Full10Lookaheads – Week 10

By Lawrence Vos and Tim Monk

Sunday night football


Massive game for those chasing the division titles in the NFC and NFC North as the Dallas Cowboys host the Minnesota Vikings.

With Philadelphia on a bye, the Cowboys need to win to keep their heads just in front of Philadelphia and it’s looking fairly likely that the 2nd placed team in the East could miss out on the playoffs.

Minnesota at 6-3 still sit one game behind Green Bay over in the North and whilst, this one is possibly less important for the #SKOL army, they don’t want to run the risk of running in to the cowboys for the wildcard and losing on the head to head tie breaker.

It may be a tight, cagey affair on Sunday Night Football, and that’s just Kirk Cousins we are talking about. Whilst Kirk most recently won vs the Redskins on Primetime television on TNF, it is more than well documented that Cousins can have the tendency to be a rabbit in the floodlights when push comes to shove.

Can Captain Kirk pull his socks up and lead his Minnesota team to a victory this week? His current record of 6-13 in primetime games suggests not.


Life after Cam

Image Credit: JEFF SINER

It’s going to be interesting watching how Kyle Allen performs down the stretch now that he is going to be starting from here on out.

Cam Newton has recently landed on Injured reserve, leaving us to wonder whether Cam Newton will ever be seen in a Carolina jersey again (look out for an article on that coming your way) but now you have to debate whether the pressure is now more on Kyle Allen to perform as he is “the guy” or whether there is less pressure on him as he no longer has to look over his shoulder or live in Cam’s shadow.

Kyle Allen does have the pressure of getting the Panthers to the playoffs though as they are right there in the thick of the wildcard race and that adventure makes it’s next stop at Lambeau Field.


Lights, Kamara, Action!

Image Credit: SI.com

Some of the NFL’s biggest superstars should be returning to the field this week with Kansas City QB Patrick Mahomes and New Orleans Saints running back Alvin Kamara should be available to suit up for their respective teams.

It’s fair to say though that the rest of the roster and the Head coaches has performed admirably in their absences over the past few weeks.

It says a lot about the adaptability of these teams to be able to read off a different script and still pull out the level of performances that they have. Unfortunately now for the rest of the league, two of th most potent and high octane offences get arguably, their main cogs back.

Everyone beware!


Get 10% off at NFL Europe Shop with code FULL10


Will Wilson win in the West?

Image result for russell wilson
Image Credit: John Bazemore / AP

MVP frontrunner Russell Wilson and the Seahawks travel to Levi’s stadium to face the last undefeated remaining team in the 49ers.

A win for the Seahawks here and the NFC West is all to play for. A win for the 49ers, and the NFC West is pretty much all wrapped up. Russell Wilson is coming off a 5TD performance vs the Buccaneers last week so confidence couldn’t be much higher, and Josh Gordon has just walked through the door.

However, he will need to be at the peak of his powers once again as he faces one of the best defences in the league away from home to stand any chance of picking up the win on Monday Night Football.


Nowhere for haters to Hyde any more

Image result for carlos hyde
Image Credit: Ian Walton / AP

We are just over the half-way point of the season and the general trend for feeding a lead back seems to be on the rise from twelve months ago, or maybe there has simply been less injuries at the RB position.

Standing at number eight in the 2019 rushing charts is a back that has bounced around the league and is now on his fifth team. This season, based on current projections, Carlos Hyde will break all of his own personal rushing records, and easily have his first 1,000+ season.

Hyde had two monster runs at Wembley last week, even if the longest resulted in a fumble on the goal line. His opening carry was as important as it was a tone-setter for the Texans – a 9 yard dart. That drive ended with Houston taking a 3-0 lead. Hyde ended the game with 160 yards rushing and the respect of over 80,000 fans.

For someone who never settled in Cleveland or Jacksonville, and didn’t even make it to the regular season in KC, this is a genuine comeback player of the year candidate. No need to Hyde in the shadows any more Carlos.


We’re all going on a Chubb-Hunt

Image result for kareem hunt nick chubb
Image Credit: Ron Schwane / AP

Two seasons ago Kareem Hunt led the league in rushing with 1,327 yards, outpacing Todd Gurley and Le’Veon Bell as a rookie.

Fast forward to Week 10 2019 and Hunt finally makes his season debut for the Cleveland Browns. His last NFL action was over a season ago in the game of the season as the Rams beat the Chiefs 54-51. Hunt was cut by the Chiefs for lying, when questioned, about an incident of domestic abuse that was recorded and went on to be shared on TMZ.

Many people are still divided as to Hunt’s ability to pick up his career after a half-season suspension, and the majority of teams would have stayed away from signing him because of what they saw. It does seem that in the U.S.A. and especially the NFL that players in the main get a second chance despite committing acts that are completely unacceptable.

Hunt has been out a year and starting Browns tailback Nick Chubb is no slouch, but Cleveland do need to snap out of their nightmare stretch and Hunt could offer that spark in the red zone.


Steelers storming back? 

