Season in Review – Jacksonville Jaguars

By Tim_MonkF10Y

Time to look at the London Jacksonville Jaguars, just a few seasons removed from being 5 minutes or so away from beating the Patriots in the AFC title game and appearing in a Super Bowl. Fair to say that since then, they’ve taken a nose dive quicker than the most theatrical of Soccer players. Are the good times ever going to come back to Jacksonville? Or are they destined for misery until a move overseas occurs?


ENTERING THE SEASON


2019, the post Blake Bortles era (or error). It was looked upon as a fresh new start with a fresh new Quarterback, breathing new life in to the team and the franchise. Opinions were split when Nick Foles signed a 4 year $88m deal to become the new face of the Jaguars, effectively choosing him over paying the defence or trying to get a QB in the 2019 draft. Mr Khan, Tom Coughlin and co. were seemingly under the impression their Super Bowl window was still open. High expectations for a team that have finished with a points differential of worse than -50 every year since 2008 except for that AFC conference visiting year of 2017.

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Phelan M. Ebenhack/AP

Leonard Fournette, their 1st round running back from 2017 had yet to complete a full season (either through disciplinary consequences or injury) was under pressure to perform even before they selected Ryquell Armstead in the 2019 draft. The defence were branded as the type who quit on the fans and the team towards the end of last season and were labelled as a group who thought they were better than they were based on previous years’ performances whilst Doug Marrone, seemingly enters every year under pressure, somehow always manages to come out on the other side.


DURING THE SEASON


Jacksonville were handed one of the tougher draws right out of the gate, with a home game against the Kansas City Chiefs. However, Nick Foles left off where he finished from the Super Bowl and led the Jaguars to a fine 2nd drive. Problem was, he would no longer participate in the game after going down on the touchdown throw to DJ Chark, breaking his clavicle.


Nick Foles
Stephen B. Morton/AP

Enter, Gardner Minshew (or Mr Moustache as he would later be known). The 6th round rookie draft pick out of Washington State would go on to lead the Jaguars for the next 8 games. He started off well, leading the team to wins over the Titans and away in Denver. “Minshew Mania” had struck. Close defeats to Carolina and New Orleans followed up by wins over the Bengals and the Jets meant that London were treated to Minshew Mania in week 9. Oh how it capitulated so horribly.

Houston Texans v Jacksonville Jaguars
Jack Thomas/Getty Images

Mr Moustache’s exerts in London of 2 awful Interceptions, 2 gut wrenching fumbles lost and 3 sacks taken culminated with the hapless Jaguars mustering just the 3 Josh Lambo points at Wembley Stadium. Minshew Mania officially died.

The Jags entered their week 10 bye at 4-5, Doug Marrone had seen enough of the Minshew Mania and recalled Nick Foles, back from injury. Fortunes were not to be with the Jaguars though and Foles lost the next 3 games. The latter of those losses to Floridian neighbours, Tampa Bay where Foles “did a Minshew” of sorts, throwing an interception and losing 2 fumbles, achieving only 3 1st downs in his 27 snaps from the start of the game. Minshew came in for the other 41 snaps for the Jaguars’ offence but to no avail.


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The Jaguars fell to 4-8 and rode with Minshew until the end of the season, going 2-2 in that stretch with wins against division rivals in week 17 in a dead rubber but they did manage to upset the Raiders in the final game in Oakland where Minshew led the team to a great final drive to win it. In the midst of all that, Mr Iron Fist and VP of football operations for the Jags, Tom Coughlin got the boot after allegations of excessive fines and player grievances.

One bright spot on the season was DJ Chark, who broke out for 73 receptions and over 1000 yards on the season, finding the endzone 8 times. Dede Westbrook, the guy we all thought would have that type of season, fell well short on 66 receptions with 660 yards and found pay dirt just 3 times. Leonard Fournette managed to compete in 15 out of the 16 games this season, but avoided the endzone like the plague, finding it just 3 times also.

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Streeter Lecka/Getty

Whilst the teams passing offence held up somewhat even after the Jaguars traded motor mouth Jalen Ramsey to the Rams after week 6 for 2 future 1st round picks, it was the rushing aspect of their defensive duties the jaguars defence failed particularly well on, giving up the 2nd most yards per attempt (5.1) and rushing touchdowns (23). Rookie first rounder from the 2019 draft Josh Allen made it to the Pro Bowl in his first season after his efforts saw him achieve a team high 10.5 sacks.


OFFSEASON OUTLOOK


After the dust settled, it was yet another season finishing in the AFC South basement. A few more years and they’ll legally be able to claim squattage. Doug Marrone has been given yet another vote of confidence which could mean 1 of 2 things: 1) they think Marrone is the right man for the job or 2) he’s just keeping the seat warm until they move to London. With the Jaguars playing 25% of their “home” games at Wembley next year in back to back games, the overseas Franchise rumours linked with the Jaguars will never die and seemingly is only trending in one direction. Jaguars fans in Florida are angered by this latest move, mainly because of the lack of transparency given by owner Shahid Khan.

