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Five Things: Preseason Game 3 – New York Giants at New York Jets

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The Giants fell to a 31-27 defeat against the Jets last night, and after two wins and a loss, the preseason is over. With the regular season fast approaching, let’s look at some talking points.

Webb Shooter

Davis Webb’s preseason performances have been impressive, and although he is unlikely to see the field this season, the familiarity he has shown in this offence has given us glimpses of what may be to come for Daniel Jones once Brian Daboll’s system clicks. Davis came into the game late in the first quarter following Tyrod Taylor’s untimely exit due to a back injury and once again carried the team forward.

Normally, focusing on stats is pointless in preseason, but glossing over Webb’s would be doing him a disservice. He finished yesterday’s game with 30 completions on 38 attempts for 202 yards, rushed four times for 13 yards, and threw a touchdown to Tight End Austin Allen. If you look at the whole preseason, he was also joint 5th for passing yards with 457 and had 60 completions on 81 targets, which is the highest number of completions across the NFL.

Cornerback Woes

The majority of Giants fans would agree that the biggest concern this offseason, other than the injuries, has been the state of our cornerback group. Outside of Adoree Jackson, it is very much a patchwork group with no standout backups ready to step in. Sunday’s game was an opportunity for one of them to step up, but unfortunately, it ended by raising more concerns.

Multiple players had rough days, with both Aaron Robinson and Cordale Flott missing tackles that will cost the Giants dearly in the regular season. However, it’s probably fair to say that neither struggled as much as Khalil Dorsey did on the Jets’ final drive. With the Jets on the Giants’ 36-yard line, Dorsey was flagged for pass interference, placing the Jets on the 10 yard line. Four plays later, he was beaten on a corner route and the Jets scored what ended up being the game winner.

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Calitro Shines

Austin Calitro signed with the Giants a month ago, and the much-travelled Linebacker who is on his 9th team, has been fighting for a roster spot ever since. Calitro, a life-long Giants fan, has had an up and down preseason. After impressing against the New England Patriots, he struggled against his previous team, the Cincinnati Bengals, but last night’s showing could just see him avoid being cut and make the Giants’ 53-man squad for the season.

His impressive showing yesterday started with a fumble recovery after fellow Linebacker Micah McFadden forced the ball out of Michael Carter’s hands. Then, in the second half, a poor throw by Joe Flacco was straight at Calitro, and he took the gift all the way to the endzone for the Giants’ first touchdown of the game. By the end of the game, he added five tackles (two solo) and one tackle for a loss to his stat line.

When Will It End

In what seems to be a weekly occurrence, another smattering of injuries has disrupted the Giants’ preparations for the upcoming season. During the weeks joint practise with their final preseason opponents, the Giants saw second-year Edge Rusher Azeez Ojulari leave the field hobbling with what was later revealed to be a lower leg injury. This was only days after one of the stars of preseason Wide Receiver Collin Johnson was ruled out for the season with an Achilles injury.

The injuries didn’t let up during Sunday’s game, although we can be thankful that on paper they don’t look to be as impactful as a number have been in the last few weeks. Tyrod Taylor left the game with a back injury on the dreaded cart, but seemed to avoid a serious injury. Tight End Daniel Bellinger and Defensive Lineman Jalyn Holmes were also both ruled out after they were evaluated for concussions.

As Sign of Things to Come

After sitting through last year’s abysmal offensive play, Giants fans were intrigued when the tandem of Brian Daboll and Mike Kafka were brought in to overhaul the playbook. Early signs in camp pointed to a more modernised offence and, although it is still very much a work in progress, it would seem that the pieces are starting to come together.

Looking at the three games that the Giants have played in the preseason, they averaged 25 points a game, something they only managed three times in the entirety of last season. Couple this with the 272.7 Passing Yards per game and the 382.7 Total Yards per game (both of which were the highest in the league) and you have a reason to be optimistic.

Obviously, this is only preseason, so it cannot be interpreted as a foreshadowing of what is to come, but for a team that has struggled so frequently in recent years, it’s a breath of fresh air and long may it continue.

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Five Things: Preseason Game 2 – Cincinnati Bengals at New York Giants

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Preseason game two is in the books and another win for Big Blue this time over the Cincinnati Bengals. Here are five things to mull over:

Decisive Daniel

Brian Daboll kept his cards close to his chest this past Friday, refusing to say whether Daniel Jones would play in the preseason game against the reigning AFC champions, but he will be pleased with the performance of his much-maligned quarterback after deciding to start him.

After multiple weeks of inconsistent practises and an up and down showing last week against the New England Patriots, Jones produced an assured performance, albeit against the Bengals’ 2nd string team as the starters were held out.

Jones was under centre for most of the first two quarters before Tyrod Taylor replaced him on the Giants’ fourth possession. During those three possessions, Jones played 24 snaps, completing 14-of-16 passes for 116 yards. The only mark on his stat sheet will be the interception. Nevertheless, Daboll was keen to express though that he thought rookie Tight End Daniel Bellinger should have caught the ball that ricocheted into the hands of Bengals rookie Safety Daxon Hill.

Fourth-Quarter Comeback

As the fourth quarter got underway last night, the Giants were 16-7 down and heading towards defeat. However, a quick field goal after a stalled drive that started in the 3rd quarter was converted, and the game was suddenly closer at 16-10.

The Bengals’ next drive ended around midfield when Evan McPherson missed a 58-yard field goal. This meant Davis Webb found himself with great field position, knowing that the team needed a touchdown. Nine plays later, Webb would connect with Alex Bachman for a 22-yard touchdown. He then followed it up with a run of his own to convert the two-point conversion, and suddenly it was 16-18.

The Bengals would answer that with a touchdown of their own, but a failed two-point conversion would give the Giants an opportunity to seal the game. In a drive that took just over two minutes, Webb would find Bachman again for the go-ahead touchdown, and Jamie Gillan converted the extra point. The final play of the game would come after undrafted rookie free agent Tomon Fox smashed into Trenton Irwin to cause a fumble that was recovered by newly signed Olaijah Griffin.

Injury Ravaged

The Giants entered Sunday’s game with EIGHTEEN players unavailable due to injury. For the stats people out there, that’s 21% of the roster and it doesn’t include the five players either on injured reserve or the physically unable to perform list.

It was due to these issues that the Giants had to start their sixth player at Centre Max Garcia, which subsequently put Daboll in two minds on whether to play his starters.

Most of the players did play, and unfortunately, things only got worse. In the first half alone Wide Receiver C.J. Board injured his ribs, Kicker Graham Gano suffered a concussion as a result of having to make a tackle on a returned kick, and rookie Kayvon Thibodeaux was almost carted off with a knee injury but luckily only strained his MCL. Nothing changed in the second half as last week’s standout, Darrian Beavers, left with a knee injury, which has now been confirmed as an ACL tear, ending his season.

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Take a Punt

As alluded to in my previous point, Graham Gano left the game in the first half with a concussion, leaving the Giants in the precarious position of not having their standout kicker available for the rest of the game. Normally, in a situation like this, you would start going for two-point conversions, but preseason allows opportunities for experimentation. 

Punter Jamie ‘The Scottish Hammer’ Gillan took over kick-off duty and, on the whole, performed well, but the real experiment started early in the 4th quarter with the Giants facing a 4th and 9 on the Bengals’ 12 yard line. Gillan and versatile Safety Jullian Love trotted out to become Place Kicker and Holder respectively, and they connected with a 31-yard field goal. The pair returned late in the 4th to secure the XP that gave the Giants a 3-point lead.

Bach to Bach(man)

Wide Receiver Alex Bachman has been on the roster bubble the last two preseasons for the Giants, and he’s been a mainstay on the practise squad. He has seen game time with the Giants, but opportunities have been scarce, with a combined 56 snaps on Offense and Special Teams in four games. Last night, however, may have just shown exactly what Bachman can do.

In a breakout performance, he finished yesterday’s preseason game with 11 catches for 122 yards and two touchdowns, both from Quarterback Davis Webb. When asked prior to the game, Brian Daboll was complimentary about his attitude: “He showed up in the spring and worked as hard as he possibly could and got better each day. He’s one of the first guys in the weight room each day. He was down, down on the depth chart, rep chart if you will, and all he does is compete and play hard. And I appreciate guys like that. I think his teammates do, too. It was good to see him have some success out there. He’ll get more chances.”

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Five Things: New York Giants Camp Week 2

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The Pads Are On!

While training camp is the start of the preseason, most of this is spent doing walkthroughs with minimal if any contact. Monday saw the players walk out at Quest Diagnostics Training Center in full pads. Both Evan Neal and Kayvon Thibodeaux have been lining up opposite each other, and the opportunity to finally put on the pads couldn’t have come sooner for Thibodeaux.

