Half-Term report – AFC/NFC North

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

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


AFC North

By Shaun Blundell (@Shaun_F10Y)

Current Standings

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

*BALTIMORE RAVENS*

Midseason grade: B+

How has it gone so far?

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

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

Rest of Season Outlook

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

Regular Season Record Prediction: 10-6 – Division Winners


*CLEVELAND BROWNS*

Midseason grade: D

How has it gone so far?

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

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

Rest of Season Outlook

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

The talent is there, can they turn it around?

Regular Season Record Prediction: 7-9 – Miss Playoffs


*PITTSBURGH STEELERS*

Midseason grade: C

How has it gone so far?

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

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

Rest of Season Outlook

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

Regular Season Record Prediction: 6-10 – Miss Playoffs


*CINCINNATI BENGALS*

Midseason grade: E

How has it gone so far?

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

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

Rest of Season Outlook

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

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

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

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NFC NORTH

By Chris Todd (@ctdk1980)

Current Standings

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

*GREEN BAY PACKERS*

Midseason grade: A

How has it gone so far?

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

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

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

Rest of Season Outlook

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

Regular Season Record Prediction: 12-4

*MINNESOTA VIKINGS*

Midseason grade: B

How has it gone so far?

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

Rest of Season Outlook:

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

Regular Season Record Prediction: 11-5



*DETROIT LIONS*

Midseason Grade: C

How has it gone so far?

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

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

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

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

Rest of Season Outlook

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

Regular Season Record Prediction: 8-7-1


*CHICAGO BEARS*

Midseason grade: D

How has it gone so far?

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

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

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

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

Rest of Season Outlook

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

Regular Season Record Prediction: 7-9

Full10Takeaways – Week 8

By Tim Monk (@Tim_MonkF10Y)

Another week, more takeaways from the National Football League.

This week saw the first Wembley game, more controversy from the officials and the dolphins threatening to win a football game.


Trade deadline

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Tuesday sees the Trade deadline shut for NFL teams wanting to adjust their rosters for the business end of the season.

We’ve already seen players like Mohammed Sanu move from Atlanta to New England and Emmanuel Sanders move out west to San Francisco. They have been able to slot in to their new teams seamlessly and it remains to be seen whether or not that could be the difference between a runners up prize or the Vince Lombardi.

Other teams have traded with the future in mind though, as Miami running back Kenyan Drake is that latest player to move cities as he packs his bags for Arizona.

Expect teams to make a few phone calls to try and get last minute deals but one thing is for certain, there’ll be no extension granted to that deadline #brexitjoke.


they’ll be kicking themselves

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Image Credit: Getty Images Sport/Dylan Buell

This season has seen the most missed kicks (XP and FG) through week 8 in the last 25 years with 121.

The next closest in terms of misses is 109, which was “accomplished” in 2017 and 2001.

You’d think with all these misses, the coaches would try and make it as easy as possible for them… Nope.

Matt Nagy and Dan Quinn doing their kickers no favours whatsoever and we of course have the hall of Fame quote from Bruce Arians from a few weeks back that his kicker Matt Gay’s Field Goal miss was “better from 5 yards back”.

Add to that a plethora of missed FGs in controlled dome environments, it wasn’t a week where you’d get many highlights from a special teams standpoint.

Shout out though to Adam Viniateri, who poked one through from 51 yards (again with no help from Frank Reich!) to help his team win the game vs Denver despite having his troubles in this game and this season.


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Who is the King of the NFC North?

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Probably safe to say the NFC North will be sending 2 teams to the playoffs this year as we reach the midpoint in the season.

Question is though, who wins the division? Both the 7-1 Packers and 6-2 Vikings have looked red hot in recent weeks and both teams enjoy a favourable homefield advantage for different reasons.

The Packers currently have the edge with a game lead and the tie breaker against the Vikings after beating them in week 2.

Getting a home game in January is paramount in having a deep run in the playoffs and that will be the goal for these two teams on the back 9.

The week 16 clash between these 2 teams will likely decide who’ll get that home game in January.


Did I Reid that right?

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Image Credit: Denny Medley/USA TODAY Sports

Say what you like about Andy Reid’s time management skills or coaching decisions, but you cannot undersell his abilities as a coach.

