NFL Season Predictions

So instead of doing a “30 Clubs in 30 Days” thing like I did for baseball, I’m just going to do a generic preview for this upcoming NFL season. While 30 Clubs in 30 Days was a lot of fun for me to do, it ultimately was too time-consuming and not successful enough to be worth the time. But with the NFL season starting on Thursday with Falcons vs Eagles, I figured, what the Hell, let’s get this preview down now. So without further ado, here are my predictions for this upcoming season.

Projected Standings

AFC East

NFL: AUG 24 Preseason - Patriots at Panthers

1. New England Patriots (13-3)

2. Miami Dolphins (8-8)

3. New York Jets (6-10)

4. Buffalo Bills (4-12)

AFC North

Tennessee Titans v Pittsburgh Steelers

1. Pittsburgh Steelers (11-5)

2. Baltimore Ravens (9-7)

3. Cincinnati Bengals (6-10)

4. Cleveland Browns (3-13)

AFC South

Atlanta Falcons v Jacksonville Jaguars

1. Jacksonville Jaguars (10-6)

2. Houston Texans (8-8)

3. Tennessee Titans (8-8)

4. Indianapolis Colts (5-11)

AFC West

Los Angeles Chargers v San Francisco 49ers

1. Los Angeles Chargers (11-5)

2. Kansas City Chiefs (10-6)

3. Denver Broncos (6-10)

4. Oakland Raiders (3-13)

NFC East

Philadelphia Eagles v Cleveland Browns

1. Philadelphia Eagles (12-4)

2. New York Giants (7-9)

3. Washington Redskins (6-10)

4. Dallas Cowboys (5-11)

NFC North

Seattle Seahawks v Minnesota Vikings

1. Minnesota Vikings (11-5)

2. Green Bay Packers (11-5)

3. Chicago Bears (7-9)

4. Detroit Lions (6-10)

NFC South

Atlanta Falcons v Jacksonville Jaguars

1. Atlanta Falcons (11-5)

2. New Orleans Saints (10-6)

3. Carolina Panthers (8-8)

4. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (5-11)

NFC West

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1. Los Angeles Rams (12-4)

2. San Francisco 49ers (8-8)

3. Seattle Seahawks (7-9)

4. Arizona Cardinals (5-11)

Playoffs

AFC

1. New England Patriots (first round bye, home field advantage)

2. Pittsburgh Steelers (first round bye)

3. Los Angeles Chargers

4. Jacksonville Jaguars

5. Kansas City Chiefs

6. Baltimore Ravens

NFC

1. Philadelphia Eagles (first round bye, home field advantage)

2. Los Angeles Rams (first round bye)

3. Minnesota Vikings

4. Atlanta Falcons

5. Green Bay Packers

6. New Orleans Saints

Playoff Predictions

Wild Card Round:

3 Chargers over 6 Ravens

4 Jaguars over 5 Chiefs

3 Vikings over 6 Saints

5 Packers over 4 Falcons

Divisional Round:

4 Jaguars over 1 Patriots

3 Chargers over 2 Steelers

1 Eagles over 5 Packers

3 Vikings over 2 Rams

Conference Championship:

4 Jaguars over 3 Chargers

3 Vikings over 1 Eagles

Super Bowl LIII:

Divisional Round - New Orleans Saints v Minnesota Vikings

Vikings over Jaguars

So you don’t have to watch the NFL season anymore, I’m picking the Vikings to defeat the Jaguars in Super Bowl LIII. It’ll be a first for both teams: the Vikings’ first Super Bowl victory and the Jags’ first Super Bowl appearance. I have the Patriots getting upset in the Divisional Round for a couple reasons. Number 1 is that I feel like there’s just something not right about this year’s team. I’m not sure what it is, but the team just feels a bit thinner than usual. They’ll definitely win the AFC East again because it’s still Belichick and Brady, but after those two, there are a lot of question marks. I think the Chargers will have a breakthrough year by riding their defense (so long as they can stay relatively healthy). The offense will be fine, but the Chargers are going to be one of the more dominant defensive teams in the NFL this season, perhaps this year’s version of the Jaguars. Speaking of the Jaguars, I think they pull off the upset over the Patriots by doing the exact opposite of what they did in last year’s AFC Championship Game. Instead of playing not to lose, they go for the jugular and stomp on New England’s depleted receiving corps, leaving Tom Brady to have to continuously check down to James White, who keeps getting taken to task by Telvin Smith and Myles Jack. On the NFC side, I think the Rams could be a juggernaut this season. They didn’t lose anyone too significant and they reloaded on defense while returning all the important weapons on offense and adding Brandin Cooks. The Eagles I think will still be really good, but I don’t think Nick Foles will play as well in his first few games as the starter as he did in the playoffs last year. They’ll win the NFC East with ease, as the other 3 teams are hurting at the moment. The Vikings might be the most all-around sound team on paper heading into this season and that’s why I’m picking them as Super Bowl champions this year.

As for the bad teams, I still think the Browns will be near the cellar, mainly due to Hue Jackson. I have not been impressed by his coaching techniques watching Hard Knocks, as I think he’s way too soft to be a head coach. His tactics work as a positional coach, but to be the head guy, you need to have more of Todd Haley and Gregg Williams’ fire. Why is Bill Belichick so great? It’s because he doesn’t have a soul. The minute your skills start to deteriorate, you’re out the door. Jackson? It seems like he just wants to be friends with everyone on the team. I also think the Raiders are going to suck this year, but that’s not really news. Jon Gruden hasn’t been a coach in a decade and the game’s changed a lot since his last days with the Buccaneers. Now he doesn’t have a defense with the Khalil Mack trade and his offense is comprised of a bunch of old guys, Derek Carr, and a drop-happy Amari Cooper. I think they’ll end up picking first in April.

On to the awards.

NFL MVP:

Wild Card Round - Atlanta Falcons v Los Angeles Rams

Todd Gurley-RB-Los Angeles Rams

Offensive Player of the Year:

Divisional Round - Jacksonville Jaguars v Pittsburgh Steelers

Antonio Brown-WR-Pittsburgh Steelers

Defensive Player of the Year:

AFC Championship - Jacksonville Jaguars v New England Patriots

Jalen Ramsey-CB-Jacksonville Jaguars

Offensive Rookie of the Year:

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Saquon Barkley-RB-New York Giants

Defensive Rookie of the Year:

NFL: AUG 24 Preseason - Packers at Raiders

Josh Jackson-CB-Green Bay Packers

Coach of the Year:

Washington Redskins v Los Angeles Chargers

Anthony Lynn-Los Angeles Chargers

Comeback Player of the Year:

Arizona Cardinals v Detroit Lions

David Johnson-RB-Arizona Cardinals

Breakout Player of the Year:

Miami Dolphins v Carolina Panthers

Kenyan Drake-RB-Miami Dolphins

So yeah, that’s what’s going to happen this season. If you have any questions about this upcoming year, let me know in the comments section below or on Facebook or Twitter @jimwyman10.

NFL Draft: Day 3

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It’s done! It’s over! For 256 kids, their dreams came true. For hundreds of others, disappointment. But now they’ve all got to get to work because the hard part’s just beginning. Here are some thoughts from Day 3 of the Draft.

-The great story just gets better. Shaquem Griffin was drafted by the Seahawks 141st overall. You probably already know his story, he had to get his hand amputated after a birth defect. The pain in that hand was so bad that he tried to take a knife and cut off his deformed fingers in the middle of the night when he was just 4 years old. His mother was able to stop him before he could do it but it was at that moment she called the hospital to get it fully amputated. He had a twin Shaquill who would turn down scholarship offers because his brother wasn’t offered as well. Eventually UCF offered both and they both went and played well. Then Shaquill got drafted by the Seahawks in last year’s draft. Now his brother Shaquem joins him in Seattle. I was so impressed when I watched Shaquem’s tape that I went and put him on my Big Board even though I knew he’d be a Day 3 pick. That’s how good I felt he was. Just a tremendous story that my words can’t really do justice. I’ll be rooting for the kid at the next level.

-The Patriots had an interesting Day 3. They traded out of the 4th round twice to the point where I got so frustrated I said “make a fucking pick” out loud. They eventually did make a pick, and I was dismayed they took a Purdue linebacker in Ja’whaun Bentely. Nothing against Bentley, he’s a big dude who I think could be really valuable against the run. He just had the misfortune of being a Boilermaker. Some other notable players the Patriots took are Arizona State linebacker Christian Sam, who was reportedly very popular among a group of teams for the later rounds, Miami (FL) wide receiver Braxton Berrios (a 5’8 white guy who is a good route runner, shocker), and LSU quarterback Danny Etling (he won’t be Brady’s heir, this is more them drafting the heir’s backup). Etling is a former Purdue quarterback who transferred to LSU and he struggled mightily. I’m actually a little surprised he was drafted at all, but that’s what the Patriots do, take the guys that other people don’t value nearly as much. Etling is probably going to be a two-time Super Bowl-winning quarterback given Bill Belichick’s track record.

