yet, but to be the last undefeated NFC team is still an achievement.

The 49ers travel to L.A. on Sunday to play the reigning NFC champion Rams. This will be a true test if the 49ers are the real deal or a shiny lump of pyrite. The dual punching power of a bruising running game, made up of Matt Breida and Tevin Coleman is arguably the best backfield pairing in the league, and this is only enhanced by the lead blocking of the NFL’s top fullback Kyle Juszczyk. Jusczyzk to his credit can catch the ball too as evidenced by his 6 snags so far.

Being able to draft the premier defensive chess piece in this year’s draft in the form of Nick Bosa (Joey’s not so little brother) has helped a lot, but this is a team that boasts the league’s number one rushing attack (200 yards a game) and the second highest scoring offense (31.8). Not even laid-back Californian surfer dude types would have projected the 49ers to be undefeated heading into Week 6.

This is not the 49ers of old, but spending years shining the shoes of, and carrying the clipboard for Tom Brady looks to be paying dividend. 


Can someone tune up Le’Veon Bell

Image result for leveon bell
Image Credit: Michael Owens / Getty Images

After a year spent on his sofa chewing on sunflower seeds and experimenting no doubt with himself as the protagonist in a Madden Franchise, Le’Veon Bell returned to the NFL with a new team, a new attitude but an old goal, to win a Super Bowl. So far this is as likely as the Miami Dolphins going on an 11 game winning streak.

The New York Jets are languishing in the cess pool that is the lower half of the AFC East. Without a win, without a starting quarterback and averaging under 10 points a game is classic Bruce Coslet territory (an old and unsuccessful Jets head coach in the 1990s). Behind a poor offensive line Bell is averaging under three yards a carry, has zero rushing touchdowns and is only barely being tolerated by fantasy owners because he is projected to end the season with a whopping 108 catches.

If this was any other season the Jets would be the lowest power ranked team, but even they are unable to sink to the levels of ineptitude on display in South Florida. Sam Darnold, the saviour, is due to return to action after his bout of Mono in a tough contest against a crest-fallen Dallas Cowboys team who will be wanting to prove to doubters that the incredibly slow start against Green Bay was an anomaly. Bell when on fire is a sight to behold. His 2017 running style was a unique blend of power, patience and incredible vision, mixing snake hips with poisonous tongue darts between defenders. Bell at the moment is more komodo dragon than slippery lizard.

After the Cowboys allowed four touchdowns to Aaron Jones in Week 5 the Jets will at least go into this Week 6 matchup with some degree of hope, along with Sam Darnold at the wheel. Look to Bell to maintain his short passing route production, but ultimately enter Week 7 without a team victory in sight.


Third becomes first after Mason mashed

Not one to stay up for, but it is worth noting undrafted rookie Delvin Hodges will make his first start in Sunday Night Football for the Pittsburgh Steelers against the Los Angeles Chargers.

Hodges got a $1000 signing bonus and initially made the team because the Steelers traded backup Josh Dobbs to the Jaguars in September. Undrafted quarterbacks have performed miracles – the likes of Kurt Warner, Jake Delhomme and Mike Tomzak have all reached Super Bowls.

In Tomzak’s case he won a ring backing up Jim McMahon on the legendary 1985 Bears team, and for Kurt Warner he got a ring starting against the Tennessee Titans. Mason Rudolph, deputising for an already injured Ben Roethlisberger, suffered a horrific hit in Week 5 but managed to get up after minutes of collective breath holding. The NFL may be doing some things wrong but the concussion protocol is being taken dead seriously now, unlike in the past when players would be back far earlier that they should have been.

Nothing is expected from Delvin Hodges against a Chargers team that still cannot find a way to post a winning record in the first half of a season, but 2019 it seems is a year that will go down as one that saw unknown quarterbacks take centre stage and perform admirably. Hodges could be the man to spark Steelers WR Juju Smith-Schuster back to life after a somewhat soggy start to the season.

Without Antonio Brown (remember him) as his partner in crime prevention JuJu is looking like a rather distressed Robin, and not even the good one from the 1960s TV show, he looks like the Chris O’Donnell version who wore the red nipple-protruding chest piece.

