NFL Picks: Week 1

Last Season: 144-81

After a slow start, I thought I recovered nicely last season to come up with a pretty solid season winning percentage. And now I can use PFF stats. So yeah, since nobody donated to my Patreon (except one, thanks Dad), I couldn’t pay for a PFF account to better analyze these picks, so I just went and got a job with them. Go figure. But anyway, picks are back and I’m off to a slow start, as I picked the Falcons to beat the Eagles on Thursday night, which didn’t happen so let’s hope this goes better.

Pittsburgh Steelers vs Cleveland Browns

This season of Hard Knocks may have been the best ever. It was funny, interesting, and eye-opening. It really makes me root for this Cleveland Browns team. However it also showed me another thing: Hue Jackson is a shitty head coach (great guy, though, would not mind having a beer with him). That coaches meeting from the first episode was all I needed to see to know why the Browns are 1-31 under Jackson. So despite the fact that the Steelers won’t have Le’Veon Bell, I still think they beat the Browns, though the influx of talent will make this a close game.

Projected Score: Steelers 31 Browns 24

Cincinnati Bengals vs Indianapolis Colts

San Francisco 49ers v Indianapolis Colts

Frank Reich’s debut as an NFL head coach comes at a perfect time as Andrew Luck is back from a shoulder injury that many believed could derail his career. We have yet to see whether that holds true, but Colts quarterbacks (Jacoby Brissett and Scott Tolzien) carried the 6th worst PFF grade in his absence. In 2016, the last time we saw Luck, Colts passers carried the 4th best PFF grade. So Luck makes a huge difference. It’ll be a challenge against the Bengals, who I think will quietly have one of the NFL’s best defenses. It’ll be interesting to see how Andrew Luck is protected against that vaunted defensive line. I think the Bengals come away with this one.

Projected Score: Bengals 24 Colts 17

Tennessee Titans vs Miami Dolphins

Another head coaching debut, Mike Vrabel now has the reins of the Titans and will begin his tenure in South Beach against the Dolphins. A lot has been made of the Titans trying to become the Patriots 2.0 by acquiring all their old players (Logan Ryan, Dion Lewis, Malcolm Butler, even Vrabel himself played 8 years there), but obviously they’re not going to replicate the same results. Marcus Mariota had a weird season last year, as he appeared to struggle with 13 touchdowns and 15 picks, but PFF actually graded him pretty well at 76.2 (for comparison, Kirk Cousins was a 70.0 and Cam Newton was 66.5). I think they get the win against the Dolphins, who are returning Ryan Tannehill but seemingly nothing else.

Projected Score: Titans 27 Dolphins 21

San Francisco 49ers vs Minnesota Vikings

I probably should abstain from this one like I did Clemson-Texas A&M yesterday because I’m working this one for PFF, but my work doesn’t start until well after the game ends so I think I’m okay to pick this. The Vikings are my pick to win the Super Bowl this year and they go up against Jimmy Garoppolo and his unbeaten record as a starting quarterback. Something has to give. I think I’m going to go with the Vikings, as I think they’re much more well-rounded.

Projected Score: Vikings 31 49ers 17

Tampa Bay Buccaneers vs New Orleans Saints

Divisional Round - New Orleans Saints v Minnesota Vikings

Jameis Winston’s 3 game suspension for groping an uber driver begins and it’ll be Ryan Fitzpatrick taking on the Saints. I’m not going to lie, this game is going to get ugly. Yes the Bucs have a revamped defensive line, but the Saints have one of the best offensive lines in football and loads of weapons like Michael Thomas and last year’s rookie of the year Alvin Kamara. They’re going to be fine even without Mark Ingram, who is serving a 4-game suspension for PED’s.  Saints win easily.

Projected Score: Saints 38 Buccaneers 14

Houston Texans vs New England Patriots

The Texans are getting a LOT of key contributors back from a season that was lost due to injury so I think this will be a fun game as they take on the Patriots. But it’s still the Patriots, even with all the players they lost from last season. So I think they still win, but I think the Texans will make them sweat.

Projected Score: Patriots 28 Texans 24

Jacksonville Jaguars vs New York Giants

The Jaguars had a fantastic season on defense last year and basically everyone from that unit is back. The Giants are getting ODell Beckham back and Saquon Barkley will be making his debut but it won’t be enough as Jacksonville’s defense suffocates them and leads them to a victory. It won’t be a bloodbath like their opener against the Texans last year, but it will still be a relatively easy win.

Projected Score: Jaguars 34 Giants 17

Buffalo Bills vs Baltimore Ravens

It’s going to be a long season for the Bills, especially if they think Nathan Peterman was the best option at quarterback. I get not starting Josh Allen right away, because based on his up-and-down preseason, he could use some time on the bench, but did you have to trade AJ McCarron? I don’t know, man. The defense should be solid but the offense is going to struggle and I think the Ravens will win easily.

