Competition Thursday: 2021 Thanksgiving

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It’s Thanksgiving, and as ever I am grateful for Dan indulging my love of the NFL, producing the podcast, and generally being a great friend.

Dan and I kept our noses above fifty percent in week eleven as Dan maintained his two point lead overall.

We turn our eyes to three games with it being Thanksgiving so let’s take a look at who is facing the Lions and Cowboys and what the extra game will be in 2021.

Gee:Week 11:  8-7Overall:  85–80
Dan:Week 11:  8-7Overall:  87–78

Bears @ Lions (+3.5)

The Lions ran the Browns close last week but couldn’t get that elusive win despite a distinctly, if understandable, subpar performance from Baker Mayfield who is carrying multiple injuries. On Thanksgiving the Lions host a Bears team with problems of their own as sections of fans are calling for head coach Matt Nagy to be fired. For the second Thanksgiving in a row Andy Dalton will be getting a start, this time for the Bears as they search for their first win since week five. To get a measure of the game, the Lions have not won a game since week thirteen in 2020 and given the Lions are choosing between Jared Goff dealing with an oblique injury that hasn’t healed and Tim Boyle who managed just seventy-seven passing yards last week it’s hard to have much faith they will turn things round. I am looking forward to seeing D’Andre Swift run the ball for the Lions but the highest ranking by DVOA of any unit in this game is the Lions’ special teams at fourth, and of the defence/offence units the Bears’ defence is the only one ranked above twenty.

I don’t have strong lean in this game, but if I’m getting three and a half points at home on a short week I guess I have to take the Lions.

Gee’s Pick:      Lions
Dan’s Pick:      Lions

Raiders @ Cowboys (-7.5)

Both teams are coming into this game after a loss, but at least with the Cowboys there is hope if they get some of their receivers and offensive line healthy. The good news for the Cowboys is their defence is top five in the league and held the Chiefs in check so you feel they should do a job against a Raiders offence who has struggled in recent weeks. Let’s be honest, the Raiders are trending in the wrong direction after all that has happened to them and although they are not a terrible team, it is hard to see where their next win is coming. That said, I just have this feeling that this one might be tighter than expected given the injuries to the Cowboys’ offence and so I am cautiously picking a sneaky cover in this one.

Gee’s Pick:      Raiders
Dan’s Pick:      Cowboys

Bills @ Saints (+4.5)

The Saints keep getting injuries and whilst they have found ways to stay competitive, I am not sure I see it holding this week with the raft of offensive players they have out. The Bills have slipped back into second in the AFC East, but there are some arguments that they are not that far away with a few given bounces. It is understandable that after three straight years of improvement that Josh Allen’s accuracy has fallen back a little, but it is jarring to see their top ranked defence by DVOA sit next to an offensive ranking of eighteenth. This is the fifth best team in the league going against the ninth and this is what make me nervous. I respect both coaches and defences, and I think it likely the Bills win but by five points? I don’t like this line at all but given that the Saints lost to the Eagles by eleven last week and don’t look to be getting players back on offence I am going to reluctantly grab the Bills.

Gee’s Pick:      Bills
Dan’s Pick:      Bills

Survivor Competition

I can see why Dan picked the Titans last week, but long streaks always make me nervous even if it was a surprise that the Texans got the win, which saw Dan get eliminated again whilst I picked up a point going with the Patriots.

This week Dan is backing the Cowboys to beat the Raiders, which is one of the safter selections when I look at the numbers. I am really struggling for picks this week thanks to it being week twelve and how the matchups have fallen. I don’t feel super confident about it, but given the options I find myself taking the Eagles on the road against the Giants, which is placing a lot on the recent form of the Eagles but I have a bit of a cushion and I just hope picking a survivor is not this tough ever week going forward…

Current Score

Gee: 8
Dan: 5

Week 12 Selection:

Gee:    Eagles
Dan:    Cowboys

Bold Prediction of the Week

My bold prediction after really struggling was the Texans to beat the Jets, which Dan allowed but you could hear him being suitably unimpressed and this was before they lost Mike White and Joe Flacco to Covid. I still have not found something leaping out at me, but given the stiuation witht he Jets’ QBs I may yet update this on Sunday if inspiration strikes!

2021 Week Eleven Picks

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Things are a little out of sync this weekend so this will have to be a shorter picks post than normal. The Thursday night game certainly was trying to contribute to that given that there was no real contest as the Patriots ground the Falcons into a 25-0 loss. The defence of the Patriots just blanketed the Falcons offence, making Matt Ryan’s life miserable behind a line that struggled to protect him. This was not the best game for rookie quarterback Mac Jones, but it didn’t matter and the Bills will be watching the surging Patriots nervously now they have a won five straight.

Early Games:

  • The Colts have been playing better and it will be interesting to see if Carson Wentz can tame his tendency to try too much, but if feels baked in at this point and I just wonder how the Bills will go given their recent stumbles.
  • The Ravens lost two of their last three games, and whilst a short week after overtime might explain it, they will be hoping to get back on track against a Bears team who seemed lost even before they had confirmation that pass rusher Khalil Mack was not coming back for the rest of the season after having his foot operated on.
  • The only two teams in the NFL to have winless seasons face off this week with the Lions yet to get off the mark and it doesn’t look that hopeful this week.
  • The Titans have won six straight games and it’s. hard to see the Texans stopping it, although given the injuries the Titans are dealing with the cover is tempting.
  • The Vikings really can’t afford to drop any more games behind the Packers, although it’s hard to see the Packers losing the division, but if the Vikings are to challenge for the playoffs, they need to put a string of wins together.
  • The Dolphins have won two straight and have a good chance to make it three against a struggling Jets team who rather than develop one of their young quarterbacks are starting Joe Flacco even though another win is not going to really help them at this point.
  • The Saints visit to Philadelphia will be a tougher game than it might have seemed a couple of weeks ago. I don’t know if that will lead to an upset, but I would be genuinely interested in watching this one and I wouldn’t have said that a couple of weeks ago.
  • The Panthers re-signed Cam Newton in the hopes of rescuing a season where their young defence had made a leap forward, but the offence had stagnated and struggled until last week. The Washington Football Team came out of their bye and beat the Buccaneers last week and will be hoping to make another statement, this time on the road.
  • The Jacksonville Jaguar have begun to put something together on defence, but the offence is still struggling and this week they face a 49ers team fresh of a good win against the Rams who will be hoping they can build on that.

