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Will the 49ers or the Cowboys be getting the Wildcard Weekend Slime on Sunday?

In probably the match of the weekend, the San Francisco 49ers travel to the NFC East champions, The Dallas Cowboys. A win for either team could open up a charge to the NFC title game but a loss could lead to huge questions marks for either Quarterback come Monday morning.

The 49ers are set to face the Cowboys for the first time in the postseason since the 1994 NFC Championship, San Francisco later winning Super Bowl XXIX. The teams have met 6 times in the NFC title game alone. Dallas leads the overall Head to Head 19-17-1, with San Francisco actually scoring more points in the series.

However, if a game between 2 of the most winning-est franchises in NFL playoff history, creating one of the most fiercest post season rivalries wasn’t enough, those of you that like alternative ways of watching the game will be delighted that this will be the game where you can choose to activate the slime once more as Nickelodeon’s cameras return after their inaugural appearance in the Bears @ Saints game last year and producing a somewhat intriguing alternative experience. Enter the Slime tank, where 82.5 gallons of customer made slime has been manufactured.

CBS Sports and Nickelodeon crew members shipped buckets of slime and a specially designed slime tank to AT&T Stadium ahead of the Cowboys vs. 49ers wild-card game.

The Dallas players have said that they will allow Nickelodeon to slime them after the game, should they be victorious. They’ll be hoping that this is the case rather than the potential slime left on their faces, should they taste defeat.

Let’s start with the home team and NFC East champs, the Dak Prescott led Cowboys. Prescott, seemingly a shoo in for Comeback Player of the Year (sorry Bengals and Joe Burrow fans) has rebounded more than adequately from his gruesome ankle injury suffered in week 5 of 2020. But it’s in the post season in which Cowboys fans and Jerry Jones alike will want to see him earn every single one of his $160m dollars from the contract signed almost a year ago.

To date, the Cowboys’ signal caller has not fared that well in the post season. Just the solitary win against the Seahawks in 2018 sandwiched between losses to the Packers and the Rams. At times, Prescott has been a bit off in his passing this season and can perhaps feel slightly more fortunate he didnt have more than the 10 interceptions so far on his record sheet this season. This has led to games where the offence has stuttered with no real obvious reason as to why, kind of like a beautiful car with an enginge that has a mind of its own – usually it’ll start up, rev and away she effortlessly goes. But in games like the Arizona and Denver ones, for some reason, the engine just doesn’t seem to start.

As it has been for the past few years and is the case in general in the NFL, if Dallas’ offensive line is healthy and operating at the high level they know they can play, Dak Prescott will carve up any opposing defence. The case is true here too as the 49ers boast one of the best rushing attacks on the defensive side of the ball with Nick Bosa et al. ferocious in style which has seen them tied for 5th with 48 sacks on the season. Impressive when you consider their blitz rate of just 19.8% is 4th least this year in the NFL.

Carolina Panthers v Dallas Cowboys
Richard Rodriguez/Getty Images

Tyron Smith and Zack Martin will have to play to their future Hall of Fame best to nullify the onslaught of Bosa, Key and Armstead who have accounted for 28 of those sacks and have totaled 60 QB hits. It will take a joint effort along the offensive line, who love to see yellow laundry on the field, with Dallas being one of the most penalised teams on offence. Continue that trend in this game, giving Dak and Kellen Moore a lot to do in 2nd or 3rd and long situations, may lead to a continuation of the sack and QB hit rate of those 49ers pass rushers.

If Dak is upright for the majority of this game, he should take advantage of a beatable secondary and their quick strike ability will be key, especially if they get behind. He has 3 stellar receivers waiting to catch the ball, even with the injury of Michael Gallup. CeeDee Lamb, the only Cowboy to surpass 1,000 yards through the air this season, seems to have done it fairly quietly, especially when you take into account that he has only had 3 100 yard games, the last of those coming in week 8. A somewhat bereft Amari Cooper has hopefully been somewhat appeased by the targets and attention he has been receiving after a recent interview indicated he was unhappy at the amount of workload he was carrying in this offence. He’s seen 37 targets in the last 5 games but outside of a few touchdowns, he’s not really done much with them although half of his receptions in those games were good enough for 1st downs (12/22). Cedrick Wilson has been a bit more flashy and noticeable and has more than adequately filled the void left behind whichever receiver had a knock this season.

Add in the reliable and joint top receiving TD scorer Dalton Schultz into the mix (Blake Jarwin is also back healthy), and you have yourself a fully loaded offence. The question is going to be whether the 49ers will allow Dak to pull the trigger enough times.

In the backfield, Ezekiel Elliott clearly isn’t the force of old and goes up against a stingy 49ers run defence. Tony Pollard has had that bit of X factor about him, but has been dealing with a plantar fascia problem the last month. Both of them have amassed almost 2,500 yards of scrimmage yards between, Elliott able to achieve his 4th 1,000 rushing season against the backups of Philadelphia in Week 18 (his two “failed season saw him gain 983 and 979 yards). If healthy enough, expect pollard to be utilised on outside runs/Jet sweeps/screens and the more creative plays to try and exploit his explosiveness he has shown at various points this season.

Moving over to the visitors and you would have probably been shipped off in a straightjacket if you would have suggested at the start of the season the Mr Handsome Jimmy Garoppolo would be still starting for this team at this point of the year. Their #3 overall 1st round Draft Pick Trey lance has flirted with the first team but Kyle Shanahan has stuck to his word and kept his faith in the guy that got him to a Super Bowl just a few years ago.

Despite the uncertainty of his future (has a very low dead cap cost to the 49ers), Garoppolo led some excellent drives in their week 18 game against the Rams to even give the 49ers a chance in the psot season, which must be applauded when most seem to take every chance to belittle him and his capabilities.

Clearly he does not have the abilities or powers of the other powerhouse QBs in the league or even that of the one he faces on Sunday, but Jimmy G does “fit” in this team and the way that they play. He is never going to be the star that shines the brightest and he is never going to get the 1st place ribbon when it comes to MVPs on this team, but he does enough to give this team a chance and just simply does what is asked as and when it is.

He’s posted similar numbers to 2019, the year in which they were the bridesmaids in Miami’s Hard Rock Stadium and to be honest, not a great deal has changed between now and then.

Deebo Samuel is balling out, the 49ers continue to be one of the best rushing teams in the league and their defence helps them win a lot of games and yes, they continue to have more than their fair share of injuries.

Deebo Samuel likely to miss some regular-season games
Sam Greenwood/Getty

Talking of Deebo Samuel, perhaps one of the most exciting players to watch in 2021, has burst into the limelight, with more touches than his first 2 season combined, has exploded for over 1700 scrimmage yards and 14 total touchdowns and made many a Fantasy Football champion for sure.

He is clearly the key cog in the 49ers machine, with the point of emphasis is getting the ball in Deebo’s hands in space and then watching poetry in motion.

He, along with Elijah Mitchell who has grabbed the opportunities that have come his way with Raheem Mostert’s injury in week 1, have been the heavy lifters of this offence, accounted for nearly 3,000 scrimmage yards.

He ended up just shy of the 1,000 yard season on the ground, but only appeared in 11 games this season and has kept Trey Sermon sitting and keeping the sideline bench warm. He could have another big game if Dallas continues to be over-zealousness on their defence, which has led to some gaping holes to be run through and exploited for huge chunk plays.

The supporting cast (if we can call them that) of Brandon Aiyuk, who has popped up when he has been needed late in the saeson after a shaky start, along with star Tight End George Kittle, who himself has had the injury niggle or two this season, will give Dallas’ defence more than their share of concern due to the creativity but also execution of each and every single play called from the meticulous Kyle Shanahan.

The 49ers and Cowboys are each one of four teams with three players to record 800-plus receiving yards and five-plus receiving touchdowns in 2021 means that there is a lot of talent (and possibly slime) on show and this shapes up to be a Wildcard game for the ages.

All things being equal, Dallas should win and possibly set up a trip to Green Bay which has a whoole lot of history ready to be rammed down our throats but will have to be near their best to get the job done. Any slip ups and San Francisco will more than happily boot down the door and take the opportunities given to them from the Cowboys.

Jimmy Garoppolo simply has to not make any silly mistakes and giving Dallas free possession in order for San Francisco to have more than a decent shot at taking the spoils here. Against an opportunistic defence that preys on mistakes and turnovers, the 49ers will rely on Samuel and the run game to try and grind Dallas down and force them into chasing the game and possibly into a mistake forced by their pass rush. It will be interesting to see how Dallas try to nullify the run game, something in which they have struggled with this season and also whether they try and cancel out Deebo Samuel completely. Easier said than done.

Cowboys Micah Parsons will run away with Defensive Rookie of the Year
Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

The deployment of Micah Parsons in this one will also be interesting to watch. the Rookie, selected as an All-Pro on defence this year has been a playmaker for the majority of the season. I wonder if they man mark him with Deebo Samuel on plays where he is in the backfield and what ratio they have him dialing in on the QB to force a turnover (has 30 QB hits on the year and 13 sacks) or to help contain Samuel/Mitchell on outside/zone runs.

One thing is for sure, the health of Trent Williams will be crucial for the 49ers (has put in a full practice this week and looks good to go). He is the headline amongst one of the better offensive lines in the league. the Dallas defensive line rotation, which has served them well thus far allowing them to record the 4th most pressures on opposing QBs, will need to continue that vein of form to help create those potential turnovers for Trevon Diggs and the rest of the secondary. If they don’t get to Garoppolo, Diggs could be the source of joy if the 9ers go a bit more vertical, Diggs more than susceptible to giving up huge plays and yardage, especially on double move routes. He has given up 907 yards thus far and 16.8yards per completion from 54 completions allowed, a heavy price to pay for his 11 interceptions.

In a game that may come down to the odd decision or two, we have to talk about the head coaching: 49ers fans will back their HC all day long over Mike McCarthy, who stills seems to be missing the beat somewhat at the Head coaching position after his short stint away after his Green Bay days. There are still a lot of people disillusioned at Mike McCarthy 2.0 including myself and feel like he just likes to get in his own way at times. We all know what Kyle Shanahan brings with this 49ers team including their identity. The fact they continue to produce week in week out when you know what’s coming is the hallmark of a really really good team. Hopefully it doesn’t come down to a coaching decision or a play call, especially if you are a Dallas fan (not to mention Robbie Gould is head and shoulders above a shaky leg from Greg).

