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The Fantasy Player Profiles – D’Andre Swift

2020 season totals: Games:13 ATT: 114 Yards: 521 Y/A:4.6 TD: 8 FUM: 3 Targets/Receptions: 57/46 Yards:357 Y/R:7.8 TD: 2 FPTS:189.8 (PPR)
(source: fantasydata.com)

Then:

If you picked up Swift for your fantasy team last year as I did, then you will remember the pain and heartache. The dreaded ‘Running Back Committee’ was in full force in Detroit, and it didn’t resemble a 3 headed monster, but more of a 3 headed kitten. Swift had to share carries with Kerryon Johnson and the fountain of youth that is Adrian Peterson for most of the season. It was only until Week 10 when Swift finally became the starter after averaging just 13.2 touches a game. For a guy with his dual-threat skills, this was nowhere near enough.

To compound the misery, the team wasn’t (and still isn’t) very good. Coach Matt Patricia and Darren Bevell failed to get anything going, and the Lions limped to a 5-11 record which left them bottom of the NFC North.

Swift displayed some shows of promise, however, with a standout performance against the Jags where he became the first Lions rookie running back to rush over 100 yards and score 2 touchdowns since Barry Sanders back in 89’. The former 22-year-old Georgia Bulldog has the attributes to perform at a high level. Now, it’s about taking the next step.


Now:

The Lions are in a transition and effectively starting again. Patricia, Bevell, and the boys are gone. Matt Stafford, the man handing the ball off to Swift last year, has gone as well. Heck, even Kerryon and Peterson have gone. This means expectations should be low, and pressure minimal. The perfect storm for a sophomore running back?

What will aid Swift’s cause was the selection of Penei Sewell in the draft. Sewell, one of the top prospects, will join Taylor Decker and elite centre Frank Ragnow in quietly one of the best O-Lines in the league. With new QB Goff adjusting to the new playbook, and the lack of weapons at wideout, it is a fair assumption the Lions will be run-heavy this year.

How many touches exactly Swift will get remains to be seen, but murmurings from new OC Anthony Lynn indicate he believes Swift can be that all-important ‘3 down back’ for fantasy players. This will surely include more receptions as well in the short passing game to make Goff feel more comfortable, as Swift has demonstrated in the past, he’s more than capable.


Prediction:

I genuinely believe Swift is bordering on RB1 territory this year. Barring injury, there should be a healthy uptick in carries and receptions, ideal for those in PPR leagues. There is the danger the Lions fall behind early and a lot, which might leave them abandoning the run more than they would like. But quite frankly, Swift is one of the best, if not the best, offensive weapons they have now, so I expect him to be involved heavily regardless.

Feature Image Credit: Mike Mulholland 

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NFL Week 12 – Full10Takeaways

Welcome in to the Full10Yards Week 12 Takeaways. While you are tucking in to your Tuesday (other days are available) dinner, get some of these side dishes round your chops.

Don’t forget, for a more in-depth look at the Week 12 games, there is our regular Monday recap show available on Twitter/YouTube/Facebook or through podcast outlets.

Let’s get to it then. Here are our takeaways from the weekend’s action:


No quarters given?

The first quarter of football in Tampa Bay for the Kansas City Chiefs was just electric. Everyone scrambling through KC record books and also NFL ones too. MVP clubhouse leader Patrick Mahomes and star wideout Tyreek Hill put on a show combining for seven connections, 203 yards and two receiving TDs.

Tyreek Hill of the Kansas City Chiefs celebrates a touchdown following a catch during their game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Raymond James Stadium on November 29, 2020 in Tampa, Florida.
Mike Ehrmann – Getty Images

Fantasy owners who had thrown in the towel rejoiced and you’d have been forgiven in thinking the Buccaneers would have done too.

Whether the Chiefs took their collective foot off the gas or whether it was the Buccaneers’ half-time adjustments giving them the failed late comeback attempt is up for debate, but we have seen a plethora of instance where the Chiefs just blow teams away in a quarter.

Just go back to last post-season, when the Chiefs put up 28 points against the Texans in the second quarter of the divisional round. And we all remember the three TDs in the fourth quarter of the Super Bowl.

It’s anyone’s guess as to how you try and stop the Chiefs. From a defensive standpoint, it’s hard to draw anything up because if you play zone coverage or play with a big buffer to the WR, they’ll just pick you apart underneath with Kelce, Watkins and the running game; play too aggressively and/or blitz, and you get performances like the one we saw from Tyreek Hill.

It’s just going to be a case of fighting fire with fire, which makes the Chiefs’ match-ups mouthwatering when they occur (we all remember the 54-51 game against the Rams in 2018!).

The Chiefs stay hot on the coat tails of the Steelers (who possibly play on Wednesday) and with the Steelers offence probably being one of the better ones in the AFC, I don’t think anyone will scoff at a potential Steelers vs Chiefs AFC title game. Yum yum.


The Thanksgiving Day turkey finally stuffed

You hear that? That’s the sound of Detroit Lions fans around the world (but mainly in Michigan) rejoicing at the dismissal of HC Matt Patricia and GM Bob Quinn. Prior to Patricia’s stint, Jim Caldwell and “Jim Bob” Cooter were often ridiculed for their results each season. My, how some of them probably wish that these guys were still here.

Patricia leaves with a 13-29-1 record from his first stab at the head coaching role and you have to wonder whether he’ll get another. Maybe he’ll end up back in New England with Bill and Josh, but the Mad Scientist certainly needed more than a few rockets up their backsides to get anything positive from this team.

Detroit Lions part ways with Matt Patricia and Bob Quinn
Nic Antaya – Getty Images

Blasted for consistently failing to adapt his defence, Patricia did have injury-plagued seasons with the likes of Chase Daniel, Jeff Driskel and David Blough captaining the ship. But even so, there were enough stars on both sides of the ball throughout that roster to make his finishing record something you just have to shake your head at.

The back office have said that they endeavour to get the next hiring right and you can argue that the Lions are in worse shape now than they were pre-Matt Patricia.

There is a decision to be made at quarterback and don’t be surprised to see a few teams sniffing round to acquire his services comes next season, but the cap is not in great shape after huge deals and overpays given in the past year or two to the likes of Halapoulivaati Vaitai. Their defensive front is putting zero fear into opposing offences and needs an overhaul. they have a few pieces on offence with rookie RB D’Andre Swift and star wideout Kenny Golladay, but he is in the last year of his rookie deal.

