We have reached the half way point folks. Week five this weekend and we can slowly start to see the playoff picture taking place. Teams who looked like high flying certs at the start of the year have now fallen, and those who got off to slow starts look to be on the rise.
SEATTLE @ HOUSTON
A game which is heavily favoured for a Houston win is also a must win for the 1-3 Dragons. The Roughnecks sit atop all rankings with a 4-0 perfect start to the season and they can thank their star Quarterback for getting them there. PJ Walker has shone brightest of anybody in the league so far and having thrown for 987 yards and 12 TD’s he leads the way for Quarterbacks in the league.
Last week Seattle made a change at QB. Brandon Silvers was benched in favour of BJ Daniels who entered the game against St. Louis and gave the Dragons a bit of life. I don’t think he has what it takes to get them over the line against Houston this week but I do think moving forward he will be a better fit for the offense. Seattle need to figure out a solution for their run game. The three headed rushing monster they had been attempting to go with just isn’t working. It’s time they place their trust in Kenneth Farrow and build an offense around him and Daniels.
Expect to see a lively hometown crowd cheer on their undefeated Roughnecks in a game which I expect will result in a double digit win for the home side.
Prediction: Seattle 15 – 32 Houston
NEW YORK @ DALLAS
This game is going to come down to whichever backup quarterback steps up to the plate best. Luis Perez and Philip Nelson will suit up for the Guardians and the Renegades respectively. Two 2-2 teams facing off in Dallas, where the Renegades are yet to register a win this season, will both be hoping to get on the right side of the win/loss scale.
New York had an important bounce back win against the Wildcats last weekend in the meadowlands after losing their two previous games. As for Dallas, well they were on the wrong end of the score line in last weeks “Texas Throwdown” when they lost to the Roughnecks.
Both teams will need to help their QB’s the best they can, scheming easy throws and perhaps looking towards their run games. Dallas may rely heavily on the work of Cameron Artis Payne or TE Donald Parham who have both been producing well on offence over the past couple of weeks.
I favour the Renegades at home in this one, but will say that if either team opens up a two possession scoring advantage, I don’t see them being caught.
Prediction: New York 20 – 24 Dallas
ST LOUIS @ D.C
The sudden collapse of D.C from 2-0 to 2-2 over the last two weeks caught the attention of just about everyone. Cardale Jones’ perfected recorded as a starter was shattered and the overall on field product turned to dust. Two games on the road in a row resulted in two losses and now DC returns to Audi Field to face a Battlehawks team who has been on the ascendency since week one.
St Louis have won their last games convincingly, bouncing off the home town energy in the Dome. Its obvious St Louis has missed their pro football and they are showing a passion toward the Battlehawks and they have ever so gracefully repaid them. Jordan Ta’amu has been consistent at a high level for pretty much the whole season and based on both teams current form, it is going to take one hell of a performance from DC to stop St. Louis.
It will be interesting to keep tabs on how D.C perform being back at home as opposed to being on the road. They were perfect at home before losing two straight while on their travels. Similarly it will be telling of the commitment of the XFL fan bases to see how they turn out to support a struggling Defenders team.
If Ta’amu and the Battlehawks hit their rhythm early then I can see this becoming a runaway victory.
Prediction: St. Louis 29 – 15 D.C
TAMPA @ LOS ANGELES
A defining game in both teams seasons. The opportunity to move to 2-3 after both earned their first victories of the season against the aforementioned Defenders. The crazy yard gaining Tampa offence will hope to keep their winning formulae going as they travel cross country to face the Wildcats.
400 yards offence has become somewhat of a benchmark for the Vipers despite only having one win but it is fair to assume they are one or two pieces away from everything falling perfectly into place for them and allowing them to rack up more wins. As for LA, well the waters are slightly murkier. The team’s identity is still not clear after their opening losses, a shock win against D.C and then a somewhat disappointing loss against a struggling Guardians team.
Winston Moss will have to “Give it to his players RIGHT NOW!” (See week 4 sound bites to get that reference) if he has any hope of them getting something out of this game. Better play calling will be required this week as the Vipers will almost certainly try to lock down Tre McBride knowing full well he’ll be the main target with Nelson Spruce still out.
A tough one for the home team and a golden opportunity for the road team.
Prediction: Tampa 30 – 24 LA
Hope you enjoyed this shortened format. How do you see this week’s games panning out? Let me know on twitter @MichaelLavery98
Following an exciting opening weekend of football, the XFL train rolls into week two and it’s time to break down each of the games one by one. If you haven’t already, be sure to check out or brand new XFL Podcast with myself and Shaun from the Full10 Yards family where we talk all things XFL breaking it down for you in audio form!
Last week’s predictions got off to an average start, guessing 2/4 winning teams correctly. As always I will have my predictions at the end of segment. Disagree with any? Let me hear it on twitter @MichaelLavery98
GUARDIANS @ DEFENDERS
The first game of week two is between two teams who were able to secure a win in week one and it provides an opportunity to open up the season 2-0 and taking an early stronghold on the Eastern Conference.
The Defenders will want to build on an impressive opening week, carrying on dominant play across all three phases of play. Quarterback Cardale Jones will be hoping to maintain his perfect record as a starter as they welcome in Matt McGloin and the New York Guardians.
Carrying on from last week, it will be interesting to see if Defenders HC Pep Hamilton steps up his aggression levels when it comes to some of the calls he has to make mid game. Last week the Defenders were successful on 1/3 1PAT tries and went 1/1 on 2PAT tries. Perhaps something that the DC staff will want to look into and adjust going forward and as a result we may see more 2PAT attempts from the Defenders.
They will be coming up against a strong Guardians defense who last week won the turn over battle against a poor Tampa Bay Vipers. I can’t imagine this will in any way deter the Defenders and their air attack which worked seamlessly last week, but we may see DC return to the run game. Last week the team rushed for only 68 yards and 28 of which were provided through by the quarterback. 40 yards total rushing for a game indicates a very on dimensional offence and I think we will see Pep Hamilton trying to scheme open some bigger run plays.
As for New York, they will be hoping Matt McGloin can continue on from their opening weekend victory and keep the team playing at an efficient level. One thing worth noting, in terms of travelling as a “road” team this week, the Guardians will have significantly less distance to travel than all other teams on the road this week, something which will undoubtedly benefit them when it comes to game time and how fresh they feel. This is in comparison to the Dragons who last week had to fly cross country to face a Defenders team who benefited from being at home. The Defense in New York will be hoping for similar production turnover wise but will want to clamp down on the amount of yards they allowed against them as Cardale Jones and the Defenders will not be as incompetent in the redzone as the Vipers were last week.
These two teams combined for over 50 points last week and would indicate in every way that we are in for an offensive battle. D.C averaged 5.3 yards per play where New York averaged 5.0. Neither team was overly successful on 3rd down last week – NY going 1/10 and D.C converting only 5/15 but both had 100% records on 4th down. How will the teams adjust for that this week?