“There are a lot of things as a pass rusher, as a defensive guy, you aren’t able to do without pads. The offence has the baggy jerseys, you can just pull on them. Now it’ll be more of a fair game. I’ll be able to use all the moves I’ve been working on.” 

The Return of Danny Dimes

Training camp is a fickle place. If the offence struggles, the kneejerk reaction is that we’re doomed. If the offence performs well, the response is “Let’s see if we can do it in a game. “It’s lose/lose. So, after an up and down start to training camp, the usual fanbase murmur started up. Was Daniel Jones the guy to lead this offense?

Jones was likely paying no attention, but the return of “Danny Dimes” has come at the right time. He started Tuesday inconstantly, but once the 11 on 11 drills started, he was on fire despite two interceptions. This continued Wednesday, as Jones unofficially went 9 of 11 with no interceptions. Friday’s showing at Fan Fest wasn’t ideal, but he’s had a much stronger week compared to the last.

Dexter Lawrence’s Lofty Goals

Since being drafted in 2019, Lawrence has been ever-present on the defensive line and will continue to be so as the Giants picked up his fifth-year option. The thing that’s been missing since he’s been here is a maiden postseason berth, but he’s hopeful that’s about to change. When asked about this on Tuesday, he replied: “You can’t sit on what happened years prior. You’ve got to go for what you’re shooting for now. Everybody’s goal is to make it to the postseason. If everybody has the same goal, we’re all going to have the same work ethic to try to get there, it is a realistic goal. It’s everybody’s goal.”

Continued Absent Attendees

The Giants have had multiple absentees since the start of camp last Monday and this week was no different.

Jon Felciano took to the field on Wednesday for the first time in a week after he was given time to recover from heat-related issues, and Matt Gono missed Wednesday’s practise before being put on the exempt/left squad list due to an undisclosed issue (which was later revealed to be a neck issue). This will likely provide an opportunity for rookie Josh Ezeudu to step in to take the Swing Tackle role.

Finally, veteran Tight End Ricky Seals-Jones has missed the last five games for reasons unknown. With Daniel Bellinger’s upward trajectory since joining, this time away from the team will not help Seals-Jones’ chances of making the final 53-man roster.

It’s Fan Fest Time

The 2nd annual fan fest was held on Friday as MetLife Stadium was opened for an open Blue-White scrimmage session prior to their opening pre-season game on Thursday in Foxborough. Here are a few observations:

Kayvon Thibodeaux continued to shine with a dominant performance. With his constant pressure, he caused havoc and drew two holding penalties.

Rookie Marcus McKethan was unfortunately carted off during the session, and it was later confirmed that the fifth-round pick had torn his ACL. With Matt Gono also potentially out this season, the depth chart for the Offensive Line is looking thin.

Darius Slayton hasn’t had the best camp, and it’s likely that he could struggle to even make the roster this season. If you needed anymore evidence of his depth chart fall, he spent most of Friday’s scrimmages running with the third-team offense before joining the second-team for a couple of plays towards the end.


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TNF Preview: Giants weapons looking to breach Washington’s defences

It’s an all-NFC East matchup for Thursday Night Football as the New York Giants visit a Washington Football Team smarting after an opening day loss to the LA Chargers in which starting quarterback, Ryan Fitzpatrick, was knocked onto IR with a hip subluxation.

As a result Taylor Heinicke once more enters the fray to start for the first time since last year’s play-off loss against the Buccaneers, in which he impressed many with his rugged determination and never say die attitude.

Under centre for the Giants will still be Daniel Jones (for now). The sixth overall pick from 2019 struggling in the opening day defeat to the Denver Broncos, in which his 40th career turnover put the game out of reach of recovery.

As recent memory has taught many NFL fans, this NFC East tie might just come down to which QB makes lass mistakes rather than who excels beyond their expectations. 

Horses in the back

With air yards looking like they could be limited, it could instead be the ground game that decides the direction of this tie – with work horse running backs in both stables.

Washington’s Antonio Gibson bolted on opening weekend, with a 90-yard rushing performance that averaged 4.5 yards a carry, and reconfirmed to many that the second year back has nothing but a bright future ahead of him.

By comparison, Giants’ starlet Saquon Barkley stayed very much at a gentle trot in their opener, managing just 26 yards on 10 carries, and making little progress against the Broncos’ defence.

Eruption from either of these two could be enough to swing the game – and don’t forget the running prowess of both quarterbacks, who both have the ability to break things open with their legs (if not through the air).

Young and hungry

Defensively, it’s hard not to worry about what Chase Young could end up doing to the Giants offensive line, who had trouble making space for Barkley, and had issues with keeping Von Miller off Daniel Jones.

Young had a surprisingly quiet game to open the season, compared to his very high rookie season standards, and was even taunted by Keenan Allen in the immediate seconds before the game winning throw and catch, so expect Young to be fully up for this one.

The pass-rusher works with terrific energy and seeing this fumble-heavy quarterback could be the blood in the water to this defensive shark.

Oh, and if that wasn’t bad enough, the Washington line also possesses Montez Sweat, Daron Payne and Jonathan Allen – nothing too much for the Giants O-line then…

Battle of the new boys

One match-up it may be a good idea to keep an eye on will be new Giants’ receiver Kenny Golladay up against Washington’s big off-season purchase at corner-back, William Jackson.

Both showed some of what made them such desirable purchases in their respective openers, Golladay snatching 64 yards through the air off four balls, while Jackson popped up with his first interception in burgundy colours with a smart snag on a deep out.

These two could be a nice battle all game long and with air yards potentially hard to come by; Golladay winning his individual battle on the outside could be huge.

Predictions

Overall, then, I think I can only see a Washington win here. Despite four of Daniel Jones’ wins coming against the Football Team, I don’t think they have enough to withhold this defensive line.

Taylor Heinicke might not be an A-grade QB, but number four has a certain swag about him that seems to energise the team and he did himself no harm by going 11/15 and a touchdown for 122 yards once he had replaced Fitzpatrick. 

I expect this to be an enjoyable tie with two teams looking not to fall too far behind in their division. It’s hard to say whether either of the opening day losses were true representations of the team’s ability – but I think the Giants still have far more questions than answers.

Giants 10, Washington 21

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Betting Preview – NFC East

By Tim Monk

Hello darkness, my old friend.

The NFC East isn’t synonymous with making profit. You wouldn’t have had many accumulators including teams from this division last year. Well, if you did you’d be in the poor house.

Ante post wise and the division title, its been nearly 2 decades since a team retained the division title (2004), form book usually goes out of the window and is a scrappy division and throw in the injuries, you have yourself a betting nightmare. Washington won the division after going 1-5 last year, hope you all got on. Its always a candidate for worst to first, the only advice usually to heed is to avoid the favourite or last year’s winner.


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Before we get in to the markets, just to let you know we have an affiliation this year with Redzone betting. If you aren’t signed up to them yet and want to take advantage of decent overround books on the NFL, sign up here!

Content wise, we will have a weekly podcast throughout the season so be sure to subscribe to our YouTube channel. We will also look to bringing you a weekly look at the best Request a bet’s out there as well as our best bets on all the common markets in written form.

You can also find more betting previews in our NFL season guide, which you can buy from our shop.

Prior to the season, we will have ante post previews on divisions, outrights, team totals, season awards and a whole lot more if ante post is your thing.


Odds taken end July 2021

That bet is Washington Football Team to retain, yes RETAIN the NFC East. Sitting at around 2/1, they have the best defence on paper, on the field on the stat sheet by a country mile.

I could reel off the heavy investment that front 7 has received over the past couple of years from the NFL draft including Chase Young, Montez Sweat, Daron Payne, Jonathan Allen to name just a couple from the 1st round.

They gave the eventual Super Bowl champs, the Tampa Bay Bucs the biggest scare in the post season last year, and that was with Taylor Heinicke. No disrespect to the guy, especially after his dive to the pylon in said game, but if they have an average Quarterback playing the position in that game, things may be looking a lot different.

It’s the 2nd season for Ron Rivera in Washington, and despite his discontent at the vaccination status of the team, they just have to be a lot shorter than the current 2/1 they find themselves at. They have brought in Ryan Fitzpatrick, who isn’t to be trusted for a whole season and there is a reason why he has never played in a playoff game. They have also acquired the services of WR Curtis Samuel to go with Terry McLaurin. Added to that Adam Humphries is a signing that has gone under the radar and also selected a couple of wideouts from the draft including the potentially exciting Dyami Brown.

