NFL Divisional Round Game Previews

Last week in the game previews, I also gave some game predictions. Although I thought deep down inside the Cowboys would win, I didn’t pick them because they’re the NFC equivalent to the Patriots* – we can’t stand them. The other game I got wrong was the Bears. That was a shocker. Not so much the loss, but not using Khalil Mack to get after an injured Nick Foles.

This week, let’s take a look at the divisional rounds. Every once in a while, two teams face off that the seeding is wanky, this year there are two – the Colts and Chargers. Both had early losses which landed them here and while on paper, usually you’d want to face a 5 or 6 seed, in these two cases, not so much.

SATURDAY

6 Seed Colts (10-6) vs 1 Seed Chiefs (12-4) 4:35 NBC

Referee Crew

John Hussey ref crew

No Walt Anderson for any team this weekend, so they should be cheering (except he is an alternate for this match-up so pray no one gets sick). Offensively, these teams aren’t that far off, especially if you look at the last month, not the first. Defensively, they’re worlds apart.

On offense, you have the veteran QB vs the newbie and the better defense vs the putrid. What Kansas City has going for them is home field advantage. Arrowhead stadium is LOUD. Arrowhead will be cold, snowy/rainy and miserable. Arrowhead on a good day for an outdoor team is a struggle, for a traveling dome team, it’s got to be counted as a 12th and 13th man.

I did see the Colts were outside practicing a little bit in their own nasty weather, so at least they’re trying to get ready. However, this will be their first snow game and it can’t be ignored. In poor conditions, throwing is usually kept to a minimum and the run game rules. This is where Indianapolis can gain some ground, their rushing attack was mediocre; however, over the last month, Marlon Mack and co have turned it on, while KC without Hunt has lost a lot of ground.

If teams go to the air, it’ll be up to the best defensive scheme and I don’t see KC’s man working well when trying to cover guys in a tough to see sky and slippery field.

This is bad news for KC who is ranked 29th with 19 rushing TD’s allowed and 132 yards per game. Indy is ranked 10th with 12 TDs and slightly over 100 yards. Marlon Mack was the leader last weekend in yards, plus he had a TD. This isn’t a good match-up for KC who would’ve had a chance to cream the Ravens or Texans.

Obviously, when it comes to Total points scored and TDs thrown, the Chiefs are leading with 50 TDs and 35 points per game, with Indy in second having 39 TD’s and 27 points per game. However, Luck’s short game is better than Mahones and that will be a big deal this week.

An area Kansas has better defensive stats is in the sack department with 52 compared to Indianapolis’ 38. However, the Colts have allowed a league low of 18 sacks, so something has to give. Mahones was sacked 26 times. When it comes total defense, Indy is 11th, and 10th in points allowed (21.5). KC is 31st in total and 24th in points allowed (26.30).

When it comes to defending the pass, Mahones may have a long day, Indy is tied for third in only giving up 21, but KC is 22nd with 30. As far as stopping the run, the Colts are 10th allowing 12 TD’s and the Chiefs are 29th with 19. The question is, what happens when a team that is tied for third least passing TD’s meets a team that is first in throwing them? KC gains 35 points a game, but Indy allows 21.

Indy gains 27 a game, while KC allows 26.  In bad conditions, will Mahones with Travis Kelce in the short (safe) passing game do slightly better than Andrew Luck and Eric Ebron? No one on the Colts defense can keep up with Tyreek Hill, but in a bad weather game, nature may even things out by negating the deep pass and his chance to streak away for a score.

I like the chances of Indy’s DL vs Mahanoes’ OL more than KC’s vs’s Indy OL. This game will come down to the run game and defense in bad weather – that’s Andrew Luck and Marlon Mack with some doses of TE’s. More than anything though, in a tight clash, I’m not sold on Andy Reid and his clock management skills.

4 Seed Cowboys (10-6) vs 3 Seed Rams (13-3) 8:15 FOX

Referee Crew

john parry referree crew

I don’t watch a lot of NFC games and never seek out the Cowboys, but since the NFL has anointed them, I’ve watched enough to know that the Rams have two jobs if they want to win: stop Zeke and protect Goff.

Dak Prescott needs everything perfect to win, remove one item and he can’t carry this team and I don’t think Jason Garret can, either. I’m not so sure Jared Goff is all that great with missing pieces, either, so this match-up should be a fun defensive one to watch.

Can Wade Philips and his squad draw up some plays to confuse Dak and keep him in the pocket? Prescott on the run is pretty good, in the pocket against good coverage? Not so much, his passes become wild too much of the time.

Not to mention, he’s among the worst for sacks being his fault (56 of them!). Dallas’s front seven is pretty dang good and could see them giving Todd Gurley fits, which in turn will force Goff to throw more. In a throwing match-up, I’ll take the Cali dude, his 10 more touchdowns and better accuracy.

Todd Gurley and Ezekiel Elliot should be the stars of the game…or why one team loses because whichever defense shuts down the run game, wins. The Rams give up more yards than Dallas, but they’re tied in scores allowed at 22 a piece. To be honest, I’m not sure if that’s due to LA’s goal line stance or teams decided to throw in the red zone instead since they stunk at defending passing TD’s. Maybe getting Aqib Talib back in form will help (please).

Meanwhile, Dallas has allowed ten less, so this will be a clash that LA could find itself on the wrong side of. However, when it comes to interceptions, the Rams are killing it and that is very bad news for Prescott. He’s pretty safe with the ball, but this could force him to be more cautious which means a slower release and more chance for sacks.

IF LA can keep him contained. LA has 41 sacks which could equal a very bruised Dak. A better defense facing a better passer on one side with a worse quarterback and worse defense on the other side. This could even out the passing side and as I said above, becomes a run game duel. If that’s the case, I’ll take the team with better rushing stats, more sacks and more interceptions.

SUNDAY GAMES

5 Seed Chargers (12-4) vs 2 Seed Patriots* 1:05 CBS

Referee Crew

ron torbert ref crew

My dearest Ron, America begs on its knees for you to go against every stat in New England and please call a fair game. Amen. The snow Patriot* fans were hoping for isn’t coming. The weather forecast shows sunny and around 25. Not ideal for a warm weather team, but there won’t be winds, so that helps.

Based on the weather, we should see both sides play fairly close to what we’ve seen on offense. My guess is both quarterbacks will play a bit cautious as turnovers will be in their mind. Tom Brady‘s arm lacks the juice it once had, don’t get me wrong, he can still make deadly throws, but he’s tossing far more, what was that?, balls than before.

As far as Philip Rivers, he’s a gunslinger at heart. Taming that (like we saw vs the Ravens) will be a game plan I’m guessing. Let their better defense and close run game lead the way. While NE* does have more yards, their yards per carry are lower and the touchdowns are only two more than LA’s no doubt due to the absence of Melvin Gordon. I’d say these two are about equal in this department.

When it comes to passing, both teams are also very close. Rivers has three more touchdowns. Where the two differ is LA’s offensive line is offensive, they’ve allowed 34 sacks and unlike in places like Houston and Dallas, it’s not on him, they just aren’t good.

That is the key for NE* (in a fair called game), abuse the OL. Of course, the same is true for Brady*, not that his OL stinks, they don’t, but he struggles when pressure is his face. LA has two really good pass rushers, but Gus Bradley will need to find creative ways with some stunts to send them through the A and B gaps, not just the C’s. Or send Joey Bosa up the middle with Melvin Ingram screeching around the edge. Whatever it takes to disrupt Brady*. Rivers is better used to pressure in his face, so for him, they’ll need to actually sack him.

The key to this game is turnovers. The Chargers haven’t been very good in the differential, but the Pat’s have been and maybe last week was a trial run of how much LA can get away with without passing. Anyway, as I wrote, both QB’s are pretty close with Rivers a tad better. Including last week, they are 8-1 on the road and that’s huge. If they make it to the Super Bowl, that will weigh heavily in their favor no matter who they face. The Saints would be the worst though.

The Chargers have 38 sacks, 13 interceptions, have given up 23 passing TD’s, 228 air yards and 11 rushing. New England* has 30 sacks, 18 interceptions, allowed 29 passing TDs, 246 air yards per game and seven rushing touchdowns. In total, NE* gave up 2 more TD’s. This also is close.

Overall, the Chargers are ranked 9th in defense to the Patriots’ 21st, but when it comes to stopping scores (not including kicking ones) they’re really close. Only .3 per game separates them. We’re talking 4 points for the season.

HOWEVER, when you look at their DVOA’s, the Chargers are better – DVOA takes into consideration the teams they played. With all this said, it’s going to be a close game. Hopefully, LA learned last week that if you’re ahead a bunch, don’t take the foot off the gas and NE* is the most lethal to pounce when a team does.