Prediction: Guardians 21 – 26 Defenders
GAME TWO: VIPERS @ DRAGONS
Both of these teams had disappointing losses in week one but for different reasons. Seattle were unfortunate not to stay in the game with a chance to tie or go for the win in the 4th quarter. Tampa however, were just very poor when it came to redzone efficiency and didn’t manage to get into the redzone. They will hope to bounce back this week but will face a difficult task travelling cross-country to play in Seattle – a notoriously difficult city to play in as a visitor.
During the week, Seattle announced they had already sold 25,000 tickets for this week’s opener and after an additional 1,000 tickets were put on sale this week they were reported to have “Sold out very quickly”. Typically raucous and intimidating, it will be insightful (in terms of league interest levels) to see what kind of crowd shows up to CenturyLink Field on Saturday.
As for the on field product, Seattle will be hoping to benefit from similar production levels from wideout Austin Proehl. Last week Proehl had 5 receptions for 88 yards and 2 touchdowns and by all accounts had a decent game. His quarterback, Brandon Silvers will hope to cut down on the turnovers and have a cleaner performance. He threw 3 touchdowns but also had two picks in the loss against D.C.
Tampa will need to get on the board early this week and quiet the crowd if they want to get anything from this game. Benefiting from the league’s leading receiver, Daniel Williams, he had 123 yards receiving and will hope to produce similar numbers this week but the team as a whole failed when it came to redzone production. Yes they had nearly 400 yards of offensive (394 total) but as the saying goes “Drive for show and putt for dough”. Last week the Vipers couldn’t finish and that’s the difference between winning and losing.
As of Friday it was announced that quarterback Aaron Murray would not start week two due to injury, but the team made no official announcement whether Quinton Flowers or Taylor Cornelius would assume the starting role this Saturday.
Prediction: Vipers 17 – 29 Dragons
GAME THREE: RENEGADES @ WILDCATS
Frustrating results in week one for both the Renegades and Wildcats will test their strength as a team when it comes to week two.
Dallas were the only team to lose at home in week one, perhaps a damaging result in terms of team moral, but, a welcome boost will have come this week in the form of the announcement that Landry Jones will start at quarterback for the Renegades this week having spent last week on the side lines. His professional calibre will be a welcome addition to the huddle this week as they look to take advantage of a Wildcats team who have had defensive problems this week with the announcement that their defensive coordinator Pepper Johnson had been fired.
The Wildcats will be hosting the game at the Dignity Health Sports Park – an arena we are used to seeing filled with opposing team supporters when it’s the Los Angeles Chargers playing at home. Will we see a different side to the LA football fandom this week as the Wildcats prepare to host their home opener?
Neither side was able to get the ball moving with any meaningful rhythm last week as their offenses stalled out on numerous drives. The Wildcats were shut out in the second half against the Roughnecks – a tough look on a team where fuses seem to be short in regards to personnel shifts. Both teams did however start with their back-up quarterbacks and this week we will hopefully be treated to the full spectacle of QB1’s. Chad Kanoff missed practice due to injury and Josh Johnson was upgraded to limited.
I expect this to be a surprisingly fun watch and based on their quarterback status will give the edge to the visitors.
Prediction:Renegades 31 – 22 Wildcats
GAME FOUR: BATTLEHAWKS @ ROUGHNECKS
The final instalment this week comes from TDECU stadium in Houston. Both teams riding high of the momentum of impressive opening weekend games, they will hope to take the next step on Sunday by securing another win.
St. Louis successfully navigated a road win in a tricky victory against Dallas, and Houston flexed their muscles beating the Wildcats by 20. Roughnecks quarterback, PJ Walker will be eager to prove that last week wasn’t just a one off and that he is talented and capable enough to perform at such a level, week in, week out. As for the Battlehawks, it is the hope of team Head Coach Jonathan Hayes that his quarterback, Jordan Ta’amu, can continue to get it done under centre. We also saw a clear commitment to the run game last week as the Battlehawks stuck with it and tried to wear down the Renegades defence. 191 yards on the ground last week, including 77 from Ta’amu.
It was announced during the week that the first ever XFL Championship game will be played at TDECU stadium, perhaps a somewhat motivational and inspiring announcement for the Roughnecks players as they hope to gain home field advantage in the biggest game of the year.
The Battlehawks will be hoping to get through this week with a win and return home to St. Louis with a perfect record and hopefully play to an electric fan base who will be more than ready to have a hometown team once again.
In my opinion I think this will be the game of the week, a tough job for the Battlehawks on the road and a proud Roughnecks team looking to defend home turf, I’ll give the edge to the team who displayed the most star power and flare in week one.
That’s a sentence you’re not used to hearing in February, right?
This time of year is usually the beginning of a seven month drought which sees us clutching on to any form of relevant and somewhat interesting football news. Hypothetical trades, mock drafts, and record predictions for teams in the new season, which we all know doesn’t always go to plan (I’m talking to you, Adam Rank).
But finally, after a lot of build-up, exciting rules announcements and the occasional familiar name being thrown into the mix… It’s time for the XFL.
The following is a preview of each of the opening four games followed by my own personal predictions for the games which at this point are complete stabs in the dark but worth a go anyway.
Seattle Dragons @ D.C Defenders
The opening game of the second installment of XFL football comes from Audi Field in Washington D.C where the Dragons take on the Defenders. Both of these teams are the second professional football team in their respective cities, something which could be worth looking into regarding attendance and fan support.
The Defenders are being led by Cardale Jones at quarterback, someone who is already being touted as the potential league MVP before it even kicks off. Jones spent a short time in the pro’s, mostly as a backup or a third stringer. He was drafted 139th overall by the Buffalo Bills in 2016 but has never played more than a half of professional football.
His career stat line: 6/11 98yds, 0TD, 1INT 46.0QBR
D.C Head Coach Pep Hamilton is more than qualified to lead this team to multiple victories this year. He has years of experience working as a positional coach in the NFL for several teams and was the Colts Offensive Coordinator for two years from 2013-15. The significance of this is that during that time he worked closely with Andrew Luck, someone who he also coached during his time at Stamford.
Why exactly is this important? Well for the success Luck had in his short NFL career, I don’t think it would be a bad idea for Cardale Jones to pick the brain of his new HC. Luck and Jones also have extremely similar measurables, something Hamilton might hope to take advantage of and craft Jones into a Luck style player.
Comparison: Luck v Jones
40 Yard Dash
The Seattle Dragons signal caller goes by the name of Brandon Silver. Silver has no NFL in game experience despite trying out at the New Orleans Saints rookie minicamp and spending a month as a member of the New York Jets. He did however play for the Memphis Express in the short while that the AAF existed. He sat behind Johnny Manziel as a backup before taking over the starting job after a Manziel injury.
His AAF Stat line: 80/125 799yds, 4TD, 2INT, 86.1QBR
Despite not being the most decorated player at his position, he is at least being coached by someone who knows how to lead a franchise. Former Seattle Seahawks lefty QB; Jim Zorn.
Zorn was the Seahawks quarterback for the first eight years of the franchise’s existence. He made it a weekly habit of finding NFL Hall of Famer Steve Largent in the end zone and now they are both members of the Seattle ring of honour.