-Mr. Irrelevant was SMU wide receiver Trey Quinn by the Washington Redskins. Quinn’s also a baseball guy, as he threw a no hitter in the Little League World Series. Quinn was a teammate of new Broncos receiver Courtland Sutton’s and actually had better stats than Sutton, as he caught 114 balls for 1236 yards and 13 touchdowns. I actually thought he was a 5th round talent. Probably the best Mr. Irrelevant since Wake Forest kicker Ryan Succop, who is still kicking in the NFL.

-I’m going to be that guy. I hate the Eagles’ selection of Jordan Mailata 233rd overall. But Jim, you ask, why do you give a shit about the 233rd overall pick? Because Mailata never played a down of football in his life. He’s an Australian rugby player. When do those ever work out? My point is there are so many guys who have played football their whole lives for this moment then some rugby player gets to get picked in the Draft while they have to beg teams to put them on their roster. I just hate that. Yes Mailata is a monster of a human being but Simmie Cobbs of Indiana made the 4th overall pick Denzel Ward look like a Pee Wee player and he didn’t get selected. Plus, how do you tell players who were taken after him “you were valued less as a football player than a guy who has never played football before.” I could go on but I won’t.

-Former Washington State quarterback Luke Falk is reportedly obsessed with Tom Brady. He follows the TB12 method to a T, he gets upset when the Patriots lose (he got particularly harassed by teammates after the Super Bowl LII loss), and he basically worships Brady like a god. Guess where Falk got drafted. No he was not taken by the Patriots, he was taken by the Titans. However, Falk was drafted 199th overall, just like Brady was. Nothing else to say about that I just thought that was hilarious.

-The biggest steal of the draft has to be the Raiders taking former Michigan defensive tackle Maurice Hurst 140th overall. Hurst was a first round talent and I had him as my #1 interior defensive lineman until he was diagnosed with a heart condition at the Combine. He has since been cleared by doctors but teams still took him off their boards. If Hurst is able to prove he is healthy, this pick is going to be a steal and a half.

-I talked about how I really liked Texas safety Deshon Elliott even though other teams might not have liked him so much. Well he was selected in the sixth round, 190th overall by the Ravens. He was the last player on my Big Board to be selected but I kind of figured that would happen. I still think he’s going to be a damn good player, though.

-A reminder to the players who weren’t drafted today, here’s a list of guys who were also undrafted:

Kurt Warner

Wes Welker

Chris Harris Jr

Drew Pearson

Brian Waters

Jason Peters

Priest Holmes

James Harrison

Rod Smith

Joe Jacoby

Antonio Gates

Tony Romo

John Randle

Emmitt Thomas

Willie Brown

Warren Moon

Dick “Night Train” Lane

I could go on but I think you get the picture. Just because you weren’t drafted doesn’t mean it’s over. In fact, a lot of guys who were drafted will never play an NFL game. Just keep your head up and use this as motivation to prove everybody wrong. That’s going to do it for today’s blog. I’ll have a full Draft recap tomorrow. Let me know what you thought of Day 3 of the Draft in the comments section below or on Facebook or Twitter @jimwyman10.

Blind Resumes. NFL Draft Edition

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Before I get into today’s blog, I just wanted to say that I noticed something. I haven’t had a single blog posted for Monday all month. Not one. I was going to try and write one Sunday night but there was just nothing there worth writing about. That’s when I noticed the “Wyman’s Time Machine,” which is the calendar on the side of the screen that tells you what blog I posted on what day so if you have one you particularly liked you can go back and check it out. Well it links the days that had blogs posted. Not a single Monday has a linked date. Just something I noticed.

Now onto the actual blog itself, ESPN posted an interesting little thing on their website that I had a good time with and I thought I’d get into myself. Here’s the link to it. Basically what it is is it gives you two quarterbacks. You don’t know who they are but what you have available is their college stats. You have to guess based on the stats who was the better pro. It gets pretty fun especially when you see a guy who sucked in the NFL put up better numbers than a future Hall of Famer. It randomizes each time you play so you can go at it a bunch. It also gives a quarterback prospect from this year’s class that compares to both players.

I’m going to do something a little similar, but I’m going to go with not only quarterbacks, but runningbacks, and wide receivers. Offensive linemen and defensive players won’t get included just because their stats tend to be all over the place and are often unreliable, particularly the tackles stat. It would just be a nightmare to try and sift through them. The point of this blog is to determine whether college stats actually matter when it comes to scouting players. Mel Kiper Jr made headlines a few weeks ago by saying he doesn’t care about Josh Allen’s completion percentage, yet earlier he had made remarks about Lamar Jackson saying he wished his completion percentage was higher. So let’s get to some blind resumes. We’re going to do 4 players for each position. Two were successful in the NFL, two were not. Let’s see if you can guess who is who.

Quarterbacks

QB1: QB1 absolutely lit up the stat sheets in college. He was a 3-year starter in college and never threw below 4300 yards in a season. His junior season was particularly incredible as he threw for over 5500 yards and 58 touchdowns, which is an FBS record. He finished third for the Heisman that year, however the fact he played at a smaller school hurt his candidacy. In his senior season, he led his team to a 12-0 record and an appearance in a New Year’s 6 bowl where they lost big to a major school.

QB2: QB2 struggled in college. While he was a part of a national championship winning team as a sophomore, he was stuck behind a guy on the depth chart who ended up playing baseball. When he finally did earn the starting job, he struggled a bit. He never threw for more than 2427 yards in a season and his TD-INT ratio for his career was 30-17. His teams were winning, though, as his school won 10 games in both of his seasons as a starter. However, scouts liked him just as much as QB1, as both were drafted in the same round (different drafts).

QB3: QB3 had a pretty successful college career. He was a four-year starter for a major college program, including winning a national championship and being the runner-up for the Heisman trophy his senior season. His passing yards totals increased every season, peaking at 3819 as a senior where he also threw a career-high 36 touchdowns, however his completion percentage was the lowest of his collegiate career that season at 60.2%.

QB4: QB4 had a very decorated career. He won a Heisman Trophy his third season, where he threw for 4699 yards and 46 touchdowns. He even won the Heisman despite the fact that he didn’t play for one of the premiere programs in college football. He put his own school on the map, though, and nowadays this school is considered one of the top mid-major schools in the country.

So. Who was good in the NFL and who wasn’t? Time to reveal the identities of each player.

QB1 is Colt Brennan. Brennan took Hawaii of all schools to the Sugar Bowl and was a 6th round pick by the Washington Redskins in 2008, however he never appeared in an NFL game.

QB2 is Tom Brady. Brady was a 6th round pick out of Michigan in 2000 and struggled to beat out Drew Henson for the starting job. He is a 5-time Super Bowl champion and shows no signs of slowing down despite being 40 years old.

QB3 is Peyton Manning. Manning was the first overall pick in 1998 and holds basically every statistical record in the NFL for a quarterback and is a 2-time Super Bowl champion as well as being the only starting quarterback to win a Super Bowl with 2 teams.

QB4 is Andre Ware. Ware was a first round pick out of Houston in 1990 by the Lions and started just 6 career games in 4 NFL seasons before he was out of the league.

So now that you see how the game works, let’s get to the next position group.

Runningbacks

RB1: RB1 had a very unimpressive first two years before exploding onto the scene in his third season. He entered his third year with just 900 career rushing yards before winning a Heisman trophy in that magical season. Many of people consider that year to be the greatest season ever by a collegiate runningback however there were concerns that he was just a one-hit wonder.

RB2: RB2 had a successful college career, particularly in his sophomore and junior seasons. He was not only a successful runner, but a successful receiver as well, as he had over 4000 yards from scrimmage in his career while also scoring 21 TD’s his junior season. He was the top runningback selected in his class.

RB3: RB3 started his career playing at an FCS school before transferring to a Power-5 school his sophomore season. He never rushed for more than 824 yards in a season and at no point did he eclipse 1000 yards from scrimmage in a season despite being a pretty good receiver, particularly in his senior season. In fact, in his senior season, he lost a lot of carries to a player who would become better known as a wide receiver at the next level. He was a late-round pick and ended up having a relatively short NFL career.

RB4: RB4 was a Heisman Trophy winner and parlayed that success to becoming a first round pick. He posted one of the best all-around seasons in college football history in his Heisman-winning season, rushing for over 2000 yards and had over 300 receiving yards.

So, who is who?