For the Detroit faithful, they’ll breathe a sigh of relief, probably fist-pump a little bit and then it’ll likely go back to the usual cycle of underwhelming and the franchise continuing to play non-meaningful games on Thanksgiving (sorry Lions fans).


QB or no QB, that is the question

I think it’s a decent stretch to say that there no quarterbacks on the field in the New Orleans “match-up” with the Denver Broncos.

Due to Drew Lock and the rest of the Denver Broncos QBs being removed from the game due to Jeff Driskel’s COVID diagnosis as a result of the close contact protocols, Kendall Hinton – the practice squad WR – got his chance to shine and accumulate a little niche fan club on the field in Week 12.

Hinton has actually thrown a TD pass more recently (at Wake, 2017) than his opposite number, Taysom Hill on Sunday (BYU, 2016).

I never thought I'd be back taking the reins": Kendall Hinton, Broncos find  silver linings in rookie's debut
Aaron Ontiveroz – DP

While no-one knew what to expect on the field from him and ultimately wasn’t too much to shout about when the dust had settled, Kendall must have had one of the craziest 24 hours for an NFL player.

“I can easily say it has been the most eventful 24 hours of my life, but when I got the call, it was pure excitement. I would not say this was how I had it planned out in my dreams, it usually doesn’t work out how you want it. So just getting this opportunity and this experience was amazing.”

Kendall on going into the Saints game, his experience and his reflection on the game vs the Saints.

Hinton got to realise a dream, of being introduced as an NFL starting QB, coming out of that tunnel last with his name announced and got a decent pay cheque at the end of it.

He’ll tell his grandkids about his one completed pass to tight end Noah Fant if maybe not necessarily focusing on too much else.

Hinton ended up with 2 INTs and just one completion on nine attempts. For the rest of the Broncos, Phillip Lindsay, Melvin Gordon and even Royce Freeman (who was initially slated to get the nod in the wildcat system at QB) all took direct snaps, but the Broncos putting up three points was as probably as good as it was going to get.

Kendall though joins the Google search trending hotlist, just under namesake Jenner and a lovely quaint village in the Lake District (OK, I cheated on that one, I’ll take the extra L).


Taking it on the Chinn

A bit of defensive appreciation here.

It comes in the form of Carolina rookie DB Jeremy Chinn.

The 2020 second round pick out of Southern Illinois managed to score not one but two touchdowns in the game against Minnesota. Even better still, it was on BACK-TO-BACK PLAYS!

NFL: Jeremy Chinn scores fumble-return TDs on back-to-back plays
Bruce Kluckhohn – AP

After scooping up a fumble and returning it for 17 yards into the end zone, he then stripped running back Dalvin Cook and returned it 28 yards to rack up 12 points for the Panthers.

The team effort ultimately fell short as Kirk Cousins found a fourth quarter performance from seemingly nowhere, but in 2021, I’m certainly not going to be sleeping on the Panthers. This team is going to go places.

I wonder if they sniff at Matthew Stafford…? (see above)


InZane in the membrane

The Arizona Cardinals lost vital ground in the NFC West division race with their loss in New England in Week 12.

A Nick Folk 50=yard FG as time expired was enough for the Patriots to take the win 20-17. The drive prior though, Zane Gonzalez missed a 45-yard kick with 1:52 on the clock, giving Cam and the Pats’ offence enough time to engineer a game-winning drive.

Charles Krupa – AP

That loss could be huge for the Cardinals with the Seahawks winning and the 49ers tightening the pack up a little bit.

It certainly wouldn’t be surprising to see all teams in the NFC having a non-losing season, which makes losses like these for the Cardinals even more crucial.


Falcons swoop on Carr crash in Atlanta, AFC team playoff pileup

The week after taking the Chiefs to the wire at home, Derek Carr and the Raiders laid an absolute egg against the Falcons.

To take the car analogy further, it was a total write off too as we saw some Nathan Peterman on the field after three fumbles and one interception from Carr returned for a pick-six, effectively sealing the game in the middle of the third quarter.

The loss leaves the Raiders at 6-5 and currently the number #9 seed (this is written before the Ravens/Steelers game) and while the loss was against a cross-conference opponent, it’s a game you felt the Raiders needed to keep pace with the pile-up currently in the Wild Card hunt.

They have a change to get right next week against the Jets, but something just stinks in that game to me that the Jets get their first win, which will kill the Raiders for 2020.

For the Falcons, nobody saw this coming, not Deion Sanders, Jerry Glanville or the ghost of Elvis Presley (who the former Falcons coach would leave tickets for).

The Falcons stifled the Las Vegas Raiders to the extent they got the same amount of points defensively in one play as Gruden’s gang managed in 60 minutes of football. Atlanta’s D forced three Derek Car fumbles (he lost all three), got five sacks and an interception, and dominated the game from start to finish.

The Falcons are a very respectable 4-2 since installing interim head coach Raheem Morris. Morris has got the Falcons playing with some pride, and is doing himself a world of good in terms of securing the post in the longer term.

A laughing stock for the majority of the season, if anyone placed a wager that the Falcons would beat the Raiders by 37 points, I want to see the betting slip… and then get their tips for all this week’s upcoming games.  



Brissett sneaks under the radar

It was quite the week for back-up QBs, who were standing in for injured starters (Brandon Allen) or coming on when the QB1 got injured mid-game (Colt McCoy). Some weren’t even quarterbacks (much respect to Kendall Hinton in Denver). So it’s understandable that you may have missed the latest cameo from Jacoby Brissett, buried deep in the stats from the Colts’ 45-26 hiding by the Titans.

Nothing much went right for Indy on Sunday, from clock management issues to Derrick Henry running amok. The result was essentially set in stone by half-time, after ‘The Beaver’ (TM Lawrence Vos) had rumbled for 140 yards and three touchdowns. He ‘only’ got 38 more after the break but he’s definitely doing everything he can to get his name into the MVP conversation.

By contrast, the Colts’ offence recorded just 56 yards rushing but three of those – courtesy of Mr Brissett – were no less intriguing than Henry’s 178. Now a bench-warmer in Indianapolis after the arrival of Philip Rivers, Brissett went 0-for-2 for passing, but rushed four times for three yards and two touchdowns.