The defence is enough to win them a few games this season and can account for any of Fitzpatrick’s erratic episodes. The talented RB Antonio Gibson should continue to produce behind a competent Washington offensive line, backed up by JD McKissic.

For me the reason the prices are how they are is because this screams “bookies dont want to take any money” on Dallas.

Sometimes in gambling, you’ll find what is called “false favourites”. This usually means the bookies cripple the price of a certain selection, not because they think it will win or they think they are the best, it’s because they dont want to be on the wrong side of that selection or they want a “green” line on it, meaning they want the favourite to be a winning selection for the house.

That, for me my friends, is the Dallas Cowboys in 2021. Hard knocks team, hype around the star and now particularly wealthy Quarterback Dak Prescott. Happy to debate whether Dallas are worthy favourites, however i will not have that the Washington Football Team aren’t at least closer in the betting to them.

Dallas are horrendous on defence and there isn’t too much they have done in the offseason to think that they’ll be anything than just below average. The signing of Malik Hooker looks good on paper, but 1st round draft pick Micah Parsons has character questions, the Cornerback group have a lot of question marks and the linebackers have more than a point to prove with Jaylon Smith coming off a poor season, Leighton vander Esch struggling to stay healthy, taking over that mantle from Sean Lee.

Even if they shave a couple of points of the 30 pt average they gave up in 2020, they’ll still struggle to get to double digit wins. You can’t even mark them up confidently for 3-4 divisional wins, let alone 10 for the season.

Do they have the best offence, yes, and it’s by a country mile, especially if the offensive line stays healthy, but even that is a coin flip these days. They had 12 different offensive line combinations in their 16 games last season, #NotGreatBob.

Even with all of the above guaranteed and having a number one scoring offence, it’s hard to cover up all the cracks on a pourous defence. Dallas even with Dak struggled in their first 4 full games last year and were only a successful watermelon kick away from an 0-4 start as they had seemingly more double digit deficits than you have had hot dinners. This is despite averaging 31.5pts through those first 4 games.

The division will likely go down to the wire as it usually does and in all honestly, will likely hinge on the head to head matchups between Dallas and Washington, which come in week 14 and 16. Going head to head, Washington’s defence absolutely mauled Dallas last year including an humiliation on Thanksgiving. Yes, Dak was missing, but you could have had Tom Brady or Peyton Manning behind center and it still would have been a bloodbath.

Dallas have a tough start to the season with the opening kickoff cameras on them at Raymond James Statdium as they face the defending champs, Tampa Bay Buccaneers before travelling to the Chargers in week 2. 3 winnable games follow at home before a potentially pivotal game at New England in week 6 before their bye. They’ll need to be 3-3 going in to that.

Making a case for the other 2 teams in the division. Well, it’s the NFC East.

The Philadelphia Eagles (seemingly) have given the keys to Jalen Hurts for a year. There are continuous rumours swirling that Deshaun Watson could pull on the Eagles jersey in 2021 and if that move comes to fruition, Philadelphia’s odds will come crashing down.

They employ 1st year rookie Head Coach Nick Sirianni and you can expect a lot of “Hey, Siri” jokes plastered across social media. He’ll look to improve on the 4-11-1 record from last season in a season where they waited until week 4 to record their first win and went 1-7 after their bye week.

Similar to Dallas, Philadelphia need an offensive line that is healthy for Hurts to have a chance (less so if Watson comes through the entrance) to make things happen. That being said Hurts is a mobile QB, which is any leveller for poor offensive line play. Drafting his teammate in the 1st round will help too as Devonta Smith, WR from Alabama joins a particularly poor group of players the position.

Zach Ertz seemingly couldn’t find a new home and miraculously is “sorting through” the problems he seemingly had with the Franchise. He was underwhelming in 2020 and Dallas Goedert may still have more playing time in 2021 at the position, but expect both to be on the field for the most part, especially if the aforementioned poor O-line play or injuries rears it’s ugly head.

The much maligned Cornerback group of the Eagles was bolstered by Steven Nelson, who comes over from Pittsburgh and joins Darius Slay, one of the premier corners. Anthony Harris was also added to the secondary of the Eagles which may make them a bit closer to the average. They’ll look to improve the 26th ranked defence in the redzone and 22nd in terms of points allowed per drive on average.

The Eagles probably are in too much tumult to cause a stink but as it always is with the NFC East, they all love playing party poopers when it comes to the divisional games.

Moving over to the New York Giants, already had some fun and games as Daniel Jones found himself at the bottom of a big Giant pile, much to the dismay of Joe Judge who then sent them running for a little while. Kelvin Benjamin and Joe Judge if you believe some reports, have had a few back and forths, leading to Benjamin’s release only after 1 day in New York. Saquon Barkley looks unlikely to be ready for week one. Oh, and Jason Garrett is still around.

A shaky offensive line has not had much attention given to it in the offseason and fully expect that to be part of their troubles again this season.

Kenny Golladay and eyebrow raising 1st round WR selection Kadarius Toney join a middling set of WR in Slayton, Shepard and TE Evan Engram. Golladay has injury troubles in the past year and there are already whispers that Toney has not been the most focused or motivated since being drafted and participating in camp.

The defence should be competent enough after re-signing Leonard Williams and acquiring Adoree Jackson at Cornerback.

That being said, it’s just feels like an absolute mess in New York, something which the New York media should have fun with in 2021 and I do not see them troubling for the division title or a playoff spot.

It’s likely that only 1 team progresses to the post season from this division, so as a Washington backer, i have no interested in any of them at the prices.

Other Markets:

Finishing Positions

Dallas – 1st – 5/4 , 2nd – 2/1 , 3rd – 4/1, 4th – 13/2

Washington- 1st –2/1 , 2nd – 2/1 , 3rd – 11/4 , 4th – 4/1

Philadelphia – 1st – 11/2, 2nd – 4/1, 3rd – 9/4, 4th – 5/4

New York – 1st – 9/2, 2nd – 3/1 , 3rd – 19/10, 4th – 2/1

Selected prop bets:

Just to remind you that there are 17 regular season games this year, which is why you might find the lines a bit higher than you normally would if you are cross referencing previous year’s totals. On first glance, Ryan Fitzpatrick’s number looks quite high. He has only played a full season 3 times and his highest total is 3,905, which was for the Jets. However, i think that they’ll be a defensive side and I am not sure how gunslinger happy he will be in this team. Dak Prescott on the other hand could smash 5,000 yards. he was on course for a million of them through 5 games (had 1875) and still ranked 32nd in passing yards in 2021 despite playing less than a third of the season. The defence is not that much improved and could see the same pattern as last year. Difficult to gauge Jalen Hurts’ line as they’ll likely be behind a lot this year but Hurts, like myself is a leg man. Daniel Jones has barely reached 3,000 in the either of his first 2 seasons. His line of 3,800.5 looks fairly inflated. Of the props below, the absolute standout bet is Dak Prescott over 3.5 rushing TDs. He had 3 last year in just over 4 games. He did have 3 the year before but i would be shocked to see this go under. He had 6 in each of the first 3 seasons in the NFL.

Passing Yard lines: Ryan Fitzpatrick – 3,900.5, Jalen Hurts – 3,650.5, Dak Prescott – 4,795.5, Daniel Jones – 3,800.5

Passing TDs: Fitzpatrick – 23 , Hurts – 20.5, Prescott – 32.5, Jones – 24

Rushing Yard lines: Antonio Gibson – 1,025.5, Ezekiel Elliott – 1100.5, Miles Sanders – 1000.5

Rushing TDs: Gibson – 9.5, Elliott – 9.5,Prescott – 3.5, Hurts – 7.5, Sanders – 7,

Receiving Yard lines: McLaurin – 1,180.5, Cooper – 1,175.5, Lamb – 1,050.5, Golladay – 1000.5

All in all, the division is always a tough one to bet on, however it seems to be a tale of two halves. the top 2 being Washington and Dallas, Philadelphia and New York being the bottom 2. Redzone are offering 7/5 on Dallas and Washington in the top 2 positions come January, which appeals considering the state of the franchises. Is also a nice security blanket of sorts if you are betting Washington to win the division

Favourite bets:

  • Washington Football Team to win NFC East – 23/10 (07/08/21)
  • New York Giants under 7 wins – 11/10 (if you can find 7.5 wins line take that)
  • Dak Prescott over 3.5 rushing TDs – 10/13
  • Dallas / Washington Dual forecast – 7/5

PLEASE GAMBLE RESPONSIBLY.

IF YOU FEEL LIKE YOUR GAMBLING IS TOO MUCH OR STARTING TO AFFECT YOU, PLEASE TALK TO SOMEONE ABOUT IT OR USE THE TOOLS AVAILABLE TO YOU ON EACH RESPECTIVE SITE.