Colts @ Bills (-7.5)

Gee’s Pick:      Colts
Dan’s Pick:      Colts

Ravens @ Bears (+6.5)

Gee’s Pick:      Ravens
Dan’s Pick:      Ravens

Lions @ Browns (-9.5)

Gee’s Pick:      Browns
Dan’s Pick:      Lions

Texans @ Titans (-10.5)

Gee’s Pick:      Texans
Dan’s Pick:      Titans

Packers @ Vikings (+2.5)

Gee’s Pick:      Vikings
Dan’s Pick:      Packers

Dolphins @ Jets (+2.5)

Gee’s Pick:      Dolphins
Dan’s Pick:      Dolphins

Saints @ Eagles (-1.5)

Gee’s Pick:      Saints
Dan’s Pick:      Saints

Washington @ Panthers (-3.5)

Gee’s Pick:      Panthers
Dan’s Pick:      Panthers

49ers @ Jaguars (+5.5)

Gee’s Pick:      49ers
Dan’s Pick:      49ers

Late Games:

  • The Bengals dropped from 5-2 to 5-4 thanks to two rough losses so will be coming off their bye with an eye on getting back to winning ways. The Raiders have also lost two straight but it feels like the bad things are snowballing for them. I’m sure both teams will be hoping to turn things round and while I’m. not ready to trust the Bengals right now, I think they should win this one.
  • The game of the week sees the Chiefs fresh from three straight wins host the 7-2 Cowboys who are ranked ten places higher by DVOA. I don’t trust the Chiefs defence to hold up against Dak Prescott and I am fascinated by the prospect of seeing how Patrick Mahomes and the struggling Chiefs offence will fare against the fourth ranked defence by DVOA.
  • The Cardinals have had a tough couple of weeks with Kyler Murry out with an ankle injury but won one of those games. Russell Wilson struggled last week in his return from his finger injury, but the Seahawks have been distinctly average this season and I wonder if they have enough to beat the 8-2 Cardinals. The numbers say something different though.

Bengals @ Raiders (+1.5)

Gee’s Pick:      Bengals
Dan’s Pick:      Bengals

Cowboys @ Chiefs (-2.5)

Gee’s Pick:      Cowboys
Dan’s Pick:      Cowboys

Cardinals @ Seahawks (+2.5)

Gee’s Pick:      Seahawks
Dan’s Pick:      Cardinals

Sunday Night Football:

Steelers @ Chargers (-4.5)

The Steelers have activated Ben Roethlisberger from the Covid-19 list but given how they have been playing I’m not sure this will magically turn things round for them. Having said that, the Chargers are struggling on offence, with plenty of criticism about them not taking advantage of young QB Justin Herbert’s powerful arm and with only one win in their last four games the Chargers will be hoping they can stop their season fading from the promising start.

Gee’s Pick:      Steelers
Dan’s Pick:      Chargers

Monday Night Football

Giants @ Buccaneers (-11.5)

I have no handle on the Giants, but it is hard to see many positives for this team given how they have struggled and visiting a Buccaneers team who were beaten by Washington last week doesn’t feel like a situation where the Giants will turn things round. Yes, the Bucs are dealing with injuries, but there is a chasm between these teams in the DVOA ranking and I would expect the Bucs to take care of business in this one, I am just not sure of this points total with Tom Brady seemingly a little out of sync.

Gee’s Pick:      Giants
Dan’s Pick:      Giants

DVOA is Football Outsiders statistic for measure a team’s success on every play versus the league average and you can read more about it and other football topics at https://footballoutsiders.com.

Competition Thursday: 2021 Week Eleven

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I unfortunately scored the inverse to Dan in another bad week for picks, which saw Dan open up a two point lead as I fell closer to a fifty percent win percentage.

Gee:Week 10:  6 – 8Overall:  77 – 73
Dan:Week 10:  8 – 6Overall:  79 – 71

Patriots @ Falcons (+6.5)

I don’t know if I cursed the Falcons by expressing an interest last week, but they got beat heavily by the Cowboys on Sunday. Now they have questions around Cordarrelle Patterson’s ankle injury and face possibly the worst defence for them on a short week in their current iteration. You have to think that Bill Belichick will have plans for rookie tight end Kyle Pitts, and the Patriots should have more than enough pass rush to make life difficult for Matt Ryan behind an offensive line that struggled to protect him against the Cowboys.

So far this season Mac Jones has been the pick of the rookie quarterbacks, and whilst this has not resulted in a dynamic passing offence, the Patriots have a formula that is definitely working for them now that they seem to be over their traditional slow start.

I’m always concerned laying points on the road on a Thursday night, but I think these are two teams heading in different directions right now.

Gee’s Pick:     Patriots
Dan’s Pick:     Patriots

Survivor Competition

Neither Dan or I managed to survive last week, with Dan’s faith in the Steelers undermined by a late Covid-19 scratch for Ben Roethlisberger while the addition of Cam Newton seemed to do for me.

I don’t think either of us should feel too bad about last week’s results, but we both need to get back on track this week. My strategy for this would be to back the Titans to keep their win streak going against the Texans, even if I am giving the Texans a hard look as a underdog cover for Sunday, but Dan pipped me to that selection.

As a result I’m stealing an option he was considering but isn’t available to him and I’m grabbing the Patriots going against the Falcons.

Current Score

Gee: 7
Dan: 5

Week 11 Selection:

Gee:    Titans
Dan:    Patriots

Bold Prediction of the Week

My bold prediction for the week definitely counts as bold.

For all that the Chiefs have won three in a row and have taken the lead in the AFC West, the Packers were without Aaron Rodgers and Dak Prescott has the options at the skills positions to work round an improving Chiefs pass rush. Not to mention that the Cowboys defence currently matches the offence in DVOA ranking as both units are ranked fourth.

This is the third overall team by DVOA in the Cowboys versus the fourteenth in the Chiefs, and yet in a fit of podcast pressure I have predicted the Chiefs will win. I don’t know that my pick this Sunday will follow this…

DVOA is Football Outsiders statistic for measuring a team’s success on every play versus the league average and you can read more about it and other football topics at https://footballoutsiders.com.

2021 Week Ten Picks

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Dan had seen the Dolphins win one game in eight weeks and then got treated to two back-to-back as they did the unexpected and beat the Ravens 22-10 Thursday night. The big question for me is where has that defence been since last season? I’m still not used to seeing a number eight flying around in the secondary, but Dolphins’ rookie safety Jevon Holland certainly caught the eye and whilst I’d need to watch the all-twenty-two to really know how he played, what I did see certainly impressed. That said, it’s not like the Ravens couldn’t move the ball at all, but they struggled to sustain drives and having taken an early lead through a field-goal, they did not score again until the fourth with Justin Tucker even suffering a rare field-goal miss. The Dolphins won the turnover battle and needed their defence to be so good as their offence struggled and even in throwing the winning touchdown, Tua Tagovailoa didn’t exactly inspire when he came in for injured start Jacoby Brissett, but Tagovailoa did complete the longest pass of the day for the Dolphins with a sixty-four yard pass to Albert Wilson. To be fair Brissett did have his own fifty-yard completion to Isaiah Ford but instead of another field goal that was the result of the Brisset led drive, Tagovailoa and the offence got the game sealing touchdown to make sure of the game after the Ravens threatened to make another comeback with their only touchdown of the game.

