Season In Review – San Francisco 49ers

By Lee wakefield (@Wakefield90)

Time to look at this year’s bridesmaids, the San Francisco 49ers. How did Jimmy G and Kyle Shanahan turn it all round? Are they here to stay? Let’s find out…


Entering the season


Coming off a 4-12 season when your starting QB tears his ACL is tough, especially when we’re talking about a QB you traded for and signed him to a 5 year contract (although more of that later), in the hope that he could lead your team to bigger and better things.

What’s more, the NFC West is a very competitive division and a division rival had just been beaten in the Superbowl. The Rams and Sean McVay were the darlings of the NFL in the media, Kyler Murray and Kliff Kingsbury were teaming up in the desert to but Arizona back on the map and Seattle, well, nobody in San Francisco likes Seattle and their Seahawks.

However, it was certainly looking rosier in the Bay Area…

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USA Today Sports

The reward for finishing 4-12 was the #2 overall pick which turned into Nick Bosa – Not a bad consolation prize, and the rest of the draft class looked good in the Spring. Bosa was followed by wide receivers, Deebo Samuel and Jalen Hurd on day 2. Day 3 brought punter Mitch Wishnowsky and linebacker Dre Greenlaw from Utah and Arkansas respectively – Neither of these players moved the needle much back in April of last year but both were very solid contributors to the past season.

Drafting well made what looked like a decent draft haul into what is now a great draft haul and for those of you who haven’t been paying attention, that is what makes teams stick around at the top.

Another aspect of team building is, of course, trades and this is another method by which John Lynch and Kyle Shanahan improved the 9ers in the off season; Laken Tomlinson and Shon Coleman looked like solid acquisitions, even if they weren’t groundbreaking by any means, and even if Coleman didn’t play a snap this year after being injured in preseason. However, the point is, the 49ers braintrust was prepared to make moves in order to elevate their group and drag them from the second pick to what became second place.


During the Season


You know how I mentioned that things were looking rosier in the Bay? Well things started off more than rosy, the 49ers began the season on F I R E. Week 1, the 49ers went across the country and smoked the Bucs – The defense, led by Nick Bosa, Fred Warner and Richard Sherman, suffocated Tampa, forcing 4 turnovers and put Jameis Winston on his backside another 3 times. This was the kind of performance from the defense that we came to expect week-in, week-out from this unit and they were really the driving force behind the much improved San Francisco squad.

Week 2, for example against the Bengals, the 49ers surrendered a mere 25 yards rushing, sacked the QB 4 times and forced another turnover. Week 6 against the Rams, L.A. were held to a total of 157 yards of offense and 7 points. The Rams, the Sean McVay Rams, the team that every media analyst was salivating a few months before. These are just a few examples of how dominant of a unit the 49ers defense had become – Like I said, it was sort of to be expected. This unit was the 2nd ranked defense by total defense by the end of the year.

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Jayne Kamin-Oncea/Getty Images

Another thing that we came to expect was Jimmy G just doing enough in the passing game. This offense was powered by Kyle Shanahan’s running game and play-action.

The passing game finished a middle of the road, 13th in yards per game at 237, which usually wouldn’t be enough to power anyone to 13 wins but the running game was absolutely dominant. 144 yards per game was second only to the Ravens frankly insane, 206 per game. No matter how it’s cut, if you’re putting up a shade under 30 points per game, your offense is a problem.

Of course, not everyone has a head coach who is an offensive genius, willing blockers such as Kyle Juszczyk and George Kittle and a bevvy of running backs who can all get hot in a hurry but these two guys were certainly the driving force, the heartbeat and the emotional leaders of the offense. They really did personify it. Whereas other tight ends might get uppity about not catching passes, George Kittle loved running people over, laughing as he did it and jogging to the sideline to ask Shanahan to run the ball again.


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What was the result of this?

Well, a whole bunch of blow out wins. The 49ers weren’t just winning most weeks, coming out the right side of one score games – which can sometimes be a sign of a team getting lucky – the 49ers were smoking a lot of teams, and not just being flat track bullies either. San Francisco blew out; the Bucs, the Panthers, the Rams in L.A., the Packers… And when they were asked to win a close one, they were able to get the job done, such as the regular season wins against the Saints, the Seahawks in Seattle and the Rams at home.

The only losses were in overtime at home to Seattle by 3, a 3 point loss in Baltimore and a weird loss at home to the lowly Falcons.