“When the fun stops, stop”

18+

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NFL Week 10 Takeaways

We’re officially making our way through the ‘back nine’ now (Masters reference for golf fans) and some HUGE games took place last weekend.

But what are we to make of all of the action? Here are the thoughts of the Full10Yards crew on what we have just seen.


Cards pip Bills – Hail Murray!

In what could be one of the most crucial plays of the season, a 43-yard Hail Mary, or should we say Hail Murray, somehow found its way to DeAndre Hopkins’ sticky gloves while being sandwiched in between Bills defenders. The catch saw the Cardinals win in spectacular fashion in the late game window on Sunday.

A back-and -forth game looked to be heading Buffalo’s way after Josh Allen’s own deep bomb found Stefon Diggs at the back of the end zone, sending the Bills sideline into raptures and putting Allen back into the MVP discussion. But it was not to be as Kyler Murray, himself now at the forefront of the end-of-season award conversation, guided them to victory after last week’s loss to the Dolphins.

The game was a slow burner in the first half with the kickers taking centre stage, with the score 16-9 Bills at the half. Both QBs turned the ball over in the second half, giving each team chances to hang around and win the game. But it was ultimately the 2019 #1 overall pick coming out on top, with two rushing touchdowns to boot. He became the first QB in NFL history with both a pass TD and a rush TD in five straight games

He even turned his back on his final throw and watched it all go down on the big screen!

Expect more of the same on TNF in a tasty match-up against the Seahawks in a battle that could go a way in determining the NFC West winner.


Two-headed monster returns to carry the Browns

Ant and Dec. Kermit and Miss Piggy. Abbott and Costello. Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt. Sometimes people just work better in pairs. For the first time since early in Week 4, the Browns were able to field both of their premier back together and the results were fantastic. In fact, they managed a feat not achieved in Cleveland for over 50 years: both runners topped 100 yards rushing to give the Browns the first such pair to achieve the feat since way back in 1966.

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Ron Schwane – AP

Hunt has performed well in the absence of Chubb but the overall production of the run game went from very good to average at best. The return of Chubb reignited the running game back to its previous levels of excellence. On a day of bad weather, it was more important than ever as wind and rain limited both quarterbacks in this game. The return of Wyatt Teller to the offensive line was also a key factor as he was involved on several pulling run plays, which helped to generate good yardage.

For me, Chubb is the best running back in the league. His combination of elusiveness, speed, strength, vision and intelligence have him at the top of the RB charts, as illustrated beautifully by two plays. On his touchdown run, he cut back against the grain of all of his blockers to exploit the hole created by the Texans over-pursuing. It was then rubber-stamped by the final meaningful play of the game where Chubb bounced outside, made a defender miss and scampered 59 yards to the end zone. Of course, he slammed on the breaks at the 1-yard line, allowing the Browns to kneel out the clock and remove any remote possibility of a Texans comeback.

The AFC Wild Card race is a packed field but with Hunt and Chubb firing, the Browns are right in the middle of the race. If a game is to be decided by a backfield, then the Orange and Brown will really like their chances with the two-headed juggernaut at their disposal.


Ranting and Raven

There aren’t too many more wheels to fall off the Ravens bandwagon as they suffered their third defeat in 2020, which is already more than last season.

But what exactly is going wrong? Lack of confidence in the run game? Lack of personnel to execute? Too stubborn to admit who they are? Is the silent count due to no fans an issue?

The sign of a great team and a great run game is when the defence knows you are going to run it, defend accordingly and still can’t stop you.

The conditions in New England on primetime were not the greatest, but when you have a team that is built to run, has run successfully over the past 18 months and against a poor run defence, the Ravens just couldn’t muster much consistency in Week 10. Are they particularly focused on trying to be balanced, clouding their judgements for setting up offensive gameplans?

Granted, they have been behind for a bit more of games than they were last year, but the game on Sunday night at worst was fairly neutral throughout.

They are still second in rushing attempts on offence and second in yards gained on the ground, but you just get a sense that Greg Roman and John Harbaugh are trying to make a point of stuffing it in our faces that Lamar Jackson is a passer too.

I hate to break it to you, he just isn’t, and by continuing to make Jackson throw the ball, you are hurting the team’s chances of winning games.

Tennessee Titans: Mike Vrabel provides message regarding playoff picture
Paul Rutherford – USA TODAY Sports

Here’s another stat that isn’t going to help: Lamar Jackson is 0-9 in games where his team has trailed by 10 points or more. So just run the ball, control the clock and the scoreboard.

Exhibit A – Ravens first touchdown drive against New England involved nine rushes and four passes, and took 8+ minutes off the game clock.

You have four running backs (I’m including Lamar here) and have your offence built a certain way for a reason. Whether it was the loss of offensive lineman Ronnie Stanley last week or Nick Boyle this week – two huge pieces for setting up an effective run game – is a debate for the end of the season, but there is plenty of head-scratching going on in Baltimore.

You can argue that the defeats thus far this season have been to high-flying Kansas, the undefeated Steelers and Sunday night so maybe not all is looking dead in the Ravens’ garden. But they are now three games back from the aforementioned Steelers, battling with the Browns for second place and the AFC Wild Card picture is looking muddier than a pig sty.

Looking at their SNF counterparts, Cam Newton, who has also had his critics surrounding his passing game, especially since his shoulder and foot injuries, threw the ball just 17 times and New England trusted the run game. Belichick and McDaniels have never been afraid to be proud of who they are and how they come out and play. Maybe the Ravens need to stick to who they are and do what they do best.

Through Week 10, Jackson has had 90 rush attempts; compare that to 116 from the same time last year. He has three rushing TDs compared to six after Week 10 in 2019. Why be less effective at doing everything rather than be very effective at fewer things?

It remains to be seen how it plays out from here and whether there will be any adjustments going forward, but the Ravens’ and Lamar Jackson’s invincibility cloak is starting to wear off.


RoNo RoJo… RoYES!

Running backs have different lengths of leashes when it comes to mistakes, inefficiency and reliability throughout the 32 teams in the NFL. Tampa Bay RB Ronald Jones II, for the most part, has a short one.

In games past, the former USC runner has been given the cold shoulder after a fumble or lack of production, and faced running back battles with the likes of Peyton Barber, Dare Ogunbowale and Jacquizz Rodgers to get some playing time over the past few summers.

A similar story could’ve quite easily played out when fumbling in the first Bucs drive against the Panthers, but Bruce Arians has shown faith in Jones by letting him continue to get opportunities in this game

Buccaneers' sideline predicted Ronald Jones' huge TD run | Yardbarker
Bob Donnan – USA TODAY Sports

That faith was rewarded when Ronald Jones rumbled for a 98-yard TD run, which puts him history books and highlight reels come Week 10’s end or even the season’s end. Jones ended up with 192 yards on the ground from 23 carries, to the delight but expectation of Arians:

“I told him that’s what I expect of him: ‘You’re our guy and that’s what we expect of you all the time.’ He ran great today. He feels terrible when he makes a mistake and the fumble in New York really upset him. This one, I wasn’t going to let upset him and he bounced back really strong.”

Bruce Arians post match interview

The writing seemed to be on the wall when former Jags first round pick RB Leonard Fournette joined the ranks this season, but Jones and Arians seem to be on the same wavelength. There is an element of trust to think that Jones is Tampa’s guy, as long as the mistakes don’t build up. Jones’s efforts saw him post his fourth game of the season over the century mark rushing and snaps a three-game streak of less than 35 rush yards.

For the Buccaneers, the bounceback from MNF embarrassment was completed despite a spirited effort from Carolina. They will face a stout defence in the LA Rams next week and considering the defence the Rams have, Ronald Jones may be a key cog in the Buccaneers’ machine in Week 11.


Brees has the wind knocked out of him

Future Hall of Famer Drew Brees was hit by 49ers Kentavius Street on a 3rd and 18 half way through the second quarter. Brees was slow to get up but he played the remainder of the quarter. He didn’t play a snap in the second half.

Upto 65% off sitewide at Fanatics!

It has come to light that Brees had rib injuries coming into this game and that hit from Street consequently sees Brees now nursing broken ribs and a collapsed lung.

Jameis Winston came in on mop-up duty and the Saints took home the W (and in Jameis’s case, he ate it on the car ride home). But the bigger question is, what now for Brees?

Brees is 41 and could be missing for an extended period of time, which is something Saints fans endured last season when he was out multiple games with a thumb injury. But Brees, as optimistic as ever, posted on his Instagram that he’ll be back “in no time soon”:

https://www.instagram.com/p/CHrYSjenDOp/

You have to wonder if the word on the Street (sorry) becomes that this might actually be the last time we see Brees on the field.