In his professional coaching career he has been an assistant and also spent one year has the Head Coach of the Washington Redskins (08-09). Jim Zorn Washington revenge game, anybody?
What is key is that Zorn will know exactly what the city of Seattle will want to see from their Dragons. He knows the city, he knows the fans, he knows the seriousness and with that I think he will have the Dragons performing at a high level all year.
This should be a great game to kick off the season, the fireworks and hoopla of the rebirthed XFL will no doubt add to the festival like occasion and hopefully there will be fireworks on the field too. Explosive plays, new kick offs and extra point rules all to be seen this weekend.
Prediction:My week one stab in the dark prediction is for Seattle to win a crowd silencer on the road in D.C with a final score of 34-17.
Los Angeles Wildcats @ Houston Roughnecks
The late slot on Saturday takes us to TDECU stadium in Houston where the Roughnecks will host the Los Angeles Wildcats. The 40,000 seater arena is the battleground for the first primetime matchup of the season.
Houston Quarterback P.J Walker, who played is college ball at Temple, is, by his own admission an undersized quarterback. At 5’ 11” and only 214lbs he draws the pro sized comparison to Russell Wilson and a quick look at his tape shows his footballing ability is similar too. Walker has excellent escape ability when he feels pressure and can get the job done either by rushing or make accurate throws on the move. Despite having this ability to avoid pressure, he doesn’t force early departures from the pocket and when complimented by good protection has the time needed to step into throws and successfully complete the long ball. Something ex-Texans receiver Sammie Coates will be happy about as he makes his return to pro football in Houston. But, when Walker does take off running he has the talent to make defenders look stupid.
The Roughnecks will be running a “Run N’ Shoot” style offence. A pass heavy scheme, it is hoped that Walker can find his receivers deep down field often and force teams to meet their high scoring targets if they have any hopes of winning.
Fronted by Head Coach June Jones, a former NFL QB and HC for the Atlanta Falcons, Houston will be hoping to deliver key blows early in this game and take advantage of playing at home. Jones won the CNN/Sports Illustrated National Coach of the year award back in 1999 before going on to take on several roles as an assistant in both college and pro teams.
Something to watch in the future: Jones stepped in as interim Head Coach of the San Diego Chargers after the now New York Guardians HC Kevin Gilbride was fired. Perhaps something to keep an eye on in the week 6 fixture between Houston and New York.
The visiting Los Angeles Wildcats have a veteran NFL journeyman at the helm. Josh Johnson has been a member of 13 teams since being drafted by the Bucs in the 5th round of the 2008 draft. A cousin of Marshawn Lynch, he played college football at San Diego. Perhaps an indication of his pedigree at his position, the Detroit Lions attempted to resign Johnson in November 2019 but the XFL denied this request.
Wildcats Head Coach Winston Moss was a professional linebacker for the Bucs, LA Raiders and Seahawks. He worked up 20.5 sacks and 3 interceptions during his career. A defensive minded coach, he will undoubtedly have his hands full this weekend but will be hoping to lean on the talents of his players to execute his game plan and slow down the Roughnecks attack.
Prediction: I think this will be one of the closer games of the weekend but I see the home team coming out on top. Houston wins it: 26-21.
Tampa Bay Vipers @ New York Guardians
Moving into the early slot on Sunday and we will get to see the first instalment of the Tampa Bay Vipers and the New York Guardians. Being played at MetLife this game is sure to have all the feelings of a regular football Sunday.
Guardians Head Coach Kevin Gilbride will be hoping to get his team off to a fast start in the league. Overseeing operations in New York as a play caller he will be hoping his team leave their mark as a smash mouth, run you over style football team, something which is always associated with teams playing in the meadowlands.
He will no doubt be confident that his team can pile up the wins, the Guardians start the season with seasoned pro, Matt McGloin under centre. A former raider who knows all about playing tough.
His Career Stat line: 13 Games Played 7 Started 161/277 1868yds, 11TD, 11INT 75.3QBR
I’m not entirely confident in McGloin’s ability to shine as the star of this league, but I do believe he will be more than capable of managing in-game situations at an effective and professional level and guiding this team to victory. That said, if he doesn’t perform, the New York fans will have no problem in letting him hear it.
Making the trip up the east coast is the green and yellow of the Tampa Bay Vipers. Spearheaded by Head Coach Marc Trestman and Quarterback Aaron Murray, the team travels to New York in the hope of returning to Florida with a season opening win.
Murray, a former Georgia Bulldog was a 5th round pick in the 2014 NFL draft by the Kansas City Chiefs. After bouncing between teams for a number of years, he took up a role as the QB for the Atlanta Legends of the AAF before coming to Tampa in the hope of being the cities best quarterback (30INT Jameis Winston shouldn’t be too hard to beat).
His Head Coach, Trestman, has an impressive history of coaching. Over 39 years he’s been with 10 NFL teams as either an assistant or a coordinator and has had his fair share of coffees elsewhere too coaching in both college and the CFL.
This should be a gritty game, with both teams trying to make some noise in the early Sunday window and gain some attention before week 2. A tough one to call so I’ll give the benefit to the team with a QB who has NFL experience and are playing at home.
Prediction:Guardians 27-20 Vipers.
St Louis Battlehawks @ Dallas Renegades
Potentially the best game of the weekend slot, aptly left to the primetime Sunday evening slot. A city left in the lurch without pro football since 2015, St. Louis fans were beyond hurt when the rams left them and have been crying out for football since. The Battlehawks fans will have to wait until week 3 to see their team play at home but I don’t think that will stop them from travelling to Dallas show support to their team.
Dallas is a footballing hub, the Cowboys have been calling themselves America’s team for what feels like forever and the entire city of Dallas lives for the sport. The Renegades will count as the State of Texas’ 4th pro football team, but they will have no intentions of being known as such. They want to be number one and behind quarterback Landry Jones they are in great shape to do so.
Jones is the forefront of this offense and he will hope to lay down a marker for the standard at which other teams aspire to be at. He was the first player to be selected for the XFL at the start of the team’s allocation process.
Jones’ professional career saw him drafted by the Steelers with the 115th overall pick in the 3rd round of the 2013 draft. A competent backup, he even saw some playing time in the playoffs, relieving an injured Ben Roethlisberger in the 2015 wild-card game against the Cincinnati Bengals. Roethlisberger would eventually return to the game but it is a credit to Jones and his work as a backup that he was ready to go when called upon. I think we can expect to see a great player coach chemistry with the Renegades. Jones and HC Bob Stoops worked together during his time in college. They will need to bring their “A” game in order to stop a resurgent St. Louis side who will be wanting to prove the point that pro football belongs in their city.
The Battlehawks are entering this game with quarterback Jordan Ta’amu and Head Coach Jonathan Hayes. Wanting to implement their status as winners from the start they will have to lean heavily on the knowledge of their HC and the veterans in the team with pro experience such as ex-Seahawks running back Christine Michael. In his career, he amassed over 1,000 rushing yards off 254 carries over a period of 4 years.
First special teams mention of the day, Marquette King, ex-Raiders punter makes his return to football for the Battlehawks in the hopes of re-igniting his career.
