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npklemm last won the day on July 3

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    Virginia Cavaliers (2013-2020), Ball State Cardinals (2021-Present)
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  1. I have Baltimore at 11-5, but I could see them flaming out and going 8-8. Other than them, I'm really not sure who would miss it from last season.
  2. I'm taking the records from my Divisional Previews, but I do have a couple alterations to those records. Tampa Bay is now 0-16 This makes the Falcons to 11-5 After trading for DNJ, I reviewed the Giants Record, and only could find one more win. Over the Cardinals, this moves both teams to 3-13. AFC Playoffs 1. Kansas City Chiefs (13-3) 2. Pittsburgh Steelers (12-4) 3. Miami Dolphins (11-5) 4. Tennessee Titans (11-5) 5. Baltimore Ravens (11-5) 6. Las Vegas Raiders (11-5) 7. Jacksonville Jaguars (10-6) Just Missed: 8. Buffalo Bills (10-6) 9. Indianapolis Colts (9-7) The Jags make the playoff over the Bills thanks to W/L Record in Common Games. Wild Card Round: 2 Pittsburgh Steelers host 7 Jacksonville Jaguars. I think Jags have enough firepower to take on the Pit Defense. Jacksonville Wins 3 Miami Dolphins host 6 Las Vegas Raiders. I have concerns about aging stars on Both Teams, but I think the Raiders can't keep up. Miami Wins 4 Tennessee Titans host 5 Baltimore Ravens. I don't think the Titans can handle the Ravens Defense. Baltimore Wins Divisional Round: 1 Kansas City Chiefs host 7 Jacksonville Jaguars. Chiefs Offense is too good at home for the Jags. Kansas City Wins 3 Miami Dolphins host 5 Baltimore Ravens. Brian Brown is very hard to beat at home, I like the Phins in this one. Miami Wins AFC Championship Game: 1 Kansas City Chiefs host 3 Miami Dolphins. KC has a great Offense, but Brian Brown has magic left in him. I think the Phins take it this year. Miami Wins NFC Playoffs 1. Detroit Lions (13-3) 2. San Francisco 49ers (12-4) 3. Washington Redskins (12-4) 4. Atlanta Falcons (11-5) 5. Green Bay Packers (12-4) 6. Dallas Cowboys (11-5) 7. Philadelphia Eagles (11-5) Just Missed: 8. Carolina Panthers (9-7) 9. Chicago Bears (9-7) Wild Card Round: 2. San Francisco 49ers host 7 Philadelphia Eagles. I love the Eagles Offense, but I think the 49ers Offense can keep up and outscore them at home. San Francisco Wins 3 Washington Redskins host 6 Dallas Cowboys. At this point, these teams are very familiar with each other. Washington is a deeper, more complete team. Washington Wins 4 Atlanta Falcons host 5 Green Bay Packers. I love the Falcons Defense, but I think the Packers have the talent to beat them. Green Bay Wins Divisional Round: 1 Detroit Lions host 5 Green Bay Packers. Another two teams very familiar with each other. The Loins have the league's best Defense, and I think that's enough to win at home. Detroit Wins 2 San Francisco 49ers host 3 Washington Redskins. I think the Redskins will struggle to keep up with the Niners on the Road. San Francisco Wins NFC Championship Game: 1 Detroit Lions host 2 San Francisco 49ers. Detroit is still a good team, but I don't think they have enough offense to win this one. San Francisco Wins Superbowl: 2 San Francisco 49ers versus 3 Miami Dolphins. Two Veteran, and former SB Champs, QBs lead their teams back in the Big Game. Phins have a more complete defense, but SF has a more balanced offense. I think the SF Offense beats out the Phins Defense. San Francisco Wins Top 5 Picks 1. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (0-16) 2. Cleveland Browns (1-15) 3. New Orleans Saints (3-13) 4. Arizona Cardinals (3-13) 5. Seattle Seahawks (3-13) With the Giants winning over Arizona, they went from picking 3rd to picking 6th. The Saints, Cardinals, Seahawks, and Giants all tied with 3-13 Records. Saints had 46% SOS Cardinals had 48% SOS Seahawks had 51.1% SOS Giants had 51.9% SOS
  3. Baltimore Ravens 2023 Record: 13-3 Offense Ranking: 20th Defense Ranking: 2nd Overall Rank: 5th 3 Key Players Offense QB Marcus Black 6-6 225 1 Auburn [Hybrid] [+2/C] [+] 86 RB Moussa Goode 6-1 198 4 Ohio State [Speed] [-2] 85 WR David Wells 6-5 187 8 Oregon State [Speed] [+1/C] 88 Marcus Black had a very good Rookie Year. He completed over 63% of his passes for 4,030 Yards with 28 Touchdowns to 9 Picks, he also rushed for 226 Yards and 4 Touchdowns. The Ravens OL allowed the 2nd most Sacks in the league with 48. All year long, he was running for his life, and still turned out a good rookie year. Definitely something for the Front Office to build around. If he takes a further step, and the OL improves, Baltimore's offense could be really good at times. Moussa Goode is kinda Moussa not Goode. he had 835 Yards and 7 Touchdowns last year on 4.24 YPC. The Ravens definitely need help on the ground from Goode, so hopefully he improves and becomes a real threat on the ground again. Wells has been Baltimore's best receiver since, he was drafted it feels like. He had over 1K Yards last year, but 3 Touchdowns. The Ravens certainly need him to stretch the field, and could use him to get in the End Zone more. 3 Key Players Defense OLB Tyrone Jones 5-11 233 9 LSU [Blitz] [-1/C] 99 OLB Kenyatta Henderson 5-11 228 8 Ole Miss [Blitz] [-1] 98 CB Troy Marshall 6-1 163 5 Texas [Zone Coverage] [-1] [#] 95 Tyrone Jones is an absolute beast. He's been one of the best Linebackers in the league since he was drafted. In 2023, he had 12.5 Sacks and 16 TFL (2nd and 1st on the Team). On top of that, he had 75 Tackles and 2 FF. He's the best Pass Rushing OLB in the league and is a guy you to have to shift your gameplan around. The only Raven to get more sacks than Jones in 2023 was Kenyetta, he had 14 Sacks and 13 TFL (1st and 2nd on the team). This two are an incredibly difficult duo to stop. Both are guys you have to gameplan around, and having both on the field on the same time makes your offense limited. You have to run lots of draws/screens to slow them down, and run quick passing plays. If you try to stretch the field too much, you will get sacked multiple times. When you do try to pass the ball quickly, you're being forced to throw against a secondary lead by Troy Marshall. Marshall had 8 Picks and 9 PD last season, which is insane. No other player in the league had more INT+PD combined (next closest was 13 - Travaris Jackson). Jones/Henderson gives Marshall and the boys the opportunity to be very aggressive in coverage. They know teams have to get rid of the ball quickly, and they can jump those routes and take the ball the other way. This is a very difficult Defense to attack. Biggest Losses None The Ravens didn't really lose anybody worthwhile talking about. They bring back their entire starting lineup. Biggest Additions OT Sawyer Dobbs 6-7 258 R Texas State [Pass Blocking] [0] 80 OG Raphael Brannon 6-2 334 R Rice [Pass Blocking] [-1] [#] 81 DE Michael Britt 6-5 258 R Boston College [Contain] [+1/C] 80 The Ravens have had major issues on the Line for a long time, they allowed the 2nd most Sacks last year. You have to protect your Franchise QB, so I love the moves to take Dobbs and Brannon. Dobbs likely won't start right away, but Brannon might. Either way, you've got two young guys to build around your OL (and also Tyson Chadwick you took last year). The DE spot has been a bit of a weakness for the Ravens as well. Benton/Davis are just meh. Britt may not be a stud prospect, but I think he'll fit the scheme well and play off of Jones/Henderson well. Strengths Growth of Black. Marcus Black went +4 in the off-season. After what he's done so far, he should be primed for a great 2024. OL Depth. While I don't love the starting OL, they do have solid depth now. In the past, they've been injury prone and unable to replace those guys. Now, they can take an injury and not miss a beat. Stability on Defense. All 11 Starters are back. The league's 2nd best Defense is in great position to take over the top spot from the Loins. Weaknesses Running Game. Moussa Goode really hasn't done much the past couple seasons. Young QBs really benefit from a reliable running game, and Goode is certainly a question mark if he'll do that. WR Depth. Wells is good, but they don't really have much behind him. Patrick Lambert, Hines Mertens, and Zahir Wall are the next guys up. I don't like that too much. Schedule Having won the Division, the Ravens have a tougher schedule this year. Coupled with an improved Pittsburgh, I think Baltimore "regresses" to 11 Wins. Cincinnati Bengals 2023 Record: 4-12 Offense Rank: 24th Defense Rank: 26th Overall Rank: 27th 3 Key Players Offense QB Joel King 6-1 220 5 Houston [Pocket] [0] 89 WR Adrian Jankowski 6-4 194 5 Texas A&M [Target] [0] 94 WR Jamir Blackburn 6-4 196 3 Minnesota [Speed] [-2] [#] 84 No one threw more passes in 2024 than Joel King. After the departure of Ron Thomas (fuck you), the Bengals had 0 running game. This forced them to air it out 47 Times/Game. King threw for 4,700 Yards (58% Completion), with 37 Touchdowns and 22 Picks, the most picks thrown in the league. Of course, when you throw it that many times, you're going to throw picks. I think King is an above average Quarterback, and you can definitely win with him. But, you need a running game. Of course, his job is made a little bit easier thanks to Jank. Jank lead the team with 1,332 Yards and finished 2nd with 7 Touchdowns. He just always seems to find himself open. His partner in Crime, Jamir Blackburn, had a great season as well. He had 1,037 Yards and 12 Touchdowns (lead the team). With how one-dimensional this team is going to be, the opposing defense is going to focus on this trio. 3 Key Players Defense DE Timothy Key 6-2 240 2 Florida [Contain] [-1] 87 OLB Damian Dailey 6-0 230 1 Vanderbilt [Blitz] [0] 81 SS R.C. Rone 6-1 204 10 Oklahoma State [Zone Coverage] [+1/C] 88 Key was a very hyped prospect, who had a tough sophomore year. He finished with 17 Tackles, 3 Sacks, 1 TFL, and 1 FF. Given where he was picked, the Bengals absolutely need Key to do better. The Defense isn't good enough for a Top 3 Pick to be quiet. He has to be a constant force in the backfield. Dailey finished 2nd on the team with 5 Sacks, and tied for 1st with 6 TFL. The Bengals LB Corps got very old, and Dailey was much needed infusion of youth. Cincy is hoping he improves on last year and becomes a much bigger threat rushing the passer. Lord knows they need it. Rone is one of the OGs, and continues to put up numbers. He had 44 Tackles with 3 Picks, 3 PD, 1 TFL, and 3 FF. He's a do-it-all kind of player, which is something the Bengals desperately need. Biggest Losses OT Blake Pile OLB Germane Dixon ILB Nick Upshaw OG DeJuan Holmes PIle and Holmes were both starters for the Bengals in 2023. Holmes was replaced by a stud Rookie, but Pile really wasn't. There's a huge Question Mark at Left Tackle right now, and with how much they throw, that's a massive issue. Losing Pile will really hurt. Nick Upshaw had just 29 Tackles in 2023. It's clear his time as an effective player was over, his loss won't be massive. Germane Dixon tied for the team lead in tackles with 59, while adding 2.5 Sacks and 4 TFL. He decided to hang them up, paving the way for a promising rookie to start. Biggest Additions OG Cyrus Naylor 6-4 322 R Florida [Run Blocking] [0/C] 82 OLB Miles Rinehart 6-1 242 R Louisville [Blitz] [0] 80 ILB DaeSean Woodard 6 -3 206 R Notre Dame [Will] [+3] 78 ILB Brick Madden 6-3 239 4 Oregon [Mike] [0] 82 Naylor is a stud in the making. He graded out very well, and the Bengals got a cornerstone of their OL for a long time. Loved that pick. I liked Rinehart a lot as well, he was super productive at Louisville and I think he'll pair with Damian Dailey pretty well. Really liked that pick as well. DaeSean Woodard is a player who needs some development, but he was also super productive in College. Daniel Watkins is still a good player at Will, but I think the Bengals got his replacement lined up already. The Bengals brought in Brick Madden to take over for Upshaw. He wasn't great in 2023, but did better than Upshaw. He's likely a 1-for-1 Replacement there. Strengths WR. Jank-Blackburn-Whelehan is a good trio. Any of these guys could go off in any game. Defending all three is hard to do. Weaknesses Running Game. Worst in the league. Linebackers. Youth at OLB could lead to inconsistent play. Losing Upshaw hurts chemistry, and Madden is far less experienced. CB. Zion Evans had a very good 2023, but the rest of the unit is very bad. Aaron Stiles and Russ Barker are not good. Kamari Cheatham and Darren Logan are also not good. This group will get toasted often. Schedule I like this Front Office/Coaching Staff. They'll turn this team around, but they just lack talent. The OL will be a mess at times, the offense is too one-dimensional. The Defense has almost no positives to take away. Cleveland Browns 2023 Record: 1-15 Offense Rank: 29th Defense Rank: 31st Overall Rank: 31st 3 Key Players Offense QB Zach Lombardi 6-3 200 R Navy [Hybrid] [0/C] 82 RB Sean Bell 6-1 209 4 Baylor [Speed] [0] 89 WR Jarius Shaw-Dodd 5-11 213 6 Virginia Tech [Speed] [-1/C] 89 Lombardi takes over for Mathew Dobbs and Jordan North. Both of whom sucked ass. I immediately think the Browns now are capable of winning upwards of 3 Games now. There are lots of questions surrounding his selection of course. All evidence points towards him only succeeding in a Pass Heavy Offense, while the Browns just gave Bell a big extension. Bell absolutely has to play a big role in he offense, he was the lone saving grace on it last year. How these two guys mesh together will go a long way to determining if this team can turn it around. Bell had 1,499 Yards with 10 Touchdowns on 4.7 YPC. That's insanely impressive to me. Every single team was putting 8 guys in the Box all the time, and he still managed to put up those numbers. JSD put up OK numbers with Buffalo last year. He had 846 Yards and 7 Touchdowns. I don't think he's all that good, but the Browns needed help at WR desperately. They have to hope he starts playing up to his Draft Pick Selection. 3 Key Players Defense DE Ray McBride 6-6 275 8 Alabama [Blitz] [-1/C] [#] 96 ILB Mark Craig 6-1 230 9 Penn State [Mike] [+1] 88 CB Cameron Marshall 6-1 170 4 Penn State [Zone Coverage] [-1] 86 McBride lead the Browns in both Sacks and TFL in 2023 with 11 and 8 respectively. No one else was really close to him, he was over 50% of their Pass Rush. He took on Double-Teams all year long. With suck little talent on the team, it's easier for opposing Offenses to isolate them and minimize their impact. He's a very good player, but he does need his teammates to show up. Craig was brought in to replace C.J. Thomas. In New England, he had 57 Tackles with 1 PD, 1 Sack, and 2 TFL. Solid, but not great production. The Browns are just hoping he's a more stabilizing presence in the locker room and he continues to be solid on the field. Marshall hasn't reached the potential he showed early in his career. He had 2 Picks and a PD last season. Cleveland will need to see more out of him this year. If they want to improve, all 3 guys above have to have standout years. Biggest Losses WR Kevin Garvin ILB C.J. Thomas Garvin is whatever. I don't think he's ever been more than a depth guy, so him leaving isn't a big deal. C.J. Thomas does hurt. He was a cornerstone guy on Defense, but his time in Cleveland had clearly run its course. The Browns did a good job of replacing him, but it's a short term replacement. Biggest Additions QB Zach Lombardi 6-3 200 R Navy [Hybrid] [0/C] 82 WR Jarius Shaw-Dodd 5-11 213 6 Virginia Tech [Speed] [-1/C] 89 OT Blake Pile 6-5 311 8 USC [Run Blocking] [+1/C] 90 OT Emil Colon 6-7 327 R Arizona [Pass Blocking] [0] 81 ILB Mark Craig 6-1 230 9 Penn State [Mike] [+1] 88 We've already discussed ZL, JSD, and Craig. The Browns had the 8th Worst OL Rating in 2023. They needed help. Getting Pile was a great move in my mind. OT was a huge issue prior to his arrival, and now is a strength. I also liked the picking of Colon in the 2nd Round. Cleveland used to have a good OL (back in my days), and it looks like they're back on their way to that. Strengths New QB, New Me? ZL has to be a significant improvement over North/Dobbs. If he isn't, then Cleveland will start feeling buyer's remorse pretty quickly. Weaknesses WR Depth. JSD is fine, but then you roll out Ricky Chambers, Darrell Mack, and Joseph Thurston. Oof. Linebackers. OLB is a huge question mark for me. Stephen Cannon, Caleb McNamara, and Jabari Fletcher all feel mediocre to me. Mark Craig is fine at Mike, but he definitely has lost a step. This group will struggle. Schedule I don't think Cleveland is good. They'll be bag again this year, and will be saved from a Winless Season thanks to the Bucs. Pittsburgh Steelers 2023 Record: 6-10 Offense Rank: 31st Defense Rank: 7th Overall Rank: 18th 3 Key Players Offense QB Taylor Heiden 6-3 197 8 Arkansas [Hybrid] [+1/C] 91 RB Ricky Vega 5-10 214 2 Penn State [Speed] [0] 82 WR Ja'Wuan Howard 6-2 186 2 Georgia [Target] [0] 83 Heiden did what he could in Tampa last season. He had 62% completion for 3.814 Yards with 25 Touchdowns and 12 Picks, while rushing for just 85 Yards and 3 Touchdowns. I loved the move to bring him to Pittsburgh, Brooksheer was clearly garbage. The Offense completely screwed this team over last year, and getting a legit QB will go a long way to fixing that. Vega got off to a slow start, but finished strong. He had 758 Yards with 7 Touchdowns on 4.28 YPC. I don't think Vega will ever be a Pro Bowl Player, but I do think he can play well along side Heiden. If Pittsburgh can now have a dangerous running game, that will open up everything for them offensively. Howard lead the team with 782 Yards and tied for team lead with 5 Touchdowns. The Steelers' Passing Game was atrocious last year, so him putting up those numbers is impressive to me. Heiden has shown the ability to be hyper efficient throwing the ball, and Howard is primed to benefit more than anyone else. 3 Key Players Defense DE Carlos Washington 6-0 261 3 Michigan [Blitz] [-2] 96 OLB Charlie Johnson 6-2 230 7 South Carolina [Coverage] [+1] 85 CB Kordell McKinnon 6-0 195 3 Michigan State [Zone Coverage] [0] [#] 90 No one had more Sacks + TFL Combined than Washington. He had 21 Sacks (most in the league) and 17 TFL (most in the league). He's a gamebreaking type of player. The entire Defense revolves around him. He's an insane player who will get his sack every game (or almost every game, 14 Statsheets in 2023). I don't have enough good things to say about him. Charlie Johnson returns from a ACL Rupture in 2023 to start once again in 2024. With the Injury to Patrick Murphy (6.5 Sacks, 9 TFL), Johnson will be super important for the Steelers. OLB is again an issue, and the Veteran will have to play well. McKinnon lead the team with 5 Picks and 6 PD in 2023. Like most teams with elite Pass Rushers, it allows your Corners to be aggressive and go after turnovers. McKinnon has benefited greatly from playing with Washington. Biggest Losses QB Norris Brooksheer RB Chester Henson Brooksheer was bad before getting benched for Rory Weston/Kyle Jefferson. He was barely completing over 1/2 of his passes, and was turning the ball over at a high rate. Losing him was addition by subtraction. Henson was never very good in Pittsburgh, last season he had 367 Yards and 4 Touchdowns playing mostly a RB2 role. Still, he was an experienced veteran and a good presence in the locker room. Biggest Additions QB Taylor Heiden 6-3 197 8 Arkansas [Hybrid] [+1/C] 91 RB Sean Meade 5-11 218 R Auburn [Power] [-2] 80 DE Miles Slater 6-1 248 2 Washington [Contain] [0] [+] 80 ILB Aaron Mathis 6-3 223 R Washington State [Will] [+1] 82 We've talked about Heiden. I love the pick of Meade, a good Power Back goes a long way in the Pros. I don't think he'll be a starter year one, but he should still be productive playing a RB2 Role. Slater was brought in on the cheap just to add some depth at DE. Outside of Washington, the Steelers are a Black Hole at DE. Slater busted in Houston and is just hoping to try and resurrect his career in Pittsburgh. Not many players better to feast on opposite of Washington. Mathis won't start year one, but could be a very good player in the middle of their defense for years to come. Strengths Update at QB. Trading Brooksheer and getting Heiden is an immediate improvement. The Offense should move at least to Middle of the League this year. Carlos Washington is a human cheatcode. Weaknesses Patrick Murphy's Injury. Murphy was 2nd on the team in 2023 with 6.5 Sacks. In his place will be Samuel Weiner, who starter for Charlie Johnson in 2023. Weiner didn't do much on the field, he's a clear step down from Murphy. This puts another big hole right in the middle of the defense. OL Depth. I still don't love the Steeler's OL, and they have virtually no one in place to take over in case of Injury. Given the injuries they've had on the OL the past couple of years, this is a huge concern heading into the season. Schedule I like Pittsburgh a lot this year. The Defense will still be very good, and the addition of an actual QB should make the offense scary again. Divisional Standings I like the Steelers to win the Division, but Baltimore will be right on their heels. Cincy will be bad again, and the Browns will be saved from the #1 Overall Pick thanks to the Bucs.