The offseason beckoned and it was much of the same – The Vikings and Packers fell again and truth be told, they were one-sided affairs. The 49ers steamrolled them both, Nick Bosa was on his way to Defensive Rookie of the Year and a Pro Bowl nomination and so were Juszczyk, Kittle and Sherman.

(Fred Warner was robbed y’all).

Kittle, Sherman and DeForest Buckner made All-Pro too, but this team was gunning for the biggest prize of all, not personal accolades.

The Superbowl then… Sorry to 49ers fans who are reading… I tried to hold off talking about it for as long as a could.

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Jose Carlos Fjarado/Bay Area News Group

It was all going so well, wasn’t it? Until it wasn’t. The Chiefs just did what they do and put up points in bunches with their blitzkrieg-esque offense. It was a great game and even if it’s no solace to 49ers fans, the 2019 season was still a great season for this team and I have optimism that the 9ers are here to stay, too. Which leads me on to… 


Offseason Outlook


I think the offseason outlook for the 49ers is pretty good. As I alluded to a moment ago, I feel like this team is set to be good for a while, or at least the next 3 or 4 years.

I’m a massive fan of Kyle Shanahan and keeping him in the building is going to be of paramount importance – Although, why would he want to leave?

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Wilfredo Lee/AP

John Lynch has just won NFL Executive of the Year, and seems to do as he’s told by Shanahan in terms of player recruitment and he hasn’t been afraid to put the trigger on a deal. Aside from Garoppolo and the linemen I mentioned earlier, Dee Ford has been brought in, Emmanuel Sanders was acquired later in the season and provided a boost, and not only incomings, before this season, the likes of Daniel Kilgore, Vance McDonald and Trent Brown all left town.

We see far too many teams who stick rather than twist when it comes to roster building, talent acquisition and the acquisition of draft capital, and many of those teams stagnate.

San Francisco, New England and Seattle are teams that I think of that are never afraid to do a deal, whether that be in season of around the draft and that coupling of good coaching and a front office that isn’t scared to deal has meant that in the past 10 Superbowls, since Superbowl XLV in 2011, there has only been two Superbowls that hasn’t featured at least one of those 3 teams.

Food for thought – That’s an elite group of teams in terms of their philosophy and the way they do business.

In terms of the business that the 49ers need to do this offseason, well… there’s actually very little to be done. Which is a great thing! This team is fresh and young in all the right places – Young leaders on defense, such as DeForest Buckner, Fred Warner and of course, Nick Bosa are matched on the other side of the ball by George Kittle, Mike McGlinchley and Deebo Samuel. All these guys and more are young or coming into their primes on relatively cheap contracts.

Buckner is moving into his 5th year option and Kittle is in the final year of his rookie deal and will both need extending and both will get done, I’m sure.

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Brett Duke/AP

The 49ers have a decision to make with Arik Armstead, whose contact is up and there may be no room at the inn unfortunately, since the two players above and also Kyle Juszczyk need paying first and the cap situation isn’t the prettiest in the NFL.

The 49ers have $12.8m of space to play with according to Overthecap.com, which isn’t a lot when you have to find money for Buckner and will probably have to make Kittle the best paid tight end in the NFL.

Cuts will have to be made…

Sanders deal is expiring and was worth $11m, so I doubt he’s retained unless he takes a hefty pay cut – That frees up a fair chunk of capital. As will saying goodbye to the likes of Jimmie Ward, Jascon Verrett (and it maybe goodnight on his NFL career) and a bunch of other players who are further down the pecking order such as Ben Garland, Anthony Zettel and Jordan Matthews.

It is also quite handy that other free agents that they may want to keep hold of, players such as, Emmanuel Moseley, Matt Breida, Kendrick Bourne and Jeff Wilson are all exclusive rights free agents or restricted free agents, meaning the 49ers can retain them on the cheap for another year, which I am sure they will.

Ok so, a little bit of careful surgery here and there, a contract extension or two and delaying extending a couple of others means the 49ers can do into next season with a pretty similar squad to last year and just add to it via the draft, but what about next year when new contacts kick in for Kittle and Buckner and you still need to extend Moseley and Bourne?

Well, this is where we come all the way back to the top of the article and look at the contract of one, James Richard Garoppolo.

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Jose Carlos Fjarado

The 49ers are on the hook for $25.2m for Jimmy G next year, however, due to the way Jimmy’s contract is structured, San Francisco’s dead cap hit drops from $13.7m to just $4.2m after the 2020 season and after that it’s just $2.8m in 2021 when Garoppolo’s deal could cost $25.2m.

That’s a heck of a cap saving. Especially because we’ve got to start considering where the money is going to come from to make Nick Bosa the most highly paid edge defender in football in a few years time.