A primetime showdown to round out week one of the new XFL season, a game I think will come down to wire. Fourth quarter plays will be crucial and coaches aggression strategies on their PAT attempts will be important in determining a winner. I’ll side with the home team in this one but wouldn’t be surprised to see the visitors get a win.
Prediction:Renegades 28-26 Battlehawks.
So there you have it, the week 1 preview is at a close. Let us know your thoughts on the XFL by tweeting us @full10Yards on Twitter. Whether you love it, hate it or aren’t even going to watch it, we want to know!
The sight of a coach drenched in Gatorade and a field covered in ticker tape usually signals no football for 7 whole months. Yes we have the combine, free agency and draft to get excited about but nothing beats the excitement of an actual game. The AAF had a brief cameo last year but hopefully football fans we have a more permanent spring offering starting up on Saturday as XFL kicks off. 8 new teams, some interesting tweaks on rules and a UK home to watch it all on, here’s a preview to get you in the mood.
The Teams and Coaches
Dallas Renegades – Bob Stoopes
Houston Roughnecks – June Jones
LA Wildcats – Winston Moss
Seattle Dragons – Jim Zorn
New York Guardians – Kevin Gilbride
DC Defenders – Pep Hamilton
St Louis Battlehawks – Johnathan Hayes
Tampa Bay Vipers – Marc Trestman
With 8 new teams, rosters needed to be formed. The XFL player allocation process was held in multiple phases, separated by position groups. Each XFL head coach submitted a list of their preferred quarterbacks, with the league assigning one quarterback to each team prior to the draft as “tier 1” quarterbacks. The remaining players were drafted by position group using a traditional “snake format” with each team given 90 seconds per pick.
Phase 1: Offensive skill positions
Phase 2: Offensive lineman
Phase 3: Defensive front 7
Phase 4: Defensive backfield
Phase 5: Any remaining players
Teams drafted 71 players, with a requirement to be cut down to 52 for opening weekend kickoff.
Notable Players Selected
At quarterback, there are a couple of former household names from big-time programs, including Landry Jones from Oklahoma and Cardale Jones from Ohio State. Both men spent time as back-ups in the NFL so will be keen to prove their worth leading the Dallas Renegades and DC Defenders respectively.
In the offensive skill positions familiar faces Matt Jones, formerly of the Washington Redskins and former Carolina Panther Cameron Artis-Payne will be carrying the rock out of the backfield. 2 former AFC North receivers will see the field as ex Steeler Sammie Coates and ex Cleveland Brown, Antonio Callaway suit up.
On the defensive side of the ball, former 1st and 2nd round NFL draft choices Matt Elam and Rahim Moore will team up together in Dallas. Kony Ealy who recorded 3 sacks in Superbowl 50 has signed on with Houston. Nick Novak will be a recognizable name on special teams, whilst Scooby Wright III wins quite simply the most memorable name prize.
The 10-week regular season starts Saturday, February 8, less than a week removed from the Superbowl, with the DC Defenders hosting the Seattle Dragons, followed by the Los Angeles Wildcats traveling to Houston for a game against the Roughnecks.
The XFL’s first weekend continues on Sunday, February 9, when the New York Guardians host the Tampa Bay Vipers and concludes later that day as the Dallas Renegades host the St. Louis BattleHawks. Additional regular-season highlights include home openers for Seattle on February 15, Los Angeles on February 16, Tampa Bay on February 22, and St. Louis on February 23. The 2 biggest US markets, New York and Los Angeles, meet only one time on February 29, when the Wildcats take on the Guardians at MetLife Stadium. The first of two Texas intrastate match-ups between the Roughnecks and Renegades follows on March 1 in Dallas.
Following the regular season, the top two teams in each division will square off for the right to play for the league championship on Sunday, April 26. The East Final is scheduled for Saturday, April 18, and the West Final will be held Sunday, April 19. The first-place team in each division will host its respective division final.
UK fans will be able to catch coverage of the games across the BT sport network or via ESPN player.
The New Rules
When the XFL kicks off on Feb. 8, the new league will feature exciting gameplay innovations that are designed to deliver a faster pace of play and more action. With 5 Gameplay Innovations, 5 Timing Changes, and 5 Common Sense Rules, the league is building on traditional football while preserving its authenticity.
25-Second Play Clock | Comeback Period | Running Game Clock | Timeouts | Replay Rulings
5 Common Sense Rules:
One Foot Inbounds | Ball-Spotting Official | Coach-Player Communication | Simplified Illegal Man Downfield | Shorter Halftime
Check out this useful summary video via youtube here.
Time To Get Excited
In summary, its more football to enjoy and I’m really interested to see how some of the new rules play out. The XFL appears to have learned from its previous failings and has the financial backing to be a success. I would suggest you pick a team and have a bit of fun for the next 12 weeks, its surely better than refreshing twitter to see which free agents your NFL team has overpaid for.
Time to head east for the last 2 sets of Half-Term reports. Quite a few teams in these divisions have underwhelmed and then there’s the Patriots. At the very least the NFC equivalent should be a bit more exciting, but that wouldn’t be hard to do when you are comparing against the AFC East.
Nonetheless, Let’s give them some grades:
New England Patriots – 8-0
Buffalo Bills – 5-2
New York Jets – 1-6
Miami Dolphins – 0-7
Midseason Grade: A+
How has it gone so far?
At some point the never ending story of Patriots success has to end, but the 2019 season still has the tale without an end in sight.
The AFC’s only undefeated team at the half-way point Sith Lord Belichick and his cyborg QB Tom Brady are continuing to excel, but the offense is being out-shadowed by a defense that is looking like the 1985 Bears on some old-school steroids. A remarkable statistic to come to the fore after 7 games was that the Patriots would have been 4-2-1 if they had all of their offensive touchdowns removed.
Current Super Bowl MVP Julian Edelman is still the heartbeat of the offense, catching more balls than a set of snooker table pockets, and the recent acquisition of sure-handed WR Mohammed Sanu from the Falcons will immediately compensate for the loss of Josh Gordon to injury.
Rest of Season Outlook:
The Pats go up against the Ravens, Eagles, Cowboys, Texans and Chiefs to open up the second half of the season, and you read it here first they WILL lose one of this handful of high-profile games. You can run on the Patriots, just don’t turn the ball over.
Ever since the Patriots shut down the Rams in the Super Bowl they flicked on a switch of defensive dominance and 61 points allowed in 8 games is quite simply amazing. The Patriots are a bit of Mahomes magic from yet another trip to the Big Dance. Just give up betting against them.
Regular season record prediction : 15-1 and trip to Super Bowl.
Midseason Grade: B+
How has it gone so far?
One of the genuine surprise units of the NFL, aside from a rather lacklustre loss to the Eagles the Bills have played solid defense to help them to five wins in their first six games. Josh Allen has not exactly lit it up so far but he is now completing 60% of his passes.
Free agent WR John ‘Smoky’ Brown is on target for over 1k and the Peter Pan of the NFL RB Frank Gore is leading the team in rushing with 422 yards.