If LA plays a clean game, limits mistakes and pressures Brady* all game they win. If they commit dumb penalties, they lose, that’s how close these teams are.

6 Seed Eagles (9-7) vs 1 Seed Saints (13-3) FOX

carl cheffers ref crew

This game does have the right ranking, the Eagles are the worst of the NFC teams that got in and the Rams, the best. Even so, it’s tough to say this will be a blow-out only because Philadelphia has a way of doing the impossible.

In my predictions above, I picked the most balanced teams to win. Going with that again. The Saints are far and away a better team; however, when it comes to scores against them, Philly isn’t that far behind.

Against the pass, both defenses stink. I can see Drew Brees and Nick Foles having a bunch of air yards. To note though is the Saints have given up eight more passing touchdowns. This game is inside and that will help Foles.

When it comes to stopping the run, New Orleans is a little better, that might not matter much, both teams are keeping offenses under 100 yards. Where the Saints have the run away stats is for that – the run. 26 rushing TD’s, 126 yards a game and 4.3 per rush.

That’s the game right there. If the Eagles can’t stop the run, they’re done. The Eagles are only averaging 98 yards a game, so there’s no break out chance for them in this category – they’re facing a decent run stop team.

If the Eagles want to win, they’re going to need to pass and pass often. When it comes to TD’s they only have four less. They may need to pass because of time of possession. If the Saints go with the run heavy game with short passes, they’ll use up the clock.

To counter that, Philly will need to run more hurry up unless they score first. If they can get a TD up first, now they can be more balanced, but with only 12 rushing touchdowns, not sure how.

Since this game is in the Saints’ dome, crowd noise will make the Eagles go silent snap count and I’m not so sure about that success because getting the defensive line to jump will be tougher. Little things like that will matter. I’m going with the run game and Drew Brees.

NFL Wild Card game predictions.

NFL Wild Card game predictions
Here it is, the first week of playoffs and while the Jaguars aren’t in it, the best teams, are. Instead of doing an AFCS game preview, this will replace that with my NFL Wild Card game predictions.

SATURDAY 4:35 ESPN

6th Seed Colts (10-6) vs 3rd Seed Texans (11-5)

This is a home game for Houston, they have a better record and therefore should get the nod. I disagree. Indy has a better offense, slightly better defense, much better passing and about even rushing.
In the cold of January, that rushing stat would be worrisome, but the Texans play in a dome, as do the Colts. Which means, passing and defense is what will matter more – for this game.
Houston’s defense only allows 19.8 points a game, while Indy gives up 21.5. Against QB’s, Houston is 13th and Indy 16th in total QBR. I look at this number because it shows how they did in allowing completions. The real eye opener though is how many each allowed in passing TD’s and for Indy it was only 21, for the Texans is was 28.
The Colts score 27.1 a game and the Texans 25.1.
Against the rush, Houston is third in TD’s allowed, while Indy is 10th. Both teams have the same interceptions, but Houston has five more sacks. Since the Colts have protected Luck the best in the league, the big advantage goes to Indy since Deshaun Watson has been creamed the most.
Away teams tend to do far worse in the playoffs than the home teams, usually it’s because the home team earned it by being better. In this case, Indy got off to a slow start because they have a new head coach and had a rusty QB. Both are now clicking. I chose Indy by 6.

8:15 FOX

5th Seed Seahawks (10-6) vs 4th Cowboys (10-6)

Lord, I don’t like Dallas and can’t be objective when looking at stats. Nine is the number that matters. That’s how many rushing TD’s Seattle has allowed. In the red zone, they’re keeping teams out of the end zone.
Dallas’ offense is wrapped around Zeke Elliot and the run game. Take him away and stick a dagger in their heart, their defense be damned.
Seattle allows one more point a game than Dallas and that’s coming from the pass. They’re not great against it, but when it comes to tossing them, they’ve got Dallas beat by 13 TD’s.
Dallas has to find a way to keep up in scoring in order to win. They lag by 5 points per game, hence nine is the key. Nine means the Seahawks have had games with zero rushing TD’s allowed. Do that vs Dallas and you’ve got a big win for Seattle.
In my subjective view point, Seattle plays bend don’t break defense while Dallas plays more flashy, that can get them into trouble. And FYI, Seattle has more rushing TD’s than Dallas. 15 to 13. My prediction, Seahawks by 7 because Dak Prescott will be strip sacked.

SUNDAY 1:05 CBS

5th Seed Chargers (12-4) vs 4th Seed Ravens (10-6)

LA has a big thing going for them, they travel well. 7-1 to be exact which means they aren’t afraid of playing in loud stadiums, plus they have shown time changes don’t bother them, either. In their first match-up, offensive penalties killed them. This is an area to see if it was cleaned up – it’ll go to coaching.
The Chargers have to stop the run, which they’re not bad at, but they’re going to need to be great. Baltimore is number 3rd at the run TD’s, so not a good match-up.
Against the pass, Baltimore is second in QBR and LA is 9th. Both teams on total defense is top ten. Offense is where the gap is.
When it comes to points on the board, LA has scored almost twice as many TD’s. So, this game is about slowing Rivers through the air and stopping the Ravens on the ground. Kind of funny that rivers run on the ground and ravens fly through the air but each team is the reverse. Yes, I’m goofy.
In January (outside), the run game and defense, win. No one is really talking up the Charger’s run game, but they have three less TD’s than Baltimore and more yards per carry and that’s with Melvin Gordon missing time. Both defenses have given up 11 rushing TD’s.
Baltimore keeps points to 17.9 a game while LA scores 26.8. Baltimore is scoring 24.3, while LA gives up 20.6. Based on just this, LA wins by a FG in a slug fest.

4:40 NBC

6th Seed Eagles (9-7) vs 3rd Seed Bears (12-4)

The Eagles are the feel good team this season, once Nick Foles came in and won. The difference between this season and last is one, teams have now seen enough of him in this offense to know him and two, da Bears.
When it comes to consistency, I’ll take Foles over Mitch Trubisky, but Matt Nagy has found a way to scheme around him and it works. Plus, Chicago has 50 sacks. I don’t think Nick or that OL is ready for Khalil Mack.
Where the two teams are equal is on defending the pass for the score. Both have allowed 22. This opens the door for the quarterbacks to have a decent day provided they don’t get creamed, first. However, Chicago has intercepted the pass an amazing 27 times, needless to say, that’s very bad for Foles. His mental game must be on high alert.
Foles’ total QBR is ranked lower middle, Trubisky is ranked third. Which shows he makes plays even in his inconsistency and that’s what matters. Not to mention, Nick has bruised ribs – against a team with 50 sacks. I’m not seeing a happy ending for the fairytale.
Philadelphia has done better as the season wore on, their defense found its legs, but they’re not a top team and on the road in Chicago, I predict da Bears by 14. This is my one blow-out game.

The thing is…why the Jacksonville Jaguars may not draft a quarterback.

why the Jacksonville Jaguars may not draft a quarterback

Most of us would LOVE a shiny new toy at quarterback, one the franchise can have for twenty years. Of course, that’s my gut and heart wishing…then the cold-hearted logic side of the brain kicks in and throws icy water all over the happy party. There are three (or four) reasons why the Jacksonville Jaguars may not draft a quarterback.

First, none of the rookie candidates are setting the world on fire. One could say Dwayne Haskins is the most well-rounded and best choice; he’s the right size, accurate, mobile, and played for a top school. But then, so have a slew of other college QB’s who didn’t pan out. The main reason: they often don’t need to call plays in a huddle, be a leader, diagnosis defenses…exhibit the mental side of the game that makes the difference.

This leads to why drafting quarterbacks is difficult. A franchise should have a guy who is methodical, can march his team down the field, played against defenses that are tough, and played in a pro-system because it shows he can handle a huddle. He must make pinpoint throws and lead his receiver.

Let’s say this guy is found so everything is peachy now, right? Not really. A franchise must also have a good offensive line AND a run game, because no matter how smart the rookie is, the NFL will be faster than what he knows and that requires time to think and help to carry the load.

Without that, you have a guy more focused on avoiding getting hit instead of reading defenses and working on his pocket presence.

Next, does he have the right scheme and coaches? Does the general manager and the coaches want the same things and are on the same page? Often quarterbacks drafted high aren’t busts, they merely landed on teams where the above answers were “no”.

Coaching is Everything.

To keep this brief, let’s jump to a biggest factor that seems to be overlooked by those weighing in: weapons.