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Getty Images

Jacksonville are trying to accommodate Khan’s requests for upgrades in the town, with Khan putting a small % of his money in too, with upgrades in and aorund the stadium, but a lot more investement is earmarked for overseas, flowing across the Atlantic in the hopes of far bigger returns. The potential new market size bringing with it an untapped brand growing and monetising opportunities seems to be staring us all in the face that it is now a question of ‘when’ and not ‘if’.

On the field, the offseason will be fuelled yet again by Quarterback talk and don’t even be surprised if they draft one in 2020 considering they have 2 1st round picks to have a dart throw at one of them.

They are not flush with cap space entering next season so will have to get creative in order to make any major moves but expect to see at least 1 big name head for the exit door which could include any of Marcell Dareus ($20m saving), AJ Bouye ($11.5m) or recent NFL Man of the Year award winner Calais Campbell ($15m). Expect WR Marqise Lee, LB Jake Ryan & TE Geoff Swaim be cap casualties, who collectively would save the Jaguars around $15m in cap room.

Full10Lookahead – Week 9

By Lawrence Vos (@NFLFanInEngland) and Tim Monk (@Tim_MonkF10Y)

Week 9 sees the final of 4 London games, the battle for the #1 seed in the AFC potentially be decided even at this early stage and the #2 overall pick in the 2019 NFL drat look to go beat up on #1.

Here are your other storylines as we start our journey on the back 9 of the NFL season.


Half-time League Leaders


Image Credit: Brace Hemmelgarn/USA TODAY Sports

Ok not every team has played 8 games yet, so the statistical leaders at the end of Week 8 are slightly misleading, but for arguments sake lets take a look at those top of the pops right now: 

  • Leading passer: Jared Goff (Rams) – 2,367
  • Leading rusher: Dalvin Cook (Vikings) 823
  • Leading receiver: Michael Thomas (Saints) – 873
  • Leading sackers: Myles Garrett (Browns) and Shaquil Barrett (Buccaneers) – 10
  • Leading interceptor: Devin Mc Courty (Patriots) – 5Leading tackler: Blake Martinez (Packers) – 83

Cook always had the potential to be in this place but has suffered through injuries. There is no guarantee he lasts all 16 games, and London bound Leonard Fournette is breathing heavily down Cook’s neck for the rushing title.

Goff will not end up as the NFL’s 2019 passing leader, a title that will likely go to the Packers Aaron Rodgers. Michael Thomas doesn’t care if its Drew Brees or Teddy Bridgewater he will end up with the receiving crown.

Myles Garrett looks like he has the staying power to take the sack title, but lookout for the sibling rivalry of the Bosa brothers (both currently on 7 sacks) attempting to snatch the silverware.


Is this the week the Dolphins tank empties? 


Image Credit: Jasen Vinlove/USA TODAY Sports

The Miami Dolphins looked like world beaters on Monday night….for a quarter of football against the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Ryan Fitzmagic was en fuego as the winless Dolphins took a 14-0 lead. Then like the rest of the 2019 it slowly and painfully unfurled and at the final whistle it was loss number 7 from 7 games played.

This weekend the Dolphins host the equally anaemic New York Jets, who have only one 2019 win to their name. Only fans of car crashes or ‘Fins or Jets will be tuned into this game as it unfolds, but the twist that could be revealed is a win for Miami.

The Dolphins may have churned their roster like a dairy farmer at the start of the season, and they did send RB Kenyan Drake to the Cardinals in the last week, but they did not put their two best players in the shop window last week only to make no sales, unlike the Jets who now have a rather dejected S Jamal Adams and RB Le’Veon Bell wondering what the hell they are doing in their splendid looking green helmets. 


Patriots v Ravens is THE marquee matchup


Image Credit: AP

When such a ginormous matchup is anticipated the end result often is far more anticlimactic than the feeling of excitement held before the opening kickoff. Theoretically the New England Patriots defense will bewilder Baltimore Ravens QB Lamar Jackson and force three to four turnovers by the third quarter.

The problem with theory is it can be proven otherwise and the Ravens have the tools to make the Patriots look human. If you keep Tom Brady off the field it helps, and Baltimore’s running game has that ability, along with L-Jax and his rubber legs.

This marquee matchup will come down to Lamar Jackson’s ability to somehow pass the ball when needed, he can’t have a 50% completion rate and expect a victory. We all know what Tom Brady can do, and his dinking and dunking to Julian Edelman and James White is predictable.

What we don’t quite know is what Coach Harbaugh has in store with the Ravens offence and the legs of Lamar Jackson. The biggest game of the season, and the biggest upset.

Problem is if the Ravens and Patriots meet in the playoffs, Sith Lord Belichick will be ready for revenge. 


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Minshew Mania comes to the capital


Image Credit: James Gilbert/Getty

The phrase ‘Bortles Mania’ never took off in the five seasons he spent in Jacksonville, and like a bad penny Blake Bortles once again travelled to Wembley Stadium last week, then as the backup QB on the Los Angeles Rams roster.

The Jaguars are continuing to develop their UK and European fanbase and their game against the Houston Texans will be their seventh consecutive year playing in London. This time the Jaguars are bringing two magnificent moustaches for the price of one. Owner Shahid Khan and rookie QB Gardner Minshew III are hirsute heroes in Florida and they will be wanting to bring some of their magic with them on their trip over the pond.