On their defence, the strongest part of their setup, CB Tre’Davious White and S Jordan Power lead a top 10 secondary. The Bills allowed a maximum 21 points against them in the first six weeks.
Rest of Season Outlook:
Buffalo’s next four are all winnable, before a tougher ending that includes trips to Dallas, New England and Pittsburgh and home against the Ravens.
The Bills could have a rather shiny 9-2 record heading into Week 12 if they continue their brand of bend but don’t break football. Josh Allen does need to reduce the turnovers and rookie RB Devin Singletary needs to get back on the field.
At some point in the next three weeks Frank Gore will remarkably pass Barry Sanders in the all-time rushing table, with just Walter Payton and Emmitt Smith ahead of him.
This is a team on the rise but likely another one and done in the playoffs.
Regular season record prediction: 10-6
Midseason Grade: E
How has it gone so far?
The Jets have won six games so far, oops that’s the NHL’s Winnipeg Jets. The New York Jets unfortunately kissed goodbye to a winning season when their QB Sam Darnold went down with mono. The combination of backups Trevor Siemian and Luke Falk were atrocious.
Mega signing RB Le’Veon Bell has been disappointing, and was even allegedly in the shop window at the trade deadline. His 536 total yards in 7 games is not what was expected and his two scores is pitiful.
With the exception of a bizarre upset win over the Cowboys in Week 6 this is a team heading in the wrong direction fast. Trading away DE Leonard Williams (to the same stadium) will not help matters, but the Jets must love namesake DT Quinnen Williams.
Rest of Season Outlook:
The Jets have perhaps the softest schedule in the entire league over the next six weeks, including two contests agains the Dolphins and trips to Cincy and Washington.
They should come away with two wins at least in this tea cake of a period. The Jets came into 2019 with a new uniform, a new superstar RB and even a wild-card buzz, but this is clearly not a playoff team, and its back to the drawing board already for Adam Gase, who may not be in post when St Nick comes down your chimney.
Trying to shop your top assets, such as Jamal Adams S and Roby Anderson WR is hardly inspiring confidence and will only serve to further fracture an already shattered locker room.
Regular season record prediction: 3-13
Midseason Grade: E
How has it gone so far?
The entire Dolphins team were given a lovely present just before the start of the 2019 season, a one year digital subscription to ‘The World of Tanks’.
With QB Ryan Fitzmagic at the helm Miami are surprisingly competing in games but the feeling is they are told to pump the brakes if there is any danger of actually winning a game. QB Josh Rosen was clearly not the answer, and judging by the trade of RB Kenyan Drake for little more than a handful of conkers, the team is not serious about winning football games.
The ‘Fins trade at the deadline for CB Aqib Talib was merely to get better pick status, and losing CB Xavien Howard to injury is a blow. The tiny ray of offensive light is resurrection project RB Mark Walton who will look for 700 yards rushing.
Anything is better than RB Kalen Ballage, who is averaging less yards per carry than the team’s punter Matt Haack.
Rest of Season Outlook:
This is a team capable of going 0-16, having scored less than anyone else to this point, and only behind the Falcons (who have played one more game) in terms of points conceded. Fitzmagic has shown up in patches, and it’s not beyond belief that the bearded wizard pulls off one or two wins against the Jets (two games) or Giants or Bengals.
Problem is Miami will be desperate to get the number one draft pick. The ultimate irony would be to beat a 15-0 Patriots team in Week 17 if they rest their starters and their backups. It won’t happen, but it would put a cap on a historically Sherman-styled season.
Regular season record prediction: 0-16
Dallas Cowboys – 4-3
Philadelphia Eagles – 4-4
New York Giants – 2-6
Washington Redskins – 1-7
Midseason Grade: B-
How has it gone so far?
Despite a horrendous three-game losing streak the Cowboys are still the class of the NFC East and are atop the division, albeit due to having had a bye week.
The Cowboys had a marshmallow schedule to start, and when they had quality opponents (Saints, Packers) Day and Zeke couldn’t get the W, but a monster 27 point win over the Eagles will have Jerry Jones smiling in the executive box.
Ezekiel Elliot is gunning for a third rushing title, with 602 and 6 scores in 7 weeks. WRs Amari Cooper and Michael Gallup are stretching the field – 65 catches, over 1,000 yards and just under 16 yards a catch between them.
Rest of Season Outlook :
HC Jason Garrett has been in the corner quite a lot this season, clapping to himself as no-one will even give him a high-five. Somehow Garrett is still in post, but this is an appearance in the NFC Championship (most likely as the road team) or bust for the guy who has been in Dallas for 10 seasons.
The Cowboys have a quality roster on both sides of the ball, but they cannot afford to fall asleep at the wheel again for the rest of the season as they did in the shocking loss to the Jets in Week 6.
Look for Zeke to get fed more than Eddie Hall did on his tour of American eateries.
Regular season record prediction: 11-5 and trip to NFC Championship.
Midseason Grade: B-
How has it gone so far?
The Eagles are a hard team to gauge, so can the real team please stand up.
Losses to the Lions and Falcons and wins over Buffalo and Green Bay is a clear sign that there is a lack of consistency.
QB Carson Wentz has been OK (1,821 yards and 14 touchdowns) and he has sorely missed the deep threat of DeSean Jackson, who returned to Philly after five seasons away. Jackson hasn’t suited up since Week 2 leaving WRs Alshon Jeffery and Nelson Agholor to average under 10 yards a catch combined.
Rookie RB Miles Sanders has played second fiddle to Jordan Howard who leads the team with six scores.
Rest of Season Outlook:
Philadelphia’s second half has five very winnable games including three in-division contests, but New England and Seattle games will be season defining matchups. The Eagles defense has regressed and their secondary is their weakness so they will struggle against superior passers like Russell Wilson and an evergreen Tom Brady. Just two seasons away from lifting a Vince Lombardi Trophy this Eagles team is arguably underperforming, and judging by the 4-4 record to date its not clear which team is coming out of the locker room each week.
Regular season record prediction: 9-7
Midseason Grade: D-
How has it gone so far?
This season will go down in New York history as the end of the Eli Manning era and the start of the Daniel Jones one.
The Giants made a bold move to draft Jones early and doubled up when they inserted his in the starting lineup in Week 3. Jones did come out the gate on fire gaining the Giants two wins on the bounce, but that has been followed by four consecutive losses. Jones is on target for around 3,000 yards and 20 touchdowns.
Stud RB Saquon Barkley has already missed three games and only has three touchdowns in the five contests he has played in.
The only other half-decent offensive performer is TE Even Engram who has 38 catches to lead the team.
Rest of Season Outlook:
With the Jets, Dolphins and Redskins on their second-half slate the Giants should equal their first half win total. Daniel Jones is growing in confidence week by week and the recent return of WR Golden Tate from a suspension will be a big boost.
The Giants need to improve pretty much everywhere on defense and also they need to get better performances from their offensive line. It is a real shame that Saquon is on such a poor team as he has All-World potential.
Another season of frustration in the Big Apple and an emotional farewell to double Super Bowl winning QB Eli Manning in December.