Projected Score: Ravens 28 Bills 10

Kansas City Chiefs vs Los Angeles Chargers

Los Angeles Chargers v Kansas City Chiefs

The Pat Mahomes era has officially begun and it comes against a very tough Chargers defense. Cornerbacks Casey Hayward and Trevor Williams will have their hands full with Tyreek Hill and Sammy Watkins running under Pat Mahomes’ passes, but he’s only going to be able to get the ball down there if the offensive line holds up, which is going to be tough with Joey Bosa and Melvin Ingram coming off the edge. I think the Chargers win a fun back-and-forth affair.

Projected Score: Chargers 31 Chiefs 28

Dallas Cowboys vs Carolina Panthers

It’s the end of an era, as the Cowboys will play a game without both Jason Witten (retired) and Dez Bryant (released) for the first time since 2003. They take on the Panthers, who remain mostly unchanged from the team that made the playoffs last season. I think it’s going to be a low-scoring game, as both teams bring strong defenses to the table, but I think Carolina is going to come out on top.

Projected Score: Panthers 20 Cowboys 17

Washington Redskins vs Arizona Cardinals

Alex Smith debuts for the Redskins after a career year in Kansas City against the Cardinals, who get David Johnson back from a wrist injury. The Cardinals are a tough team to place this season. Sam Bradford is the new quarterback after Carson Palmer retired and while he is an accurate passer and has played well when on the field, his problem is he can’t stay on the field. There’s also a lot of talent on the Arizona defense but they did lose a BIG piece in Tyrann Mathieu this offseason. I think I’m going to go with Washington this week.

Projected Score: Redskins 24 Cardinals 20

Seattle Seahawks vs Denver Broncos

This is a Super Bowl XLVIII rematch but both teams could not look more different. The Legion of Boom has pretty much completely dissolved while Denver is starting Case Keenum at quarterback. Seattle still doesn’t have an offensive line so I think I’m going to pick a Von Miller-led defense to take apart this Seahawks offense and lead the Broncos to victory.

Projected Score: Broncos 23 Seahawks 17

Chicago Bears vs Green Bay Packers

Pittsburgh Steelers v Green Bay Packers

The oldest rivalry in the NFL is renewed with some new faces in Chicago. Matt Nagy is at the helm and he has a brand new toy after the team sent to first rounders to Oakland for Khalil Mack. All of a sudden this Bears defense looks formidable for the first time since 2012. But the Packers are also getting Aaron Rodgers back and their young secondary looks like it could have a similar effect on this year’s team as it did for the Saints last year and I think I’m going to take Green Bay.

Projected Score: Packers 28 Bears 20

New York Jets vs Detroit Lions

The first Monday Night game of the year features a couple debuts. Sam Darnold is the new rookie quarterback getting the start for the Jets while Matt Patricia is making his head coaching debut for the Lions. Darnold looked really sharp in the preseason and was doing things you don’t see 30 year-olds do. The Lions are in a similar position to the Cardinals in that they have some talent with a rookie head coach but I have no idea what to make of them. So I think I’m going to pick the Jets to come away with the win.

Projected Score: Jets 23 Lions 14

Los Angeles Rams vs Oakland Raiders

The other Monday Night game, this is going to be a blowout. I’m picking Oakland to pick first in the 2019 NFL draft as they have absolutely no defense, especially now that they’ve traded Mack. Meanwhile the Rams stocked up on talent in the offseason. This won’t be close, Rams win.

Projected Score: Rams 42 Raiders 14

So that’s it for my picks this week. Like I’ve said many times, I’m going to keep trying to do this every week, but I can’t promise I’ll be able to. Let me know what you think of my picks in the comments section below or on Facebook or Twitter @jimwyman10.

Draft Rumors A Week Ahead of Round 1

I’m baaaaaack. The longest of my papers coming up just got finished a week ahead of its due date so I’m pretty comfortable with returning to the blog on a regular basis. I appreciate all the patience. My family also got the puppy I mentioned a few blogs back, we went with the name Maizie Blue. Izzy and Fred were caught off guard by her presence. Fred seems to like her and Izzy seems to be confused by her. More updates to come. But anyhow, we’re about a week away from the Draft and there are rumors GALORE, most of which concern the Browns, who hold the first and fourth picks in the Draft. So I’m going to go down the list of some of the more interesting rumors I’ve heard and talk about whether I think they’re bullshit or not because this is the time of year when teams try and push fake stories, or smokescreens, to try and trick other teams as to what their plans are. It’s like the NFL’s Game of Thrones. So let’s get to the rumors. I’m going to try and limit them to just rumors that pertain to the first round, otherwise we’ll be here all day.

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Browns GM John Dorsey knows who he wants at #1, isn’t telling anybody (not even Browns owner Jimmy Haslam) until the night before the draft

I’m actually a little surprised we, the public, don’t already know who the pick is going to be. Typically by this time in the process there is a clear favorite for the draft’s top pick. Last year it was Myles Garrett, the year before it was Jared Goff, before that Jameis Winston, before that JaDeveon Clowney. By the time the Draft typically rolls around, there’s very little mystery about who is going first. This year is completely different. There are three guys who are all still being linked to the top pick: USC QB Sam Darnold, Wyoming QB Josh Allen, and Penn State RB Saquon Barkley. I like the move by Dorsey not to tell anyone in the organization who he’s taking. Not only does it make the Draft more intriguing because the risk of that choice getting leaked is minimized significantly, but the Browns have been run so incompetently for so long that you have to imagine if somebody got wind of who their pick was going to be, they’d muck it up. I think Dorsey’s known who he wants for a while now. He’s likely been thinking about this pick since the fall and he’ll have certainly done his due diligence at this point.