There is still half a season for the Dolphins to build something they can push on from next year, although the problem with that thinking is that for an NFL team every new season creates a team this is its own entity, but 3-7 is already looking a lot better than 1-7. The Ravens will be hoping that this result can be explained as a blip on a short week coming off an overtime game that saw them play a full extra ten minutes, which really might be enough to explain their display in this game.

Early Games:

Week ten looks to be a week of intrigue rather than games that immediately leap off the page, but as ever I’m sure there will be plenty to delve into once things get going.

The best game of the early slate initially looked to be the Saints visiting the Titans, although in addition to the injuries at quarterback the Saints have now also lost Alvin Kamara. The Titans obviously have their own running back questions now they are starting Adrian Peterson in place of Derek Henry, but also have Julio Jones battling a hamstring problem he aggravated in practice on Thursday. The Titans have the best record in the AFC despite being decidedly middle of the pack with an overall ranking of fourteenth by DVOA, while the Saints are ranked eighth overall despite uneven quarterback play thanks to their strong defence. I’m not sure about the Saints winning on the road but given the circumstances I’m not sure the Titans are going to win by more than a field goal.

The Browns are coming off something of a statement win against the Bengals last week, but while Baker Mayfield looked better last week, the Brown are without Nick Chubb thanks to Covid-19 and head into the weekend with only D’Ernest Johnson available from the running back room until they activated Brian Hill from the practice squad. They are heading to face a New England team using a familiar formula to win games, which they have done in four of their last five. This should be a good if run focussed game and I have a feeling that the Patriots are likely to win out.

Points from the rest:

  • I want to watch the Falcons this week as they’ve dragged themselves back to 4-4 despite an overall ranking of thirty-first by DVOA and have managed to build receiver Cordarrelle Patterson into a dual threat running back at age thirty. You have to think that the Broncos heavy defeat of the Cowboys last week was a blip, but the Cowboys will want to look a lot better this week.
  • The Jaguars got a good performance from their defence, perhaps benefitting from the troubles the Bills’ offence has been having recently, but are still not a good football team and with the Colts running the ball well and winning four of their last six games (the two losses were in overtime) should have more than enough to win this one even if the line is too large to pick them to cover.
  • The Bills offence seems to have been struggling in recent weeks and this culminated in a surprising loss to the Jaguars last week. They will need to get back to winning ways quickly with the Patriots catching them in the division. The Bills number one defence by DVOA will be facing Mike White getting his third straight start for the Jets, and whilst I’m not sure we can predict another loss for the Bills, I certainly like the Jets to get the sneaky cover given the size of the line.
  • I already kind of like the Lions against a Steelers team who despite their great record under Mike Tomlin have been known to play down to their opposition at times, but with the news that Ben Roethlisberger is set to miss the game with Covid-19 I’m definitely going to risk the Lions getting the cover.
  • The Washington Football Team are just having a horrible season, and I see little to dissuade me that the Buccaneers will get the win coming of a bye, even if receiver Chris Godwin is dealing with a foot injury.

Falcons @ Cowboys (-9.5)

Gee’s Pick:      Falcons
Dan’s Pick:      Falcons

Saints @ Titans (-3.5)

Gee’s Pick:      Saints
Dan’s Pick:      Saints

Jaguars @ Colts (-10.5)

Gee’s Pick:      Jaguars
Dan’s Pick:      Jaguars

Browns @ Patriots (-1.5)

Gee’s Pick:      Patriots
Dan’s Pick:      Patriots

Bills @ Jets (+13.5)

Gee’s Pick:      Jets
Dan’s Pick:      Bills

Lions @ Steelers (-9.5)

Gee’s Pick:      Lions
Dan’s Pick:      Lions

Buccaneers @ Washington (+9.5)

Gee’s Pick:      Buccaneers
Dan’s Pick:      Buccaneers

Late Games:

The obvious match up of the late games is the returning quarterback bowl that sees the Packers with Aaron Rodgers activated after his Covid-19 infection hosting a Seahawks team who will be welcoming Russell Wilson back from a fracture/torn ligament in his finger. The Seahawks were competitive starting Geno Smith (1-2 as the starter) while the Packers will be looking to bounce back after a rough game against the Chiefs that they could have won with better field-goal kicking. Still, the Packers’ defence has looked good and the offence is likely to bounce back with Rodgers back at quarterback and I like them to win this games, but that extra half-point and what I’m seeing in my numbers makes just about pick the Seahawks to get the cover.

Points on the Rest:

  • The Cardinals look like they might be trying to get another win without their starting quarterback Kyler Murray, but the Panther’s sixth ranked defence by DVOA should be a stiffer test than the 49ers defence. However, the Panthers are starting PJ Walker at quarterback with Sam Darnold still injured, and given the Panthers have just signed Cam Newton they can’t be happy with their quarterback situation as the team have slipped from a 3-0 to 4-5. The line gives me pause but the Cardinal have to fancy their chances of getting another win.
  • The Vikings visit to the Chargers feels like a game destined to be decided by a last-minute field goal, with either team as likely to suffer a horrible miss as as a scoring kick. The Chargers sit atop the AFC West with the Raiders despite a shaky few weeks while the Vikings cannot seem to put together a run of wins despite a top ten defence by DVOA and Kirk Cousins putting up impressive passing numbers.
  • The Broncos got a huge win last week, seeming to re-enforce the front office’s faith they could continue to compete this season whilst making a solid trade of Von Miller who was unlikely to re-sign next season so the trade allowed them to gain multiple draft picks. I’m not sure I totally trust them against an Eagles team who followed up their big win against the Lions in week eight with a close loss against the Chargers, but I think the Broncos should win.