RB1 is Barry Sanders. Sanders holds the NCAA record for rushing yards in a season, a feat he accomplished in 1988 at Oklahoma State and was the 3rd overall pick of the 1989 Draft by the Detroit Lions. He is the NFL’s third all-time leading rusher and probably could have been the record-holder had he not abruptly retired while he was in his prime. In my personal opinion, I consider Sanders to be the greatest runningback of all time mainly because he was setting all these records despite playing behind an awful offensive line throughout his Lions’ career.

RB2 is Bishop Sankey. Sankey was a second round pick by the Tennessee Titans out of Washington in the 2014 NFL Draft and was the first runningback taken. Sankey lasted just 2 NFL seasons and struggled to see the field, resulting in just over 700 career rushing yards.

RB3 is Terrell Davis. Davis started his collegiate career at Long Beach State before transferring to Georgia. The runningback-turned-wide-receiver in question that Davis lost carries to is actually Hines Ward, who is the Steelers’ all-time leading receiver who had almost as many rushing yards as TD in his final season at Georgia. Davis was taken by the Broncos in the 6th round of the 1995 NFL Draft and he rushed for over 1000 yards in each of his first four seasons, including 2008 yards in 1998. He was a 2-time Super Bowl Champion, including Super Bowl MVP in Super Bowl XXXII. He was NFL MVP in 1998 and was inducted into the Hall of Fame this past season despite playing just 7 seasons.

RB4 is Rashaan Salaam. While Salaam did win the Heisman and ran for over 1000 yards as a rookie with the Bears, his yards per carry was an unimpressive 3.6 and that came back to bite him in ensuing seasons, as his yardage total was more than halved in each season until his career ended after the 1999 season. Injuries played a big factor in that, however one must wonder what could’ve been with the recently deceased Salaam (may he rest in peace).

Wide Receiver

WR1: WR1 set the college football world on fire. Despite playing for a smaller school in the late 1990’s, this receiver set the college football record for receiving yards in a season. He had at least 1000 receiving yards in 3 of his 4 collegiate seasons, the lone exception being his freshman year when he had over 500 yards receiving.

WR2: WR2 played in an offense that didn’t utilize his skills, yet despite this, he put up some impressive numbers. His offense was very run-heavy, but that didn’t stop him from recording at least 800 receiving yards in all 3 of his college seasons. He had a terrific scouting combine and he was taken extremely highly in the NFL Draft based mostly on potential.

WR3: WR3 played just 2 seasons of college football, yet they were tremendous. In both seasons, he recorded very similar stat lines. In his sophomore season, he caught 67 passes for 1470 yards and 14 TD’s. In his junior season, he caught 68 passes for 1351 yards and 13 TD’s. This was all done in a Power 5 conference that is known for good defense and running the football so his dominance was intensified and as a result, he was taken just as highly as WR2. In fact, both were drafted by the same organization.

WR4: WR4 actually played quarterback for a mid-major school and caught just one pass in his collegiate career, yet was drafted as a wide receiver in the 7th round. As a quarterback, he was better known as a running quarterback, since his completion percentage was never above 55.6% and he ran for over 1200 yards in that season.

So let’s see who was who.

WR1 is Trevor Insley. Insley was a receiver at Nevada and actually holds the single-season receiving yards record at 2060 in 1999. He is the only receiver in FBS or pro football history to have a 2000-yard receiving season. However he went undrafted and played just one NFL season with the Colts in 2001, where he had just 14 catches for 165 yards and one touchdown.

WR2 is Calvin Johnson. Megatron played at Georgia Tech, which is notorious for its wishbone offense that typically just has one wide receiver on the field at all times and they run the ball nearly every play. However, the 6’5 Johnson ran a 4.3 40 at the NFL Combine and was the 2nd overall pick by the Lions in the 2007 NFL Draft. He set the single-season NFL record for receiving in 2012 with 1954 yards and nearly broke the single-game record in 2013 against the Cowboys with 329 yards.

WR3 is Charles Rogers. At Michigan State, Rogers was a beast, however he was a disaster in the NFL with the Lions. He was the 2nd overall pick with the Lions in 2003 yet managed just 440 receiving yards in 3 NFL seasons before he was out of the league entirely.

WR4 is Julian Edelman. Edelman played quarterback at Kent State but was drafted by the Patriots to play wide receiver in 2009. Since 2013, after the departure of Wes Welker, he has been Tom Brady’s most reliable weapon. His absence due to a torn ACL in the 2017 preseason was very noticeable, especially early on in the season.

So do stats really matter in college? I made sure to include some guys who had big numbers in college and the pros to try and give some balance to the argument. However, my conclusion is this: stats don’t necessarily mean everything when it comes to predicting NFL success. The guy with the best single-season receiving performance in college went undrafted and didn’t really do anything in the pros. In fact, I had never even heard of him even though he held the record. Just goes to show that stats might matter, but don’t put too much stock in them. Let me know what you think of using stats to project future success in the comments section below or on Facebook or Twitter @jimwyman10.

Every Team’s Biggest Draft Steal of the 21st Century

Yesterday I listed each team’s biggest miss in the Draft. Today we’re going to be a little more positive. We’re going to take a look at the biggest steal for each team since 2000. Some ground rules for this. First off, the steal cannot come in the first two rounds, so Brett Favre and Drew Brees going in the second round will not qualify. The 2017 draft class will once again be excluded because even though guys like Kareem Hunt and Alvin Kamara shined as rookies despite being later picks, we don’t know if they were just flashes in the pan yet. Later rounders will also carry more weight when I consider this, so a steal in the 7th will be worth much more than a steal in the 3rd. Also, their candidacy as a steal applies only for the team that drafted them. So even if Favre were eligible as a steal, he was drafted by the Falcons and traded after his rookie year. I will also be including some players who were taken before the steal in question that were much less successful in their careers to hype up the steal.

Cleveland Browns-Ahtyba Rubin-DL-Iowa State (190th Overall in 2008)

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Not a flashy name by any means, but Rubin has quietly been one of the best interior defensive linemen for some time. He’s a space eater and made life for Browns linebackers much easier.

Players picked ahead of him: Glenn Dorsey-LSU, Sedrick Ellis-USC, Kentwan Balmer-North Carolina, Trevor Laws-Notre Dame, Andre Fluellen-Florida State, Marcus Harrison-Arkansas, Dre Moore-Maryland, DeMario Presley-North Carolina State, Jason Shirley-Fresno State, Carlton Powell-Virginia Tech

New York Giants-Justin Tuck-EDGE-Notre Dame (74th Overall in 2005)

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I still get nightmares over Justin Tuck’s performance in Super Bowl XLII. He absolutely battered the Patriots offensive line in that game and, quite frankly, I think Eli Manning won Super Bowl MVP for that game due to quarterback bias. Tuck was the biggest reason the Giants pulled off the biggest upset in recent memory and he parlayed that success into an excellent NFL career.

Players picked ahead of him: Erasmus James-Wisconsin, Matt Roth-Iowa, Dan Cody-Oklahoma

New York Jets-Demario Davis-LB-Arkansas State (77th Overall in 2012)

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During training camp of his rookie year, Davis was compared to Ray Lewis by his own head coach, Rex Ryan. Pretty high praise for a rookie third rounder out of tiny Arkansas State. Davis hasn’t quite been Ray Lewis, but he’s been one of the best linebackers in the game since he entered it in 2012.

Players picked ahead of him: Nobody ahead of him really sucked, 2012 was a REALLY good year for linebackers.

Houston Texans-Eric Winston-OT-Miami (FL) (66th Overall in 2006)

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This was almost Glover Quin, but I had to go with Winston for two reasons. Number 1, he’s been one of the best right tackles in the game seemingly from the get-go. Number 2, he’s so well-respected around the league that he’s the player’s representative in the Players Association. He’s one of the main guys that negotiates new deals with the NFL. Hard to argue with that.

Players picked ahead of him: Winston Justice-USC, Daryn Colledge-Boise State, Marcus McNeill-Auburn

Denver Broncos-Malik Jackson-DL-Tennessee (137th Overall in 2012)

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There were a lot of options for this spot, such as Brandon Marshall (the wide receiver) and Elvis Dumervil, but I’m going with Jackson just because he went much later than the other two. Jackson has been a dominant force on the interior defensive line for both the Broncos and the Jaguars.

Players picked ahead of him: Kendall Reyes-UConn, Jerel Worthy-Michigan State, Devon Still-Penn State, Mike Martin-Michigan, John Hughes-Cincinnati, Alameda Ta’amu-Washington

Indianapolis Colts-TY Hilton-WR-FIU (92nd Overall in 2012)

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This could’ve been Pierre Garcon or Antoine Bethea, but Hilton hit the ground running as a rookie and he’s been the Colts’ best offensive player and one of the top receivers in the league. In fact, I would argue that he’s the Colts’ best player, period.