Verdict: Probably True

Browns are considering drafting two QB’s at high spots

This isn’t something that’s unheard of. The Redskins did it back in 2012 by taking Baylor QB Robert Griffin III second overall then taking Michigan State QB Kirk Cousins in the fourth round. While Griffin’s career flamed out after a spectacular rookie season, Cousins has gotten better every year and just got a big fat paycheck from the Vikings. Cousins was kind of an insurance policy to RG3 and he ended up paying dividends for the Redskins, even if they refused to recognize it by giving him a long-term deal. However the Redskins’ quarterback situation was a little more dire than Cleveland’s currently is. At the time, the Redskins were fielding Rex Grossman and John Beck as their quarterbacks. The Browns at least have a competent quarterback in Tyrod Taylor to hold things down for a year so their rookie quarterback can have time to develop. Plus, the only quarterback in this class who compares to RG3 is Lamar Jackson and Jackson doesn’t have the injury history RG3 did coming out of college, so I doubt the need for an insurance policy like what the 2012 Redskins went with.

Verdict: Doubtful, though I wouldn’t be surprised if they take a guy like Toledo’s Logan Woodside in the 5th or 6th round

The Jets are preparing to make Oklahoma quarterback Baker Mayfield the 3rd overall pick

According to an article I read on Bleacher Report, Tony Pauline of DraftAnalyst.com is claiming that Mayfield to the Jets is a “done deal.” I’ve also read that the Jets are also seriously considering Sam Darnold perhaps suggesting they think Darnold will go to the Browns first or the Giants second. I have no doubt in my mind the Jets swapped picks with the Colts in order to take one of the quarterbacks in this class. But I’m not so sure it’s going to be Mayfield. I’ve blogged this several times, but the Jets’ division rival Dolphins are reportedly “enamored” by Mayfield, the Bills are trying to trade into the top 5 for a quarterback, and even the Patriots have been linked to the Heisman Trophy winner. I think the Jets may be throwing this name out there to try and entice their division rivals, all of whom hold picks outside of the top 10, to make a blockbuster trade with the Jets to try and stockpile picks, or get another desperate team to move up with them, perhaps Denver at 5. I would be a little surprised if the pick was Mayfield, as he’s a guy who needs more development than others and the Jets have shown they develop quarterbacks about as well as I develop proper eating habits. Not great. Josh Rosen and Sam Darnold are the more finished products that will require less seasoning and it’s very likely that Rosen is the one that will still be there at #3. But if the Jets aren’t totally sold on him, then I think it would be wise of them to stockpile draft picks.

Verdict: Smokescreen

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UCLA quarterback Josh Rosen is expected to slide in the draft and may fall to the Patriots

A lot of people have been starting to mock Josh Rosen out of the top-10 in the Draft, let alone out of the top-5. Apparently the concerns about his love for the game are very real in NFL circles. This also, according to reports, has the Patriots’ ears perking up. It’s being reported that the Patriots may try and trade up to take Rosen to be Tom Brady’s successor should he slide in the Draft and considering New England has 2 first rounders and 2 second rounders this year, they seem to have the ammunition to do so. However they will likely have to trade with the Raiders at 10 at the very latest, considering the Dolphins and Bills hold the 11th and 12th picks, respectively, and both teams are going to be salivating watching Rosen fall. However it’s also being reported by NESN’s Mike Kyed that the 49ers may make a deal with the Patriots at 9th overall, saying so much as the 49ers “owe it” to the Patriots for the Jimmy Garoppolo trade despite the Browns making a better offer. As a Patriots fan, I’d rather see them get a left tackle and get a developmental quarterback later on rather than spend all their assets for the latter, even though Rosen is my top-ranked quarterback. But if the Patriots do pull the trigger on Rosen, I won’t complain. Just make sure he and Brady will be able to stay upright.

Verdict: Rosen’s slide seems likely, but he won’t fall within New England’s reach

Broncos looking to trade the 5th overall pick

John Elway has stated that the Broncos are very open to trading the 5th overall pick and given the teams that sound like they’re desperate to move up, it seems like a good chance that they’ll get an offer they like. Buffalo seems to be most desperate and they’ve also got a lot of ammunition (2 first rounders, 2 second rounders) to make a big splash. Denver needs a developmental quarterback, though with the newly-signed Case Keenum, the desperation isn’t as great as it was prior to the signing when the quarterbacks were Trevor Siemian and Paxton Lynch. The Cardinals have also been rumored to be looking to trade up for a quarterback even after signing Sam Bradford to a 3-year deal. The Broncos will have a number of suitors should they make the 5th overall pick available.