Jacksonville doesn’t have any – skill positions on offense that can give a rookie quarterback confidence to make iffy throws because his tight end or wide receiver has good hands.

The Jaguars ranked first in dropped passes. Some of that can go to the passer, but some of it is lack of talent. That must change, Jax has to draft guys with good hands, including a running back that can catch.

The logic could be: “Great, let’s draft a quarterback plus the above and have them grow together!” Sounds perfect in theory. However, the reality is, WR’s and TE’s rarely, and I mean rarely, do well as rookies. The reason is because of the stem route, and the best way for rookies to grasp that is a veteran signal caller.

(If you want to learn more about stem routes and why they’re so important, click the link.)

If Dede Westbrook and a slew of rookies is all he has, he’s going to be in a tough spot. It’ll be the blind leading the blind. We saw that already with Blake Bortles, Allen Hurns, Allen Robinson and Marqise Lee.

A good veteran quarterback can help receivers and tight ends get better. They know the playbook well, know defensive schemes, often know the players they’re facing. He can give tips to his guys, be their guide on the field. That won’t happen with a rookie QB.

Rookies are at the mercy of his OC and his center. Yes, the center. I’ve written two articles about the OL, one simple and one more detailed. You can find them under offense. The entire Jaguars OL went down this season, leading to all the backups playing. IF the OL can stay healthy all season, a rookie QB will be ok in that department; if not, he’s in big trouble.

The Jaguars, knowing they need a slew of help on offense, may choose to sign a veteran and develop the skill guys so that in a year or two they can draft a quarterback into a team that has experienced players to help him. This would show that Dave Caldwell learned a lesson.

The flip side could be sign (pay) for veteran skill players and draft the rookie. The downfall to that is…the Jaguars will have a new offensive coaching staff.

For the future, it might be best if this new staff has a vet under center that they don’t need to babysit while they work on rookies. Doing this will set up the future so when they draft, that guy has a smooth functioning offense, one easier to learn behind.

  • a rookie needs a good OL
  • weapons
  • coaching stability
  • vets to help him learn

Until all those boxes are checked, the Jacksonville Jaguars may not draft a quarterback.

AFCS Week 17 game previews – TV areas, stats, injury reports, & passing charts.

AFCS Week 17 game previews

This is it, one last game for the Jaguars to pull off a win, tanking be damned. If you want to know why I abhor tanking, READ HERE. This is also the last ditch effort for our three divisional teams to make the play-offs or move up in seeding. Here’s the AFCS Week 17 game previews – TV areas, stats, injury reports, & passing charts.

jaguars:texans tv viewing area wek 17

SUNDAY 1:00

Jaguars (5-10) vs Texans (10-5) CBS

As usual, here’s the refs which I include because we should keep track of the crap since the NFL doesn’t seem to care.

Referee Crew:

Pete Morelli referee crew

Sad to say, but I won’t miss seeing Leonard Fournette. This season, he’s had two games that were ok, the rest were snoozes. Let’s bring on Dave Williams. It’s good to see DJ Chark back. People hate on Jalen Ramsey, but that dude has played almost the entire season hurt and yet Jax’s secondary is still tops.

Jaguars week 17 friday injury report

Have written before, I don’t trust Bill O’Brian’s injury reports, so just ignore them.

texans week 17 friday injury report

Blake Bortles is baaaack, will he play the entire game is the question? They’re dressing out Tanner Lee, so we can guess they’d like to give him reps and if that happens, assume we’re getting creamed.

I’m posting just the cumulative passing charts because Bortles hadn’t started in a few weeks. Clearly, Deshaun Watson is having a good season even if he’s not among the top passing leaders. He’s judicious with the ball and compliments their run game.

As a slight defense of Borltes, his OL has been atrocious, he didn’t have his number one wide receiver, tight end or running back, plus the OC was fired. Not exactly what is scripted for bringing out the best in QB’s.

A quick recap of the last match-up: Bortles fumbled twice which allowed Houston to get a FG and a TD. Cody Kessler played the second half and lobbed in a TD. Yeldon let a pass bounce off him for an interception.

The Texans had less than 300 total yards, they won from sloppy play by Jax. If the Jags truly want to win, they’ll need their defense to do it for them. To do that, they’ll need to sack Watson more than once. Most importantly, they must play a clean game.

Limit penalties, don’t turn the ball over, create turnovers.

Watson only threw 139 yards that day, I could see that again, but the offense must show up. Houston is ranked 29th vs the pass. They’ve allowed 28 TD’s, but they’ve got 43 sacks and with this OL, it’s tough to see that number not jumping a bunch.

Jacksonville has not been good against the rush, that’s the concern. Even though Houston has DeAndre Hopkins (IMHO the best WR in the NFL this season), the Jags may be best to double him and force Watson to throw everywhere else.

Encourage the pass over the run because it makes their time of possession smaller which will be critical for the Jacksonville offense. One, they’re terribly inefficient and will need more chances to score and two, passing keeps our defense fresher.

Houston’s run game is mid pack as well as their passing, but as everyone knows, stats only tell half the story. How and when you get your yards and scoring is what matters. The Jaguars need to have the Texans pass between the 30’s and run in the red zone. With only ten rushing TD’s this is where they are vulnerable.

As far as Houston, all they need to do is play their defense because the Jag’s offense is putrid. The offensive line is a mess, the tight ends are non-existent, Dede Westbrook is the only receiver (although with DJ Chark back, he could help) and with them down to Yeldon and Williams, who knows what the run game looks like?

The keys are:

Jax: Play smart. Sack Watson. Make him throw to anyone, but Hopkins.

Houston: Show up.

8:20 NBC

Colts (9-6) vs Titans (9-6)

Referee Crew:

walt anderson referee crew

Marcus Mariota won’t be playing. Not that he’s had a good year (he hasn’t), but he’s been able to run to keep drives going, plus he’s much better than Blaine Gabbert at reading defenses.

With the Colts being in bad shape health-wise, they need a break and not having to spy on Mariota is that chance – not that Gabbert won’t run, but he’s not a dual-threat.

colts week 17 friday injury reporttitans week 17 friday injury report

There isn’t a cumulative chart for Gabbert, but his stats are: 7 games, 3 TDS, 2 INTS, on 72  attempts. His rating is 80.8 with a 59.7 completion rate. He’s tried to run 6 times, but has zero yards. His most attempts is 22 and most yards is 118.

The Colts won’t have to worry abut Gabbert tearing them up with his legs or arm. Their concern will be stopping the run and having enough offensive weapons to overcome the Titans 7th ranked defense.

Luck has used tight ends like a magician, it’s an area Tennessee has struggled against (as has most defenses), so while Eric Ebron and Ryan Hewitt are beat-up, he does have Mo Allie-Cox.

What’s of concern is their secondary, but with Gabbert playing, it may be a wash. Inman and Hilton also being hobbled is a huge concern. The Titans are third against the pass, not the best time to have hobbled tight ends and wide receivers.

Marlon Mack will most likely be the cog for Indy today. Tennessee is third vs rushing TD’s, but mid-pack elsewhere. If Indy can rely on him to carry the load between the 30’s and use Luck in the red zone, they could do ok.

Obviously, this will be a run and defense day, not only because of injuries, but the game is outside. The Colts are really good at limiting rushing yards, but only so-so in stopping scores. Against the pass, they’re only two TD’s behind the Titans and with Gabbert at the helm, that shouldn’t change.

These two teams are so close in what you see and get. They’re built differently, but they find ways to win. How injured Indianapolis really is, will be the difference. If it’s just normal bumps and bruises, they should win with Mack and Luck leading the way and just enough defense to stop Tennessee.

If the Colts are as bruised as their injury reports suggests and the Titans can get to Luck, it will be a long day. Both teams have 38 sacks which could be a big key for both teams. If Indy can get to Gabbert, game over, he’s not the calmest guy under pressure.

Andrew Luck is getting rid of the ball much faster this season, which has helped his great OL keep him at a league low of 17 sacks (wow). That will be the Titan’s task: sack Luck or at least cover his receivers long enough he has to hold on to the ball.

The keys:

Indy: Protect Luck. Rush Gabbert. Stop the run.

Tennessee: Derrick Henry must ball out. Sack Luck. Stop Mack.

This concludes the AFCS Week 17 game previews. Hope everyone has a good New Year’s, and none of our hated rivals get a play off win.

As always, GO JAGS!