The not-so-hateful eight

Cordarrelle Patterson may not cut the mustard as a hybrid running back and wideout, but give him the opportunity to return a kick-off and there is no finer athlete in the entire league.

During MNF, the Minnesota Vikings made the fatal error of presenting Patterson a rounded leather gift in the end zone, and the wily veteran returned 105 yards for the score. It was the only touchdown for the offensively inept Chicago Bears but for Patterson, it was the eighth kick-off return he has taken to the house.

How long was Cordarrelle Patterson's kickoff return Monday night
Mike Dinovo – USA TODAY Sports

He now stands at the pinnacle of this statistical table, alongside Josh Cribbs and Leon Washington. Both Cribbs and Washington are retired (both in 2014) so Patterson has a chance to set the all-time record with his next touch of a ball.

There must be something in the water in the Windy City, as standing joint second (with six) and joint third (five) are Bears legends Gale Sayers (RB) and arguably the greatest combined kick and punt returner in NFL history, Mr Devin Hester. Was a shame that Patterson’s record-tying effort was in vain, but he does at least have a place in NFL folklore for now.


Giants starting to stand on shoulders

The NFC (L)East is still a joke, and nobody has more than three wins. In a world full of incompetence, bad play calling and even invisible snipers wreaking havoc from the bleachers, there seems to be a hand emerging from the swamp.

Yes, the fingernails are cracked and a used condom covered in pond scum dangles lifelessly from the index finger, but are we seeing the rise of the New York Giants?

Two consecutive wins over fellow division opponents (Washington and Philadelphia) and a quarterback who now realises that if you maintain an action of putting one foot in front of the other in a straight line, you can actually reach your destination in a vertical position, is adding up to some sort of momentum.

BigBlueInteractive - New York Giants News and Discussion
Vincent Carchietta – USA TODAY Sports

Nobody wants to see a six-win team take a division; it will be an embarrassment to the rich history of the NFL, and it will carve out a hideous scar on a season that is making the Red Wedding look like an episode of Junior Bake Off.

Somehow, the Giants could emulate the Bruce Willis character in Unbreakable and walk out of the train wreck that is the NFC East intact, with a divisional title.

Stranger things have happened. Look at the turnaround in Miami as evidence. 


The defensive Sean McVay

The Rams have been mighty impressive on the defensive side of the ball this year, and they largely have their rookie Defensive Coordinator Brandon Staley to thank for their dominance.

When McVay opted for Staley back in January, it was a turn away from the Rams’ previous direction with their defence. Wade Phillips was an experienced head, brought in to complement the youth and agility of McVay’s dynamic offence. However, when his contract came up at the end of the 2019 season, the Rams promptly told him it wouldn’t be renewed and they would be going in a new direction.

Boy, has that paid off…

Staley was handed a defensive unit that most assumed was on the decline. They had a sub-par pass rush, outside of Donald, and a poor LB unit, yet he has the Rams defence atop most of the defensive stats chart. They are averaging 296.4 YDS/G (2nd in NFL), allowing an average of 18.7 PTS/G (2nd) and have only allowed 19 TDs through nine games, which is the best in the league.

It cannot be understated how well the Rams D is playing. Years ago, the phrase ‘Defence wins Championships’ was coined and it certainly worked for divisional rivals Seattle in 2013 when they held the Broncos to only 8 points in Super Bowl XLVIII. I picked the ‘Hawks as the NFC title winners for 2020, but could I have gone for the wrong team in the NFC West…?

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The craziest proposed NFL trades that never happened

By Kieran Patterson (@DCCYTFootball)

With the news coming out about the Cleveland Browns reportedly turning down the Seattle Seahawks offering up Russell Wilson for the first round pick they used to draft Baker Mayfield, I thought it would be a great idea to look back at other proposed trades that would’ve shaken up the NFL landscape.

How many of these do you remember? If there are any you think are missing, please hit us up over on Twitter @Full10Yards!


Aaron Rodgers to the Oakland Raiders

Back in 2007, Aaron Rodgers was still backing up Brett Farve in Green Bay when the Raiders put Hall of Fame wide receiver Randy Moss on the trade block. Aaron Rodgers for Randy Moss would’ve been a hell of a trade. The reason this trade didn’t go through?

NFL rumors: Packers trading away Aaron Rodgers to Raiders? - nj.com
Matt York / AP

Green Bay wanted a first round pick and Moss for Aaron Rodgers. Moss ended up landing in New England and not only setting multiple records with Tom Brady but going 16-0 in THAT regular season.

Rumours surfacing once again about Aaron Rodgers and whether or not he will start and finish his career at Lambeau Field. Are the Raiders FINALLY gonna get to see A Rod?


Ben Roethlisberger to the Oakland Raiders/St. Louis Rams.

Now this one might be surprising to anyone who doesn’t keep up with the off field stories of the Pittsburgh Steelers. Ben Roethlisberger is far from the perfect teammate; he consistently airs team dirty laundry on his radio show, he thinks he’s the GM and not just a player and struggles to get on with most of his star players.

This isn’t just hearsay though, it’s well documented and this is why I think there’s weight behind this trade. In 2010 it was reported that the Steelers organization was fed up with Big Ben and his behavior that was causing trouble inside the organization and were looking at offers.

The Steelers approached Oakland and offered them Ben and the number 18 pick for the number 8 pick. Oakland said no. They also approached the St. Louis Rams and offered to trade Ben for Sam Bradford who had just completed his rookie year…the Rams said no, and that was that. Big Ben stayed in Pittsburgh and continued to annoy and alienate teammates.


Dan Marino to the Oakland Raiders

(I mean seriously? I promise this is the last Oakland one…or is it?)

In 1989, the Miami Dolphins had a very average 8-8 season leading them to another year of missing the playoffs. This wasn’t something Don Shula was happy with so they he thought the best course of action would be to change the signal caller, who was legendary quarterback…Dan Marino.

From Dan Marino to Dion Jordan – the Best and Worst of Miami ...
Andy Lyons / Getty

Shula managed to secure a verbal agreement with Raiders Al Davis but last minute the deal fell through, why? Shula got cold feet and upped the asking price for Marino. Twice. The price was too steep, even for Davis. Miami and Marino still never managed to win a Super Bowl.

It’s one of the one things Marino would be remembered for the one of the best quarterbacks to never win a Lombardi.


Eli Manning to the Jacksonville Jaguars

Going into the 2017/2018 season the Jags were really not happy with their Quarterback situation Blake Bortles wasn’t really cutting it.

Eli Manning retirement: Former Giants coach Tom Coughlin, GM Ernie ...
Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

The Jaguars needed a solution so they looked north to New York and set their sights on Eli Manning. The 2 time Super Bowl champion had been playing to put it lightly…terrible, but the Jags liked Manning for his Super Bowl experience and his former coach Tom Coughlin was running the Jacksonville front office.

Why didn’t this happen? Blake had a decent season which killed the interest in the trade from the Jags end. Shame Bortles went back to his usual self next season and the “Sacksonville” era was over before it even got started.


Odell Beckham Jr. to The Los Angeles Rams.

A couple of years before he got shipped out to Cleveland for a 1st round pick and Jabrill Peppers the Rams showed serious interest in Odell Beckham Jr.

What did the New York Football Giants want for the spectacular wide receiver? They asked the Rams for two 1st round picks and the Rams only wanted to give them one.

That’s a high price but the Browns eventually paid a similar price giving the Giants a 1st round pick and a 1st round player in Peppers. OBJ has yet to shine in Cleveland would the same thing have happened in LA?  


Antonio Brown to the Buffalo Bills

Okay, so this did/didn’t happen but everyone (kinda) remembers where they were when this went down. It was reported that the Steelers had agreed to send AB to the Bills

Twitter did it’s thing once it turned out that this wasn’t going to go through. Antonio Brown ended up being traded to the Oakland Raiders (why always Oakland?) but even then, he didn’t see the field in a Raiders Jersey, being “set free” to eventually wind up in New England for a game before unceremoniously leaving the league and trying to return ever since.

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New Head Coaches: Time to Judge who’ll Rhule

By Sean Tyler (@SeanTylerUK)

After disappointing campaigns, three NFC East teams – the Redskins, Cowboys and Giants –as well as the Panthers and Browns decided it was time for a new Head Coach. A fortnight after the regular season finished, four of the five had filled their hot seats, and the Browns have since found their man too. Now that the game of musical chairs has stopped, let’s take a look at who’s landed where and how they might fare.


WASHINGTON REDSKINS


Fired: Jay Gruden
Hired: 
Ron Rivera 

The switch: Washington got a two-month head-start on the rest, setting the HC conveyor belt in motion in October. After going 0-5, they decided enough was enough and fired Jay Gruden, who made the postseason just once in his five years in the capital.