Stacey Revere – Getty Images

OK, so I wouldn’t go scouring the waiver wire to add him to your fantasy football team just yet but he’s carved out a niche for himself, despite sitting out for all but a few snaps each week. Head Coach Frank Reich has started to use him in two contrasting but specific scenarios: when the Colts need a quarterback sneak (Philip Rivers is not a fan, having attempted just one in the last five years) or when they need to throw it halfway down the field (arm strength was never Rivers’ USP). Everything else falls under young Pip’s remit but for the opposite ends of the spectrum – the 1-yard QB sneak or the Hail Mary – it seems Jacoby’s the man.

He was wheeled on to hurl an all-or-nothing bomb against the Ravens in Week 9 (it was a ‘nothing’) but more notably, in the past few games, Brissett has started to see some action on short-yardage runs. On his only running play two weeks ago, in Indy’s first match-up against Tennessee, he scored on a 2-yard rush and he managed two more against them this Sunday (he also secured a vital 4th-and-1 on the Colts’ opening TD drive).

By way of comparison, Rivers has three rushing touchdowns in his entire career – and he’s no spring chicken. Although Brissett can only boast 14 yards, three of his nine rushing attempts this season have resulted in TDs, putting him on a par with Lamar Jackson, Joe Burrow, Teddy Bridgewater, Justin Herbert and Dak Prescott in that regard.

Switching between QBs is not normally recommended, as it risks upsetting the star of the franchise, let alone the rhythm of the offence. But to their credit, the Colts seem have fully embraced the respective talents of their top two play-callers and are happy to let the understudy play to his strengths, while giving their team the best chance when the circumstances are right.


Gibson is playing a chart-topping tune

Why does Mike McCarthy hate guitar music? He hates playing a Gibson – Antonio Gibson that is.

It may be a while ago that Washington put the second beat down on the Dallas Cowboys this season, but it’s never too late to pay tribute to a rookie that is having a truly outstanding season.

Antonio Gibson proving traits trump production in draft evaluations
Jerome Miron – USA TODAY Sports

Gibson, more of a receiver in college, has quietly gone about his business on a team that has been abysmal in part and surprising in the last two weeks.

The fact he leads all rookie running backs in rushing touchdowns is worth a mention, the fact he is third in the entire NFL for this category is somewhat shocking. His three scores on Thanksgiving were a personal highlight.

His 11 scores are five ahead of his nearest rookie rival, the Jaguars’ UDFA James Robinson. Washington are incredulously joint leading the NFC (L)East after 12 weeks – with a 4-7 record. Their head-to-head record against the Giants mean if the playoffs were today, they would be out.

We know Joe Burrow was the prime candidate for rookie of the year, with Justin Herbert and Justin Jefferson narrowly behind. But nobody is talking about Antonio Gibson. Maybe that starts to change this week with Washington facing Pittsburgh in a second consecutive spotlight game.

If you used to play Guitar Hero back in the day and now play Draft Kings, then you can do worse that firing up a Gibson!!



Thanks for reading. We appreciate any feedback and encourage interaction!

You can find us on Twitter @Full10Yards where we cover all of your American football needs.

Keep those #EyesPeeled

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NFL Deep Dive – Mid-Season Special / NFC

By Ste Tough (@SteTough)

As we reach the halfway point in the NFL season, let’s have a look at the state of play of all 32 franchises. Who is getting top marks and who has the dreaded “Must try harder” remarks? We’ve already been through the AFC, so let’s turn our attention to the NFC…

(Note: written after Packers vs 49ers on 5 November)


NFC East

Dallas Cowboys (2-6)

Half-Term Report

The Cowboys have been one of the biggest disappointments in 2020. With a new Head Coach, a good draft and their star QB back (albeit on the franchise tag), most picked the Cowboys to win the NFC East. How that has all unravelled! While Dak’s injury was a real gut-punch, Mike McCarthy just doesn’t look like he has what it takes to drag this team into the post-season. Their defence looks a mess, conceding 266 points through eight games (the worst in the NFL) and their offence hasn’t been much better (even taking the Dak injury into account). Key players like Zeke have not been contributing as McCarthy would have liked, especially for someone who loves the run game as much as he does.

Star Pupil or Detention Specialist

Dak Prescott – I know, I know, he’s injured now and out for the season, but you just have to tip your cap to the fifth year QB for the season he was having. Until he went down with that horrible ankle injury in Week 5 against New York, he had more than 1,800 yards with 9 TDs and a 75.4 QBR. Had he kept that up, he would have thrown for over 5,900 yards and 29 TDs… It is now a case of ‘what could have been’ for Dallas fans. Has Dak played his last game in a Cowboys jersey?

Expectations for the Second Half of the Season

Dallas is the worst team in the NFL right now. Yes – in the entire NFL. Philadelphia put the game on a plate for them last week and they had absolutely nothing on offence to be able to go and get it. If a team can’t score points, it won’t win games: it’s that simple. If Andy Dalton can come back from concussion and COVID-19 protocols and get some semblance of fluidity with the talented Dallas WR room, then they could pick up a couple more wins this campaign, sealing a final record of around 4-12. But I think a bigger question looms for Jerry Jones. Is Mike McCarthy really the man to lead ‘America’s Team’ going forward?


Philadelphia Eagles (3-4-1)

Half-Term Report

I’m not really too sure what is happening in Philadelphia right now, although old curses still remain. They have been rocked by injury. On the offensive line alone, they are missing four starters (Brandon Brooks, Isaac Seumalo, Lane Johnson and Andre Dillard) as well as TE Zach Ertz and WRs DeSean Jackson and Alshon Jeffery. Their offence and defence seem incapable of playing well in the same game and their franchise QB is having a really difficult season, leading the league in interceptions and turnovers. With wins coming against the Cowboys and Giants, Philly fans are hardly filled with confidence that this team can go far. However, the defence has shown signs of promise with 28 sacks (equal 2nd) and the shutdown play of star CB pickup Darius Slay.

Star Pupil or Detention Specialist

Brandon Graham – The 2010 first-round pick defensive end is having his best season in the NFL, at 32 years old. It cannot be understated how good Graham has been so far. He has seven sacks and is on course to get into double figures for the first time in his career. He also has nine tackles for loss and 11 QB hits. He’s playing at a very high level this season and I would expect the Philly veteran to make the Pro Bowl on this trajectory. Another honourable mention goes to Travis Fulgham, the former Detroit Lions sixth rounder. He has 435 receiving yards since he came into the team in Week 4 and leads the entire NFL since then.