  4. Atlanta Falcons 2023 Record: 9-6-1 Offense Rank: 23rd Defense Rank: 9th Overall Rank: 16th 3 Key Players Offense QB Donald Culver 6-1 192 2 Utah [Pocket] [+2/C] 83 RB Akili Wallace 5-10 180 8 Florida State [Speed] [-1] 91 TE Jason Erwin 6-6 242 4 Arizona State [Receiving] [+3] 90 Culver, Culver Culver. If he were just merely average last year, Atlanta is a 12-Win Team. He completed under 56% of his passes for 3,216 Yards with 15 Touchdowns and 18 Picks. Among player who started at least half their team's games, he finished 3rd Worst in QB Rating with 69.31. The Falcons absolutely need Culver to pick it up, and immediately. The defense is so good, an the offense just completely lagged behind. He doesn't have to be MVP level even, with a good RBBC behind him, he just has to be average. If he can play more like (in terms of efficiency) like AJJ or Watkins, Atlanta can be really scary team. A lot this year rides on his shoulders, and how much he improves. Akili Wallace finished with just 1K Yards and 8 Touchdowns last year. That may not be too impressive for a bellcow back, Akili isn't that anymore. He did average 5.5 YPC as Bradley Cooley took over 100 Carries from him. Wallace is supremely reliable and consistent. Erwin is one of those late round guys who actually pan out. He had 672 Yards and 6 Touchdowns last season. Like I've said in other previews, having good "vet" targets like Erwin can be so important for the development of young Quarterbacks. 3 Key Players Defense DE Early Davis 6-3 259 5 Georgia [Blitz] [0] 92 ILB Devin Frazier 6-1 257 1 Akron [Mike] [+3/C] 84 FS Darius Jones 6-1 205 6 Washington [Zone Coverage] [0] 93 Early Davis missed a little bit of time last year to some minor injuries, and thus only finished with 6 Sacks and 4 TFL (1st and Tie-1st Respectively). The Falcons throw a lot of guys in the pass rush, and they all tend to split the load. But Davis is certainly capable of getting double digit sacks, and I think we see that out of him this year. Frazier almost single-handedly changed this defense. Taking over for Marcus Grant, Frazier brought a real attacking style of play to the ILB spot. He lead the team with 45 Tackles, 1 PD, 1 Sack, 1 TFL, and 1 FF. He's a reliable tackler and is perfectly capable to tracking down the ball carrier in the backfield. Jones was a top 3 pick for the Falcons, and has been consistently one of the best FS in the league since. He had 43 Tackles with 3 Picks and 4 PD last season. Like other good Safeties, he gives coaching staffs flexibility to go a little aggressive in the gameplan because they'll be back there to clean up anything that leaks through. Biggest Losses SS Mario Ruff Ruff had gotten replaced last season by Romulus Jackson, and finished with just 2 Tackles and 1 Pick (he also missed some time due to injury). I think the Falcons will be fine without him. Biggest Additions OT Aneterea Sapolu 6-7 280 R Pittsburgh [Pass Blocking] [0] 79 DT Zion Gaines 6-1 297 R Texas [2-Gap] [0] [#] 81 Kelly Meier is on the verge of retirement and Julian Sykes can't be that far behind him. You need to develop some young guys at OT, and Sapolu is a good guy for that. Won't play much right away, but should be a starter down the road. DT has obviously been a meme for a long time in Atlanta. A year after picking up Oluwatoke Abiodun, the Falcons doubled up and took Zion Gaines. They now have two good young guys they can develop there. It might still be a bit of a weakness year one, but the level of play should be much better than what they've seen. Strengths Stability. A majority, if not all, starters from the end of last year's team return to the fold this year. The Falcons build through the draft, which has brought them incredible stability. There usually isn't too big of a fluctuation from one year's team to the next. Poor Division. While not directly a strength of the Falcons, it helps them quite a bit. I'm real low on TB and NO, and Carolina is a complete question mark to me right now. Weaknesses CB. Wilburn is regressing, and he doesn't have great support behind him. I'm not sure this team has a true #2 on the roster. Could be an area of exploitation on defense. WR. Bo Woodall, Riddick Smith, Malcolm Davis, and Stevie Henderson are the top 4. That doesn't inspire me too much. QB. Culver hasn't shown anything much yet. But, like Dowden, he's only had one real season to start. He might have to prove himself this year if he wants to keep his job in 2025. Schedule Like I've already said, I don't like the other teams in this division too much. I also think they get mostly favorable Home/Away splits out of conference. Getting Washington, SF, Dallas, and Baltimore at home will help quite a bit. Carolina Panthers 2023 Record: 7-9 Offense Rank: 19th Defense Rank: 21st Overall Rank: 21st 3 Key Players Offense QB Christian Skaggs 6-1 214 10 Florida State [Pocket] [-1] 98 WR Monte Jackson 6-6 227 5 Miami [Target] [-3] 93 TE Curtis Henry 6-6 202 4 Utah State [Receiving] [-1] [+] 93 SKAGGS. He's still one of the best QBs in the league. He had over 5,000 Yards and 41 Touchdowns (14 Picks) last season. All the while throwing the 3rd most passes. He's built his career on going out and chucking the damn ball. He gives the Panthstars the ability to win any single game they play. It hasn't lead to Playoff Success, but he's been one of the best regular season QBs in league history. Jackson was one of the top receivers last year, finishing with 1,435 Yards and 12 Touchdowns. He's a very talented receiver who has also benefitted from playing with an elite QB in a high passing offense. He gets some of the most targets in the league, and brings a vast majority of them in. Henry had one of the best seasons out of a TE we've ever seen in 2023. He had 1,196 Yards and 9 Touchdowns (12th most yards in the league by all players). Having this duo in the passing game forces a team to have to try and double cover two players. While this should open up things for everyone else, only Troy Wilson managed more than 500 Yards (850), showing that Jackson and Henry are clearly the two top targets in the offense by a wide margin. 3 Key Players Defense DE Damien Atkins 6-0 262 R Ohio State [Blitz] [0] [#] 82 ILB Chris Tucker 6-3 230 5 Tennessee [Mike] [0] 88 CB Nate Tensi 6-0 196 9 Clemson [Man Coverage] [0/C] [#] 88 Kendrick Droughns was the team's leading sacker in 2023 with 6. The Panthers took Atkins in the first to give a much needed infusion of youth and talent in the pass rush department. The rest of the defense could really benefit from an improved pass rush, and Carolina will look to Atkins to do that for them. Tucker was brought over from the Jets to fill a huge hole in the middle of the defense. He had 38 Tackles with 1 Sack and 2 FF & FR. Not an elite season by any stretch, but the Panthers rely on him to be a strong presence there. They need him to make the tackles as they come to him and stop big plays before they happen. Tensi has been the top dog in Carolina for a while. His time is clearly coming to an end soon, but they're hoping he gives them all he has for the short term. Biggest Losses DE Demarius Strong CB Russ Barker SS Darren Manning Strong finished 2023 with 5 Tackles and 2.5 Sacks. He's been replaced in the starting lineup by Damien Atkins. I think Carolina will be fine with him somewhere else. Russ Barker had 3 Picks last season playing CB2 behind Tensi. He's not a top end #2 guy, but he's certainly better than Damani Jeffries or Darron Rucker. Losing Manning is what really hurts. Manning lead the team with 71 Tackles, while adding 3 Picks, 5 PD, 1 Sack, 1 TFL, and 1 FF. He was literally everywhere on that defense. He was one of the best Safeties in the league last year, and they couldn't retain him. He's being replaced by a young guy with some upside, but they are going to sorely miss Manning. Biggest Additions RB/WR Griffin McHanna 5-10 184 R TCU [Speed] [+1] 80 DE Damien Atkins 6-0 262 R Ohio State [Blitz] [0] [#] 82 CB Darron Rucker 6-2 182 R Washington State [Man Coverage] [0] 78 I get the appeal of a player like McHanna, I truly do. But he's not good at anything. He can't catch, he can't run. I don't know how you use him in the offense. He's a returner at best to me. I don't think he's going to move the needle in any noticeable way on Offense. We've already discussed Atkins. The Panthers need bodies and youth at CB, so they turned to Rucker. I'm not high on him, but maybe sitting for a couple years and playing a rotational role can let him develop into a useful CB. Strengths SKAGGS. Like I said before, Christian gives the Panthers the ability to win any game they suit up for. Anytime you go out there, you have hope. LBs, I guess. You throw out Trent Haynes, Jeff Brooks, and Chris Tucker. That's not a bad trio, but it's not elite either. They should at least give you some stability in the middle of the defense. Weaknesses Depth. This team becomes a complete mess at every position once you look past the starting lineup. WR is a disaster. The OL is pretty brutal. The Front-7has virtually no room for error. The Secondary as a whole is a disaster. Just about any injury will have a major impact on this team. Running Game. Latta has put in some good years, those are well past him now. McHanna isn't a running back, and shouldn't get many carries. Ronnie Peterson, lol. Secondary. Starters are: Nate Tensi-Damani Jeffries-Darron Rucker-Carlton Sylvester - Eddie Burks. Just, oof. It won't necessarily kill them in Division, but will absolutely crush them out of the Division. Schedule I think they have favorable match-ups in Division, but are at a big disadvantage out of Division. 5-1 against the NFCS, and 4-6 against everyone else is what I see. New Orleans Saints 2023 Record: 3-12-1 Offense Rank: 14th Defense Rank: 29th Overall Rank: 24th 3 Key Players Offense QB Aaron Devereaux 6-6 204 8 LSU [Pocket] [+1] 94 RB DeSean Dockery 5-10 201 2 Louisville [Speed] [+1] [+] 83 WR Sean Jenkins 6-6 182 7 North Texas [Speed] [+1] [+] 96 Devy missed a couple games due to injury, but still threw for 4,387 Yards with 39 TDs and 16 Picks. He's one the league's biggest gunslingers. The Saints have for a long time relied on his arm and his arm solely to win games. But, like other elite QBs, having them on your side gives you a chance to win any game. However, he's out for the first couple of weeks of the year and will be limited after that. Making DeSean Dockery super important this year. The Saints really need him to step it up and play well. He had just 496 Yards and 5 Touchdowns on just 3.82 YPC last year while also missing some time himself. The Saints are going to rely on him quite a bit early on to try and keep them in the thick of things. He doesn't have to be great, he just needs to be good. Speaking of great, Sean Jenkins is one of the top guys in the league. He had 1.389 Yards and 8 Touchdowns last season (he was outperformed by one Mike Miller). Jenkins is what makes this offense go however, he opens up everything for Miller and Gano and anyone else who lines up. A 6-2 Speedster is hard to match-up against, and he's made a career out of blowing past guys. 3 Key Players Defense DT Jeremy Miller 6-1 304 8 Texas Tech [2-Gap] [+2/C] 92 ILB Garrett Holliday 6-3 234 3 Arizona State [Mike] [-1] 88 SS Corey Davis 6-2 195 4 Pittsburgh [Zone Coverage] [+1] 85 Jeremy Miller finished second on the team in both Sacks (5.5) and TFL (7). He's a monster right in the middle of the OL and blows plays up. He also eats double teams quite often which allows his teammates to flourish (example - Shamar Manning lead the team in Sacks and TFL). He's such a good player. Holliday had a really bad 2023. He finished with 13 Tackles, and that's it. As the Mike in a 3-4, you expect him to be the team leader. But, he just didn't do it. This Defense absolutely needs him to be much better this year. They can't go with him being quiet on the statsheet, he needs to make plays in the backfield and create turnovers. Is Corey Davis finally starting to put it all together? He had 30 Tackles with 1P ick and 2 PD last season. He's the highest rated player in the Secondary (Yikes), so they'll rely on him to keep everything in front of him. If he's not solid, the Saints will give up lots of big plays. Biggest Losses OT Wesley Dawkins CB George Brady CB Maury Gregg Dawkins was the LT for quite a while in New Orleans, but decided to hang them up after a good career. Fortunately, the Saints planned for this and have Damian Mason in line to start. They'll be fine at LT. George Brady actually had a solid career. He finished 2023 with 16 Tackles and a Pick. His loss will be more impactful than most would think. Gregg was a depth player who wasn't in the rotation much late. His loss won't be that big. Biggest Additions WR Robert Hatcher 6-3 199 R Alabama [Speed] [0] 78 DE Cece Condon 6-1 263 R Ohio State [Contain] [-2] 82 Sean Jenkins and Mike Miller are both really good. But they don't have anyone behind them. Hatcher will play the slot this year. I'm not big on him, so I don't think he'll be all that good. But, he'll be an improvement over Cameron Lindsey. Condon was one of the easiest picks in the Draft. Manning had a good 2023, but regresed and is entering his 7th season. Charles Woods hasn't done a whole lot in New Orleans. They needed some youth at the spot, and Condon is a great prospect. Definitely worth the 5th Pick, and I think will become a very good player in the Pros. Strengths Passing Game. Devy-Jenkins-Miller are a very formidable duo in the air. Even with Devy out for a few games, this trio will be a thorn in every team's side. Weaknesses Running Game. Paul Davenport will be Devy's replacement during his time out it appears. The team will have a whole different look than what we're used. But, I don't know if Dockery has it in him to become a real threat on the ground. Even with a mobile QB, this team will struggle to run. WR Depth. After the top trio, it goes Marcus Ratterman, Cameron Lindsey, and Langstom Landrum (Ratterman and Landrum are on the IR anyways). They're throwing backup TE in to fill the depth at WR. An injury to Miller or Jenkins will absolutely sink this unit. Secondary. Boy, this is not a good unit. At Corner, you have Devin Little, Justin Williams, and Eric Hall. At Safety you have Koren Donahue and Corey Davis. I don't know how you expect this unit to consistently slow down a team like Carolina. They'll get exploited all year long. Schedule I just don't see how this team wins games in 2024. Tampa Bay Buccaneers 2023 Record: 3-13 Offense Rank: 21st Defense Rank: 27th Overall Rank: 25th 3 Key Players Offense QB Norris Brooksheer 6-3 207 7 Oklahoma [Pocket] [+1/C] 89 RB DeNorris Jackson 6-0 235 3 UCF [Power] [-1] [#] 89 WR A.J. Edwards 6-4 217 1 Alabama [Speed] [-2] 84 The Days of Taylor Heiden are no more, and now begins the (very short, I'm certain) era of Norris Brooksheer. Norris was the 1st Overall Pick in 2017, and never lived up to his potential. Last year in 10 Games for Pittsburgh, he threw for 55% Completion, 2,438 Yards with 16 Touchdowns to just 11 Picks. He had a 76.5 QB Rating. It's abundantly clear at this point that Brooksheer isn't good. But, the Bucs aren't counting on him being good. They just need a body at QB to fill in until they find their QB of the future. DNJ got his career off to a good start, then was kind of slow for a couple years. He came back in a big way in 2023, rushing for 1,424 Yards (8th in the league) with 10 Touchdowns on 5.29 YPC. He was phenomenal, and I think he'll be as good this year. The offense will look different for sure, but you have to lean on DNJ if you want to compete at all. I wasn't big on A.J. coming out of college, but he had a perfectly respectable season for a Rookie thrown in to a bad WR corps. He finished with 905 Yards and 6 Touchdowns. He was thrown in to a WR Corp who the highest rated guy was Cotton Lewis. Edwards was made the #1 and had a good season. I was perhaps wrong on him. 3 Key Players Defense DE Charles Johnson 6-8 261 6 Hawaii [Blitz] [+1] 88 OLB Thomas Barry 6-1 225 7 Arizona State [Coverage] [0] 89 SS Darren Manning 6-4 189 8 Tennessee [Zone Coverage] [0] 93 Johnson had a super quiet year, getting just 3 Sacks but did lead the team with 8 TFL. The Bucs as a whole struggled to rush the passer, so they do need Johnson to improve. The defense could really use him to get to double digit sacks and get in the QB's face as often as possible. Barry is on the verge of walking away from the game, but for at least one more season he gets to try and cover Curtis Henry and Jason Erwin twice each. Boy, that's not a fun job. The Bucs lured Manning away from Carolina in Free Agency, and he should have a noticeable impact on the Defense. Chris Brown was fine for the Bucs last year, but Manning is such a better player. Along with Aaron Blakely, TB will have a solid Safety pairing to at least prevent long touchdown plays. Biggest Losses QB Taylor Heiden WR Cotton Lewis WR Anthony McCardell DT Jeremi Alexander DT Forest Williams CB Sammy Muhammad CB Blake Turner SS Chris Brown Man, that's a lot of loss for a bad team. Heiden meant everything to this team during his time here. Moving on from him was undoubtedly the right move, but it'll still be weird to see him in Pittsburgh. Cotton Lewis sucked, losing him makes you better. McCardell is a fine depth player at WR who did just about nothing last year in Tampa. Losing him isn't a big deal. Alexander was second on the team with 3.5 Sacks. Losing him will hurt a little, but the Bucs did draft a replacement at least. Forest Williams was nothing more than a vet backup, nothing major to lose him. Sammy Muhammad had a good career, but it was time to hang them up. He lead the team with 3 Picks last year, and he will be hard to replace. Blake Turner sucks, not a bad loss at all. Brown was perfectly fine for Tampa last year, but was also perfectly replaceable. Biggest Additions QB Norris Brooksheer 6-3 207 7 Oklahoma [Pocket] [+1/C] 89 WR Jarvis Heard 5-9 19 5 R LSU [Speed] [0] 81 WR Jeremy Bridges 6-0 231 R Oklahoma State [Target] [+2] 78 OT Dahntay Dickerson 6-5 295 R Temple [Run Blocking] [0] 83 DT Olivier Ponder 6-5 281 R Akron [2-Gap] [-1] 80 CB Ronyell Buchanon 6-1 171 7 Florida State [Zone Coverage] [-2] 81 CB Jamir Lacey 5-11 166 R Oregon [Zone Coverage] [0] [#] 80 SS Darren Manning 6-4 189 8 Tennessee [Zone Coverage] [0] 93 We've already spoken about Brooksheer. Heard was an excellent pick in my mind. The Bucs needed a Speedster to stretch the field, and they just didn't have it. Pairing him with A.J. Edwards should give you a formidable WR Duo for a long time. I really liked Bridges as well, he's not much more than a Depth guy at this point. But could develop into a nice outside guy down the line. The Dickerson pick may have been the steal of the Draft at #3. He's such a clear Franchise Tackle that you can build your entire Line around. Loved you taking him. Both Akron DTs are bad, and I don't think he'll every amount to much for you. Losing one Vet CB and finding another? Must be Tampa. Buchanon has had a good and long career, and will likely wrap his time up in Tampa. Don't mind the pick up as a Depth Piece. You also needed youth at CB desperately, and I liked the Lacey pick. He's clearly not the elite of his Draft Class but should be a solid Corner. We've already talked about Manning. Strengths Running Game. I truly like DNJ and he should be the focal point of you offense. Weaknesses QB. Brooksheer is bad. But, again, that's not the worst thing for this team who is clearly rebuilding. WR Depth. I like Edwards and Heard, but don't like much else this year. I like Bridges down the line. You have nothing else there though, Randall Johnson Jamaal Brown-Sanderson, Benjamin Franklin, and Finn Nielsen are all bad. CB. Still-Crawford Jr-Bucahnon-Lacey is who you're going to line up. Boy, that's rough man. Again, you're rebuilding so whatever. But still, fans will not have fun watching them out there. Schedule I don't know how this team wins many games honestly. Division Standings Atlanta's Defense gives them the edge over Carolina, but the offense holds them back enough to give the Panthers a chance to take this division.