I for one hope the crowd embraces the facial hair trend and there are thousands of fans walking down Wembley Way on Sunday afternoon boasting an upper lip caterpillar and a bandana or sweatband. If I lived in London I would have already been down to my local joke shop supplier for a few crates of novelty ‘taches.

Expect this game to be dominated by RBs Leonard Fournette (Jaguars) and Carlos Hyde (Texans) but Minshew Mania simply cannot be contained.


Can the 9ers get to 9 wins?


Carolina Panthers v San Francisco 49ers
Image Credit: Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images

The 49ers thumping win against the Panthers last week saw them taste 7-0 for the first time since the 90s. The travel to Glendale, Arizona where #2 overall Nick Bosa will look to continue his ascent to the Defensive Rookie of the Year award (or maybe more!) by beating up on the current favourite for the Offensive equivalent award.

The pleasing thing for their fans though, is the versatility of the team which allows them to win in a multitude of ways.

On offence, the team has three running backs with between 309 and 446 rushing yards and five wide receivers with between 88 and 187 receiving yards.

With reliable frequency, Jimmy Garoppolo will find tight end George Kittle several times per game, and Kittle will reward that faith with monster yardage after the catch. Beyond that, it is a total guessing game from week to week as to whom San Francisco might turn for big plays.

Their dominance has seen them outscore their opponents 111-23 in their last 4 games which also illustrates their dominance on defence to the tune of possibly even breaking the ’91 Eagles record of yards allowed.

Just beware though, as it’s a potential trap game on Thursday Night Football. Dare I say, a Kliffhanger?

You have the ingredients of a short week, away trip and an opponent with nothing to lose with a QB that Shanahan and Saleh have not faced yet in the NFL.

Put that into a witches cauldron and a devilish potion can take down the strongest of teams.


Who the hell is Brandon Allen? 


Image Credit: SI

When Joe Flacco decided to throw his offensive coordinator under the bus during a shocking post-game press conference he may have been suffering from mental pain, but physically he looked fine.

Fast forward 48 hours and Flacco is now out for 5-6 weeks with a herniated disc. This could end Flacco’s season and more extremely it could end his NFL career. Not exactly the way you want to leave the NFL, having won a Super Bowl ring with the Baltimore Ravens.

In Flacco’s place is one of those unknown backup QBs in the form of Brandon Allen. Allen has lingered in the NFL since 2016 when he was drafted in the sixth round by the Jacksonville Jaguars. He was then with the Rams in 2017 to 2018, as an inactive backup and practice squad fodder, before being picked up by the Broncos this September. The former Akansas Razorbacks QB started two pre-season games for the Rams this year, two wins but zero touchdowns.

Nobody has a scooby doo how Allen will perform as he has not ever take a regular season NFL snap. One sensible piece of advice, win or loss agains the Cleveland Browns, is that Allen keeps his opinion to himself in the post game presser.


Running all day long


Image Credit: Getty Images

Buffalo and Washington get it on this Sunday and if the weather is similar to that in the New Era stadium last week, it will all be about the run games.

The Bills and Redskins can call upon some Hall of Fame level rushers to try and help their teams get the win.

With Gore and Peterson, Sunday’s game features the No. 4 and No. 6 all-time rushers, respectively.

The 2 future Hall of Famers currently combine for 28,871 yards over 29 seasons and collectively have 17 1,000yard rushing campaigns.

Individually, 36 year old Frank Gore checks in 4th position in the all time leaderboard with 15,170 rushing yards, while Peterson, 2 years his junior, sits at sixth all time with 13,701.

Long gone are the league wide workhorse backs, but these guys can still deliver the hard hits and the workload should they be called upon.


Trade deadline fallout


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The rumour mill was working overtime on Tuesday as Jamaal Adams and pretty much all of his Jets teammates, Trent Williams et. al were being floated around as trade bait. Unfortunately for the rumour mill, it is now out of business due to the lack of decent output.

The fallout though is always the interest part of it for those that perhaps didn’t get what they wanted from the trade deadline.

We know by now that different players react differently to the same situation. Adams, was not a fan and said that he “didn’t take it lightly” that the Jets were more than happy to float his name on the trading block. A penny for LeVeon Bell’s thoughts too.

How some of them react will be interesting to watch as the aforementioned Trent Williams apparently can’t find a helmet that doesn’t leave him in pain.

I wonder if it’s the logo that’s the problem…?

A future 17 game season?

By Chris Todd (@ctdk1980)

The NFL prides itself on ensuring parity throughout the league (the Patriots’ constant presence at Championship games notwithstanding), one way the league tries to impose parity is through its schedule, which in theory provides easier fixtures for weaker teams from the previous year.

Outside of divisional games and a rotation of divisions from year to year, teams currently play their remaining games against the other teams in the conference that finished in the same position in the standings the previous season. This helps teams who struggled the year before to bounce back to competitiveness.


While parity is a goal for the NFL, another goal undoubtedly is to maximise revenues and this is where the idea of a 17 game season comes in. Glossing over the undoubted objections the NFLPA will have with the suggestion, how even would a 17 game schedule look?

An issue with the current construction of the schedule is the paucity of intra-conference games, this has lead to a situation where the NFL has generational talents competing against each other infrequently. Long serving legends of the game such as Tom Brady and Aaron Rodgers have only battled twice through their long careers, while Brady has come head to head with Peyton Manning a remarkable 17 times.