Some final nuggets for you to chew on ahead of the game:

The 49ers are the best ranked team statistically in the redzone (Dallas ranks 6th), meaning once they get there, they are likely to score. Whereas Dallas are one of the best on 3rd down conversions given up on defence, meaning they get off the field more often if getting the opposition on 3rd down. Dallas’ defence ranks top 6 on defence in average plays, points, yards and time given up, with their offence ranking 1st in points scored and yards gained. The magic number for the 49ers is 30, because whenever Dallas have given up that many points on defence they’ve lost the game this season (3 times)

Prediction: Dallas 35 – San Francisco 31

In what sets up to be a classic, Dallas’s oft opportune defence is just begging Jimmy Garoppolo to make a mistake. I get the sense that San Francisco will start the faster and score the first touchdown and lead for the majority but I think a turnover in some way from the 49ers QB late in the 3rd/early 4th quarter will help Dallas get over the line with a clutch last drive from Dallas. Both teams can be happy with the health of their teams going into this one, which is all one can ask for. It will be close, it may come down to the last kick or throw of the game, which will be great for the neutrals.

May the best team get slimed!

Keys to the game:

  • Dallas Tackles vs Nick Bosa,
  • Micah Parsons deployment,
  • Jimmy Garoppolo turnover watch.
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Friday Night Fallout: Draft Trades

On Friday 26th March the 2021 NFL Draft underwent some pretty sizable changes, just as we were all finishing work and settling into our weekend, BAM, Adam Schefter did what Adam Schefter does, and dropped some huge news about the NFL Draft and more specifically a huge trade between the Miami Dolphins and the San Francisco 49ers.

The Dolphins traded the 3rd overall pick to 49ers for the 12th overall pick, a 2021 third-round pick (the compensatory pick for Robert Saleh’s hiring) and first-round picks in both 2022 and 2023.

Miami’s third overall pick was always going to be up for auction and it did feel as if it was a care of when and not if the pick was dealt. Well, John Lynch and the 49ers front office got the job done – Much to probable dismay to the Carolina Panthers and Denver Broncos, who were well and truly in the hunt, and probably still are, for a quarterback.

The drama still wasn’t over – Less than 30 minutes later, the Dolphins were at the centre of another trade!

This time they were moving back up, sending the 12th and 123rd overall picks this year as well as a 2022 first-round pick to Philadelphia, in order to acquire the 6th and 156th picks for next month’s draft.

The takes then began to fly in the group chat… So what did we think about these trades and how are they going to affect the draft?

Lee, Raj, Sean and Logan give you their takes below.

What does this mean for the 49ers?

Lee – The 49ers have said that Garoppolo is “their guy”. San Francisco have also said they are “good” with whichever QB drops to them at 3.

I believe the former to be front office speak and the latter to be academic.

Trevor Lawrence is all but a Jacksonville Jaguar and all the signs point to Zach Wilson being the apple of the Jet’s eye.

So it’s down to Justin Fields and Trey Lance for the 3rd overall selection.

Personally I feel like Justin Fields is the better and also the safer choice. He’s played at a higher level, for longer and whilst athletically, both Lance and Fields would be fantastic in Shanahan’s offense – Imagine a super athletic runner in Shanahan’s counter based running scheme – I do feel that Fields is the better player now and in future.

Perhaps Garoppolo can babysit Fields for half a season before the rookie takes over? $1.4 deadcap in 2022 doesn’t offer the former Patriot much protection from a contractual standpoint.

Sean – At #12, the Niners were never in the running for their future QB but now they’re right in the thick of it. And that has to be their plan; you don’t give up a king’s ransom for anyone other than a quarterback. Assuming the first two picks are Trevor Lawrence and Zach Wilson, the Niners will have their pick of Justin Fields or Trey Lance. Smarter people than me can say who would be a better fit for Shanahan’s system – I think the big-armed, athletic Fields might just be the prize here – but either way, it seems the writing’s on the wall for the incumbent Jimmy Garoppolo. The 49ers have been at pains to say Jimmy G is their QB1 but even if he starts the campaign as their guy, who knows whether he’ll finish it. (What price a return to the Patriots?)

Raj – The Niners are in their Super Bowl window, and they believe they are a QB away from being back at the top table. After seeing the Rams upgrade their QB room, Murray ascending in Year 2 and Wilson continually performing as a top 10 QB, Lynch and Shanahan felt now was the time to strike; and by trading to 3 allows them to do this. My belief is Fields will be the next QB in San Fran; Shanahan has already experienced coaching Fields at a QB camp a few years back, so the familiarity is there. By not giving up any further 2021 picks for the trade, that is also a big win for the 49ers. With Bosa, Kittle et al returning next year, and with Shanahan being able to mould the new young QB to fit in with his famous run based scheme, don’t be surprised to see the 49ers deep in the playoffs next year. 

Logan – The 49ers move all but confirms they are ready to give Jimmy G a fire under his belt to do better. “Jimmy is here to stay” is coach speak for “we couldn’t find a team who was willing to trade for him”. The 49ers could cut Jimmy next year for a whopping $1.4 million in dead cap money. Kyle Shanahan ready to have his chance to groom his “young” QB of the future, which could make Jimmy G a back up once again in the NFL

What does this mean for the Dolphins?

Raj – 24 hours have passed, and overall I’m happy with how things have turned out; however there is a tinge of wanting more. I’m surprised no additional 2021 picks were accumulated such as a SF 2nd rounder, however overall the moves made give the Dolphins flexibility for at least the next 3 years. Flexibility to pick the top passer in this year’s draft, flexibility to pursue an alternate QB next year should Tua not be the answer or the flexibility to build around Tua should he prove to be the QB answer in South Beach (e.g a Diggs style trade by Buffalo last year). Now the Dolphins have the ammunition, it’s important to hit on the picks otherwise the process of accumulation would have gone to waste. Pitts and Najee would be just fine for round 1 😊. 

Sean – The multi-deal mayhem took Miami out of the mix and then back into it 30 minutes later, settling at #6 and gaining draft picks to boot. Knowing that the first three teams will be courting QBs (maybe even the top four for the first time ever), the Fins can safely assume they’ll still be able to snare a valuable piece to help Tua succeed next year. It’ll be one of OT Penei Sewell, LSU wideout Ja’Marr Chase or tight end freakazoid Kyle Pitts – basically whoever’s left after the Bengals have had their turn. My guess is the TE phenomenon Pitts, as he’s the least likely pick for Cincy. Dropping three spots, increasing draft collateral and still landing an elite talent looks like great business to me. Nicely played.

Lee – Let me just say, Chris Grier turning Laremy Tunsil into 4 first-round picks is absolute genius.

The end result of this Friday night’s shuffle in the draft order is that the Dolphins now hold the 6th and 18th picks and a further two top 50 selections.

If I were Grier and Brian Flores, I’d look to beef up the offense early to give Tua Tagovailoa a real shot in 2021. I’d be targeting Kyle Pitts at 6, Najee Harris at 18 and an offensive lineman at 36. Pitts is a game-changing mixture of size and speed and Harris gives them an elite runner who can also be a factor in the passing game. Combine those with a competent offensive line, Mike Gesicki, DeVante Parker and Preston Williams and I feel that the offense could be nigh on unguardable because of the size and athleticism available. Spread it out and to force the defense in dime and either throw it to any of those receivers, or watch Najee run against super light boxes with mainly defensive backs to stop him.

Logan – The Dolphins are sticking with Tua as being the QB for the future with the transactions made Friday.  Brian Flores is going to build around Tua, with Kyle Pitts. Pitts is coming off an outstanding season with 12 touchdowns on the year. How many passing touchdowns did Tua have last year….11? Sure, he played half the season, but Carson Wentz had 16 In half a season and ended up traded. I think a new red zone target will boost this offense along with the new wideout Will Fuller joining the team this off-season. A second consideration is trading down again to pick 15, at the Patriots, securing even more capital for the future and having pick 15 and 18 grabbing two skill players.

Photo Credit – Associated Press

What does this mean for the Eagles?

Sean – Unlike the Niners and Miami, the Eagles are more of a long-term rebuild project. That’s why moving back to #12 and gathering more chips to play with – this year and next – makes sense. Sliding down the pecking order does limit Philly’s options a little but assuming they’re after a wideout, as many predict, they should still be able to snap up one of the Alabama two, Jaylen Waddle or DeVonta Smith, as non-QBs slide out of the top 10. With Jalen Hurts and Joe Flacco, the QB room looks sorted so dropping down a few places for the chance to pick up more pieces should benefit them in the long run.

Logan – At 12th overall the Eagles are in the “get your guy” spot unless… a QB is on the board. They will have 10 minutes to decide on that pick if that is the QB, a rookie they want to add to the young Jalen Hurts and seasoned Joe Flacco or trade down to New England to allow them to get a QB and get a skill player 3 picks later at 15. . What should the Eagles do? Get the 2nd best wide receiver of this class, Jaylen Waddle,  and pair him with Jalen and watch the magic unfold.

Lee – The Eagles have made an underrated move by sliding back a few spots to acquire another first-round pick next year, which feasibly could give them three first-round picks next year. When your team is in rebuilding mode, this is never a bad thing – Just ask the Dolphins!

In terms of this year, most had the Eagles pegged to select a receiver to give Jalen Hurts another target to throw to. That really shouldn’t change too much despite Philly moving back six spots.

With the rush on quarterbacks in the top 10, some great players have to slide, which will include receivers.

Let’s say four QBs go before 12, plus Kyle Pitts and Penei Sewell also get taken. That means there are now 5 teams left to pick in the top 11 and the Big 3 are still there. Even if Miami takes one at 6, the Panthers, Broncos, Cowboys and Giants either have good receivers already or bigger needs early in the first round. Detroit probably takes a receiver at 7 but even so, simple math dictates that the Eagles are left with one of DeVonta Smith, Ja’Marr Chase or Jaylen Waddle.

Nice business.

Raj – The Eagles let the cat out the hat yesterday, it was Zach Wilson or nothing. They were QB hunting, but having the intel that Wilson was not going beyond 2, they decided to give Hurts the keys to the QB room for 2021. Philly knows this is a long term project, and with the ammunition of potentially 3 1st rounders in 2022, if Hurts isn’t the answer they have all the wiggle room to do whatever they want at QB. In the meantime, there are many holes they can fill in their ageing and depleted roster; and 12 allows them to be in play for one of the top CBs, Parsons or even a pass catcher falling out the top 10. And in 2022, who knows, a certain Deshaun Watson could be someone to perk Roseman’s QB search. 

What does this mean for the league and draft as a whole?

Logan – QB’s will go early in this year’s draft, presumably with 4 of the top 5 picks (Jaguars, Jets, 49ers, Atlanta), leaving Bengals the big winners of this presumably taking the 1st player beside outside of a QB thanks to the 2020 draft drafting Joe Burrow. As a fantasy player, I’m curious if Jaylen Waddle or Najee Harris go first or could they end up together on the Dolphins as they have picks 6 and 18?