Players picked ahead of him: Justin Blackmon-Oklahoma State, Jonathan Baldwin-Pittsburgh, AJ Jenkins-Illinois, Stephen Hill-Georgia Tech, Ryan Broyles-Oklahoma, DeVier Posey-Ohio State

Tampa Bay Buccaneers-Kwon Alexander-LB-LSU (124th Overall in 2015)

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Alexander is one of the most underrated linebackers in the game and he’s formed a deadly 1-2 punch with Lavonte David in Tampa’s linebacking group.

Players picked ahead of him: Stephone Anthony-Clemson, Paul Dawson-TCU, Ramik Wilson-Georgia

Chicago Bears-Jordan Howard-RB-Indiana (150th Overall in 2016)

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This might be a little bit of a bias because we’re both IU guys, but Howard IS the Chicago Bears right now. The entire offense has revolved around him since he took over the starting job as a rookie, when he finished 2nd in the NFL in rushing yards.

Players picked ahead of him: Tyler Ervin-San Jose State, Kenneth Dixon-Louisiana Tech, Paul Perkins-UCLA

San Francisco 49ers-Frank Gore-RB-Miami (FL) (65th Overall in 2005)

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I really wanted to pick NaVorro Bowman or Delanie Walker, mainly because Gore is the earliest pick in this steals list (he was the first pick of the 3rd round). But Gore is the all-time leading rusher for one of the most storied franchises in NFL history. That’s going to win out. Plus, most of Walker’s success came with the Titans.

Players picked ahead of him: Ronnie Brown-Auburn, Cedric Benson-Texas, Cadillac Williams-Auburn, JJ Arrington-California, Eric Shelton-Louisville

Oakland Raiders-Jared Veldheer-OT-Hillsdale (69th Overall in 2010)

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Veldheer went to Hillsdale, a college I’ve never heard of, yet was still a third round pick. Not only that, but he’s been one of the best tackles in the game. There weren’t a ton of options for the Raiders, whose draft track record this millennium has been pretty poor. But Veldheer was definitely a steal.

Players picked ahead of him: Vlad Ducasse-UMass, Charles Brown-USC

Miami Dolphins-Lamar Miller-RB-Miami (FL) (97th Overall in 2012)

of the game at Sun Life Stadium on January 3, 2016 in Miami Gardens, Florida.

This was almost Jay Ajayi, however Ajayi got traded midway through last season to the Eagles after ineffectiveness and attitude, so Miller’s going to get the nod. He was able to turn his success with the Dolphins into a big contract with the Texans. This also could’ve been Olivier Vernon, but I thought Vernon’s best year came with the Giants this past season and he was kind of irrelevant for most of his Dolphins career.

Players picked ahead of him: Trent Richardson-Alabama, David Wilson-Virginia Tech, Isaiah Pead-Cincinnati, LaMichael James-Oregon

Buffalo Bills-Kyle Williams-DL-LSU (134th Overall in 2006)

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Williams has been one of the best defensive tackles and personalities in the game and it says a lot about a guy when he was a 5th round pick in 2006 and he’s still with the team that drafted him. Williams finally made it to the postseason for the first time in his career last season and watching it unfold was a joy.

Players picked ahead of him: Brodrick Bunkley-Florida State, John McCargo-North Carolina State, Claude Wroten-LSU, Dusty Dvoracek-Oklahoma, Gabe Watson-Michigan, Orien Harris-Miami (FL)

Washington Redskins-Kirk Cousins-QB-Michigan State (102nd Overall in 2012)

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Cousins never got the respect he deserved from the Redskins organization. He wasn’t even the first quarterback Washington took in that year’s draft (he went 100 picks after RG3) and they refused to give him the extension he wanted despite his being the best quarterback they’d had in some time. Cousins just got a huge deal with the Vikings, though so we’ll have to see how that goes.

Players picked ahead of him: Brandon Weeden-Oklahoma State, Brock Osweiler-Arizona State

Green Bay Packers-Mike Daniels-DL-Iowa (132nd Overall in 2012)

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Daniels has been the enforcer on the Packers defense and has wreaked havoc on opposing offensive lines for years.

Players picked ahead of him: See Malik Jackson (Daniels was the DL taken right before Jackson)

Arizona Cardinals-Tyrann Mathieu-S-LSU (69th Overall in 2013)

XXX at University of Phoenix Stadium on November 26, 2017 in Glendale, Arizona.

This was ALMOST David Johnson, who might be my favorite runningback in the NFL. However Mathieu gets the nod because Johnson had one season of dominance before getting hurt last season while Mathieu had been doing it for 5 years. He just signed with the Texans, though. The Cardinals are going to miss him.

Players picked ahead of him: Matt Elam-Florida

Baltimore Ravens-Marshall Yanda-OG-Iowa (86th Overall in 2007)

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Yanda was drafted as a tackle but upon moving to guard, he flourished. Yanda is arguably the best guard in the NFL and has been for quite some time.

Players picked ahead of him: Arron Sears-Tennessee, Justin Blalock-Texas

Los Angeles Chargers-Keenan Allen-WR-California (76th Overall in 2013)

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This very easily could’ve been Darren Sproles, but I think Sproles’ best years came with the Saints. As for Allen, he’s been terrific when healthy for the Chargers. Last season he got to prove it and one could argue he’s the Chargers’ best player.

Players picked ahead of him: Cordarrelle Patterson-Tennessee, Justin Hunter-Tennessee, Aaron Dobson-Marshall

Seattle Seahawks-Richard Sherman-CB-Stanford (154th Overall in 2011)

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There are a LOT of candidates for this spot, such as Russell Wilson and Kam Chancellor, but Sherman’s getting the nod here. Sherman has been arguably the game’s best corner and he’s become the prototype for big-bodied corners in today’s game.

Players picked ahead of him: Ras-I Dowling-Virginia, Brandon Harris-Miami (FL), DeMarcus Van Dyke-Miami (FL), Johnny Patrick-Louisville, Curtis Marsh-Utah State, Chimdi Chekwa-Ohio State, Jalil Brown-Colorado, Roc Carmichael-Virginia Tech, Robert Sands-West Virginia, Brandon Burton-Southern Utah, Rod Issac-Middle Tennessee State

Dallas Cowboys-Jason Witten-TE-Tennessee (69th Overall in 2003)

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Another guy that went 69th overall. I swear I’m not doing this on purpose. But Witten is the Cowboys’ all-time leading receiver despite being a tight end and he’s still going strong 15 years later. A first ballot Hall of Famer if ever there was one.

Players picked ahead of him: Bennie Joppru-Michigan, LJ Smith-Rutgers, Teyo Johnson-Stanford

Detroit Lions-Cliff Avril-EDGE-Purdue (92nd Overall in 2008)

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This one might be a bit of a stretch because Avril’s best years are probably as a Seahawk, but he was playing very well with the Lions even before getting picked up by Seattle. This easily could’ve been DeAndre Levy as well but Avril was more consistent than Levy was.

Players picked ahead of him: Vernon Gholston-Ohio State, Derrick Harvey-Florida, Lawrence Jackson-USC, Phillip Merling-Clemson, Quentin Groves-Auburn, Chris Ellis-Virginia Tech

Kansas City Chiefs-Jamaal Charles-RB-Texas (73rd Overall in 2008)

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Tyreek Hill was also considered here, but Charles wins out. Owner of the best career yards-per-carry of all time, Charles has been the most electrifying runningback in the game despite having been a third round pick.

Players picked ahead of him: Felix Jones-Arkansas, Kevin Smith-Central Florida

Cincinnati Bengals-Geno Atkins-DL-Georgia (120th Overall in 2010)

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Atkins has been one of the most dominant interior defenders since he came into the league despite being considered undersized coming out of college. Despite the fact he just turned 30, he’s shown no signs of slowing down.

Players picked ahead of him: Brian Price-UCLA, Torell Troup-Central Florida, Terrence Cody-Alabama, D’Anthony Smith-Louisiana Tech

Los Angeles Rams-Richie Incognito-OG-Oregon (81st Overall in 2005)

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Despite some apparent attitude concerns, Incognito has been one of the best guards in the league. He just retired a couple weeks ago. Incognito was a driving force on the offensive lines of the Rams, Dolphins, and Bills. This might’ve been a stretch because Incognito’s best years were probably in Buffalo, but there weren’t a ton of options to choose from for the Rams.

Players picked ahead of him: Marcus Johnson-Ole Miss

Carolina Panthers-Steve Smith-WR-Utah (74th Overall in 2001)

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Josh Norman and Charles Johnson were considered here, but Steve Smith was the face of the Panthers when he was there. Smith was able to show that his diminutive stature didn’t matter, as his leaping ability more than made up for it. He was also one of the game’s best trash talkers and he will surely be inducted into the Hall of Fame when he’s eligible.