Panthers @ Cardinals (-10.5)

Gee’s Pick:      Panthers
Dan’s Pick:      Panthers

Vikings @ Chargers (-2.5)

Gee’s Pick:      Chargers
Dan’s Pick:      Chargers

Eagles @ Broncos (-2.5)

Gee’s Pick:      Broncos
Dan’s Pick:      Broncos

Seahawks @ Packers (-3.5)

Gee’s Pick:      Seahawks
Dan’s Pick:      Packers

Sunday Night Football:

Chiefs @ Raiders (+2.5)

It feels a little like the Raiders have hit a critical mass of off-field turmoil, even if Derek Carr has repeatedly sounded like the exact kind of leader you would want in such a situation. This week the Raiders welcome a Chiefs team who are still struggling on offence, but whose defence made life miserable for the Packers’ Jordan Love in the young quarterback’s first start last week. However, Derek Carr has been playing like a franchise quarterback this season and now has Desean Jackson to play the Ruggs role of stretching the field. This is the kind of divisional game where any result is possible, but for some reason I feel like the Chiefs are more likely to win but I wouldn’t be surprised if this pick went horribly wrong.

Gee’s Pick:      Chiefs
Dan’s Pick:      Chiefs

Monday Night Football

Rams @ 49ers (+3.5)

Week ten finishes with what should be a tasty divisional matchup, except that the 49ers are a confounding team with only three wins despite being ranked top ten overall by DVOA. The Rams lost their second game of the season last week but have in recent weeks both traded for Von Miller and just signed Odell Beckham Jr, which they might be extra relieved about with Robert Woods tearing his ACL in practice on Friday. Remarkably, Woods hurt his knee but managed to finish the session before discovering the true extent of his injury, but this does increase the need for Beckam to get acclimatised to his new team quickly. Given how well the Rams have played for the majority of the season I expect they will win this one, but the 49ers knack of being competitive does make me a little worried about the line.

Gee’s Pick:      Rams
Dan’s Pick:      Rams

DVOA is Football Outsiders statistic for measure a team’s success on every play versus the league average and you can read more about it and other football topics at https://footballoutsiders.com.

Competition Thursday: 2021 Week Ten

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It will have to be a quick one this week, which suits me as I don’t really want to dwell on a brutal week of picks. That said, Dan only picked up one more point than me so at halfway through the regular season we are tied and with winning records.

Gee:Week 9:  5 – 9Overall:  71 – 65
Dan:Week 9:  6 – 8Overall:  71 – 65

Ravens @ Dolphins (+7.5)

Strange things can happen in the NFL so we can’t rule out the Dolphins entirely from springing a surprise on the Ravens tonight but it doesn’t seem likely. The broken finger of Tua Tagovailoa is more grist to the mill of those saying he was a bad pick, and the stop start nature of his career so far surely can’t help his development. However, let’s be honest, the far more shocking thing is the play of the defence this season that has slipped from a ranking of eleventh by DVOA last year to twenty-fifth. There is a part of me that wonders if on a short week the Ravens will be happy to just get the win, but with Lamar Jackson throwing the ball as well as he’s running it this season I simply can’t bring myself to pick a close game.

Gee’s Pick:     Ravens
Dan’s Pick:     Ravens

Survivor Competition

Well, I  suffered my second elimination of the season last week, and I have a feeling a lot of people will have been eliminated by the Cowboys laying an egg against the Bronos having won without Dak Prescott the week before. Dan’s faith in the Dolphins going against the Texans was born out and so he’s pegged me back to a 7-5 lead. This week Dan has gone for the Steelers, or against the Lions as I suspect the case is at this point, while bolstered by their impressive win last week I’m going to grab the Cardinals hosting the Panthers.

Current Score

Gee: 7
Dan: 5

Week 10 Selection:

Gee:    Cardinals
Dan:    Steelers

Bold Prediction of the Week

Another week, another prediction I’m not happy about this one but mine is not to reason why with my podcast producer or the vagaries of my mind so this week’s bold prediction is for the Seahawks to beat the Packers.

2021 Week Nine Picks

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I went into the Thursday night game with a renewed interest in the Jets taking on the Colts, but unfortunately the hope for a true contest was dashed after the Jet’s former practice squad quarterback Mike White (fresh from a four-hundred-yard game in his first start last week) returned to the side-line in the first quarter having scored an equalising touchdown with a forearm injury that ultimately saw White miss the rest of the game. For a third string quarterback Josh Johnson had a pretty decent game in place of White, but while the Jets were able to come back late in the game, they had really already lost by half time and this was largely due to calamitous run defence. For all the talk of Carson Wentz this season, this game belongs to Jonathan Taylor who ran forh one hundred and seventy-two yards and two touchdowns including a seventy-eight-yard touchdown run. The Colts as a team ran for two hundred and sixty yards and will face sterner tests this season but having now got four wins out of six after starting 0-3 they are dragging themselves into the playoff the picture. The playoffs were never an option for the Jets this season, and in the last couple of weeks they have shown some good moments on offence, although you’d really want them from your second overall pick Zach Wilson but the defensive woes are definitely a concern. Rookie running back Michael Carter has now impressed me for two weeks in a row and if the Jets can keep finding players to build around then they could finally start to be truly competitive again.

Early Games:

The early games are a bit of a mixed bag this week and so with no game particularly leaping out at me I shall cheat a little and go with my own team. The battle of Ohio is always a physical game, and you can’t trust the Bengals yet, but at home following a three week streak of road games they will be hoping to pounce on a literally wounded Browns team who are struggling with injuries. The Browns might well rally around the departure of disgruntled receiver Odell Beckham Jnr, but whilst I think Kevin Stefanski is likely the better head coach, the Bengals have the better quarterback (to be fair Baker Mayfield is playing through a tough injury in his non-throwing shoulder) and I would like to think they should get back to winning ways after last week’s loss to the Jets. If they lose again though then questions will need to be asked, but let’s not worry about them reverting to type before they lose a fourth game.

Points from the rest:

  • The Cowboys had the luxury last week of taking their time with Dak Prescott coming back from a calf strain thanks to their hold on the NFC East, and then still got the win thanks to a solid performance from Cooper Rush. It looks like Prescott will be back this week and with the Broncos trading away Von Miller they are making some long term moves while trying to stay competitive. It’s hard to see the Broncos getting the upset on the road given the way the Cowboys have been playing this season.
  • The Dolphins hosting the Texans sees two teams looking at an opportunity to break their seven game losing streaks, but whilst the Dolphins go into this game as favourites, I do wonder what the return of Tyrod Taylor will do for the Texans as he has not played since week two.
  • The New Orleans Saints lost Jameis Winston for the season last week, but while the driver of conversation this week was whether Trevor Siemian would get the start at quarterback over utility QB and special teams player Taysom Hill, the driver of the Saints success this season is their defence. The Falcons are rock bottom in the NFL by DVOA so they have done pretty well to get three win but despite it being a divisional game, it is hard to see the Falcons triumphing, although not impossible.
  • The Raiders’ players must be reeling given that fresh off the revelations and resignation of Jon Gruden, Henry Ruggs as been involved in a DUI that cost someone their life. The important thing about that whole situation is the family who are grieving for their lost, but the NFL stops for very little so it’s hard to predict how the Raiders will react in their game against a Giants team who are a team I don’t feel I have a handle on at all this season.
  • The Panthers look like they might get Christian McCaffery back this week, but Sam Darnold hasn’t cleared concussion protocol and has a shoulder problem. After a strong start to the season, the Panthers have fallen back to 4-4 whilst the Patriots have the same record but have built back from a 1-3 start and surely must be the favourites coming into this game.
  • The Jaguars are a bad football team and even first overall pick Trevor Lawrence looked poor last week so whilst you can’t absolutely rule out a surprise result, it’s very hard to see anything other than a Bills win in a game that pits the first overall team by DVOA against the thirtieth.
  • The Ravens host the Vikings in a game that has potential to be competitive, but the Vikings are a hard team to predict. Yes Kirk Cousins is playing well, but it seems you can’t trust him in the big moments and the Vikings are a team who seem to struggle to put all phases of the game together on the same day. The Ravens might have some issues in their secondary but are coming off a bye following their loss to the Bengals and will be desperate to get back to winning ways.

Browns @ Bengals (-2.5)

Gee’s Pick:      Bengals
Dan’s Pick:      Bengals

Broncos @ Cowboys (-9.5)

Gee’s Pick:      Cowboys
Dan’s Pick:      Cowboys

Texans @ Dolphins (-6.5)

Gee’s Pick:      Texans
Dan’s Pick:      Dolphins

Falcons @ Saints (-5.5)

Gee’s Pick:      Saints
Dan’s Pick:      Saints

Raiders @ Giants (+3.5)

Gee’s Pick:      Giants
Dan’s Pick:      Raiders

Patriots @ Panthers (+3.5)

Gee’s Pick:      Patriots
Dan’s Pick:      Patriots

Bills @ Jaguars (+14.5)

Gee’s Pick:      Bills
Dan’s Pick:      Bills

Vikings @ Ravens (-5.5)

Gee’s Pick:      Vikings
Dan’s Pick:      Vikings

Late Games:

It’s a small slate of games in the late slot this week and a slightly curious bunch. The Packers visiting the Chiefs should have been a game of the week contest between Aaron Rodgers against Patrick Mahomes except the Chiefs are struggling on both sides of the ball whilst Rodgers has tested positive for Covid-19. It has been revealed that Rodgers is both unvaccinated and listening to well know medical ‘expert’ podcast host Joe Rogan so there could well be wider consequences, but for this game we get a chance to see Jordan Love get his most meaningful game time in his first NF start. It is hard to predict how that will pay out but given the swing in line with Roders out it is hard to back the Packers with the line we have.

Meanwhile, the divisional matchup between the Cardinals and 49ers is something of a different contest than their week five meeting now that JJ Watt is done for the year and Kyler Murray is dealing with an ankle injury. The 49ers got their first win since week two last week as Jimmy Garoppolo looked a lot better in his second week back from his own injury problem. I don’t think it is time for the Cardinals to panic, but after a 7-0 start they will be hoping that things are not falling apart as they approach the halfway point of their season.

Points on the Rest:

  • The Eagles made anyone predicting a Lions win last week look very silly as they remembered how to run the ball and utterly dominated that game. The Chargers have lost two straight games and the talk is that they need to do something to tweak their offence and certainly a loss to the Eagles would raise questions given how they looked early in the season.

Chargers @ Eagles (+2.5)

Gee’s Pick:      Chargers
Dan’s Pick:      Chargers

Packers @ Chiefs (-2.5)\

Gee’s Pick:      Chiefs
Dan’s Pick:      Chiefs

Cardinals @ 49ers (+2.5)

Gee’s Pick:      49ers
Dan’s Pick:      Cardinals

Sunday Night Football:

Titans @ Rams (-7.5)

With the loss of Derick Henry this isn’t the game we would have been hoping for a week ago. We shall have to see how the Titans remake their offence and the Rams are not an easy team to do that against. The Rams had a top ten defence before adding Von Miller to their pass rush, and the offence has been scary to the point that they felt comfortable releasing DeSean Jackson this week as he was not happy with his playing time. There will be things to take away from this game, and head coach Mike Vrabel has a real knack for making the Titans competitive, but it’s hard to look past the Rams in this one.

Gee’s Pick:      Rams
Dan’s Pick:      Rams

Monday Night Football

Bears @ Steelers (-6.5)

The final game of the week is a bit of an odd contest. For all the noise and angst about quarterbacks the Bears are 3-5 going into their game with a Steelers team who have won three straight but have not looked like a true contender. That said, you are always going to be in a tough game playing the Steelers and their defence ranks tenth in the league by DVOA even if offence is a struggling twenty-first. The Bears might have found their quarterback of the future, but the current combination of GM and head coach has not convinced and it’s one thing to beat a Lions team by thirty-eight and another to go against a team coached by Mike Tomlin, even if Ben Roethlisberger is nothing like the quarterback he used to be. I think the Steelers are very likely to win this game but the number is definitely giving me problems.

Gee’s Pick:      Steelers
Dan’s Pick:      Steelers

DVOA is Football Outsiders statistic for measure a team’s success on every play versus the league average and you can read more about it and other football topics at https://footballoutsiders.com.

Competition Thursday: 2021 Week Nine

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It is still nip and tuck in the picks competition with both of us in possession of a winning record. I pulled away by another point in the survivor competition, but already our thoughts are turning to week nine and an unexpectedly intriguing Thursday night game.

Gee:Week 8:  8 – 7Overall:  66 – 56
Dan:Week 8:  9 – 6Overall:  65 – 57

Jets @ Colts (-10.5)

Even as recently as last week this would have been a game that did not engender excitement, and whilst both teams have a combined five wins so far this season, with Mike White’s four-hundred-yard outburst that saw the Jets beat the Bengals on Sunday this suddenly looks like more of a contest. I don’t know if the Jets can repeat the performance from the weekend, but I certainly don’t see the Colts as a team that are automatically eleven points better. The Colts may have dragged themselves back into the murky race for an AFC playoff berth, but the bad interceptions continue to haunt Wentz and whilst the Colts have improved in recent weeks, they are a hard team to have total faith in covering this line.

Gee’s Pick:      Jets
Dan’s Pick:      Jets

Survivor Competition

Dan has gone bold several times in the survivor competition this season but whilst I shared his thinking that the Lions could do well in week eight, I was certainly not going to back them. I can see the logic in picking the Dolphins going against the Texans, except that there is a possibility of Tyrod Taylor returning from injury so it’s not a move I would go for. It looks like Dak Prescott is set to return to the Cowboy’s starting line-up against a Broncos tea, who are fading fast. This is the best matchup I have left with the teams I have not already selected.