Regular season record prediction: 4-12
Midseason Grade: E
How has it gone so far?
It’s no surprise the Redskins are cellar dwellers;
Their best offensive piece T Trent Williams has held out to this point and the team only announced this week that they are willing to trade him.
Veteran QB Case Keenum has been serviceable as a bridge passer, and will likely see more snaps than expected as rookie Dwayne Haskins has been the proverbial ‘deer in the headlights’ in his limited appearances.
The biggest surprise has been rookie WR Terry McLaurin who leads the team in anything meaningful. The biggest move of the season in Washington was the removal of head coach Jay Gruden, who failed to win a game before the locks were changed.
Interim replacement Bill Callahan won (barely) in his first outing, and has changed the mentality of the team on both sides of the ball. In his three games in charge the Redskins have fed Adrian Peterson the ball and played solid defense, only allowing three touchdowns in three games.
Rest of Season Outlook:
The season was a lost cause from Week 1 when the Redskins had Coach Gruden in charge. With 8 games left the Redskins will play tough, but their lack of offensive weapons will cost them dearly.
The only achievable target will be trying to finish above the equally woeful Giants in the NFC East. There are two potential Pro Bowl candidates, rookie WR McLaurin and a very under the radar CB Quinton Dunbar, who has shone on a defense that has underperformed considering the early round picks they have spent trying to build a competitive unit.
If they do trade Trent Williams that could at least bring a good pick in the 2020 draft.
As Thursday Night Football kicks off, most teams are now a quarter way through the season. Don’t forget to check out Thursday’s podcast for more of a preview on the weekend’s games including the London game between the Bears and the Raiders. Look out for a piece by Lawrence on that game specifically in a day or too.
Back to the rest of the week 5 games….
Dak and Pack
This is usually a highlight on any gameweek in the season. Recent matchups have been thrillers including the famous #dezcaughtit game but the game on Sunday Night is actually quite an important one.
Both teams coming off a loss to NFC rivals, both teams have
been asked a question for the first time and it’ll be interesting to see how
they respond. Teams in their division have made up the ground in what initially
looked like 2 teams that should comfortably see January football.
Dallas stymied by New Orleans and Green Bay outgunned at
home vs Philadelphia, the loser of this game at AT&T stadium could end up
having to do a bit of soul searching.
A doubtful Davante Adams for Green Bay could prove pivotal,
though Rodgers usually gets production from whoever is on the field.
Defences should both enjoy decent nights but the better QB
and playcalling combination should see this one through.
A win for either team and their troubles should dissipate
for the short term, but the team taking the loss will be starting to feel the
West about to get wild
Hawks vs Rams go into their NFC West tussle on TNF with quite a lot at stake.
Not only is it a fiercely contested matchup, where a win will help with the tiebreaker that may come in to paly come week 17, but both teams will be trying to catch the currently unbeaten 49ers! The Seahawks get homefield advantage and face a Rams team that were just embarrassed at home by the Bucs and the Seahawks have been anything but convincing thus far despite being 3-1.
It’s fair to say the Rams have not reached their peaks of 2018 and the cursed Super Bowl hangover seems to be there. Todd Gurley isn’t Todd Gurley, jared Goff is quite frankly not a great QB which is epitomised by an awful 500 yards passing performance.
Chris Carson has had a case of the fumbles early on, though managed to avoid that bug last week against the Cardinals and the Seahawks defence as a unit aren’t what they were a few years ago in prime legion of boom time.
How will the Rams respond? Can the Seahawks finally put in
an assured performance? Plenty of storylines heading in to TNF and if last year’s
games are anything to go by, should be a pretty good game for those staying up
to watch it.
Daniel Jones first real test
Daniel Jones to date has faced the defences of Tampa Bay and
Washington. Pretty vanilla stuff.
Next up on the docket is a Vikings defence that have only
given up a 5th best average of 15.75 pts so far this season and a 6th
best 312.75 yards per game.
Jones through his 2 games as starter is 46/67, 561 yards 5
Total TDs and 2INT. Is that good vs the defences he has faced? Probably not,
but he is a rookie and you can’t expect him to be putting in Tom Brady type performances
(he’s already at Eli Manning level).
The same can be said for the Giants’ offensive line too. It
will certainly be interesting to see how Jones copes with the opposition this
early on in his career, especially with no Saquon Barkley for a while.
AFC South is up for grabs
For the first time since the AFL/NFL merger (and this blows
my mind), all teams within a division are all 2-2 through 4 games.
That means it’s all to play for and looking at week 5, the
Jags face Carolina, the Colts travel to Arrowhead, the Texans are at home to
the Falcons and the Titans travel to Buffalo.
As the records suggest, there’s a lot of inconsistency in the
division and it’s very hard to predict who will come away with the division
title and likely be 1 and done in the playoffs.
Houston are the front runners purely as they have the best
QB in the division (though he is getting VERY beaten up), despite Minshew Mania
taking the league by storm. Titans haven’t won the division in over a decade
and are strong on defence but aren’t putting up a great deal of points and then
the Colts are very hot and cold on both sides of the ball.
It will only take a couple of wins to be strung together by
one of these teams to steal a march on the rest. Who can achieve that though is
anyone’s guess. Houston are the bookies’ favourites at around 13/8, but in a 4
horse race and with all the other teams around 3/1, it’s a wide open affair.
Dan Quinn’s hotseat starting to burn
Matty Ice and the Falcons travel to Houston this week
currently sitting at 1-3 and you cant but help thinking, what a waste of talent
on this team. Yes, they’ve gone to the Super Bowl (anyone remember that game
for any reason?) but this team should have achieved far more than they have.
Head Coach Dan Quinn has had his ups and downs with this
team but even at this early stage, they seem up against it to make the post
season. Consequently, you have to wonder whether Quinn will be back. After
hosting the Super Bowl last year in their back yard, to not make the playoffs
was actually quite embarrassing for the owners.
The offensive line is shoddy despite having 2 first rounders
plugged in to the right hand side and Matt Ryan’s attempts through 4 games are
as high as they ever have in his career. For god’s sake, Austin Hooper is
They’ve had a hard schedule thus far against the Vikings,
Eagles, Colts and Titans but I’ve got more bad news, they’ve not even had a
divisional game yet and this is a division that will be hard to get wins from.
Talking of divisional games, how in the hell can a team not
play a divisional game until after their bye in week 9?
Regardless, you can forgive Falcons fans for thinking that it’s going to take a huge overhaul here to change their fortunes as it just seems to be the same story every year and unfortunately, their Super Bowl run seems to be the anomaly.
And Then There Were 3
“Any given Sunday” that is definitely the mantra when it comes to a teams chances in the NFL. As we pass the quarter mark of the season only 3 teams remain not knowing what a defeat tastes like.
Many would not have been surprised to see the New England Patriots and Kansas City Chiefs as part of this exclusive club but hands up those who had the San Francisco 49ers as the only NFC undefeated team at this stage?
Of course a bye in week 4 (how ridiculous) helps anyone’s quest to stay undefeated but all 3 open up as favourites for their week 5 matchups, so will anyone be on the wrong end of a result this week?