Expectations for the Second Half of the Season

The Birds should win the NFC East but they have to improve if they want to go any further than that. Carson Wentz is having a really down season and needs to play better than he has been. They also need to get healthy, and with a bye week this week, that should help with the likes of Miles Sanders, Lane Johnson and Alshon Jeffery expected to return for the Week 10 game with the Giants. Their schedule is tough and many are expecting that they won’t get more than 6 or 7 wins in total – which amazingly should be enough for them to host a playoff game! Doug Pederson needs to give more playing time to his young break-out players. With guys like Jeffery, Jackson and Peters unlikely to be in the City of Brotherly Love next season, I’d like to see more of the likes of Fulgham, Jalon Reagor and Jordan Mailata.

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Chris Szagola – AP

Washington Football Team (2-5)

Half-Term Report

Aside from their impressive Week 1 comeback win against Philadelphia, Washington have been a bit of a dumpster fire this season. New Head Coach Ron Rivera is having a tough first season, much like his NFC East counterparts. However, his decision to drop young QB Dwayne Haskins not just to the bench, but to third choice – behind a QB who hasn’t played a snap in almost two years – is a puzzling one. With their only other win against a depleted Dallas side, Washington looks destined for another losing season. However, it isn’t all doom and gloom. There have been some signs of life from their D-line, who have 22 sacks on the season (sixth in NFL).

Star Pupil or Detention Specialist

Montez Sweat – One of very few stand-out players this far for Washington, Sweat has five sacks this season and looks to be improving all the time. The 2019 first-rounder terrorised Baker Mayfield in Week 3 with a sack and three QB hits and did the same in Week 7 against Dallas with a couple of sacks and three QB hits. Washington’s pass rush has been a major positive for Defensive Coordinator Jack Del Rio, and Sweat has been a key component of that.

Expectations for the Second Half of the Season

The Washington Football Team have the benefit of being in the 2020 NFC East – the worst division in the NFL (perhaps ever). What this means is that amassing even six or seven wins could be enough to clinch the division and with it, a play-off berth. While Philadelphia leads at the moment, the NFC East hasn’t had a repeat winner since 2004. Washington’s schedule is also very kind; they have games left against the Giants, Lions, Bengals, Cowboys, Panthers and Eagles, all of which could be considered winnable. If Washington can put a run together and get some momentum going, I would not be surprised if they take the NFC East title this season.


New York Giants (1-7)

Half-Term Report

The Giants, like divisional rivals Washington and Dallas, have a new coaching staff this season and just like those other two teams, they’re struggling. HC Joe Judge has a solitary win against Washington in Week 6 and, aside from that, has struggled to get his team going. New York has only scored 145 points in eight games, which is 31st in the league. However, one positive has been the production from their defence, one with limited pieces. They have allowed only 199 points (14th in NFL) so considering the Giants are 1-7, Defensive Coordinator Patrick Graham deserves a ton of credit for that. Losing star RB Saquon Barkley to an ACL injury in Week 2 has obviously been a huge blow and their run game has suffered dramatically since.

Star Pupil or Detention Specialist

James Bradberry – The big name free agency pick-up for GM Dave Gettleman continues to look like a shrewd investment. Bradberry has started all eight games and all 533 defensive snaps in those games. He has three INTs, 12 pass break-ups and a forced fumble, making Bradberry one of the few bright sparks in an otherwise grim Giants team.

Expectations for the Second Half of the Season

Questions continue to be raised at the QB position, like ‘Is Daniel Jones the guy when the 2021 draft class looks so strong?’ As he continues to struggle, the microscope will be put over Jones and HC Joe Judge. The Giants still need to play each divisional rival once as well as the Bengals. Then they have four games against teams with winning records (Seahawks, Cardinals, Browns and Ravens). It looks likely that the Giants may not win again this season. With another high draft pick looming, the main question must surely be whether Dave Gettleman is the guy they still want to be overseeing that pick?

Al Bello – Getty Images

NFC North

Chicago Bears (5-3)

Half-Term Report

Chicago have raised a few eyebrows so far in 2020. It took HC Matt Nagy just three weeks to realise that the Mitch Trubisky experiment was over. However, Chicago have put together impressive wins this season against Detroit, Tampa Bay and that incredible comeback against Atlanta in Week 3. They also took New Orleans to overtime and only narrowly missed out on the win last week. Their QB situation still doesn’t look solid. Nick Foles has had periods where he has struggled but Chicago has managed to grind out wins when it mattered and have certainly put themselves in the conversation for the NFC North title, especially with Green Bay stuttering. Not many would have expected them to be 5-3 by the halfway stage, but here we are!


Star Pupil or Detention Specialist

Allen Robinson – Where else is there to go here other than the stand-out WR? The wideout has been the go-to man for Foles and Trubisky, amassing 631 yards through eight games. His average YPC is 12.6 and he has 3 TDs. That incredible TD catch against the Saints in Week 8 highlights how crucial he is to the success of Chicago. Expect Foles to continue going to him to drive this Bears offence.

Ashlee Rezin Garcia – Sun-Times

Expectations for the Second Half of the Season

The theme of the second half of the season for Chicago is divisional. They still have to play five divisional games (two each against the Packers and Vikings, and one against the Lions). Divisions can be won and lost against your rivals (see NFC East) and if Chicago can go even 3-2 in those games, they will put themselves in a strong position, even for one of the Wild Card spots now that seven teams per conference make the playoffs this year. However, doubts will remain as long as there is a question mark hanging over the QB position.


Detroit Lions (3-4)

Half-Term Report

Detroit has had a somewhat underwhelming first half of the 2020 season. Aside from that eyebrow-raising Week 3 victory over the Cardinals, their only other wins this season have come against teams they would be ‘expected’ to beat (the Falcons and Jaguars). Head Coach Matt Patricia’s overall record since he came in is 12-25-1 and some fans in Detroit have understandably had enough. Their defence has really struggled, with 206 points against through seven games which is 26th in the NFL. They’ve also conceded 35+ points on three separate occasions so far this campaign.