Image result for pittsburgh steelers
Image Credit: Philip G. Pavely/USA TODAY Sports

With Big Ben Roethlisberger out for the season it was always going to be an uphill battle for the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Following an abysmal 0-3 start Steelers are on a three game win streak and beyond the Rams face the Browns twice, Bengals and Cardinals weeks 11 to 14. Mason Rudolph has been streaky but is hanging in there. The Steelers run game has been a bit under par and James Connor is ruled out of this weekend’s contest. Another big dose of Swiss army knife Jaylen Samuels is expected. WR JuJu Smith-Schuster has been underwhelming 33-459 and 3 touchdowns and the #2 and #3 WRs Dionate Johnson and James Washington have been uninspiring.

Despite all this adversity the Steelers are on a three-game win streak and have only lost once, in an epic tussle against the Ravens, since the start of October. 1-4 to a genuinely possible 9-4 record will save Mike Tomlin his job and put the Steelers in an improbable playoff position. Enjoy Sunday’s game it will be a barnstormer. 


Godwin and Evans epic season wasted

Image result for mike evans chris godwin
Image Credit: Mark LoMoglio / AP

What a shame that easily the best wide receiver combination in the NFL at the half-way point, Mike Evans and Chris Godwin, are on a 2-6 Tampa Bay Buccaneers team.

The Godwin/Evans combo has 104 catches, 1,608 yards and 13 touchdowns. Outside of this pairing any other WR combined have 14 catches for 145 yards and one score. Evans and Godwin have moved the chains 82 times between them to date and together are averaging 100 yards in the air each per game.

Under normal circumstances this pairing would equate to wins, but they are getting thrown the ball from an erratic Jameis Winston who goes from a 5 interception game (at Tottenham v Panthers) to a zero pick impressive display on the road at Seattle.

The Buccs offensive line is part of the problem, with Winston already on the receiving end of 30 sacks. It will be fun to watch this combo battle it out for the most impressive stat line. Who said both are going to the Pro-Bowl – I did right here! 


Doggedly avoiding a cat-astrophe 

Image result for new york giants cat
Image Credit: Robert Deutsch/USA TODAY Sports

In a sports league filled with bears, lions, Bengal tigers, jaguars, broncos, rams, panthers, and colts it took a four-legged friend to stroll across an NFL field last week to create a media furore akin to a niptastic Super Bowl reveal.

Some of the best social media and digital activity includes a mocked up Madden 21 cover featuring the black cat along with the Panini Huddle digital trading card app that issued a special cat card with a paw-print autograph. There has been previous animal hijinx on NFL fields before, a simple YouTube search will reveal squirrels and pigeons causing chaos in recent years.

Reality is that there are canines that make it into the seating areas of every NFL stadium every week, even when teams play in London, after all where would we be without a delightful half-time hot dog !!!! 

Player Pro Files – Jameis Winston

Written by Andy Moore ( @AJMoore21 )

Going into last season, the end appeared to be approaching for Jameis Winston in Tampa. Suspended for three games, with growing concerns about his decision making, the former Heisman Trophy winner had a lot to prove.

What had started out with so much promise (a Pro-Bowl call up and Offensive Rookie of the Year honours in 2015) was beginning to bottom out fast. Despite the work of the Buccaneers Front Office to surround him with receiving threats, Winston found it all too easy to put the ball in the hands of the opposite defensive backs (44 times in his first three seasons).

These accuracy woes clearly left a scar on former Head Coach, Dirk Koetter, who recently remarked that he had taken Matt Ryan’s accuracy for granted during his first spell as the Falcons Offensive Coach.

It’s fair to say that this concern had a vocal section of the Buccs fan base calling for change.

Well, change has come on the west coast of Florida, Koetter and his staff were shown the door and everyone’s favourite All or Nothing star, Bruce Arians, was brought in to steer the ship. So where does that leave Jameis going into the final year of his rookie deal?

The Coach

It’s clear that Winston was a huge draw for Arians, one of the very first things he said on taking this job was, ‘The whole thing is going to be built around him (Winston).’ Adding, ‘I think he can win it all, he has the intelligence, the toughness… to lead a team.’ High praise to heap on a QB before a single team training session together.

The pedigree Arians brings is undoubted, under his stewardship Carson Palmer, Andrew Luck, Peyton Manning and Ben Roethilsberger have all gone to pro-bowls, with the latter winning two super bowls in the progress. A former quarterback himself, Arians prides himself on building meaningful relationships with and bringing the best out of his signal callers, so much so that he’s literally written a book on it.

If ever we needed an example of his work we need look no further that Carson Palmer in Arizona. Prior to 2013, Palmer had largely failed to live up his status as the first overall pick, he had bounced from Cincinnati to Oakland and finally arrived in Arizona, ten years into his career, the same summer as Arians. The improvement in his game was immediately apparent, Palmer enjoyed his then best season as a pro, passing for 4274 yards and leading the Cardinals to a 10-6 record. The best was still to come, a 13-3 record in 2015 took Arizona tantalisingly close to a Super Bowl and Palmer himself to the Pro-Bowl for the first time in 9 years with 4671 yards and 35 TDs.