Raj – The draft now starts at 4 and the ramifications of what the Falcons do affects the rest of the draft. Do they draft Ryan’s replacement, do they dare to trade inter division with Carolina, do they trade to a Denver or New England to make sure Carolina doesn’t get their QB or do they draft the best player available. What they ultimately do decides the strategy of a number of teams in behind, and don’t be surprised if there isn’t another blockbuster move taking place either before or on draft day. 

Sean – Pondering the ramifications of Friday’s shenanigans, it seems like the value of Atlanta’s fourth pick and Cincinnati’s fifth spot went up, as the sweet spot for picking either Fields or Lance (coud that actually be the Falcons’ intention?), or for selecting the first non-QB in the draft. In contrast, the Panthers (#8) and Broncos (#9) took the biggest blows, forcing them to trade up as well if they want to get their hands on anything but the scraps left over from the quarterback feeding frenzy. Maybe one of them could package up a deal to tempt the Falcons, Bengals or even the Dolphins (again), depending on the first names to come off the board? Then again, it may just be a case of c’est la vie and grab a top receiver or corner instead. One thing’s for sure, though: just when it felt like we had a sense of how Day 1 might pan out, someone shuffled the pack and we have to reassess everything. 

Lee – On one hand, I feel like this makes the first round less interesting due to the fact that I feel like we know the first three names that will be called, the shock for me would be that the Niners take Lance. However, as above, I don’t see it being out of the realms of possibility.

A winner not mentioned above is Atlanta because the price of their 4th overall pick just went up and there are still a number of QB needy teams out there. So unless the sands shift again prior to April 29th, the draft starts at 4.

On the other hand, outside of the QB run, the teams slated to pick from 5 to 15 could be winners too as non-quarterback talent is sure to slide down the board as teams scramble for their next signal caller. So it’ll be interesting to see where those high-end players are selected and as a fan of a team picking in the top 15, that makes round one more exciting!

Looking ahead, the events of Friday evening and the ripples from these trades will be felt for years to come.

Drop the guys a follow:

Lee Wakefield – @Wakefield90, Raj Garcha – The_Garch, Sean Tyler – @SeanTylerUK & Logan Brown – @Loganbrown0805

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NFL Deep Dive – Mid-Season Special / NFC

By Ste Tough (@SteTough)

As we reach the halfway point in the NFL season, let’s have a look at the state of play of all 32 franchises. Who is getting top marks and who has the dreaded “Must try harder” remarks? We’ve already been through the AFC, so let’s turn our attention to the NFC…

(Note: written after Packers vs 49ers on 5 November)


NFC East

Dallas Cowboys (2-6)

Half-Term Report

The Cowboys have been one of the biggest disappointments in 2020. With a new Head Coach, a good draft and their star QB back (albeit on the franchise tag), most picked the Cowboys to win the NFC East. How that has all unravelled! While Dak’s injury was a real gut-punch, Mike McCarthy just doesn’t look like he has what it takes to drag this team into the post-season. Their defence looks a mess, conceding 266 points through eight games (the worst in the NFL) and their offence hasn’t been much better (even taking the Dak injury into account). Key players like Zeke have not been contributing as McCarthy would have liked, especially for someone who loves the run game as much as he does.

Star Pupil or Detention Specialist

Dak Prescott – I know, I know, he’s injured now and out for the season, but you just have to tip your cap to the fifth year QB for the season he was having. Until he went down with that horrible ankle injury in Week 5 against New York, he had more than 1,800 yards with 9 TDs and a 75.4 QBR. Had he kept that up, he would have thrown for over 5,900 yards and 29 TDs… It is now a case of ‘what could have been’ for Dallas fans. Has Dak played his last game in a Cowboys jersey?

Expectations for the Second Half of the Season

Dallas is the worst team in the NFL right now. Yes – in the entire NFL. Philadelphia put the game on a plate for them last week and they had absolutely nothing on offence to be able to go and get it. If a team can’t score points, it won’t win games: it’s that simple. If Andy Dalton can come back from concussion and COVID-19 protocols and get some semblance of fluidity with the talented Dallas WR room, then they could pick up a couple more wins this campaign, sealing a final record of around 4-12. But I think a bigger question looms for Jerry Jones. Is Mike McCarthy really the man to lead ‘America’s Team’ going forward?


Philadelphia Eagles (3-4-1)

Half-Term Report

I’m not really too sure what is happening in Philadelphia right now, although old curses still remain. They have been rocked by injury. On the offensive line alone, they are missing four starters (Brandon Brooks, Isaac Seumalo, Lane Johnson and Andre Dillard) as well as TE Zach Ertz and WRs DeSean Jackson and Alshon Jeffery. Their offence and defence seem incapable of playing well in the same game and their franchise QB is having a really difficult season, leading the league in interceptions and turnovers. With wins coming against the Cowboys and Giants, Philly fans are hardly filled with confidence that this team can go far. However, the defence has shown signs of promise with 28 sacks (equal 2nd) and the shutdown play of star CB pickup Darius Slay.

Star Pupil or Detention Specialist

Brandon Graham – The 2010 first-round pick defensive end is having his best season in the NFL, at 32 years old. It cannot be understated how good Graham has been so far. He has seven sacks and is on course to get into double figures for the first time in his career. He also has nine tackles for loss and 11 QB hits. He’s playing at a very high level this season and I would expect the Philly veteran to make the Pro Bowl on this trajectory. Another honourable mention goes to Travis Fulgham, the former Detroit Lions sixth rounder. He has 435 receiving yards since he came into the team in Week 4 and leads the entire NFL since then.

Expectations for the Second Half of the Season

The Birds should win the NFC East but they have to improve if they want to go any further than that. Carson Wentz is having a really down season and needs to play better than he has been. They also need to get healthy, and with a bye week this week, that should help with the likes of Miles Sanders, Lane Johnson and Alshon Jeffery expected to return for the Week 10 game with the Giants. Their schedule is tough and many are expecting that they won’t get more than 6 or 7 wins in total – which amazingly should be enough for them to host a playoff game! Doug Pederson needs to give more playing time to his young break-out players. With guys like Jeffery, Jackson and Peters unlikely to be in the City of Brotherly Love next season, I’d like to see more of the likes of Fulgham, Jalon Reagor and Jordan Mailata.

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Chris Szagola – AP

Washington Football Team (2-5)

Half-Term Report

Aside from their impressive Week 1 comeback win against Philadelphia, Washington have been a bit of a dumpster fire this season. New Head Coach Ron Rivera is having a tough first season, much like his NFC East counterparts. However, his decision to drop young QB Dwayne Haskins not just to the bench, but to third choice – behind a QB who hasn’t played a snap in almost two years – is a puzzling one. With their only other win against a depleted Dallas side, Washington looks destined for another losing season. However, it isn’t all doom and gloom. There have been some signs of life from their D-line, who have 22 sacks on the season (sixth in NFL).

Star Pupil or Detention Specialist

Montez Sweat – One of very few stand-out players this far for Washington, Sweat has five sacks this season and looks to be improving all the time. The 2019 first-rounder terrorised Baker Mayfield in Week 3 with a sack and three QB hits and did the same in Week 7 against Dallas with a couple of sacks and three QB hits. Washington’s pass rush has been a major positive for Defensive Coordinator Jack Del Rio, and Sweat has been a key component of that.

Expectations for the Second Half of the Season

The Washington Football Team have the benefit of being in the 2020 NFC East – the worst division in the NFL (perhaps ever). What this means is that amassing even six or seven wins could be enough to clinch the division and with it, a play-off berth. While Philadelphia leads at the moment, the NFC East hasn’t had a repeat winner since 2004. Washington’s schedule is also very kind; they have games left against the Giants, Lions, Bengals, Cowboys, Panthers and Eagles, all of which could be considered winnable. If Washington can put a run together and get some momentum going, I would not be surprised if they take the NFC East title this season.


New York Giants (1-7)

Half-Term Report

The Giants, like divisional rivals Washington and Dallas, have a new coaching staff this season and just like those other two teams, they’re struggling. HC Joe Judge has a solitary win against Washington in Week 6 and, aside from that, has struggled to get his team going. New York has only scored 145 points in eight games, which is 31st in the league. However, one positive has been the production from their defence, one with limited pieces. They have allowed only 199 points (14th in NFL) so considering the Giants are 1-7, Defensive Coordinator Patrick Graham deserves a ton of credit for that. Losing star RB Saquon Barkley to an ACL injury in Week 2 has obviously been a huge blow and their run game has suffered dramatically since.

Star Pupil or Detention Specialist

James Bradberry – The big name free agency pick-up for GM Dave Gettleman continues to look like a shrewd investment. Bradberry has started all eight games and all 533 defensive snaps in those games. He has three INTs, 12 pass break-ups and a forced fumble, making Bradberry one of the few bright sparks in an otherwise grim Giants team.

Expectations for the Second Half of the Season

Questions continue to be raised at the QB position, like ‘Is Daniel Jones the guy when the 2021 draft class looks so strong?’ As he continues to struggle, the microscope will be put over Jones and HC Joe Judge. The Giants still need to play each divisional rival once as well as the Bengals. Then they have four games against teams with winning records (Seahawks, Cardinals, Browns and Ravens). It looks likely that the Giants may not win again this season. With another high draft pick looming, the main question must surely be whether Dave Gettleman is the guy they still want to be overseeing that pick?

Al Bello – Getty Images

NFC North

Chicago Bears (5-3)

Half-Term Report

Chicago have raised a few eyebrows so far in 2020. It took HC Matt Nagy just three weeks to realise that the Mitch Trubisky experiment was over. However, Chicago have put together impressive wins this season against Detroit, Tampa Bay and that incredible comeback against Atlanta in Week 3. They also took New Orleans to overtime and only narrowly missed out on the win last week. Their QB situation still doesn’t look solid. Nick Foles has had periods where he has struggled but Chicago has managed to grind out wins when it mattered and have certainly put themselves in the conversation for the NFC North title, especially with Green Bay stuttering. Not many would have expected them to be 5-3 by the halfway stage, but here we are!


Star Pupil or Detention Specialist

Allen Robinson – Where else is there to go here other than the stand-out WR? The wideout has been the go-to man for Foles and Trubisky, amassing 631 yards through eight games. His average YPC is 12.6 and he has 3 TDs. That incredible TD catch against the Saints in Week 8 highlights how crucial he is to the success of Chicago. Expect Foles to continue going to him to drive this Bears offence.

Ashlee Rezin Garcia – Sun-Times

Expectations for the Second Half of the Season

The theme of the second half of the season for Chicago is divisional. They still have to play five divisional games (two each against the Packers and Vikings, and one against the Lions). Divisions can be won and lost against your rivals (see NFC East) and if Chicago can go even 3-2 in those games, they will put themselves in a strong position, even for one of the Wild Card spots now that seven teams per conference make the playoffs this year. However, doubts will remain as long as there is a question mark hanging over the QB position.