Many were expecting a bloodbath in Kansas for a  few weeks when Mahomes went down with a dislocated knee, but Matt Moore went toe to toe with Aaron Rodgers on Sunday Night Football to the tune of 24-of-36 (66%),267 yards and 2 TDs with no interceptions which gave them a halftime lead. Moore completed passes to 7 different receivers and looked like he had been in that 1st team offence for months, not days.

Playbooks and play-calling does not have to be rocket science, but Andy Reid makes it’s that easy for whomever is his quarterback. Remember, this was a guy that made Alex Smith look like an MVP.


Traditional values


Sunday saw a battle of traditions go blow for blow as the Chargers doing Charger things battled the Bears’ kicker woes.

It seems that the force is strong with the Bears’ woes with kickers as Eddy Piniero hooked his FG attempt wide and saved the Chargers from themselves.

It’s amazing how certain things can get engrained into franchises (just look at the Browns!) and you have to wonder how this would have all played out if Robbie Gould had just been re-signed…

Let’s not forget the circus act of the offseason where the Bears had a competition to identify their new kicker!

If Piniero does get kicked to the kerb at some point, I wonder how long the line will be at Soldier Field to try out for the gig.


Shanahan Can Masterplan


The 49ers obliterated their stiffest test to date, putting up a 50 burger on the Panthers who were coming off a bye.

Brian Baldinger does some great content (Baldy’s breakdowns) on Twitter and he looked at the Kyle Shanahan offence from this game.

It shines a microscope on the level of detail in a Kyle Shanahan offence and there are multiple instances of the same paly being drawn up but a different player getting the ball upon reading the defence reaction.

You can kind of understand why some players have historically found it hard to adjust when joining the 49ers or why rookies struggle out of the gate. Multiple players including the great George Kittle have come out an divulged at how difficult the system is to get to grips with.

When you get used to the system however, the results are yards, touchdowns and just disarray on the defence. Just as Shanahan dialled it up.

As for the 49ers collectively, even the most stubborn of nay-sayers must now understand that this team is a legitimate one.


How aggressive is too aggressive?


Talking of dialling up plays, there’s a lot of scrutiny on the other end of the phone these days on every single play from scrimmage in the National Football League.

As time progresses, the more analytical the world becomes. This is especially true in sport.

One area that’s always under the spotlight is coaching decisions on 4th down depending on the point in the game, the yardage required and the scoreboard.

Hindsight usually dictates the social media view on these plays and this week was no different.

Kliff Kingsbury and the Cardinals had a 4th and 1 in the 3rd quarter down 10-6 from their own 30 yard line which resulted in being stuffed on a run up the middle.

Other games saw Jon Gruden and his Raiders and Andy Reid’s Chiefs punting lateish in the 4th Quarter in their respective games. Neither coach got the ball back meaning the game was lost but lead to some criticising those decisions.

Depending on your mentality as a person or whether you’re playing Madden, there’ll always be these debates on when it is the right time to “go for it”, but essentially when the gavel comes down, the opinions of the majority are based on whether you won or lost the game.

PS. Follow @surrender_index on twitter for an index on cowardly punts.

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Can you teach this Darn-Old dog new tricks?

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Image Credit: Andrew Mills/NJ Advance Media

Sam Darnold seems to be reverting back to his 2018 self. 7 Interceptions through his last 2 games and now 8 on the season for him in his 4 starts.

More ghastly interceptions, more ghostly shenanigans, Sam Darnold will do well to get through this rough patch. Whether he is still feeling the effects of mono and isn’t quite there yet remains to be seen but the season is now done for gang green so if he is still not 100%, Gase should think about who should be under center.

Talking of Adam Gase, the Jets Head Coach in his career as “the guy” is now more likely to lose by double digits (has happened 25 times in his career) than win a game (24). He isn’t a quarterback whisperer and is an imposter of a Head Coach. You have to wonder whether the Jets front office will blow the whole thing up once more in the offseason. More so for the sake of Sam Darnold, who seemingly isn’t going to progress whilst Gase is at the helm.