  5. Arizona Cardinals 2023 Record: 4-12 Offense Rank: 22nd Defense Rank: 30th Overall Rank: 29th 3 Key Players Offense QB A.J. Jefferson 6-3 194 7 North Carolina [Pocket] [+1/C] 88 RB Trevon Yeldon 6-0 233 2 Oregon [Power] [0] 89 WR Marcus Banks 5-11 201 8 Ohio State [Target] [-1] 87 Interception Jesus is back again for the Cardinals. AJJ completed just under 60% of his passes for over 3,500 Yards with 25 Touchdowns and 16 Picks. Jefferson has not lived up to his potential, and I think we all know who he is at this point. He's never going to lead this Cardinals team to the playoffs. He just has to limit his turnovers and keep the ball moving on 3rd Downs. Yeldon should be the focal point of the offense. Speaking of Yeldon, he finished 5th in Rushing Yards last season with 1,492. He added on 12 Touchdowns and rushed for 5.14 YPC. He had a phenomenal year. I think he'll be even better in 2024. He's the definition of a bellcow back, and I look forward to seeing out on the field again. Old Man Banks is still going to work. He was the lone receiver to break 1K Yards for the Cardinals, he finished 2nd on the team with 7 Touchdowns. His career is probably going to come to a close in Arizona soon, but he has clearly been the best wide out in Cards history. He is getting some help this year, but I imagine Banks will still be the top dog. 3 Key Players Defense DE Samir Sample 6-2 267 1 Texas Tech [Blitz] [+1] 83 ILB Akeel Morris 6-5 234 4 Nevada [Mike] [-3/C] 89 CB Corey Quinn 6-0 191 7 Oregon [Zone Coverage] [-1] 87 Sample started his career on a bit of a slow start. He had just 4.5 Sacks and 8 TFL last season. He was a TFL at Texas Tech, and that continued last year. However, the Cards didn't pick him 6th to get TFL. They picked him that high to get Sacks. The Cardinals had one of the worst pass rushes in the league, and they are counting hard on Sample to help fix that. The rest of the defense isn't good enough to play coverage long enough for the pass rush to get to work. They need to get after the QB quicker and more efficiently. After spending some time in Chicago, Akeel was traded to Arizona. And all he did was tie Cameron Jonah for most tackles in the league (both with 90, 11 more than 2nd place). Akeel also tacked on 3 Sacks and 9 TFL. He was all over the field for Arizona and was undoubtedly their best player last year. He's happy in the Desert, and looks to be in for another great season. Quinn has been on the fringes of top level corners for a while. And with the injury to Samuelsson, the Cards CB Corps is looking kind of shallow. They'll rely on Quinn to lead them, and he won't have much help. There's a lot of pressure on Quinn to perform this year. Biggest Losses OG Wilson Hutchinson ILB Jackie Eaton OLB William Thomas FS Oronde Jackson Hutchinson wasn't more than a solid vet backup, so it's not like they're losing a real starter. But, I like having those vets on the OL in back up roles. I think they give you versatility and stability in case of injury. Eaton was a very clear shadow of himself. He had 22 Tackles and 2 Picks last season. He had been mostly phased out of the defense by Akeel, his loss won't be huge. Thomas was the second leading tackler for the Cards with 56, while adding 1 TFL and 2 FF. He's not a great player, but it will be hard to replace that production. Oronde was never more than a mediocre FS, and the Cards are rolling with a younger option. Not a big loss. Biggest Additions WR Lucas Dykes 6-1 226 R Oklahoma [Target] [0] 82 WR Rex Walsh 5-11 165 6 Florida State [Target] [0] 83 OT Ryan Morrison 6-2 253 R Florida [Run Blocking] [-1] 78 DE Jared Self 6-2 256 4 Michigan [Blitz] [0] 84 DT Malik Dawson 6-3 281 6 Illinois [1-Gap] [0/C] 81 OLB Trevor Reed 5-11 223 7 Alabama [Coverage] [0] 82 I loved Dykes coming into the draft. He and Heard were 1A and 1B in my book. I love getting young talent at WR, they absolutely need something to be excited about. Marcus Banks is solid, but he needs help. Walsh is a veteran guy I've always kind of liked. After winning a Superbowl with Detroit, the Cards signed him to add some depth at WR and bolster their corps there. I'm not really sure what roles he's going to play, but he should bring stability at that position. Morrison is a good addition as well, outside of Beckett Miller the Cards don't have much be excited about at OT. Florida has a recent success of stellar OL play, so I have confidence that he'll eventually be a solid starting Tackle. Sample and Harden didn't get the job done in the pass rush last year, so the Cards brought in Self to help out. He'll likely play a rotational role with the other duo to keep them all fresh. I like having that flexibility at that position. Dawson had one good season ever, and got a massive contract to do nothing ever again. I don't hate bringing him in as the Cards don't have anything at DT worth shit. I just don't think he'll have a big impact. Reed is stepping in to take over for William Thomas. For the Bears, Reed had just 17 Tackles with 1 PD and a Sack. He may have not been in the right scheme however, and he's paired once again with Akeel Morris. Perhaps he'll be a good replacement for Thomas? Strengths WR Depth. Banks, Walsh, Dykes, Cunningham. The Cards have a foursome that looks pretty solid on paper. Banks and Dykes are the two best obviously, but it's not like Walsh and Cunningham aren't capable of being starting caliber WRs. They've done it in the past. If I'm the Cards, I'm feeling pretty good about the passing game. OL. Miller, Aska, Terry are the real leaders. Olszewski and Grey are your other starters. You have a great trio, and then two serviceable partners there. This group should give the Cards plenty of time and open space to pass or run. Weaknesses TE. I don't like Noah Hills and they don't really have a good replacement lined up. This isn't a huge issue as I like what they have at WR, but it still a weakness. Defensive Line. Sample, Harden, and Self are all mediocre at best right now. Being able to rotate those guys is nice, but I can't imagine any of them getting to double digit sacks. Malik Dawson will be your starting DT most likely, and that's a yikes from me dawg. OLB. Asante Willis and Trevor Reed are the starting OLBs on this team. This duo combined for just 36 tackles in 2023. I have trouble seeing this duo improving on that performance. Of course, Akeel will clean up a lot in the middle of the defense. But having question marks surrounding him is a recipe for disaster. FS. Oronde Jackson was starting to age and had stagnated. His replacement is: Omar Bush? Jose Ortiz? Kofi Neal? Kevin Hartley? I just don't know. I really don't know who's going to start, and I'm not confident in any of them. Schedule I think we'll see the offense take a good step forward, but the defense will stay bad. We'll see Arizona in quite a few shootouts that they'll lose. Los Angeles Rams 2023 Record: 8-8 Offense Rank: 18th Defense Rank: 20th Overall Rank: 10th 3 Key Players Offense QB Darrell Murphy 6-2 215 10 Wisconsin [Pocket] [+2/C] 93 WR Walt Peck 6-5 203 10 Penn State [Speed] [+1/C] 86 OT Nijrell Smith 6-4 346 8 Miami [Pass Blocking] [0/C] 87 Murphy had a pretty good season in 2023, completing over 61% of his passes for 4,129 Yards with 32 Touchdowns and 9 Picks. He finished 4th in the league in QB Rating. He really hasn't started to regress yet, so I think the Rams can still contend with Murphy under center. Walt. Peck. You new guys don't know about Walt Fucking Peck. He was magical early in his career. Seemingly unstoppable. Of course, age and a deep WR corps has lead to reduction in output by Peck. He had 768 Yards and 3 Touchdowns last season. But, he's now the clear #1 WR for the Rams again. Now that Schwartz and Banta have both moved on, Murphy doesn't have many other targets outside of Peck. Should mean for a good year out of Walt, and perhaps a return to his early days. NIjrell Smith has been one of the better Left Tackles for a while. But, he may be done after this year. However, Murphy can be satisfied that his blindside will be well protected in 2024. 3 Key Players Defense DE Michael Bruce 6-8 252 5 Texas Tech [Blitz] [+3] 90 ILB Daniel Watkins 6-0 231 5 Louisville [Mike] [+1/C] 90 SS Brandon Sauter 6-2 200 7 Michigan State [Zone Coverage] [-2] 94 Michael Bruce was an absolute monster, getting 15 Sacks and 13 TFL last season. He's a constant threat and someone you need to plan for offensively. As far as I can tell, Watkins is still the starting Mike LB for LA. He had 24 Tackles and a Pick last season. Markus Golden had more tackles, but I think they're still planning on starting Watkins. Sauter has been the team's best player on defense basically since he was drafted. He lead the team with 48 Tackles, while adding 2 Picks, 3 PD, a TFL, and 3 FF. He's a big play machine and has incredible range in the back of the defense. He plays in the box in run support, plays center field in pass defense. A guy you can throw all over the field and get him to do good things. Great player. Biggest Losses WR Allama Banta DE Jared Self CB Lynn Perry FS Stephen Elliott Banta had over 1,400 Yards and 8 Touchdowns. You can't replace that, the Rams' passing attack will suffer greatly from his loss. Self had just 1 Sack last year, and had clearly busted. The Rams can stand his loss pretty well. Perry was a veteran player, and that's about all I can say positively about him. Stephen Elliott has moved on, and the Rams had a replacement lined up for him. JJ Fowler is that guy and I think they'll be fine. Biggest Additions WR Tom Oldham 6-0 155 4 Iowa State [Speed] [0] 82 WR Troylen Bolden 6-3 193 R UC Davis [Target] [+1] [+] 79 CB D.J. Reed 5-10 183 6 Boise State [Man Coverage] [0] [#] 81 FS Donovan Faulk 6-2 214 5 BYU [Man Coverage] [+1] 81 Oldham is an addition that should be sent down the depth chart and used to Return Kicks. I did like Troylen Bolden in the draft, but felt he was picked too high. I think he can develop into a solid starter at the pro level. D.J. Reed is your new Lynn Perry! An aging Man Corner who really hasn't done much. As long as he's not worse than Perry, the Rams should be ok. Faulk was brought in to add some depth at FS and immediately became mad he's not the starter. His addition may not be the best. Strengths Murphy is Still Good. Having a good QB can make up for a lot of bad play by the rest of your team. Front-7. Bruce-Beltran-Aranda-Watkins-Golden-Davey is a pretty stout front. Tipton is taking over for Self, and I think that's a pretty even replacement. So this unit should give the team good, consistent play. Weaknesses WR Depth. After Walt Peck, they have: Tom Oldham, Kevin O'Neal, Troylen Bolden, Tyrus Wilson. Oof. O'Neal and Wilson are both one injury away from retiring, and Bolden is an underdeveloped FCS Rookie. Tom Oldham is just plain bad. If Peck isn't good, this team will struggle to pass the ball. CB Group. Man, this is bad. Thomas Patterson, Jeremy Starks, DJ Reed, Drren Ruffin are the top 4. Just, not good. This group will consistently give up yards and big plays. Hopefully Sauter and Fowler are in for a heroic effort. Schedule Getting the NFCN is not favorable for this team, especially having the Loins on the road. They also have to travel to Dallas and LV who will tear their CBs up. I'm not super confident in this offense either, no true running game and huge question marks at WR. I think the Rams are in for a regression. San Francisco 49ers 2023 Record: 10-6 Offense Rank: 5th Defense Rank: 17th Overall Rank: 12th 3 Key Players Offense QB Todd Lester 6-0 194 8 California [Scrambling] [+1] 93 RB Solomon McLaughlin 5-10 235 1 Texas Tech [Power] [+1] 87 TE Garrett Taylor 6-3 239 1 Temple [Receiving] [+1] 88 Todd Lester was very good last season. He completed over 66% of his passes for 3,752 Yards with 27 Touchdowns and 9 Picks, while rushing for 345 Yards and 6 Touchdowns. After a bad injury and short year in 2022, there were questions about Lester coming into 2023. He completely proved everyone wrong. He's still one of the top QBs in the league, and a guy you cannot count out at any point in the game. McLaughlin lead the team with 1,571 Rushing Yards, and added 11 Touchdowns with no lost fumbles. He averaged 4.97 YPC. Not tops in the league, but still very good. When you have these two guys back there, you have cover the entire field. Solomon will gash you up the middle, and Lester can attack you on the edges. Then of course, you have defend Lester passing the ball and every defense is stressed at every point in the field. Taylor took advantage of that to the tune of 974 Yards and 8 Touchdowns (both 2nd on the team). He's basically another receiver on the field. Typically LBs are asked to cover TEs, and I don't know of many LBs who can hang with Taylor. 3 Key Players Defense DE Parker Holmes 6-3 247 2 Tennessee [Contain] [0] 84 ILB Daleroy Smart 5-11 224 8 Washington State [Mike] [-3/C] 92 CB Bashir Rodriguez 6-1 194 9 Georgia Tech [Man Coverage] [0] 88 Holmes tied for the lead in Sacks with 6.5 (and finished 2nd with 8 TFL). He was the premier pass rusher last year. Daleroy lead the team with 53 Tackles, while adding a PD, 2.5 Sacks, and 4 TFL. He has been a stud for so long, and he doesn't really seem to be slowing down thankfully for the 49ers. Bashir has been good for so long. He had 3 Picks and 2 PD last season. SF has never had a true partner for him, and that's still kind of the case. They'll lean on Rodriguez to shut down the other team's top WR, which would pair him off against Marcus Banks, Walt Peck, and Paul Howell. Not a murderer's row by any means, but still vital to shut those guys down. Biggest Losses TE Ben Thomas Thomas had been replaced in the starting lineup by Garrett Taylor, but we can't understate his importance in the history of the 49ers Franchise. He helped pave the way for Lester to run all over the league, and win a Superbowl. He may not have been good anymore on the field, but 49ers fans will surely miss him. Biggest Additions C Nick Vaikauskas 6-3 293 R San Jose State [Pass Blocking] [0/C] 81 I LB Garrett Powers 6-4 229 R Baylor [Mike] [+2/C] 80 The 49ers picked up a pair of guys in the draft who were at one point considered top 2 of their position only to fall. Both have a lot of talent, but may not be ready for immediate play. Vaikauskas likely will start, but Powers is clearly the heir apparent for when Smart walks away from the game. Either way, much needed youth on this team. Strengths Offensive Skill Talent. Lester, McLaughlin, Taylor, Miller, Collins is a pretty loaded group of players. These top line starters can go toe to toe with just about any group in the league. Look for SF to be one of the top offensive teams in the league. Linebackers. Thomas, Reed, Smart, McGregor. The one weakpoint could be considered McGregor, but he's likely a solid young Will LB. Thomas and Reed are good at what they do and obviously Daleroy is Daleroy. Weaknesses Offensive Line. Dylan Hastings and Nico Renner are fine. But the interior is full of question marks. OG is flooded with mediocre low 80s guys, and Center has either a rookie who disappointed coming into the draft or a guy who can't climb above 80. This group may be the only reason this isn't he best offense in the league. Defensive Line. Tony and Holmes are fine, I guess. And the 49ers have had issues at DT for years. Michael McBride is the starter most likely, but Ezekiel Sewell probably isn't far behind him. Having these guys as your starters would give me nightmares as a coach. I don't know what they're really good at. Schedule I like SF quite a bit this year. The West in general is down outside of SF, and I like their match-ups against the AFCW. Of course, having to play the NFCN isn't a walk in the park, but those are the guys you're going to have to beat if you want to contend for a Superbowl. Seattle Seahawks 2023 Record: 5-11 Offense Rank: 16th Defense Rank: 25th Overall Rank: 22nd 3 Key Players Offense QB Tucker Dowden 6-3 211 2 Missouri [Scrambling] [0/C] 84 RB Marcus Williams 5-10 219 4 Nebraska [Speed] [-3] 90 TE Scott Howard 6-6 236 9 Northwestern [Receiving] [+1] 92 Dowden hasn't shown much in his career thus far to be all that optimistic about. He completed over 62% of his passes for 2,868 Yards with 14 TDs and 9 Picks while rushing for 430 Yards and 8 Touchdowns. Although, 2023 was his first full year as a starter. So, we have to give him some benefit of the doubt there. He showed insane potential in college, but that just hasn't fully translated to the Pro Game yet. This might be his last chance to prove himself as a starter caliber QB before the Seahawks decide to move on. Marcus Williams had a great season in 2023, rushing for 1,239 Yards with 9 Touchdowns on 5.46 YPC. Among starting RBs, that was 4th best in the league. He can take any touch to the house, and the defense has to account for him on every play. Scott Howard lead the team with 692 Receiving Yards and 5 Touchdowns. I've spoken before about how important it is to get a good veteran target (either at WR or TE) for a young QB. I think Howard will help Dowden out quite a bit. 3 Key Players Defense DE Brian Glenn 6-6 291 9 LSU [Blitz] [0] 88 ILB Zion Adakwa 6-2 224 7 Illinois [Mike] [+3/C] 92 CB Matt Cowan 6-2 172 8 Wisconsin [Zone Coverage] [0] 90 Glenn finished 2nd on the team with 5.5 Sacks, and first with 7 TFL. He's likely past his prime, and that showed last year on the field. The Seahawks really need him to get after the QB, and in a hurry. The leading sack getter had 6.5 last year, so the Hawks need all the help they can get there. Zion Adakwa actually had a quiet year by his standards. Only puling in 43 Tackles with 1 PD, and 3 TFL. I'd like to see him be more impactful and make more plays in the backfield. Malcolm Douglas-Scott is great at what he does, and that should let Adakwa go out and attack. Matt Cowan is an old head. He's been a stud for a long time. Now with BLT, he has some help. This should free him up a little bit and take some pressure off. But, he's still the top guy and has to do his job. Biggest Losses C Jack Podolak DE Adam Williams DT Christian Okonkwo OLB Kristian Little Podolak had just aged out of his spot, and the Seahawks have decided to go in a different direction. One that I think will be better for them long term. Williams really didn't do much last year, so I don't think him leaving is a big deal. Okonkwo never fully lived up to his potential. He had just 5 Tackles and 1.5 Sacks last season. As I've mentioned before, DTs don't necessarily have to make the statsheet to be good, but you'd like to see more out of a former first rounder. Little was the 2nd leading tackler with 46, and added 4 Sacks. It looks like Tavarius Hicks will take his spot, and that may be bumpy. I like Hicks coming out of college, but I don't know if he's ready for major minutes. Biggest Additions WR Paul Howell 6-0 191 9 Mississippi State [Target] [0] 90 TE Matt Stone 6-4 236 5 UCLA [Blocking] [+1] 84 C Miguel Prieto 6-4 259 R Michigan [Pass Blocking] [0] 81 DT Jeffrey King 6-3 312 5 Boston College [2-Gap] [0] 81 ILB Patrick Everett 6-2 229 R Miami(FL) [Will] [0/C] 80 CB Devon Drummond 5-11 181 5 Kansas [Man Coverage] [0] 82 The Jets decided it was time to move on from Paul Howell, and the Seahawks are the benefactors. Howell had 896 Yards and 4 Touchdowns last season. Josiah McCray had the most receiving yards of any Seahawk WR with 520. Adding Howell to this group will be big, especially with Tyler White going down for the year. I actually liked adding Matt Stone a lot. They needed a Blocking Tight End to help in the run game, and that's what Stone excels at. Prieto is the guy they took to replace Podolak. Of course, they have Nate Gardner if they want to sit Prieto for year. But, I don't think he needs to. The Seahawks brought in Jeffrey King to help replace Okonkwo. At best, he's a like for like replacement. Pat Everett was drafted to be MDS's replacement down the line. I didn't like him all that much, but he was forced to play the Mike in College. Perhaps playing Will in the Pros will be more natural to him. Drummond was brought over to add some depth at Corner, and it's whatever. He's whatever. Strengths Running Game. Williams and Dowden can be a potent force on the ground. Much like San Francisco, you have to defend the whole field when playing them. They stretch you out and give themselves favorable match-ups. MLB. With MDS and Adakwa, there might not be a better MLB duo in the league. No matter what, the Seahawks know the middle of the field is in good hands. Weaknesses WR Depth. The Hawks have lots of bodies at WR, but almost none of them are good. Howell is still good, although not great like he used to be. Then you have McCray, who I really don't like. They do have Gulla, who I think can be a solid #2 guy. But, he's stuck down a little and was just ok last season. White is out of the year. Which means next guy up is Curtis Settles, oof. For a team that struggled in the air last season, having big questions at WR is not a welcome sign. Interior OL. I like Prieto, and think he can become a top end Center. He's still a rookie who will struggle at times. The other guards are: John Tripucka and Leon Slack (maybe Miles Herman?). This group just doesn't give me much hope. Especially for a team who wants to run. Defensive Line. The starters are Glenn, King, and Napier (maybe Derrick Dawkins?). I don't think Glenn is in the right scheme to use his talent to its fullest potential. Napier/Dawkins are young and inexperienced, and King is just not good. This group won't put up too much of a fight in the run game. Schedule I don't have much hope for this team. Their best players are all old, and the young guys aren't very good. Division Standings In my mind, this is clearly SF's division to lose. I don't think any of the other three teams are in real contention for the Playoffs.