The Chargers are going to have to face life without QB Philip Rivers at some point soon, so this is a much needed win that would put them at 3-3 and still in contention for a Wild-Card berth come the Winter. 

Full10Lookahead – Week 3

By Tim Monk (@Tim_MonkF10Y), Lawrence Vos (@NFLFanInEngland) and Shaun Blundell (@Shaun_F10Y)

Get your binoculars out folks, it’s time to look ahead to week 3 in the NFL.

Up 2, No good?

Image Credit – Bobby Ellis / Getty Images

2 weeks in and we only 9 teams are left chasing the perfect 16-0 season.

There are some familiar names there with the Chiefs, Patriots, Rams and Cowboys all sitting pretty, but heading into week 3 there are 5 other teams who have yet to taste defeat. Looking ahead to the week 3 slate of games I predict that the Ravens perfect start ends against the aforementioned Chiefs and despite the Saints QB worries I see them handling the Seahawks who have won their 2 games by just a combined 3 points so far. The 49ers, Packers and Bills however, open their matchups with great chances to all move to 3-0.

You would have had pretty good odds on these teams all being undefeated after 3 weeks and maybe it’s just a reminder that sometimes you have to look past stats because I’m not confident that any of those teams are particularly good.


The $84 Million Mistake

Image Credit – Dylan Buell / Getty Images

What is up with Kirk Cousins?

After a week 1 performance where he threw for less than 100 yards on just 10 pass attempts, he was nothing short of woeful in week 2. After throwing 2 interceptions and fumbling twice against the Packers the pressure is on for a bounceback performance against the Raiders. Cousins has even admitted himself that if he continues to play so poorly he will not stay the starting quarterback for much longer. That seems unlikely though considering he is guaranteed $60 million over this year and next as the only way out of that contract is to find a trading partner.

Just checking the market for an overpaid below average quarterback…….yea, not that hot.

The Vikings need to continue to pound the rock and wish away the next 15 months until they can stop overpaying at the QB position.

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Primetime in Cleveland

Image Credit – Adam Hunger / AP

The Browns took care of business on MNF but it’s safe to say that the level of competition increases quite dramatically for SNF.

If you want an indicator of how bad the Browns have been in recent times, Sunday will mark their 1st appearance on Sunday Night Football for 11 years. The home opener against Tennessee saw the hyped up Browns completely fall flat ahead of high expectations and although expectations for Sunday are somewhat tempered in comparison they will not want to put on a show in the national spotlight. It’s a tough assignment against an impressive Rams team however, and Aaron Donald will be licking his lips at the prospect of taking on the Cleveland offensive line.

It could be a rough night for Baker Mayfield and company for the 2nd time in 3 weeks or could it be the offseason hype begins to be released on the biggest of regular season stages?


Game of Jones

Image Credit: Al Bello/Getty Images

Here we go, first NFL start for Quaterback Daniel Jones, the #6 overall pick out of Duke in the 2019 draft.

Much scrutiny over the offseason on the selection and now it’s time to see whether or not the pick was justified.

Can the Jones be a competent enough QB at this early stage?

He performed well in his pre-season action; on 34 passes he had416 yards at a 85.3% completion percentage, 2TDs and 0 INTs. That’s even with the wide receivers at his disposal.

The boy has some wheels and is actually and under the radar athlete, something which may help unlock a bit more production out of this offence that is leaning so heavily on Saquon Barkley, their 2nd overall pick in 2018. But we don’t need to talk about that.

This is probably the end of the road for Eli Manning, now being benched for the second time after the Geno Smith debacle in 2018. The 2 time Super Bowl winner, with a  current starting W/L record of 116-116, will probably not see the field unless there is an injury to Jones.



Saints or Sinners

Image Credit: David Grunfeld NOLA.com

Talking of QB changes, there will be one in New Orleans in week 3. Of course, not by choice. Drew Brees right thumb got Donald’d and will now miss the immediate future.

We mentioned in our takeaways about Teddy B’s offseason decision bearing fruits, but now it’s time to put up or shut up for the 2014 32nd overall QB out of Louisville.

Not an easy game to start with as the Saints travel to Century Link field to face the 12 and then the Saints have a home game to face the red hot Cowboys in Week 4.