Adding an extra game to the season would allow the league’s schedule makers led by Senior Vice President Howard Katz a little more flexibility to make regular season ratings winners. Imagine the match ups, Mahomes-Wentz, Watson-Wilson, Jackson-Prescott. Surely, that will have network executives salivating at the incoming advertising revenues!


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The issue then becomes how to deal with the logistics of squeezing another game into the schedule, proponents of an extended regular season often talk of cutting down the preseason, given that starters play very limited snaps during camp, and most coaches say they learn more about their players in intra-squad competitive practices than in actual preseason action.

At the moment there is a 4 game preseason followed by a regular season of 16 games in 17 weeks, for any change to go beyond idle thought there would need to be significant ground given to players. While negotiations are ongoing for the new CBA, this would be the obvious time to start discussions about significant changes to playing conditions.

To add a game to the regular season, how about taking 2 games from the preseason. The league could mandate joint practices between teams (rather than the current system of friendly coaching staffs agreeing to them privately) to add some competitiveness to camp. This would also leave room in the schedule for a 2nd bye week, which would certainly go down well with players and safety chiefs. It would mean the regular season would consist of 17 games in 19 weeks without needing to take up more space in the calendar so playoffs would stay in January and the Super Bowl would stay in its now traditional spot in the first weekend of February.


A bye product of this restructure of the regular season could also help the NFL plans for international growth and further expansion. Currently 5 teams give up a home game to play on neutral venues in London and Mexico, causing frustration for fans of these teams, and could be seen as an area where the NFL lacks its desired parity.

The extended regular season could allow a fairer schedule of 8 home games, 8 away and 1 at a neutral site. This would allow for further expansion of the International Series without requiring a franchise to move in the short term. This would also mean the NFL would be able to develop fanbases in other territories; Germany, Brazil, Netherlands and even China have been mooted as potential sites for future International Series match ups. This could also allow the NFL to present games in US cities that have been marked as potential future bases for expansion franchises down the line, San Diego, Portland, Oakland, San Antonio, St. Louis, Oklahoma City, Birmingham, Salt Lake City among others have all been mentioned as bases in the event of expansion.

Perhaps the NFL could test the water with one or two games each season.

Full10Takeaways – Week 6

By Shaun Blundell and Lawrence Vos

Week 6 is in the books, here’s 10 takeaways as we hit the cruise control into the main belly of the season.

Super Bowl Aspirations Drifting Down The River(s)


Image Credit – Jason Miller/Getty Images

Several teams have disappointed to start off the 2019 campaign, but if you are looking for an overwhelming underachiever look at the Los Angeles Chargers.

Many casual fans dark horse Super Bowl pick preseason the Chargers are unraveling and are only being kept in faint contention by the Chiefs having their own hiccups. This one got ugly early as Phillip Rivers turned the ball over twice early as the Steelers jumped into a 14 point lead that the Chargers would never recover from.

Rivers is becoming a bit of a turnover machine and he will need to correct a lot of wrongs if the Chargers are to make a playoff run. Melvin Gordon’s return has so far netted an average of 33.5 rushing yards per game, not exactly screaming “Pay Me!”.



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Nothing Phoneyniner Here


Image Credit – Nhat V. Meyer / Bay Area News Group

Robert Saleh, take a bow my friend.

The 49ers defence bottled up the once thought unstoppable LA Rams offence to move to 5-0 on the year. The 49ers were a perfect 0-9 allowing 3rd down conversions and a perfect 0-4 allowing 4th down conversions limiting the Rams offence to just 165 total yards. Offensively another heavy dose of the run game was backed up by an efficient if not spectacular game from Jimmy G. George Kittle was of course the main target hauling in 8 grabs for 108 yards, not bad for a guy who was questionable to play.

Huge game in the division which now sees the 49ers in a convincing position.


Stop Having A Digg At The Vikings Passing Game


Image Credit – Elizabeth Flores / Star Tribune

Make no mistake about it, this is still Dalvin Cook’s team, but for this week at least he took a back seat to the passing game.

The Vikings lead by an all of a sudden explosive Kirk Cousins saw his 2 favourite targets combine for 13 receptions and both find the end zone. Stefon Diggs was the main man this week as he compiled a season best 7/167 and 3 touchdown effort as the passing game that went missing for a few weeks continued its resurgence against a banged up Philly defence.

There were whispers of trades a week or 2 ago for the Vikings top pair on the outside, I’d label that as “fake news”.


Winston or Mariota? How About Neither


Image Credit – John Walton / Getty Images

5 years after the debate of who the Buccaneers would take with the number 1 overall pick in the 2015 draft there is a new question about those 2 “top” quarterbacks. Which 1 is worse?

Jameis had a horror show in London, fumbling the ball away, getting sacked 7 times and throwing 5 picks. Just when you think he has turned a corner, he throws in a game like this just to remind you of how inconsistent he is. Mariota was benched as the Titans were shutout by the Broncos and replaced by Ryan Tannehill. The Titans offence has been anemic outside of their week 1 win over the Browns and this change has been a long time coming.

Jameis probably wins you more games but also costs you more games, either way look for both franchises to address the position next Spring.