  6. Houston Texans 2023 Record: 6-10 Offense Rank: 9th Defense Rank: 23rd Overall Rank: 17th 3 Key Players Offense QB Alex Leshoure 6-1 205 5 Boston College [Pocket] [0] 90 RB Simeon Wells 5-11 210 1 Texas [Power] [0] 84 WR Marvin White 6-4 184 8 Ohio State [Speed] [+1/C] 89 Leshoure threw the fifth most passes last season, with 606 Attempts. He completed just over 60% of his passes for over 4,500 Yards with 33 TDs to 15 Picks. He's got talent, but I think the Texans have leaned on him too much, although it should be said they haven't had a running game for his entire career in Houston. I'd like to see him go to Middle of the Pack in terms of Attempts and let Wells take a bigger role in the offense. Not that I think Leshoure is bad, but I think he will be more effective with a lighter workload. Wells only had 175 Carries in 2023, but rushed for over 880 Yards with 7 TDs on 5.05 YPC. I'd really like to see him get more than the 14 or so carries per game he saw last season. Getting him closer to 20 would be the ideal spot for me. Houston has a real good backfield here, and the offense is in a real good spot for 2024. Marvin White has been among the most productive receivers during his tenure in Houston. He lead the team with 1,245 Yards and 9 Touchdowns in 2024. He's a constant deep threat and gives Leshoure a big target down the field. This trio should lead the Texans to a Top 5/10 Offense once gain. 3 Key Players Defense DT Bob Ballard 6-1 292 9 Penn State [2-Gap] [+2/C] 88 DE Robert Fulton 6-0 266 5 LSU [Contain] [-1] 90 SS Frederick Fain 6-1 197 6 Auburn [Zone Coverage] [+1] 91 Ballard has been a stud his whole career, and that hasn't changed since coming to Houston. He lead the team with 13 TFL, and tied for lead in Sacks with 9.5. He is a constant nuisance to opposing teams' backfields. He's not only a great player in the middle of the DL, but he's one of the teams best players in the locker room. He leads the defense, and brings pressure right up the middle into the QB's face. Fulton is his trusty sidekick, and tied Ballard with 9.5 Sacks while adding 7 TFL himself. Having these two guys right up front gives the Texans both pass rush and run defense in one layer of the defense. This allows the rest of the defense to flow free and play coverage. Fain is the glue that holds the secondary together. The corners in Houston have historically not been good, so they've relied on Fain to help clean up mistakes back there. he was 3rd on the team with 43 Tackles (FS Reynaldo Harris was 2nd with 44). This just shows that the Texans are relying on their safeties to fill in the gaps where necessary. Being a sure tackler and playing stout coverage in the back is insanely important for Fain. If he isn't, they'll give up a lot of big play Touchdowns. Biggest Losses OT Matt Bogle DE Miles Slater ILB Tom Henderson Bogle is one of the OG Linemen that made Houston's OL fearsome. But, age had caught up to him. Losing him does hurt, but the Texans planned for it and have Kendall Gresham in place to take over for him. I think they'll be fine. Miles Slater is addition by subtraction. He had just 8 Tackles with 1 Sack and 1 TFL last year. He was a complete bust, and the Texans were smart to move him. Tom Henderson had 21 Tackles and a Sack last year, he's being replaced by the much younger Danieal Pennington. The Texans will be better off with Pennington starting. Not the worst losses for a team to take. Biggest Additions C Byron Alexander 6-3 299 R Clemson [Run Blocking] [-1] 78 C Aden Hastings 6-2 282 4 Iowa State [Pass Blocking] [-3] 80 DE/OLB Curtis Jones 6-5 275 R Texas Tech [Contain] [+1] 78 DE Adam Williams 6-8 266 6 Purdue [Contain] [-1] 81 CB Logan Swain 6-1 187 R Louisville [Man Coverage] [0] 81 Houston needs a Center for the future, and they tapped Byron Alexander to be that guy (maybe a round too early for me). He looks to have a promising future, and luckily won't have to start right away. The Texans also signed Aden Hastings. The now Journeyman Center will likely get the start for 2024. I like that move. It gives you a veteran presence on the OL, and allows you to sit a a guy who needs some seasoning before getting major minutes. I fell in love with Curtis Jones during my scouting process. He too went way early in my mind, but I think the Texans had a playmaker on their hands. He's very athletic for a DE, but just an average athlete for OLB. Some experts would put him at OLB, but I'd put him at DE. That's where he played his whole college career at (and excelled by the way). Placing him on the DL with Bob Ballard and Robert Fulton will make a fearsome DL down the line. But, year one, we probably won't see that. Veteran Adam Williams is in Houston after spending a very quiet year in Seattle. He had just 1 Tackle and 1 Sack last year, so I don't expect much from Williams. He's at worst a one-for-one replacement for Miles Slater. As mentioned earlier, Houston has severely struggled at Corner for what feels like ever. He is injured, and won't be back to full strength until about Mid-Season. But I did like him quite a bit. He was an absolute ball hawk at Louisville, and his success in Houston will be huge for the Franchise's long term plans. The South loves to throw, so having competent Corners is a bare minimum. Strengths Balanced Offense. Houston should be in a position to run a balanced Gameplan. This should allow Leshoure to be a little more careful and cut back on the Picks, while also allowing for greater ball control and stay on the field more. Giving that defense as much help as possible is necessary. Weaknesses OL Depth. They still have solid to good starters, but they don't have much behind them. This team really can't weather an injury to a starter. CB. With Swain injured, their top guys are: Shane Brinkley, Tom Wyman, and Leveon Brooks. That doesn't give me much hope. This is the clear weak point on Defense to target, and I think will lead to Houston losing games they probably shouldn't lose. Schedule Houston will stay level with their 2023 Selves. The South is a bloodbath, and I think Houston is clearly a step behind everyone else. Indianapolis Colts 2023 Record: 9-7 Offense Rank: 10th Defense Rank: 19th Overall Rank: 15th 3 Key Players Offense QB Aaron Shea 6-2 204 6 Missouri [Pocket] [+2/C] 99 RB J.B. Blacknall 5-8 207 4 UAB [Power] [0] 89 WR Mosi Bartos 5-8 161 8 Boston College [Speed] [-1] [++] 89 Shea completed over 62% of his passes for over 4K Yards with 38 Touchdowns and 11 Picks. Like Leshoure, he was one of the most pass heavy guys in the league (tied for 7th). He's one of the best players in the NFLHC, and is my lord and savior. Like Houston, we really haven't had a running game during his tenure (2018 excluded). Now, we have a bonafide good RB in JBB, so I'd like to see us go more balanced as well. JBB finished 14th in the League with 1,126 Yards. He had 843 Yards and 7 TDs on 4.41 YPC with Indy. He also broke The Streak. Having a true running threat in the backfield should only make the passing game that much more fearsome. Mosi is one our Franchise's cornerstone guys. He's been a playmaker since he stepped onto the field in 2016, and that only took off to a new level once we brought in Shea. Now, he's clearly near the end of his career. He was 3rd on the team last year with 710 Yards and tied for 5th on the team with 3 TDs. He still has more in his legs, and we will absolutely get every last ounce out of them. The Offense should once again be Top 10. 3 Key Players Defense DE Anthony Miller 6-3 253 4 Tennessee [Blitz] [0] 91 ILB Kelly Mitchell 6-3 217 6 Michigan State [Will] [+2/C] 89 FS Sean Burton 6-0 202 9 Oklahoma [Zone Coverage] [0/C] 89 Anthony Miller lead the team with 14.5 Sacks and 9 TFL in 2023. Since coming to Indy, he's only gotten better and better. He gives us a constant presence in the other team's backfield, and has the ability to ruin any QB's day. Kelly Mitchell has been moved from his natural position to playing Coverage OLB. He had 58 Tackles and a Pick last year, and is the Franchise leader in career tackles (309). We didn't have a good option opposite Lukas Forman in 2023, so we slotted Mitchell over there. His performance there will be key for our defense. If he adapts well, we'll have a pretty damn good Front-7. Otherwise, we'll have issues on the 2nd Level. I don't need to hype up Sean Burton too much, He's the Franchise leader in Picks (33), Defensive TDs (4), and PD (16). He finished 2nd on the team with 42 Tackles, while leading us with 4 Picks and 4 PD last season. He's the ultimate playmaker back there, and has multiple All Pros to prove it. We have legit playmakers on all three levels of the defense. Biggest Losses RB James Otero WR Keith Setzer TE Cayden Reese OT Craig Foster Otero was a shell of himself when we brought him, and was even a further shell of himself last year. We won't miss much from him on the field. Setzer was a solid player for us, but had a couple injury issues and couldn't stay on the field. We aren't super deep at WR, so his loss does sting a little. Reese was tagged to be our starter after Shane Kaufman. But injuries derailed his career and allowed Tyler Dotson to go beast mode. He was a rotational guy who played well when he got action, but couldn't stay healthy. We'll miss him in that role, but his loss isn't huge. Foster was a back up level player last year, and nothing more. We won't miss him much. Biggest Additions WR Sean Waller 6-2 167 3 USC [Speed] [0] 82 OT Oliver Lewis 6-6 309 5 Arizona [Run Blocking] [-2] 80 K Garrett Strange 5-10 194 R Northwestern [Power] [0/C] 82 With losing Setzer, and having a couple young guys not really progressing well, we needed a WR. Denver didn't have use for him, so we swapped some mediocre players for each other. I don't expect much out of Waller, but I'm hopeful with an actual good QB he can show some of his potential that I saw in him when he went pro. Lewis is just a replacement for Foster. Anyone who's paid 1/2 a minute of attention to us knows we've had kicking issues since like 2020. We used our first pick (a 3rd Rounder) on Strange. We desperately need some talent and stability there. We have high expectations for Strange. Strengths More Balanced Offense? Having a legit RB now should allow us to take some pressure off of Shea. I think getting him help back there will only make us better. Healthy WR. We had tons of injuries at WR last year, and were relying on Practice Squad guys to get us through Week 17. Having these guys back and healthy will be huge. Defensive Line. We have one of the best, if not the best, DL in the whole league. We really don't need to bring blitzes to get after the QB. That gives us a ton of flexibility with the rest of the defense. Weaknesses WR Depth. We may be healthy, but we aren't very deep. An injury to Mosi or QP will strain us once again. SS. We don't really have an answer here. Neither Jonathan Norman or Brody Gibbons is separating themselves clearly from the other. We do have Sean Burton to help, but we need the SS Spot to get locked down by one guy. Schedule I think we're better than 9-7, but we have a tough schedule. We get the NFCN, Pittsburgh on the road (who I'm high on again), Buffalo, KC and LV out of the West and of course we play in the South. We don't have many favorable Road Games (LAC and Houston are the only true answers). If we had even an average schedule strength, we're an 11-Win team with no doubt in my mind. Jacksonville Jaguars 2023 Record: 13-3 Offense Rank: 3rd Defense Rank: 3rd Overall Rank: 2nd 3 Key Players Offense QB Taylor Rodriguez 6-1 209 6 Arizona [Pocket] [0] 90 RB Asante Sowell 6-3 194 5 Wisconsin [Power] [0] [+] 96 WR Raheem Robinson 6-3 192 4 Oklahoma State [Speed] [0] 96 Tay Rod tied with Shea for the 7th Most Attempts last season. He was actually very good, throwing for over 4,300 Yards with 32 Touchdowns and 5 Picks. By QB Rating, he was the 3rd best starting QB in the league (behind Harris and Lester). Having a guy that good makes up for so many deficiencies. It also doesn't hurt to have 2 guys on your offense who are arguably Top 3 at their Positions. Sowell finished 5th in attempts in 2021 with 291. He rushed for 1,472 Yards with 15 Touchdowns on 5.06 YPC. It's not fair having two guys this efficient and this good on the same team. I would like to make a formal complaint to the Commissioner's Office. Joking aside, Sowell gives this team a big play threat. Any time the ball is in his hands, opposing teams have to hold their breath and hope he doesn't torch you. Another deep threat is the incredible Raheem Robinson. Raheem lead the entire league in both Catches (113) and Yards (1,528). He also had 11 Touchdowns, which lead the team. Just like Sowell, he can take any touch the distance. Having guys like them in your offense stretches the field and opens up everything for everyone else. 3 Key Players Defense DE Ron Rice 6-6 275 8 Michigan [Blitz] [0] 94 ILB Christian Haywood 6-3 243 5 Arizona [Mike] [0/C] 91 CB Jay Wade 5-10 211 5 Alabama [Zone Coverage] [0/C] 90 Rice was an absolute stud last year, leading the team with 16 Sacks while finishing 2nd with 9 TFL. Like all elite Pass Rushers, Rice is a guy you have to gameplan around. You need to double team him, chip him, keep your RB back on his side. Anything to slow him down. What this does is take passing options off the field, and leaves other pass rushers usually in 1-on-1 battles. Haywood is a stout tackler, leading the team with 68 last season. He added in a Sack and 2 TFL. I would definitely like to see him get more involved in the backfield, but even if he's just a stud tackler in the middle of the defense, you can't go wrong there. Jay Wade is the top dog in the CB corps, and had 5 Picks and 7 PD last season. You play in a division with Leshoure, Shea, and Wheeler, you have to defend the pass. Wade is very good at that. The Jags have studs on every level. Biggest Losses WR Marcus Holmes TE Derek Harrison OT Rafael O'Donnell DE Preston Bryant FS Seth Scott Losing Holmes will have a big impact. He had over 1K Yards and 6 Touchdowns last season. He was a huge threat opposite of Raheem, and added another big play threat to the Offense. He wasn't replaced, so his loss will be hard to bear. Derek Harrison finally hung them up, he wasn't very involved in the offense. He had just 244 Yards and 2 Touchdowns last season. So, I don't think his loss will be very impactful. TE Jordan Kemp looks to be a very good blocker, but likely isn't much of a receiving threat. But, again, neither was Harrison last year. O'Donnell was a back-up last year, who got an insane contract in New York after a good progression. The Jags were deep at OT, so his loss isn't too big. Preston Bryant was also a very good DE. He had 10 Sacks and 12 TFL last season. The Jags didn't truly replace him, so his loss will be hugely impactful in the defense. Rice and Bryant combined for 26 Sacks, the rest of the team had 6 total combined. Seth Scott showed insane potential as a Junior at Colorado, but a poor Senior year and poor pre-draft process took off most of the shine. The Jags picked up him to hopefully settle the FS position. He never made it past a rotational role alongside Kevin Johnson. I don't think losing him will be a big deal. Biggest Additions QB Jake Davis 6-3 227 R Washington [Pocket] 82 DE Tyriek Humphrey 6-2 245 R Arizona [Contain] 78 FS Prince Pruitt 5-10 215 R Oklahoma State [Zone Coverage] 81 Trading up to take Jake Davis was surely a shock to me. In my mind, you make that move for one of two reasons. 1. You don't think Rodriguez is worth his second contract. 2. You think Davis will be an elite player. Statistically, Rodriguez is absolutely worth a 2nd Contract. Of course, you have to pay Sowell and Raheem. A rookie QB gives you a cheap starter for 3 years, and then a below market QB for the 4th year. I've never been a big fan of Rodriguez, so I don't think he's worth that next contract. Of course, the Jags are in position to compete for a Superbowl right now. Not taking a guy who gives you help year one is hard for me to stomach. Nothing against Jake Davis, but if Jacksonville never wins the Superbowl, fans may point to his drafting as a reason why. Tyriek Humphrey was pretty good in College, combining for 16.5 Sacks over the past two years. Ron Rice seems to think he's a good fit opposite him after Training Camp. But, he's not Preston Bryant. He may struggle this year and the Jags' pass rush will take a hit. The Jags took Pruitt to be their solution at FS. He was a good prospect, and has acquitted himself nicely with his teammates. He should be a solid player for them year one. Strengths Raheem/Asante - Having guys these good gives your offense versatility and big play threats. Even if your QB is having an off game, Raheem and Asante can pick up the load and carry the team to a win. Offensive Line. Some of these guys are aging, but they're still very talented. This unit will give Sowell plenty of open lanes and keep Rodriguez upright. Weaknesses WR Depth. After Raheem, it becomes a black hole. Taylor Eifert is a fine depth player at WR, but is the #2 guy. Tyrone Turner is the 3rd Guy, and Antonio Caldwell is the Slot guy. I don't think the Jags have a truly reliable receiver after Robinson. Front-7 Depth. The Jags have 1 backup DE, maybe no backup DTs (if running 4-3), 1 backup OLB, and a couple backup ILBs. An injury to one of these positions will leave a gaping hole. Schedule I think the Jags take a step back. The South has a couple tough match-ups, with the NFCN and AFCW. Tennessee Titans 2023 Record: 9-7 Offense Rank: 8th Defense Rank: 12th Overall Rank: 11th 3 Key Players Offense QB Thomas Wheeler 6-1 208 9 Florida State [Pocket] [+1/C] [+] 93 RB Chad Dess 6-1 241 9 Virginia [Power] [-1] 88 WR Kevin Williams 6-0 165 8 Boston College [Speed] [+3/C] 91 Wheeler wasn't have a great season by his standards before his injury. He completed over 58% of his passes for 9 TDs and 4 Picks, with a QB Rating of 85.82. The Titans have to hope that he recovers well and goes back to his old self. Even with him gone, the Titans still managed to go 9-7 and just miss the playoffs. Dess was very good last year, rushing for 1,361 Yards and 15 Touchdowns on 4.99 YPC. He has been insanely efficient since coming to Tennessee, and last year was no exception. He's a very good counter in the offense to Wheeler and plays his role exceptionally well. K Will is one of the most unlikely stars in the NFLHC. He lead the team with 1,120 Yards and 8 Touchdowns. No other receiver had more than 766 Yards, Williams was very clearly the best target out wide. All three guys are aging, so their effectiveness has a ticking clock. But, they will still be a good trio this year and help lead a good Titans Offense. 3 Key Players Defense DE Tyler Jones 6-1 257 4 Mississippi State [Contain] [0] 93 ILB Tyrese Thompson 6-3 228 2 Auburn [Mike] [-1/C] 86 CB Jack Ramsey 6-2 172 6 Virginia Tech [Zone Coverage] [-2] 96 Jones lead the team with 11.5 Sacks and 10 TFL last season. Having your DE in a 3-4 be that good in pass rush is such a bonus. He's such an impactful player, and is a menace on all 3 downs. Thompson has gotten to a bit of slow start in his career. He had 36 Tackles with a Pick, a Sack, and 2 FF last season. Not a terrible year, but I think Thompson has much more in him. The Titans do need a reliable player there in the middle. Jacksonville and Indy have good running backs, and the Tits have to stop them. That will be the primary focus of Thompson's season, if the Titans can shut down those running games, they stand a much better chance to win. Ramsey wants a bigger contract, and he has absolutely earned it. He had 5 Picks and 3 PD last season. Like I've mentioned in this preview, having good corners is an absolute must in this Division. Biggest Losses QB Ryan Clark OLB Jeff Cox Clark was brought in to start once Wheeler went down. He was mostly solid, throwing for over 62% of his passes with 14 TDs and 8 Picks. He also rushed for 207 Yards and 5 Touchdowns. But, losing him won't hurt as long as Wheeler stays healthy. With the ascension of Terrence Plummer, the Titans could afford to move on from Cox. He'd been a long term Titan, but I think Tennessee will be fine. Biggest Additions TE Mikal Valentine 6-3 192 R Missouri [Receiving] [0] 81 DE Glenn Thorpe 6-0 271 R Clemson [Contain] [-2] 81 FS Logan Evans 5-11 203 R Miami(FL) [Zone Coverage] [0/C] 81 Hastin Rider just hasn't panned out. He had just 354 Yards and a TD in 2023. I think his time is clearly going to be up soon. I like Valentine coming out, I think he'll at least be equivalent to Rider. But, it's much more likely in my mind that he'll be much better. Thorpe was one of the DEs who fell a little bit during the draft process. Steven Jordan had a good season in 2023, but is in the twilight of his career. Thorpe showed insane potential early on, but got crowded out later in his collegiate career. I think he'll be a good fit in Tennessee long term. Poor Evans, he'll miss around half of the regular season, but graded very well during Pro Days and Combine. He looks like a very good player in the making. Strengths Healthy Wheeler. Getting Wheeler back to full strength will go a long way for this team. Stability. The core of this team returns and gets healthy. The Titans were an 11-Win team if Wheeler stays healthy. So keeping that core together bodes well for 2024. Weaknesses Safety. I had this down as a weakness even before Evans' injury. But, now the starting FS will either be Messiah Henderson or Damani Crump-Jackson while the corpse of Tywan Tafoya holds down the fort at SS. Going deep on the Titans looks like a winning strategy right now. Schedule I really like Tennessee again. In my mind, they're the team to beat in the South going into the season. Divisional Standings Like I just said, I like Tennessee the most. Jacksonville has a really good squad. But their depth and lack of weapons in the passing game concern me right now.