Can The Ravens Rebound?
After 2 weeks of dominant performances against inferior opposition followed by 2 weeks of poor displays the Baltimore Ravens hit the road to face old foe the Pittsburgh Steelers.
This has been a matchup down the years with huge implications on the destination of not only the AFC North crown but also playoff and tie breaker implications. The Steelers are trending upwards after notching their first W of the season on Monday Night Football as Mason Rudloph and co get to battle the wobbling Ravens defence.
Having given up over 500 yards in back-to-back games for the first time franchise history it’s that side of the ball that the Ravens need a kick start from, regardless of how good you think Lamar Jackson is or isn’t at quarterback.
A quarterback currently wearing a walking boot, a quarterback who hasn’t played or practiced since training camp or a rookie quarterback who threw 2 picks on debut last week.
That is the dilemma facing Jay Gruden as he prepares to select his starting quarterback for week 5. Not exactly an ideal situation so fingers crossed that the schedule falls kindly……ooops.
Whomever gets the nod will have the leagues leading defence in the New England Patriots to combat. Having given up their first touchdown of the year last week it wouldn’t be a surprise at all to see them pitch another shutout as they travel to the nation’s capital, a popular daily fantasy play again this week for sure.
Defences Matter Too
I make no apology for admitting I love a bruising defensive battle in today’s day and age of high scoring, heavy offence NFL.
A hard hitting, turnover hungry, physically intimidating defence sets the attitude of a team and the Buffalo Bills @ the Tennessee Titans pits 2 such units against each other. Buffalo made even Tom Brady look ordinary last week so expect Marcus Mariota to struggle to move the Titans. Buffalo is likely without Josh Allen and this represents a really tough start for Matt Barkley if that is indeed what ends up happening.
It’s a game not likely to spend much time on Scott Hanson’s read zone coverage Sunday, but expect a tight and tense battle that will likely be a 1 possession differential as the clocks hit zeroes.
A certain contributor to this regular article dubbed them the San Francisco “Phoney”Niners, this week is a true test for what they really are.
The Browns finally put it all together last weekend and head over to the West coast to close out the weeks action on Monday Night Football. This is a great barometer for both of these sides with the undefeated niners favoured at home.
It’s a bet that I will gladly take though as last week felt more of a statement than it did just a win for the men in orange and brown. The production as mentioned should continue to come from Nick Chubb on the ground but the attitude undoubtedly starts with the polarizing quarterback Baker Mayfield.
To use his own words, he “plays better with a swagger” and he is certainly portraying that as he looks to lead the Browns over 500 for the first time since Brian Hoyer was playing quarterback.
Week 2 is already here folks. Time flies when you are having fun!
Hope everyone enjoyed their stay at overreaction town, now it’s time to depart for context city, where hopefully you’ll be able to see some indicators as to what was the real deal and what were outliers from last week.
Here are 10 things we are looking forward to this week in the NFL:
The Panthers QB will be looking to rectify a performance from week 1 that was classic Cam. Some good plays but also a few errant and shocking high passes.
66% completion rate is about where Cam has been with Norv Turner pulling the strings but if it wasn’t for Christian McCaffrey, these numbers would not be great at all. You could argue that this is now the offence the Panthers will employ going forward.
As per next gen stats, Cam only attempted 1 pass over 20 yards in the week 1 game vs the Rams which agrees with the narrative that the offence is going to show similar results this season. Yes he attempted around 40 passes, but if they are averaging on 5 yards in the air, is it really a proper NFL throw?
The players they have in McCaffrey, DJ Moore and Curtis Samuel suit the style they are trying to enforce on other teams but I think this merely could be covering over some cracks. Is this the play style because of Cam’s shoulder or is this a coincidence?
The problem is, every team needs a vertical threat; if it becomes too predictable and similar to the chart above, Christian McCaffrey may struggle to be as efficient as he has been thus far because teams will just load the box and ask Cam throw longer passes. Below is DJ Moore’s routes run vs the Rams, not even an indication that there was an interest in throwing deep. Unfortunately, i dont have Curtis Samuel or Greg Olsen’s routes run because i feel these would probably be a bit more vertically orientated.
Back to Cam though, the reason I say all this is and that it is something we are intrigued in seeing in week 2 is that we still probably require further confirmation that Cam’s shoulder is #fine and that his play is not restricted by the multiples surgeries endured over recent years. We’d all love to see him at least attempt a few more deeper passes right?
What wont help is a short week this early on in the season so all eyes will be on Cam in Thursday Night Football as we try to ascertain whether or not everything is ok with #1.
Da do Ron Run Run da do Ron Run
Arguably the single most disappointing rookie performance by anyone drafted in the top two rounds of last year’s draft was Tampa Bay’s Ronald Jones II, who recorded 44 yards at 1.9 a pop in the whole season. Already Jones has almost doubled his performance with 75 yards on the ground in Week 1 (at 5.8 a carry) along with an 18-yard catch. If Jones keeps up this rate of rushing he can end up with 1,200 yards of ground and pound.
The Buccaneers face the Panthers in Week 2, a team that gave up over 150 yards rushing and two scores to the Rams combo of Gurley and Brown. Jones may not be listed as the starter but if his contributions remain positive then he will take carries away from Peyton Barber. Buccs fans will likely be in for another season of mediocrity but they could have bit of a dusty gem that is starting to sparkle in the Florida sunshine.
Don’t You Forget About Me!
It’s easy to forget that Sammy Watkins came off the draft board earlier in 2014 than both Mike Evans and OBJ. The former Clemson star has often been out performed when compared to his peers in the same draft class, but maybe, just maybe 2019 will be different. Watkins exploded out of the gate on Sunday with a 9 catch, 198 yard, 3 touchdown performance. Showing plenty of breakaway speed to pile up yards after the catch, he was the best friend of Pat Mahomes to open up the season. With the news that Tyreek Hill will miss 4-6 weeks through injury, Watkins is in a prime position to remind everyone of the talent he possesses for a red hot Chiefs offence that will surely have too much for the Raiders. Let’s see if his week 1 performance wasn’t just another tease of his brilliance and he can find some consistency.
Hype Train Derailed?
Freddie Kitchens wanted to know how his team would handle adversity, He gets his wish in week 2. Humbled by the Titans in a week 1 blow out, the eyes of the nation will be looking for a response on Monday Night Football. The talent in the skill positions offensively appears to be in place but can the Browns find a way to keep Baker Mayfield upright? He was harassed all throughout the opener as the obvious preseason concern was exposed by Cameron Wake and co. One storyline that has slipped under the radar in this one, is the fact that the Jets DC is now Gregg Williams who was actually the man in charge of the Browns during their renaissance in the 2nd half of last year. He will be out to inflict more misery on his former employers after not securing the job permanently. With the Rams ahead on the week 3 schedule could we already be talking about a must win game for the off seasons most talked about franchise?
Time to call a Gardner
After winning a Super Bowl by coming off the bench in the regular season, the irony is not lost in Jacksonville, as the Jaguars starting quarterback Nick Foles is now the one injured whilst his backup is now in the spotlight. The big difference here is the guy in the spotlight is the 2019 version of Nick ‘who the hell is that’ Mullens.