Murray momentum mounts 


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Image Credit: Michael Hickey/Getty Images

With four weeks gone the Arizona Cardinals were winless and looking in trouble. After six weeks the same team is hotting up after a two-game win streak.

Yes the opponents have been the Bungles and the porous Falcons defense, but you can’t do any more than win against the teams on your schedule. Behind rookie quarterback Kyle Murray and rookie HC Kliff Kingsbury the Cardinals are starting to turn a few heads.

Their next four games are a real split of two winnable (Giants and Buccaneers) and two very tough matchups (Saints and 49ers). Murray completed just under 73% of his passes in the Week 6 win against the Falcons, and he has only thrown one pick in the last three games. His vision is on the rise as he has only been sacked once in the last two games, after taking twenty in his first four outings. In addition Kingsbury is allowing Murray to use his small but speedy legs, and this has resulted in 125 yards rushing in the two victories, more than his ground output in the first four combined.

If the Cardinals can get a winning record it will be a major achievement in the inaugural season for Kyler and Kliff. If they somehow scrape a Wild-Card berth it will be a minor miracle.

The Cardinals defense is the team’s Achilles heel, but when you have the talent of Murray and the ageless Larry ‘see you in Canton’ Fitzgerald catching the ball you never know.

Watch this space. 


McLovin McLaurin


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Image Credit: Patrick Smith/Getty Images

The Washington Redskins have a history of drafting wide receivers early in the draft who end up flaming out.

The latest example being Josh Doctson, picked 22nd in the 2016 draft. Doctson was jettisoned from D.C. during the offseason after racking up a disappointing 81 catches for 1,100 yards in 33 games. He is now on I/R with the Vikings.

In the 2019 Draft the Redskins waited until the third round to grab Doctson’s potential replacement, Ohio State’s Terry McLaurin. Six weeks in and McLaurin has 23 catches, 408 yards and a stellar five touchdowns, including two in the ‘Skins first win of the season against the Miami Dolphins. six weeks in and McLaurin leads all rookie WR in catches, yards and touchdowns, all this inclusive of not even suiting up in Week 4.

The last great Redskins player to wear the number 17 shirt was Super Bowl winning quarterback Doug Williams, now the Senior Vice President of Player Personnel. It’s a big set of shoes to fill, but at his current pace McLaurin is going to have a 1,000 yard rookie season and will be in the running for offensive rookie of the year honours.

Wins might be hard to come by for the 2019 Redskins, but sometimes you have to face adversity to see who is still standing. For Terry McLaurin he is not standing, he is streaking down the sidelines catching pigskins.

Redskins rookie QB Dwayne Haskins was McLaurin’s signal-caller in college, so if you think the results are good with Case ‘fill-in’ Keenum then 2020 could be a real blast. 


Jets win sealed without a kiss


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Image Credit: Danielle Parhizkaran/NorthJersey.com

Over this side of the pond we call it glandular fever, but over in the land of the free and the home of the brave they call it mononucleosis or ‘mono’ for short. More affectionately known as a teenage kissing infection, ‘mono’ was the reason the New York Jets quarterback Sam Darnold had missed three games between Week 2 and 6.

After being declared fit for last Sunday’s game in Dallas there was not a high degree of expectation, so when the Jets travelled east on Sunday night with a victory it was headline worthy. 338 yards passing from Darnold was his second best output in his two seasons, and his 92 yard touchdown pass to Robby Anderson was the longest by any QB this season.

In the win against the Cowboys the Jets at one point had an 18-point lead, but despite an impressive Dallas second-half comeback, this was a statement victory at Met Life Stadium. Leveon Bell scored his first TD in a Jets uniform, but had another ho-hum game, leaving the contest to be won or lost by Darnold. This was a weird game statistically as Dallas did not commit a turnover, and were far more efficient on third-down.

Sometimes the stats are not the story, and on Sunday this was about the Jets franchise QB returning to a team that had looked like it had thrown it’s hat in the ring for a chance at the number one pick in the 2020 draft.

With Darnold back the Jets are not a playoff ready team, but they are capable of 4-5 wins by the end of the season, something their AFC East division rivals the Dolphins can only dream of. 


Watson outshines Sherlock Ma’Holmes’ 


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Image Credit: Denny Medley/USA TODAY Sports

Ok ok the headline is a stretch but it does not take a fictional detective to deduce that Houston Texans QB Deshaun Watson is playing an an MVP type level after six weeks of NFL football.

Watson managed to out-duel his dynamic counterpart Patrick Mahomes last Sunday, with 280 yards in the air, and two huge touchdowns on the ground, including the game winner with just over six minutes left in the final quarter. Watson, like Kyler Murray, has avoided being sacked for two consecutive games, something he simply couldn’t avoid in 2018 when he was sacked a punishing 62 times in the regular season.

Watson now has 17 total touchdowns in six games, along with four wins and a division lead. The Texans were supported by a very solid performance from RB Carlos Hyde, part of a rushing attack that finished with just under 200 yards on the ground. Texans WR Will Fuller came back to earth after his stratospheric Week 5 performance. The Chiefs again were let down by their running game, a unit that simply has not been the same since dispensing of Kareem Hunt’s services last season. Hunt himself is nearing a comeback from a half-season suspension at his new team the Browns.