Detroit Lions (3-4)

Half-Term Report

Detroit has had a somewhat underwhelming first half of the 2020 season. Aside from that eyebrow-raising Week 3 victory over the Cardinals, their only other wins this season have come against teams they would be ‘expected’ to beat (the Falcons and Jaguars). Head Coach Matt Patricia’s overall record since he came in is 12-25-1 and some fans in Detroit have understandably had enough. Their defence has really struggled, with 206 points against through seven games which is 26th in the NFL. They’ve also conceded 35+ points on three separate occasions so far this campaign.

Star Pupil or Detention Specialist

Marvin Jones Jr – The veteran wide receiver was expected to help carry the Detroit offence this season but he only has 265 yards from 22 receptions. Aside from his stand-out game against Arizona, Jones has been largely disappointing with only 3 TDs from 37 targets through seven games. He needs to improve down the stretch.

Expectations for the Second Half of the Season

The chances of Detroit tasting the postseason in 2020 are slim-to-none. Even though they have five of their remaining nine games against teams with losing records, they’d still have to win another two or three outside of those divisional games to be in with a shout. I’m just not sure the Lions have it in them. Some big questions could be asked in Detroit again this off-season if they fail to play in January yet again.


Green Bay Packers (6-2)

Half-Term Report

The Packers started this season on fire, racing out to an impressive 4-0 record and looking unstoppable, with Rodgers back to his best and several young playmakers around him. Their offence scored a mammoth 122 points in their first three games and by their Week 5 bye, they had amassed over 150 points on offence. However, their losses have looked ugly, only managing 10 points and 22 points in losses to Tampa Bay and Minnesota respectively. The defence is beginning to show some holes and Matt LaFleur needs to get them back on track if they are to clinch that coveted single play-off bye spot in the NFC.

Green Bay Packers vs. Minnesota Vikings game recap: Everything we know
Dan Powers – Appleton Post-Crescent / USA TODAY

Star Pupil or Detention Specialist

Za’Darius Smith – It would be easy to mention Aaron Rodgers here (2,253 yards, 24 TDs, 2 INTs, 86.9 QBR), but I’m not going to go with him. I’m going to pick their stand-out Pro-Bowl OLB Za’Darius Smith, who has seven sacks, eight tackles for loss and 13 QB hits. He’s also forced and recovered a crucial midfield fumble in their Week 3 victory in New Orleans and another on Week 9 TNF against San Francisco. Look for him to kick on in the coming weeks.

Expectations for the Second Half of the Season

After their shock loss to poor divisional rivals Minnesota in Week 7, the NFC North isn’t as wrapped up as Green Bay may have hoped. The 5-3 Bears are breathing down their necks and it could go down to the wire. This week, they had a tough road trip to San Francisco (but won comfortably, due in part to the Niners’ injury woes) but they now have four match-ups against teams with losing records and they still have to play Chicago twice. The Packers should win at least another five or six games. If they can get to 10 or 11 wins, that should be enough to take the NFC North, but the NFC overall? We’ll have to wait and see.


Minnesota Vikings (2-5)

Half-Term Report

Minnesota has been one of the most disappointing teams so far in 2020. I don’t think many would have predicted them starting their season 1-5 until they managed an impressive win in Lambeau at divisional rivals Green Bay in Week 8. Their schedule hasn’t been too kind, with match-ups against Seattle, Indianapolis and Tennessee so far. However they also suffered a humiliating loss in Week 6 to Atlanta. The loss of go-to WR Stefon Diggs has clearly had an impact in Minnesota.

Star Pupil or Detention Specialist

Kirk Cousins – The 32-year-old gunslinger has struggled this campaign, and his 12 TD to 10 INT ratio hasn’t helped the Vikings’ offence. He’s been sacked 15 times and has a measly QBR of 52.9, which is 26th in the league. Cousins’ contract APY is $33m so he needs to be playing far better than he is. An honourable mention here goe to Dalvin Cook who has rushed for 652 yards and 10 rushing TDs, as well as one receiving TD from 127 receiving yards.

Expectations for the Second Half of the Season

The good news for the Vikings is their second-half schedule is kind. With matches against Dallas, Carolina and Jacksonville as well as two games against fellow NFC North strugglers Detroit still to play, Minnesota has a clear path back to .500. However, they also face tough match-ups against the likes of New Orleans, Tampa Bay and Chicago twice. Their season could very quickly unravel if they suffer further ‘unexpected’ defeats. Of course, there is no such thing as an ‘easy’ game in the NFL but for a team that has finished with a winning record in four out of the last five seasons, a sub .500 season would be quite the setback.


NFC South

Tampa Bay Buccaneers (6-2)

Half-Term Report

Tom Brady packed his bags this offseason and shipped out of Boston. The result? A Tampa Bay team that looks like a real Super Bowl contender. With experienced HC Bruce Arians at the reins, the Bucs are really challenging New Orleans for the NFC South title this season. Brady has picked up where he left off in New England: he’s thrown for 2,189 yards (fourth in NFL) and 20 TDs (third). They also have eight rushing TDs (two from Brady) and have scored 247 points (second). Defensively, they have been dominant too, with 28 sacks (T-2nd) and holding teams to an average of 300 yards per game (third). Tampa Bay did have a surprise loss against Chicago in Week 5 and it will be interesting to see if that was just a blip, or if they also have similar struggles as the season goes on.

Star Pupil or Detention Specialist

Jason Pierre-Paul – I didn’t want to talk about Brady here, everyone knows he’s been great. Instead, the veteran LB has been superb for the Buccaneers so far this season. Alongside Devin White, JPP contributes to one of the most fearsome LB groups in the NFL, with 6.5 sacks, four tackles for loss and three forced fumbles to date. He really aids the Bucs rush defence, having allowed only 563 rushing yards (2nd in NFL) in the first half of this season.

Expectations for the Second Half of the Season

I expect the Buccaneers to continue to dominate and put themselves in the conversation for the NFC Championship game. Next week, they face the return of Drew Brees and New Orleans after that hotly contested Week 1 match-up. They also have interesting games at home to the Rams and Chiefs before their bye in Week 13. Then they end with Minnesota, Atlanta (twice) and Detroit – you’d imagine they finish 4-0 after their bye. Many predicted Tampa Bay to be the first team to ever play a Super Bowl in their home stadium; no team has ever done it before but the Bucs could well be the first in 2020.


Atlanta Falcons (2-6)

Half-Term Report

The 2020 Atlanta Falcons are somewhat of an enigma. A Super Bowl team just four years ago, they now look a shadow of that, giving up points and throwing away games. After their Week 3 loss to Chicago, they became first team in NFL history to have back-to-back games in which they blew a 15+ point fourth-quarter lead and lost. They fired their HC of five years, Dan Quinn, after starting the season 0-5 and since doing so, they’ve gone 2-1. Matt Ryan is, incredibly, second in the NFL for passing yards per game with 292.4 so it isn’t Atlanta’s offence that is struggling this season.

Star Pupil or Detention Specialist

Atlanta Defence – Atlanta’s defence has been so poor as a unit that it was impossible to single out one or two players. They are allowing 331.4 passing yards per game (31st in NFL) and have allowed 224 points through eight games (29th in NFL). Dante Fowler Jr. was given a monster three-year, $45m contract in Atlanta and so far has posted a lacklustre two sacks and six QB hits. Since 2016, their defence has been getting progressively worse and this year, HC Dan Quinn finally paid the price.

Expectations for the Second Half of the Season

Atlanta reside in a division with two teams who already have six and five wins respectively so they won’t be tasting the off-season this year. After parting ways with their HC and GM, they need to decide who is going to take the franchise in its next direction – in the front office and coaching positions especially – as it looks like they may have another top 5 draft pick in 2021. The rest of this season looks difficult with games against New Orleans, Las Vegas, LA Chargers, Kansas City and Tampa Bay (twice) following their Week 10 bye. All of those teams will look to this game and place it in their prospective ‘W’ column. It’s hard to disagree.

Atlanta Falcons v Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Brian Blanco – Getty Images

Carolina Panthers (3-5)

Half-Term Report

The Panthers are putting together a very respectable campaign considering all of the transition they went through during the off-season. Rookie HC Matt Rhule turned some heads when he was hired but so far, he appears to be doing a great job transforming the culture in Carolina. Since their 2015 Super Bowl appearance, they seem to have been suffering from that hangover and have only been to the playoffs once (2017) where they suffered a Wild Card loss to New Orleans. This season, they’ve had an impressive win against Arizona in Week 4 and were actually sitting at 3-2 after Week 5. However, consecutive losses against Chicago, New Orleans and Atlanta have dragged them to 3-5.

Star Pupil or Detention Specialist

Robby Anderson – Anderson has been such a good free-agent signing for Carolina. They had been desperate for a star WR to compliment second-year wideout DJ Moore. Anderson is providing OC Joe Brady with another speedy weapon in this exciting Carolina passing game. He’s proving to be good value for his two-year, $20m contract. Anderson could afford to improve his contributions with more TDs but so far, he’s doing a terrific job of helping Teddy Bridgewater spread the ball around the field – especially with franchise poster-boy, Christian McCaffrey, still out injured.

Expectations for the Second Half of the Season

The remaining eight games for Carolina are a mixed bag. On the one hand, they face teams with losing records (Detroit, Minnesota, Denver and Washington) but they also need to play tough games against teams doing very well (Kansas City, Tampa Bay, Green Bay and New Orleans), all of whom could be vying for the NFC title come January. They’ll welcome Christian McCaffrey back either this week or next, a very welcome return from IR after being out since Week 2. I think Matt Rhule would be happy with 7-9 or 8-8 this season, knowing that it is a foundation year to start the rebuild. But with questions at QB looming, Carolina needs to decide what to do with Bridgewater too.


New Orleans Saints (5-2)

Half-Term Report

Drew Brees and his chase for that second Super Bowl ring seems like the never-ending love story; if anyone in the league deserves another, it’s him. Brees has had a Super Bowl-calibre team for the last few seasons, and they’ve faltered in the play-offs every time. This time around, he’s signed a fresh two-year deal in what is surely his final dash to grasp the Vince Lombardi once again. The Saints stuttered at first, with back-to-back losses to the Raiders and the Packers, but since then have won out and now sit at 5-2. What is possibly more impressive is that they’ve done it all without star WR Michael Thomas due to an ankle injury. Once he comes back, I would only expect they’d get even better. They are averaging 29.4 points-per-game (7th in NFL) on offence and allowing an average of 28.1 points-per-game (23rd in NFL) – every Saints game seems to be a shootout! It’s worth noting that their rush defence is one of the best around – only allowing an average of 90.6 yards per game (3rd in NFL).