Players picked ahead of him: David Terrell-Michigan, Koren Robinson-North Carolina State, Freddie Mitchell-UCLA, Quincy Morgan-Kansas State, Robert Ferguson-Texas A&M

Tennessee Titans-Jurrell Casey-DL-USC (77th Overall in 2011)

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People are just now starting to appreciate just how good Casey is and has been for the Titans. He’s one of the best interior defensive linemen in the game and he wreaks tons of havoc in opposing backfields.

Players picked ahead of him: Phil Taylor-Baylor, Jarvis Jenkins-Clemson, Marvin Austin-North Carolina, Terrell McClain-South Florida

Atlanta Falcons-Devonta Freeman-RB-Florida State (103rd Overall in 2014)

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Freeman broke out in his second season with the Falcons and is one of the quickest backs in the game. He and fellow draft steal Tevin Coleman form arguably the deadliest runningback 1-2 punch in the NFL. Freeman’s getting the nod over Coleman because Freeman went a round later and typically gets more touches.

Players picked ahead of him: Bishop Sankey-Washington, Tre Mason-Auburn

New Orleans Saints-Marques Colston-WR-Hofstra (252nd Overall in 2006)

at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome on November 1, 2015 in New Orleans, Louisiana.

The Saints’ all-time leading receiver was drafted 4th-to-last out of a school that doesn’t even have football anymore. Had Colston played one more season, he likely would’ve joined the exclusive 10,000 yards club (he’s 241 yards away).

Players picked ahead of him: Too many to list. 28 receivers were picked before him, only about 3 or 4 of them ended up being really good.

Pittsburgh Steelers-Antonio Brown-WR-Central Michigan (195th Overall in 2010)

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What more can you say about Antonio Brown? Not a lot of people realize that the best wide receiver in the game today was drafted around the same spot as Tom Brady, just ten years later. 194 players went before a guy who makes extraordinary catches like it’s nothing.

Players picked ahead of him: Arrelious Benn-Illinois, Damian Williams-USC, Jordan Shipley-Texas, Armanti Edwards-Appalachian State, Taylor Price-Ohio, Mardy Gilyard-Cincinnati, Marcus Easley-UConn, Jacoby Ford-Clemson, David Reed-Utah, Kerry Meier-Kansas, Carlton Mitchell-South Florida, Dezmon Briscoe-Kansas

Jacksonville Jaguars-Telvin Smith-LB-Florida State (144th Overall in 2014)

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Smith has been one of the league’s very best for a while now even though he didn’t start getting the recognition he deserved until the Jaguars broke out in 2017. Smith is a sideline-to-sideline tackler and is amongst the most athletic linebackers in the game.

Players picked ahead of him: Carl Bradford-Arizona State, Khairi Fortt-California, Prince Shembo-Notre Dame

Minnesota Vikings-Everson Griffen-EDGE-USC (100th Overall in 2010)

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It took Griffen a couple of years to really get going, but now that he has he’s become the best pass rusher on arguably the league’s best defense. Stefon Diggs was also considered but I feel that Griffen is more valuable to the Vikings right now than Diggs is.

Players picked ahead of him: Alex Carrington-Arkansas State, Daniel Te’o-Nesheim-Washington

New England Patriots-Tom Brady-QB-Michigan (199th Overall in 2000)

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Biggest draft steal of all time. I’m not going to insult your intelligence by trying to defend this pick any further than that.

Players picked ahead of him: Giovanni Carmazzi-Hofstra, Chris Redman-Louisville, Tee Martin-Tennessee, Spurgon Wynn-Texas State

Philadelphia Eagles-Trent Cole-EDGE-Cincinnati (146th Overall in 2005)

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Cole was the premiere pass rusher for the Eagles for nearly a decade and for a while was the most dangerous player they had. Brian Westbrook was also considered here, but Cole’s lengthy run near the top of the pass-rushing charts gets him over the top.

Players picked ahead of him: everyone ahead of Justin Tuck as well as Vincent Burns-Kentucky, Chauncey Davis-Florida State, David McMillan-Kansas

I hope this blog was your friendly reminder that just because a guy was picked late doesn’t mean he doesn’t matter. Often times these are the guys that change franchises. So don’t sleep on Day 3 of the NFL Draft. You never know when your team picks a Tom Brady. Let me know what you think of these draft steals in the comments section below or on Facebook or Twitter @jimwyman10.

The Wonderlic Test: Football’s Most Puzzling Test of Players

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The Wonderlic Test is something that the NFL has potential Draft prospects take in order to test their intelligence. We often hear about leaked scores and which players performed well and which didn’t. The test is 50 questions and you have 12 minutes to complete it. Well, I took a sample Wonderlic while I was taking a break from writing my papers and guess what?

I’m in the 97th percentile among NFL prospects. Put me in coach!

I got a 38 on the Wonderlic, which actually ranks pretty well. Only one prospect has ever scored a perfect 50 on it, that being former Harvard punter Pat McInally back in the 70’s. McInally was a 5th round pick by the Bengals in the 1975 NFL Draft and went on to be their punter for a decade. The worst was former LSU corner Morris Claiborne and former Iowa State running back Darren Davis, both of whom scored a 4. Davis went undrafted and ended up playing in the CFL while Claiborne was made the 6th overall pick in the 2012 NFL Draft by the Dallas Cowboys. Claiborne was overall a bust with Dallas but he started showing some signs of being a solid corner upon joining the Jets. Here are some notable players who did really well on the Wonderlic.

Ryan Fitzpatrick-48

Ben Watson-48

Eric Decker-43

Blaine Gabbert-42

Calvin Johnson-41

Carson Wentz-40

Here are some guys who compared with me. Mind you, my score was a 38.

Eli Manning-39

Matthew Stafford-38

Colin Kapernick-38

Andrew Luck-37 (Yes, I scored higher than the supposed “genius” Andrew Luck)

Josh Allen-37

Tony Romo-37

Joey Bosa-37

Jared Goff-37

Drew Bledsoe-36

Sam Bradford-36

Aaron Rodgers-35

Jonathan Ogden-35

Tom Brady-33

And here are some guys who did really poorly.

Morris Claiborne-4

Frank Gore-6

Vince Young-6

Kelvin Benjamin-7

Terrelle Pryor-7

Bobby Wagner-8

AJ Green-10

Darrelle Revis-10

Leonard Fournette-11

Keyshawn Johnson-11

Jamal Adams-11

The best Wonderlic score in this year’s Draft class that has been leaked is Josh Allen’s 37. Another thing for draft pundits to gush over. The worst? Lamar Jackson’s 13. Granted, hardly anybody in the recent classes have been leaked, so it’s probable that there are better and worse scores. But having taken the test myself and seen what others have scored, what do I think of the Wonderlic?

I think it’s a poor method of projecting success in the league. Typically quarterbacks do really well on it but even that can’t project who is going to be particularly good. Ryan Fitzpatrick got a 48 and he’s just a quality backup. Blaine Gabbert scored a 41 and he was awful as a starter. Donovan McNabb scored a 14 and he’s one of the greatest quarterbacks the Eagles have ever had and was one of the best of the 2000’s. Terry Bradshaw scored a 15 and he’s a 4-time Super Bowl champion and a Hall of Famer. Yet there are other quarterbacks who did pretty well at it, like Eli Manning’s 39 and Carson Wentz’s 40 that went on to have successful careers. A lot of the questions are word associations or recognizing patterns in sequences. Hell, I couldn’t even finish mine (my last two answers were not recorded because I ran out of time) because of the 12-minute time limit. There are also plenty of players who did poorly on the Wonderlic and had great careers. Frank Gore had one of the worst Wonderlics of all time (6) and he’s the 49ers all-time leading rusher and a future Hall of Famer. Bobby Wagner is arguably the best linebacker in the game today and he scored an 8. AJ Green is one of the best receivers in the game and he got a 10.

My point is, Draft analysts really shouldn’t take any stock into how a player does on the Wonderlic because it really doesn’t do a good job of projecting who’s going to be good. In fact, I’m not even sure why it’s even administered because none of the questions I answered had anything to do with football.

So I’m going to post two links. The first link is to the Wonderlic Test that I took. Granted it’s a sample but the questions are supposedly very similar to what the players have to take. There also may have been some improper coding done because a couple of questions I answered were repeats. The other link I’m posting is to a list of players and their Wonderlic scores so you can see how you did compared to some notable NFL players.

https://samplewonderlictest.com/

http://wonderlictestsample.com/nfl-wonderlic-scores/

So that’s going to do it for today’s blog. Let me know what you think of the Wonderlic in the comments section below or on Facebook or Twitter @jimwyman10. Also be sure to let me know how you did!