  7. For those unaware, SB Nation has a really interesting series where they look at teams that were either champs, or very close to being champs and how those teams fell apart. Link to an example. I thought it would be interesting to look at a team in NFLHC who fit this model, the New Orleans Saints. Before I post the link to the article, please note this is not an attack on any one person. Sometimes, things just go sideways. Bad Picks are made, players get hurt, etc. Huge shoutout to @acewulf for the graphics, they turned out incredibly. Article - https://app.luminpdf.com/viewer/5ee6895432dd2e0012f49a46
  8. Dallas Cowboys 2023 Record: 11-5 Offense Rank: 12th Defense Rank: 10th Overall Rank: 10th 3 Key Players Offense QB Graham Burnett 6-3 211 4 Oklahoma [Pocket] [0] 91 WR Rodney Montgomery 6-0 185 9 LSU [Target] [-1] 90 OT Justin Campbell 6-6 291 9 Penn State [Run Blocking] [0] 95 The Cowboys sure have come a long way from the Vaughan Abraham Days. Burnett threw the 6th Most Passes in 2023. He was pretty good in doing so, throwing for over 4,600 Yards with 38 TDs and 13 Picks. Dallas has changed their offensive philosophy to get the most out of the former 7th Overall Pick, and it mostly worked. They made the Playoffs as the 6 Seed, but lost a tough first round match-up in San Francisco. There's not reason to think the Boys will go away from that strategy this season, and we should expect a monster year out of Burnett once again. Bringing Montgomery in to help the young QB was a great idea. Rodney lead the team with 1,397 Yards and 9 Touchdowns last year (although DeAndre Felder and Francisco Gibson also had 9 TDs). Rodney is a very smart receiver, and can always find the soft spot to sit down and give Burnett an open target. This duo works great together, and I think they'll be one of the better QB-WR combos again this year. Justin Campbell is an old head. The Cowboys have long had the league's best OL, and Campbell has been a big reason why. Campbell isn't quite as good as he used to be, but he's still damn good. He's a mauler on the end of the line, and I don't think the coaching staff has to worry about his assignments getting blown. 3 Key Players Defense DE Javier Grady 6-1 238 3 North Texas [Blitz] [-1] [+] 85 ILB Sam Richardson 6-2 221 2 South Dakota State [Mike] [0] 81 CB Travis Chatman 5-10 172 10 Washington [Zone Coverage] [0] 95 Javier Grady lead the team with 9 Sacks in 2023, and finished 2nd on the team with 4 TFL. He's somewhat of a bust, as he just hasn't lived up to the first round billing. However, I think he can pull out double digit Sacks-TFL season. I don't think anyone expects Grady to be Ryan Frey or Khairi Bryant, but I do think we should expect more negative plays out of him. Especially with Philly's running attack, the defense needs all the help it can get on making stops in the backfield. That's where I'd like to see Grady improve. Cleo Blair just aged out of his position, and Sam Richardson is here to take his spot. Richardson had 21 Tackles with 2 PD, 2 Sacks, and 1 TFL last season. Not too bad in limited work. Plenty of draft experts had Soldier Brooks linked with Dallas, and I think it would have been a good pick, but when he went a pick ahead, they had to look elsewhere. With Richardson locking down the middle of the defense, there's a lot of pressure on him. He's a lower rated guy to be starting at that position, so I think the Cowboys may have a short-ish leash on Richardson. If he doesn't step up and play well, the Cowboys Defense could be in some trouble. I don't love their OLBs, so I don't think Richardson has a ton of help at that level. Chatman is very quietly one of the best Corners in the league that we just don't talk about. He had 5 Picks and 5 PD last season. Chatman has the ability to shut off one side of the field. The rest of the Cowboys Corners a question mark, so having at least one stellar guy you can rely on is huge for this team. Biggest Losses DE Joseph Randolph ILB Cleo Blair Randolph was let go, and honestly, it was for the better of the team. He was an absolute bust, and had just 3 Sacks last season. 3rd String DE Donte Floyd (now starting) was nearly as good. So, losing Randolph is for the better. Blair had been a mainstay of this team, and losing his presence in the lockerroom and experience in the middle of the field will be difficult. Biggest Additions C Jordan Phillips 6-4 281 R Ball State [Pass Blocking] [0] 81 OG Drew Platt 6-1 289 R Ohio [Pass Blocking] [0] 78 Phillips had one of the best pre-drafts in the league this year. He came out as a 79 OVR 4.5, and then just kept moving his stock up. He won't start year one as Sid Henson rides out his career, but the Cowboys got another cornerstone of their Offensive Line. He'll be a good one. Platt was a 4.0, who came out as a 78. He had a mediocre Combine/Pro Day, but he has plenty of potential and has time to develop. I think he'll be a solid starter for this team in 2-3 seasons. Strengths Stability. The Boys bring back a majority of their starters from an 11-Win Team. They may be aging in some places, but they have enough talent and coaching skill to get back to the playoffs. Passing Attack. I was pretty low on Felder coming out, but he had a 1K Season and 9 Touchdowns. Montgomery had nearly 1.4K Yards, Francisco Gibson had over 800 Yards and 9 TDs as well. They can throw guys at you all over the field. Hell, even Alex Gash can bring some speed as the #4 guy and can spread your secondary thin. Weaknesses Aging OL. The OL is still good, but Campbell, Brown, and Henson have all had at least 8 Years of NFLHC wear and tear on their bodies. These guys are at greater risk for injury, and typically have a lost a step or two and get beaten easier than in years past. This could spell issues at times late in games if Dallas is trying to ice an game or run a 2-Minute Drill. Linebackers. I'm just not a fan of this unit. Losing Bailey makes that even worse of course. Presumed starters are: Jeff Mangum (old and has a red line), Adam Taylor (middle of his career and just average), Marcus Grant (just merely average), and Sam Richardson (young and inexperienced). This could be an area to attack with relative ease, I'd be hard-pressed to see these guys chase Marshawn Miller, Troy White, Allan Taylor, and Maurice White with much success. Schedule I still like Dallas quite a bit. The Defensive Line is solid, the secondary is mostly solid, and I think the Offense will be very good again. 11-5 should put them in prime position to make the Playoffs one again. New York Giants 2023 Record: 2-14 Offense Rank: 32nd Defense Rank: 32nd Overall Rank: 32nd 3 Key Players Offense QB Eric McLean 6-2 206 1 Rice [Pocket] [+2/C] 84 WR Tevin Lattimore 6-2 225 2 Missouri [Target] [-1] 86 OT Ryan Robinson 6-6 299 7 Oklahoma State [Run Blocking] [-1] 91 After controversially trading up to #1 to take McLean, there was a lot of pressure on the young man's shoulders. And he did not come close to meeting those expectations. He completed under 59% of his passes, with 23 Touchdowns and 17 Picks for a QB Rating of 78.62. That QB Rating is 5th worst among players who started at least of their team's games. Of course, the surrounding talent around him wasn't great. They had no running game, and limited options out wide. The Giants have added some weapons, which is nice, but still don't have much of a running game to speak of. Obviously Giants fans are expecting some big improvements this year. They're quite tired of picking Top 3 and would like to see some headway into making the Playoffs. McLean has a lot to prove still, and this year could be the year he breaks out. His best weapon isn't happy being in New York, and that is a problem. Lattimore was 2nd with 786 Yards and 3rd with 5 Touchdowns. They have to fix the chemistry between him and McLean ASAP. Both guys are 1st Rounders and clearly players the franchise has put a lot of stock into. This relationship has to work. 2024 will go a long way to doing that. Ryan Robinson is at least one consistent thing in this offense. He's one player you don't have to keep a close eye on. You know he'll do his job. 3 Key Players Defense DE Khairi Bryant 5-10 263 2 Ohio State [Blitz] [0] 89 ILB Alexander Hutton 6-2 240 1 Michigan [Mike] [+1] [+] 82 FS D'Qwell Moore 6-3 203 3 Florida State [Zone Coverage] [0] [++] 88 Bryant lead the team in both Sacks and TFL last season with 9.5 and 9 Respectively. That's really not a bad season, but it's definitely not elite. Bryant was one of the most polished and hyped prospects we've ever seen. Now, he needs to take the next stop and join the elite at his position. That would go a long way to helping this defense that needs help badly. Alexander Hutton was just OK last season, he head 32 Tackles and 3 TFL. The Giants have had a Black Hole at MLB for a long time, and looked for Hutton to fix that. Of course, not all rookies are built the same and you should expect some rookies to struggle. I'm looking for Hutton to take the next step and really lead his team from his position. D'Qwell is one of the most reliable players on this defense. He finished second with 39 Tackles (not a good sign!) while adding 2 PD and 1 FF. Unfortunately for the Giants, he appears to be a glass cannon. But, having a reliable guy in the back of the defense certainly gives you flexibility. Biggest Losses RB O.J. Carano OG Jerris Jordan Carano was a shell of a shell of himself. He had 286 Yards and 3 TDs on 3.62 YPC. Those 286 Yards actually lead the team. Even though he lead the team, I don't think the Giants will miss him much on the field. Jerris Jordan was not a good player, so I don't think the Giants will miss him much. Biggest Additions RB Chris Bell 6-3 198 5 Navy [Speed] [-2] [+] 81 WR Cotton Lewis 6-1 182 7 Auburn [Target] [0] 82 TE Matt Thomas 6-3 219 6 Hawaii [Receiving] [0/C] 86 OT Rafael O'Donnell 6-5 310 4 Colorado State [Run Blocking] [-1] 86 DT Frank Williams 6-8 293 9 Alabama [1-Gap] [+1/C] 89 CB Jeremiah Butler 5-11 178 R Purdue [Zone Cove age] [+1/C] 81 Chris Bell was brought in to presumably start? That's just not going to go well because Chris Bell sucks shit. Cotton Lewis is also not good, I hope the Giants don't ask him to play a big role. Matt Thomas is a guy I like now (sorry for shitting on him during the draft broadcast Dean). I like bringing him to add another weapon in the passing attack. Rafael O'Donnell is probably a fine OT. The Giants needed another OT, so in he steps. Frank Williams is most definitely not the player he once was, but the Giants had a black hole at DT. He'll likely be a one year solution, but should be a good stopgap. I liked Jeremiah Butler coming out in the Draft, so I like the Giants bringing him in. Will Hall has seemingly plateaued, so I imagine the Giants will replace Hall with Butler in a couple years. Strengths More Experienced McLean. McLean was raw as hell last season, so one more of experience and off-season workouts can only be a positive for this team. New Weapons for McLean. Primarily Matt Thomas is who I'm talking about. Adding Cotton Lewis as a depth piece is fine. Adding to the OL to give him protection is good as well. Surrounding your #1 Pick with weapons is always a good thing. They added a couple youngsters in Uzumati Jones and Major Linton who I both like, just not this year in major roles. Weaknesses Running Game. Chris Bell and Raekown Thomas are the top two guys, and boy is that rough. I imagine the Giants will rotate them in and give them equal amount of work. But either way, we know up front the Giants will have major issues on the ground. Tough Division. All 3 of their opponents are legit Playoff Caliber teams. The Giants could be a better team this year, but it may not necessarily show in the Standings. Schedule I don't see this team being all that better than last year frankly. The offense is one-dimensional, and doesn't quite have the talent to run that one dimension. The defense has some talent, but also has some serious issues. Plus, being the East is likely the worst Division for this team to be in. Philadelphia Eagles 2023 Record: 11-5 Offense Rank: 4th Defense Rank: 15th Overall Rank: 8th 3 Key Players Offense QB Allan Taylor 6-0 202 10 Virginia Tech [Scrambling] [+1/C] 91 RB Marshawn Miller 6-1 225 3 Connecticut [Speed] [-1] 87 WR Michael Hawkins 5-9 196 7 Florida [Speed] [+2] [+] 86 Allan Taylor got injured in the Pre-Season and missed 9 Regular Season Games. Taylor completed just over 62% of his passes with 8 TDs and 5 Picks. He was outperformed by Alex Bridgewater by a slight margin in terms of QB Rating. You definitely have to worry if the injury has taken anything from AT. He was part of the original Draft Class and had injury issues in Jacksonville. He's taken a lot of hits in part to a bad OL early in his career and his play style. Fortunately, the Eagles don't need him to be MVP level for the offense to work. Marshawn was listed above White on the Depth Chart, but White was the primary Back last season. Both averaged over 5.5 YPC. I think it might be time for Marshawn to take over for White, so we'll see if Miller has as good of a season that White did last season. The offense should still be good. Hawkins was limited with injuries as well, so only managed 312 Yards and 2 Touchdowns. But, he should be the #1 Option this year and has had a good connection with AT in years past. The passing game is clearly 2nd Fiddle in Philly, but is still important in creating explosive plays and keeping the defense from just loading the box with 9 Guys. 3 Key Players Defense DE Ryan Frey 6-6 277 6 Miami [Blitz] [+1/C] 98 ILB Rodrick Milligan 6-2 254 10 Michigan [Mike] [0/C] 86 CB Travaris Jackson 5-10 185 3 Eastern Washington [Man Coverage] [0] 89 Ryan Frey lead the team with 15.5 Sacks and 11 TFL. He's one of the best, if not the best, Blitz DE in the league. He's been a monster since the day he stepped into the league. He is a match-up nightmare for every single team they play and has to be double teamed. He creates opportunities for those around him and have allowed the Eagles to rely on the Defensive Line to get pressure on QBs. Rodrick Milligan is still starting in the NFLHC. He lead the team with 79 Tackles last season, and also added 1 PD, 2 Sacks, and 3 TFL. He's a reliable tackler and has lead the middle of the defense here in Philly for a while. He's been a team leader and a guy the Coaching Staff can rely on game in and game out. Travaris Jackson is now the Top Dog at Corner, and the Eagles have a good player in him. He lead the team with 6 Picks and 7 PD. He locks down receivers and I think is clearly a better player than Ball Hawkins. The Eagles have playmakers at all three levels of the defense. Biggest Losses SS Joe Johnson Johnson was one of the original Eagles, and was always a guy they could rely on. But, he had regressed over the past couple of years and was clearly past his prime. The Eagles have a couple guys in Demetrius Kirkpatrick and Brandon Guillory they can replace him with effectively. Biggest Additions WR Ricky Cameron 6-2 189 R Boston College [Target] [+1] [+] 79 OG Kameron Suggs 6-1 274 R Florida State [Run Blocking] [+2/C] 81 ILB Soldier Brooks 6-4 237 R Virginia [Mike] [+1/C] 82 Michael Hawkins and Richard Wilson are both near retirement, and the Eagles need some young talent out wide. Rickey Cameron is a guy with a lot of potential but needs some development. I like him to be a solid player (nothing elite, but perfectly fine) in a couple years when both Hawkins and Wilson are retired. Robert Fontenot is not a caliber starting Guard, so I imagine Suggs will start year one. I like him, he has a lot of potential and should be a long term starter for the Eagles. Soldier Brooks is my baby. He's the future at Mike after Milligan is done, and getting him where they did is highway robbery. I love him. Strengths Stability. The core of this team has returned from last year, and they should be in the hunt for the Playoffs once again. Healthy AT. Having a healthy AT to start the year is huge, Bridgewater was good last year, but he wasn't as good as AT is in this offense. Weaknesses Front-7. There's talent in places, but there's youth in some spots and some real old guys in others. I don't particularly like OLB for this team, neither Dennis Himes or Martin Whiting give me much confidence. Ulysses Smith is old, and Jerraud Blount is super young, so the Right End spot could be a question mark as well. Wide Receiver. The top guys are aging, and I don't love the depth behind them. The passing game isn't the focal point, but an injury to Wilson or Hawkins would really strain the effectiveness of the passing game. Schedule I like this team, they have a tough start to the season. How they rebound after their Bye will determine if this team competes for a Playoff Spot. Their Away games out of Division are mostly favorable (TB, SEA, NE), which helps a lot. Washington Redskins 2023 Record: 14-2 Offense Rank: 2nd Defense Rank: 5th Overall Rank: 3rd 3 Key Players Offense QB Tanner Bowman 6-2 203 3 Penn State [Pocket] [+1] 92 RB Maurice White 5-11 231 1 Oklahoma [Power] [+1] 85 WR Sam Hiller-Weeden 6-3 205 4 Fresno State [Target] [-1] 91 Not many teams have a trio of players on offense this young. Bowman was excellent in 2023. He completed over 64% of his passes for over 4,500 Yards with 31 Touchdowns and 13 Picks. He's an absolute stud. Then of course, you add in Maurice White. He ran for over 1,400 Yards with 12 Touchdowns on 5.75 YPC. I honestly don't know how you defend this backfield. You have a really efficient Quarterback and an absolute bowling ball RB who will run all over you. And of course, you have to add in SHW. He had injury issues last year, and only played in 11 Games. He had 861 Yards and 3 Touchdowns. He's a stud out wide, he's big and can bully just about every DB he plays against. I don't have much more to add, this trio is incredibly difficult to defend. 3 Key Players Defense DE Jonathan Bridges 6-6 267 5 Penn State [Blitz] [-1] 91 OLB Derrick Martin 6-0 241 9 UCLA [Blitz] [+1] 90 CB Tre'Davious Dikes 6-2 199 2 Oregon [Man Coverage] [0] 86 Bridges was second on the team with 10.5 Sacks, and first with 6 TFL. He's among the top DE's in the league. He's a consistent menace to opposing teams, and is a guy you have to gameplan for and double team. Derrick Martin actually lead the team with 11.5 Sacks. So, you double team Bridges, and then Martin comes from the other side and overwhelms your OL. This duo works off of each other very well and completely alters the opposing team's offensive strategy. Tre Dikes lead the team with 6 Picks and 4 PD. He's now overtaken Michael Barber as the Top Corner, and has a lot of pressure on his shoulders. The Skins Pass Defense was very good last season, and he has to maintain the status quo. Biggest Losses TE Oscar Fisk OG Virgil Madison OT Preston Gill OT Tom Scott Fisk was lost in the weeds in this TE group, and his loss won't be impactful at all. Madison was a borderline starter, but then again so is Angelo Denny. That is an area of concern for the Skins, I think they might be better off had Madison stayed with the team. Preston Gill was never an elite player, but a good one with a lot of experience. He's been replaced by Gabe Morrison, so I think the Skins are in good shape there. Tom Scott was a depth player with a lot of experience, and that's hard to replace. But Jon Hartman will take his place, so again, they'll be fine. None of these losses will make a serious impact. Biggest Additions RB Chester Henson 5-11 226 10 USC [Speed] [0/C] 82 TE Abdoul Brinson 6-2 198 R Louisiana-Monroe [Receiving] [-1] [#] 79 OT Gabe Morrison 6-4 278 R Michigan [Pass Blocking] [-1] 82 K Mason Williams 5-9 152 R Illinois [Accuracy] [0] 82 Chester Henson is no longer a feared player. But the Skins needed a sidekick to White, and Henson has already publicly expressed his excitement to play that role and help mentor White. He may only get 10 or so carries a game at best, but he can still bring a speed threat to the edge. Brinson was brought in to try and bring some stability to the TE Group. Frank Moffett is unhappy and regressed hard very unexpectedly. He will probably not start, but could bring valuable contributions in a rotational role before possibly starting in 2025. Gabe Morrison will likely start at Tackle, and he looks like he'll be a really good player for a long time. Mason Williams graded super well in the pre-draft process, and the Skins took him in the 3rd to replace a guy they had just picked up the year before. He did well in Camps, so it looks like he'll be a good player as well. Strengths Versatile Offense. The Skins can win both in the air and on the ground. If Bowman has a rough game, they can lean on White to win. If White isn't working, they can rely on Bowman to win. They're one of the tougher offenses in the league to stop. Secondary. With Dikes, Barber, Whitney, and Driver, the Skins have a reliable and talented secondary to lean on. The Pass Rush and Secondary work off of each other very well, the secondary lock down receivers early and allows Bridges/Martin to get to the QB. Weaknesses TE. I really don't know what's going on there. I don't know who's going to start, who's going to be in the rotation. They have logjam and mid to upper 70s guy there. It won't be that big of a deal because of how good the receivers are, but having a question mark at TE is not a good thing. Linebackers. I don't think the LBs are as bad as some do, but if you're going to attack an area of this defense, it's clearly the Linebackers. Martin is a very good Pass Rusher, but I don't know how good he is in coverage. Anthony Brown was never very good, Nicholas Haskell is just fine, Raheem Burkett is meh. They're the biggest weakness of the defense. Schedule 14-2 is very difficult to duplicate. Philly and Dallas are tough match-ups on the road late in the season. SF is a tough team on the road, and Detroit is still a very good team. Those 4 feel like losses to me at this point. However, I do think Washington is capable to winning any of those games. 12 Wins feels like the floor for them to me. Divisional Standings I still think Washington is top Dog in the East, but Dallas and Philly are Playoff Caliber teams. The Giants are still one of the worst teams in the league.