Verdict: Very Likely

The Colts are trying to trade down again from 6th overall

The Colts originally held the third overall pick but they made a trade with the Jets to move down to #6 and acquired 3 second rounders in the process. Again, Miami and Buffalo are two teams to keep an eye out for as teams that may try and make a move with the Colts, especially if one or more of the top 4 quarterbacks falls out of the top 5. The Colts have needs pretty much everywhere and they aren’t going to fix all their problems with one pick so it’s very likely that they try and acquire as many picks as they can. However there’s a game-wrecking edge rusher in this class in Bradley Chubb from North Carolina State that I think could really be useful to the Colts and it’s very possible he falls to them at #6 given the quarterback craze that’s expected. The Giants have been linked to him at #2 overall, though and I think they’re the Colts’ biggest threat to getting him. Plus if the Giants do take Chubb, that’s one less QB-needy team that spent their high pick on a quarterback, meaning teams that are trying to trade up will have one more quarterback option to consider, meaning more suitors for the Colts.

Verdict: If Bradley Chubb is gone, I guarantee this happens

Packers are either going to take Alabama safety Minkah Fitzpatrick or Iowa corner Josh Jackson

The secondary in Green Bay is LOADED with holes and you really can’t go wrong with either of these two guys at this spot. However there’s little to no chance that Fitzpatrick falls this far. Fitzpatrick is my #3 overall prospect and top safety and teams like the Browns at #4, the Buccaneers at #7, the 49ers at #9, and the Raiders at #10 are all very possible landing spots for him. However, Jackson isn’t as highly-touted by all teams as Fitzpatrick is and I think it’s very likely that he’ll be around for Green Bay at #14. Jackson’s ball-hawking skills led him to being #1 in the nation in interceptions and he played a similar role with the Hawkeyes as former teammate Desmond King, who had a very successful rookie season with the Chargers. However if Florida State safety Derwin James is still available when the Packers pick at 14, I think they should seriously consider him.

Verdict: Fitzpatrick won’t be there, but Jackson is very likely. Also don’t rule out James

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Boise State linebacker Leighton Vander Esch may go higher than people expect

I’ve been consistently mocking the Boise State linebacker to the Steelers at 28, however something interesting occurred a couple weeks ago. The Titans reportedly cancelled their visit with Vander Esch because they felt he “wouldn’t be there when they picked.” Tennessee holds the 25th overall pick. Vander Esch is an excellent physical specimen who seems like he’s still really learning how to play linebacker even though he’s played it for most, if not all of his career. As mentioned above, I have him as a late first round prospect but the fact the Titans cancelled their workout with him because they didn’t expect him to be there is telling. Among teams that pick ahead of them that need a linebacker include the Raiders, Dolphins, Chargers, Lions, Bills, and Patriots.

Those are just a few of the rumors I’ve been hearing that pertain to the first round of the Draft. Amongst later round rumors are the Chargers wanting to draft Philip Rivers’ successor in the 2nd round, Arizona State linebacker Christian Sam garnering significant interest in the middle rounds, and Ronald Jones II being very high on the Colts’ board. Let me know what you think of these rumors in the comments section below or on Facebook or Twitter @jimwyman10.

NBA Trade Deadline Recap

I should probably rephrase that title. It should read more on the lines of “Cavaliers completely overhaul their roster.” But let’s take a look at what specifically happened during the Trade Deadline because there were some juicy moves.

Cavaliers trade Isaiah Thomas and Channing Frye to the Lakers for Jordan Clarkson and Larry Nance.

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What a rough go of it IT had in Cleveland. Injured for the first half of the season, then when he came back everybody hated him after he started butting heads with some of his teammates and the media. It’s hard to watch, being a Celtics fan because IT meant so much to the Celtics’ rebuild despite the fact he was only in green for about 3 and a half years. He went from one of the most beloved athletes in Boston to one of the most hated in Cleveland. But I think this trade is good for both sides. It became a pretty toxic situation in Cleveland so now one of the problems is out of the way and Thomas can get a fresh start with a Lakers team that could genuinely use him. Plus, IT was at his best when the Celtics were his show. Now he’s in a place in LA where he can be “the guy” while Lonzo Ball develops. I definitely think things will go better for him in LA than it did in Cleveland. Plus, IT is a free agent at the end of the season, which could open up a ton of cap space for the Lakers to make a run at another Cavaliers player… In return, the Cavs get some high-quality role players in Clarkson and Nance, who I think can really provide a huge spark off the bench, depending on who the Cavs decide to go with at point.

Cavaliers trade Dwyane Wade to the Heat for a Protected Second Round Pick

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This was pretty surprising to me since Wade and LeBron are as close as they are. But Wade goes to a place that probably never should have let him go in Miami. Sure his skills have deteriorated, but he is and always will be the face of Miami basketball after what he did with the Heat. It’s good to see him return. That’s all I really have to say on the matter, it’s more of a feel-good thing for me than a legitimate impact trade at this stage in Wade’s career.