Gardner Minshew bounced around three colleges in four years of eligibility, starting at tiny Northwest Mississippi Community College (who gave us Damon ‘Snacks’ Harrison) and ending up at Washington State, helping them to 11 wins in 2018. The Jaguars drafted Minshew in the sixth round of this year’s draft, and we all know what happened to a certain gentleman who got drafted in the sixth round. Minshew’s surprise debut was special, 88% completion rate, two tds and almost 300 yards in the air.
Minshew will be an underdog against the Texans, but we have seen they are vulnerable in the air (Brees torched them for 370 yards in Week 1) so this suddenly becomes a fascinating contest where we get to see if the grass is greener when you use a Gardner.
I’m arriving on a Jet plane
The Antonio Brown saga has taken a turn this week that is beyond any form of joke, but keeping this strictly on the field the Jets are now part of this extrapolated storyline after the Patriots traded Demaryius Thomas to the Big Apple, the green ones of course.
Thomas comes into the Jets just as the incredibly unlucky Quincy Enunwa is put on season-ending I/R with a recurrence of a neck injury that cost him the 2017 season. Thomas is four years older than Enunwa and is more prone to dropping the ball, but the important factor of chemistry will be eased by the fact Demaryius was coached by Jets head coach Adam Gase when he was receivers coach and offensive coordinator in Denver from 2010-2014. Sam Darnold and Enunwa had worked on exclusive routes together and now it will be a case or re-establishing part of the offensive game-plan.
The Jets face the Burst Bubble Browns in Week 2 and they match-up well against Cleveland. It might only be Week 2 but the loser here goes 0-2 and starts facing a lot more scrutiny. Worth staying up for in the unsavoury hours of Tuesday morning to see how this one plays out.
Best Of A Bad Bunch?
They say that defence wins championships, the Broncos will be hoping that statement rings true based on the state of their quarterback room. Joe Flacco looked as advertised in week 1, not the worst quarterback in the league but immobile (always) and inaccurate (at times).
Vic Fangio, the former Bears DC who will surely have a perfect game plan to get the best of the Bears at home whilst also trying to confuse Trubisky with disguised coverages, I expect a turnover feast.
Both sides need to bounce back from opening week defeats and maybe for one of the few times this year, Denver will get superior quarterback play.
Talking of Chicago, many folk in Illinois including Matt Nagy, were not happy with the way the Bears performed on opening night.
“3 points is ridiculous” said the Bears HC after the game and he’s right. You do not win games scoring 3 points.
How will he, Trubisky and the Bears team rebound?
It gets even spicier once you realise that they travel to Denver, an already difficult away destination to get a W from. Why is it spicy? They not only travel to a hard and hostile environment, but they also travel to play a team whose HC is Vic Fangio, a guy who will know a hell of a lot about the team after being their DC last year.
Other storylines include how will the Chicago backfield work in the rotation? Will they lean to their defence once again to try and get a win on the road?
More importantly, are Chicago in trouble??
As for Mitch Trubisky, you want to give young guys time and we shouldn’t forget he only started 13 games in college but the fact is he still looks like a rookie in year 3. Several of his passes give opponents chances for picks, particularly when he throws across his body to the left.
Lot’s of intrigue in this one, just like a cabaret (Chicago reference).
DOING THE BARE MIN-IMUM
Staying in the NFC North, a tasty game for the eyeballs at Lambeau.
This game is another one of those that the fully guaranteed Vikings QB Kirk Cousins has to try and get the monkey off his back in the sense that he can’t do it when it matters.
Only attempted 10 passes in week 1, so his arm is going to be sore and you would expect him to throw more in this one.
Packers squeaked a win at Soldier field on opening night whilst the Vikings could not have been more dominant vs a fancied Falcons team.
A win for a the Cheeseheads here wouldn’t mean at the very worst, split records against their divisional rivals, something Minnesota probably need to avoid to have a chance at winning the division or perhaps even a wildcard spot.
The same fixture last year ended in controversial tie with 2 missed Field Goals both at the end of the game and 2 in OT, multitude of bad referee calls on hits. It had everything. The final spice in the melting pot.
If Minnesota get the win here, it’ll be another “really unique” thing for Cousins this season.
Remember, dont do the wave!
Every angle has been covered about the notorious non PI call from last year’s championship game (wonder if Paddy Power will do a special on whether a PI call will be reviewed).
Luckily for the Rams, this isn’t back at the scene of the crime but judging by LA’s fanbase, there will be a lot of Saints fans in the stands with referee uniforms on.
Can emotions stay in check for the Saints? Can Goff and company put the saga to rest? And will there be any more incidents as bad as that one back in late January?
Both of these teams met in a classic in the regular season too and this one should be no different. Two high powered offences with great players and playcallers. One for the everyone to sit down and enjoy on the late slate of games. Both will no doubt be expecting to make the post season and likely write in another log of this recently fierce rivalry.
Sailing into Super Bowl Sunday – By Lawrence Vos – (@NFLFanInEngland)
I was 13 when I was transported into a magical world of razzmatazz and shoulder pads and helmets as it was the time I watched my first ever Super Bowl. I was not alone, my viewing friend was my gerbil ‘Bodkin’ who scratched and gnawed on a cardboard toilet roll tube as I witnessed the New York Giants take on the Denver Broncos in Super Bowl XXI in 1987. I had a tray with a bag of peanut M&Ms lined up around the edge, and a can of regular Pepsi. It was the start of a tradition I followed for 30 years before giving up chocolate and pop in 2017.
I don’t have more than a handful of memories from the game as I regretfully fell asleep at some point in the second quarter, recalling the game was on a knife-edge and woke up in the fourth with the Giants having a significant lead. Turns out it was one of only two Super Bowls I have watched and fallen asleep in, the other being Super Bowl XXIX another 49ers stampede, this time against the San Diego Chargers.
The few players I remember are Mark Bavaro the Giants tight-end and Phil McConkey the Giants wideout. I have memories of their eye black contrasting against their pink skin. I’m also convinced it was McConkey’s fourth quarter touchdown that woke me up. Turns out McConkey is an incredible story of his own.
He was a 27 year-old NFL rookie having served four years in the Navy. He got his shot with the Giants after Bill Belichick’s dad, Steve, an offensive coach and scout for the Midshipmen, recommended McConkey to his son who had recently been promoted to defensive coordinator at the Giants.
It turns out that even aged 13 Bill Belichick had an influence over my football memories. I remember the grandness of the National Anthem being sung (but had no recollection it was sung by Neil Diamond) and the balloons and the fact the sun was shining and the sky was blue.
I know I had school in the morning and I was fine, I was buzzing having watched my first ever live NFL game on quite a bulky TV set that was surrounded by a wooden exterior. Back then where I lived we hadn’t even had Channel 4 that long, and even that was quite novel. Just imagine it, the internet didn’t exist, there was no such thing as fantasy football, no HD, no mobile phones. Just Phil Simms and his 88% completion rate.