We know Jimmy G isn’t the greatest QB of all time – The 49ers focused on their run game and making that the strength of the offense in 2019 and relegated Garoppolo to being a facilitator. Which is fine and he did a good job and will probably do a good job in that role again in 2020… But do you know what, you can pay a facilitator QB around $10-15m per year and get similar results.

Unless Garoppolo seriously elevates his game next season, I think it’ll be his last season in the Bay Area, because it simply isn’t a good business decision to give a facilitator QB north of 25 million dollars when you have to pay a young team who are coming into their prime.

So yes, the future for San Francisco football is bright but they just may have a new QB in 12-18 months time.

A final word on the draft before I sign off here…

The 49ers are one of the most intriguing teams in the later portion of the first round this year, in my opinion.

As Superbowl runners-up, they pick 31st in the first round, a prime trade back spot for teams to deal with another team who want to get back into the 1st round and get that 5th year option on a guy they really want.


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Now what do the 49ers do?

Due to their wheeling and dealing in the past, after the 31st pick they don’t pick again until the 5th round and the 159th overall pick – That’s quite a wait.

Do the 9ers trade back and pick up a few more swings? Or do they recognise that they are perhaps one player on defense away from becoming a complete unit?

I believe a deep safety such as LSU’s, Grant Delpit or a physical corner such as Jaylon Johnson of Utah or Trevon Diggs of Alabama could really be that icing on the cake.

In reality, they will probably wait and see how the board falls on the night and see how it matches up with their board and go from there, but it, like the draft as a whole should be absolutely fascinating.

Either way, I’d back this group to do the right thing – I was part of the 49ers Hype Train last year and I think I’ll be signing up again for 2020.

Season In Review – LA Rams

By Chris Todd (@ctdk1980)

Time for another installment of the Season In Review Series. This time, we turn our attention to last year’s Super Bowl participants, the LA Rams.

The Super Bowl hangover is still as bad as the Madden curse!

ENTERING THE SEASON


Coming into the 2019 season the Rams were looking to bounce back from their Super Bowl
disappointment and go one step better to earn the franchises 2nd championship.

Patrick Semansky/AP

HC Sean McVay returned most of the same players and staff, adding veterans like Eric Weddle and Clay Matthews to an impressive roster.

With Cooper Kupp returning after a serious injury ended his 2018 season prematurely and standout RB Todd Gurley with his own injury question marks, the pressure would be on Jared Goff to live up to his massive $134 million contract. At least on the other side of the ball, DC Wade Phillips would have the luxury of calling on all-world defensive linemen Aaron Donald to set the tone.


DURING THE SEASON


The Rams were consistent only in their inconsistency during the 2019 season, managing to go from a
28-12 beatdown of the Seattle Seahawks in week 14, to a 44-21 shellacking at the hands of the
Dallas Cowboys in week 15 that all but ended their postseason hopes.

While the 2019 season was ultimately disappointing there were still some highlights for the Rams
faithful, including a week 2 win against the New Orleans Saints in a Conference Championship
rematch from the previous season.

Offensively however, McVay’s Rams took a step back from 32.9 PPG in 2018 to only 24.6 in 2019. Quarterback Jared Goff endured his troubles throughout, while he did finish 3 rd in passing yards for the year he was only 22 nd in QB passer rating for the year, coupled with the line struggling to open holes in the running game it led to a offence that was strangely stagnant at times. While receivers Cooper Kupp and Robert Woods both had impressive seasons, Todd Gurley was unable to repeat his league leading 2018 form, seemingly limited by injuries.

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Jayne Kamin-Oncea/Getty

The defence was led as always by the incomparable Aaron Donald as he continued his line wrecking
ways, while he didn’t manage to repeat his 20.5 sacks from 2018, he was still a force, demanding
double teams almost every week. The Rams paid a steep price to acquire help for the secondary,
trading 2 first round picks and a fourth round pick to the Jaguars for star corner Jalen Ramsey,
sending previous trade acquisition Marcus Peters to the Ravens to make room. Cory Littleton was a
playmaker at inside linebacker, recording 134 tackles, 3.5 sacks and 2 interceptions. Unfortunately
however, the defence as a whole remained middle of the pack, giving up 22.8 PPG ranking 17th in the
league.