Star Pupil or Detention Specialist

Alvin Kamara – Sometimes you run out of superlatives to describe players, and Kamara is one of those players. In mid-September, the Saints and Kamara agreed on a five-year, $75m contract extension keeping him with the franchise until 2025. He is looking very good on that investment so far. He is one of the best ‘dual-threat’ RBs in the league. He has posted 431 yards rushing but perhaps more impressively, he has 556 yards receiving, adding up to almost 1,000 all-purpose yards through seven games. Kamara leads the Saints in broken tackles (nine) and TDs (seven), making him absolutely crucial to their success.

Expectations for the Second Half of the Season

The Saints just seem to find ways to get it done in the regular season. Even without Thomas, when Brees normally struggles, they have five wins. They should have Thomas back for Week 10 at the latest and that will only add to their offensive weapons. Their remaining schedule is relatively kind. Aside from tough games against the Buccaneers and Chiefs, they should stand a good chance of winning their remaining games. I would fully expect the Saints to be in the play-offs, as they usually are. However, with some of the quality around the NFC, they may find it difficult to make it to the top of the conference and book their slot at Raymond James Stadium in February 2021.

NFL: Carolina Panthers at New Orleans Saints
Derick E. Hingle – USA TODAY Sports

NFC West

Arizona Cardinals (5-2)

Half-Term Report

After admitting their shortfalls at QB and going back into the draft and selecting Kyler Murray #1 overall in 2019, the Cardinals are beginning to look like a young, up-and-coming team that has everything together. Off-season addition DeAndre Hopkins has given HC Kliff Kingsbury yet another offensive weapon and allows the Cardinals to be more aggressive and spread the ball around the field. So far, they are keeping up with the leading pack at 5-2 and have had a couple of impressive wins against divisional rivals (49ers and Seahawks). However, they’ve also had a couple of underwhelming losses against Detroit and Carolina that have kept their feet firmly on the ground. They lead the league in average offensive yards per game with 419.1 and are second in the league in rushing yards per game with 160.7.

Star Pupil or Detention Specialist

DeAndre Hopkins – It’s difficult to pick anyone else than the league leader in receiving yards. When Hopkins became available from Houston in the off-season, Kliff Kingsbury must have been straight on the phone to GM Steve Keim and packing David Johnson’s bags himself. Hopkins has been one of the best receivers in the league for several seasons. This time around, he has 704 receiving yards (first in NFL) and is one of only two WRs in the league averaging more than 100 yards per game (along with Green Bay’s Devante Adams). Hopkins has continued his impressive production in Arizona and just carried straight on from where he left off with the Texans.

Expectations for the Second Half of the Season

The Cardinals are in the most competitive division in the league. Any of the four teams could still realistically win the NFC West (although the 49ers’ injury woes are seeing them fall away). However, outside of their remaining divisional games, the schedule is tricky. Miami have one of the best defences in the league and Buffalo being led by Josh Allen have been impressing so far in 2020. They should win games against the Patriots, Giants and Eagles but they will have to do well in their divisional match-ups. It’s also worth noting they are 2-0 in their divisional games so far. If they keep that up, the NFC West could be heading to Arizona for only the second time since 2009.


Los Angeles Rams (5-3)

Half-Term Report

The story of the Los Angeles Rams so far in 2020 is defence, defence, defence. They lead the league in average yards allowed per game with 291.9 and are holding teams to an average 19.0 points (T-3rd), holding five of their eight opponents this season to under 20 points. They also have 25 sacks on the season (fourth in NFL). DC Brandon Staley has done a terrific job with the defence. Their offence hasn’t been quite as productive but Jared Goff has been spreading the ball around with five different pass-catchers having more than 220 yards and at least one TD so far. Their five wins have come against teams you’d probably expect them to beat (the entire NFC East, plus Chicago) and their losses have all been relatively close. Los Angeles have been a bit too ‘predictable’ so far.

Star Pupil or Detention Specialist

Aaron Donald – I know, it’s a bit boring to talk about the six-time Pro Bowler, two-time Defensive Player of the year, 2014 Defensive Rookie of the Year and current sack leader in the NFL… but it is a testament to just how dominant he is and how crucial he is to the success of the Rams. He is equal first for sacks with nine so far in 2020, including four in a single game against Washington. He also has 15 QB hits and 11 tackles for loss. Since he entered the league in 2014, he leads the league in sacks with 81. I think Donald’s most incredible statistic is that in his 6.5 years in the NFL, he has only missed two of 104 games. He keeps himself so healthy, which is even more impressive given the position he plays.

Expectations for the Second Half of the Season

The second half of the Rams’ season is where things start to get a bit tricky. They still have five divisional games remaining as they have only played at San Francisco (a 24-16 loss) so far. They have a bye in Week 9 then, after a tough home game against Seattle, they travel to Tampa Bay for the prime-time MNF slot in Week 11. The only remaining games on LA’s schedule you would expect them to win are at Foxborough in Week 14 and at the Jets in Week 15. That said, with the dominance of their defence so far, LA should remain competitive. I’m just not convinced they can get any more than another three or four wins. Wild Card weekend could be beckoning for Sean McVay.

Arizona Cardinals v Los Angeles Rams
Sean M. Haffey – Getty Images

Seattle Seahawks (6-1)

Half-Term Report

The Seattle Seahawks are the best team in the NFL right now, with their dominant offence brushing teams aside. They are third in yards per game (289.0) although Dallas is top and I expect them to drop off now Dak is injured. They are leading the league with 34.3 points per game, which is wild – and a full 2.7 points above their closest competitor (Green Bay). What has perhaps been most impressive about Seattle’s offence has been their ability to adapt without a consistent, healthy running back. Chris Carson only has 323 yards rushing and 3 TDs so far, but HC Pete Carroll has let Russell Wilson take the reins on offence and spread the ball around. DK Metcalf and Tyler Lockett look like they’re going to have career seasons – both have seven TDs – with Wilson under centre. Defensively, the ‘Hawks have been the polar opposite. They are deal last in average yards per game allowed with 460.0, and 23rd in average points per game allowed (28.4). Pete Carroll’s approach seems to be just get the ball back in Russell Wilson’s hands as quickly as possible, no matter how, and let him work his magic…

Star Pupil or Detention Specialist

Russell Wilson – Who else is there other than the current league MVP favourite? Let’s look at his 2020 stats. Total passing TDs: 26 (1st in NFL); average YDS/G: 307.3 (3rd in NFL); passer rating: 120.7 (1st in NFL); completion percentage: 71.5% (3rd in NFL). On top of those numbers, he also has 260 rushing yards, making him the ultimate dual-threat QB. Wilson has been nothing short of incredible in 2020 and I fully expect his dominance to continue right the way to the NFC Championship game and perhaps even Super Bowl LV.

Alika Jenner – Getty Images

Expectations for the Second Half of the Season

Seattle should continue its early season dominance as long as it can keep its stars healthy. The breakout of DK Metcalf has been a welcome addition to the WR room and gives Wilson another reliable asset down the field. They still have four divisional games to play (including two against the Rams) but then should pick up at least four wins from their remaining five (Bills, Eagles, Giants, Jets and Washington). Their only loss so far came in overtime. I can see this Seattle team going 13-3 and clinching that first round play-off bye.


San Francisco 49ers (4-5)

Half-Term Report

No team in the NFL has had worse luck with injuries than the San Francisco 49ers. For their Week 9 TNF game against Green Bay, San Fran had almost $80m worth of contract cap hit on Injured Reserve, including QB Jimmy Garoppolo, CB Richard Sherman, DT Solomon Thomas, DE Nick Bosa, DE Dee Ford, TE George Kittle and RB Raheem Mostert. With such substantial injury problems, it is actually incredible that the 49ers have accrued four wins this season. Aaron Rodgers and the Packers put them to the sword on TNF but they still managed 17 points and 337 total yards. Aside from their loss to Philadelphia in Week 4, the other losses probably would have been expected, especially given their injuries. They’re very middle of the road when you look at statistics – 225 points for (18th in NFL) and 207 points against (10th) – but they have just struggled to convert that into wins.

Star Pupil or Detention Specialist

Brandon Aiyuk – The rookie WR out of Arizona State is having an impressive year after being asked to contribute much more than expected after injuries to key 49ers WRs. While his stats don’t light up the page (seven games, 371 yards, 4 TDs and a modest 66.7 catch percentage), he has been an important factor. He’ll be an important piece in San Francisco in the coming seasons and offers Kyle Shanahan a young, cheap option at WR , a position they have struggled to add depth at in recent years. There was also his atheltic hurdling of Eagles safety Marcus Epps in Week 4… it was beyond belief.

Expectations for Second Half of the Season

It feels unlikely that the 49ers will improve much further this season with number of players they currently have out. Jimmy G and George Kittle are both expected to be missing until at least Week 14 and without them, San Francisco will struggle to pick up Ws. They face a tough road game to New Orleans in Week 10 and then they have their bye, perhaps a chance to get a couple more players back from injury. However, the schedule doesn’t get any easier, with games against the LA Rams, Buffalo, Arizona and Seattle. I think this season might just have to be a write-off for Kyle Shanahan, especially given the competition in their NFC West division. They can regroup, get healthy in the off-season and go again in 2021.



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Betting: Super Bowl update

By Tim Monk (@Tim_MonkF10Y)

Chances are if you are reading this, you have an antepost ticket on a team to win the Vince Lombardi Trophy. With Covid starting to sink it’s claws into the season, you’ll be forgiven for thinking whether you’ll be getting your stakes refunded (more so hoping if you are a Cowboys fan).

However we have reached the quarter pole after a little stumble there in week 4 with the possibility of further treacherous paths ahead in week 5 (thanks Tennessee).

With that in mind, lets take a look at how the Super Bowl 55 outright market has morphed itself over the first 4 weeks. Sports Betting Dime has been tracking and averaging each team’s Super Bowl odds since the end of last season, which we’ve converted and rounded to the numbers listed below.


Biggest decreases

Green Bay Packers

Pre-Season: 33/1 Now: 10/1

Cheeseheads will certainly be cheering “Go Pack Go” as they have arguably been one of the best teams thus far in 2020.

After what was considered a swing and a miss in April during the draft, the Packers, even with decimation at the Wide Receiver, have stormed to a 4-0 start and stomping all over anyone that has crossed their path.

QB Aaron Rodgers has finally embarked on his “F-You” tour that most have been waiting for (at least it’s one tour we’ll get to see this year). He’s depended on a variety of supporting cast through those first four weeks and made Valdes-Scantling and new flavour of the week TE Robert Tonyan a name that has been heavily sought after in fantasy football.