The antics of Jacksonville were somewhat entertaining though, with Jackson De Ville jumping down into the stadium as a ghost and the Jumbotron showing Darnold’s lowlights to date playing to the tune of Ghostbusters.


Ravens should start Browns-nosing

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Image Credit: Stew Milne/USA TODAY Sports

I hope Lamar Jackson and John Harbaugh were watching the game between the Patriots and the Browns on Sunday.

Despite what the boxscore says, the Browns matched the Patriots in quite a few categories and if it wasn’t for 3 consecutive turnovers, 13 penalties and some absolutely shocking output from the Kitchen, the Browns could’ve given the Patriots a real scare.

Yes, the conditions helped play in to the script of the game but the Cleveland Browns put a show on how to potentially beat the Patriots and the Ravens could capitalise considering their modus operandi.

One thing going against Jackson and the Ravens though is the way Brady, Belichick and the Patriots have taken care of all the 1st round Quarterbacks in the 2018 draft so far this season. Jackson is last on that list.


Whistle-blowing

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Image Credit: USA Today

In most companies, there is a something that needs reporting, you should be able to confidentially whistle blow on bad practice.

In the NFL though, whistle-blowing has caused many fans to feel aggrieved at the official’s practice.

Yet more instances on Sunday of perhaps whistling that may have been a bit premature.

Leonard Fournette has almost toted the rock 200 times this season, is the 2nd leading rusher in the NFL but only has 1 touchdown to show for his efforts. If Brad Allen and his crew held off for just a  second or two more whilst the pile was being pushed, it would have been paydirt for the second time this season for the Jags RB.

The biggest one of the weekend was definitely in Nashville, though, where Brett Kern fumbled the ball on what appeared to be a botched Field Goal attempt. He scooped the ball up and made haste for chains but got his soul taken from him by the Tampa Bay defence. Of course, when you lose your soul, you also lose the football. Unfortunately for the Bucs, Adrian Hills’s zebra crew blew this one dead and whilst the ensuing return from the Bucs was credited with possession of the football, they were not rewarded with 6 points that they perhaps could’ve have inherited due to the play being blown dead.

Whistleblowing eh? Makes you want to keep quiet.

One for the road…


it was Touted to be a poor game


Despite what the announcer may have said, there were quite a few empty seats at Wembley for their first International Series game of the season.

Very much a sore point with NFL fans across the UK, the touts may finally be getting the point.

With plenty of people happy to point out how low ticket prices were for the Rams vs Bengals game, you have to wonder if the tide is now turning not only for the NFL, but for events in general.

Full10Takeaways – Week 3

By Tim Monk, Lawrence Vos and Shaun Blundell

The division standings are starting to take shape. We’re starting to see which teams and players are destined for the post season and which teams are already back at the drawing board.

Here are our main takeaways from week 3 in the NFL.

Fly (Low) Eagles Fly (Low)

Image Credit: Elsa/Getty Images

You can have everything in place; A forward thinking, risk taking GM. An analytical playcalling coaching staff and head coach coupled with all of the necessary talent in the locker room to boot.

However, results are determined on the pitch and if there talent isn’t out there, the playcalling cannot be executed to it’s maximum effectiveness.

Prior to this game, WR Alshon Jeffrey and DeSean Jackson were ruled out of this game and Dallas Goedert “gave it a go”. Include on to that list Jason Peters and 1st round pick Andrew Dillard leaving the game due to injury. Other stalwarts including Malik Jackson are done for the year too.

You can quickly see why this season is turning in to a bit of a nightmare for Philadelphia and their fans. A loss to Detroit in a game where they were behind for all of the game, still had chances to win it is a testament to their ethos and how good they are. But now staring down the barrel after falling to 1-2, travel to Lambeau on Thursday Night football and could after Sunday’s results, be 3 games back.


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Yay or Gay

Image Credit: Getty Images

In another parallel universe, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers have never had kicker problems.

Since Connor Barth had his troubles, it’s fair to say it’s been a big mess at the kicking position. Roberto Aguayo, Chandler Catanzaro, Nick Folk, Cairo Santos, Patrick Murray, Kyle Brindza, Rian Lindell are all names that have come in and then gone back out the door of Raymond James Stadium. The Bucs have had a new place kicker each of the last 8 seasons and whilst they all haven’t had the investment of former 2nd round pick Roberto Aguayo, they’ve all brought home the same amount of bacon (Peppa, you’re safe for now).