OFFSEASON OUTLOOK


The Rams have a lot of question marks going forward, with shortages both in cap space and high
draft picks for the 2020 season. With pieces like LB Cory Littleton, LT Andrew Whitworth and DE’s
Michael Brockers and Dante Fowler among others entering free agency, and only $19.5 million of
cap space, GM Les Snead has plenty of work to do this offseason before the Rams move into their
brand new $5 billion home at SoFi Stadium.

foxla.com

The Rams are also undergoing major changes to their coaching staff, with the coordinators leaving
from all 3 phases. Brandon Staley and Kevin O’Connell are expected to be named as coordinators as
Sean McVay reshapes his staff. The NFC West is a highly competitive division and while the Rams
have enough talent to compete with any team, they’ll need Jared Goff to take a step forward for
them to win the big one.

Season In Review – Seattle Seahawks

By Tim Monk (@Tim_MonkF10Y)

Today in our Season Review, we take a look at losing divisional rounders, the Seattle Seahawks. In a tough division where even whipping boys Arizona spiced up their offence, the Seahawks are a staple of the NFL playoffs over recent years, but let’s find out why they couldn’t make it past the Packers…


Entering the season


Varying opinions amongst the NFL community on how well the Seahawks would do this after possibly overachieving last year.

Pete Carroll was entering his 10th year as a Seattle Seahawks coach and Brian Schottenheimer was retained as OC despite the heat he got from their exit in the playoffs last season.

Big splash play was made for Jadeveon Clowney to help generate some pass rush and the Seahawks were hoping he was able to find some of his old disruptive form. They brought over Ziggy Ansah from the Lions too. The signing of Josh Gordon didn’t quite work out as well.

The running back room was a bit up in the air with 2nd year player Rashaad Penny expected to be more involved but lead back Chris Carson was the man he had to usurp. The Seahawks added DK Metcalf, the marmite of the 2019 draft to their WR core to go with star player Tyler Lockett. The defence had more new faces after the likes of Earl Thomas leaving so a lot of change in the organisation.


During the season


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Image Credit: Lindsey Wasson/Getty

The Seahawks stumbled across the line vs the Bengals at home in their first game and the 12s were certainly anxious as to what that result meant. Those fears were surpressed though as they stormed to an 8-2 record, including back to back overtime wins against Tampa and San Francisco with their only losses coming against the Saints and the Ravens.

Seattle went 3-3 after their bye with the 3 losses coming in the division and the loss of both Chris Carson and Rashaad Penny towards the end of the season that led to their demise. Retread at running back Marshawn Lynch helped them get past Philadelphia in the Wildcard round of the playoffs, a game further than last season.

The Seahawks once again made it to January, but once again they fall well short of the Championship game. Despite having a possession to win in Lambeau, a costly 3rd down sack meant a punt and then the defence, couldn’t stop the Packers from closing it out. One could argue the Seahawks were fortunate that the Eagles were down to Josh McCown at Quarterback too in the Wildcard Round.

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Image Credit: Steven Bisig/USA TODAY Sports

2nd Round rookie DK Metcalf had a decent opening season with 900 yards and 7 TDs and showed a bit more versatility than the critics were giving him coming out of College which helped see him fall all the way to #64 overall in the draft. Tyler Lockett continued his form over from last year too, with over 1000 yards on 82 receptions and 8 TDs. The combination of Will Dissly early on prior to injury and Jacob Hollister saw a decent production come from the tight end position too. Expect that to continue in to 2020.

On the defensive side of the ball, no Seahawks mustered more than 4 sacks, which was a concern coming in to the season hence why they made the move for Clowney prior to the season.

Offseason outlook

It’ll be interesting what the Seahawks do with offseason acquisitions Clowney and Ansah as they are unrestricted FA in 2020 (the franchise tag is not an option with Clowney due to the term of the contract with Clowney at signing).

They’ll have to check on the statuses of the running backs and decide what to do with that skill position, especially with some talented RBs coming through in the next couple of years.

Generating a pass rush and being a bit stingier on defence will probably be the priority, adjustments and additions to the offensive line will probably go a long way too considering the pass rushes with teams in their division.

They’ll have $60m to achieve this all with, but with Russell Wilson tied up now for a while, at least they wont have to focus on that.

Going in to next season the Seattle Seahawks will….be the Seattle Seahawks. Playoff and Super Bowl contenders.

Season in Review – Arizona Cardinals

By Tim Monk (@Tim_MonkF10Y)

The NFL season is over which means 2 things, 1 – it’s time to be sad for a few months until the NFL Draft and 2 – You now have a lot of time on your hands.

In this series of articles, we try and take care of number 2.

Today, it’s the turn of the Arizona Cardinals…


Entering the season

The Cardinals were seen as the wildcard in which everyone wanted to see them do well, but wouldn’t be overly vocal about it.