Star Pupil or Detention Specialist

Marvin Jones Jr – The veteran wide receiver was expected to help carry the Detroit offence this season but he only has 265 yards from 22 receptions. Aside from his stand-out game against Arizona, Jones has been largely disappointing with only 3 TDs from 37 targets through seven games. He needs to improve down the stretch.

Expectations for the Second Half of the Season

The chances of Detroit tasting the postseason in 2020 are slim-to-none. Even though they have five of their remaining nine games against teams with losing records, they’d still have to win another two or three outside of those divisional games to be in with a shout. I’m just not sure the Lions have it in them. Some big questions could be asked in Detroit again this off-season if they fail to play in January yet again.


Green Bay Packers (6-2)

Half-Term Report

The Packers started this season on fire, racing out to an impressive 4-0 record and looking unstoppable, with Rodgers back to his best and several young playmakers around him. Their offence scored a mammoth 122 points in their first three games and by their Week 5 bye, they had amassed over 150 points on offence. However, their losses have looked ugly, only managing 10 points and 22 points in losses to Tampa Bay and Minnesota respectively. The defence is beginning to show some holes and Matt LaFleur needs to get them back on track if they are to clinch that coveted single play-off bye spot in the NFC.

Green Bay Packers vs. Minnesota Vikings game recap: Everything we know
Dan Powers – Appleton Post-Crescent / USA TODAY

Star Pupil or Detention Specialist

Za’Darius Smith – It would be easy to mention Aaron Rodgers here (2,253 yards, 24 TDs, 2 INTs, 86.9 QBR), but I’m not going to go with him. I’m going to pick their stand-out Pro-Bowl OLB Za’Darius Smith, who has seven sacks, eight tackles for loss and 13 QB hits. He’s also forced and recovered a crucial midfield fumble in their Week 3 victory in New Orleans and another on Week 9 TNF against San Francisco. Look for him to kick on in the coming weeks.

Expectations for the Second Half of the Season

After their shock loss to poor divisional rivals Minnesota in Week 7, the NFC North isn’t as wrapped up as Green Bay may have hoped. The 5-3 Bears are breathing down their necks and it could go down to the wire. This week, they had a tough road trip to San Francisco (but won comfortably, due in part to the Niners’ injury woes) but they now have four match-ups against teams with losing records and they still have to play Chicago twice. The Packers should win at least another five or six games. If they can get to 10 or 11 wins, that should be enough to take the NFC North, but the NFC overall? We’ll have to wait and see.


Minnesota Vikings (2-5)

Half-Term Report

Minnesota has been one of the most disappointing teams so far in 2020. I don’t think many would have predicted them starting their season 1-5 until they managed an impressive win in Lambeau at divisional rivals Green Bay in Week 8. Their schedule hasn’t been too kind, with match-ups against Seattle, Indianapolis and Tennessee so far. However they also suffered a humiliating loss in Week 6 to Atlanta. The loss of go-to WR Stefon Diggs has clearly had an impact in Minnesota.

Star Pupil or Detention Specialist

Kirk Cousins – The 32-year-old gunslinger has struggled this campaign, and his 12 TD to 10 INT ratio hasn’t helped the Vikings’ offence. He’s been sacked 15 times and has a measly QBR of 52.9, which is 26th in the league. Cousins’ contract APY is $33m so he needs to be playing far better than he is. An honourable mention here goe to Dalvin Cook who has rushed for 652 yards and 10 rushing TDs, as well as one receiving TD from 127 receiving yards.

Expectations for the Second Half of the Season

The good news for the Vikings is their second-half schedule is kind. With matches against Dallas, Carolina and Jacksonville as well as two games against fellow NFC North strugglers Detroit still to play, Minnesota has a clear path back to .500. However, they also face tough match-ups against the likes of New Orleans, Tampa Bay and Chicago twice. Their season could very quickly unravel if they suffer further ‘unexpected’ defeats. Of course, there is no such thing as an ‘easy’ game in the NFL but for a team that has finished with a winning record in four out of the last five seasons, a sub .500 season would be quite the setback.


NFC South

Tampa Bay Buccaneers (6-2)

Half-Term Report

Tom Brady packed his bags this offseason and shipped out of Boston. The result? A Tampa Bay team that looks like a real Super Bowl contender. With experienced HC Bruce Arians at the reins, the Bucs are really challenging New Orleans for the NFC South title this season. Brady has picked up where he left off in New England: he’s thrown for 2,189 yards (fourth in NFL) and 20 TDs (third). They also have eight rushing TDs (two from Brady) and have scored 247 points (second). Defensively, they have been dominant too, with 28 sacks (T-2nd) and holding teams to an average of 300 yards per game (third). Tampa Bay did have a surprise loss against Chicago in Week 5 and it will be interesting to see if that was just a blip, or if they also have similar struggles as the season goes on.

Star Pupil or Detention Specialist

Jason Pierre-Paul – I didn’t want to talk about Brady here, everyone knows he’s been great. Instead, the veteran LB has been superb for the Buccaneers so far this season. Alongside Devin White, JPP contributes to one of the most fearsome LB groups in the NFL, with 6.5 sacks, four tackles for loss and three forced fumbles to date. He really aids the Bucs rush defence, having allowed only 563 rushing yards (2nd in NFL) in the first half of this season.

Expectations for the Second Half of the Season

I expect the Buccaneers to continue to dominate and put themselves in the conversation for the NFC Championship game. Next week, they face the return of Drew Brees and New Orleans after that hotly contested Week 1 match-up. They also have interesting games at home to the Rams and Chiefs before their bye in Week 13. Then they end with Minnesota, Atlanta (twice) and Detroit – you’d imagine they finish 4-0 after their bye. Many predicted Tampa Bay to be the first team to ever play a Super Bowl in their home stadium; no team has ever done it before but the Bucs could well be the first in 2020.


Atlanta Falcons (2-6)

Half-Term Report

The 2020 Atlanta Falcons are somewhat of an enigma. A Super Bowl team just four years ago, they now look a shadow of that, giving up points and throwing away games. After their Week 3 loss to Chicago, they became first team in NFL history to have back-to-back games in which they blew a 15+ point fourth-quarter lead and lost. They fired their HC of five years, Dan Quinn, after starting the season 0-5 and since doing so, they’ve gone 2-1. Matt Ryan is, incredibly, second in the NFL for passing yards per game with 292.4 so it isn’t Atlanta’s offence that is struggling this season.