AFCS Week 16 Game Previews – TV Viewing, Referees, Stats, Passing Charts, Injury Reports

AFCS Week 16 Game Previews - TV Viewing, Referees, Stats, Passing Charts, Injury Reports

As we enter week 16, three teams in our division has something to play for, and the Jaguars do not. However, the cards need to fall exactly right for the Titans and Colts to have a shot at a Wild Card. Take a gander at the AFCS Week 16 Game Previews – TV Viewing, Referees, Stats, Passing Charts, Injury Reports.

All Saturday games will be nationally broadcast as will the Sunday 4:00 and night game, and Monday’s, too.

Here is FOX’s 1:00 games

NFL week 16 TV viewing map FOXNFL week 16 viewing map CBS

SATURDAY 4:30 NFL NETWORK

Redskins (7-7)  vs Titans (8-6)

I put ref crews each week because this season has seen some really crappy reffing and you may not think much this week, but you can come back here and see who officiated for future reference.

Referee Crew:

john hussey referree crew

The Redskins are a game back from the Cowboys, but with their beat-up team and QB situation, tough to see them winning this game or the next.

REDSKINS WEEK 16 THURSDAY INJURY REPORTTITANS week 16 friday injury report

Look at these charts and one has to wonder, how long do the Titans accept that Marcus Mariota is always hurt and while he has moments of good quarterbacking, he’s 20th in total QBR with a 54 which is just barely above average (75 is pro bowl caliber) and that is a trend. His rating is 91.9.

Josh Johnson hasn’t had enough games to get a QBR (it bases its scores on each play by difficulty, right decision, was the receiver wrong, etc and takes into account garbage time). However, just based on his straight passing stats, he’s 98.2. Against Jax he was very careful with the ball and I see that continuing vs TN.

josh johnson passing chartsmarcus mariota passing charts

This game will be won from the legs of their running backs. Tennessee’s defense is tied for third with 8 in allowed rushing touchdowns. That puts Washington at a huge disadvantage right from the jump. Washington is 13th with 11.

When it comes to passing TD’s allowed, the Titans are third again with 17. The skins are 15th with 23. Clearly one defense is better.

Tennessee is 30th in passing yards and TD’s, so that’s the one area Washington has a chance. Keep the injured Mariota throwing. Yes, let him throw; however, rush him up the middle when he does.

Johnson is such a new face so late in the season, I’ve no idea what he can do and that could help them win. It’s a slim chance, but if the skins can keep the run game down, they have a good chance at winning. If they can’t, it won’t be close.

It’s important to know that only recently has Tennessee got their running going, two games with Derrick Henry balling out has pushed their numbers up. Stop Henry, stop the Titans. Washington’s run game is ok, nothing to write home about, but if Johnson can be efficient, the two together could work.

While the pundits think this is a slam dunk game, I’m not so sure just because Tennessee is so one-dimensional on offense, hence their record. If the Redkins can pull it off, it wouldn’t be shocking.

SUNDAY 1:00 GAMES

Jaguars (4-10) vs Dolphins (7-7) CBS

There’s something that seems to happen to referees when they officiate IN Jacksonville, they turn into brain dead zombies. Most teams get a home field advantage with refs (I did an article once tracking flags/yards and it’s clear home teams have less), but that’s not the case for the Jaguars.

Based on that, we could see a “fair” game. I didn’t see Martin reffing a game for the AFCS this season, so no idea how he did, not that it matters, now.

Referee Crew:

Clay Martin referee crew.png

Ryan Tannehill is hurt, again. I could see Calais Campbell sacking him and Asweiler ends up playing. If that’s the case, I’ll bet six Christmas cookies he throws a pick. That man thinks he has an arm of the gods and Jacksonville’s secondary isn’t the team to play  like that against.

Jaguars week 16 friday injury reportdolphins week 16 friday injury report

Here’s the deal. Tannehill looked good vs NE* because their secondary isn’t very good and their linebackers are slow. His QBR (not Rating) is actually lower than Bortles and that’s saying something. Ryan is 31st. Only Josh Rosen is worse.

I’m not going to post passing charts because there’s not enough on Cody Kessler and Tannehill has been hurt all season, plus he missed games. What we do know is Kessler has thrown one TD in three games and Tannehill has thrown 16.

Adam Gase loves the passing game, so Ramsey and Co better be on their toes. However, stopping Kenyon Drake and Kalen Ballage is the real trial and based on how Jax has done vs the run, I’m not shaking any pom poms.

The key to this game is Jax’s defense because that seems to be the only way get points. Miami has something to play for, the Jaguars don’t and sad to say, that matters. However, there are several players who need a good game for a chance to stick around.

The flip side is, Marrone is now heavily playing all the young (and cheap) players to get evaluations for next season. These young bucks will play hard, but they will make mistakes. We saw it vs Washington.

Could Jacksonville play spoiler vs Miami? Yes, Dave Williams could bust out and the Dolphins don’t have an answer, their defense isn’t great (as in, sucks). Just because they beat Brady* (who’s not Brady* anymore), doesn’t mean that defense can stop lowly Jacksonville.

If Williams can get a run game going and the receivers remember how to catch, the Jaguars can win. I didn’t say Leonard Fournette because if I was Doug Marrone, I’d shut him down for the season. Why take a chance he gets hurt?

The only thing holding them back is themselves. Period. Seriously, they have the better defense by far which should keep Miami from scoring a lot. Add Miami being poor on defense, the answer is the run game for Jax.

Giants (5-9) vs Colts (8-6) CBS

This makes me kind of sick to say, but I’m pulling for the Colts, any teams to stop NE* from having home field berthing.

Referee Crew:

brad allen ref crew

Giants are really healthy, and the Colts are still banged up, but it hasn’t seemed to stop them.

GIANTS WEEK 16 FRIDAY INJURY REPORT

COLTS WEEK 16 FRIDAY INJURY REPORT

Eli Manning with Odell Beckham and without is stark. Not even Saquon Barkley can save him. These passing charts show that New York’s defense, which is ranked 4th best in passing TD’s, will be a busy bunch.

Indy is right behind them with only one more allowed touchdown. Advantage Colts because I don’t see their secondary being afraid of Eli.

Andrew Luck passing chartseli manning passing charts

Eli is careful with the ball and his numbers aren’t bad at all, until you look at how few times he’s scored. Right now, he’s the guy who does well between the 30’s, but too often peters out in the red zone.

Andrew Luck has 14 more TDs. The chart above isn’t current, Luck has 34 TD’s now and Manning, 20.

Indy has 9 rushing touchdowns and New York has 10, so not as if we’ll see much of a ground and pound game especially since it’s in a dome. However, Darius Leonard is out and that could help NY in the center of the field, plus two safeties are hobbled which should help Manning.

However, this contest is still the Colts’ to lose. They have the better passing game by far, their defenses are about equal in passing and both have similar offensive rushing. In outdoors games I go with best defense and run game (at this time year), but passing rules inside.

Overall, Indy is 11th in allowing points and NY is 22. There’s just no area when you can say the Giants have an advantage, unless the Colts have a bad day. OR Indy loses another offensive lineman, they’re the key to Luck having a great season, with Cosonzo out, that could be an issue.

Home team.

Texans (10-4) vs Eagles (7-7)

Both are fighting for different reasons. Houston wants a first round bye and Eagles want to win their division.

Referee Crew:

john parry referree crew

Carson Wentz is a better QB than Nick Foles, even banged up; however, a healthy Foles can do things a hurt Wentz can’t. Right now, Foles has the hot hand, so it’s good they ruled Carson, out. Both teams are beat up, neither has an advantage, here.

TEXANS WEEK 16 FRIDAY INJURY REPORTEAGLES WEEK 16 FRIDAY INJURY REPORT

Neither QB is lighting the world on fire, but both have a knack of getting their teams in good positions with the right throws, at the right times.

Nick Foles passing chartdeshaun watson passing charts

As you can see, Houston has a weapon Philly doesn’t and that’s a mobile QB who will tear you up when you’re not expecting it.

I’m not going to use the Eagles passing stats because with two QB’s, it’s too tough, but will use Houston’s and both defenses.

When it comes to defense, Houston is 4th in stopping total yards, 5th in points allowed, and third in not allowing rushing touchdowns. They do struggle against the pass, they’ve allowed 24 air TD’s.

For the Eagles, they’re 18th in allowing rushing TD’s, 10th in air touchdowns and 27th overall in allowing yards. They’re giving up 22 points a game.

Neither team is great in sacks or interceptions; however Philly is tied for 10th in INTs.

Where the Eagles have an advantage is their run game, they have 12 TD’s to Houston’s 8. Strange, but true. It’s going to be cold and in a hostile environment which means this game will come down to defense and rushing.