Current Score

Gee: 7
Dan: 4

Week 9 Selection:

Gee:    Cowboys
Dan:    Dolphins

Bold Prediction of the Week

I may have been overcome by my reaction to the Jets win against the Bengalson the podcast this week, but I’ve gone for the Jets to beat the Colts tonight as my bold prediction. I’m not sure if they can pull it off, but I am genuinely excited to see how things play out.

2021 Week 8 Picks

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The Thursday night game was tense and went to the wire, but between injuries and Covid-19 it maybe never truly took off. Both sides were dealing with injuries, the Green Bay Packers lost perhaps the best receiver in the NFL as well as their defensive coordinator to the Covid-19 list, whilst the Cardinals were already dealing with JJ Watt gone for the rest of the season and the loss of their starting centre Max Garcia before DeAndre Hopkins aggravated a hamstring injury that had put him on the injury report during the week. The Packers perhaps unsurprisingly focussed on running the ball and dominated the time of possession as Aaron Rodgers found himself dealing with an increased number of drops and unusually managing the offence rather than being the fulcrum. We shall have to see how much the loss of JJ Watt and other injuries hurt the Cardinals defence over the coming weeks, but after a spectacular route where Hopkins slowed and then used a burst of pace to get away from the Packer’s corner to catch a deep pass he tweaked his hamstring and came out the game. Kyler Murray threw for two hundred and fifty yards but no touchdowns and two interceptions, the last of which saw Murray on the wrong page with AJ Green and Rasul Douglas sealed the 24-21 win for the Packers inside his own end zone.

It will be a hard loss for the Cardinals to take, and even though they are in a very good position, they will need to regroup and come out firing given how the injury list has grown recently. The Packers lost tight end Robert Tonyan to an ACL tear in this game, but will get Devante Adams back from the Covid-19 and you would expect them to keep finding ways to win this game. The Packers are in complete control of their division, while the Cardinals are looking back at the 6-1 Rams but with how the teams are positioned in the NFC it would be a surprise to see the Cardinals slip out of contention and there could very easily be a rematch of this contest in the playoffs come January.

Early Games:

The early games are a bit of a mixed bag. It was always going to be tough to compete with the Thursday night game this week, but for me the tie of the early games is the Tennessee Titans heading to their divisional rivals the Indianapolis Colts. The Titans are coming off wins against the Bills and the Chiefs having won three straight and look to have found themselves whilst the Colts are two games back have won three out of their last four games following an 0-3 start to the season. The DVOA rankings still don’t like the Titans, placing them twentieth overall while the Colts are fifteenth, but the interesting thing is the consensus line sees the Colts as favourites, whilst in our competition the Colts are getting points. That’s usually an almost certain pick opposite to the consensus but the Titans offence has found its feet again in the last few weeks having started slowly under new offensive coordinator Todd Downing, and whilst Carson Wentz has looked better with Frank Reich’s Colts as he recovers from his various early season injuries, he still looks to be a player who tries to do too much. I could be wrong as this game pits Derick Henry against the Colts’ best in the league rush defence by DVOA, but it was Ryan Tannehill who dominated the Chiefs last week and I’m not that convinced by the Colts offence just yet.

Points from the rest:

  • The Falcons have thought their way back to 3-3 and are actually above the Panthers in the NFC South thanks to having a bye and only having three losses with rookie tight end Kyle Pitts finding his way in the last couple of games. The Panthers are really struggling without Christian McCaffery and for the second straight season their newly acquired quarterback is not doing what they hoped. After a promising start Sam Darnold has reverted to type and was sat down during the game last week so it’s hard to have faith in a team slipping back as they are.
  • The Bills are incredibly healthy on defence and ranked first by DVOA, which is also their overall ranking. The Dolphins are struggling on defence mightily, which is a bit of surprise given how they’ve been previously under Brian Flores’s tenure with the team, while Tua Tagovailoa has shown promise in the last couple of weeks but has to cut out the silly interceptions. I wonder if the Dolphins will keep it closer than the huge line, but Dan was very firm that the Bills always beat the Dolphins and it is hard to predict an upset in this one.
  • I thought the Bears would do better against the Buccaneers than the line suggested last week but I was very wrong. The problem this week is that they welcome a 49ers team who have not exactly been great either and are struggling with their own quarterback play. I’m a bit hesitant to make a call on this one with the Bears getting so many points at home, but some of the numbers say 49ers so that’s where I’m picking.
  • I am really not sure what to make of the Steelers as much as I love Mike Tomlin. Their defence is still top ten but the offence has really not improved from last year. A trip to Cleveland is an odd proposition at the moment given how beat up the Browns offence is while their defence is not quite living up to what we expected coming into the season. This could be one I get very wrong as I’m going against the numbers but coming off a bye I’m edging to the Steelers to keep this one within a field goal.
  • The Eagles are not a good football team, and neither are the Lions but it feels like the Lions are at least committed to their coach Dan Campbell and if the Lions are going to get a win this season then this has to be one of their best opportunities.
  • The line worries me a little in the Bengals visit to the Jets, but the Bengals beat the Lions soundly when they were meant to and then beat the Ravens the following week. I’m hoping they are too new to winning to be complacent against the Jets, but they should win this one, even if they don’t manage the trouncing the Patriots pulled off last week.
  • The only interest I had in the Texans against the Rams would have come if Tyrod Taylor was going get back on the field, but as it looks like he is still not going to play because of his hamstring injury you can only see the Rams winning this one. Surprises happen but you need more at quarterback than what rookie Davis Mills can provide to cover this line yet alone win.

Panthers @ Falcons (-2.5)

Gee’s Pick:      Falcons
Dan’s Pick:      Falcons

Dolphins @ Bills (-13.5)

Gee’s Pick:      Dolphins
Dan’s Pick:      Bills

49ers @ Bears (+3.5)

Gee’s Pick:      49ers
Dan’s Pick:      49ers

Steelers @ Browns (-3.5)

Gee’s Pick:      Steelers
Dan’s Pick:      Steelers

Eagles @ Lions (+3.5)

Gee’s Pick:      Lions
Dan’s Pick:      Lions

Titans @ Colts (+1.5)

Gee’s Pick:      Titans
Dan’s Pick:      Titans

Bengals @ Jets (+10.5)

Gee’s Pick:      Bengals
Dan’s Pick:      Bengals

Rams @ Texans (+14.5)

Gee’s Pick:      Rams
Dan’s Pick:      Rams

Late Games:

There are two particularly interesting games in the late slate. The Patriots at Chargers should be a good test of both the Patriots defence going against Justin Herbert and whether they can take anything from the blueprint the Ravens used to so thoroughly beat the Chargers before their bye last week, and what rookie quarterback Mac Jones can do against Brandon Staley’s defence. It is interesting that for all the two high looks that Staley’s success with he Rams last seasons seems to have brought to the league, the Chargers defence is only ranked sixteenth in the league and there do look to be flaws in the Chargers offence though Herbert continues to impress. I can totally understand the Chargers being favourites, but this line seems high to me even if the Pats only wins so far this season have come against the Jets and Texans.