Three-Way Trade Between the Cavaliers, Kings, and Jazz. Cavaliers Receive Rodney Hood and George Hill, Kings Receive Joe Johnson and Iman Shumpert, Jazz Receive Derrick Rose and Jae Crowder

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A lot to unpack with this one. Let’s start with what the Cavs are getting. Rodney Hood has gotten better and better with each season he’s been in the league and I think he’s going to replace Wade as the starting 2 guard. Hill could wind up getting the majority of minutes running point when LeBron doesn’t have the ball and I think he could wind up being a valuable asset, as he’s much more of a traditional point guard than IT is. He won’t be taking shots away from LeBron like IT has been, rather he may create even more shots. The Kings getting Joe Johnson kind of falls under the Dwyane Wade thing, Johnson is past his real usefulness and I don’t really understand the deal, except as I typed that sentence it was announced the Kings would be buying out Johnson’s deal, making him a free agent. Early reports are that the Celtics, Warriors, and Rockets are all interested. Shumpert will likely be a major part of their rotation as he immediately becomes arguably their best player, considering the overall lack of talent on the Kings’ roster. The Jazz receiving Derrick Rose and Jae Crowder is interesting to me. The Jazz are in the thick of a playoff race, currently sitting at 2.5 games out of the 8 seed in the West. This appears to me to be them more tanking a little bit and rebuilding around Donovan Mitchell than anything, as even if the Jazz make the playoffs, you can guarantee they won’t get far. They’d probably end up with the 8 seed and face the Warriors in the first round, which guarantees they won’t win a playoff game, let alone reach the second round. So it’s better to tank so you can get a higher draft pick than get a mid-first rounder and not have any chance of going anywhere in the foreseeable future.

Three Team Trade. Knicks Receive Emmanuel Mudiay, Nuggets Receive Devin Harris and a 2nd Round Pick, Mavericks Receive Doug McDermott

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This is a lower-profile trade but I still believe in Mudiay’s potential when put in the right circumstances that I feel like this could be a steal for the Knicks. I think once Kristaps Porzingis returns from his unfortunate ACL injury, he could elevate Mudiay’s play and vice versa. Harris and McDermott are more of depth for the Nuggets and Mavericks. The Mavericks are playing for the #1 pick at this point in the season while the Nuggets are surprisingly the 6 seed in the West. But I don’t think Harris is an upgrade over Mudiay so the move doesn’t really make sense for me unless the Nuggets are trying to lose their way out of a playoff position to try and land a top prospect in this year’s NBA Draft, which right now looks pretty stacked with talent.

Magic Trade Elfrid Payton to the Suns for a 2nd Round Pick

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This trade makes no sense to me from the Magic’s perspective. Payton is, in my opinion, an underrated point guard who I think could really excel if he’s got teammates to work with. He’s certainly worth more than a 2nd rounder. I actually think that Payton is an upgrade over Tyler Ulis and once Devin Booker is fully healthy again, I think he and Payton could form a formidable duo.

Trail Blazers Trade Noah Vonleh to the Bulls for the Draft Rights to Milovan Rakovic

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This trade is mainly just something that gets the Trail Blazers under the luxury tax as Vonleh is no more than a decent bench player. I’m mostly including this because not only did Vonleh play at Indiana, but he actually played against my high school a few times. I got to see him play twice as a high schooler. First time he absolutely whipped us, the second time we put on a full court press and totally frustrated him into a bunch of turnovers.

That’s going to do it for my trade deadline recap. The Cavaliers look totally different and this may be what they need to get themselves back on track. Also, in football news, congratulations to Jimmy Garoppolo on his 5-year $137M deal with the 49ers, the largest annual contract in NFL history. That’s what 5 starts can do for you. As a Patriots fan, watching Garoppolo succeed is like watching my son succeed. Let me know what you think of the NBA Trade Deadline in the comments section below or on Facebook or Twitter @jimwyman10. Your move, MLB.

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.

How Jimmy Garoppolo’s Success Has Reshaped the NFL Offseason

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Heading into the Trade Deadline, the 49ers were having a season from Hell. They were 0-8 and it seemed feasible that they could end the season winless. Then they sent a second round pick to the New England Patriots for quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo, whom the Patriots had been grooming since they drafted him in the second round of the 2014 NFL Draft. They went 1-2 with CJ Beathard at quarterback and Garoppolo on the bench before he finally entered the game in the the 49ers’ loss to the Seahawks, throwing a touchdown in the process. After that appearance, it was announced that Garoppolo would remain the team’s starter. They haven’t lost since.