When boiled down to that, it’s almost a wash. However, Foles has been practicing in this weather while Watson is a dome guy and that could help Philly on the passing side. I don’t see an easy game for either team, it could end up being a real slugfest.

Philly could pull off a win because I think the weather may take away the passing advantage for Houston, plus their rush defense isn’t great.

MERRY CHRISTMAS EVERYONE, see ya next week.

To tank or not to tank, that is the question for the Jacksonville Jaguars.

to tank or not to tank

There are two streams of thoughts when it comes to what the Jaguars should do for these last games: win for pride or lose for a higher draft pick. Pride shouldn’t be a choice. Players should have that every game. It should be, win for next season. To tank or not to tank?

Wins help the team more for 2019, or does drafting top 5 or 10 ? Most believe the Jaguars need to draft a quarterback. At this point, there are three on the table: Dwayne Haskins, Will Greir and Justin Herbert.

There are three teams in the same boat as Jacksonville: Denver, Giants and Redskins. All three could finish with six wins. There are other teams with quarterbacks that may want to draft because of contract issues or age. However, do the Buccaneers and Titans feel one of these rookies is better than what they have?

No matter how you look at it, teams with rookie QB’s almost always tank. Most often it’s due to youth, but in addition, teams that draft quarterbacks at the top, have issues beyond a signal caller. This often is a toxic mix.

This season there were five QB’s taken in the first round and their records aren’t good. Browns finally got a good GM who made the right coaching calls, and now they’ve won because Mayfield was the missing piece to team that was loaded with talent, but needed better coaching. Before some house cleaning, they’d been drafting in the top ten for years without wins.

The Cardinals are 3-10, The Bills and Jets are 4-9. The Ravens are 7-6, but they drafted LAST.

Four quarterbacks drafted top ten and four have losing records, the one drafted last is on a winning team. Can it all be blamed on the young guns? No, because poor coaching or other issues plagued the teams going into 2018.

To tank or not to tank?

That is why it is NOT in the best interest of the Jags to tank. They need to show they can win the last three. The team has a very talented defense, but injures decimated the offense. Before the players started dropping like dominoes, Jax was 3-1.

Look around the league, KC lost last night and part of that was due to their secondary, which is hurt. They could lose the next two because of it and now become a wild card. The Redskins were up two games in the NFCE and then injuries struck.

The Texans started the season with a phone book of injuries, same for the Colts and then they got players back and they started to win.

The point is, good coaches find a way to win even with a depleted team. The Redskins are beatable. The Dolphins could be a problem, but the Texans could end up sitting their starters week 17. So, two or three winnable games left.

Another reason to win is cap space. Doug Marrone needs the rookies and second year players to ball out which allows Dave Caldwell to make cuts. While it’s always sad to see favored players leave, the team needs the future to step up.

In addition, despite fans wanting to fire everyone, it’s rare for franchises to hire new coaching staffs and then get to the play-offs the following season. It’s for three reasons: this typically happens because the franchise is a mess and/or they don’t have a good head coach or QB.

The franchises that have been successful at it, had a great quarterback like Peyton Manning who also acted like a coach. There is no Manning available to sign, or anyone remotely like him to come save this franchise if they lose the next three.

NE* hasn’t drafted in the top ten in a decade, and have had drafts without a first round pick and yet, every year, there they are, going to the playoffs.

COACHING IS EVERYTHING.

Many would say it’s because Brady*, but it was Belichick who found him, it’s Belichick who coached him, it’s Belichick who has players people never heard of, winning. If you believe it was all Brady*, where was he drafted?

Meanwhile, teams like the Browns and Jacksonville repeatedly have had top ten picks and where did it get them? We need Marrone to show he can motivate this team to keep their head in it. He can’t do much about having Kessler, but if they lose, it needs to be solely because of him, not the team lacking effort.

If this team loses the next three, the players are listless, and they need a new quarterback, the Jags won’t be winning for a while. Maybe three years from now. However, if the franchise is just missing a QB and a few healthy players, then 2019 should be a big improvement.

Will a rookie QB make the difference between making the play-offs and not? Extremely doubtful because it goes to coaching. A franchise must have a plan in place and be in full agreement on how to develop him.

The owner, president, VP, GM, head coach and offensive coordinator must be on the same page, have the same vision and commitment to their drafted quarterback. They also can’t pick a quarterback and then the next season bring in another new staff. If so, you have incompetent Denver who chose Paxton Lynch and wasted that pick.

If Jacksonville loses and does it by looking like they did in some of these games this season, then Shad Khan will need to clean house from top to bottom and I don’t believe there’s a franchise out there that put in a place a brand new staff, drafted a quarterback, and won the next season.

The fans need these wins if they want to see them next season. While they may not get the top quarterback, they could get the second best one and based on the drafts lately, that’s not a bad thing.

Better to have the next (healthy) Carson Wentz and a steady staff on the same page, than Jared Goff and a revolving coaching carousel. Goff, who stunk, until he got the right coach for him.

Speaking of which, the reason franchises that keep changing coaches tend to stink is because they change schemes, playbooks, and styles of players they like. Plus, they want their guys. Jon Gruden is in Oakland cleaning house so he and his coaches have who they picked.

This often means second and third year players are wasted and not fully developed because they don’t fit their new coaches’ preferences. Nor do coaching techniques or personalities mesh. When that happens, you end up with a boatload of dead money, wasted cap space and rosters of players riding the bench.

Readers, cheer for the win, not root for the loss in the dreams 2019 will be all better because the next Peyton Manning, or whomever drafted in the top ten is your GOAT., is walking through the door.

COACHING IS EVERYTHING

I’m cheering the coaches show they can be the answer next season. I’m cheering for a coaching staff on the same page when choosing the next quarterback, and they stick around to develop him. I’m cheering for continuity and consistency, a crucial key to success. I’m cheering Khan has made the right choices in front office staff. I’m cheering for #DUUUVAL to shine, not tank.

I’m cheering for WINS!

AFCS Week 15 Game Previews with stats, passing charts, injury reports, TV areas and referee crews

AFCS week 15 game previews
When games are on Saturdays, you know the season is winding down. Why do these AFCS Week 15 Game Previews when the Jaguars are out of the play off hunt? Because it’s football. Secondly, we will face our divisional opponents next season and most likely many of the same players and/or teams. Why not keep track of their stats, passing charts, injury reports and referee crews? Screen Shot 2018-12-15 at 2.32.46 PM

FOX GAMESScreen Shot 2018-12-15 at 2.32.14 PM

SATURDAY 4:30 NFL Network

Texans (9-4) vs Jets (4-9)

This should be an easy win for the Texans, but as they say, on any given Sunday… Referee Crew: brad allen ref crew The Texans look healthy with only three “questionables” which also gives them an edge. Don’t trust Bill O’Brian though, I swear he adds guys with a hang nail just to make other teams think they’re messed up and don’t need to play as hard. For the Jets, their secondary is the uh-oh.

Before we get to stats, let’s take a look at Misters Watson and Darnold. Last week, several were sure Sam was a bust, but then he found a groove and they flipped like a politician. Since Darnold didn’t play a few games, only showing last week and the overall chart. Obviously, the 21 year old rookie is far behind Watson. Neither one is tearing anyone up, though. sam darnold passing charts These passing charts tell a story and that’s both teams need a run game and a defense to win and that Watson has become comfortable with the middle of the field. Which may be the key to beating him: force him to throw to the left sidelines. Houston is 5th in allowing points – a paltry 19.9 per game. Unless your QB is Blake Bortles or someone close, allowing so little should be enough to win every game. Of the top ten teams against points, only Jacksonville and Denver have losing records and both have crappy QB’s. The Jets defense is down at 22nd and have a rookie QB, so that explains all you need to know about which team should win this game and do so handily. The area both teams are equal in is stopping passing TDs and sacks. Watson may not throw a whole bunch, but he helps the run game and that’s crucial. He tends to make critical strikes at the right moments that put his team in the best spot to win. The Jets passing game is like a ghost, only Arizona and Buffalo are worse (fellow rookies).   In short, because why drag out the conclusion, NY can’t run the ball well without Crowell, can’t pass well and their defense tries to do the best they can, but they’re on the field so much. The Jets’ weapon they used to beat Denver is on IR, they beat the Colts with FG’s and the Bills stink.