Talking of comebacks, Chiefs WR Tyreek Hill came back with a big fantasy splash in Sunday, with 5 catches, 80 yards and two touchdowns. It may only be Week 6 but this came could determine who ends up with the number two seed in the AFC when the regular season concludes. 


Lazard the 6ft 5inch lizard pounces 


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Image Credit: Benny Sieu / USA Today Sports

In a game dominated by field-goals, a grand total of eight converted, including the 23 yard winner from the Green Bay Packers kicker Mason Crosby with no time left on the clock, it was a lesser known WR who delivered the true highlight of Green Bay’s late late win against the Detroit Lions.

Allen Lazard’s first catch of the season, and only second catch of his career, was an absolute jaw-dropper. Aaron Rodgers threw a rainbow to the left side of the end-zone into a window smaller than that seen in a smurf’s double-glazed box room. On the receiving end was the lesser-spotted Allen Lazard who made a highlight grab to bring the Packers within three points of the leading Lions.

Lazard, undrafted in 2018, spent time on the Jaguars and Packers practice squad in the past two seasons. The former Iowa State Cyclones WR, Lazard holds a number of his college team’s receiving records, including catches, yards and consecutive games with a catch (48). Scoring your first NFL touchdown in front of a worldwide MNF audience is the dream debut score for anyone, and catching it from Aaron Rodgers is a big bonus. They both play second fiddle to helping your team move to 5-1. Lazard’s four catches, his first four of the 2019 season all took place in the fourth quarter. It helps when you have such a huge frame and wingspan, and when your superstar teammate Davante Adams is injured.

This performance will no doubt have the waiver wire buzzing, but even if Lazard doesn’t score again this season, his debut touchdown is one he can show his grandchildren in 40 years time through a holographic “lazar” chip projection device embedded in his ear-lobe.


London Calling


Image Credit – Ant Upton / Associated Press

Great to see so many NFL network personalities over to support the 2nd London game this year.

The Gameday Morning crew took the call, and although its not to everyone’s taste it adds a great deal of humour and personality to the proceedings in my eyes. The Around The NFL heroes also made their return to these shores as the boys helped out on Sky Sports coverage throughout the broadcast. Live shows and podcasts were also on the agenda throughout the week as the investment in the UK goes from strength to strength.

We should remind ourselves not take this stuff for granted, and be thankful we have so much content to get our teeth into. 


Top 5 London International Series moments

By Tim Monk (@Tim_MonkF10Y)

It’s the first of 4 London games this weekend as part of the International Series, so let’s take a trip down memory lane at 5 memorable moments in the history of the game played this side of the pond.


5. Allen Hurns TD vs Buffalo


Image Credit: Getty Images

Despite 4 punts in the opening 5 drives, this game came alive shortly after as Buffalo and Jacksonville traded blows. In what was supposed to be an easier assignment than other years at “home”, the Jags raced out to a 27-3 lead. Then 28 unanswered points from Buffalo, led by EJ Manuel saw the Bills take the lead inside of 5 minutes left in the game.

Blake Bortles then escapes the pressure, rolls to his left and throws a pinpoint 31 yard bomb in to the front corner of the endzone where Allen Hurns managed to dive, touch his elbow/shoulder in bounds on the slide for one of the best touchdowns seen at Wembley stadium.


4. The tied game/Missed field goal


Image Credit: Sports Illustrated

Washington and Cincinatti produced a decent matchup in this International Series game but it was a game full of turnovers and missed field goals.

Kirk Cousins threw for 458 yards (might take him a whole season to accomplish that this year!) in a game that was nip and tuck all game.

In overtime, Kirk Cousins drove 67 yards to the Bengals 16 yards line for Dustin Hopkins to miss the 34 yard field goal, leading to the first ever tie in London.


3. Matt Prater field goal


The Detroit Lions found themselves 21-0 down at half time in this one despite being the favourites. They were still 21-10 down going in to the 4th quarter.

Deep in the 4th, the Lions managed to score a touchdown but FAIL the 2pt conversion, leaving the score at 21-19 to the Falcons. The Falcons were unable to run the clock down and left 1:38 on the clock after pinning the Lions down inside their own 10.

Matthew Stafford drove the Lions down immediately, with big plays to Golden Tate and Theo Riddick. After a Stafford spike, there was :04 left in the game. Matt Prater steps up and misses from 43 yards. However, due to a delay of game penalty, Prater got another shot 5 yards further back. Of course, he nails it straight through and the comeback is complete.


2. Titans Tried for 2


Image Credit: Associated Press

In a strange game between the Titans and the Chargers, the trend for going for two at the death may have started here.

Down for the majority of the game, the Titans thought they found the endzone on 3rd and goal on a Mariota scramble but was overruled. On 4th and goal, they go to Luke Stocker on the run fake with 35 seconds left on the clock.

Mike Vrabel and co decided to get out with the win by trying to go for a two point conversion.

Mariota’s pass to Tajae Sharp was incomplete, but due to defensive holding, they get another go from the 1 yard line. Give it to Derrick Henry. No, don’t be silly. They try another play deep in the tomfoolery playbook to Taywan Taylor but Adrian Phillips was able to tip the pass, giving the Chargers the win.