Aaron Rodgers deflects criticism, says down years from him are 'career  years for most quarterbacks' - CBSSports.com
Sean Gardner / Getty Images

They’ve posted scores of 30+ points in each of those first 4 games and been in control of all of the games thus far, which has included potentially tricky trips to New Orleans and Minnesota. Whether the lack of crowds has helped that (i’ll say most definitely judging by the focus the hard count is getting) or it’s just a case of Rodgers upping his game I’ll leave for you to all debate but they get the early bye this year and will be putting their feet up in week 5 and will look to welcome back star WR Davante Adams in week 5 against the Bucs. Apart from that trip to Tampa in week 6 and a trip to the west coast to face their demons at Levi’s stadium to face the 49ers in week 9, the rest of the schedule looks pretty plain sailing from here on out.

At this point, I will be shocked if they aren’t in the running for the NFC’s 1st round bye come week 17 (remember only the #1 seed gets the bye this year!).

If they continue to play as they have done coming out of the bye week, 10/1 could still possibly be value but kudos to those people that have tickets with 33/1 on them.


Seattle Seahawks

Pre-Season: 20/1 Now: 8/1

Perennial Playoff participants the Seattle Seahawks always appear on our TV screens in january and have done for 8 of the last 10 years. However in recent years, they have never reallllly been peoples ideas of Super Bowl Contenders. Yes, they won it all back in 2013, but they’ve been most people candidates to go out to just stronger teams and since the Legion of Boom left Century Link Field, not many people have given them much more respect than that. Does it have to do with Russell Wilson’s MVP credentials that have gone without gratitude? Is it that they never had any flashy players on offence? Who knows, but one thing is for sure in 2020, this team and Mr Unlimited has a different air about them.

Comms go out, Russell Wilson excels in Seahawks win at Miami | Tacoma News  Tribune
Wilfredo Lee / AP

Another team that has stormed to 4-0 in the early portion of the season, Seattle have seen their talisman storm to the front of people’s minds and the MVP betting (surely he’ll get a vote this year!).

They trail only the Packers in points scored thus far and like the Pack, they have put up 30+ points in each of their first 4 games.

A win on SNF against the Patriots put them on our radars and yes they could have quite easily lost that game as Cam Newton was at the 1 yard line in the dying moments (where have we heard that before, Marshawn?) but the Seahawks have gone about and handled their business with little fuss and a lotta Russ.

Can they continue this streak? You’d expect them to pummel a poor Vikings team before taking a week 6 bye and coming out of the other side, they face 4 huge games with 3 against divisional opponents in what is considered the toughest division in the league this year and the impressive Buffalo Bills (see below) sandwiched in there. We’ll know from those 4 games what the Seahawks are made of and what their crednetials are this year and we’ll go a long way to answering whether they are the Seahawks of 2013 or the Seahwaks of the last few years making an exit sometime in January.

As things stand, I would like to see a Packers/Seahawks reunion in the playoffs.


Buffalo Bills

Pre-Season: 28/1 Now: 16/1

Those of you that fancied a Patriots demise this year maybe have enticed you to have a tickle on Buffalo for the AFC and most certainly the division, but the Bills have probably been the most impressive team from the AFC side of the draw.

Whilst nearly pulling off an Atlanta Falcons impression against the Rams, The Bills have continuously lit up the scoreboard. Some will argue they’ve not really faced much stiff competition yet, but ladies and gentleman, i welcome you to the AFC East.

Their next two battles (Covid dependant) will be against the 2 teams that faced off in the AFC title game last year so we’ll know from those two games where the Bills stand.

Josh Allen has arguably been one of the best players this year at the QB position and is starting to win people’s appreciation from the sidelines and on the sofas (12/1 for MVP in from 50s).

Josh Allen, the Bills' wild win and more from NFL Week 3 - Peter King
Mark Konezny-USA TODAY Sports

The addition of Stefon Diggs from Minnesota has helped Allen no end and the Bills Mafia will be hoping they get to continue to blooming chemistry for the rest of the year and into 2021. The change on defence hasn’t really hindered them too much and are still a stout run D but have been susceptible against the pass, causing them to concede 28 to Fitzmagic, 32 to Goff and 23 to Derek Carr.

For them to be really taken seriously, they’ll need to tighten that up in their next two games. The rest of their schedule has bumpy moments with matchups against the Cardinals and Seahawks before the bye, they tackle the 49ers and Steelers shortly after. If they make it to the post season, they’ll have to banish the ghosts of playoffs past that saw them exit in spectacular fashion against the Texans last year.

At the odds though, if you are an Allen believer, they are still pretty tempting especially when you consider the division is there for the taking with Cam Newton out for another week or 2.


Biggest Increases

(Still with a chance)

San Francisco 49ers

Pre-Season 9/1 Now: 28/1

I’m not going to put teams that were never really in with a shot (insert Dallas joke here) so we’ll stick with some teams that some will still feel all is not lost.

The bridesmaids from last season have been…how do we put this nicely…f****d by injuries.

Nick Bosa, Deebo Samuel, Raheem Mostert, George Kittle, Dee Ford, Jimmy Garoppolo are just a snapshot of players missing that were integral to their Super Bowl run last year (ok, maybe not Garoppolo. PSYCHE!) and through 4 weeks they sit with a 2-2 record after their SNF defeat to the Eagles.

49ers-Eagles: Week 4 overreactions — move McGlinchey to guard
Nhat V. Meyer / Bay Area News Group

They’ll grit their teeth at their two week stay at MetLife for the rest of the season and maybe even longer if they fail to make the playoffs. Super Bowl hangover? some will point to it and if they were in another division not named the NFC West, their task would be that little bit easier.

Even so, the hits keep on coming for Kyle Shanahan and co with matchups @Patriots, @Seahawks and @Saints couple with homes ties against the Packers and the Rams on the horizon and all before their week 11 bye.

It doesn’t get much easier after that so it looks like a long way back for the 49ers taking into account that they’ll have to see this season out with such a plethora of players on the treatment table.


Dallas Cowboys

Pre-Season 12/1 Now: 33/1

Oh how it pains me to put the Cowboys here and how much joy it gives anti-Cowboys fans.

Mike McCarthy has not given the Cowboys the oomph to help the team quickly forget about Mr Clappy Jason Garrett.

The Cowboys are essentially a watermelon away from an 0-4 start. Yes they’ve faced tough matchups @ the Rams and @ the Seahawks but the home loss against the Browns highlighted to every team that the defence is absolutely turgid and you can see them live at your local Carpet Right in the door mat section (other stores are available).

The offence has been under insurmountable amounts of pressure and the miscues they’ve endured due to a patchy offensive line has helped dig those holes even deeper that they have found themselves in.

Cowboys' Dak Prescott predicts turnaround after slow start to 2020: 'We're  only stopping ourselves' - CBSSports.com
Ron Chenoy

To their credit, they have made huge deficits disappear like a top draw trick from Paul Daniels and they were an Aldon Smith tackle on OBJ for 10-15 yards away from snatching a defeat in similar style against the Browns to that of the Falcons.

To further make the case as a possible value bet, they play in a division where there are 3 wins collectively between the 4 teams out of a possible 16 so with the way the post season is set up, 1 of these teams HAS to play at least one game in January, so you are hoping the Cowboys have ironed out these issues and get a few players back healthy on both sides of the ball, namely O lineman Joe Looney and star LB Leighton Vander Esch.

For the neutrals, Cowboys games will be great watching from here on out regardless so there is that going for them and Dak Prescott is still a tempting price for most pass yards (11/4 with Unibet/888). They have given up the most points in the NFL this year and have conceded 38+ points for the 2nd time in franchise history, with the other instance being their inaugural season in 1960, ending with a 0-11-1 record. At least they are guaranteed to better that after 1 notch in the win column.

Unfortunately, guys, I don’t think Mike McCarthy and Mike Nolan are the answer. They won’t be getting a round of applause anyway, though the Giants come to town in week 5 (Jason Garrett joke). Further afield, they’ll feel like they have winnable games before their bye as they face a stumbling Arizona before travelling to Washington and Philadelphia. win those three games or even the last two, they’ll be in OK shape to win the lethargic NFC Least. Get in the playoffs and it’s anyone’s ball game (can you tell I am a Dallas fan trying to convince myself we still have a chance?)


Be sure to check out our betting podcast which drops every Saturday both on Apple podcasts/Spotify but also our YouTube Channel!

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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…

Image result for nick bosa draft
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.

Image result for san francisco 49ers defence
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.



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.

Image result for 49ers super bowl LIV
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?

Image result for kyle shanahan
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.

Image result for george kittle
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.

Image result for jimmy garoppolo
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.



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.

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Full10Takeaways – Super Bowl LIV

By Tim Monk @Tim_MonkF10Y

The Super Bowl is done and dusted and the analysis is ongoing for the foreseeable future. Here I take a look at some storylines coming out of the Super Bowl and the 2 teams.


The sizeable difference in talent at the QB position

Patrick Mahomes only needed 1 quarter to obliterate double digit leads held by the 49ers, Titans and Texans in this years playoffs. Mahomes led the Chiefs to 21 unanswered points in the 4th quarter in the biggest game of them all. By doing so, he has put down another bit of tarmac on his path towards Canton.

Image result for jimmy garoppolo patrick mahomes

On the other side, Jimmy Garoppolo went missing in the 4th quarter after doing what he was told for the first 45 minutes. “Jimmy G” seems to split opinion on how good/bad a Quarterback he is; The yay-sayers will point to his winning record as a starter, his TDs and his yards per play. The nay-sayers will point to the scheme, the HC and his supporting cast getting YAC, masking the actual air yards per attempt.

No matter what side of the fence you sit on, there was a gulf in class on the field at the Quarterback position and was essentially what it came down to at Hard Rock on Sunday.

The one big question to be taken from SF though is the state Kyle Shanahan’s belief, trust and allegiance to his handsome Quarterback. It’s not beyond the realms of possibility that Jimmy G will not be the SF 49ers QB after next season (or maybe even the 2020 season!) if the tendencies of the HC from Sunday’s game are to be any indication of that relationship.

One thing we will learn in 2020 is whether or not Jimmy G can bounce back, whether he’ll thrive under the pressure and the character that the man possesses.


The running back debate

Super Bowl running backs Damien Williams and Raheem Mostert were both undrafted free agents.

One could argue they have ascended into NFL relevance and proved all the critics wrong and are here to stay in the NFL after bouncing around the league trying to find their spot. They recently exchanged jersey’s due to their friendship and appreciation of one another, leading to Mostert actually handing back his exchanged jersey to the Super Bowl winning RB.

@anezbitt on Twitter

Williams was the first player in Super Bowl history to garner 100 rush yards along with a rush and receiving TD. Raheem Mostert was one of the stories if not THE story of the 2nd half of the NFL season culminating in 220 rush yards and 4 TDs in the NFC championship game.