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Image Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

With more changes than you can shake a kaleidoscope at, the Cardinals not only got a new HC in Air raid specialist Kliff Kingsbury but also swiftly changed their franchise QB when they took Kyler Murray 1st overall and shipped 2018 1st round selection Josh Rosen off to Miami.

Whilst success wasn’t necessarily expected, forward progress was (well, unless the refs blew it dead first….).


During the season

The Cardinals expectedly had teething problems; Kyler Murray adjusting to the pace of the game and Kliff Kingsbury struggling to implement the offence meant that the Cardinals had to wait until week 5 for their first win against the Bengals.

Despite the improvements as the season wore on, they did not defeat a team with a winning record outside the division all season and only defeated the Seahawks in week 16, a game that meant very little to the Seahawks so it’s arguable at how far they have come since this time last year (NFC West is always a throw of the dice regardless of gap in quality of team), especially when you consider they only put up over 350 yards of total offence 8 times this season, though 3 of those instances came in the last 3 weeks of the season.

Kyler Murray ended up with a respectable rookie season and left the impression that he will be better for the run. Inhis rookie season he accounted for 4266 yards, with 544 coming on the ground, a 20:12 TD/INT ratio on a 64.4 pass completion %.

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Image Credit: Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports

The Cardinals transitioned to Kenyan Drake at running back, effectively storing David Johnson in the closet but the backfield was a mess all season. At wide receiver, Christian Kirk (when healthy) built up a nice rapport with his quarterback and Larry Fitzgerald popped up every now and then.

On the defensive side, things didn’t improve all that much when Patrick Peterson returned from suspension, though Chandler Jones continues to rock the air guitar, doing so 19 times this season.

No-one was expecting the Cardinals to be legitimate playoff contenders this early on but maybe on the basis of their 2019 showing, a playoff berth may not be too far away if they continue on their upward trajectory. The division strength would be a concern though.


Offseason outlook

The Cardinals will look to address that porous defence and also give some more help to the offensive line which has been awful for a few years now. Whilst they wont have the #1 pick this year, they will be picking high up in the first round. They still have holes on the offensive line which will need a few darts thrown at it this year too.

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Image Credit: Norm Hall/Getty

In terms of current personnel, the Cardinals may want to try and find David Johnson a new home but his salary may be an issue. Future Hall of Famer Larry Fitzgerald will no doubt be coaxed into staying for another season and it remains to be seen whether Larry has the appetite to keep it going when there is no chance of a Super Bowl in the near future (he may be tempted in trying to reach Jerry Rice’s receptions record which he is only x away from though).

The nucleus of the team is there with a lot of youth being brought in from the plethora of draft picks they’ve had, especially on offence so the offseason will be spent ensuring the chemistry and rapport continues to build.

The foundations are set, time to build the house.


Fun Fact – Arizona were 30th in terms of 3rd down conversions allowed in 2019 but 1st overall on 4th down conversion allowed on defence, whilst on offence they were 21st on 3rd down but 3rd on 4th down.

Full10Takeaways – Week 16

By Tim Monk (@Tim_MonkF10Y)

  • Michael Thomas broke the total receptions in a season record with 1 game to spare as he surpassed Marvin Harrsion’s 144 receptions with his 12 catch effort against the Titans. Thomas will look to extend his 145 catches on the season against the Panthers in week 17.
  • Talking of reception records and the Panthers, Christian McCaffrey broke his own receptions record by a RB with 15 (!) catches against the Colts taking him to 109 on the season, making him the only Rb to do it twice, and he’s done it in consecutive seasons.
  • Staying at RB, Saquon Barkley had a career day both in terms of rushing yards (189) and yards from scrimmage (279) against the Redskins who moved to the current #2 seed.
  • Dion Dawkins became the only player from the Buffalo Bills to catch a touchdown pass in each of the past 2 seasons. He plays Tackle…
  • Jameis Winston tied the season record for pick 6s with 6 and is on course for a 30 TD/ 30 INT season, which would be a league first. He nearly had the pick 6 record all to himself on the 2nd series, but that was called back/ Still has a game against the Falcons to clinch that.

cowboys grounded…

Dak Prescott, Zeke Elliot and the Dallas Cowboys laid a big time egg at Lincoln Financial field, now needing a minor miracle to see any January football this season.

It beggars belief that the Cowboys are able to turn up to games and play as if they’ve been wearing blindfolds all week in the film room. They were smacked 17-9 against a Phildelphia team who had no real weapons at WR, Zach Ertz not playing portions of the game and have struggled all season.