1. Landon Calling


Couldn’t get through the article without a pun (and it’s a beauty to be fair!) but here is one for the defensive guys!

In a cold Autumn evening in Twickenham, there was a red hot play on the defensive side of the ball.

In what was a pretty poor game overall, the one highlight was with the Giants 10-3 behind, Landon Collins picking off Case Keenum at the 45 yards line and literally going through the whole Rams team into the endzone.

This helped the Giants facilitate a 17-10 win at the home of Rugby and is regarded by many as the single greatest play in London to date.

Spurred on by a Big Mack

By Lawrence Vos (@NFLFANINENGLAND)

When the Oakland Raiders host the Chicago Bears tomorrow in London it will remarkably be the 85th NFL game played outside of the United States of America.

The game itself will be a landmark contest as it represents the first time NFL football will have been played at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, the first venue of its kind in England to have been built to specifically host and showcase the alternative brand of football.

Sunday’s contest, the 15th time the Bears and the Raiders have met, will be the 34th NFL contest to take place in London, including pre-season games. When you think 34 and NFL history there is only one image that comes to mind, that of the dearly-departed Bears Hall of Fame and Super Bowl winning running-back Walter ‘Sweetness’ Payton.

The NFL was first introduced to a completely bewildered audience of around 30,000 people in 1983 when British entrepreneur John Marshall hired Wembley Stadium for the day and arranged a game, called the Global Cup, between the St Louis Cardinals and the Minnesota Vikings.

Just three years later and the Chicago Bears, Walter Payton, William ‘The refrigerator’ Perry, Jim McMahon and head coach Mike Ditka, made their way to Wembley Stadium to play the Dallas Cowboys in the inaugural game of the ‘American Bowl’ series that lasted until 1993.

After a 14 year break the NFL formally returned to England in 2007 for real regular season matchups, and since then the Bears have been back once, a 2011 win over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Tomorrow will mark the third time the Raiders, who will be the home team, have played a meaningful contest at Wembley, having suffered losses in 2014 (14-38 to the Dolphins) and last year (3-27 to the Seattle Seahawks). 


HEAD TO HEAD


Season series – 7-7

Points totals – Bears 256 – Raiders 249

Overtime contests – 1  (1978 a 25-19 Raiders win)

Last meeting – 2015 in Chicago. Bears won 22-20 courtesy of a 49-yard Robbie Gould field goal in the final two seconds of the game. Derek Carr was the Raiders QB then, he got 196 yards and two td’s, including one to the departed Amari Cooper.

Times played since the Millennium – 4. Bears have won three of four, by margins of 3, 11 and 2. Raiders last beat the Bears in 2011.

Key Raiders stats

  • Allowed 16 first-downs by penalty
  • Opponent is 3 of 5 on 4th downs
  • Minus 1 turnover ration
  • Only had 5 sacks this season – Missing Khalil Mack still
  • Derek Carr completing 72% of his passes
  • Rookie running-back Josh Jacobs leads the team in rushing with 307 yards at an impressive 5.0 yards a carry.
  • 21st in yards per game (335.8)
  • 9th in rushing 125.8 yards a game

Key Bears stats

  • 28th in points scored – 16.5 a game
  • 30th in yards – 273.5
  • Allowed just 13 3rd down conversions all season
  • Giving up just 3.0 yards a rush attempt
  • Accrued 17 sacks – 4.5 of those by Khalil Mack the former Raiders pass rusher
  • Kicker Eddie Piniero is 8 of 9 on field goals
  • Turnover ratio +6
  • Before his injury starting QB Mitch Trubisky had thrown for 588 yards. ‘Bear’ in mind that Jared Goff threw for 517yards in Week 4 alone.
  • Rookie running back David Montgomery lead the team in rushing with 200 at a mediocre 3.4 a carry. He also has 8 catches.

Marquee matchups

  • Bears edge Khalil Mack v both Raiders tackles Trent Brown and Kolton Miller.

    Of all qualified edge rushers Mack is ranked number one by Pro Football Focus, both by position and by pass rush grade. Mack will be licking his lips against crocked left-tackle Trent Brown, but seeing as he lines up on both sides, the Raiders tackles will be both tested. Mack has continue his All-Pro form into 2019 with 4.5 sacks and 4 forced fumbles. With his engine running all game Mack will be eyeing up a British hat-trick of sacks against Derek Carr.
  • Bears WR Allen Robinson v Raiders CB Gareon Conley

    The Raiders pass defense is ranked 27th, and they have given up 9 touchdowns through the air. Even in limited snaps Bears QB Chase Daniel has built up an instant rapport with Robinson. In Week 4 against the Vikings Robinson caught all 7 of his targets for 77 yards. Conley, a 2017 first round pick will have a busy day, and he will need his 4.44 40 speed to be in constant action. Robinson is more than capable of a 100+ yard game, it’s the touchdowns that are harder. Look for Robinson to get 12 targets.