The other late game I’m particularly interested in is the Buccaneers visit to the Saints, which I have set as my pick for Dan to watch this week. I’m mostly keen to see whether the Saints defence can continue the success they enjoyed in the regular season last year against Brady, or whether the Bucs have moved on so much that last season is immaterial. The Bucs offence currently ranks first by DVOA whilst the Saints defence ranks third. It feels clear to see that Sean Payton cannot change Jameis Winston, and so a lot of the Saints success will rely on Alvin Kamara, although it was interesting to see the Saints trade to get Mark Ingram back from the Texans and you have to imagine that is to lessen the workload of Kamara as he has been such a large part of the Saints offence in recent weeks. Even missing Antonio Brown and Rob Gronkowski on offence it feels like the Bucs will have too much on offence, and while the line does make me pause, the Saints were only able to beat the Seahawks who were starting Geno Smith at quarterback by a field goal last week.

Points on the Rest:

  • I’m watching the Jaguars go against the Seahawks this week as Dan is curious about what will happen, as am I. The Seahawks look to be in real trouble without Russell Wilson, whilst the Jaguars will be rested after their win in London against the Dolphins and subsequent bye, but it’s hard to have that much faith in either of them in their current form.
  • The Broncos are trading and making moves like they are in win now mode, and I’m sure that Vic Fangio feels like he is fighting for his job. I’m not sure what to expect from the Football Team with the focus in recent days rightfully returning to the absence of a written report into their toxic working environment in the wake of the Jon Gruden email links. On the field it feels like after a strong first season, that Ron Rivera is struggling to build in Washing and the defence that was so good last year is only ranked twenty-eighth by DVOA this season. I feel like the Broncos have a slight edge in this one, and against another team I might be concerned about this line, but I can’t back Washington without getting more points than this.

Patriots @ Chargers (-5.5)

Gee’s Pick:      Patriots
Dan’s Pick:      Chargers

Jaguars @ Seahawks (-3.5)

Gee’s Pick:      Jaguars
Dan’s Pick:      Seahawks

Washington @ Broncos (-2.5)

Gee’s Pick:      Broncos
Dan’s Pick:      Broncos

Buccaneers @ Saints (+4.5)

Gee’s Pick:      Buccaneers
Dan’s Pick:      Buccaneers

Sunday Night Football:

Cowboys @ Vikings (+2.5)

It looks like the Cowboys could be resting Dak Prescott given they have a solid hold of the NFC East and they won’t want him aggravating his calf injury if they don’t need to, even if they have stated that if it was the playoff he would be playing. The Vikings have been playing well on offence this season, and their defence is almost quietly sixth in the league by DVOA. A lot depends on who is playing for the Cowboys in this game, but given the lines I’m seeing online it appears the assumption is that Prescott won’t be and so I have to take the Vikings getting points in these circumstance.

Gee’s Pick:      Vikings
Dan’s Pick:      Cowboys

Monday Night Football

Giants @ Chiefs (-9.5)

I’m really not sure what to do about this line as the Giants are not a good football team, but they are coming off a very good win against the Panthers. Meanwhile, the Chiefs looked broken against the Titans last week, but equally the week before they scored a lot of points late and beat Washington by a lot, even if it was a tight game in the third quarter. I’m pretty certain the Chiefs bounce back with a win as I don’t trust the Giants, but this is a lot of points to lay for a team who str definitely struggling this year. Equally, the Giants have been competitive with teams around them and lost big to better teams. The numbers I use have this as a marginal advantage to go with the Chiefs, and I don’t really want to back them, but I just don’t have enough faith in Daniel Jones on the road given the Giant’s injuries and what’s been going on. I will probably kick myself about this one Tuesday whatever the result.

Gee’s Pick:      Chiefs
Dan’s Pick:      Chiefs

DVOA is Football Outsiders statistic for measure a team’s success on every play versus the league average and you can read more about it and other football topics at https://footballoutsiders.com.

Competition Thursday: 2021 Week 8

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Dan and I both had winning weeks in the picks competition, and I’m particularly pleased to pick up ten points in a thirteen game week. The pair of us are solidly over fifty percent at the moment, but who knows if we’ll be able to maintain that for another eleven weeks.

Gee:Week 7:  10 – 3Overall:  58 – 49
Dan:Week 7:  8 – 5Overall:  56 – 51

Packers @ Cardinals (-5.5)

This could be completely the wrong way to approach this game, particularly as the Packers are dealing with receivers Davante Adam and Allen Lazard going on the Covid-19 list as well as defensive coordinator Joe Barry, but while this line is slightly better than the consensus I’m seeing online it still seems like a lot for Cardinals to cover. I can definitely see given their record and the situation in Green Bay that they are favourites, but I keep looking at those numbers and going, yeah but the Packers have Aaron Rodgers. Throw out the first game of the season and the Packers are unbeaten, and whilst that first game definitely counts it shouldn’t have too much influence and even missing one of the best receivers in the game this line is just that bit too rich for me. I could easily regret this, and I absolutely know that this is not how I advocate making decisions, but I just don’t want to go against the Packers giving Rodgers this many points.

Gee’s Pick:      Packers
Dan’s Pick:      Cardinals

Survivor Competition

Dan and I held serve in week seven, with the Rams beating the Lions for Dan and the Bucs taking care of the Bears for me. Dan is going for a radically different, and some might suggest overly bold strategy of going against the Eagles this week as he thinks the Lions are getting their first win. It’s certainly an approach, although I do wonder if he remembers this is a competition that is supposed to be based on a survivor pool so it’s certainly not one I’m going to replicate right now. I am hoping that any concern Dan might have about my pick will be compensated for by the reverse jinx potential as given Dan’s statements on the pod and the pick rankings I use, I am going for the Bills to beat the Dolphins. I can certainly handle dropping a point in this competition if the Dolphins get a win and not just because of my bold prediction.