Both these players are on paltry contracts in comparison to the other skills positions on offence and the running back position is undervalued generally by most of the 32 teams in the league.

Despite their efforts in getting their respective teams to the biggest game of them all, they’ll have a tough time persuading each of their front offices for a healthy rise.

Why?

Todd Gurley, LeVeon Bell, Devonta Freeman, Melvin Gordon and Jerick McKinnon are all running backs that have been paid handsomely over the past few years and it’s fair to say those investments have not returned the required production relative to the rest of the league. Add in Derrick Henry’s recent quotes of wanting to equal Ezekiel Elliott’s money, it’s very hard for running backs to get their due in this league.




Deebo Samuel could be a star

One of the stars from the losing side in Super Bowl LIV was Deebo Samuel.

Samuel, a 2nd round pick, enjoyed a stellar first season in the NFL totaling over 1,000 scrimmage yards (inc payoffs) and 6 total touchdowns.

Image result for deebo samuel
Erza Shaw / Getty

He may have only mustered 159 of those yards in the postseason and may not have found pay dirt in January, but Deebo Samuel put down a marker in his first season and is a perfect fit for the Kyle Shanahan system due to his rushing ability and his versatility to fulfil a variety of roles in this highly creative offence including as a blocker.

Expect more to come from “Deebo” in 2020.


1 curse laid to rest, 1 still to pacify.


In the NFL there are two well known curses. The Madden Curse and the Super Bowl hangover.

The Madden curse for those that don’t know, stems from an American Football computer game. Each year, a different players sports the spotlight and hits the game’s front cover and bestowed upon them, a curse which has thought to be such a thing, that players have declined the opportunity to appear on it.

Image result for madden covers

Go back over the past 10 years and you’ll see some of the greatest names to play the sport and the majority will find their way in to the Hall of Fame. They include Brett Favre, Drew Brees, Odell Beckham and Tom Brady. For each season each superstar graced the Madden cover, a mysterious spell was cast over their following season. All but 1 player (Richard Sherman) saw their PFF grade drop from the previous season and as a rule, you were lucky to play all 16 games and in some instances fell off the face of the earth (insert image of Peyton Hillis on a milk carton).

Step forward Patrick Mahomes. The man who can do no wrong.

Image result for madden covers

The Kansas City QB glowed over the red and yellow background for Madden 20 and has hopefully laid to rest the curse once and for all. But, it was looking dicey for the new prodigy as a dislocated knee injury struck Mahomes down during the regular season. He was able to see the field again fairly quickly and go on to win a Super Bowl win to add to his MVP award last season hopefully allays all the fears from the front cover going forward. Or perhaps we can just continue to keep Mahomes on it forever more and give him the gig full time?

The other curse is a 2-parter: The Super Bowl Curse and the Super Bowl Hangover.

The curse is relating to the team hosting the Super Bowl; No team has ever played the big game in their own back yard. Atlanta and Minnesota, the 2 hosting teams prior to Miami this year were more than equipped to go all the way, only to fail. Minnesota were however, the closest to breaking that curse when they got all the way to the championship game (including the Minneaplois Miracle), eventually losing to Philadelphia.

It’s a 54 year curse that is yet to be broken…on to you Tampa.

Whilst Tampa cannot attribute their poor recent run of form to a Super Bowl appearence, Carolina, Atlanta and most recent sufferers, the LA Rams have all struggled after Super Bowl defeats.

This is known as the Super Bowl hangover.

Image result for jared goff
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Some people point to a shorter offseason due to an extended run from the season prior whilst some point to a change in attitude in the locker room, with many players demanding a more lucrative salary and the coaching staff being poached by other teams wanting to taste the same success.

Only 3 teams have managed a Super Bowl win after a Super Bowl loss and whilst the league is aligned to making it difficult to achieve the feat, it seems unexplainable the struggles some teams suffer after an appearance in the big game.

It’s not something the Patriots have had to worry about however, much to the dismay of the other 15 AFC teams.

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Best Bets – Super Bowl LIV

By Tim Monk (@Tim_MonkF10Y) & Adam Walford (@TDTips)

Here we are folks. The final game of the season in Miami. Super Bowl LIV. KC and SF get it on! For some of you this is your once a year flutter, for some of you this is a pure lack of variety and are already looking at divisional accas for next year. Whichever bucket you fall in to, please make sure you gamble responsibly, have fun and enjoy the game! Below is the podcast where we talk about our selections and further below that is our £100 attempts including some of the Full10Yards team efforts!



best bets


TIM:

12pts staked: P/L +9.12pts

2pts Over 54.5pts (10/11 general) – LOSER

2pts Patrick Mahomes MVP (23/20 Unibet). – WINNER

2pts Damien Williams over 3.5 receptions (10/11 betway) – WINNER

1pt Garoppolo 1 Pass TD, Mostert 1 Rush TD, Bosa 1 Sack 4/1 (Sky request a bet) – WINNER

1pt Mahomes over 350+ pass yards, Chiefs to win 6/1 (SkyBet BOOST)- LOSER

1pt Mecole Hardman anytime TD 7/2 (general) – LOSER ,

1pt Patrick Mahomes anytime TD (4/1 general) – WINNER

1pt Richie James anytime TD 22/1 (PP)- LOSER

1pt Kelce and Mostert to both score a TD (3/1 Skybet) – WINNER


ADAM:

2pt – Opening kick off to be a touchback – 4/6 (general) – LOSER

2pt NAP – Chiefs team total o27.5 points – 9/10 (365)- WINNER

2pt – Shortest TD scored u1.5 yards – 4/6 (365)- WINNER

2pt – Damien Williams o3.5 receptions – 5/6 (365/Sky)- WINNER

2pt – Paddy ‘Homes MVP – 23/20 (888)- WINNER

2pt – Kendrick Bourne anytime TD – 3/1 (888)- LOSER

2pt – Mecole Hardman anytime TD – 7/2 (Sky/WH)- LOSER

1pt – Team scoring first wins – NO – 11/8 (365)- WINNER

1pt – Mecole Hardman first reception o10.5 yards – 20/21 (888)- LOSER

1pt – Richie James anytime TD – 22/1 (888)- LOSER

0.5pt – Hardman MVP – 100/1- LOSER,

0.5pt Deforest Buckner MVP – 300/1 (Both WH)- LOSER


£100 Challenge


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F10Y – NFC and AFC Championships 19-20 Look ahead

by Lawrence Vos (@NFLFANINENGLAND and @F10YRetro)

This will be the 22nd time that the conference championship will be a regular season rematch. The advantage has gone to the home team winning 13 of 21 rematches. The last team to gain revenge for a regular season loss by winning a conference championship was the the 2013 Seahawks who beat the 49ers – a game that featured a touchdown from Marshawn ‘Beast Mode’ Lynch. 

Now I’m not going to be popular if you like to do the tomahawk or if you support a team with a red helmet, but I am going for a Titans v 49ers Super Bowl. Below I have provided some narrative on the two teams I think are going to make it to the 54th annual festival of football.

AFC Championship – Tennessee Titans @ Kansas City Chiefs

Photo caption: Andrew Nelles / Tennessean.com

H2H – Chiefs lead all time series 29-24. Both are 1-1 in Super Bowl playoffs, and one win for the Titans in 1962 in double overtime when they were known as the Dallas Texans. Titans have won last four matchups by a combined 22. 

Titans 2019 record to date – 11-7 

  • Could become the first team in NFL history to beat their same conference division winners in a single season having dispensed the Texans Week 17, then the Patriots and the Ravens. 
  • If we include the Houston Oilers records, along with the Titans then this is the franchises 6th conference championship game – three for the Oilers – one from being in the AFL in 1967, two consecutive between 1978 and 1979, both as Wild Card entries, and both ending in defeats to the eventual Super Bowl winning Pittsburgh Steelers. 
  • As the Titans they reached two AFC title games in 1999 and 2002, beating the Jags in 99 and losing to the Raiders in 02. This will be the Titans 3rd AFC Championship in their 21 year existence as the Tennessee Titans.
  • They have of course played in one Super Bowl – 34 suffering one of three of the most heartbreaking losses in the finals history as Mike Jones the St Louis Rams LB tackled WR Keyin Dyson at the one yard line as the Titans looked to tie up the game in the dying seconds. 

Last decade – In the past 10 seasons the Titans haven’t won their division, and including this season are 3-1 in the playoffs. 

Outside of this season the Titans only playoff win in the past 17 seasons was in 2017 against none other than the Kansas City Chiefs. 

So what are the top 5 strengths of the Titans

Photo caption: Cbsnews.com
  • The running game and namely the hottest running back in the NFL Derek Henry. Henry became the first back in NFL history to record three consecutive 180+ rushing games. something that Emmitt Smith, Walter Payton and even Jim Brown never managed.
  • Ryan Tannehill’s efficiency. From the point he replaced the ineffective Marcus Mariota this season Tannehill ended the 17 game slate with the highest rating in the league. Tannehill is an accurate passer 62.5% lifetime and 70.3% this season.
  • Jurrell Casey – You gotta love this defensive tackle who has started 137 of 139 games for the Titans. the four time pro bowler has recored 5 or more sacks for the last 7 seasons, and registered his first two playoff QB takedowns against Lamar Jackson last week. Casey has been twice voted the Titans Walter Payton Man of the year and he coaches a women’s flag football team made up of Titans WAGs. 
  • Head coach Mike Vrabel (pictured above) – This might be Vrabel’s first post season as a head coach but he won three rings as a player for the new england patriots in just a four year stretch. He has to be the only NFL player to have caught 12 touchdown passes on 12 career catches. 

Titans weaknesses 

  • Their field goal kicking.The team is 8-18 on field goal attempts
  • Pass rush – No player has more than 9 sacks and 1st round rookie dl Jeffrey Simmons had only two regular season sacks. 
  • Playoff experience – This is Tannehill’s third career playoff game and his only post season in his career. 

Keys for a Titans win 

  • Goes without saying feeding Derek henry the ball often – 25-30 carries and the Titans can dominate time of possesion and keep Mahomes off the field
  • Special teams tackling – The spark the Chiefs had last week was caused by a big Mecole Hardman kick return. If Haardman or Tyreek hill can find creases it means longer drives needed. 
  • Get the ball to the biggest playmaker. AJ Brown electrified as a rookie WR in the regular season, but he has been used as a decoy for two consecutive games to get a safety or corner to stay away from the line of scrimmage. Now is the time to unleash AJ in all his glory. 

NFC Championship – Green Bay Packers @ San Francisco 49ers

Photo credit: Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

H2H – Packers lead the series 36-31-1. They have met 7 times in the playoffs the 49ers winning 3. The last time the 49ers recorded a shutout against the Packers was in 1954. The teams did meet in the 1997 NFC Championship – the Brett Favre and Reggie White led Packers beating the Steve Young led 49ers 23-10 in the shadow of the Golden Gate Bridge. 