Bears and Raiders season surprises and disappointments

  • Bears WR Allen Robinson leads the team in catches (24) and yards (280) but he is yet to find pay-dirt. Look for this to change at the home of Harry.
  • Missing out on the game is Bears WR Taylor Gabriel who broke an NFL Monday Night Football record in a Week 3 win against the Redskins when he caught three touchdowns in a quarter.
  • Raiders tight-end Darren Waller was a fantasy darling coming into the season, but he has outperformed even the most optimistic projections. 33 catches for 320 yards leads the team in balls and yards by a significant margin, but like Robinson he is yet to score.
  • The biggest Bears let-down so far is second-year WR Antony Miller who was a high-ranked breakout projection. Miller has 4 catches for a paltry 28 yards so far.
  • Bears Swiss army knife RB Tarik Cohen has 116 offensive yards to date, averaging just over 2 yards a carry. 14 catches is good but 89 yards in the air is not so much.
  • Raiders rookie WR Hunter Renfrow was supposed to be a Julian Edelman type slot-machine, but he has 11 catches for just 89 yards at a pedestrian 8.1 a catch.

Final word


This will be my 25th NFL game I will be seeing live, and my 18th in London (including pre-season and Twickenham) so I look forward to celebrating with a healthy Bears win. Former Heisman Trophy winner Chase Daniel will be making only his 5th start in his 10-year career. The archetypal backup played two games for Chicago in 2018, going 1-1 so he knows his team strengths well. The Raiders will look to feed rookie RB Josh Jacobs the ball early and often, but the Bears defense is akin to a great white shark’s mouth. You break the front teeth and another row simply grows from behind. The Bears depth is phenomenal. Look out for defensive end #95 Roy Robertson-Harris who has stood out amongst a quality defensive line.


Prediction


Bears 27-10 Raiders


The Bears to get a big game out of utility back Tarik Cohen and Chase Daniel’s command of the offense will be making Windy-city faithful wonder if he can do a better job than Mitch Trubisky longer-term.

Best Bets – Week 5

Bets bet Tim (@Tim_MonkF10Y) and Adam (@touchdowntips)

Not only are we going to give you the best bets for week 5 ladies and gents.

We have an impromptu £100 challenge!!!

Seeing as though lots of you will be filling White Hart Lane, no doubt with betting slips in your hand, below are Adam and Tim’s bets if we had a mythical £100.


Chicago @ Oakland – £100 Challenge


Send us your £100 challenges and we’ll RT the best ones! See how you compare!


Week 5


Moving on to Week 5. Hopefully we’ll do better than our Week 4 where only our NB came in (Dissly anytime and Dallas Unders).


Best bet giveaway


Head over to Twitter and find our Giveaway Tweet where you can win this bet!

#NFL100Memories – 16/100

Game day with Claire Da Bear – by Jonathan Howell

Going to an NFL game with Claire is an experience. Her knowledge and passion for the sport is clear and it’s easy to be swept along with it all. What does that mean for me? It means that there’s never a dull moment.

Claire, better known in the NFL community as Claire Da Bear, introduced me to the UK NFL games back in 2008. I was lucky enough to see only the second game played at Wembley. It was not only when I started supporting the New Orleans Saints but the nail-biting end to that battle with the San Diego Chargers got me hooked. The tension as the whole of Wembley collectively held its breath was astounding.

I remember first learning about the joys of NFL from the Channel 4 round-up which managed to distill a week’s worth of highlights into an action-packed show. However, the intervening decades had erased most of the finer points of the game from my memory. Going to a game with Claire soon solved that. She managed to see my looks of confusion and instruct me as to why a yardage penalty had been given, or why possession had changed.

A game day with Claire is always a long one. It doesn’t matter if the match is early in the afternoon or in the evening, we need to be up at the stadium in the morning. There was always opportunities for signings and ever since she set up Giveaway HQ she’s been dedicated to getting those autographs. But it’s got bigger than just that.

Claire Da Bear is now recognised, famous in the NFL fan world. She’ll go dressed in an outfit that has bloomed over time. First it was just the Chicago Bears jersey. Then I found I’d become an enabler by ordering her the orange and blue Foamhead hat, which makes her practically visible from space. Year by year more gets added. The Bears trainers, the cape, and the camo trousers all appeared. Claire is now top to toe a Bears fan and it certainly gets her noticed.

Out and about on game day, there’s always a steady stream of people coming up and asking for a selfie with her or just to say “Hi, I follow you on Twitter”. It’s like being out with a celebrity. Usually Claire’s a private person and quiet with it, but not on game day. You can feel the nervous excitement from her, which only intensifies when it’s the Chicago Bears playing. I think if there was a way to sleep over at the stadium the night before then she’d take it.

Although the UK doesn’t do tailgate parties in the way that the Americans do it, there are still events to be a part of. This can include the stage where players and cheerleaders come and entertain the crowd, the array of food on offer (the queue for Po’ Boys was unsurprisingly full of Saints fans), or the signings. Claire wants to be a part of it all and it’s impossible not to be swept along with her. On the other hand, it’s easy enough to grab some quiet time by depositing her in the queue for autographs, knowing full well she’ll happily be there for hours, chatting to other fans.

Going to a game with Claire is a bit like being in the middle of a gentle storm. So many people greeting her, or the exchanges of friendly banter between opposing teams. There’s always the customary “abuse” shared back and forth between her and a Packers fan who always sits near her at Wembley. It’s all part of the atmosphere, all part of the experience, all part of what it’s like to spend a day with Claire soaking up everything an NFL game has to offer.