SUNDAY 1:00 GAMES

Titans (7-6) vs Giants (5-8)

This should be a good game, who would have thought that a month ago? The NFL is crazy this year. Referee Crew: shawn hochuli ref crew On Friday, Marcus Mariota was added to the injury report, a place he seems to live on. Will it matter? Probably not unless they need to rely on a passing game. With an ab injury, it means he’ll need to muscle throws in. He doesn’t have the strongest arm, so my guess is, any tight window throws beyond five yards will be an issue. For the Giants, who are so healthy it should be a crime, Odell Beckham is the concern. However, Sterling Shepard has shown he’s a weapon, too. titans week 15 friday injury reportgiants week 15 friday injury report When it comes to passing, Manning is throwing some slow flying ducks, but they’ve found ways around it, one of which is using Saquon Barkley. Pat Shumur is showing why he was chosen to be a head coach as the team is starting to click. eli manning passing charts For some reason, there isn’t a cumulative chart for Mariota, but I looked it up. He’s 11/8, 2,330 yards, 69.1% completion, with a rating of 93.4. Fairly close to Manning which kind of makes sense in that his arm strength is off from injuries, so they have to use him differently, too. marcus mariota passing charts The Giants are 16th in scoring points, the Titans 27th. Tennessee would have the same rushing TD’s as NY if not for the Jaguars showing they forgot how to stop the run and allowed Derrick Henry to do what he wanted. Could he do it again vs the Giants? Sure because they’re not very good stopping the run, they’re down in the 20’s for rushing yards and TD’s. Tennessee is 5th for not allowing TD’s. Tennessee is also far superior against the pass, for yards, but for points? Only one TD separates them. The key to the game is the run for the Titans. Whether it’s a tailback or Mariota, they’re going to need to run the ball for several reasons:
  • limit the hits Mariota takes
  • NY is good against the pass
  • they need to keep the better offense off the field, running burns more clock
  • NYG is poor vs the run
For NYG to win they need to force Mariota to throw and contain him the pocket. When Mariota throws, take away the short hops and ones to the middle. For Manning, keep the pass count under 30. Overall, the more he throws, the less efficient he is. Play action will work since Barkley is a threat. My money is on the home team because as good as the Titans defense is, their offense will need to put up some points.

Redskins (6-7) vs Jaguars (4-9) CBS

Two things have hurt the Jaguars more than anything this season: injuries and referees. They’re playing a team as beat up as them which should eliminate that issue as a factor, but the reffing may decide (again) who wins. They’re why I started adding ref crews to these scouting reports. Referee crew: clete blakeman ref crew The Redskins make me feel sorry them and that’s a big thing considering how beat up our team is. If the Jags don’t win, it’s one of three things: bad coaching, coaches are bad, the coaches’ game plan. redskins week 15 friday injury report It’s a shocker, but the OL will be missing two. I hope Kessler has been doing wind sprints because I believe the OL is down to the bag boys from Publix. Jaguars week 15 friday injury report I’m not posting passing charts for these quarterbacks because they look like what a Pop Warner Midget game would show, plus they have 2 games, combined. Based on what we don’t know about Cody Kessler and Josh Johnson, let’s look at rushing and defenses. It’s tough to imagine either team will try to put the game in their QB’s hands, but one should. In case you didn’t know, the Jags’ run game has been poor. Between an OL that spends more time at the ER than the games and Fournette who was out for weeks, they’re ranked in a tie for dead last for TD’s. Washington has twice as many at 12 and an average 4.4 yards per carry to Jacksonville’s 4.1. They also average 114 yards a game to Jax’s 104. Not exactly the stats a run-first team should have. Since Jacksonville is supposed to have a stout defense, I’m sure stopping the run must be good, right? Looks at Derrick Henry and sighs. Jax has allowed 14 TD’s to Washington’s 11. SO, there is a little light. Maybe Fournette, Hyde and Yeldon can do something. Both teams are allowing 4.5 a rush. That’s just so pitiful I want to punch something. Moving on to rainbows. As much crap as the national media wants to throw at Jalen Ramsey and the secondary, they seem to overlook that when it comes to stopping the pass, no one is better. They are tied with Minnesota in only allowing 15. Washington is 18th in allowing 23. Dearest wide receivers, CATCH THE DANG BALL and you will win. They’re allowing a 66.8 completion percentage. Do your jobs and make that number so.

CATCH THE DANG BALL, JAGS

That’s the key to this game. While the Jaguars may want to keep the game plan conservative with Kessler, they ought to open it wide open, unless, or until he does bad. BAD, not mediocre. What have they got to lose, a play off spot? If it works, the fans are happy, they can keep him for next season as a security blanket or get a high trade partner for him. If it doesn’t, oh well. Do you hear me, Milanovich? Balls to the walls. For Washington to win, they need to run the ball. Johnson may know ten plays and Todd Wash has experience with him, plus he’s facing a damn good secondary. His best shot is at screens and shallow crossers since the edge rushing seems to have died this season along with tackling. I’m going to be at TIAA – I’m not hurt, no funeral to go to and no ER visit for puking. Knock on wood. SO, it better not rain and turn into a plodding run game. I didn’t get to the field to eat the grass, if I did, I’d say this was in the bag. If they lose, heads should roll.

Go Jags!

Cowboys (8-5) vs Colts (7-6)

You should never root for a divisional opponent to win, but dang I detest the Cowboys and since Jacksonville is out of the PO race, I hope Dallas loses. Three reasons: when Jerry Jones loses he looks like a South Park character. Secondly, every year the national media says this is the team to go a Super Bowl. Finally, they get so many unwarranted national TV games. Referee crew: carl cheffers ref crew Neither team looks all that healthy, it may be a wash, except, Andrew Luck has had a good season because this OL has done a great job protecting him. Quenton Nelson has a back issue and that could allow him to get run over. cowboys week 15 friday injury reportcolts week 15 friday injury Dak Prescott is too erratic for me to think he’s a QB I’d bet on to win a game. He throws a few elite passes a game to make people forget all the boneheaded ones. His passing charts can’t show those. They do show he’s thrown less TD’s than he’s played games. dak Prescott passing charts Meanwhile, Andrew Luck is throwing almost 2x times as many (Jags put a wrench in his record). andrew luck passing charts.png This game should be a good one. Dallas defense vs Indy offense. Jacksonville showed how it can be done, but the Cowboys don’t have the same talent. Remember, Jax also kept Mahones from throwing a TD. Indy and Dallas both have allowed the same number of passing TD’s – 19. That gives the advantage to Luck since he’s thrown more than their average and Prescott has thrown less. When it comes to air yards, there’s a .2 difference between them. Both teams allow a 97 passer rating, advantage Indy, again. So, when it comes to passing, the game is Indy’s to lose. Both teams have the same amount defensive sacks (35); however, when it comes to taking sacks, Prescott has gone down 48 times for a staggering 293 lost yards. As far as rushing defense, Indy has allowed 10 TD’s to Dallas’s seven. .2 yards also separate them for rushing yards per play. Overall, Dallas is better at stopping the run on all levels, but not by much. Which may not matter for Dallas since Indy doesn’t run a whole lot; however, Dallas does. Their offense is built off of it. Dallas has 11 to Indy’s 8 rushing TD’s. The bottom line is, the Colts are a better team. In order for Dallas to win, they will need their secondary to find a way to stop Luck and keep them from scoring because the boys lag far behind in that category. Indy is scoring one more TD a game than Dallas. That’s where their run game can help – keep Luck off the field. For Indy, the answer is to get after Dak. Sacking him shouldn’t be too difficult. If they can contain the edges, all the better because he’s better on the run than from the pocket. Obviously, Elliot is the weapon and they can only do so much, but flustering Prescott will force three and outs. Indy’s best defense is Luck throwing TDs. If Luck stays to form, they win. I’ll take his passing game over Dallas’s run game. Until next week…

GO JAGS!

How to fix the NFL Referee problem: 10 simple and common sense solutions.

NFL referee problem

Don’t know about you dear readers, but it seems to me we’ve seen some truly bad reffing this season. Full-time refs were supposed to be the answer, but that hasn’t happened. It’s because it was done half-assed. There is a NFL Referee problem and I’ve got a list on how to fix this.