Matt Gay up until his last kick in the game actually has been spot on the money in this game and was 7/8 on the season.

Daniel Jones drove his New York Giants into a late lead with 1:21 left in the 4th quarter only for Jameis Winston to emphatically reply. A 44yard toss down to Mike Evans (who, as predicted on the podcast had himself A DAY!) who caught the ball at the Giants’ 9yd line. After a bit of shenanigans, the ball was placed dead center at the NYG 16yd line. 34 yards was the distance for Matt Gay to have himself a five star performance.

Unfortunately, just like many times before, it squeezed past the upright and the Buccaneers lost the game. Ultimately, I think Gay will get a bit more time as he has been fairly solid thus far, but in a world where there aren’t many highlights for kickers, this one will be in a few recap reels to add to the long notorious list in west Florida.


San Francisco Phoney9ers

Image Credit: Scott Strazzante / The Chronicle

Of all the 3-0 teams, surely the 49ers are by far the most fortunate.

Easy defences beaten, backup quarterbacks and less than potent offences faced.

Yes, the 49ers have a talented HC in Shanahan, which was there for all to see last week vs Cincinnati and yes, they beefed up their defensive front to be one of the most piercing in the league to the tune of 9 combined sacks and 5 interceptions.

But I am sorry, I cannot buy the 49ers. I still think they’ll miss the playoffs.

Their schedule isn’t as accommodating as the first 3 weeks (although Pittsburgh wasn’t going to be an easy game coming in to the season) and face the Browns and the Rams in weeks 5 and 6. They also have Green Bay, Atlanta and probably a Saints team welcoming back Drew Brees still to play as well as all of their divisional games ( went 1-5 last year). I think the 49ers despite being top 5 in points for and top 10 in points against will continue to struggle and the main reason is their handsome QB, Jimmy G. Yes he’s 58/84 (69%) but that’s all primarily going to the running backs Matt Breida, Raheem Mostert and Jeff Wilson due to the genius of Kyle Shanahan. Garoppolo has an adjusted Net air yards per attempt of 7.47 which is brutal combined with just 5TDs and 4INT.

In their game against the Steelers (notorious poor west coast travellers), they turned the ball over 5 times and still won. There aren’t many teams on that list, that’s for sure. Garoppolo was the culprit for 3 of those (2 INT, 1 Fumble lost) turnovers and it’s fortunate the Mason Rudolph was feeling just as generous and got absolutely nothing going.

They are on a week 4 bye and will be feeling pretty good about themselves and quite right too. After the turmoil over the past few years with Shanahan leading the team, it must be a breath of fresh air for those in the Bay area.

Of all the 3-0 teams though, the 49ers are by the least likely to make the playoffs. Yes you heard me, The Buffalo Bills will have a better chance at making the playoffs than the 49ers. Bank on it.


Not 3-0, But Still Undefeated

Image Credit – Jerry Habraken / Delaware News Journal

Did you know there is a team yet to taste defeat but without a perfect record? I ask the rhetorical question in jest as a way of illustrating just how little noise is following the currently undefeated Detroit Lions.

An opening night draw with the Arizona Cardinals has been followed up with wins against 2 teams with playoff ambitions in the Chargers and Eagles. I’m not buying into them just yet though. If you actually take a look into the game you will see that the Lions were there to capitalise on the Eagles beating themselves.

Winning in the NFL is hard, and that becomes almost impossible anytime you have to try and overcome 3 fumbles and 7 dropped passes. Fair play to the Lions for being in position to strike and I must say it was refreshing to see a kick off returned for a touchdown in todays NFL.

A win is a win however you get it and the Lions have yet to taste defeat so maybe they are better than we think. Chiefs up next though, good luck!


Can I Just Pop You On Hold?

Image Credit – David Richard / AP

Let’s all hail Tom Brady! I know it’s not an easy thing for us all to do but he possibly made the NFL much more watchable this week.