Bridgewater needs to lean on Kamara and Thomas, as the saints have done in recent times and try and get out of the stretch without Brees at .500 in order to stay in contention.


Myles better than anyone else

Image Credit: John Kuntz Cleveland.com

The Cleveland Browns have been known to make some truly godawful first round draft picks, but this has changed over the past two seasons with some big names who are helping transform a franchise from a Sports Illustrated side note to a front cover pin-up.

Part of that turnaround is thanks to 2017 number one pick Myles Garrett, who to date has recorded 5 sacks in two 2019 games. If he keeps up this phenomenal pace he could reach a record-setting 25 sacks in a season. Garrett joined Redskins defender Ryan Kerrigan to pay tribute to the WWE legend Shaun ‘The Heartbreak Kid’ Michaels with his post sack pose. Garrett may be a wrestling fan, but the XFL can only dream they will attract a defensive superstar that performs at 10% of the rate of Garrett.

NFL legend Lawrence Taylor was a participant in a WrestleMania back in day, and who would put it past the chiselled torso of Garrett one day stepping inside the ring. 


Frank-ly I’m speechless

Image Credit: Harry Scull Jr./Buffalo News

There is a scene in Rocky IV when late on in the fight a deflated Ivan Drago turns to his trainers and says: ‘He’s not human, He’s like a piece of iron.” Quite an apt description of Buffalo Bills running-back Frank Gore, who at 36 is still churning out fantasy relevant performances.

His 19 carries for 68 yards and a touchdown (his first since the end of 2017) in week 2 against the Giants proved that Gore will actually out-live cockroaches if there was a nuclear holocaust tomorrow. 14,836 yards rushing from someone who was drafted with a reputation for being fragile is remarkable.

Gore is going to be a solid fantasy waiver wire pickup, as he is on a team that likes to run the ball, and has teams dedicating time using a spy to cover Josh Allen. Gore can realistically top 75 yards against the Bengals in week 3. The single most awe-inspiring stat we have to ponder though is, that with 434 more yards, this season he will pass Barry Sanders, just stop to think about that. 


Is overtime a crime? 

When you are in an era where a current NFL head coach is nicknamed ‘Riverboat’ then you know that teams are taking more risks than they used to.

Week 2 saw two games take more twists and turns than Jeremy Wade trying to reel in an arapaima. Two games in particular saw both head coaches gamble (in one case due to a penalty) and go for two point conversions to take the lead in games:

One worked (Flacco to Sanders) and one didn’t (Fournette running in quicksand) but in both cases an extra-point would have tied the game.

We know that the extra-point is no longer automatic, but it appears there is a trend to try and kill games off early without going for a fifth quarter. With speculation rife that the NFL move to an 18 game regular season the chips-in attitude will get even greater. Overtime is a great spectacle and can bring some truly memorable plays.

The trend by coaches to try and end a game in regulation in week 2 may come back to bite them. In the case of Jaguars head-coach Doug Marrone it could be a decision that costs him his job. 


What a lovely Spread!

There have only been 11 occasions in recent times where an NFL team is favoured by 20 or more points against the spread. Those teams are 2-9 in terms of covering. Beware if you are betting these games!

The Cowboys face the Dolphins at home, who were whooped by New England by 43points in week 2 and are now even more talent poor after the exit of their 2019 1st round pick, Minkah Fitzpatrick.

New England have another opportunity to whoop another division rival after beating the Dolphins as  the Jets come to town and are down to their 3rd string signal caller.

Regardless, you should be able to get through your survivor and last man standing picks this week comfortably with both Dallas and New England.



So there you have it folks, week 3 is on the horizon and you are all filled in on the latest stories making the headlines. If you enjoy these articles or if there is something you think we can improve on, we’d love to hear it so let us know via DM @full10yards on Twitter or using the contact form on the website.

Enjoy your week 3 NFL action!

Full10Takeaways – Week 2

By Tim Monk (@Tim_MonkF10Y), Shaun Blundell (@Shaun_F10Y) and Lawrence Vos (@NFLFanInEngland)

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Hungry for more? We’ve got some more takeaways for you to digest looking back at week 2 in the NFL…

Heisman Hullabaloo

Image Credits: Associated Press

Week 2 saw two Heisman Trophy winning quarterbacks pitted against each other, as Kyler Murray faced the red hot Lamar Jackson.