  9. Buffalo Bills 2023 Record: 11-5 Offense Rank: 13th Defense Rank: 6th Overall Rank: 6th 3 Key Players Offense QB Matt Jones 6-3 208 2 Purdue [Pocket] [0] 89 WR Gary Faneca Sr. 6-5 189 10 Oregon [Speed] [+2/C] 90 C Xavier Cuellar 6-3 249 2 Florida [Run Blocking] [+2/C] 90 Matt Jones is well on his way to being a top Quarterback in the league. He finished 2023 with nearly 4K Yards with 32 Touchdowns. He is the heart of the offense now, they have no running game right now. He'll have to carry this offense on his back now 100%. The Bills will live or die on the arms of Matt Jones, and there are plenty of worse QB's do that with. He's got a pretty damn good player to help him out in Gary Faneca Sr. Faneca lead the team with 1,074 Yards, while finishing second with 6 Touchdowns in 2023. He's made a great target for Jones, and I think that bond will get even stronger in 2024. The Bills receiving Corps has been fairly decimated, so Faneca will get a lot of attention. His play will make a huge difference in the outcome of the Bills season. Xavier Cuellar was picked 6 picks after Matt Jones, and has turned into a stud himself. He captains the Offensive Line (which had a very good season in 2023), and I think a lot of their improvement can be tied to Cuellar. He'll keep Matt Jones protected. 3 Key Players Defense DE Anthony Ortiz 6-7 262 7 Oklahoma State [Blitz] [0] 91 ILB C.J. Thomas 6-4 240 4 Georgia [Mike] [0/C] [#] 89 CB Elijah Williams 6-1 199 R Oklahoma [Zone Coverage] [-2] 84 Ortiz lead the team with 13.5 Sacks, and was second on the team with 7 TFL. He and Rodney Galbreath have made a great duo in their time together. Ortiz is the Star, and still manages to get constant pressure on the Quarterback. In a Division that likes to throw, Ortiz is insanely valuable. Brian Brown must be disrupted if you're going to beat him, and Ortiz is critical in that mission. C.J. Thomas suffered through a couple rough personal years in Cleveland. After being traded to the Bills, he's made his happiness public and clear. Thomas had 71 Tackles last year. Brick Madden, who started at ILB for Buffalo, had just 43. The middle of the Bills defense just got that much better. The Front-7 is stout with Ortiz/Galbreath at DE and Hammond/Thomas/Hernandez at LB. One area the Bills needed to improve at on Defense was at Corner. They were pretty poor at that position. They made a huge trade to get up to #3 and take Elijah Williams. I love Williams, and I loved that move. He instantly makes their Secondary much better. Biggest Losses RB Ron Thomas WR Jarius Shaw-Dodd TE Matt Thomas Losing weapons around your young QB when you're trying to make a playoff push is not ideal. Thomas had some injury issues last year, and only played 11 Games as a result. He was pretty good in those games however. He finished with 835 Yards with 7 Touchdowns on 5.19 YPC. He was getting around 14 Carries/Game. While not necessarily Pro Bowl Numbers, he was a reliable weapon in the backfield to give this offense a real threat in the running game. JSD was 2nd on the team with 846 Yards, and lead the team with 7 Touchdowns. He was moved to the Browns in order to get C.J. Thomas. Thomas is a better player in my mind, and makes their strong defense even better. But, now the depth at WR is bad. Isaiah Cronin is the next guy up. During the draft, Matt Thomas was traded away as part of the move to get to #3. At the time, I felt that Thomas wasn't that good of a player and wasn't a big deal to lose. However, in doing research, I found he was much better than I had thought. He had over 800 Yards and 4 TDs in 2023. His 813 Yards was 6th best among Tight Ends. His replacement is Anthony Fasani, who had 109 Yards being the #2 Tight End behind Matt. I think his loss will be big as well. Now, without much of a running game, the Bills lost 2 of their Top 3 Receivers. Biggest Additions RB Marshawn Matthison 6-0 234 5 NC State [Speed] [-3] [#] 81 OT D'Neal Norris 6-4 272 R Iowa State [Run Blocking] [-1] 81 ILB C.J. Thomas 6-4 240 4 Georgia [Mike] [0/C] [#] 89 CB Elijah Williams 6-1 199 R Oklahoma [Zone Coverage] [-2] 84 Marshawn has had some success in a limited role in Buffalo before. He was with Denver last season, and was brutally bad. He had just 593 Yards and 2 Touchdowns on 3.62 YPC. Right now, he's slotted to start at RB. I imagine he won't get much more than 10 Carries per game. His #2 is Rookie Etano Wendt. The running game in Buffalo is going to be a trainwreck. D'Neal Norris isn't slotted to start this year. However, Robert Haynes is on the verge of retirement and Norris is clearly his successor. Keeping up the Offensive Line has to be a priority for the Bills, and I loved picking him. Strengths Defense - The Front-7 (minus a big hole at DT) is in stellar shape. The secondary is looking much better after the addition of Elijah Williams. The Safeties are good. This team looks to be nearly a complete Defense. They were ranked 6th last season, and they should improve on that. Weaknesses Lack of Weapons Around Jones. I've touched on it a bit already, but they've lost quite a few big weapons on offense. The offense will likely take a step back this season, they have to hope Jones can carry them to the playoffs. DT. Like I mentioned above, this position is the lone true weakness in the Front-7. If they're going to get beat down, it will be up the middle. They made a move to limit this, but they may still struggle with power running teams. Schedule I think Buffalo will struggle against top teams out of their division. Pittsburgh's Defense should contain their offense pretty well, Dallas's passing attack could take their CBs to task, Washington is just a more complete team. However, 10-6 should be good enough to make the playoffs. Miami Dolphins 2023 Record :11-5 Offense Rank: 17th Defense Rank: 4th Overall Rank: 7th 3 Key Players Offense QB Brian Brown 6-4 228 9 Boise State [Pocket] [+1/C] 99 RB Marcus Barry 6-0 193 8 Ohio State [Power] [-1] 88 WR J.C. Weldon 6-2 183 3 West Virginia [Target] [0] 92 Brian Brown is Brian Brown. I don't need to say much more honestly. Marcus Barry has had a couple injury issues in recent seasons. He played 12 Games in 2023, and finished with 802 Yards with 7 Touchdowns on 4.8 YPC. His role has certainly decreased over the years, but he is still effective with the ball in his hands. His time in the league is coming to an end sooner rather than later, but he's still a very good counter in the offense to Brian Brown. Weldon finished 4th in the league in Receiving Yards in 2023, while adding 10 Touchdowns. He's become one of the best young receivers in the league, and is completely reliable. 3 Key Players Defense DE Dexter Flowers 6-1 265 4 Southern Miss [Blitz] [0] [#] 90 ILB Phillip Moore 5-11 216 7 Houston [Will] [0/C] 89 CB Justin Davis 5-11 173 8 Florida [Zone Coverage] [+1/C] 95 Flowers had 4 Sacks and 5 TFL in 2023. That's not nearly good enough. The team leader in sacks was Benjamin Blankenship with 6.5. This team as a whole has to get much better at rushing the passer. But, that starts with Flowers foremost. He's the clear #1 Pass Rusher by Rating now. They need him to step up in a big way. Phillip Moore has been the leader of the defense for a while now. He lead the team with 57 Tackles, while adding 2 Sacks and 3 TFL. You don't normally expect your Will LB to get Sacks, but Moore is able to slither his way into the backfield every once in a while. With a young and inexperienced DT in front of him, the Phins need Moore to be at the top of his game. Justin Davis had 4 Picks and 6 PD in 2023. He has the ability to shut down one side of the field, and that forces teams to target Laurent Christensen (which isn't a good idea either). As the leader of the secondary, Davis takes on the pressure of making plays and shutting down whoever he goes up against. Biggest Losses DT Josh Wilson Wilson had 3 Sacks and a TFL in 2023. However, the Phins picked up a young guy at the Draft who I think will be a much better player than Wilson. I don't think his loss will be all that big. Biggest Additions WR Sila Aveau 6-3 195 R USF [Speed] [- 1] [#] 79 OG Raphael Read 6-7 256 R Illinois [Pass Blocking] [-1] 81 DT Dominique Black 6-2 287 R Washington [1-Gap] [+1] 81 FS Adam Carroll 6-2 209 R Maryland [Zone Coverage] [0] [+] 80 After Weldon, the Phins WR Depth gets shaky. Jermaine Jennings looks good. But then it's Sonny Beckett and Sam Baugh. Sila will slot in between Baugh and Beckett. I'm not huge on him, but a great QB can elevate a poor receiver. Black is the younger DT I mentioned above. He may not be an All-Pro level player, but I think he'll get comfortably into the Above Average Category. That'd be a big improvement over what Miami has had there for a while. Safety has been an issue for a while. With the drafting of Antonio Jackson last season, that's starting to change. The Phins didn't really have a player they could count on coming into the draft at FS. Carroll had a good Camp and looks to be a solid Rookie Starter. Strengths Stability. The core of the team is back. There are very few positions with new starters. There shouldn't be too much variation from last year. Brian Brown. Having the league's best Quarterback makes up for lots of sins. Weaknesses RB. The Phins have to be worried about their backfield. Barry is getting older, and has started suffering injuries. They brought in Ricardo Reed to be the #2, and Gabe Ciamo was pretty dreadful last year in relief of Barry. The running game doesn't lead this offense, but the balance they bring is still super important to the team. Age. The Phins have been stable for a lone time. However, that means they're getting older. Injuries will become more common. More players will retire, or at least lose a step or two. Schedule Miami is still a solid team. The East as a whole is getting better, but I do feel like Miami is a step above the rest. New England Patriots 2023 Record: 6-10 Offense Rank: 25th Defense Rank: 18th Overall Rank: 23rd 3 Key Players Offense QB Josh Beckett 6-3 211 1 Georgia Tech [Pocket] [+2/C] 83 RB Ron Thomas 6-0 194 6 Iowa [Speed] [-3] 88 WR Jamel Beckham 6-0 213 5 TCU [Target] [-1] [#] 86 Josh Beckett took over part way through the season after Reggie Watkins struggled. He was worse. He finished with just above 50% completion, while throwing more Picks than Touchdowns. I think we can pin a lot of that to inexperience. Beckett wasn't ready to start, and it showed. However, the Pats have now turned to Beckett permanently. They need to see improvement immediately. Being a 2nd Round Pick means the Pats could go away from him if he's really bad again. If he's really bad, they'll be picking Top 3-5 and would be in great position to grab a new QB. The Pats picked up Thomas after he moved on from Buffalo. The Pats had some major injury issues at RB last season, with Tom Honeycutt getting the most of the carries. He was mostly good. However, Ron Thomas is clearly much better. Giving your young QB a talented RB to help him out is always a good idea. The Pats can be balanced on offense, and let Thomas shoulder some of the weight to give Beckett some help. Beckham finished 2nd on the team with 750 Yards, and first with 7 Touchdowns last season. He's listed as the #1 WR on the Depth Chart, making him Beckett's top target. He'll need to give his QB a consistently open target. 3 Key Players Defense DE Deontre Graham 6-7 244 1 Alabama [Contain] [-1/C] 85 OLB Phillip Davenport 5-11 226 2 Arizona [Blitz] [0/C] [+] 87 CB Dave Stokley 6-2 199 9 Minnesota [Man Coverage] [0] 89 The Pats employ a 3-4 Scheme, which asks the DE to be more of a Run-Stopper than a Pass Rusher. Graham finished his rookie season with 6.5 Sacks, 5 TFL, and 2 FF. For a rookie season, not bad. However, they need their Top 5 Pick to be more impactful. He'll need to get more than 14 Tackles, and I'd like to see him get to 10+ TFL. Phillip Davenport has been really good for the Pats, just a great pick for them. He finished 2023 with 70 Tackles, 7.5 Sacks, and 9 TFL. He was clearly their most important player statistically on Defense. Stokley lead the team with 5 Picks and 4 PD last season. He's consistently been their best secondary player for a long time. He's starting to regress, but is still a very good player. Biggest Losses QB Reggie Watkins ILB Mark Craig CB Jayshawn Watts SS Norris Nolan Watkins was mostly good in his time in New England. However, his time had come to an end as the Pats turned to a young gun. He was a leader, and a veteran presence. They'll miss him more in the locker room than on the field. Craig had been in New England for a long time, but much like Watkins, had aged out of his position. The Pats drafted his replacement and let the vet go. Jayshawn Watts was a former Cleveland Browns First Rounder. And his career clearly did not match his draft pick. Losing depth at CB sucks, but it's not like Jayshawn Watts was a stud. Nolan wasn't much more than an average player, who had been replaced during the draft. Most of these guys won't be missed much. Biggest Additions RB Ron Thomas 6-0 194 6 Iowa [Speed] [-3] 88 WR Spencer Sharpe 6-2 196 R California [Speed] [0] 79 DT Nikolas Gleason 6-2 317 3 Army [2-Gap] [0] [#] 82 OLB Daquan Darcey 6-4 232 4 TCU [Coverage] [-2] [#] 84 ILB Marcus Coles 6-2 230 R Tennessee [Mike] [0/C] [#] 81 CB Blake Turner 6-3 176 4 Ohio State [Man Coverage] [-2] 85 SS Jarvis Bolton 6-1 192 R Georgia [Zone Coverage] [0] 83 I've already talked about Thomas, so I'll skip him here. The Pats WR Depth is not good, so Spencer Sharpe will get some good minutes year one. New England had a huge hole at DT, and had to do something about it. They brought over Gleason from Dallas, and while I don't think Gleason will be a stud, he'll be decent enough up the middle for the Pats. Darcey is clearly a bust, the former first rounder floundered in New York before being released. New England had a hole at OLB, so they tapped the former division rival to fill it. I don't think he'll do much for them. Coles is a guy I liked a bit during the draft, and he's slotted to start at Mike LB right away. The Pats gave Blake Turner and insane amount of money, and I hate that so much. He sucks shit. Bolton could be a generational player at SS. Getting him where they did was fantastic. Strengths New Weapons for Beckett. Bringing in Ron Thomas, along with Rookie Speedster Trevor Workman adds some depth and talent in the backfield. Adding to the depth at WR, and giving Beckett more targets out wide was a good move as well. Offensive Line. The Pats have a good OL, Randolph and Sutton are the leaders. They'll keep Beckett protected and should give Ron Thomas some holes to run through. Weaknesses Youth. The Pats have gotten super young. While they've added some good talent, that youth and inexperience will bite them this year. That's the price you pay though, and I'm certain the Pats Front Office are OK with that given the potential long term. Schedule While I like most of the moves they've made, I think this team will take a step back. A full season of Beckett at QB will lead to a few dud games. New York Jets 2023 Record: 8-8 Offense Rank: 28th Defense Rank: 11th Overall Rank: 20th 3 Key Players Offense QB Erik Wegert 6-4 218 8 Wisconsin [Pocket] [+1/C] 94 TE Jonas Schumacher 6-5 209 R Ohio State [Receiving] [0] 80 OT Darnerien Sohn 6-7 306 6 Miami (FL) [Pass Blocking] [+2/C] 97 Wegert tore his ACL partway through the season, and regressed 2 Points. In the time he did play, he struggled. He completed under 60% of his passes while throwing 5 TDs and 5 Picks. The Jetes need him to rebound in a big way. The QB positions was an area of weakness on a weak Offense. Wegert has historically been very good for the Jets, so I think he'll get closer to the norm. Schumacher was one of my favorite players in the draft. I could see him becoming one of Wegert's top targets early on. He's in for a big season. Darnerien Sohn is an absolute stud. The Jets have prioritized OL over the years (in part due to draft position and draft board), and Sohn is no exception. He protects Wegert's blindside very well. He leads the Offensive Line, and is very reliable. 3 Key Players Defense DT Kyle Pratt 6-4 301 5 Virginia [1-Gap] [0] 88 ILB Adam Lovelace 6-2 234 2 Vanderbilt [Mike] [0/C] 83 CB Khalil Harrell 5-9 168 1 Florida State [Man Coverage] [-2] 85 Kyle Pratt lead the team with 9.5 Sacks and 5 TFL. He's become a true pass rush threat and force up the middle of the defense. The Jets have had some losses on Defense over the past couple of seasons, and Pratt's emergence has been essential. If he just continues that this year, the Jets Defense will continue to improve. After trading away Chris Tucker, they turned to Adam Lovelace to take over. He's played well, but he hasn't progressed very well. He lead the team with 61 Tackles, while adding 1 Sack, 1 TFL, and a PD. He did a little bit of everything for the Jets Defense last season. They certainly need him do that again this year. Harrell was picked in the Middle of the First Round of the 2023 Draft, and immediately lead the team with 5 Picks. CB has been a weakpoint, so getting a good one has been super important. Biggest Losses WR Paul Howell TE Matt Stone OT Joel Snow OG Joe Farmer OLB Daquan Darcey Howell lead the team with 896 Yards, and finished 2nd with 4 Touchdowns. He's been a cornerstone of the offense for so long, but his legs were clearly letting him down. It was a tough decision, but one good teams must make for the good of the franchise. Matt Stone wasn't much of a receiving threat, and has been replaced by a better player. Snow was expendable because of the Depth on the OL, so not a big loss. Losing Farmer stings. He's one of the top Guards in the league, but the Jets had to make Cap decision and he was the one left out. His loss will hurt big time, especially right away. Daquan Darcey is not very good, but has been replaced by a roughly equivalent player. So his loss is no big deal. Biggest Additions RB Robert Green 5-7 213 R Virginia [Speed] [-1] 79 WR Dominic Dixon 6-2 212 R Penn State [Target] [0] 81 TE Jonas Schumacher 6-5 209 R Ohio State [Receiving] [0] 80 OG/C Keith Holbrook 6-3 285 R Toledo [Pass Blocking] [0/C] 80 OLB Kristian Little 6-0 237 5 Alabama [Blitz] [0] 84 CB Samir Ware 5-11 200 5 Clemson [Man Coverage] [-3] 83 Frank the Tank lead the way in 2023, and I imagine he'll get the start again this year. Green will likely take the spot of Marvin Washington in the offense. He's got great speed, and I'd love to see the Jets get him the ball in space and force DBs to tackle him. I like Dixon, and boy do they need a big body out wide. He'll be a big part of the offense year one. I've already drooled over Schumacher. I loved the pick of Holbrook, getting some versatility on the Interior OL is great. With OG and C now being a note of concern, having a guy who could fill in at either spot gives this team flexibility going forward. Kristian Little was brought in to replace Darcey. Little had 46 Tackles with 4 Sacks and 1 TFL. Not a Pro Bowler by any means, but he might have a bigger impact on the defense than Darcey. Ware was brought in to bring Depth to CB, and I'll always like that (especially if you don't massively overpay). Strengths Health. Getting healthy on Offense should see the 28th Ranked Offense take a big step forward. They should instantly be a more reliable unit. Offensive Playmaker Additions. Adding guys like Green, Dixon, Schumacher, and Holbrook to the offense is huge. They got some much needed youth and talent infusion to work with. Weaknesses WR Depth. Losing Howell hurts, and I loved the addition of Dixon/Schumacher. But, Coles hasn't shown much of anything in his career, and Israel Hawker is a good, but specialized player. One injury to this unit could unfurl the passing game. OL Question Marks. The Jets have had a great OL for a long time. But, they have holes at OG/C right now. They also have a young RT. This unit is starting to show some cracks. Schedule While they get Wegert back, they have a lot of youth on Offense that I think will lead to some inconsistencies. However, they have the talent to make a push for the Playoffs. Divisional Standings I still think Miami is top dog, but their hold on that spot is starting to weaken.