A day after they closed out their 3-13 season with a 47-16 humbling by divisional rivals Dallas, long-time team president Bruce Allen was given the order of the boot, not long after he’d told the world the team’s culture was “damn good” (no laughing at the back, please). They swiftly followed that by agreeing to make Ron Rivera, let go by the Carolina Panthers, their new HC.

Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

The pros: Rivera is experienced, respected and no stranger to success, having led the Panthers to three consecutive NFC South titles from 2013. His hot streak culminated in a 15-1 regular season in 2015 and an appearance at Super Bowl L against the Denver Broncos. Having evolved from ultra-cautious to more progressive and forward-thinking, ‘Riverboat Ron’ could be the man to ensure Dwayne Haskins delivers on his early promise. The ‘Skins also need to sharpen up on the defensive side, but Rivera has form here too: he had five top-10 defences in Carolina. Bringing in former Raiders coach Jack Del Rio as his defensive coordinator can only help.

The cons: While his overall record stands up to scrutiny, it’s been tough going of late. Rivera’s last two seasons in Charlotte were both injury-affected and both went south after promising starts. Without Cam Newton, last year’s 5-11 saw them prop up the NFC South and the year before, they also finished with a losing record (7-9). That said, everyone to a man was complementary when he left.

The outlook: A fresh start was just what the doctor ordered and for Rivera’s sake, let’s hope the toxic Washington set-up is history. With the power to bring the crowds back to FedEx Field and reset the culture within the building, he’s already having a positive effect. Apparently, left tackle Trent Williams – who sat out last year because he lost trust in the medical staff and then the front office – has vowed to return to the fold because of the new HC and the organisational restructure.

The verdict: The pick of the bunch. He’ll have his hands full but with Allen out of the picture, there’s a distinct chance ‘Riverboat Ron’ will turn this ship around and steer the Redskins towards calmer waters.


DALLAS COWBOYS


Fired: Jason Garrett
Hired: 
Mike McCarthy

The switch: The Cowboys were the second team to make their move, eventually parting ways with Jason Garrett after nearly 10 years at the helm and an exit process that seemed to take just as long. Jerry Jones made it clear he wasn’t going to spend time bringing a college coach up to speed so they interviewed two experienced NFL guys: former Packers coach Mike McCarthy and long-time Bengals HC Marvin Lewis. Once Garrett was finally out the door, Dallas took less than 24 hours to announce McCarthy. 

Joe Robbins/Getty Images

The pros: Of our five coaches, McCarthy has the best pedigree, having led the Packers to nine playoff appearances, six NFC North division titles and a Super Bowl win (ironically at Dallas’ AT&T Stadium) in his 13 seasons. Although his relationship with quarterback Aaron Rodgers deteriorated, it was effective for much of his tenure so McCarthy should be able to strike up a good rapport with Dak Prescott.

The cons: McCarthy was fired midway through Green Bay’s 2018 season and he didn’t work during 2019 so will having a year out of the game hinder him? He has allegedly spent the time studying the latest NFL trends but equally, he might have lost some momentum.

The outlook: McCarthy has also been developing a new playbook, which will hopefully compensate for Dallas’ failures over the last decade. McCarthy needs to hit the ground running and start securing the late-postseason appearances Garrett should’ve achieved with the talent at his disposal. His credibility and reputation are high, but so are the expectations on him to bring success pretty much straight away.

The verdict: The one with everything to prove. McCarthy is a fine choice but the control he might want or expect isn’t up for grabs. In Dallas, Jerry is King: he calls the shots and makes (and breaks) the rules. Where the lines are drawn will decide whether McCarthy leads Dallas back to the heights of old or if he’s just the next guy to be stifled by the Jones dynasty.


CAROLINA PANTHERS


Fired: Ron Rivera
Hired: 
Matt Rhule

The switch: In early December, when the wheels were falling off another Panthers’ season, Ron Rivera was released. Owner David Tepper announced that he would be targeting an offensive-minded replacement, and did exactly that in hiring Baylor coach Matt Rhule. As it happens, Rhule was supposed to meet with the Giants (where he spent a year as an assistant O-line coach) after his trip to Carolina but never made it, having been made an offer he couldn’t refuse and the Giants couldn’t match. (For the record, I wouldn’t turn down $60 million over seven years, if anyone’s offering…)

Sean Gardner/Getty Images

The pros: The size of his contract suggests Carolina are all in on their new man. Rhule is a leader and has a knack for turning struggling teams around in double-quick time. He took Baylor from 1-11 in 2017 to 11-3 just two years later and, before that, transformed Temple from a 2-11 outfit to a conference-winning one.

The cons: It’s important to remember that Rhule has no league experience at HC (a red flag to some). He will need to make the not-insignificant leap from college to the big league if he is to bring the franchise some stability and, eventually, success.

The outlook: Rhule won’t need to repeat the complete turnabouts he managed in his college programmes. He’ll have assets to work with – not least a solid defence and one of the league’s top stars in running back Christian McCaffrey – but there is also work to do, with linebacker Luke Kuechly retiring and tight end Greg Olsen joining the Seahawks. It will also be interesting to see whether he plumps for Cam Newton, Kyle Allen or someone else as his long-term QB. In the draft, he might grab a couple of guys with potential and the right character traits, and take the time to nurture them.

The verdict: The slow-burner. If Rhule can get on top of things in the pro world, the Panthers could be back in the mix again. However, I suspect, as we saw with some of last year’s rookie coaches, we shouldn’t expect results overnight. It took him a couple of years to get to grips with Temple and Baylor, and he’s been afforded ample time to set things up the right way so peg him for a successful rebuild from 2021 and beyond.


NEW YORK GIANTS


Fired: Pat Shurmur
Hired: 
Joe Judge

The switch: Despite a strong finish by Saquon Barkley and a decent showing by young QB Daniel Jones, the Giants had a disappointing 2019 under Pat Shurmur. They could ill-afford to let another season slip by with such talent in their ranks so, after Shurmur’s two underwhelming seasons ended with a 9-23 record, the Giants were next to step up to the plate (to mix my sporting metaphors).

Just minutes after the Panthers announced Rhule, the Giants revealed Joe Judge as their man. Interestingly, New York ran the rule over Rhule too, and were given the opportunity to match Carolina’s massive offer. The Giants declined.

Danielle Parhizkaran-USA TODAY Sports

The pros: Judge was a special teams assistant for Nick Saban at Alabama for three seasons and then spent eight years with the Patriots as special teams and wide receivers coach. He won three Super Bowls in New England and has been plucked right off the Bill Belichick coaching tree. Being a special teams guy, he’s used to having close contact with most players on the roster, which will stand him in good stead.

The cons: Compared to the likes of Rivera and McCarthy, Judge is a relative unknown. He also hasn’t held a head coaching role at any level, which to some might make him the weakest candidate on paper.

The outlook: Judge may be a rookie but the 38-year-old is a good communicator, has high standards and a blue-collar work ethic. Judge’s initial press conference suggested that New York have a good fit. He told the media to expect an intense, aggressive, old-school team that will reflect the community in which they play.

The verdict: The left-field choice. I don’t want to judge too early but he comes across as hard-nosed and disciplined. He can certainly talk the talk, so let’s see if he can walk the walk.


CLEVELAND BROWNS


Fired: Freddie Kitchens
Hired: 
Kevin Stefanski

The switch: Armed with Baker Mayfield, Odell Beckham Jr., Jarvis Landry, Nick Chubb and Myles Garrett to name but a few, the Browns were many people’s top tip for a playoff run or even a Super Bowl appearance in 2019. Even Sports Illustrated ran with “Bold prediction! Cleveland’s first division title in 30 years” on one cover. As it turned out, The Ill-Advised Freddie Kitchens Experiment was abandoned after a year, with a disappointing 6-10 season ending with a three-game losing streak. As they say, “If you can’t stand the heat, get Kitchens out” (or something) so they did, with GM John Dorsey also sent packing.

Cleveland interviewed a host of candidates – Patriots OC Josh McDaniels, Ravens OC Greg Roman, Chiefs OC Eric Bieniemy, 49ers DC Robert Saleh, Eagles DC Jim Schwartz, Uncle Tom Cobley and all – but in the end, they plumped for Vikings offensive coordinator Kevin Stefanski.

Jason Miller/Getty Images

The pros: Part of the furniture in Minneapolis since 2006, Stefanski is a schemer, an analytical thinker and someone who can maximise offensive talent. The Vikes had a 10-6 season and a Wild Card win over the Saints, and their attack was largely effective under Kirk Cousins.