 

Super Bowl LII Recap

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The Philadelphia Eagles defeated the New England Patriots 41-33. Nick Foles was Super Bowl MVP after a very entertaining game in perhaps the greatest shootout in postseason history as records galore were set in this game. I have a few thoughts, though keep in mind, I’m a very emotional Patriots fan so forgive me if I get a little intense.

-I’ve got to write stuff for the winners first. The Philadelphia Eagles were the better team and Doug Pederson wore his big boy pants. He seemingly made every single correct call imaginable. That play call shortly before the half that everybody is raving over was nothing short of ballsy.

Who cares that it was an illegal formation that didn’t get called (only 6 men were on the line of scrimmage, need to have 7)? That’s what it takes to beat the Patriots.

-Have to give a ton of credit to Super Bowl MVP Nick Foles. He played the game of his life. He went 28-43 with 373 yards, 3 TD’s and 1 pick that wasn’t really his fault. It was more Alshon Jeffery trying to make a one-handed grab that snuck out of his grasp and into the waiting arms of Duron Harmon. Now the question is what becomes of him because he certainly can’t be their backup after what he did this postseason. They’re either going to have to trade him or trade Carson Wentz so that he can start. Either way, they’re getting a huge haul.

-Corey Clement was a surprise star for the Eagles in this game. Now yes, the undrafted rookie out of Wisconsin was having a nice season leading up to this game, but he had 4 catches for 100 yards, including this questionable touchdown.

He was bobbling it as he was going out. Based on the way the game gets officiated nowadays, that should’ve been an incompletion. That’s 2 TD’s by the Eagles that the officials botched, the first coming on a 4th down play on an illegal formation, the other coming on third, which essentially put 8 points on the board that shouldn’t have been there. And I hate to be that salty asshole, but look at the score differential.

-Zach Ertz’s touchdown was about as clear as day and the fact that we went through so much trouble debating whether or not it was a catch is everything that’s wrong with the catch rule today. How could this possibly be misconstrued as not being a catch, he took about four steps after gaining possession before he dove into the endzone.

-The play of the game though was the strip sack by Brandon Graham. Both offensive lines played out of their minds in this one and Shaq Mason honestly didn’t do a bad job on Graham here. It’s Graham making that extra effort to stick his arm out there and he managed to get the football in a play that a lot of people are calling a reverse of fortunes to what happened with the Tuck Rule 16 years ago and quite frankly, it’s hard to argue with them.

-The fact that the Patriots still had a chance after that play is just amazing to me. For a moment, when Brady chucked this Hail Mary, I thought it might find a Patriots player’s hands. But alas, the ball hit the turf and I was stunned to see that the clock had hit zero. That play did not feel like it lasted 9 seconds.

-The Eagles are fortunate that they were able to make the plays they did because they needed literally every single one of them to beat Tom Brady, the way he was playing. 28-48, an NFL playoff record 505 yards and 3 TD’s. The great ones don’t lose, they just run out of time and that seems to be what happened in this game with Brady. Father Time is not a factor to the 40 year-old Tom Brady and neither really is the Madden Curse because it wasn’t Brady that lost the game, it was the defense. The NFL MVP curse is alive and well, though. Since 2001, the NFL MVP has played in the Super Bowl the same year 9 times (Kurt Warner 2001, Rich Gannon 2002, Shaun Alexander 2005, Tom Brady 2007, Peyton Manning 2009, Peyton Manning 2013, Cam Newton 2015, Matt Ryan 2016, Tom Brady 2017). They all lost. In fact, the NFL MVP has not won the Super Bowl in the same year since Kurt Warner in 1999.

-Epic rant coming. I’m not going to sit here and say I know more about personnel strategies than Bill Belichick because I obviously don’t. This is more just coming off what I see on the surface. But what the fuck was so bad about Malcolm Butler that he didn’t see a single defensive snap?!?! Now from what I know as of this writing, Butler wasn’t benched for disciplinary reasons, rather it was performance-based. Now yes, Butler was having a down season overall, but you’re going to bench him now? Or was his two weeks of practice leading up to the Super Bowl just so bad that he wasn’t worth playing? Because I can’t imagine that Johnson Bademosi was a better option to have in the critical stretches of the game. The way quick guys like Nelson Agholor and Corey Clement were burning Rowe and Bademosi all game, don’t you think a guy who can run like Butler would be a solid replacement? Again, I’m not Belichick and I’m not an insider with the Patriots. But this just seems like a horrible oversight, especially considering how poor all the corners not named Stephon Gilmore played all game. This basically guarantees Butler won’t be returning to the Patriots next season. He’s quoted as saying “they gave up on me,” after the game. No chance does he return, even if he does get franchise tagged.

-I just got an update on my phone that says Rob Gronkowski won’t commit to playing next season. As if I needed more of this shit piled on. If he does retire, he will be in the discussion for greatest tight end of all time. He vanished in the first half but was terrific in the second, including these two touchdowns.

Overall, Gronk finished with 9 catches for 116 yards and 2 TD’s in the big game after only having 1 catch for 9 yards at the half.

-We also got amazing games out of both Danny Amendola and Chris Hogan. Amendola continued his playoff mastery with 8 catches for 152 yards while Hogan recorded 6 catches for 128 yards and this TD grab.

-Losing Brandin Cooks early in the second quarter was a huge blow to the Patriots offense as they lost a guy who could really stretch the field. You saw how well Brady threw the ball all game, imagine if he had Cooks as well. Here’s the hit from Malcolm Jenkins, which would’ve definitely been targeting and an ejection if this were college.

-Special teams for both sides got off to an ugly start. Al Michaels did note that apparently there were some complaints about the paint job on the Super Bowl LII logo, which was located right where the kickers had to kick. Perhaps it was too slippery? Whatever the case, Jake Elliott and Stephen Gostkowski both missed extra points while Gostkowski also missed a field goal, as not great snaps played a factor for both. Also, that end-around try on the kickoff return on the Patriots final drive was fucking stupid. Don’t get cute, that’s the quickest way to lose games. If you’re going to do that, it had better work otherwise you’re going to look as stupid as the Patriots did on that play.

-Alshon Jeffery dominated Eric Rowe for the first quarter or so of the game including this beautiful touchdown grab in the first quarter.

You can’t teach that. Jeffery just used his size to bully Rowe and Foles put the ball in the absolutely most perfect spot possible. The caption the NFL’s twitter page put on this pretty much sums it up. However once the Patriots made the switch that I felt like they should have done from the very beginning by putting the bigger Stephon Gilmore on him, he was shut down.

-The Eagles’ clock management was also tremendous. They killed over 6 minutes on their opening drive, telling the world what type of game this was going to be, then killing about 7 minutes on the drive for the game-winning score. It just seemed like the Eagles had an answer for everything the Patriots tried defensively.

-I thought Pink gave a tremendous performance in the National Anthem and it’s made significantly more impressive by the fact that she currently has the flu. Michael Jordan has his flu game, Pink now has hers.

-Not sure which commercial was my favorite, there were some pretty good ones. I particularly liked the Danny DeVito M&M’s commercial because any day I can see him on my screen is a good day, regardless of what’s in store for my Patriots. The Giants Dirty Dancing commercial was also cute. I also saw teasers for the Han Solo spinoff and Jurassic World 2. Both are probably going to suck but I’m going to see them at least twice in theaters anyway because both franchises have me by the balls.

That’s going to do it for my recap of what was really an excellent football game that did not go the way I had hoped it would. But such is life. The Patriots have been playing with fire with all these close Super Bowls, it was only a matter of time before they got burned. Let me know what you thought of the game in the comments section below or on Facebook or Twitter @jimwyman10. It’s baseball season now, bitches.

Super Bowl LII Preview

So it’s all come down to this. Super Bowl Sunday. The Eagles and Patriots took very different routes to get to this point. The Eagles were running roughshod over the league before losing their potential MVP quarterback in Carson Wentz to an ACL tear. He gets replaced by Nick Foles, who had been inconsistent up until the NFC Championship game, where he absolutely lit up the NFL’s #1 defense in the Vikings. Meanwhile the Patriots got off to a rough start and everybody wondered if this was the beginning of the end of their dynasty. Then they remembered they were the Patriots and proceeded to collect win after win en route to another AFC Championship game appearance, where they had to overcome a 10-point 4th quarter deficit to defeat the upstart Jaguars. So lets do what I always do with championship games and go position-by-position to see which team has the advantage.