Sure the 49ers sit at a 5-10 record and will surely have a high draft pick, but the future is extremely bright, provided they shell out the money that Garoppolo will command. Jimmy G is a free agent at the end of the year, which was a big deciding factor for New England to trade him despite Tom Brady being 40 years old. I think it’s pretty clear that the 49ers are at worst going to franchise tag him, then work out a long term deal. He’s provided too much of a spark for the team and for the fan base to be allowed to leave. A big pay day is in his future. An argument against this could be that Garoppolo was beating lesser teams. Now yes, his first three wins were the hapless Bears, the injured Texans, and the underwhelming Titans. But then on Christmas Eve he led the ‘9ers to 44 points against one of the toughest defenses in the NFL in their win over the Jaguars. That pretty much confirmed for me that Garoppolo is no fluke. Some fans might complain that he may be playing too well, as a win on Sunday against the Rams could quite possibly knock them out of the top 10 picks (they currently sit at #8), which could’ve been used on a guy like Penn State’s Saquon Barkley. But I’m sure 49ers fans will live with great play out of their young signal caller. The future is certainly bright.

With Garoppolo’s emergence, a different quarterback’s situation changes DRASTICALLY: Washington Redskins quarterback Kirk Cousins. The obvious potential destination for Cousins (he developed into a good quarterback under the tutelage of current 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan) is now gone so what this could mean is that Cousins may be stuck with the eternal franchise tag in Washington, which can’t be too bad of a gig as he’s going to be making well over $20 million under it. However there is no certainty around it whatsoever, which often makes players nervous and can put a lot of pressure on Cousins, as he’s basically in a contract year every year. A potential destination could be the Bills, who seem to be very non-committal to Tyrod Taylor and are blessed with two first round picks in 2018 thanks to the trade they made last year with the Chiefs so they could take Pat Mahomes. I don’t think they’ll do it, though. Both of the Bills picks will likely come in the late teens-early 20s range and each of the prize quarterbacks will likely be gone by then. The Redskins will need to acquire a pick in the top 10 to ensure they land one of the various talented quarterbacks in this year’s draft if they decide to trade Cousins. This could make the Browns an enticing option, as they will likely have 2 top 10 picks this year thanks to their trade with the Texans for the right to draft Deshaun Watson.

Garoppolo’s emergence also relinquishes one QB-needy team in the upcoming NFL Draft. I did a couple of personal mock drafts in my spare time earlier this year (because that’s the type of football guy I am) and each time I had the 49ers up, I either had them taking USC’s Sam Darnold or UCLA’s Josh Rosen, my two highest-rated quarterbacks. However not only has Garoppolo’s performance filled the gap the 49ers have had at quarterback that has been there since the height of Colin Kaepernick’s playing career, but it has knocked them out of a position to take one of these guys. This could actually make them into a very enticing trade partner. A team in the later part of the draft could get desperate if they think a team ahead of them will take the quarterback they wanted, so the 49ers’ phones will likely be ringing with calls from teams willing to trade up. Hell, it worked for the Bills last year. The Chiefs were scared the Saints were going to take Pat Mahomes (which they were), so they swapped with the Bills to jump one spot ahead of the Saints and gave up a future first rounder to Buffalo with the trade (the Saints ended up with cornerback Marshon Lattimore, so I don’t think they are too disappointed). I wouldn’t put it past a team like the Bills, possibly the Redskins, the Jaguars, or the Cardinals to part with a 2019 first rounder in order to move into the top 10 and the 49ers could be the beneficiaries of these desperations.

Garoppolo’s emergence could also make the 49ers an enticing free agent destination. They have the second most projected cap space in the NFL, barely trailing the Browns and significantly ahead of the third place Colts, so they ought to be big players in the free agent market. Potential free agents include Le’Veon Bell, Nate Solder, Trumaine Johnson, Dontari Poe, Ziggy Ansah, Malcolm Butler, and many others. If these guys want to be a part of an upstart organization, then the 49ers will be a very sexy pick and they’ll be able to get a little more cash than they would from a team that’s strapped for it such as the Chiefs and Eagles (who are expected to be over budget next season).

It’s pretty amazing how much one guy can change the fortunes of a franchise. The 49ers appear to have an extremely promising future and all it took to acquire it was what currently stands as the 40th overall pick in the Draft. That’s it for today’s blog, let me know what you think of Jimmy Garoppolo in the comments section below or on Facebook or Twitter @jimwyman10 and contribute to my Patreon.

Potentially Franchise-Altering Days for Two Organizations

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photo credit: SB Nation

The New York Giants and San Francisco 49ers made headlines on Tuesday in regards to their quarterback situations. The Giants announced they are benching (“benching” may not exactly be the right word in this situation, more on that in a moment) 2-time Super Bowl MVP Eli Manning in favor of Geno Smith and occasionally rookie third-rounder Davis Webb. Just a few hours later, the 49ers announced that Jimmy Garoppolo will be the starting quarterback on Sunday against the Bears.