  10. Damn, I just missed him.
  11. Chicago Bears 2023 Record: 9-7 Offense Rank: 11th Defense Rank: 14th Overall Rank: 14th 3 Key Players Offense QB Mohammed Foster 6-0 194 3 West Virginia [Scrambling] [-1] 88 RB Vaughan Abraham 5-10 201 10 LSU [Speed] [-1] 90 WR David Gaines 6-2 190 10 Syracuse [Target] [-1] 86 MoFo has come a long way. His rookie season was pretty rough, but he's improved quite a bit. He still has some issues with turnovers, but he completed over 63% of his passes last season. He rushed for 738 Yards and 11 Touchdowns. He's a dynamic player, who can make a play happen on any down. Like with all teams in the NFLHC, the performance of the QB will dictate how the team performs. Vaughan Abraham is certainly past his prime, but he's still an effective player. He rushed for over 1,200 Yards and 8 Touchdowns in 2023. The Bears will bring a balanced attack again in 2024, and they should be a fearsome offense to face. David Gaines has been the guy out wide in Chicago for a while now. He's lost a couple steps, but can still play. Gaines lead the team with 944 Yards and 3 Touchdowns in 2023. The Bears aren't throwing it like they used, but they still need Gaines to be a 1st Down Machine. The Bears, as mentioned before, will go with a more balanced attack. That inherently lowers the importance of the receiving corps, but MoFo is still young. Having a Vet out wide he can trust will make his life a lot easier. 3 Key Players Defense DT David Medley 6-7 310 5 Colorado [2-Gap] [-1] 88 OLB Jordan Butler 6-0 221 R Nevada [Blitz] [0/C] 83 CB Ivory Hull 6-2 173 6 Texas [Zone Coverage] [0] 91 Medley is a big body right up the middle. He finished 2023 with 5.5 Sacks and 6 TFL. Most DT's in the league don't put up numbers like that. He's not a dominant player, but he consistently opens up lanes for his teammates, and if not blocked properly, makes plays for himself. With a rather inexperienced DE group (minus Jeff Holleyman who may not be starting anymore), having a guy like Medley in the middle is a huge boost to the defense. Jordan Butler got some hype for #1 (like a week). He came back down to earth a little bit, but the Bears made a big move to go up and get him. The Bears lack playmakers in the 2nd level of the Defense, and Butler helps remedy that instantly. He had an insane 2023 season at Nevada, and the Bears have to hope he brings that level of productivity to the Pros. He brings intensity off the edge, and gets constant pressure on the QB. Ivory Hull is an absolute stud. He had 4 Picks and 7 PD last season (probably why he's not a receiver). He's willing and able to lock down one side of the field to the passing game. You've got Kessler, Charles, Nomellini, McCain, and Cook in your division. Shutting them down is essential for this Bear's team. Biggest Losses OLB Trevor Reed SS Jesse Hutchins Trevor Reed had 17 Tackles with a Sack and a PD in 2023. He's been replaced by Jordan Butler. I wouldn't miss him too much if I were Chicago. Hutchins is a player. I don't think a single Bears fan will care that he's gone. Biggest Additions WR Joaquin Bond 6-1 233 R Miami (FL) [Target] [-3] 79 DE Matthew McNeil 6-2 255 R UCF [Contain] [+2/C] 77 OLB Jordan Butler 6-0 221 R Nevada [Blitz] [0/C] 83 The Bears have possibly the oldest WR group in the league. Getting some youth at that position is essential. They took Bond in the draft to do just that. He's not quite ready to be a major player in the offense, but they can take their time and let him develop. The Bears were extremely stable at the DE spot, but are suddenly in a state of flux. Ezekial Williams certainly looks like he's on his way to being a very good player. But, at the other spot, I don't know. Holleyman had a very good 2023, getting 13.5 Sacks. But he regressed 2 Points down to a 77. I imagine they start Holleyman right away, but definitely need someone in the wings to take over for him. McNeil appears to be that guy. He's for sure not ready for significant minutes, but he can get in rotationally. Jordan Butler is about to be the face of the defense. Strengths Offensive Line! They have a hole at Right Guard, but other than that, the Line is in great shape. After years of trying, this team finally has an OL they can rely on. Secondary. This team has some great players back there. Ivory Hull and Randall Jones are the top dogs. But Jaylen Harris lead the team with 5 Picks last season. Ryan Garvin is untested, but has potential at SS. Weaknesses Defensive End. I do like Williams (even though I hated him coming into the Draft). But he's still young and raw as a player, the other side is a huge question mark for me. This position could be a serious hole for the defense. Tough Division. You have 2 of the top 4 teams in the NFC in your division, and Minnesota can beat you on any day. Even though I think the Bears are going to be a better team, I think they'll struggle to make the playoffs. Schedule I think Chicago could force their way into the playoffs, but have a tough draw playing the AFCS. I actually have them with a 4-2 in Division Record, splitting each game with Detroit and Green Bay. They have the opportunities, but they may be a tad behind some of those teams on the road (SF, JAX, TEN). Detroit Lions 2023 Record: 14-2 Offense Rank: 6th Defense Rank: 1st Overall Rank: 1st 3 Key Players Offense QB Rob LeCount 6-3 212 9 Michigan [Pocket] [0] 88 RB Kenyon Randall 5-6 209 2 LSU [Power] [-1] 91 WR Jeremy Cook 6-0 217 4 Washington State [Target] [0] 88 I've been vocal in the past about my feelings about LeCount. But, he won a fucking Superbowl. He didn't have a great statistical season, completing just over 60% of his passes. He was very protective of the ball however, throwing just 7 Picks. His INT % was 3rd Lowest in the League. Protecting the ball goes a long way for a Quarterback, especially on a team with a good running game and excellent defense. It feels to me that his time as a starting caliber QB is coming to an end soon, but he is still good enough to help lead this team back to the Superbowl. Kenyon Randall is damn good. Randall was second in the league in Rushing Yards (by 7, to Solomon McLaughlin). Among starting RBs, he had the 7th highest YPC. Randall is a true bellcow that can carry an offense. He doesn't have to do that, but the Lions have a truly special player in the backfield. Jeremy Cook is also damn good. Cook lead the team with 923 Yards and 8 Touchdowns. With all the guys they lost out wide, Cook is going to be very important for the Loins. LeCount is suddenly lacking targets, so Cook has to get open consistently. 3 Key Players Defense DE Doug Carolan 6-0 263 6 Florida [Blitz] [-1] 96 OLB Cameron Jones 6-4 221 5 Arizona [Blitz] [+1] 93 CB Keyshawn Thompson 6-2 181 9 Michigan State [Zone Coverage] [0/C] 95 Carolan finished 2nd in the NFLHC with 16 Sacks, and tied for 2nd with 16 TFL. He's a dominant force pressuring the Quarterback, and having an elite pass rusher makes your secondary so much better. Doug is a guy you have to gameplan on every down. You need to chip him or keep your RB in the backfield to block him. Suddenly, your passing game is going out of its way to defend one player, and limiting your QB's options out in the field. Cameron Jones lead the team with 65 Tackles, he added 2 PD, 7 Sacks, and 6 TFL. This team has studs on all three levels of the defense. Jones is also a big pain in the backfield. When you've got guys like Carolan and Jones coming after your QB, you have to speed up your passing game. And speeding up that passing game allows the 3rd Key Player to really flourish. Thompson had 5 Picks and 5 PD last season. Thompson has been one of the best Corners in the league basically since he entered it. With Carolan and Jones getting after the QB, Thompson can afford to be aggressive in coverage and jump routes at will. With his speed, any pick can be returned for a Touchdown. Having these guys lead your defense (and we didn't even mention E Jax, Kieron Brooks, and Marquise Holliday) improves the rest of your team. Biggest Losses WR Rashad Simon OT Joe McCord OLB Donnie Bavaro WR Rex Walsh Simon wasn't their top target out wide. But he was experienced, and reliable. Losing a guy like that will certainly hurt the passing game. Joe McCord wasn't a starter, but was an experienced veteran. The Loins won't hurt too much from his loss. Donnie Bavaro was bad, they're better with him gone. Like Simon, Walsh wasn't a great player. But again, he was reliable. With him gone, the WR Depth on this team has been absolutely wrecked. Biggest Additions WR Jacob Benson 6-1 228 R ECU [Target] [-3] [+] 81 TE Robaire McNeill 6-4 201 R Alabama [Receiving] [+1] 81 OLB Dean Fagan 6-1 242 R New Mexico [Blitz] [+2] 79 I like Benson quite a bit. Adding him was a great move, but rookies typically struggle. He'll be forced into a big role right away, and has to be ready for that. I didn't love Robaire McNeill, but I liked him where he was picked. He's slotted to start ahead of Emory Johnson. And like Benson, he may struggle just due to inexperience. But, long term, picking these guys were good moves. I'm not a huge fan of Dean Fagan, luckily for him, he doesn't have to start for at least a couple of seasons. Learning from a guy like Cameron Jones is certainly a good situation to be in for Fagan. Strengths Defensive Stability. This team kept 9 of it's 2023 Starters in tack. The league's best defense should be the best defense again. Having that stability is a huge strength for this team. Balanced Offense. The Loins don't depend on the run or the pass to win games. They run a very balanced gameplan, which helps limit any offensive deficiencies in one area. Playing a balanced game also keeps opposing Defenses on their toes. They never really know what you're going to do on any given play. Weaknesses Wide Receiver. I like Jeremy Cook a lot, and I like Jacob Benson. After them is Frederick Bartlett, Artemio Ramirez, and Eli Austin. Oof. Luckily they have Kenyon Randall, so if the passing game suffers, they still have a great player to rely on. Schedule Detroit should be one of the best teams in the league again. I have them winning super tough games on the road at Washington and San Francisco. Those games could go anyway. 11-5 feels like absolute worst case for the Loins, but I think 13-3 feels pretty likely at this point. Green Bay Packers 2023 Record: 11-5 Offense Rank: 7th Defense Rank: 16th Overall Rank: 13th 3 Key Players Offense QB Jason Johnson 5-11 190 10 UCLA [Pocket] [0] 95 RB Jaz Durant 6-1 195 5 Auburn [Speed] [0] 87 WR Justin McCain 6-2 181 4 North Carolina [Speed] [-2] 92 The 2nd Overall Pick in NFLHC History, Jason Johnson has helped lead this team to 2 Superbowls. He threw for over 4,100 Yards last season, with 33 Touchdowns. He did throw 11 Picks, but threw 577 total passes which puts his INT % at 10th in the league. He's still a very effective passer, and perfectly capable of leading this team on another deep playoff run. Jaz Durant is underrated statistically (especially by me, I've never thought he was all that good). He finished last season with over 1,200 Yards and 12 TDs on 4.86 YPC. He's a threat to take any carry to the house. Having this duo in the backfield gives the GB Coaching Staff plenty of flexibility in their gameplan. If they need to, they can air it to win. Also, they can give the ball to Durant 25 times if they need to attack on the ground. Justin McCain is a stud. McCain had over 1,200 Yards and 11 Touchdowns in 2023. He can take the top off of the defense, and his threat on the outside helps open up everything else for the other receivers. Having a legit deep threat makes every passing game more lethal. 3 Key Players Defense DE Barron Anthony 6-3 278 9 USC [Blitz] [-1] 87 ILB Jamal Harley 6-3 222 3 Illinois [Mike] [+2] 88 CB/WR Marquise Reed 6-1 173 4 Clemson [Man Coverage] [-1] 93 Barron Anthony has been a consistent player for his career. He's never been a dominant player, but he's always been good. His 2023 was not too great however, getting just 6.5 Sacks and 3 TFL. The team as a whole struggled to get constant pass rush. Kaulana Groth lead the team with 7.5 Sacks, and the team had 20 Sacks get recorded on statsheets. The Packers will definitely need Anthony to improve quite a bit. Anthony needs to get to double digit Sacks and double digit TFL for this defense to do better than 16th in the League. Lack of pass rush really hurts them. Jamal Harley has become the leader of the middle of the defense. He was 2nd on the team with 57 Tackles, while also picking off a pass and getting 2 TFL. The Packers also struggled as a team to bring down RBs in the backfield, recording just 18 TFL as a team (reminder Detroit's Doug Carolan had 16 by himself). This team needs Harley to get into the backfield more and make plays back there. Creating negative plays and constant pressure on the QB will help this defense out a lot. One guy who doesn't really need to improve is Marquise Reed. Reed only had 2 Picks last season, but man can he shut down your best receiver. Biggest Losses RB Gil Novacek DE Kaulana Groth Novacek was never going to be a star player. But, he did bring a nice counter balance to Durant. I don't think his loss will be all that impactful. Kaulana Groth lead the team in Sacks. While he only had 7.5, losing your top pass rusher is never a good thing. I think his loss will be big. Biggest Additions RB Qua'sean Bell 5-8 215 R Western Kentucky [Power] [0] 78 DE Quincy Hobson 5-11 261 R Washington State [Blitz] [-1/C] 80 OLB Sam Caron 5-11 228 R Colorado [Blitz] [0/C] 82 SS Gregory Noel 5-11 199 4 Georgia State [Man Coverage] [0] 80 Qua'sean Bell was hardly used at WKU until midway through 2023. And when he got involved in the game, the WKU Offense absolutely took off. Bell has wheels for a guy his size, so he's an intriguing player. He'll get involved in the game in short yardage primarily as a Rookie. I imagine he'll get some carries here and there to give Durant a rest as well. I'd love to see him get involved as the 3rd Down guy, and let him get the ball in space and watch a DB try to tackle him. Quincy Hobson is slotted to take over for Kaulana Groth. He'll be a step behind Groth year one, but I think he could develop into a very similar player as Groth. So, that makes his loss a little easier. The Packers took Caron in the first round. I'm not a huge fan of Caron myself, but the Packers needed someone at OLB. They've had injury issues seemingly forever. If they use him aggressively, and let him get after the QB, I think the Packers could go a long way to correcting their Pass Rush. I added Noel as a big addition because I can't believe he's still an 80. I think he's been an 80 every season of his career yet. Strengths WR/TE. McCain, Nomellini, Jackson, Hopkins, Ferguson. JJ has so many option when he drops back to pass. And I don't know how a defense covers all of them. Offensive Line. 3 of the starters are over 90 Overall. They have OT David Hughes at 86, and then OG Walter Shannon at 81. Shannon is the weakpoint, but he's in his second year and just had a good progression. They won't have a problem keeping JJ upright and giving Durant open lanes. Secondary. Marquise Reed and Cameron Bowman are both 90+ at CB, FS James White is an 87, SS Julio Barnes is a 95. CB Vontae Johnson (3rd Guy on the DC) is an 83. Having a secondary this good helps make up for the issues they have rushing the passer. Weaknesses Front-7. They have some talent, but overall I think they're pretty mediocre. This is definitely the weakest part of the team, and if you need a place to attack, it's this unit. Schedule Even with the concerns I have with the Front-7, I still think this team is in great shape to contend for the North. They get mostly favorable Home/Away splits out of conference. Getting Tennessee, Jacksonville, San Francisco, and Dallas is certainly beneficial. Week 17 will very likely determine who wins the North. Minnesota Vikings 2023 Record: 4-12 Offense Rank: 27th Defense Rank: 24th Overall Rank: 28th 3 Key Players Offense QB Brian Vardell 6-2 200 10 Washington State [Pocket] [+1] 86 RB Evan Grant 6-0 194 2 Georgia State [Power] [0] 84 WR Jacory Kessler 6-3 224 4 Auburn [Speed] [-1] 87 V A R D E L L. Brian's career is coming to a close sooner rather than later. He only played in 6 Games last season. He was decent, but a far cry from what we've seen from him in the past. I don't know if he'll start past 2024, so I think we might see him fight for his future this year. I think Minnesota is clearly the 4th Team in the Division, but they can take down any team in the North. Vardell will be key in those efforts. I think we'll see Minnesota in the Top 10 of the 2025 Draft. Evan Grant's career got off to a very tough start. He's improved quite a bit since. The Vikes relied heavily on the pass, so Grant only got about 13 Carries a game. He turned that into 923 Yards and 9 Touchdowns. I think that's the role he fits best, the Power Back in a Pass Heavy Offense. Getting him 13-18 Carries per Game is the right range for him to be in. Jacory Kessler has turned into a pretty good receiver. He lead the team with 1,116 Yards and 6 Touchdowns. The Vikes receivers are not great, but Kessler does the same thing that McCain does. He stretches the field, and helps open up things for Charles, Cobb, and Jackson. 3 Key Players Defense DE Sebastian Smallwood 6-1 254 2 Alabama [Blitz] [-1/C] 87 OLB Paul Goodman 6-2 240 6 Penn State [Blitz] [0] 86 SS Joe Johnson 6-0 206 7 Houston [Zone Coverage] [0] 84 Smallwood was 2nd on the team in sacks with 6.5, and had 7 TFL. The Vikes need Smallwood to be much improved in 2024. The Vikes had 23 Sacks recorded on statsheets, which leaves room for improvement. As the former #9 Overall Pick, there is quite a bit of pressure on Smallwood to perform. The team leader in Sacks and TFL was Paul Goodman with 7 and 8. For an OLB, those are perfectly good numbers. He shouldn't be leading your team in Sacks with 7, but getting 7 sacks out of him is perfectly fine. I don't think I want to see much more out of him, what he did in 2023 was great. If he can just replicate that in 2024, that will help the Defense out quite a bit. Joe Johnson was a long time Eagle, and is now a Viking. He's been a pretty reliable Safety for his career, and I don't think that will be all that different this year. The Vikes Secondary is in pretty rough shape, so they could really use the steady hand of Joe Johnson to help clean up their mistakes. Biggest Losses OT MacKenzie Woods DT Bud Howard OLB Mike Johnson Woods was a backup level player by the end, so his loss isn't going to be that impactful. Bud Howard was never more than a mediocre player, so I don't think they're losing much there. Mike Johnson had 31 Tackles last year, but will likely be replaced by Devin Goss. I don't think his loss will be too big for the Vikes either. Biggest Additions QB Bryce Thompson 5-11 207 R Duke [Hybrid] [0/C] 81 OG Joe Farmer 6-1 322 9 Virginia Tech [Run Blocking] [0] 93 DT Nathaniel Hollis 6-4 308 R Florida [2-Gap] [0] 81 DE Jamari Callahan 6-0 250 R Kansas [Contain] [-1] [#] 80 OLB Freddie Hendricks 6-1 247 R Maryland [Blitz] [+1] 79 CB Trevor McKinney 5-11 166 R Virginia Tech [Man Coverage] [0] 82 SS Joe Johnson 6-0 206 7 Houston [Zone Coverage] [0] 84 I love BT, this pick was great for the Vikings. Vardell is definitely near the end of his career, and you need a replacement. BT is an incredible playmaker, and I think he'll have a great career. The Vikes focused the rest of their draft efforts on Defense. Nathaniel Hollis takes over for Bud Howard at DT, and I think that's an improvement right away. Callahan will likely split reps with Jamal Patton and probably take over for him next season. Hendricks is a guy who has a bunch of talent, but hasn't put it together. He'll get rotational minutes for a couple years, before potentially taking over for Goodman if he gets too expensive. I loved Trevor McKinney coming out of the draft, and he's a player the Vikings needed desperately. I love the focus they put on their defense, I think they did a great job. *Edit: I initially left out Farmer. He's a huge addition to this team. Guard was a liability for the Vikes last season, and is now a strength. Strengths Offensive Line. 4 of the Starters on the OL are 88+. Vardell will be protected very well, he shouldn't be in trouble most of the game. Weaknesses Secondary. I like the addition of Joe Johnson and Trevor McKinney. But Johnson is over the hill, and McKinney is super young. The rest of their secondary is in rough shape, and will be a serious issue. Quarterback. Vardell is clearly regressing. I think the passing game will struggle at times this year, and fans may clamor for BT before season's end. Schedule Getting Indy, the Rams, and Jacksonville on the Road is tough. Also, being in a division with Detroit, Green Bay, and Chicago is tough. They're improved, but you won't see it reflected much in the Standings. They added a ton of youth on defense, and I think those guys will struggle to be consistent this season. Divisional Standings At this point, I think Detroit takes it. But Green Bay is certainly in play.