All this gives the inkling that Arians knows what he is doing. Indeed, he’s already put on record that he thinks Jameis simply needs to slightly adjust some of the mechanics and we’ll see a big difference in his play.

Coach and player already have a good relationship as well, in Middle School Winston attended QB camps run by Arians and his son, with the coach inspiring the ambitious youngster to set himself the goal of reaching a Super Bowl.

Perhaps most importantly, the offense that Arians runs just seems like a natural fit for Winston. Based on aggression and risk taking, the go to play in Arians’ arsenal is the downfield shot, something that the Buccs sometimes seemed nervous to call under Koetter’s stewardship. This clearly plays to Jameis’ strengths, with his arm power and ability to escape pressure in the pocket amongst the best in the league.

It’s exciting to see a coach so enthused by his own player, and it feels like the chemistry is already bubbling between Winston and Arians, if they can improve the consistency of play then surely the sky is the limit… which brings us to:

The Player

Jameis himself must know this is a make or break season. Come in red hot and ready to play and he scores himself a smoking contract extension and a year-round ticket to Disney, just up the road. However, throw a few ill placed picks in the first couple of games and the pressure to dump him at the end of the year will only ramp up.

That being said, it’s easily arguable that Winston developed significantly at the end of the 2018 campaign. After coming in for a rather dismal performance to replace interim starter, Ryan Fitzpatrick, in game four at Chicago, Winston gave a blistering 395 yard, 4 TD performance in Atlanta in week five. But it’s the last six games of the season we should really look at, in those games he only threw three interceptions, with two of those on do or die Hail Mary shots. It was a noticeable improvement, and the Bucs were unlucky to go down in a few of those games by close margins.

If Arians can tweak the issues he saw in his QB’s mechanics then the evidence suggests we could be about to see some fireworks in the NFC South.

Of course, it’s vitally important that there are no more off the field incidents as well. The suspension Winston served last year came after allegations were made that he groped an uber driver on a night out, all the more worrying after sexual assault claims followed him from FSU. Although not charged in either incident, these are both clear red flags on his record and it’s easy to see how one more incident will see the end of Tampa’s relationship with their QB1.

The work effort of any NFL player is of course vital, even more so in recent years, with every Instagram story, Twitter post or interview scrutinised with a fine-tooth comb for a speck of juicy gossip. And it appears Winston is a strong example to his teammates in that regard, with his new Head Coach praising him for being ‘first in, last out’ in recent weeks. If he keeps that attitude up it’ll clearly inspire those around him.

The Supporting Cast

On any given Sunday last year, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers could line up with any of Mike Evans, Desean Jackson, Chris Godwin, Adam Humphries, OJ Howard and Cameron Brate as receiving options. It’s not hard to see why people were excited about the power of that offense.

Now, a year later they’ve lost Jackson and Humphries, with Godwin really stepping into the WR2 position just as Jameis started to perform at the end of the 2018 campaign. Adding only Scott Miller in the 6th round of this year’s draft might seem like a risk, but Tampa never seem to struggle when uncovering young receiving talent.

Alongside the WRs and TEs, Winston has another potential gem in Ronald Jones to work with. It’d be easy to write Jones off already after he barely made it onto the field in 2018, but all the noise coming out of OTAs so far suggest that he’s set for a much bigger role in the offense this year. That could help Winston no end, with Koetter choosing to abandon the run game all to often last year, exposing Winston to deeper defensive sets and with them more opportunities to throw a pick.

Arians has also emphasised improvement on the other side of the ball, with former Jets Head Coach, Todd Bowles brought into to improve one of the NFL’s most haphazard defences. The recent addition of Ndamukong Suh and a stack of defensive talent, including Devin White, in the draft will undoubtedly make Bowles’ job easier. This will also help Winston, who all too often throughout his Tampa career has been forced to get involved in a shootout due to other teams racking up the score.

I’m all too aware that the above is a very positive take on Winston’s surroundings as he enters his contract year, but I think the Buccaneers staff realise that their own success is heavily intertwined with his. That’s why one of the criteria they looked for in candidates was a willingness to take Winston forward, and why General Manager, Jason Licht, chose to make the last gasp decision to rid the organisation of Koetter before Jameis entered this all important season.

If, and it’s a big if with all the talent in the NFC South, all the stars align, I’m going to stick my head out and say Jameis Winston finishes the year in the top three NFL QBs for passing yardage and TDs thrown, and he takes the Buccs to at least a 10-6 record for the first time since 2010.

Where Do They Go From Here; Buccaneers

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

Today we take a look at the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

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

How Did Last Season Go?

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

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

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

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

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

Housekeeping

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

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

Outgoings

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

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

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

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

Incomings

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

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

Outlook for Next Year

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

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

Prediction

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

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

Fantasy Football

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

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

Ronald Jones – undrafted / waiver wire fodder

Mike Evans – 2nd Round pick – WR1

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

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