So first, I guess the biggest news in this is that Eli Manning will not be the starting quarterback for the Giants on Sunday, the first time since Week 9 of the 2004 season, Eli’s rookie year when he replaced Kurt Warner. That will snap a streak of 210 consecutive games started at quarterback, second all-time (Brett Favre holds the record at 297). “Benching” isn’t the greatest word in the world to describe this situation, because believe it or not, Giants head coach Ben McAdoo offered Eli to keep starting in order to keep the streak going, but that he would get pulled in each game for Geno or Webb. Naturally, Eli declined that offer. Not exactly a great one, it’s hard to give it your all when you know you aren’t going to finish the game. As controversial as this may sound, I don’t hate the move by the Giants, but I would like it more if they had an heir apparent on their roster already. The Giants’ season is lost. They’re 2-9 and are at this point just playing to get as high a draft pick this April as they can (if the season were to end today, it would be third overall). Why not see what your other guys can do? The problem is, it’s Eli Manning you’re benching, a guy that has stuck with this organization through the good times and the bad and gave you everything you had week in and week out. Hell, the man won two of your franchise’s four Super Bowls (a fact that still haunts me as a Patriots fan). Naturally, a lot of people who have had some sort of affiliation with the Giants had some thoughts on this.

So that may spell the end of Eli Manning’s tenure with the Giants. One potential location that seems to be SCREAMING for Eli to go to is Jacksonville. Hell, there was trade speculation at the beginning of the season about the potential move (don’t know if it ever really got serious or if it was just an internet pipe dream). Tom Coughlin is running the show there and if you will remember, he and Eli got a lot done together in the past. It wouldn’t surprise me if the Giants and Jaguars tried to work out some kind of deal for the 2-time champ. As for the Giants, this is clearly a full tank move to try and secure a spot in the top 3 picks of the Draft to secure either UCLA quarterback Josh Rosen or USC’s Sam Darnold. Because let’s face it, Geno Smith wasn’t the future of the Jets and he isn’t the future of the Giants and if Davis Webb feasibly was the future of the Giants, he wouldn’t be third on the depth chart behind Smith. But again, I don’t hate the move by New York. See what your young guys can do. If I’m McAdoo, I think I give more of a look at Webb, considering his youth and that he’s been groomed in your system. He has yet to take an NFL snap or even suit up as a pro so who really knows what he can do against higher competition? One more interesting tidbit, when Geno Smith starts this game against the Raiders on Sunday, every NFL team will have started a black quarterback at some point in their franchise’s history. The Giants are the last to do so (the Patriots were the most recent team to break the trend, having started Jacoby Brissett in two games last year).

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On a more positive note for a franchise’s direction, the 49ers have announced that Jimmy Garoppolo, whom they acquired in a trade with the Patriots, will be starting Sunday against the Bears. As a Patriots fan, this gets me very excited because now all three quarterbacks who were on the Patriots roster for their Super Bowl 51 run will be starting in the NFL the following year (Brady with the Patriots, Garoppolo with the 49ers, and Brissett with the Colts). If you’re a 49ers fan, you have to be excited about this. Garoppolo looked very good in relief of Brady last season and he’s probably the best protege the Patriots have ever groomed since Brady became the starter. 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan is a good offensive mind and Garoppolo has a similar skillset to Matt Ryan, whom Shanahan was offensive coordinator for in Atlanta. I’m not sure if this starting nod has anything to do with the injury to CJ Beathard during the 49ers’ loss to the Seahawks on Sunday, but regardless, it’s worth a shot if you’re San Francisco. Like the Giants, their season has been over for a while now, as they sit at 1-10 on the season. So why not get a glimpse at what your new young quarterback can do? The way things stand right now, it can’t hurt to get Garoppolo more acquainted with your offense and the guys around him, you’re really just playing to get guys experience at this point and to try and secure a high draft pick (if the season ended today, the 49ers would hold the second pick). Also, Garoppolo did appear in the loss to the Seahawks late in the game. Here’s how he did:

Some beautiful plays from a beautiful man.

So those are my thoughts on the quarterback changes for the Giants and 49ers. Is there something I missed in regards to these moves? Let me know in the comments section below or on Facebook or Twitter @jimwyman10. I’ve also started a Patreon account in the hopes of getting paid for my efforts on this blog. Don’t worry, this won’t affect how frequently I post or your access to my articles. It’s just me hoping that this thing can take off and I can make it more of a full-time gig. I don’t have anything to offer patrons as of yet, but if I do come into the money to do so, I promise I will make it up to you some way or another. But my bare minimum goal for this is to raise enough money to afford a subscription to Pro Football Focus. That shit gets expensive. But they do have some very high-end stats that I could use to make my blogs sound more professional. Here is the link to my Patreon page if you feel inclined to become a patron: https://www.patreon.com/jimwyman.

 

NFL Trade Deadline Recap

Holy shit, trades actually happened at the NFL Trade Deadline. Midseason trades typically don’t happen in the NFL because of the learning curve to switching systems midseason that is usually required. But this year some teams have chosen to be active this past week or so in the attempt to bolster their roster. A look at the major trades that took place:

Buffalo Bills trade DT Marcell Dareus to the Jacksonville Jaguars for a 2018 6th Round Pick

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photo credit: Sports Illustrated

That’s it? That’s all the Jaguars had to give up to acquire a stud defensive tackle? Sure Dareus may come with some baggage, but he’s one of the best interior defensive linemen in the NFL. He seems to be worth much more than a 6th rounder. For Jacksonville, they acquire an excellent run stuffer that will help a unit that ranks 31st against the run. And yes I am aware this trade took place days ago and not during today’s Trade Deadline. But Dareus is a good enough player and the timing is close enough that I’m including it.