Star Pupil or Detention Specialist

Atlanta Defence – Atlanta’s defence has been so poor as a unit that it was impossible to single out one or two players. They are allowing 331.4 passing yards per game (31st in NFL) and have allowed 224 points through eight games (29th in NFL). Dante Fowler Jr. was given a monster three-year, $45m contract in Atlanta and so far has posted a lacklustre two sacks and six QB hits. Since 2016, their defence has been getting progressively worse and this year, HC Dan Quinn finally paid the price.

Expectations for the Second Half of the Season

Atlanta reside in a division with two teams who already have six and five wins respectively so they won’t be tasting the off-season this year. After parting ways with their HC and GM, they need to decide who is going to take the franchise in its next direction – in the front office and coaching positions especially – as it looks like they may have another top 5 draft pick in 2021. The rest of this season looks difficult with games against New Orleans, Las Vegas, LA Chargers, Kansas City and Tampa Bay (twice) following their Week 10 bye. All of those teams will look to this game and place it in their prospective ‘W’ column. It’s hard to disagree.

Atlanta Falcons v Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Brian Blanco – Getty Images

Carolina Panthers (3-5)

Half-Term Report

The Panthers are putting together a very respectable campaign considering all of the transition they went through during the off-season. Rookie HC Matt Rhule turned some heads when he was hired but so far, he appears to be doing a great job transforming the culture in Carolina. Since their 2015 Super Bowl appearance, they seem to have been suffering from that hangover and have only been to the playoffs once (2017) where they suffered a Wild Card loss to New Orleans. This season, they’ve had an impressive win against Arizona in Week 4 and were actually sitting at 3-2 after Week 5. However, consecutive losses against Chicago, New Orleans and Atlanta have dragged them to 3-5.

Star Pupil or Detention Specialist

Robby Anderson – Anderson has been such a good free-agent signing for Carolina. They had been desperate for a star WR to compliment second-year wideout DJ Moore. Anderson is providing OC Joe Brady with another speedy weapon in this exciting Carolina passing game. He’s proving to be good value for his two-year, $20m contract. Anderson could afford to improve his contributions with more TDs but so far, he’s doing a terrific job of helping Teddy Bridgewater spread the ball around the field – especially with franchise poster-boy, Christian McCaffrey, still out injured.

Expectations for the Second Half of the Season

The remaining eight games for Carolina are a mixed bag. On the one hand, they face teams with losing records (Detroit, Minnesota, Denver and Washington) but they also need to play tough games against teams doing very well (Kansas City, Tampa Bay, Green Bay and New Orleans), all of whom could be vying for the NFC title come January. They’ll welcome Christian McCaffrey back either this week or next, a very welcome return from IR after being out since Week 2. I think Matt Rhule would be happy with 7-9 or 8-8 this season, knowing that it is a foundation year to start the rebuild. But with questions at QB looming, Carolina needs to decide what to do with Bridgewater too.


New Orleans Saints (5-2)

Half-Term Report

Drew Brees and his chase for that second Super Bowl ring seems like the never-ending love story; if anyone in the league deserves another, it’s him. Brees has had a Super Bowl-calibre team for the last few seasons, and they’ve faltered in the play-offs every time. This time around, he’s signed a fresh two-year deal in what is surely his final dash to grasp the Vince Lombardi once again. The Saints stuttered at first, with back-to-back losses to the Raiders and the Packers, but since then have won out and now sit at 5-2. What is possibly more impressive is that they’ve done it all without star WR Michael Thomas due to an ankle injury. Once he comes back, I would only expect they’d get even better. They are averaging 29.4 points-per-game (7th in NFL) on offence and allowing an average of 28.1 points-per-game (23rd in NFL) – every Saints game seems to be a shootout! It’s worth noting that their rush defence is one of the best around – only allowing an average of 90.6 yards per game (3rd in NFL).

Star Pupil or Detention Specialist

Alvin Kamara – Sometimes you run out of superlatives to describe players, and Kamara is one of those players. In mid-September, the Saints and Kamara agreed on a five-year, $75m contract extension keeping him with the franchise until 2025. He is looking very good on that investment so far. He is one of the best ‘dual-threat’ RBs in the league. He has posted 431 yards rushing but perhaps more impressively, he has 556 yards receiving, adding up to almost 1,000 all-purpose yards through seven games. Kamara leads the Saints in broken tackles (nine) and TDs (seven), making him absolutely crucial to their success.

Expectations for the Second Half of the Season

The Saints just seem to find ways to get it done in the regular season. Even without Thomas, when Brees normally struggles, they have five wins. They should have Thomas back for Week 10 at the latest and that will only add to their offensive weapons. Their remaining schedule is relatively kind. Aside from tough games against the Buccaneers and Chiefs, they should stand a good chance of winning their remaining games. I would fully expect the Saints to be in the play-offs, as they usually are. However, with some of the quality around the NFC, they may find it difficult to make it to the top of the conference and book their slot at Raymond James Stadium in February 2021.

NFL: Carolina Panthers at New Orleans Saints
Derick E. Hingle – USA TODAY Sports

NFC West

Arizona Cardinals (5-2)

Half-Term Report

After admitting their shortfalls at QB and going back into the draft and selecting Kyler Murray #1 overall in 2019, the Cardinals are beginning to look like a young, up-and-coming team that has everything together. Off-season addition DeAndre Hopkins has given HC Kliff Kingsbury yet another offensive weapon and allows the Cardinals to be more aggressive and spread the ball around the field. So far, they are keeping up with the leading pack at 5-2 and have had a couple of impressive wins against divisional rivals (49ers and Seahawks). However, they’ve also had a couple of underwhelming losses against Detroit and Carolina that have kept their feet firmly on the ground. They lead the league in average offensive yards per game with 419.1 and are second in the league in rushing yards per game with 160.7.

Star Pupil or Detention Specialist

DeAndre Hopkins – It’s difficult to pick anyone else than the league leader in receiving yards. When Hopkins became available from Houston in the off-season, Kliff Kingsbury must have been straight on the phone to GM Steve Keim and packing David Johnson’s bags himself. Hopkins has been one of the best receivers in the league for several seasons. This time around, he has 704 receiving yards (first in NFL) and is one of only two WRs in the league averaging more than 100 yards per game (along with Green Bay’s Devante Adams). Hopkins has continued his impressive production in Arizona and just carried straight on from where he left off with the Texans.