There appears to be a pattern developing from both teams, with Baltimore dominating early and Arizona dominating late. The single biggest play of the game was not a touchdown or turnover, it was a frozen rope from L-Jax to rookie wide receiver Hollywood Brown, a 41 yard sideline streak on 3rd and 11 in the 4th quarter. That play alone dispels the myth that he has no touch on his passes. Murray was again let down by a non-existent running game in the desert, David Johnson was a pathetic 7 carries for 14 yards and 1 catch for 1 yard.

The Murray Show is a prime time viewing experience but without any resemblance of a running game it’s going to be an exhausting season with far more Sports Centre highlights than wins.

Gold – always believe in your Jimmy G

Image Credit: Andy Lyons/Getty Images

The San Francisco 49ers are named and kitted out to remember the 1849 Gold Rush, when folks flocked to California in pursuit of something special, that was hidden amongst the rocks.

The 49ers are already starting to shine, after a quiet but highly efficient 2-0 start.  72 points and two road wins is a fantastic start against any opponent, and following that up with a home opener against a spluttering Steelers team this could be the most under the radar 3-0 team in the league.

Last season Jimmy G only lasted three games, now he is hoping for a post-season berth. Perhaps the biggest indicator of success is the fact Garropolo has only been sacked once all season, but the news that perennial Pro Bowl tackle Joe Staley is out for up to half the season is a huge blow. The Niners will need to find a replacement immediately to fill a huge hole.

Big call for Big Len but Big bust

Image Credit: Getty Images

The Jaguars will face the Texans at Wembley in their divisional rematch, here’s hoping the game is a better matchup than this forgettable encounter in Week 2.

Well almost unforgettable, as this game came down to a botched two-point conversion when Leonard Fournette failed to take a handoff the required two yards for paydirt. Until that point the NFL’s new moustachioed maestro Gardner Minshew had been conducting the Jaguars orchestra to perfection. Then Doug Marrone decided to opt for the triangle player to play the tune, and he hit a bum note. Music to the Texans fans ears, who have now moved to 1-1.

The Jaguars are still failing to impress and this is frustrating the hell out of their star defensive player Jalen Ramsay who has been quoted this week to say he just wants to ‘f%&*king win’. No one blames him, and whilst Minshew is a media darling and a cult hero, he is not winning games and that is all that matters.

Buffaload of this!

Image Credit: Associated Press (AP)

Buffalo are now officially the front runners to challenge the Patriots in the AFC East;

Miami, well are Miami. New York just lost their star QB until further notice whilst the Bills are quietly going about their work.

Yes, they didn’t beat much in the form of the Giants and their back-to-back “road games” were in the same stadium not far from home. But all you can do is do your job and beat what is in front of you. No fuss, no hassle. After their first drive ended in a punt, 3 straight touchdowns for the Bills was enough to get the W. Josh Allen had a much cleaner game; No turnovers (after 4 last week), over 8yds per attempt, completing passes to 8 different receivers

They have a solid Defence and enough of offence (though we’ll have to monitor Devin Singletary’s injury) to make it to the post season, especially when the other likely middling teams such as the LA Chargers, Pittsburgh, Cleveland are stuttering.

I’m not expecting a divisional challenge as such to the Patriots, but they are certainly building towards being the team that will have first dibs on divisional title aspirations when Belichick and co come back to the field.


Steelers digging a Pit for themselves

Image Credit: Gene J. Puskar/Associated Press

The roses are wilting in Pennsylvania and is Mike Tomlin a dead man walking in terms of head coaching tenure at the Steelers?

A deflating loss to the Seahawks which in a vacuum cant do too much in the way of wildcard hopes, but now at 0-2 they are staring down the barrel already with the injury fallout. Long road trip west next week to face the 49ers which is not too far from the crime scene of their shocking defeat last year against the Raiders.