Houston Texans trade OT Duane Brown to the Seattle Seahawks for CB Jeremy Lane, a 2018 5th Round Pick, and a 2019 2nd Round Pick

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photo credit: Sports Illustrated

I thought the Seahawks gave up a little much for Brown here (I thought the trade would’ve been fair without the 2nd rounder), but the need was so great that I don’t fault them for it. In fact, there were reports saying that the Seahawks were so desperate for a left tackle, they were willing to trade superstar TE Jimmy Graham for one. They receive stud Texans tackle Duane Brown, who has had his issues with the Houston organization this season. Brown had been holding out for most of the season before playing his first game this past Sunday (against the Seahawks, no less). Brown is a former All Pro and immediately becomes the best lineman on this Seahawks roster, even if he’s only half the player he was a few years ago. Jeremy Lane is by no means a star corner, but he can impact the game and I think the Texans will be happy to have him.

New England Patriots trade QB Jimmy Garoppolo to the San Francisco 49ers for a 2018 2nd Round Pick

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photo credit: Sports Illustrated

This was the most shocking trade to me. I figured that the reason the Patriots acquired so much ammunition in the offseason was because they felt that Tom Brady’s career was on its last legs and they wanted to set him up for one final run. This trade of Garoppolo tells me that they are confident that he has a few more great years left in him (he has given them no reason to believe otherwise, as he leads the NFL in passing by almost 400 yards). I have no issue with the compensation, as a lot of other Pats fans do. The 49ers are currently 0-8 and Garoppolo isn’t going to magically turn them around, so this second round pick will likely come at around pick #33 or #34, which is basically a first round pick. There were reports that the Browns offered the Patriots the 12th overall pick in last year’s draft for Jimmy G, which they traded to the Texans to draft Deshaun Watson when New England turned them down, so one must wonder if the Patriots got all they could for the fourth year pro. The Patriots now only have Tom Brady on the roster at quarterback and will likely sign the newly-released Brian Hoyer, who had backed up Brady for the first three years of his career. Or maybe even another former 49ers signal caller…

Miami Dolphins trade RB Jay Ajayi to the Philadelphia Eagles for a 2018 4th Round Pick

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photo credit: CBS Sports

This came as a shock to me because at no point were there any whispers that Ajayi was on the block or that the Eagles were searching for a runningback. Ajayi is having a down year from his breakout 2016 season, but that could be due in large part to the bad quarterback situation in Miami allowing defenses to stack the box against the run, much like what happened with Todd Gurley last season. The Eagles already have options at runningback, as LeGarrette Blount, Corey Clement, and Wendell Smallwood have been a part of a rotation that is 4th in the NFL in rushing. Also, really? Just a 4th round pick? Ajayi ran for 200 yards on 3 separate occasions last season and finished with over 1200 yards. I read somewhere (I think it was reported by Jeff Darlington) that the Dolphins were concerned about Ajayi’s long-term knee health stemming from an injury he suffered in college and that was why they sent him to Philly. That might also explain the lower draft pick because Philly may also have had that concern. We may learn more in the coming days.

Carolina Panthers trade WR Kelvin Benjamin to the Buffalo Bills for a 2018 3rd Round Pick and a 2018 7th Round Pick

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photo credit: Bleacher Report

Like Ajayi, this trade also came as a surprise to me, as I didn’t think Benjamin was on the market, though it didn’t surprise me that the Bills were searching for a receiver. Buffalo receivers are dead last in the NFL in yards and catches this season and Benjamin is a big-bodied receiver with loads of potential. This move surprises me from Carolina’s standpoint because not only do they now have limited options at receiver, but the compensation I felt was subpar for the former first rounder. Benjamin has been solid (albeit inconsistent) since entering the league in the star-studded 2014 receiver class. I think the Panthers could’ve gotten more for him, maybe even the extra first rounder the Bills acquired from the Chiefs in the 2017 NFL Draft. But nonetheless, Benjamin adds a whole other dimension to this Bills offense that has been lacking, yet finds themselves in the thick of a playoff hunt.

Cincinnati Bengals don’t trade QB AJ McCarron to the Cleveland Browns

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photo credit: UPI.com

The Bengals and Browns agreed on a trade for QB AJ McCarron at 3:55 pm (deadline is at 4) but the Browns did not relay their half of the agreement until after the deadline, so McCarron is staying in Cincinnati. Classic Browns. Who knows what they would have given the Bengals for the former Alabama signal caller, but in the past the Bengals had reported that they were looking for as high as a first round pick for him. The Browns have 2 first rounders and 3 second rounders in the 2018 draft. We may never know what the compensation would have been. Also, curious that these two arch rivals would be doing business together over a quarterback.

Those are my thoughts on the trades that took place today. Did any of these moves surprise you? Let me know in the comments section below or on Facebook or Twitter @jimwyman10.