Expectations for the Second Half of the Season

The Cardinals are in the most competitive division in the league. Any of the four teams could still realistically win the NFC West (although the 49ers’ injury woes are seeing them fall away). However, outside of their remaining divisional games, the schedule is tricky. Miami have one of the best defences in the league and Buffalo being led by Josh Allen have been impressing so far in 2020. They should win games against the Patriots, Giants and Eagles but they will have to do well in their divisional match-ups. It’s also worth noting they are 2-0 in their divisional games so far. If they keep that up, the NFC West could be heading to Arizona for only the second time since 2009.


Los Angeles Rams (5-3)

Half-Term Report

The story of the Los Angeles Rams so far in 2020 is defence, defence, defence. They lead the league in average yards allowed per game with 291.9 and are holding teams to an average 19.0 points (T-3rd), holding five of their eight opponents this season to under 20 points. They also have 25 sacks on the season (fourth in NFL). DC Brandon Staley has done a terrific job with the defence. Their offence hasn’t been quite as productive but Jared Goff has been spreading the ball around with five different pass-catchers having more than 220 yards and at least one TD so far. Their five wins have come against teams you’d probably expect them to beat (the entire NFC East, plus Chicago) and their losses have all been relatively close. Los Angeles have been a bit too ‘predictable’ so far.

Star Pupil or Detention Specialist

Aaron Donald – I know, it’s a bit boring to talk about the six-time Pro Bowler, two-time Defensive Player of the year, 2014 Defensive Rookie of the Year and current sack leader in the NFL… but it is a testament to just how dominant he is and how crucial he is to the success of the Rams. He is equal first for sacks with nine so far in 2020, including four in a single game against Washington. He also has 15 QB hits and 11 tackles for loss. Since he entered the league in 2014, he leads the league in sacks with 81. I think Donald’s most incredible statistic is that in his 6.5 years in the NFL, he has only missed two of 104 games. He keeps himself so healthy, which is even more impressive given the position he plays.

Expectations for the Second Half of the Season

The second half of the Rams’ season is where things start to get a bit tricky. They still have five divisional games remaining as they have only played at San Francisco (a 24-16 loss) so far. They have a bye in Week 9 then, after a tough home game against Seattle, they travel to Tampa Bay for the prime-time MNF slot in Week 11. The only remaining games on LA’s schedule you would expect them to win are at Foxborough in Week 14 and at the Jets in Week 15. That said, with the dominance of their defence so far, LA should remain competitive. I’m just not convinced they can get any more than another three or four wins. Wild Card weekend could be beckoning for Sean McVay.

Arizona Cardinals v Los Angeles Rams
Sean M. Haffey – Getty Images

Seattle Seahawks (6-1)

Half-Term Report

The Seattle Seahawks are the best team in the NFL right now, with their dominant offence brushing teams aside. They are third in yards per game (289.0) although Dallas is top and I expect them to drop off now Dak is injured. They are leading the league with 34.3 points per game, which is wild – and a full 2.7 points above their closest competitor (Green Bay). What has perhaps been most impressive about Seattle’s offence has been their ability to adapt without a consistent, healthy running back. Chris Carson only has 323 yards rushing and 3 TDs so far, but HC Pete Carroll has let Russell Wilson take the reins on offence and spread the ball around. DK Metcalf and Tyler Lockett look like they’re going to have career seasons – both have seven TDs – with Wilson under centre. Defensively, the ‘Hawks have been the polar opposite. They are deal last in average yards per game allowed with 460.0, and 23rd in average points per game allowed (28.4). Pete Carroll’s approach seems to be just get the ball back in Russell Wilson’s hands as quickly as possible, no matter how, and let him work his magic…

Star Pupil or Detention Specialist

Russell Wilson – Who else is there other than the current league MVP favourite? Let’s look at his 2020 stats. Total passing TDs: 26 (1st in NFL); average YDS/G: 307.3 (3rd in NFL); passer rating: 120.7 (1st in NFL); completion percentage: 71.5% (3rd in NFL). On top of those numbers, he also has 260 rushing yards, making him the ultimate dual-threat QB. Wilson has been nothing short of incredible in 2020 and I fully expect his dominance to continue right the way to the NFC Championship game and perhaps even Super Bowl LV.

Alika Jenner – Getty Images

Expectations for the Second Half of the Season

Seattle should continue its early season dominance as long as it can keep its stars healthy. The breakout of DK Metcalf has been a welcome addition to the WR room and gives Wilson another reliable asset down the field. They still have four divisional games to play (including two against the Rams) but then should pick up at least four wins from their remaining five (Bills, Eagles, Giants, Jets and Washington). Their only loss so far came in overtime. I can see this Seattle team going 13-3 and clinching that first round play-off bye.


San Francisco 49ers (4-5)

Half-Term Report

No team in the NFL has had worse luck with injuries than the San Francisco 49ers. For their Week 9 TNF game against Green Bay, San Fran had almost $80m worth of contract cap hit on Injured Reserve, including QB Jimmy Garoppolo, CB Richard Sherman, DT Solomon Thomas, DE Nick Bosa, DE Dee Ford, TE George Kittle and RB Raheem Mostert. With such substantial injury problems, it is actually incredible that the 49ers have accrued four wins this season. Aaron Rodgers and the Packers put them to the sword on TNF but they still managed 17 points and 337 total yards. Aside from their loss to Philadelphia in Week 4, the other losses probably would have been expected, especially given their injuries. They’re very middle of the road when you look at statistics – 225 points for (18th in NFL) and 207 points against (10th) – but they have just struggled to convert that into wins.

Star Pupil or Detention Specialist

Brandon Aiyuk – The rookie WR out of Arizona State is having an impressive year after being asked to contribute much more than expected after injuries to key 49ers WRs. While his stats don’t light up the page (seven games, 371 yards, 4 TDs and a modest 66.7 catch percentage), he has been an important factor. He’ll be an important piece in San Francisco in the coming seasons and offers Kyle Shanahan a young, cheap option at WR , a position they have struggled to add depth at in recent years. There was also his atheltic hurdling of Eagles safety Marcus Epps in Week 4… it was beyond belief.