49ers record to date – 14-3 

  • Back in the NFC Championship for the 16th time – with 6 wins and 10 losses. Made three consecutive NFC Championships 2011-2013 with Alex Smith and then Colin Kaepernick. They lost Super Bowl 47 in 2013 to the Ravens. Weird fact on this game the last scoring play was a safety by the 49ers – Ravens  punter Sam Koch running out the back of the endzone. The 49ers team then featured Frank Gore who ran for 110 yards on the day. 
  • The Niners are 5-1 in Super bowls, having won 4 with Joe Montana who didn’t throw an interception in any of the three games, Super Bowl 24 in fact remains the biggest blowout game when they beat the Broncos 55-10. 
  • In the past 10 seasons the 49ers have won their division three times and are 6-3 in the playoffs. The last time they won their division before this season they mad it to the Superbowl. 
  • 49ers are the surviving 1 seed and only home team to host two playoff games this season. 

Top 5 strengths of the 49ers

Photo credit: Kyle Terada – USA TODAY Sports
  • Adaptability to their surroundings – they had a better road record than home record – going 7-1 on their travels. Wins ranged from a 9-0 grinder in a quagmire in Washington to outlasting the Saints 48-46 in the game of the season in New Orleans. 
  • The surprise of the running game. the team finished 2nd in rushing yards per game behind a combo of Tevin Coleman, Raheem Mostert, Matt Breida and even jeff bison, just don’t ask jimmy Garoppolo to run – his 1.3 yards a carry is Dan Marino Esque. Don’t forget about Kyle Juzchck who is arguably the best FB in football
  • Grab a teabag and put the Kittle on. All Pro TE George Kittle led the team in targets, receptions, and was the only Niners to go over 1000 yards in the air. His 5 tds paced the team. Kittle’s catch against the Saints was easily a top10 highlight of the season. 
  • Pass rush – the 49ers registered 48 regular season sacks and followed up with six lashes of Kirk Cousins last week. The biggest name is rookie Nick Bosa, but the leading regular season sacker was Arik Armstead with 10 and two forced fumbles. in their regular season matchup the 49ers had 5 sacks of Aaron rodgers on his 33 attempts. 
  • The offensive line – Veteran LT Joe staley and mauling 2nd year right tackle Mike McGlinchey (pictured above) are not getting the headlines, neither made the first or second all pro rosters but they are solid bookends and RG Mike Person is one to look out for as a late bloomer. The team averaged 4.6 yards a carry in the regular season and paved the way for 47 rushes last week. 

Weaknesses 

  • Kicking game has become a bit of a risk. Robbie Gould who was injured for three weeks has missed 8 of his 31 attempts after foil 33 of 34 last season. Fortunately for the 49ers Gould has never missed a field goal in 8 post season games. 
  • Penalties by the defense – The team committed the 7th most penalties in the regular season and need to cut down on giving up cheap yardage. 
  • Wide receivers – Its a grab bag of talent with the 49ers ball catchers – no one is a dominant number one. Trade aqusition Emmanuel Sanders has registered 36 catches and 3 tds in red and gold – good but not great. This can be a 49ers advantage as Jimmy G will likely look for Deebo Samuel early and often but there is no guarantee he has a gig receiving game. 

Keys for a 49ers win 

  • Keep bringing the heat all game long. Joey Bosa looked as fresh in the final two minutes against the Vikes as he did in the opening 2. Aaron Rodgers is 36 and uses more of his smarts than he does his feet to move the ball. 
  • Run the ball and wear down the packers defensive line. It might be Mostert or even Breida that gets the lions share of carries whoever carries the ball they need to keep hold of the rock
  • Game planning – Kyle Shanahan lives every day with the numbers 28-3 etched in his mind after taking a 25 point lead in the Super Bowl as the Falcons offensive coordinator before being Bill and Tommed. Lesson learnt Shanahan will take no lead for granted and will want to showcase his play calling in front of a fired up home crowd. 

Enjoy the games tonight, for some this week is better than Super Bowl Sunday. We have a top seed, a bottom seed and two teams that are #2 in their conferences.

Photo credit: Albert Dickson/Sporting News

Sit back, grab your popcorn, and have a blast.

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Full10Lookaheads – Week 12

By Tim Monk (@Tim_MonkF10Y)

The business end of the season is here and the games get more important as the weeks go by. That is even the case for Bengals, Dolphins and Redskins fans as they are on the edge of their seats hoping their teams continue to lose so they don’t have to stay up as long come draft night.

For (pretty much) everyone else, your teams will still be vying for January football and we have some great matchups including Dallas, New England, Green Bay, San Francisco, Baltimore and the LA Rams. So let’s see what’s on the menu for week 12.


AFC South Battle

Image result for indianapolis @ houston
Image Credit: Bob Levey / Getty Images

Thursday Night Football sees one of the games that hold the most importance.

The Colts and Texans get it on in Houston in the first game of week 12 and the Colts must win otherwise the Texans will have a game lead in the division but also the tiebreaker, thus essentially giving them a 2 game lead with just 6 games remaining.

The Colts will be hoping that star wideout T.Y. Hilton can check in to the game after missing the past few weeks with a calf problem whilst the Texans will be hoping the epitome of boom or bust Will Fuller can return from a hamstring niggle.

Expect both teams to leave it all out on the field and let’s all hope that Quenton Nelson gets a legitimate touchdown this week!


The Hippy Hippy Shakes

Image result for dak hips warmup
Image Credit: Larry Brown Sports

Dak and his pre match warmup routine head over to Gillette Stadium in Foxboro for a tasty match in the late window (why are there only 2 games on the late slate btw?!?)

Many are trying to nudge Dak into the MVP conversation considering how he has overcome the average defence, inconsistent run game and Jason Garrett captaining the ship.

The Cowboys are in focus over the next 5 weeks, either being in primetime or on America’s game of the week so we’ll get a real good look at his credentials to take the end of season award.

His toughest matchup to date awaits him though and will be fascinating what weapon Bill Belichick tries to take away from the no.1 ranked offence in the league. It will also be fascinating to see if Garrett and Kellen Moore try to utilize Dak’s legs a bit more in this one.

Dallas need the win to stay 1 ahead of the Eagles, whilst the Patriots need the win to cling on to the coveted #1 seed in the AFC.



Browns response

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Image Credit: Kirk Irwin / Getty

We don’t need to go back in to detail about what happened on TNF last week. That being said, it will be intriguing to see the Browns response to the adversity.

Freddy Kitchens, Baker Mayfield and the Browns have endured a lot of criticism this season for a varying reasons, and rightly so, but that can all dissipate if they can make a run (with a favourable schedule) at the playoffs which starts this week at home to the maybe tanking Dolphins.

Can Baker put a marker down and take the situation by the scruff of the neck and become the leader that the Browns need him to be, or will the Browns continue to be plagued by their continuing allegiance to underachieving?


Do the 49ers Pack a punch?

NFL: Pittsburgh Steelers at San Francisco 49ers
Image Credit: Cary Edmondson/USA TODAY Sports

Whenever you think of this matchup in recent times, you think of the playoff game between these two in 2012 where Colin Kaepernick ripped the Packers to shreds and the Fox commentators got rather excited about it.

No Kaepernick in this game, despite his efforts, but there is the small matter of the #1 seed potentially up for grabs in this one on Sunday Night Football.

Jimmy Garoppolo, fresh off his career day last week vs the Cardinals, travels to Wisconsin to face Aaron Rodgers and the Packers fresh off their bye week in one of the games of the week. If the Garoppolo and the 49ers are able to take the W here, it will answer a lot of critics that they still have chomping at their ankles, despite their record.

A loss coupled with a Seahawks win however, could actually see the 49ers drop to the #5 seed. Fine margins, high stakes, all reasons we love late season football.


battle of the birds

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Image Credit: Fanduel.com

Talking of the Seahawks, in another fascinating battle on Sunday, the Eagles host the Seattle who are coming off a bye in the battle of the birds. Whilst there are many birds in the NFL, these two predators will be looking for easy prey on the football field.

Carson Wentz has not been able to show his MVP capabilities much this season, but this matchup poses a chance to get the better of a beatable defence that ranks bottom 5 against the pass in terms of yardage and a defensive line that averages only 1.5 sacks and 3 Quarterback hurries per game.

On the other side, the masterful Russell Wilson was eclipsed by Lamar Jackson in his bye week with regards to MVP consideration, maybe he’ll came and remind everyone not to forget about old Russ.

This game like another few this week, has implications for both divisions and the wildcard race so there is a lot on the line here for both teams.


Late Slate isn’t great, mate

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What is up with the scheduling this year?

This Sunday sees just 2 games in the late window. Unfortunately this isn’t the first time that the Sunday scheduling has seen the entertainment become very front heavy.

For those in the UK that do not have Sky Sports, the late window sees us being treated to an absolute classic between…the Titans and Jags.

The Eagles/Seahawks game was flex out of Primetime to the early games. Why?

Seattle are a mainstay in the late slate for the majority of their home games being on the west coast, so what’s changed?

The one saving grace is that you’ll still be able to watch the majority of the Patriots/Cowboys game on RedZone because there’ll be no highlights to show in the Titans game in the late slate, so there is that I suppose. Scott Hanson will be working hard to find the content filler, that’s for sure.


Ram Slam?

Image result for ravens vs rams
Image Credit: Fanduel.com

The Lamar Jackson hype train steam rolls into the Los Angeles Coliseum on Monday Night Football.

Massive game for obvious reasons, but it can’t be understated how much more it means for the Rams. Loss here coupled with a possible SF and/or Seattle wins, could see them be cut too far adrift from the others in the wildcard race.

Just 10 months removed from the biggest game of them all, the Rams may even not have the chance of trying to get there once again, with questions being asked of McVay and his team. Funny how the NFL landscape changes so quickly.

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Full10Lookahead – Week 9

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

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

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


Half-time League Leaders


Image Credit: Brace Hemmelgarn/USA TODAY Sports

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

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

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

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

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


Is this the week the Dolphins tank empties? 


Image Credit: Jasen Vinlove/USA TODAY Sports

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

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

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

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


Patriots v Ravens is THE marquee matchup


Image Credit: AP

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

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

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

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

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



Minshew Mania comes to the capital


Image Credit: James Gilbert/Getty

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

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

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

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


Can the 9ers get to 9 wins?


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Who the hell is Brandon Allen? 


Image Credit: SI

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

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

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

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


Running all day long


Image Credit: Getty Images

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

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

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

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

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

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


Trade deadline fallout


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

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

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

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

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