After a flag infested Thursday Night Football between the Titans and Jags, Brady tweeted his displeasure at the amount of times yellow laundry was thrown onto the field by officials. Fast forward to Sunday and the difference in the officiating was huge. Including the Thursday Night Football game there had been 188 flags thrown for offensive holding in the opening 33 contests.

On the Sunday games there were only 41 offensive holding flags thrown, or to put it another way – half as many on average. Yes the rules already favour offences but seeing every other play called back by a flag had become incredibly frustrating and following a conference call between officials on Friday we saw big changes this weekend.

Lets hope this continues moving forwards as a flowing game is a better game.


Cooking Up A Storm

Image Credit – Elizabeth Flores / Star Tribune

I called out in last weeks look ahead that the Vikings needed to get back to pounding the rock and limiting what they ask Kirk Cousins to do.

Well they did just that this weekend and let me throw it out there now, Dalvin Cook is in the conversation as the league’s best running back.

Averaging nearly 7 yards per carry for his 110 rushing yards and adding a team leading 4 receptions for 33 yards he found the endzone for the 4th time this year. Before you think I’m jumping onto a bandwagon early, bear in mind Adrian Peterson spent 10 years with Vikings, yet Dalvin Cook is the first ever Viking to rush for 100 yards in 3 straight games to open the season. He is doing things nobody has done before him and with the Vikings gameplan (36 rushes/21 passes) favouring the run he has a chance to be the leagues leading rusher.

He has immense power but also great speed with the ability to hit a home run every time he gets the carry, Vikings fans should be excited.


Filling up your Kupp

Image Credit: Wesley Hitt/Getty Images

If you stayed awake throughout this year’s Super Bowl snooze fest you came away with one abiding memory, that of Julian Edelman catching everything that came near him.

Possession receivers can have a huge impact on a game’s outcome, keeping the chains moving and helping drain the clock. Perhaps the personification of a powerful possession receiver was on display Sunday night as the Los Angeles Rams beat the Cleveland Browns.

Rams WR Cooper Kupp, who was injured in the 2018 regular season and unable to perform post-season plays, was pretty perfect in Week 3. His two touchdowns were the difference in the game, and his exquisite route-running made Jared Goff look like a Montana/Brady-esque clone. It’s absolutely no coincidence that with a fit Kupp performing wonders as a slot machine the Rams are now 3-0.

Todd Gurley may still not be right but Kupp has come back from a season ago stronger, faster and determined to prove he can be a difference maker.


Hey mr D.J. can you play that tune every week please?

Image Credit: Mike Zarrilli/Getty Images

When draft aficionados collectively sent their thumbs in a southerly direction when the New York Giants drafted QB Daniel Jones in the first round of the draft, I don’t think they were expecting him to be starting Week 3 as a rookie.

The agony for Big Blue fans was finally buried when they pulled Eli Manning from the starting line-up last week, opting for the Duke gunslinger. OK Jones’s win in his debut was delivered courtesy of his opponents missing a last-gasp field goal but putting up over 30 points, 353 passing yards, two scores by air and by ground and no picks in your debut is a pretty positive experience. Jones, the 2019 Senior Bowl MVP was given such bad treatment by the media that it’s a surprise he wasn’t psychologically scarred for life.

Thing is, wins have a funny habit of erasing pigskin prognostication, and by the look of the glowing pro-Jones headlines in the New York daily newspaper he has already won over some of his harshest critics.

Here’s a stat attack for you: Daniel Jones was the first rookie QB in the Super Bowl era with 300+ pass yards, 2+ pass TDs and 2+ rush TDs in a game. At 18 points in the hole, he led the Giants to their biggest comeback since 1970 whilst being under pressure on 47% of his dropbacks (3rd highest of Week 3). Eli Manning was 0-44 in games where he trailed by 18 points. Maybe Gettleman DID have a plan afterall….?

With Saquon Barkley injured for around a month, October will be a tough test for the 1-0 rookie.


Hey Cam, take ALL(EN) the time you need

Image Credit: Ralph Freso / Getty Images

If you are an ‘All or Nothing’ fan you would have seen how tough Cam Newton was, playing hurt for the vast majority of the campaign, before finally succumbing to a pine ride in Week 17. The quarterback who filled in for the Carolina Panthers was Kyle Allen, who looked solid if not spectacular.