Quarterback

Patriots: Tom Brady, Brian Hoyer

Eagles: Nick Foles, Nate Sudfeld

Advantage: Patriots

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Was there really ever any doubt? Tom Brady is the greatest quarterback of all time whether he has protective bandages over his throwing hand or not. While Nick Foles played extremely well in the NFC Championship game, he’s too inconsistent for me to really give him a chance here. And as much as I love Nate Sudfeld, him being the previous Indiana quarterback, he can’t hold a candle to Brian Hoyer. Hoyer was the 49ers starting quarterback to start the season and how many guys can say they have a winning record as a starter for the reborn Browns? Just Hoyer. So this was a pretty easy choice here.

Runningback

Patriots: Dion Lewis, James White, Rex Burkhead, Mike Gillislee, Brandon Bolden

Eagles: Jay Ajayi, LeGarrette Blount, Corey Clement, Kenjon Barner

Advantage: Patriots

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While I do think that the Eagles runningbacks are better rushers, the Patriots runningbacks are far more dynamic and versatile. Ajayi and Blount are good running the football, but they have bricks for hands out of the backfield. They usually have Clement receiving the passes. Lewis, White, and Burkhead are all not only good rushers, but they’re good receiving out of the backfield as well, which is why they’re getting the nod over the Eagles backs.

Wide Receiver/Tight End

Patriots: Brandin Cooks, Chris Hogan, Danny Amendola, Rob Gronkowski, Dwayne Allen, Jacob Hollister

Eagles: Alshon Jeffery, Nelson Agholor, Torrey Smith, Mack Hollins, Zach Ertz, Brent Celek, Trey Burton

Advantage: Patriots

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A healthy Julian Edelman would’ve made this an easy choice, but alas, we take what we get. This is probably one of the most balanced receiving groups the Patriots have had since the Moss-Welker days as they have a speedster who can take the top off (Cooks), possession receivers that can move the chains (Hogan and Amendola) and a huge red zone threat (Gronkowski). The Eagles have a similar group of guys (Agholor moving the chains, Smith the speedster, Jeffery the huge red zone threat), but I think the Patriots have utilized them most effectively this season.

Offensive Line

Patriots: Nate Solder, Joe Thuney, David Andrews, Shaq Mason, La’Adrian Waddle, Cameron Fleming

Eagles: Hal Vatai, Stefen Wisniewski, Isaac Seumalo, Jason Kelce, Brandon Brooks, Lane Johnson

Advantage: Eagles

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Finally, the Eagles are on the board here and it’s thanks in large part to probably the best right side of an offensive line I think I’ve ever seen. You can make an argument for all three of Kelce, Brooks, and Johnson being the best at their respective spots on the offensive line in the entire NFL. While the Patriots’ O-line is solid, they don’t have nearly enough talent to contend with the Eagles. And imagine if Jason Peters were healthy on the left side. Vatai is the weakest link on either of these offensive lines, but his teammates are so good they make up for his shortcomings.

Defensive Line

Patriots: Trey Flowers, Malcom Brown, Adam Butler, Alan Branch, Deatrich Wise, Lawrence Guy, Ricky Jean Francois, Eric Lee

Eagles: Brandon Graham, Fletcher Cox, Timmy Jernigan, Beau Allen, Derek Barnett, Chris Long, Vinny Curry

Advantage: Eagles

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There’s just too much talent on this Eagles defensive front. In fact, I think Fletcher Cox and Timmy Jernigan, the starting DT’s, are going to be the most critical pieces if the Eagles hope to beat the Patriots. Brady does pretty well when there’s pressure coming from the tackles but he’s like a deer in the headlights when there’s pressure coming up the middle. Cox and Jernigan are one of the best DT duos in the NFL and they’re going to need to get lots of pressure to stifle Brady. For the Patriots, their defensive line is a patch-up job as they lost a lot of their guys to either free agency in the offseason or to injury and it’s resulted in them being possibly the weakest unit on this team.

Linebacker

Patriots: Kyle Van Noy, James Harrison, Elandon Roberts, Marquis Flowers, David Harris

Eagles: Mychal Kendricks, Nigel Bradham, Najee Goode, Dannell Ellerbe, Kamu Grugier-Hill

Advantage: Eagles

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This was probably the closest one to choose from and I debated calling this a tie. But I hate ties so I decided to go with the pure talent aspect and that’s where the Eagles won out. Both teams lost their star middle linebackers midway through the seasons (Dont’a Hightower for the Patriots, Jordan Hicks for the Eagles) and they’ve both been trying to get by with the pieces they have. While Van Noy is having a career year, the talent around him in Elandon Roberts and a 39 year-old James Harrison doesn’t quite stack up to what the Eagles have in Mychal Kendricks and Nigel Bradham.

Secondary

Patriots: Malcolm Butler, Stephon Gilmore, Eric Rowe, Jonathan Jones, Devin McCourty, Patrick Chung, Duron Harmon, Johnson Bademosi, Brandon King, Jordan Richards

Eagles: Ronald Darby, Jalen Mills, Patrick Robinson, Rasul Douglas, Malcolm Jenkins, Corey Graham, Rodney McLeod

Advantage: Patriots

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It was a tale of two halves of the season for the Patriots’ secondary and no better was it personified than in the play of Stephon Gilmore. Gilmore looked lost in Matt Patricia’s system his first few weeks, as he would blow coverage after coverage while the Patriots would get lit up by quarterbacks that probably shouldn’t be doing so. He suffered a concussion midway through the year and after he returned, he’s been his old Pro Bowl-caliber self, locking down any receiver that he’s matched up on. Eric Rowe has also been a bright spot in this secondary as well and it’s interesting to note that the Patriots acquired him from the Eagles in a trade a couple years ago after a poor showing to start his career in Philly. For the Eagles, their secondary is considered their weak spot as their cornerbacks in particular have been very inconsistent this season.

Specialists

Patriots: Stephen Gostkowski, Ryan Allen, Joe Cardona, Dion Lewis, Danny Amendola, Matthew Slater, Brandon Bolden

Eagles: Jake Elliott, Donnie Jones, Nelson Agholor, Rick Lovato, Kenjon Barner

Advantage: Eagles

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I’d probably give this a tie to the kickers and punters, as both units for both teams have been very solid this season. The thing that puts the Eagles over the top is Kenjon Barner as their return man. While he isn’t Devin Hester by any means, Barner would definitely be an upgrade over Lewis and Amendola as returners.

Coaching

Patriots: Bill Belichick, Josh McDaniels, Matt Patricia

Eagles: Doug Pederson, Frank Reich, Jim Schwartz

Advantage: Patriots

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Got to go with the Patriots here for obvious reasons. While it can’t be overstated the job that Pederson and company have done with this Eagles team, it’s Bill Belichick for Christ’s sake. Plus, he’s got two head coaches serving as his coordinators in McDaniels and Patricia, who will be taking over the Colts and Lions respectively after this game ends.

Scoreboard: Patriots 5, Eagles 4

No need to even watch the game now, congratulations to the Patriots on their sixth Super Bowl victory. As a Pats fan, I pray I don’t regret that sentence. This will be my third championship prediction segment, first time around I picked the Dodgers to win the World Series (I was wrong) then I picked Alabama to win the CFP National Championship (I was right). So really there isn’t anything to suggest how this is going to go based on my picks. Let me know who you think is going to win the Super Bowl in the comments section below or on Facebook or Twitter @jimwyman10.

Conference Championship Picks

So it’s come down to this. The final 4 teams left with a shot at Super Bowl LII on the line. The New England Patriots, Jacksonville Jaguars, Philadelphia Eagles, and Minnesota Vikings are the only teams left standing after a grueling NFL season. It’s also possibly the most interesting group of quarterbacks remaining as well, as it’s down to Tom Brady, Blake Bortles, Nick Foles, and Case Keenum. One is the greatest of all time, one is basically a meme at this point in his career, and the other two were backup quarterbacks when the season started. So let’s see who I think will go to the Super Bowl. One quick thing to note if you’re a gambling man. I’m 2-6 in the postseason so far. I’ve gone 1-3 in each round, including being winless in all of my NFC picks (the only ones I’ve hit were Jags-Bills and Pats-Titans). So take what I say with a grain of salt.