The playcalling was as mind-boggling as ever; the crucial 4th and 8 playcall a fade to Michael Gallup taking a shot at the endzone, one of the lowest % plays available in the playbook. Blake Jarwin only targeted once, Amari Cooper in and out of the game just epitomising the problems they Cowboys have had on the sidelines this season.

Image Credit Brian J Gore.

To add the cherry on top, the Cowboys chartered flight was grounded to mechanical/technical issues leading to a 3 hour delay…oh the irony.


a few things left to clinch…

Week 17 will serve up a treat with the #1 seed in the NFC still there for the taking, culminating in SNF where the NFC West clash between the 49ers and the Seahawks could not only determine the division winner, but homefield advantage and the coveted #1 seed. The Saints and Packers are also hoping to secure that #1 seed too!

In the AFC, things aren’t as juicy but the number 6 seed needs deciding and the Titans with a win will secure it whilst the Steelers will be hoping for a slip up from them coupled with a win against the Ravens who are resting players.



With Chris Carson done for the season and CJ Prosise out with a broken arm, Beast Mode may be once again activated as Marshawn Lynch and the Seahawks are both open to the running back joining his former team to help them in the post season.

Wild Card Playoffs - New Orleans Saints v Seattle Seahawks
Image Credit: Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images

The former Bill and Raiders running back enjoyed some big plays as a Seahawk in the post season including that huge run vs the Saints back in 2010. Maybe, just maybe they’ll get another chance to give to him him on the 1 yd line after all.

Full10Lookaheads – Week 10

By Lawrence Vos and Tim Monk

Sunday night football


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

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

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

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

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


Life after Cam

Image Credit: JEFF SINER

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

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

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


Lights, Kamara, Action!

Image Credit: SI.com

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

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

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

Everyone beware!


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Will Wilson win in the West?

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Image Credit: John Bazemore / AP

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

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

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


Nowhere for haters to Hyde any more

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Image Credit: Ian Walton / AP

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

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

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

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


We’re all going on a Chubb-Hunt

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Image Credit: Ron Schwane / AP

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

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

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

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


Steelers storming back? 

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Image Credit: Philip G. Pavely/USA TODAY Sports

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

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

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


Godwin and Evans epic season wasted

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Image Credit: Mark LoMoglio / AP

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

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

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

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


Doggedly avoiding a cat-astrophe 

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Image Credit: Robert Deutsch/USA TODAY Sports

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

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

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

Half-Term Report: AFC/NFC West

It’s just about the half way point in the NFL regular season. Depending on your outlook on such things, that’s good or bad.

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


AFC West

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By Shaun Blundell (@Shaun_F10Y)

Current Standings

  • Kansas City Chiefs 5-3
  • Oakland Raiders 3-4
  • LA Chargers 3-5
  • Denver Broncos 2-6

*Kansas City Chiefs*

Midseason Grade: B

How has it gone so far?

The offensive juggernaut picked up where they left off. Patrick Mahomes has spread the ball around with ease despite missing Tyreek Hill for most of the 1st half of the season. A trade on the eve of the season for LeSean McCoy had solidified the backfield and Travis Kelce remains the league’s best tight end.

However the achilies heel is once again the defence. In particular it has been the Chiefs inability to defend the run. Only the winless Bengals have given up more yards on the ground and teams have found a formula to beat the Chiefs.

Having tasted defeat in 3 of the past 4 contests the Chiefs will be anxious to get Mahomes back from injury to allow the offence the greatest opportunity to make up for the defensive deficiencies. 

Rest of Season Outlook:

The Chiefs are comfortable within the division and the 3 losses they have tasted were against quality opponents. They take care of business in the games that you would expect them to do so. They will not be concerned with regular season record however as they will be concentrating on what they want to achieve in January.

Fixing the run defence will have to be a top priority as the ground game becomes more of a factor as we get towards playoff time. The offence will continue to cause problems for anyone and outside of games with the Vikings and Patriots, the Chiefs will be big favourites in the other contests they have left to play.

Regular Season Record Prediction – 11-5 – Division Winners


*Oakland Raiders*

Midseason Grade: C

How has it gone so far?

The team of hard knocks has very quickly moved on from Antonio Brown to post some decent performances in the first half of the season.

Losses to the Chiefs, Vikings, Packers and Texans are nothing to be ashamed of. Derek Carr has been very accurate, completing over 72% of his passes as he has found himself 2 new best friends. Darren Waller has been a revelation at tight end, he leads the team with 46 receptions,over twice the amount of the next leading receiver.