Fast forward to 2019 Week 3 and Allen made his second start, this time producing a stat-line and a victory that will be hard to forget. Four touchdowns was impressive, but this has to be put into context this was against a poor Cardinals pass defense without the presence of All-Pro CB Patrick Peterson. Allen did complete 73% of his passes on Sunday and was not intercepted, but he faces a tougher test against the J.J. Watt led Texans in Week 4.

With the news this week that Cam Newton may have a Lisfranc injury and is definitely out this weekend Allen will be hoping to build on his impressive season debut. The ageless Panthers TE Greg Olsen, who is probably held together by frog-tape and bits of soldering iron, will be relishing catching balls from someone who is younger, more accurate and less crocked than Cam.


Burger me – I’ll take a Big Mack and a Terry Mc

Image Credit: AP Photo/Patrick Semansky

Monday Night Football may have witnessed a stunning second quarter from Chicago Bears WR Taylor Gabriel, who became the first player in MNF history to catch three touchdowns in a single quarter of play, but his performance was shadowed by his Tottenham bound colleague Khalil Mack who dominated from start to finish. Mack recorded two sacks and two forced fumbles as Case Keenum handed out turnovers like Thomas Cook did P45’s this week.

Elsewhere there was a small crumb of comfort for Redskins fans as rookie 3rd round selection Terry McLaurin became the first player in NFL history to record five catches and a touchdown in his first three NFL regular season games. If Mitch Trubisky continues to take what he is given, through intermediate routes to Allen Robinson, Gabriel and Anthony Miller (who has not yet shone this year) then this is a playoff bound team.

The defense is scary, and whilst the Washington offensive line was not the toughest test, this is a team that is a decent kicking game from an NFC Championship.

Podcast 48 – Week 6 Preview

Week 6 is here!


The usual suspects return to preview week 6!
Tim and Lee give you the breakdown for all the week 6 games.
As ever, the boys from the Kickers Matter Podcast give us a kicker to start and sit this week(44:48).
Adam and Tim go through their best bets looking to continue the NAP streak going (46:23)!
Finally, we have a new segment not to be missed, The Jason Garrett Corner (1:10:21)

Podcast 47 – Week 5 Review

Lee survived the stag do so was able to take his seat to help Tim review all the week 5 games.

From Mason Crosby’s kicking to Drew Brees surpassing Peyton Manning for the passing yards record, it was another wild week in the NFL.

We give you fantasy football waivers for week 6 including a team where their schedule really opens up and look ahead to Thursday Night Football between the Eagles and the Giants.

Dont forget we want you to introduce the show! Details on our twitter along with our free NFL jersey giveaway!

Enjoy!

Podcast 46 – Week 5 Preview

Lee is away this week so step in, Rob Grimwood (@FFBritballer) of acrossthefantasypond!

We preview every game and look at the main storylines of the week 5 matchups but we also look at players we have changed our opinions of after the first 4 weeks.

Adam joins us as we give you the best bets for week 5 and of course, kickers corner!

Podcast 41 – Week 3 Bonus Episode!

Roll up, roll up for a bonus podcast!


Get all your punting tips for week 3 with Adam Walford of Touchdown tips, trying to make amends for last week. Get your kickers corner with Jack and Jamie from the Kickers Matter podcast
Finally, a bonus segment where the smoothest voice of them all Roger Goodgroves joins us once again to go through the main officiating points of the 2018 season and a story about meeting a GOAT in Jacksonville…..

Podcast 38 – Week 2 Preview

Week 2 is here and so are we!


A whole host of guests to get you geared up for week 2.
Zach Brunner of Flurry Sports joins us to give you the starts and sits for your fantasy teams. Resident tipping expert Adam Walford from TouchdownTips joins us as we look to continue the great tipping service from week 1.

Some injury updates, some week 2 storylines and of course our kickers corner.

Buckle up!

Our guests can be found on Twitter:
Zach Brunner – @FantasyFlurry
Adam Walford – @touchdowntips
Kickers Matter – @Kickers_matter