The cons: Initial reactions to the hire were mixed at best, not least because he wasn’t McDaniels – seemingly the fans’ preferred choice – and because of Minnesota’s poor offensive performance in their playoff loss to the 49ers. He’s untested as an HC, and was second choice when Kitchens was ultimately hired 12 months ago, which makes him feel like a consolation prize.

The outlook: Only time will tell whether this was the right move, but Cleveland seriously need an experienced, attack-minded guy to take their offence by the scruff of the neck and sort it out. But hiring an unproven Head Coach won’t give the long-suffering fans in Cleveland much confidence that they’ve got one right for a change.

The verdict: The jury’s out. How many times have the Browns been primed to turn things around at last, only to fail? They haven’t kept an HC for more than four seasons over the last 20 years. Stefanski may succeed where others before him have fallen by the wayside but he isn’t a safe bet. It’s a coin-flip for me but at least he shouldn’t be any worse than Freddie…

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Season in review – New York Giants

by Lawrence Vos (@F10YRetro and @NFLFANINENGLAND)

In a decade that included earning their fourth Vince Lombardi trophy the New York Giants only won a single NFC East crown and had 4 winning seasons. How would they finish the 2010s? 


Entering the season


Having finished dead last in their division in 2017 and 2018 it was time for some significant changes if Big Blue was going to emulate its predecessors. 

Photo credit: Anthony J. Causi (N.Y. Post)

In possession of the 2018 Offensive Rookie of the Year Saquon Barkey, a top three fantasy pick, the Giants were looking to begin the NFLs 100th season in a much better way than 1-7 (as they did in 2017 and 2018). 

The Giants bid farewell to a number of big names, WR Odell Beckham Jr and LB Olivier Vernon going to Cleveland by trade and S Landon Collins departing in free agency to divisional rivals Washington. The only veteran names of any significance coming into the team were WR Golden Tate and G Kevin Zeitler.

Without doubt the biggest offseason transaction for the G-Men was their first round draft pick (#6) Daniel Jones. Ridiculed by draftniks across the globe for selecting the former Duke standout so early, head coach Pat Shurmer and GM Dave Gettleman knew the writing was already on the wall for veteran QB Eli Manning. 

Ending up with three first round selections, the Giants made two more conventional early picks, grabbing DT Dexter Lawrence at #17 and CB Deandre  Baker at #30 to try and immediately improve a weak defense. They also picked up WR Darius Slayton in the 5th round. 

Reggie White Jr, son of legendary Hall of Fame DE Reggie White was signed as an UDFA but was cut before the season started, before earning a place on the Giants practice squad. 

Photo credit: Sarah Stier/Getty Images

Would this be the final season we would see double Super Bowl winning QB Eli Manning suiting up in the Big Apple? Could Saquon move onwards and upwards? Could the Giants find some defensive consistencey? 


During the season


Despite going undefeated in the Preseason the Giants began the 2019 regular season in familiar fashion with two consecutive losses. In both defeats Saquon rushed for over 100 yards. 

With the season outlook already starting to turn dark Coach Shurmer made the bold move to bench Eli Manning for only the second time in his career (the first being for Geno Smith in 2017). 

Photo credit: Andy Lyons/Getty Images

In Eli’s place was rookie Daniel Jones, who despite harsh criticism, managed to win his first two NFL starts against Tampa Bay and Washington. Jones threw for 336 yards and two scores in his debut, but had a tougher outing against the Redskins, tossing two picks. 

The small taste of success was then turned into as much fun as licking an Amazonian tree frog for Giants fans as the team went on a nine-game losing skid, a franchise record defeat streak, last performed in 1976 when the team introduced the word ‘Giants’ on the sides of their helmets. 

Saquon Barkley missed Weeks 4-6 with an injury, and didn’t have his third 100+ yard rushing performance until Week 14, which coincidentally happened to be the next time the Giants won a a game, having not won a single contest in October or November. 

The two December wins, against the Dolphins at home and then on the road in Landover, Maryland was enough to leave the Giants with a 4-12 record, and the smallest of moral victories, having finished the season 3rd in the NFC East.



A few side notes on another season without a sniff of the postseason included Eli Manning, in his final contest of the season, and his career, leaving the league on a winning note, a week 15 triumph against Miami, and the cutting of CB Janoris Jenkins for calling a fan a ‘retard’ on social media. 

After their 12th loss, a Week 17 defeat to the Eagles, Giants brass sacked head coach Pat Shurmer, who accumulated a poor 9-23 record in two seasons in charge. 

Team leaders for the Giants included Markus Golden (10 sacks), Janoris Jenkins (4 interceptions), and rookie Darius Slayton (receiving yards – 740 and touchdowns – 8). Kicker Aldrick Rosas did himself no favours missing 29% of his field goal attempts and failing on 4 point after touchdowns.


Offseason outlook 


Photo credit: Danielle Parhizkaran

Much in the same way that NFL experts were scratching their dandruff ridden scalps after the Giants selected QB Daniel Jones at 6 overall in the 2019 draft there were similar flake inducing moments when they announced Joe Judge as the new head coach. 

Judge, only 38, has an astonishing track record, winning two College championships with Alabama (2009 and 2011) and three Super Bowl winners rings as a special teams coach with the New England Patriots. This will be his first ever head coaching job. 

In other franchise altering news Eli Manning retired in late January 2020, ending 16 seasons of NFL gameplay, taking with him two rings, the same number as his big brother Peyton.

The Giants have lots of work to do everywhere in 2020 having failed to muster a single Pro-Bowl player for the 2019 season, the first time they failed to send someone somewhere sunny since the mid-90s. 

Photo credit: Newsday.com

Building blocks will include QB Daniel Jones, who rode out a torrid rookie season with three wins and over 3,000 yards passing and DT Dexter Lawrence (pictured above), who made the PFWA All-Rookie starting lineup.

This is a very young team, with no big names on defense, no 1,000 yard receivers, no Pro Bowlers and no big prospects in 2020. 

They do pick high again, this time at #4 overall and will likely be targeting a playmaking speed rushing defender or the best CB or S available. The team need to target WR, CB and LB in free agency.

The jury is out already and the verdict is not good for Coach Judge in 2020.

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Half-Term Report: AFC/NFC East

Time to head east for the last 2 sets of Half-Term reports. Quite a few teams in these divisions have underwhelmed and then there’s the Patriots. At the very least the NFC equivalent should be a bit more exciting, but that wouldn’t be hard to do when you are comparing against the AFC East.

Nonetheless, Let’s give them some grades:


AFC East 


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By Lawrence Vos (@NFLFanInEngland)

Current Standings 

  • New England Patriots – 8-0
  • Buffalo Bills – 5-2
  • New York Jets – 1-6
  • Miami Dolphins – 0-7

*New England Patriots*

Midseason Grade: A+

How has it gone so far? 

At some point the never ending story of Patriots success has to end, but the 2019 season still has the tale without an end in sight.

The AFC’s only undefeated team at the half-way point Sith Lord Belichick and his cyborg QB Tom Brady are continuing to excel, but the offense is being out-shadowed by a defense that is looking like the 1985 Bears on some old-school steroids. A remarkable statistic to come to the fore after 7 games was that the Patriots would have been 4-2-1 if they had all of their offensive touchdowns removed.

Current Super Bowl MVP Julian Edelman is still the heartbeat of the offense, catching more balls than a set of snooker table pockets, and the recent acquisition of sure-handed WR Mohammed Sanu from the Falcons will immediately compensate for the loss of Josh Gordon to injury. 

Rest of Season Outlook:

The Pats go up against the Ravens, Eagles, Cowboys, Texans and Chiefs to open up the second half of the season, and you read it here first they WILL lose one of this handful of high-profile games. You can run on the Patriots, just don’t turn the ball over.

Ever since the Patriots shut down the Rams in the Super Bowl they flicked on a switch of defensive dominance and 61 points allowed in 8 games is quite simply amazing. The Patriots are a bit of Mahomes magic from yet another trip to the Big Dance. Just give up betting against them.

Regular season record prediction : 15-1 and trip to Super Bowl. 


*Buffalo Bills*

Midseason Grade: B+

How has it gone so far? 

One of the genuine surprise units of the NFL, aside from a rather lacklustre loss to the Eagles the Bills have played solid defense to help them to five wins in their first six games. Josh Allen has not exactly lit it up so far but he is now completing 60% of his passes.

Free agent WR John ‘Smoky’ Brown is on target for over 1k and the Peter Pan of the NFL RB Frank Gore is leading the team in rushing with 422 yards.

On their defence, the strongest part of their setup, CB Tre’Davious White and S Jordan Power lead a top 10 secondary. The Bills allowed a maximum 21 points against them in the first six weeks.