Josh Jacobs is arguably one of the leading candidates for offensive rookie of the year honours with 620 rushing yards from the 7 games played.

Rest of Season Outlook:

Winnable looking games against the Jets, Bengals and Chargers provide plenty of optimism for the Raiders in the second half of the season.

The impending move to Vegas should hopefully mean plenty of motivation to give the fans over in the Bay area a good send off.

Look out for the continued development of the 2 young playmakers mentioned as the Raiders may have stumbled across a nice young core to develop with. 

Regular Season Record Prediction: 7-9


*LA Chargers*

Midseason Grade: D+

How has it gone so far?

In the conversation for the most underwhelming team of the 2020 season, the Chargers have fallen off massively from where they were last year. The offensive line has been a problem throughout and what feels like the standard injury curse has once again struck. Melvin Gordon backed himself in a contract hold out in a move that appears to have backfired having been outperformed by Austin Ekeler during the campaign.

Mike Williams found the endzone on 10 occasions last campaign but has yet to find pay dirt this time around. In fact Keenan Allen and Hunter Henry are the only 2 skill positions outside of the running backs that have scored a touchdown for the Bolts so far.

Rest of Season Outlook:

Looking for consistency, the Chargers need to stop beating themselves. 2 games against the Chiefs along with difficult looking matchups against the Vikings and Packers make the road ahead look difficult. WIth 5 divisional games still ahead though, with a heavy fair wind the Chargers aren’t quite out of things just yet.

Getting Michael Badgeley back on the field will help also as even if the Chargers get into winning positions the find a way to lose.

Regular Season Record Prediction: 7-9


*Denver Broncos*

Midseason Grade: D

How has it gone so far?

As you would expect a Joe Flacco led offence to look, a little pedestrian. Ranked just 28th in points scored at just 15.6 per game the defence is keeping the Broncos competitive. That unit ranks 8th in terms of points against so its clear to see where the issues are in Mile High. An 0-4 start has been followed by a 2-2 stretch for a team struggling to establish an identity.

Philip Lindsay is still the most valuable offensive piece but despite his superior production he is stuck in a timeshare with Royce Freeman. Von Miller is having a relatively quiet season with only 4 sacks so far on the campaign.

Rest of Season Outlook:

After criticizing the defensiveness of offensive play calling Joe Flacco has miraculously picked up an injury so Brandon Allen is in at QB. The schedule does not look kind with Vikings, Texans and Chiefs all still to come. The Broncos would have been hoping for more of a boost from Vic Fangio than they have received and this has a feeling of a 1 and done season.

Development of the young wide receiving core will be crucial as the Broncos will hope that Drew Lock will be able to take over this offence in the non to distant future.

Regular Season Record Prediction: 3-13


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NFC West

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By Lawrence Vos (@NFLFanInEngland)

Current Standings 

  • San Francisco 49ers – 7-0
  • Seattle Seahawks – 6-2
  • Los Angeles Rams – 5-3
  • Arizona Cardinals – 3-4-1

*San Francisco 49ers*

Midseason Grade: A

How has it gone so far?

Without doubt the surprise package of the season, the 49ers are not so much dark horses, but sparkly rainbow unicorns, with the only undefeated record in the NFC. How are they racking up the W’s?

A perfect blend of creative and consistent running and a tough tackling defense led by rookie Nick Bosa and wily veteran CB Richard Sherman. Jimmy Garoppolo has been upright all season and only sacked 11 times. He needs to cut down interceptions (7)  but at a nearly 70% completion rate Garoppolo is just fine. The strong running game is led by a three-headed monster of Matt Breida, Tevin Coleman and Raheem Mostert who have combined for over 1000 ground yards already and 10 combined touchdowns.

The receiving unit has been a big letdown, with the exception of All-Pro TE George Kittle, so a mid-season trade for Emmanuel Sanders from Denver was a welcome boost. 

Rest of Season Outlook:

The remaining part of the 49ers schedule is much harder than the first half. Two matchups against the Seahawks, plus the Ravens, Saints and Packers. The 49ers will not go 16-0 regardless of however hard they run or tackle.

The two Seahawks games will define the season, and will provide the difference between a division win and a wild-card. Emmanuel Sanders will need to strike up immediate rapport with Jimmy G, as ridiculously his nine touchdown passes this season have gone to nine different team-mates. The return of versatile FB Kyle Juszczyk in the final third of the season will be a big boost.

Regular season record prediction: – 12-4 (and a wild card)


*Seattle Seahawks*

Midseason Grade: B+

How has it gone so far?