*I write “he” for ease, but assume there will be females here or there in a crew. Also, I use the word referee to encompass all the officials*

  • Draft referees from the NCAA like the NFL does.
  • House them in a non-Pro football city that’s in the central time zone like Birmingham, Alabama. Since Birmingham has three, maybe four college teams (and a couple top notch high school teams) within fairly close proximity, they can use their players and facilities for practice.
  • They will act like players – practice or watch film during the week. This way all referees are on the same page. In addition, during practices, players will fake penalties and supervisors will watch and rank how the refs do
  • They draft enough refs to have two crews at every NFL game. This way if a ref or line judge, etc. stinks during a game, his replacement is there. Just like players. There will also be a crew of third teamers left in the home city to fill a “B” team crew due to any benchings (see below). for future games.
  • Like the NFL, have awards for best refs at each position. They will get bonuses and get to officiate the Pro Bowl and Super Bowl. Refs who officiated throughout the season, but receive no votes, get the heave-ho.
  • If a ref has two failed challenges in a game, he is benched during the game and suspended from reffing the team(s) he messed up on for the rest of the season and/or the next one. His calls will also be under review to see if he needs to be benched for other games.
  • If a ref has more than one game with two overturned calls, he’s fired.
  • Each year, refs will go under a review board made up of members of the NFL officiating committee, an owner rep, a HC rep and a player rep.
  • Top ones get a raise and are kept. Bottom ones are sent back to the NCAA.
  • Each year a referee is kept, he gets more perks, like his choice of what games to call, a 401 type savings plan and better living quarters.

The plan is find the cream of the crop, and make it pay to do their best.

As far the current referees, the review board I suggested weighs in on them. The top ones (the non-NFL staff decides on how many) are given seniority for 2019 and can be the instructors (with an additional bonus) at the training city.

They are also given choices on whose crew they want to be on or pick the crew they want of the current refs, but no more than two per crew. After officials are drafted, they will be parceled out to be as balanced as possible.

The NFL is a multi-billion dollar business and can afford to do this. Especially since bad NFL referees can and do cost franchises millions when games are lost.

It’s time they become serious about this and get tough. The NFL this season feels like the officiating crews, not the teams, are deciding who wins, which in turn makes the NFL seem corrupt. It’s tough not believe this has come about for two reasons: legal gambling and ratings.

Actually, I believe gambling is why viewership is up – bettors want to see how their players are doing. With the NFL now in bed with gambling organizations, they absolutely want certain endings, to think otherwise is naive.

Give fans competent and impartial refereeing and you’ll grow the fan base by having butts in seats. How many stadiums are selling out? That should be the measuring stick, not who’s watching their money perform on their TV’s.

Soapbox over.

Cap Space and the Jaguars, don’t let the number scare you, it’s all an illusion.

We keep hearing that the Jacksonville Jaguars are in the hole concerning cap space going into 2019 and the franchise will lose all kinds of talent. Like most things, there is a grain of salt to it and a whole lot of BS.

It’s good to know that salary, dead money and cap space are three separate things. To keep this short, teams and players can work out varied ways in contracts to help a team stay within the suggested 2019 190M cap space. 

When a player is released, traded or retired, some of his salary and cap can go with him, sometimes not because of the way they are structured. As of right now, going into the 2019 season, the Jags have to remove $7,098,827 in cap space. Sounds awful, right? 

First off, Jacksonville will roll over their 11M surplus this year to cover next and that puts them with almost 4M to the good. In addition, the cap will go up, as it always does – right now it’s projected to be about 190M, up about 13. That’s almost 17M to work with.

I doubt they’re going to keep Donte Moncrief who cost 9.6M, or several others regardless of the money. 

When you look at the contracts, you realize there are several players who are worth more gone, than on the team. Like Barry Church. It’s clear he’s not being kept, hence Ronnie Harrison starting instead of him.

No matter how you slice it, Blake Bortles, whether cut or someone trades for him (don’t laugh), will cost the Jags 16.5 in dead money; however, they can write off 4.5M in CAP. That would give them about 16.8M in dead money for next season. Tanner Lee and Don Carey make the other 299,669. That’s not great, but it could be worse.

While the dead money goes against what they can spend, freeing up cap space allows them to sign players they want, they only need to be creative with contracts. Since Jacksonville is one of the cheapest NFL cities to live in, that helps in negotiations. 

Typically, QB’s and OL want and get big guaranteed money and they want it upfront. This front loaded money can be spread out over the life of the contract, as long as the second year is half or more of the first year. That’s the kicker. So, a two year contract has the money split in half because there’s no other way to make it add up. 

On three years for a 70M contract, you could have 33, 16.5 and 20.5. Teams usually like to push the cap hit out because as we see, each year the cap limit goes up and money is worth less. Pay the cash up front, spread the cap accounting out.

Most big name players do this, especially ones on their third contract. They don’t care about the accounting, only that the money makes it to the bank. New England is a master of paying Brady*, but finding creative ways to keep spreading the hit out. 

In addition, a player can restructure his contract, instead of taking a huge salary each week, take a big chunk up front in a signing bonus or whatever they want to call it. The player makes the same money, the only difference is how its paid out. 

If you love Bortles, he could do the same. Restructure his contract, so the 16.5 in dead gets spread out and they keep him as a back-up and mentor for a draft pick. What’s he going to do, say no? What team out there will pay him more and take him to be their starter?

Right now, injured Andrew Norwell is the big money miss. If they cut him before June 1 2019, the hit is 9M and dead is 25, if traded, the dead is 12M and cap savings is 4M. If he’s traded post 1 June, the dead is 3M, cap save is 13M; however, if he’s healthy and playing well, why trade? If he’s not, no one will take him. He, not Bortles, is the oh, crap. If the Jags are smart, they get him to redo his contract, to lessen the hit if he’s injured again next season.

AJ Bouye is another player who should rework a contract. He gives the Jags 9.5M cap savings by cut/trade, with 6M in dead money if cut before 1 June. 

Malik Jackson is among the top candidates of who’s most likely gone. Not only did he lose his starting gig this season and his production was low, the Jags will save 11M be removing him, dead money is 4M. 

These three players will allow the Jacksonville to save 25M in cap space, but racks up 25.5 in dead money. Which basically equates to a loss of 1.5M of cap space, better than 7, but not the best way to get there.

Tons of dead money is a bad thing because it means the front office is picking bad players, or making bad contracts or have bad coaches. None of which is a good, but it’s easier to fix the bad contract part than the other two.

It now becomes about releasing players who get more than counterparts at their position group and keeping the dead money far less than cap savings.

Calais Cambell, who spent a lot of 2018 on the injury list, would save them 9.5M compared to the 5M in dead money. We want the Mayor, but this article is about cold hard numbers, not love in our hearts. 

Marcel Darius is the must-cut player, though. His production was down and by removing him they save 10.585M with no dead. That’s a big un.

Tashaun Gibson would save them 7.45M, with 1.6M dead. Barry Church is a must cut. Besides his London behavior, he was benched and that’s because there’s no dead money and 6.250M cap savings.

If you add up Campbell, Darius and Church, that’s 20.835 in CAP with only 5M in dead. These three make sense. If they cut/trade the players from up above and add in these, that’s 15.335 in cap for 2019, which factors in the dead money.

Obviously, those six will need to be replaced (if gone), but 15, plus 13 (new cap #), plus 11 (carry over) minus the 7, gives them 20M cap space (this is with 12M deducted for rookies and accounts for the dead money) to play with on replacing 6 players. 

How do you feel about the below players who spent almost every week on the injury report?:

Brandon Linder – 6M savings, no dead.

Jeremey Parnell – same

AJ Cann will be a FA. 

Abry Jones would be 4M savings, no dead. That’s an additional 16M cap savings with no dead on players who they may or may not want back. The money is there to pay them.

There are several lesser players who could be released/traded for more savings, but they’re all in the hundred thousand ranges, not millions. 

This draft will be crucial to some of the names in this article. If they can pick up some top talent, why pay Church if there’s another safety out there for way less? Or, even an ex-CB like Richard Sherman who will swap to S?

The defense and OL is top heavy and it’s where cuts need to be made. The Jaguars aren’t in serious money trouble, they’ll have enough to sign a vet QB even someone like Joe Flacco if he works with them on a contract, pay most everyone they want back, minus ones they shouldn’t, sign some FA’s and pay the draft class. 

Flacco, if you want him, could take his “guaranteed” money as bonuses which can be spread out over the life of the contract, so they can give him a 44M bonus and spread that out over five years (even if it’s really only for two). It would require several players to restructure, but it can be done.

In case you didn’t know, teams have to spend their cap in a revolving four year window, it’s not as if you can escape spending it, it’s just a matter when.

Bottom line, the Jaguars are only screwed if they can’t bring in younger talent who costs less, which points to the front office. So far, they’ve done a fairly good job of being creative with the money, so don’t worry Jags fans. 

 

For Justin Simmons, the NFL is an affirmation of his hard work and faith.

* Below is a repost from my time writing about the Broncos. The Simmons are such a great family, I wanted to send it out again. Besides, you never know, he could move back to his home state and become a Jaguar.*

This article started out about Justin Simmons and football, but what was unearthed grew it into far more. It became not just a tale of his love of football, but a tale of two sets of couples and their love for each other. Of a son learning from his parents about loyalty and commitment to both football and family.