  12. T-Mac has potential yes, but man he sucked some real turds last season. He'd have to improve quite a bit for Denver to overtake LAC this year imo.
  13. Denver Broncos 2023 Record: 3-13 Offensive Rank: 30th Defensive Rank: 28th Overall Rank: 30th 3 Key Players Offense QB Troy McMurray 6-2 189 1 Stanford [Scrambling] [+1/C] 82 RB Amral Brown 5-6 231 R Oklahoma State [Power] [0] [#] 82 WR Marcus Holmes 6-1 172 2 Tennessee [Speed] [0] 86 The Broncos turned to T-Mac early into the 2023 Season, and he was rough. He completed 58% of his passes, while throwing 5 TDs and 12 Picks. He started 12 games for the Broncos last year, giving him exactly 1 Pick Per Game. Of all players who started double digit games, he had the worst QB Rating. But, it wasn't all bad for him. He rushed the ball quite well, rushing for 417 Yards and 5 Touchdowns on 6.32 YPC. He definitely has potential, but has to take a big step forward if the Broncos want to be competitive again. Denver took Amral in the first round of the draft, and that was a fantastic move. You have a young running QB, you have to give him a good option in the backfield. Marshawn Matthison started most of the season, he managed to get 593 Yards with 2 TDs, while losing 6 Fumbles. Brown is an immediate improvement, and I think this Broncos offense will take a step forward day one. Marcus Holmes was blossoming under Raheem Robinson. Holmes had just over 1K Yards and 6 Touchdowns in 2023 for the Jags. Now, the Broncos have Derrick Schwartz, Marcus Holmes, Gavin Faulk, and Aaron Thibodeaux running routes. I'm really starting to like the pieces on this offense, it will all depend on T-Mac. 3 Key Players Defense DE Oghale Adelangwe 6-4 241 R Penn State [Blitz] [+1] 82 ILB Cameron Jonah 6-1 243 8 Hartnell College [Mike] [+2/C] 92 CB Cameron Newhouse 5-11 177 9 Oklahoma State [Man Coverage] [0/C] 90 Denver won big time at the draft by getting Oghale when they did. Denver was middle of the pack in sacks for 2023, having recorded 23. They had traded Charles Johnson heading into the season, and the team didn't respond well to it. Adelangwe gives the Broncos a real pass rush threat opposite Deyonte Davis. Cameron Jonah has been one of the best Mike Linebackers in the league over the past few seasons. Last year was no different, as he had 90 Tackles, 2 PD, 4 Sacks, and 5 TFL. He's the undisputed leader of the defense. His time seems to be coming to an end, and I'm sure he'd be glad to help lead the defense a couple more years and make Denver a true threat again. Denver made a big trade prior to the season, and Cameron Newhouse was one of the biggest pieces to come back. They've had serious issues at CB for years, and they hoped Newhouse would help fix some of them. But, one player can't fix an entire unit. Newhouse had 4 Picks and 2 PD, to go along with his 21 Tackles. I don't think the Broncos can ask Newhouse to do too much more, he just has to help mentor Jordan Westbrook along. Biggest Losses RB Marshawn Matthison WR Sean Waller DT Frank Williams FS Kofi Neal CB Samir Ware We've already discussed Marshawn. Waller was definitely an easy guy to move with all the other players they've brought in, he'd be the 4th guy out. And he didn't do too well last season anyways. Frank wasn't a big statgetter last season, and the Broncos decided to go younger at the position. I don't mind his loss all that much. Kofi Neal was a mediocre young guy, they won't miss him much. Samir Ware is an OK Nickel guy, so his loss could be impactful. But, that impact has real limits. None of these losses are truly bad. Biggest Additions RB Amral Brown 5-6 231 R Oklahoma State [Power] [0] [#] 82 WR Marcus Holmes 6-1 172 2 Tennessee [Speed] [0] 86 OT Joel Snow 6-4 265 3 Michigan State [Run Blocking ] [+1] 84 DE Oghale Adelangwe 6-4 241 R Penn State [Blitz] [+1] 82 FS Seth Scott 6-2 193 2 Colorado [Man Coverage] [0] 82 I've already discussed Brown, Holmes, and Adelangwe. Joel Snow was brought in to replace Gary Tomlinson, but that trade didn't go through. So now, they have both Snow and Tomlinson. Snow is a high end back-up OT, and if the Broncos get a decent trade off for Gary, they can easily pull the trigger and be fine on the OL. Seth Scott was brought in to replace Kofi Neal. At one point, before he was drafted, I had high hopes for Scott. He hasn't lived up those hopes, but I do think he has way more potential than Neal. I think every one of these additions made the Broncos a better team. Strengths New Offensive Weapons - Getting new weapons around T-MAC was the right move. He's young, and clearly raw. He needs help. Bringing in Holmes and Brown were A+ moves in my mind. Health. Denver had massive injury issues at WR and TE last season. All of those guys are now back, and the Coaching Staff has to be happy. Pass Rush. With the addition of Adelangwe, Denver has two legit pass rushing threats. In a division with Nick Hall, Matty Swift, and Ryan Harris, you need to be able to get after the Quarterback. Weaknesses Secondary. While they've made moves to improve that unit, it's still a huge problem. We mentioned those QB's they face twice a year earlier, and having a questionable secondary is going to bite them in the ass. Linebackers. Outside of Jonah, I don't love what they have there. Walsh is unhappy. Shamar Addison is probably a back-up level player at this point. The whole back two levels of this defense is a serious issue in my mind. Schedule Although I like what they're building on offense, I still do not trust T-Mac at all. And their issues on Defense are too much for me to ignore. This is a team who could go 8-8 if things go well. Kansas City Chiefs 2023 Record: 13-3, L in Superbowl Offensive Rank: 1st Defensive Rank: 13th Overall Rank: 4th 3 Key Players Offense QB Ryan Harris 6-4 213 2 Fresno State [Pocket] [0] 90 RB Terrence Rodgers 6-0 173 4 Mississippi State [Speed] [+1] 90 WR Allama Banta 6-0 185 8 Boston College [Target] [+1] 88 Ryan Harris absolutely lit the league on fire last season. He lead the league with a 112.17 QB Rating. Completing over 65% of his passes, throwing 4,700 Yards with 43 Touchdowns to just 7 Picks. Insane season, one of the best we've every seen from a Quarterback. He gives the Chiefs a chance to win each and single game he plays. He may come back down to earth a little, but he'll still be a MVP level player. Meanwhile, Rodgers quietly finished 3rd in the league with 1,525 Rushing Yards. He ran in 14 Scores, while only fumbling once on 5.08 YPC. This offense was literally insane. And they get even better, they bring in Allama Banta, who was far and away the best receiver for the Rams. He had over 1,400 Yards and 8 TDs on the year. Defenses in the West have to be scared right now. 3 Key Players Defense DE Preston Bryant 6-8 280 7 Michigan State [Blitz] [+1/C] 89 OLB Zack Temple 5-11 220 R Louisville [Blitz] [0/C] 82 SS Cameron Riley 6-1 197 3 Texas Tech [Zone Coverage] [0] 91 The Chiefs struggled in pass rush last season, and Bryant should improve that quite a bit. Bryant recorded 10 Sacks and 12 TFL for the Jags in 2023. KC as a team recorded 21 sacks. I love this pick-up for the Chiefs, they've had questions at DE for a while now. LB was an area where they got devastated by retirements after 2023, so they brought in Zack Temple out of Louisville. I personally don't like Temple all that much as a prospect, but I do think he's an improvement over what they had on the team prior to his selection. Cameron Riley lead the team with 74 tackles, while picking off 6 Passes. Stellar season from a SS, but definitely a concern that your leading tackler is a Safety. But, having a player that talented and reliable in the back should give the Chiefs Coaching Staff some flexibility in their gameplanning. I can see this team going hyper aggressive next season, and just rushing the passer with all they have. Biggest Losses RB Justin Buchanan WR Kevin Branch OT Ki'Jana Parrish ILB Dewey Tomlinson Buchanan is a legend in KC, but by his last season, was a shell of himself. He was a decent #2 option, but he didn't bring much. His loss will be felt more in the locker room than on the field. Branch was acquired via a trade during Harris's rookie season, a move I loved. He managed 369 Yards and 6 Touchdowns last season. He was clearly on the last legs of his career, but he was a good veteran presence for the team. Losing depth on the OL is always going to sting. Losing Parrish will be no different. Dewey had been replaced by Sammy Dawkins in the starting lineup, but losing veteran players, especially guys who played major minutes like Dewey had, hurts. Fortunately for the Chiefs, they didn't lose any starters, but did lose valuable back-up veterans. Biggest Additions WR Allama Banta 6-0 185 8 Boston College [Target] [+1] 88 DE Preston Bryant 6-8 280 7 Michigan State [Blitz] [+1/C] 89 OLB Zack Temple 5-11 220 R Louisville [Blitz] [0/C] 82 I've already discussed these guys. But, every guy makes the team better. Strengths Backfield. Having the offensive firepower in both Harris and Rodgers gives this team a chance to win every game. I do not want to play them. CB. Walker, Warner, and Boyd are a good trio. Neither are a star, but they're all solid and play well together. This is a hard unit to beat consistently. Weaknesses Linebackers. This to me is the biggest issue with the team. Dawkins is a fine Mike, but he's still young. Temple is a guy I don't particularly like, and Sean Springs is ancient. Like I said earlier, I think this team will just go hyper aggressive and try to get to the QB as fast as possible. Schedule I really like this team again. The offense gets better somehow. Their defense isn't complete, but the addition of Preston Bryant will be huge for them. Las Vegas Raiders 2023 Record: 11-5, L in Wild Card Offense Rank: 15th Defense Rank: 8th Overall Rank: 9th 3 Key Players Offense QB Nick Hall 6-2 221 9 Syracuse [Pocket] [+3/C] 98 WR Mike Tripplett 6-3 173 9 Ohio State [Target] [-1/C] 95 OT Kiuga Kamu 6-6 293 3 Houston [Pass Blocking] [+1] 84 Nick Hall is Nick Hall. The Raiders run game was barely a threat in 2023, and this forced the Raiders to air it out 736 times. This lead to Hall finishing with a 88.93 QB Rating. He was also sacked 50 times! That's an insane number. Hall is still one of the best QB's in the league, so he can carry this team quite far on his back, but he does need some help. Mike Tripplett has been his partner for so long now. Tripplett had 1,277 Yards and 5 TD receptions in 2023. This duo is among the most productive in league history. Having to face these guys should make defense fear for their lives. Kiuga Kamu is the permanent guy at LT now, and he has a tall task. He has to protect Nick Hall. I think the Raiders will go a little more balanced, but they should still be among the league leaders in pass attempts. Allowing 50 Sacks is just not acceptable. Kamu will be looked to protect his blindside and let him not take a beating. 3 Key Players Defense DE Shah Vereen 6-1 259 4 South Carolina [Blitz] [-2] 90 ILB Alex Martin 6-0 240 7 Texas A&M [Mike] [+3/C] 96 CB Mike Gradishar 5-10 166 7 Alabama [Zone Coverage] [0] 93 Vereen lead the team with 8.5 Sacks last season. That number isn't stellar, but I think Vereen is capable of more. He is going to be relied upon more in the pass rush department than ever since Andrew Fazande retired. They have a couple young guys at the position, but they will need Vereen to shoulder the load. I'd like to see him get closer to 12-13 Sacks while getting 10+ TFL. This defense really needs that out of him. Alex Martin is one of the quietest guys in the league, but he just racks up tackles. He lead the team with 64, while adding 1 TFL and 2 FF. I would like to see more plays in the backfield, but even if he's just a sure tackler over the middle, most teams would kill for that. Gradi is one of the best Corners in the league. He had 4 Picks and 5 PD last season. LV employs a zone scheme, so most of the time you see Gradi playing the strong side of the field, and can just shut that side of the field off. Having a player that talented is a huge boost. Biggest Losses TE Brian Gary DT Gregg Martin DE Andrew Fazande OLB Jamie Price Brian Gary finally hung them up. I think the title for best TE in NFLHC history is either his or Scott Howard's. But, making an argument for Gary wouldn't be hard. The Raiders planned ahead and have talented young guy to replace him. However, Gary was so reliable and consistent, that's hard to replace easily. Gregg Martin was never a superstar, but he was a stout figure in the middle of the DL and allowed guys around him to flourish. The Raiders planned for his retirement as well, and have a couple young guys there. But they're inexperienced, so I think the Raiders will see some reduction in play there. Fazande hung them up as well, the Raiders weren't as equipped for his retirement, so they had to address it in the draft. Fazande was never a superstar, but was always a reliable pass rusher. Losing that will hurt the Raiders for sure. Jamie Price leaving is whatever. He got replaced by a far better player, so his loss isn't a big deal. Biggest Additions RB DeSean Madison 5-7 222 R Western Michigan [Power] [0] 81 WR Trevon Bowser 6-0 217 R Mississippi State [Target] [0] 80 OLB Jeff Cox 5-11 220 6 California [Blitz] [+2] 88 DE Devin Blakely 6-2 256 R UCF [Blitz] [0] 80 I personally love DeSean Madison. I think he can be one of the top RB's in the league. He'll split caries with Major Morris this year, but it won't be long before he's the feature back. He can bring balance to LV finally. The Raiders have WR Depth Issues, and grabbed Trevon Bowser to help fix those issues. I personally don't like him very much, but he's playing with Nick Hall. A great QB like him can turn a poor prospect into a productive player. Jeff Cox came over from Tennessee, and the Raiders needed some talent at OLB. They haven't valued OLB highly in the draft, so they were a little bare at the position. While Jeff Cox isn't a Pro Bowler by any means, he's a vast improvement over what they had. Devin Blakely is who they tapped to replace Fazande. He'll be a step below Fazande year one, so they'll definitely need Shah Vereen to step up hard. Strengths Improved Running Game. This team needed to get some balance in the offense. Bringing in Madison will help that quite a bit. They have a 1-2 punch in the backfield now. And while they won't win awards, even getting 20-25 carries between the two productively will be a huge help to this offense. Improved OL. This unit gave up 50 Sacks last season. But, Brendan Doherty is back and healthy. Kamu and Will are progressing nicely. I think this OL will take a big step forward this year, and maybe only give up like 40 Sacks. Weaknesses WR Depth. Man, I don't like what this team has out wide. Mike Tripplett and Lamont Crawford are both good. But, the next two guys up are Trevon Bowser and Adrian Allen. One injury to Tripplett or Crawford, and your passing game takes a turn up shit creek. I would love to see this team trade for even a mediocre vet guy. DL. I like Shah Vereen, I think he's capable of being very productive. But, the rest of it is a question mark for me. I don't particularly like Devin Blakely, and they have a couple young DTs, neither of whom have been relied on in a leading role. Last year, they had Fazande, Gregg, and Vereen as their main guys. Now they'll have Blakely, Bailey, and Vereen. That's quite different, and much more inexperienced. Schedule I think the Raiders are still in good enough shape to maintain what they did last season. I do think KC has taken this division over for the short term. Of course, having Nick Hall cures most ails. This team could throw their way to 12-14 wins. But, they do have some tough road games that will keep them closer to 11. Los Angeles Chargers 2023 Record: 5-11 Offensive Rank: 26th Defensive Rank: 22nd Overall Rank: 26th 3 Key Players Offense QB Matty Swift 5-11 198 5 Texas A&M [Pocket] [0] 88 RB Israel Carlson 5-7 229 R Arizona State [Power] [0] [#] 82 WR Greg Cobb 6-3 188 7 Cincinnati [Target] [0] 88 Matty Swift is in his 90th year starting for the Chargers it feels like. I don't think he's all that good, but the Chargers Front Office is sticking with him. Swift completed 60% of his passes while throwing 23 Touchdowns and 17 Picks. Matty has always had a trouble with turnovers, but 17 Picks is a lot. Hard for your team to win when you give the ball away like that. But, they finally got him some RB help. After years of essentially ignoring the position, the Chargers Front Office finally felt like they had good value and took the best RB in the class. Israel Carlson will be an instant upgrade over Brannon Austin. He's a stud, and should be a favorite for Rookie of the Year. Giving Swift some assistance in the backfield will only help cut down on the turnovers and hopefully take some pressure off of Matty. Greg Cobb is the team's best WR, and I think he's just fine. He had 1.099 Yards and 8 Touchdowns last season. The most impressive part of his year though were his 0 Drops. Although he isn't explosive, and not an elite guy. He does have reliable hands, or did in 2023. This offense was inefficient, and hated having possession so much in 2023. I think they'll be much better in 2024. 3 Key Players Defense ILB Tunch Richardson 5-11 217 7 Alabama [Mike] [+3/C] 93 OLB Shane Easley 6-4 236 3 Penn State [Blitz] [+1] 93 SS Mario Ruff 6-1 185 4 Cincinnati [Zone Coverage] [0/C] 86 Tunch was 2nd on the team with 45 Tackles, and added 1 Pick, 1 PD, 3 TFL, and 2 FF. He's a fairly versatile player. He's the leader of the defense, and the Front-7 really revolves around him. His play is key for that unit, if he's on point, they can be really good. However, if his play drops, they'll struggle as a unit. Shane Easly is a monster. He had 39 Tackles, 8 Sacks, 7 TFL, and 2 FF in 2023. The Chargers are doing exactly what they should with him, just unleash him on the opposing QB. Let the other team figure out how to block him on every down. He brings constant pressure, and the other team has to gameplan around him. They brought in Mario Ruff after the season in order to address a dire position for them. Ruff isn't a star, but I do think he's important for the Chargers. I don't love their Corners, and I think Ruff will have to make up for a lot of their problems. They'll need him to reliable in both coverage and tackling, or they'll give up a lot of big plays. Biggest Losses OT Bryan Green Green was a back-up. So his loss won't be that hurtful. But other than him, the Chargers didn't lose a lot. Biggest Additions RB Israel Carlson 5-7 229 R Arizona State [Power] [0] [#] 82 WR Eddie McFadden 6-4 163 7 Baylor [Speed] [+2/C] 81 WR Kevin Garvin 6-4 224 4 Boise State [Target] [0] 82 OT Matt Bogle 6-1 341 8 Ohio State [Pass Blocking] [+2/C] 89 OG/C Kualii Umaga 6-3 255 R Western Michigan [P ass Blocking] [0/C] 80 CB Jeremy Evans 6-0 191 4 BYU [Zone Coverage] [-1/C] [+] 84 CB Zion Hooker 5-11 195 R Utah [Zone Cover age] [-1] [# ] 8 0 SS Mario Ruff 6-1 185 4 Cincinnati [Zone Coverage] [0/C] 86 I've already addressed Carlson and Ruff. McFadden and Garvin are mediocre guys. But the Chargers were absolutely decimated by injuries at WR last season. These guys are mostly depth guys, I don't expect either to have big roles in the offense. Matt Bogle was a good get, he's older, but he's still a solid OT. They've had issues on the OL for so long, and I think bringing in a vet like Bogle will be good for them. Especially with the [+2/C] designation, they have plenty of leadership on that unit now. Umaga was getting 1st Round hype for a little while. I think he has 1st Round talent, but is too raw. They can play him anywhere on the IOL, and I love having that versatility. They've had issues at Center for a while, so maybe they eventually put him there. Jeremy Evans is a player. He's not going to transform their CB unit, but he brings some experience to it. With him, Kenyon Justice, and Ian Garner, the Chargers Corners are approaching respectable. Zion Hooker got some bumps coming into the draft, I think he'll be a good Nickel guy down the line. Strengths WR Depth. Finally having some depth there will give this coaching staff some relief. Linebackers. They have on of the better LB groups in the league. Kearns is the weakpoint there, and that's really not bad. Weaknesses DL. Man, this is just a black hole. Hall is the best, and he had a good year. But can he do it again? Do we have reason to think he will? They have old man Zion Hopkins at DT, and his role really is to eat space. He's not going to make many statsheets by design. But Tyrone Rivers? Oof. The LBs on this team are so good, but the DL will let them down quite a bit. WR Talent. Yes, they have depth and can withstand injuries better. But, are they even good? Greg Cobb is fine. Jarvis Ward hasn't shown much in his time so far. Then you have McFadden and Garvin who've never been more than depth guys. This unit may let Matty Swift down at times. Schedule This team will improve, but only marginally so. Plus, having Tennessee, Jacksonville, and the Rams as Road Games outside their conference don't help. Also, playing in the same division as Nick Hall and Ryan Harris doesn't help either of course. I do think they could push for .500. They could get LV or IND at home. Hell, I think they could take down KC at home as well. Divisional Standings In my mind, this is KC's division to lose.
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