The Seahawks have not been convincing in 2019, winning their six games by a combined 32 points, including two one point wins. Regardless Russell Wilson is having a spectacular season, 2,127 yards, 17 touchdowns and just the one int in 8 full games.

Elsewhere the offence has been performing admirably, RB Chris Carson is on track for 1,200-1,300 yards and the mix of veteran WR Tyler Lockett and rookie WR DK Metcalf is providing a winning combination.

LBs Bobby Wagner and K.J Wright continue to play at a Pro-Bowl level and the addition of DE Jadeveon Clowney may not have yielded gaudy sack totals, but he leads the team in tackles for loss and forced fumbles. 

Rest of Season Outlook:

The Seahawks have the 49ers clearly in their line of sight, and the two games they face against each other will be box office television both times. It’s all NFC games for Seattle for the rest of the season and six more wins is a realistic target. Seattle and San Francisco should have safely punched their ticket to the post-season by Week 16, so the Seahawks hosting the 49ers in Week 17 will likely determine who wins the division.

CenturyLink Field is no longer a fortress for the Seahawks, but they will use the wet-weather to squeak a W17 win and with it a division title. 

Regular season record prediction: – 12-4 (and a division win) 


*Los Angeles Rams*

Midseason Grade: B-

How has it gone so far? 

It’s been a bit of a rollercoaster for the Rams so far, starting with a three game win streak, followed by a three game crash, before crushing two awful teams.

In the space of three weeks (2-4) L.A. put a beat down on the Saints, scraped past the Browns and then leaked 55 against Tampa. Jared Goff is on pace for 5,000 yards and WR Cooper Kupp is looking like an All-Pro. Kupp’s 220 yard outing at Wembley will take a long time to forget.

Todd Gurley has flattered to deceive, his 7 touchdowns hiding a rather unimpressive season so far. LBs Dante Fowler and Clay Matthews are on pace for double digit sacks. The biggest impact on defense is CB Jalen Ramsey who was traded in from the Jaguars in October. Ramsey is currently undefeated as a Rams star.  

Rest of Season Outlook: 

The Super Bowl hangover is for real.

A tough run of games against Seattle, Dallas and San Francisco are sandwiched between two contests against the Cardinals. There have been five receiving yardage leaders on the team in eight games, and Todd Gurley has not had a single 100 yard rushing game this year.

Two home MNF games (Chicago and Seattle) will put the Rams in the spotlight, but they are not going to make the playoffs because their offensive line is their weak link, that will cost them dearly in the Winter months.

Regular season record prediction: 9-7


*Arizona Cardinals*

Midseason Grade: C+

How has it gone so far? 

Three wins and a tie in half a season is above expectation for a Cardinals team expected to be near the foot of the conference whilst they let rookie QB Kyler Murray settle in to the team.

The three wins were against weak opponents by a combined 10 points. Murray has shown improvement from his first four games, but he has been let down by a poor running game, which now has former Dolphins RB Kenyan Drake moving to Arizona from Miami.

The immortal WR Larry Fitzgerald is still churning away, and with an upsurge in targets could get another 1,000 season under his belt. David Johnson is still underperforming and he has more touchdowns catching than he does rushing. 

Rest of Season Outlook:

There are not a lot of winnable games left for the Cardinals in the second half of the season, ending in two tough road-trips to Seattle and L.A. Kyler Murray is going to see better days as the Cardinals move into a new era.

The youth movement will soon takeover throughout the roster, with WRs Christian Kirk, KeeSean Johnson and Andy Isabella making competition healthy of offense. Arizona still need help on the defense and offensive line, but another impactful draft could see them competitive as early as 2020.

One small shoutout to LB Terrell Suggs, coming up to his 38th birthday, as he is still performing at a high level – five sacks, four forced fumbles and 9.5 tackles for loss. Oh and he can act too if you have seen Ballers. 

Regular season record prediction: 5-10-1

Full10Lookahead – Week 5

By Tim Monk and Shaun Blundell

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 pressure.

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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

Image Credit: Al Bello/Getty Images

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

Image Credit: Todd Kirkland/Getty Images

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.


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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 fantasy relevant!

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

Image Credit – Gregory Shamus / Getty Images

“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?

Image Credit – Shawn Hubbard / baltimoreravens.com

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.

Poisoned Chalice

Image Credit – Jeff Haynes / AP Photo

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

Image Credit – Rich Barnes / USA Today Sports

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.


Feeling Dangerous

Image Credit – Ken Blaze / USA Today Sports

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.