Rest of Season Outlook

Buffalo’s next four are all winnable, before a tougher ending that includes trips to Dallas, New England and Pittsburgh and home against the Ravens.

The Bills could have a rather shiny 9-2 record heading into Week 12 if they continue their brand of bend but don’t break football. Josh Allen does need to reduce the turnovers and rookie RB Devin Singletary needs to get back on the field.

At some point in the next three weeks Frank Gore will remarkably pass Barry Sanders in the all-time rushing table, with just Walter Payton and Emmitt Smith ahead of him.

This is a team on the rise but likely another one and done in the playoffs.


Regular season record prediction: 10-6


*New York Jets*

Midseason Grade: E

How has it gone so far? 

The Jets have won six games so far, oops that’s the NHL’s Winnipeg Jets. The New York Jets unfortunately kissed goodbye to a winning season when their QB Sam Darnold went down with mono. The combination of backups Trevor Siemian and Luke Falk were atrocious.

Mega signing RB Le’Veon Bell has been disappointing, and was even allegedly in the shop window at the trade deadline. His 536 total yards in 7 games is not what was expected and his two scores is pitiful.

With the exception of a bizarre upset win over the Cowboys in Week 6 this is a team heading in the wrong direction fast. Trading away DE Leonard Williams (to the same stadium) will not help matters, but the Jets must love namesake DT Quinnen Williams. 

Rest of Season Outlook:

The Jets have perhaps the softest schedule in the entire league over the next six weeks, including two contests agains the Dolphins and trips to Cincy and Washington.

They should come away with two wins at least in this tea cake of a period. The Jets came into 2019 with a new uniform, a new superstar RB and even a wild-card buzz, but this is clearly not a playoff team, and its back to the drawing board already for Adam Gase, who may not be in post when St Nick comes down your chimney.

Trying to shop your top assets, such as Jamal Adams S and Roby Anderson WR is hardly inspiring confidence and will only serve to further fracture an already shattered locker room.

Regular season record prediction: 3-13


*Miami Dolphins*

Midseason Grade: E

How has it gone so far?

The entire Dolphins team were given a lovely present just before the start of the 2019 season, a one year digital subscription to ‘The World of Tanks’.

With QB Ryan Fitzmagic at the helm Miami are surprisingly competing in games but the feeling is they are told to pump the brakes if there is any danger of actually winning a game. QB Josh Rosen was clearly not the answer, and judging by the trade of RB Kenyan Drake for little more than a handful of conkers, the team is not serious about winning football games.

The ‘Fins trade at the deadline for CB Aqib Talib was merely to get better pick status, and losing CB Xavien Howard to injury is a blow. The tiny ray of offensive light is resurrection project RB Mark Walton who will look for 700 yards rushing.

Anything is better than RB Kalen Ballage, who is averaging less yards per carry than the team’s punter Matt Haack. 

Rest of Season Outlook: 

This is a team capable of going 0-16, having scored less than anyone else to this point, and only behind the Falcons (who have played one more game) in terms of points conceded. Fitzmagic has shown up in patches, and it’s not beyond belief that the bearded wizard pulls off one or two wins against the Jets (two games) or Giants or Bengals.

Problem is Miami will be desperate to get the number one draft pick. The ultimate irony would be to beat a 15-0 Patriots team in Week 17 if they rest their starters and their backups. It won’t happen, but it would put a cap on a historically Sherman-styled season. 

Regular season record prediction: 0-16



NFC EAST


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Current Standings 

  • Dallas Cowboys – 4-3
  • Philadelphia Eagles – 4-4
  • New York Giants – 2-6
  • Washington Redskins – 1-7

*Dallas Cowboys*

Midseason Grade: B-

How has it gone so far? 

Despite a horrendous three-game losing streak the Cowboys are still the class of the NFC East and are atop the division, albeit due to having had a bye week.

The Cowboys had a marshmallow schedule to start, and when they had quality opponents (Saints, Packers) Day and Zeke couldn’t get the W, but a monster 27 point win over the Eagles will have Jerry Jones smiling in the executive box.

Ezekiel Elliot is gunning for a third rushing title, with 602 and 6 scores in 7 weeks. WRs Amari Cooper and Michael Gallup are stretching the field – 65 catches, over 1,000 yards and just under 16 yards a catch between them. 

Rest of Season Outlook :

HC Jason Garrett has been in the corner quite a lot this season, clapping to himself as no-one will even give him a high-five. Somehow Garrett is still in post, but this is an appearance in the NFC Championship (most likely as the road team) or bust for the guy who has been in Dallas for 10 seasons.

The Cowboys have a quality roster on both sides of the ball, but they cannot afford to fall asleep at the wheel again for the rest of the season as they did in the shocking loss to the Jets in Week 6.

Look for Zeke to get fed more than Eddie Hall did on his tour of American eateries. 

Regular season record prediction: 11-5 and trip to NFC Championship. 


*Philadelphia Eagles*

Midseason Grade: B-

How has it gone so far? 

The Eagles are a hard team to gauge, so can the real team please stand up.

Losses to the Lions and Falcons and wins over Buffalo and Green Bay is a clear sign that there is a lack of consistency.

QB Carson Wentz has been OK (1,821 yards and 14 touchdowns) and he has sorely missed the deep threat of DeSean Jackson, who returned to Philly after five seasons away. Jackson hasn’t suited up since Week 2 leaving WRs Alshon Jeffery and Nelson Agholor to average under 10 yards a catch combined.

Rookie RB Miles Sanders has played second fiddle to Jordan Howard who leads the team with six scores.

Rest of Season Outlook

Philadelphia’s second half has five very winnable games including three in-division contests, but New England and Seattle games will be season defining matchups. The Eagles defense has regressed and their secondary is their weakness so they will struggle against superior passers like Russell Wilson and an evergreen Tom Brady. Just two seasons away from lifting a Vince Lombardi Trophy this Eagles team is arguably underperforming, and judging by the 4-4 record to date its not clear which team is coming out of the locker room each week. 

Regular season record prediction: 9-7


*New York Giants*

Midseason Grade: D-

How has it gone so far? 

This season will go down in New York history as the end of the Eli Manning era and the start of the Daniel Jones one.

The Giants made a bold move to draft Jones early and doubled up when they inserted his in the starting lineup in Week 3. Jones did come out the gate on fire gaining the Giants two wins on the bounce, but that has been followed by four consecutive losses. Jones is on target for around 3,000 yards and 20 touchdowns.

Stud RB Saquon Barkley has already missed three games and only has three touchdowns in the five contests he has played in.

The only other half-decent offensive performer is TE Even Engram who has 38 catches to lead the team.

Rest of Season Outlook: 

With the Jets, Dolphins and Redskins on their second-half slate the Giants should equal their first half win total. Daniel Jones is growing in confidence week by week and the recent return of WR Golden Tate from a suspension will be a big boost.

The Giants need to improve pretty much everywhere on defense and also they need to get better performances from their offensive line. It is a real shame that Saquon is on such a poor team as he has All-World potential.

Another season of frustration in the Big Apple and an emotional farewell to double Super Bowl winning QB Eli Manning in December.

Regular season record prediction: 4-12


*Washington Redskins*

Midseason Grade: E

How has it gone so far? 

It’s no surprise the Redskins are cellar dwellers;

Their best offensive piece T Trent Williams has held out to this point and the team only announced this week that they are willing to trade him.

Veteran QB Case Keenum has been serviceable as a bridge passer, and will likely see more snaps than expected as rookie Dwayne Haskins has been the proverbial ‘deer in the headlights’ in his limited appearances.

The biggest surprise has been rookie WR Terry McLaurin who leads the team in anything meaningful. The biggest move of the season in Washington was the removal of head coach Jay Gruden, who failed to win a game before the locks were changed.

Interim replacement Bill Callahan won (barely) in his first outing, and has changed the mentality of the team on both sides of the ball. In his three games in charge the Redskins have fed Adrian Peterson the ball and played solid defense, only allowing three touchdowns in three games. 

Rest of Season Outlook: 

The season was a lost cause from Week 1 when the Redskins had Coach Gruden in charge. With 8 games left the Redskins will play tough, but their lack of offensive weapons will cost them dearly.

The only achievable target will be trying to finish above the equally woeful Giants in the NFC East. There are two potential Pro Bowl candidates, rookie WR McLaurin and a very under the radar CB Quinton Dunbar, who has shone on a defense that has underperformed considering the early round picks they have spent trying to build a competitive unit.

If they do trade Trent Williams that could at least bring a good pick in the 2020 draft. 

Regular season record prediction: 2-14