You cannot overstate the importance of this game and a loss here for the Steelers and they are already done if they aren’t done already;

The back end of the schedule is not too difficult with matchups against Dolphins, Bills, Jets, Cardinals and Colts along with 2 divisional games vs the Bengals but if they are 2-4 going in to the week 7 bye, they may struggle to make the postseason. Add in to that the loss of Big Ben for the season with an elbow injury, James Conner is nicked up and the defence being even worse than the offence. I’m not saying the final nail is in the coffin yet because i think Mason Rudolph is serviceable, but the Steelers franchise landscape as we know it could be all change and Mike Tomlin may be about to throw in the terrible towel.

On a more positive note, Steelers #1 WR JuJu Smith-Schuster became the youngest player to reach 2,500 career receiving yards in NFL history, previously held by randy Moss (per NFL Research). Might take him a bit longer to get the next 2,500 though…


Pack mentality

Image Credit: Quinn Harris/Getty Images

Even at this early stage, the Packers take a strong grip of the NFC after their dominant 1st quarter performance vs divisional rivals, the Minnesota Vikings.

TD throws the Jamaal Williams and Geronimo Allison complimented with a TD run by Aaron Jones saw the Packers blow away the Vikings D in the first home game for the Packers.

From that point on, the Packers always had the number of the Vikings and just whittled down the time on the game clock.

It could however, have been a different story if Kirk Cousins was not picked off late in the 4th at the Green Bay 8 yards line on a pass intended for Diggs. The throw itself was very reckless; 1st down, scrambling to the right, on the back foot and lofted in to double coverage. Not a good decision.

This is another row to put into the table of “Times Kirk Cousins didn’t show up in big games” database. Throw the ball away and dial up another play. Redzone turnovers are brutal in this league.

With the win, the Packers now have not only a game cushion over their 2 fiercest division rivals, but also a win, meaning that at worst, they can only split the series with the Bears and the Vikings should Head to head come in to play at the end of the regular season. Judging by the performances of the 3 teams so far, it probably wont.


Injuries Are A Real Kicker

Image Credit – Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times

The LA Chargers would have been a popular Superbowl pick for many in the off season , 2 weeks in and that looks like a very optimistic prediction.

A team that feels as though it has to deal with more injuries than any other in the league has once again been struck with the dreaded curse and is missing key players in Derwin James, Hunter Henry, Russell Okung. Following the game against Detroit on Sunday we may be able to add Joey Bosa and Adrian Phillips to that unwanted list and I haven’t even mentioned Michael Badgley yet.

Why is the kicker significant? Well despite all of the injuries and a generally sloppy game the bolts still could have escaped Ford Field with a victory if they had a solid kicking performance but they left 6 points on the field with 2 missed field goals.

It would be harsh to criticise a punter stepping in whilst Badgley recovers but if the Chargers are serious about a deep playoff run then surely they should bring in a specialist!


Real Life Madden

Image Credit – Daniel Shirey/Getty Images

“He scores when he wants,” the chant heard in many a UK football stadium should be aimed squarely at Patrick Mahomes.

278 yards and four touchdowns would be a decent stat line by the end of the game but that was what Mahomes delivered in the 2nd period as the Chiefs quickly erased a 10 point deficit with the most productive quarter of play delivered by a QB since Drew Brees way back in 2008. The last 5 passes that he attempted to close the quarter covered 42, 32, 43, 27 and 39 yards respectively with 3 of those bombs finding the endzone. Arguably his best pass was one thrown back across his body and was called back by penalty, had it stood he would have had over 300 yards in the quarter.

Last week it was Sammy Watkins lighting up the secondary, this week it was Demarcus Robinson and Mecole Hardman. Moral of this story…. Mahomes is nothing short of incredible, whoever is lining up at wide receiver for the Chiefs he puts up video game numbers.
A real treat for the fans in the coliseum, who witnessed the final game where the baseball dirt was present on the field. Small victories.


Why Draft A Top 10 Clipboard Holder?

Image Credit – Sarah Stier/Getty Images

Interceptions, poor play and regression. Unfortunately for fans of the Giants and the Dolphins, they are the 3 things that initially spring to mind when I think about Eli Manning and Ryan Fitzpatrick.

Another disappointing Sunday saw more touchdowns thrown to their respective opponents as opposed to their own teams. The real frustration here though is that nobody is really surprised!

Every man and his dog has seen Eli get worse and worse over the past few years and as fun as the occasional flash of Fitzmagic is, it happens far too infrequently for a starting quarterback.