Expectations for Second Half of the Season

It feels unlikely that the 49ers will improve much further this season with number of players they currently have out. Jimmy G and George Kittle are both expected to be missing until at least Week 14 and without them, San Francisco will struggle to pick up Ws. They face a tough road game to New Orleans in Week 10 and then they have their bye, perhaps a chance to get a couple more players back from injury. However, the schedule doesn’t get any easier, with games against the LA Rams, Buffalo, Arizona and Seattle. I think this season might just have to be a write-off for Kyle Shanahan, especially given the competition in their NFC West division. They can regroup, get healthy in the off-season and go again in 2021.



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Season In Review – Detroit Lions

By Tim Monk (@Tim_MonkF10Y)

Time to look in the basement of the NFC North. In there were find the Lions, with no witches and no wardrobes. Can Matt Patricia turn this franchise around?



entering the season


The Lions were under the 2nd year guidance of Matt Patricia, a Bill Belichick disciple. Rumour has it the pencil behind his ear has not changed or moved since being appointed.

Image result for matt patricia
D. Ross Cameron/AP

The Lions went Tight End heavy during the offseason, signing Jesse James from Pittsburgh which ultimately turned out to be a poor investment, and drafting TJ Hockenson in the first round and Isaac Nauta in the the bargain basement 7th round of the 2019 draft.

Heading out of Ford Field was Ziggy Ansah who signed a 1 year deal with the Seahawks whilst Darrell Bevell came the other way from the Seahawks after being released shortly after the 2018 season to oversee offensive playcalling duties and did ok with the weapons at his disposal.


during the season


The Lions were actually fast starters going the first 3 games unbeaten including an opening weekend tie against the Cardinals followed up by wins against the Chargers and upsetting the Eagles away from home.

A much ridiculed NFL staple, the early bye week put pay to their season as they then went on to win just 1 of their remaining games of the season against the lowly Giants.

The main storyline was at the Quarterback position, where is was unearthed that Matthew Stafford played with a back injury, linked to a back fracture back from the 2018 season. From week 10, Jeff Driskel (5 games) and David Blough (3 games) were under center and the season spiraled from there, only scoring more than 20 points just once compared to 7/8 in the games with Stafford as their signal caller.

Image result for matthew stafford injury
Rob Carr / Getty

It wasn’t just the QB position which suffered as a result of injury. Running Back Kerryon Johnson continue his form of injury setbacks, just playing the 8 games this season. A patchup consisting of 6th round draft pick Ty Johnson, Seattle Seahawk castaway JD McKissic and Dallas Cowboy reject Bo Scarborough were employed from the back half of the season with Scarborough probably doing enough to earn a roster spot for next season. Other cameos at the running back position included Tra Carson, CJ Anderson and Paul Perkins. Enough said.

The running game numbers, something which OC Darrell Bevell is well known for were similar to the previous year and it’s fair to say that Bevell managed to get the most out of Stafford in his curtailed season. He was able to ensure that Stafford became the fastest player to reach 40,000 passing yards on a career.

Image result for kenny golladay
Mike Mulholland

In the passing game, Kenny Golladay probably had one of the most quiet 1190 yard season to be ever achieved and Marvin Jones was unable to replicate a decent 2018, finishing with just short of 800 yards on 62 receptions. talking of 62 receptions, that was the total that offseason FA signing Danny Amendola amassed on the season for 678 yards and 1 touchdown which came in week 1. He did have a passing touchdown in week 17 so a nice bookend season for him.

The defence was bottom 10 defence in terms of points allowed, turnovers, yards given up and 1st downs allowed.


offseason outlook


A few gaps to fill for Detroit, but have the luxury of a pick #3 in the 2020 draft. It wouldn’t surprise anyone to see them trade back in a QB needy year with lots of QBs ripe for the picking.

Wide receiver will probably be addressed after Marvin Jones is getting up there in age. There are a few holes on defence that need to be filled including defensive tackle and a passrusher. They may take a shot with a late round running back too to help cover for Kerryon Johnson, who will unlikely be trusted with a full workload.

It bodes well for the Lions that the most notable names that could hit free agency are Graham Glasgow, the versatile offensive lineman and Danny Amendola, an ageing slot receiver. The Lions may look to extend one of their more reliable defensive pieces in Darius Slay, too.

Talking of staying, Matt Patricia and co. are seemingly here to stay after no changes were made personnel wise. In a division where wins will be hard to come by, the outlook isn’t as bright as some other teams out there but if Stafford is able to stay healthy in 2020 (ditto Kerryon Johnson), the Lions could surprise next season. Don’t expect January football though.

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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


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

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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

Det roit 9-7

Minnesota 8-8

Chicago 7-9

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Draft Week – Take or Trade part 1

On the first of 2 episodes this week, we break down picks 1-16 looking at every team’s needs and players they could target or if they may perhaps trade back or even trade up!
1st down covers a few interesting snippets from the schedule release including a team playing alternate home and away games for all 16 games this year!
On 2nd down, Charlie from IceTheKickerPodcast joins us and tries to beat Adam Walford’s score of 7 in the Full10Questions.
3rd down is the 1st part of Take or Trade.
Slight delay from intro to my voice. Apologies for that!
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NFC Storytelling with a Guru of NFL

Anthony Cervino aka the REAL NFL Guru joins us to talk about one storyline for every NFC team to dominate the headlines over the offseason including what does the Dallas D line look like come September? And what about Cam Newton’s Shoulder?

Before we start telling tales of the summer in the NFL, we talk about what the Antonio Brown trade and the Antiques roadshow has in common as well as a quick take on some Free Agency deals.
Plus Paul Brown takes time out from his vlog to tackle the Full10Questions and our “Put the mockers on it” involves Crisps…
A crisp podcast, you might say.

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Exit Interviews – NFC North

Time to go North once more for the NFC side.

Bears leapfrogged the Vikings and the Packers to take the throne, but can they stay there?
And what do the Vikings and Packers fans have to say about that?
And then there are the Lions who haven’t had much to roar about recently.
Many thanks to Martin, Paul, Charlie and Rob for their help putting this podcast together.
Tomorrow sees the last in the series with the NFC West.
Enjoy!
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Podcast 60 – Week 12 preview

Happy Thanksgiving everybody!

It’s the Friday podcast, but no Lee! Don’t sweat because Adam steps in for the full podcast this week to recap the 3 Thanksgiving games as well as looking ahead to the Sunday games.
We give you all the stats and opinions you could need as well as our best bets!