Jacksonville Jaguars (10-6) vs New England Patriots (13-3)

The Jaguars showed up to play in the AFC Divisional Round against the Steelers while Pittsburgh was thinking about New England. In fact, there has been so much dysfunction in that organization that one has to wonder if Mike Tomlin’s job is safe or not. But that’s for another blog entirely. But the Jaguars have had an incredible turnaround after having gone 3-13 last season. Doug Marrone has done a terrific job in his first year at the helm in Jacksonville and the biggest part of that resurgence has been the defense. Despite the fact that they gave up 42 points last week, I still thought the Jaguars defense played well. On all four of Ben Roethlisberger’s touchdown throws, he had to squeeze the ball into the tightest of windows or drop a perfect deep ball right into his receiver’s lap. The one rushing touchdown was a weird lateral play to Le’Veon Bell that I think would’ve caught most defenses off guard anyway. Plus, Yannick Ngakoue’s strip sack of Roethlisberger resulting in a Telvin Smith scoop-and-score was the point of no return in my opinion, especially considering Pittsburgh had been gaining some momentum. Meanwhile the Patriots started off slowly against the Titans, trailing 7-0 after the first quarter and their offense looked pretty stagnant. Then Tom Brady remembered that it was the Titans and the offense got their act together and dropped 35 unanswered en route to a 35-14 win. The defense played great, particularly the pass rush, which hasn’t been a strong suit for New England. They registered 8 sacks, bullying Jack Conklin’s injury replacement seemingly the moment he stepped into the game. The Patriots open this game as double-digit favorites, however things aren’t going as smoothly as one might expect. Tom Brady is dealing with a bum right hand after a teammate (which we just found out was Rex Burkhead) ran into it and created a lot of pain for the 5-time champ. The fact that it was Burkhead that caused the injury tells me that perhaps it occurred on a botched handoff in practice rather than some defender not respecting the red jersey. Jacksonville’s defense is a scary one to face when you aren’t 100% but if anybody can do it, it’s Tom Brady. However it does level the playing field a bit, as before it was unthinkable to ask Blake Bortles to defeat Tom Brady, but now that Brady isn’t at his best, it seems to be a more realistic belief for the Jaguars to reach the franchise’s first ever Super Bowl. I’m anticipating a lot of dinks and dunks from New England, particularly to runningbacks such as Burkhead and James White, whom I think will be the X factors in this game. I’ve got New England winning it just simply because I don’t think that Jacksonville will be able to score enough points to top the Patriots, who will be headed to the Super Bowl for the third time in 4 years and 8th time overall under the Brady-Belichick regime.

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Projected Score: Patriots 23 Jaguars 17

Minnesota Vikings (13-3) vs Philadelphia Eagles (13-3)

The ending of the NFC Divisional Round between the Vikings and Saints was probably the craziest ending I’ve ever seen in a football game. While I was watching it and saw Case Keenum heave the ball toward the sideline, I immediately figured Stefon Diggs would go for a toe-tapper to stop the clock with about 3 seconds left. He turned upfield and I thought to myself “what the Hell are you doing?!” until I realized there was only green grass ahead of him after Saints rookie safety Marcus Williams whiffed on the hit. Diggs scored the walkoff touchdown as time expired and perhaps the greatest moment in Vikings history (so far) had been cemented. One thing to say before I get to this matchup: lay off of Marcus Williams. That could’ve been anybody. It looked to me like he was trying to balance a lot of things with that tackle attempt. First of all, no, he was not going for the knockout hit like an idiot. Anybody watching could see that. He also had to make sure he didn’t get there too early or else it would be pass interference, the ball would be placed at the spot of the foul, which was well within Vikings kicker Kai Forbath’s range, and the clock would’ve stopped and he’d still be the pariah. Plus, he wanted to make sure that he tackled Diggs in bounds so that the clock would tick down to zero since the Vikings had no timeouts left to stop it. However, all those things racing through his mind appeared to throw him off his game because it amounted to nothing as he missed the tackle and Diggs trotted into the endzone, ending New Orleans’ season. Now onto the matchup itself, the Vikings will look to host the Super Bowl with a victory over the Eagles after a pretty unlikely season. After Sam Bradford torched the Saints in Week 1, it looked like it would be him that would lead the Vikings charge. However he got injured in practice, forcing Case Keenum into the starting lineup. Keenum has pretty much entered journeyman status at this point in the league, getting opportunities in both Houston with the Texans and St. Louis/Los Angeles with the Rams before being forced out of both. He was seemingly on his last legs in Minnesota and likely would’ve been the third string quarterback there had Teddy Bridgewater not still been recovering from a gruesome ACL injury a year prior. But there he was in the starting lineup and he played great, throwing for 3547 yards, 22 TD’s and only 7 INT’s with a quarterback rating of 98.3. There was a brief moment where the Vikings tried to reinsert Bradford into the starting lineup, but Bradford clearly wasn’t ready and Keenum was able to save the game by beating the Bears. They face an Eagles team who is also on their backup quarterback in Nick Foles. Carson Wentz had been fantastic all year for the Eagles heading into their Week 14 matchup with the Los Angeles Rams. He was arguably the frontrunner for NFL MVP and had the Eagles at 10-2. Then he tore his ACL diving for the goalline and Nick Foles had to be inserted into the lineup. It had been a mixed bag for Foles as Eagles starter. He played well in the Eagles’ comeback victory over the Giants in his first start, was unimpressive in their Week 16 win over the Raiders, and downright sucked in Week 17 against the Cowboys before being sat for Nate Sudfeld. Eagles fans were a little tense about how Foles would play in the Divisional Round against the defending NFC champion Falcons and their fears were not consoled very well when he threw a duck on his first pass that got knocked down by the wind. Foles recovered nicely, though, and finished the game with a solid line of 23-30 for 246 yards with no TD’s and no turnovers. The Eagles were able to come away with a 15-10 victory over the Falcons after some poor playcalling by Atlanta doomed them on the final drive. Both the Eagles and Vikings feature very impressive defenses that helped carry the team through their occasional offensive struggles and I expect a low-scoring affair in this one. However I do believe that the Vikings will prevail in this and will take on the Patriots in Super Bowl LII in their home stadium.

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Projected Score: Vikings 20 Eagles 14

That’s going to do it for my Conference Championship picks. I’m predicting it will be Patriots-Vikings for the Lombardi Trophy. Let me know what you think of my picks in the comments section below or on Facebook or Twitter @jimwyman10 and contribute to my Patreon.

Is There Legitimate Concern Over Tom Brady’s Right Hand?

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It was recently reported that Patriots quarterback Tom Brady’s hand was run into by a teammate during Patriots practice and he had to undergo an MRI. As of now, the player responsible for hitting Brady’s hand is unknown, likely for his own safety. According to reports, Brady should be fine and ready to go for Sunday’s AFC Championship Game against the Jacksonville Jaguars but that hasn’t stopped the media from firing in articles suggesting the Patriots should panic. Now to be clear. The hand in question is his throwing hand and could be catastrophic for the Patriots if he is indeed unable to go because he is unable to throw a football. But his teammates seem to not be all that worried. In interviews carried out by NESN, when asked about how Brady looks, safety Devin McCourty stated that “Tom looks excellent every day. One of the best-looking people I’ve ever met. When you look at Tom, the facial region, it’s hard to look at anything else. So I really only saw his face.”

Linebacker Kyle Van Noy added “Tom always looks good. He’s handsome and he’s good at football.”

So with McCourty and Van Noy both echoing the sentiments of every single New Englander, it appears that Brady will be fine. But what if he’s not?

Well knowing Brady, I’m willing to bet that you’d have to carry him out in a coffin for him to miss this game. But Jacksonville is the worst defense to face when you’re not at 100%. They’re fast, they’re physical, and they can wreck any gameplan you set up against them. Sure, the Steelers did drop 42 points on them in the Divisional Round and Jimmy Garoppolo’s 49ers managed to drop 44. But watch where each quarterback is placing his passes in both games. Those were VERY small holes that they were fitting their passes into. Watching those games, it seemed to me that it was more Roethlisberger and Garoppolo throwing the ball extremely well rather than poor defense by the Jaguars. And how will this hand injury affect Brady’s ability to put the ball where he wants it? I’m really not sure if he’ll be able to. Unless he tells his brain to not feel the pain in his right hand like the TB12 Method would suggest. If anyone can do it, Brady can, though.

But if he does struggle and the Jaguars start bashing him around, I wouldn’t put it past Bill Belichick to sit Brady in favor of a totally healthy Brian Hoyer. Belichick’s known to be the type of guy who doesn’t care what your name is, he wants the best 11 for each situation on the field at all times. If Brady isn’t at his best and Belichick feels Hoyer might be better, he typically doesn’t hesitate to pull the trigger. Kinda like what Nick Saban did with Jalen Hurts and Tua in the National Championship.

There’s no doubt in my mind Brady plays this game with the hand injury. It’s just a matter of if he finishes it. Though if he doesn’t play, the final four quarterbacks remaining in the playoffs will be Nick Foles, Case Keenum, Blake Bortles, and Brian Hoyer. My God, one of those men has to win a Super Bowl.

That’s going to do it for this blog. Yes, I know it was a short one, but I’m really digging for topics at this point and I already took a day off a couple days ago and I’d like to avoid multiple days off in a week if I can help it. You can voice your fears about Brady’s hand in the comments section below or on Facebook or Twitter @jimwyman10 and contribute to my Patreon.