Current Score

Gee: 6
Dan: 4

Week 8 Selection:

Gee:     Bills
Dan:    Lions

Bold Prediction of the Week

As ever I was struggling with a bold prediction despite my big win last week, but I was eventually allowed to plump for the Dolphins keeping the score to within a touchdown against the Bills so I basically get to be on both sides of this game.

Success is a Fragile Thing but its Absence Sitcks

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It has been a mixed week for the TWF team with the Bengals getting a statement win on the road against the Ravens to get people talking about them, whilst the Dolphins managed a déjà vu field goal loss against the Falcons against a back drop of trade rumours that I think will worry Dan until we are past the trade deadline next week.

What I Saw

For me there’s only one place to start with the Sunday games that I watched this week and that is in Baltimore. The game started as a tight contest that the Bengals edged out 13-10 at half time, but the Bengals’ offence broke out in the second half as the defence clamped down after an early third quarter touchdown for the Ravens to turn a 17-13 deficit into a 41-17 statement win. Ja’Mar Chase had a two-hundred yard receiving day and the rookie receiver now has the most receiving yards through seven career games of any player in NFL history. The defence is what was winning game initially, but now it feels like both sides of the ball are coming together. The Ravens have no need to panic at 5-2 as there is plenty of season left to go and they have too much experience to fall apart after a bad game, but for now the Bengals deserve to be taken seriously,  although that also involves dealing with expectations so let’s see what happens next week at the Jets.

The other of the early games I watched was the Kansas City Chiefs getting beaten soundly 27-3 by the Tennessee Titans. The thing I didn’t mention on the podcast this week is that it is really hard to get to four Super Bowls in a row, which is what the Chiefs are trying to do this season. It is even harder if you have not nailed your draft picks or all-in moves in free agency. The key players are there, but right now Patrick Mahomes is pushing and turning over the ball in a way he never used to. They need to find some way to exploit more space underneath or to challenge the two high safety looks that they are now seeing regularly as now the offensive production is slipping and the defence shows no sign of improvement. The Titans don’t exactly have a fearsome defence but had more than enough in this one and it was Ryan Tannehill throwing the ball that was as effective as anything on offence for the Titans, although seeing Derick Henry throw a touchdown pass was undeniably fun.

Finally, on Sunday night the Indianapolis Colts and the San Francisco 49ers took on each other and a bomb cyclone in a contest that was understandably heavy on the run game, particularly as at some poins throwing the ball looked like a quarterback’s nightmare brought to life. It’s not that often that you see two running backs from opposing teams run for matching one-hundred and seven yards and a touchdown from eighteen carries, but that’s what the 49ers Elijah Mitchell and Jonathan Taylor managed. The up and down nature of Jimmy Garoppolo season continued as he returned from injury but still hasn’t exactly convinced, while Carson Wentz still tries to do too much and has a nasty habit of in trying to make an impossible play simply giving the ball back to the opposition. The Colts have won three of their last four games after an 0-3 start so their matchup with the 5-2 Titans next week is a pretty huge contest but at least they seem to be finding themselves. As for the 49ers, you are beginning to hear enough questions about the job Kyle Shanahan and John Lynch are doing in building this team that there could be questions to face if things don’t start to improve. As good as a play caller as Shanahan is, his career record is 31-39 with only one winning season, though he did take his team to a Super Bow, but if anything it is play of both Garoppolo and Trey Lance that could be seen as the biggest questions for this franchise.

What I Heard

I exist in a state of quantum flux when it comes to discussion of the Deshaun Watson trade rumours, both amazed that any team would consider trading for a player with that litany of complaints and police charges against them and yet simultaneously not at all surprised because patriarchy and football.

One of the teams I didn’t mention on the podcast that has also been floated as a Watson desitination was the Washington Football Team, which I have to think Ron Rivera would oppose given the recent investigations into the Football Team for their toxic work environment, particularly for women. That said, while the NFL through Roger Goodell are stating that they have handled the situation well (there is no report to publish, although they are apparently cooperating with a request from the House Committee on Oversight and Reform for all documents and communications about the investigation into the workplace culture in Washington) you wonder whether Dan Snyder might make the trade, even if he is not running things at the moment..

What I Think

The Detroit Lions may be 0-7, but there are five teams below them in the DVOA rankings and frankly they threw the kitchen sink at the LA Rams on Sunday, made them work and so far this season have only been beaten badly by one team. I don’t think this looks like a winless team, they are still fighting for their coach, and they can perhaps look at the first year of Brian Flores in Miami where the Dolphins also lost their first seven games but closed out the season 5-4. The unfortunate thing for the Dolphins is that after going 10-6 last season, they have not kicked on this season, but to me that hints at how fragile a thing success can be in the NFL.

As a Bengals fan I was hoping for progress coming into the season and prepared for disappointment. I certainly was not expecting a 5-2 start that includes win in Pittsburgh and Baltimore and whilst I’m certainly not expecting the end to one of our two playoff droughts, I can at least dream of it. The Dolphins were unlucky not to get into the playoffs last season with ten wins, but while there are several teams with as bad or longer droughts for appearances, the Bengals, Lions and Dolphins make up the top three longest playoff win drought. The injury to Andy Dalton in 2015 still haunts me as the team who could have been something, particularly as the Bengals haven’t had a winning season since and are without a playoff win in thirty seasons despite Dalton leading the Bengals to the playoffs for five straight seasons from 2011-2015. The Lions’ last winning season was in 2017 and after the spectacular failure of the Matt Patricia tenure the reboot is going to take time and with their one playoff win back in 1991 (a whole season more recent than the Bengals) their drought looks set to  continue for a while. Going into the season the Dolphins would have looked best out of these three teams to end their own playoff win drought, and at twenty seasons they have some time before they catch the Lions and Bengals but this year does not seem destined for them to get that win.

The season is more random for teams than many like to admit, but these long streaks demonstrate that for some teams there are definite patterns, even if they felt more competitive to you as a fan at the time. The Marvin Lewis period transformed the Bengals from and national laughing stock to a credible franchise that included several incredibly talented teams threatening to break the playoff drought but they never quite could. There’s no guarantee that Joe Burrow and Ja’Marr Chase can do better than Andy Dalton and AJ Green, or for that matter Carson Palmer and his talented offence so yes I’m cautious, but I am definitely enjoying the game right now.

What I Hope

I have two hopes this week. I really hope that the Bengals are focussed and beat the Jets to maintain their run as there is a lot of season left and they really can’t afford to drop winnable games. I also hope that the Dolphins give Dan something to be happy about come Monday.

DVOA is Football Outsiders statistic for measuring a team’s success on every play versus the league average and you can read more about it and other football topics at https://footballoutsiders.com.