Look at the side-lines and the potential starting quarterbacks of the future are standing there holding clipboards. Josh Rosen was a top 10 pick a year ago and Daniel Jones was the Giants first rounder this year, finally it’s time for Jones to get on the field when it matters, surely it’s time for Rosen too?

ANYONE GOT CHANGE OF A DOLLAR?

Image Credit: Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images

Couple of teams need a Quarterback! Injury at the starting QB position is the most brutal and immediately scuppers your chances of winning a Super Bowl. They are called backups for a reason. Teddy Bridgewater, who turned down a chance to start in Miami and preferred to stay patient in New Orleans has finally got his chance after years of turmoil and seemingly made the right choice (and only choice; it would have done even if he never played for the Saints because you don’t want to be in South Florida at the moment).

Brees is expected to miss around 6 weeks with the thumb injury which is causing Brees to not even be able to grip a football. Yikes.

The 32nd pick in the 2014 draft out of Louisville has a 17-12 record as a starter, 57% completion percentage and a 29-23 TD:INT ratio thus far in his career. He now gets the chance to show everyone if he still has it and is more than just a backup.

The New York Jets, Pittsburgh Steelers and potentially the Carolina Panthers may have their secondary signal callers in action this weekend. The Fantasy waiver wires will be burning this week!

Did you have that change of a dollar?

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

Where Do They Go From Here? Vikings

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 Minnesota Vikings.

Don’t forget to check out the NFC North podcast where we talked to Paul Berryman who plays for the Dunfermline Kings and asked for his thoughts.

How Did Last Season Go?

Comparing to most recent previous seasons, this season was nothing short of a disaster.

After getting to the Championship game in the 2017 season and “upgrading” at the QB position, the Vikings fell well short of expectations which would’ve been to appear in the Super Bowl. Dalvin Cook could not stay healthy again and there were more holes in the o line than a extra large cheese grater. There were more than eyebrows raised when Buffalo came in to town in week 3 and annihilated them in the first half.

Firing their OC John DeFillippo midway through the season, which showed how happy they were with the way the team were playing on offence.

That said, apart from that, not really any surprising results in the season, with all their other losses coming to teams who made the playoffs so it’s fair to say the winners’s schedule could be as much to blame as any other excuses.

Bottom line is that there was no January football for Minnesota thus, a failure of a season.

Housekeeping

Minnesota pick at 18, 50 and 81 within the top 100 and are 2nd worst in terms of cap space available at the time of writing.

Outgoings

Anthony Barr, Sheldon Richardson and Latavius Murray are the most notable names on the Free Agency market. Oh, and Trevor Siemian. Silly me.

Incomings

Due to the lack of cap space, I’m not sure we’ll be troubled too much by the Entrance door apart from the draft. Depth on the offensive line is an obvious need as well as a bit or two on defence to cover the departures. They will need to replace Latavius Murray due to Cook’s unreliability in terms of staying on the field too.

Wouldn’t be surprised to see Minnesota take a Tight End in the draft considering the talent in the 2019 class.

Outlook for Next Year

Looking at the landscape of the division, the outlook is a murky one.

The schedule will ease up slightly but have a difficult away schedule including visits to Dallas, Los Angeles Chargers, Kansas City and Seattle to add on top to their divisional away trips to Lambeau and Soldier Field. As always, a lot will come down to the divisional games, where the Vikings went 3-2-1 last season.

I’m not sure how much more Cousins can improve from last season after passing for over 4000 yards, 30 TDs and 10INT.

Prediction

They will need to be more effective on the ground behind an improved Offensive line and have a healthy Dalvin Cook to play January football next season. That said, I’m not convinced Green Bay are totally right at the moment so the chances are there for 2 teams to come from the North for the playoffs next season. Minnesota Vikings to be one of those teams. If they can sort out their line issues, they could quite easily take the division title back.

Fantasy Football

Kirk Cousins – later round QB, low QB 1/QB2

Dalvin Cook – 2nd Round , mid/low RB1

Adam Thielen – 3rd Round, WR2/ WR1 upside

Stefon Diggs – 3rd Round, WR2 / WR1 upside

Kyle Rudolph – just no.