It began with an interracial couple fighting the odds

Kimberly and Victor Simmons first met at West Virginia Wesleyan. He was there for football, she for a degree. Even though she moved on to Marshall University to get her MBA, the two stayed in touch through old-fashioned love letters. Their long distance relationship of poetry turned into marriage, three sons, and a winding journey to the NFL.

For them, being an interracial couple required more than just a great love, it took deep faith and strength.

A star is born

That faith, not just in each other and their religion, but family itself was passed on to their sons, Justin, Nate (DB-WV Wesleyan) and Tristan (DB-Arizona Western).

After the Simmons finished college, they moved to Manassas, Virginia where Victor did ten years in the Air Force Reserves. This is where their sons were born and Justin honed his leaping skills. Kim shares a story of him loving his bouncy chair so much as a toddler, he’d try to reach the top of the door frame. They’d raise the height to keep him from being so crazy; however, he’d just try harder. 

Those powerful legs built as a youth, can be seen on Sundays. It was no fluke in New Orleans he blocked that kick–the little Tigger has been practicing his jump skills since he was a toddler.

Virginia was also where he first played football. His keen feel for the game was seen even as a child. During one play when he was eight, while running for a TD, a faster kid chased him down. As he was about to be tackled, he did a quick side step leaving the defender eating dirt. When asked after the game how did he know to juke, his reply was, “I saw his shadow.”

Athletic genes run in the family, from an Uncle who was a pro basketball player, to his father and a grandfather who played football in NJ. Back then, it was tough for blacks to get a chance to play, but he persevered. Showing grit and determination is another Simmons’ family trait.

Kimberly was born in Canton, Ohio, home of the Pro Football Hall of Fame. It gives one pause to consider someday Justin may have family members from there, watching him don a gold jacket and no doubt give a well thought out speech.

His gift was seen at a young age 

When asked if any play or game gave an indication Justin may be good enough to make it at a higher level, his parents said it was during a Jr. Pee Wee Super Bowl game in Orlando, Florida. They lost against an Indiana team, but Justin made plays beyond his age. It was the catalyst that set the future in motion.

Unless you grew up in Florida, especially along the east coast, it’s tough to describe to outsiders how sports dominate the culture. Some states like Texas, know about the football side, or states like Indiana and basketball, but in Florida, minus under 32° sports, it’s all sports, all the time.

Not only does the wildlife flourish in Florida, but so many athletes do as well, that it’s tough for most to get noticed. This is especially true at small schools like Sandalwood, Trinity or Martin County. The athletes who perform extraordinarily and make it into top colleges, worked harder to gain the spotlight than their peers in other states.

The right mentor

This is why Victor Simmons moved his family to sleepy Stuart. He figured if his sons could make it in Florida, they could make it anywhere. The NFL wasn’t really a dream, though. Because of his slender build, basketball was more of a reality, especially since his team went to State. It wasn’t until his sophomore year did his defensive backs coach, Gary Blackney, say he had a shot.

It was Blackney who taught Justin about playing the DB position well, and to watch game film. Simmons often discusses the importance of film study as a tool to improve reading offenses, quarterbacks and the opposing team’s tendencies. Peyton Manning would have liked having Simmons as a teammate, his cerebral approach would have found a kindred rewind connoisseur.

Gary Blackney told Justin his grades would need to be more of a focus if he wanted a chance to play in college. That carrot motivated Simmons to do better in school, a message he shares with school-aged kids. While Justin knows the importance of talking to kids about education and hard work to achieve their dreams, he also feels he needs to use his standing to spread the word of God. His faith is part of the fabric of who he is and his family.

Philanthropy is a given

His history of giving back and learning to be a leader, began in high school when he was a Best Buddy and a Safe School Ambassador. The former was teaming up with special needs kids and taking them under his wing. The latter was mentoring children how to stand up to bullying. Being involved in his community lead to he and a friend starting an Athletes in Action chapter at Boston College. He also belonged to the Student-Athlete Advisory Council.

While in high school, he learned how to balance family, school, church, giving back and sports. That’s always an issue for most athletes, finding the right combo and right hierarchy of what’s most important and fulfilling those commitments. Kids who make it to the NFL, rarely do so in a vacuum. At home, there’s someone pushing them, believing in them, making sacrifices and these parents or grandparents are just as important to each player’s success.

Overcoming the odds

Simmons has always been a coachable kid who learned from his dad how to “cheat well”. That doesn’t imply being a Patriot*, it means learning to find ways around what you don’t do well. To mask the less, with the more. Simmons isn’t quick off the line, but he’s fast once he gets going. He might not get to point ‘A’ stride for stride with a slot, but Simmons will out think or out jump him.

Some of it came from years of baseball and basketball, but mostly from being on both sides of the ball. Simmons grew up playing wide receiver and on defense. It helped him become so good, so quickly in the NFL. His 70 tackles, 2 interceptions and a sack, while being a back-up in the No Fly Zone, wasn’t from lucky play.

As a former WR, he knows more than most how to read routes, to know where the QB is going and anticipate. Cheat well. Add in his length, plus Tigger legs and you’ve got a special talent.

He’s around the ball all the time. He’s a guy that has a high football IQ. He’s long and tall, so when he’s in those windows, he’s made two or three interceptions that nobody else could make out there because of the height and the length. He’s a very smart player that we’re counting on this year.”-Vance Joseph

Mind over matter

To truly get a feel for how mentally tough Justin is, understanding his Boston College challenge will give you a better idea. As often happens with coaching changes, the one that ‘brung ya’ sometimes leaves and you’re left without a dance partner to cover your back. That’s exactly what happened to Simmons when the coach who recruited him, departed for a better opportunity.

When Don Brown became the new Defensive Coordinator, he and his staff wanted to clean house. Not just remove players, but free up scholarships for the players they selected. To achieve this, he rode the guys hard. Turned practice into basic training, military style. It worked. Players left in droves.

Not For Justin, though. He refused to cave and be gotten rid of. He kept ahead of that shadow of doom. He worked hard and made it through a tough, emotional year. He survived Brown chewing him out during a nationally televised game, and he played through injury in another. For his perseverance, he became part of the #1 pass defense in the NCAA. Even in college, Simmons was, ‘No Fly’. The end result was he and Brown became good friends.

The women in his life give him strength

Through his high school and tough college days, he’s had two women in his life who have been there. His mom, Kim, the “silent glue” as Victor calls her and his wife, Taryn.

Taryn Simmons was a 1,000 point basketball player and on the homecoming court in high school. The two parted ways physically and scholastically when she became a Seminole and he a Screaming Eagle. Fall games must have been fun since BC and FSU are ACC rivals.

Like his parents before him, Justin weathered a college induced long distance relationship and it, too evolved into marriage. Although they’re often still a part from the traveling and many obligations that comes with being in the NFL, he has great mentors to lean on for guidance.

Taryn and Justin often speak together at seminars to give wisdom on dating, marriage and relationships using their experience with God and each other’s life stories. Taryn is also who holds down the fort. She keeps the thousands of little details that NFL players need to deal with, off Justin’s plate. There’s more to being in the NFL than shoulder pads. All the game film he talks about watching, is able to happen because he has his partner carrying some of the load.

As far as the woman who gave him life, Simmons’ mom once watched her baby during a divisional championship game, be loaded into an ambulance after he landed on his head. At the ER, they sawed his helmet off. His younger brother Nate was still playing, so Victor had to stay for him while Kim coped at the hospital.

Justin Simmons pop warner
(photo courtesy of the Simmons family)

A higher power

Faith, a constant in this tight knit family, kept them going. Kim may be the silent glue, but for ‘#TeamJesus,’ a higher power is the motivator. Even though Justin heard a ‘pop’ during that neck injury, he didn’t panic, and mom and son survived the scare. Steel spines indeed. The team lost without him, however.

When an athlete comes from a college without a ton of NFL players, and he doesn’t check all the boxes for that position, questions abound over what round he’ll go. His family figured he’d be a late second round, early third because of his record combine and pro day, but as he fell, they got nervous. Dad stepped outside to pace when the call came in. Had no idea it was John Elway.

When asked if they had any clue their son would get chosen by the (then) best secondary on the planet, the answer was a laughing, “NO”! They still are shocked it happened, Denver had not called or interviewed him. It’s still new to them, having Justin not only play for the No Fly Zone, but see him on TV making interceptions.

Since he had worked out for the Cowboys, the Simmons’ family thought it would be Dallas drafting Justin. Jerry Jones may have indeed wanted him as the third pick in the fourth, but Elway out scooped Jones.

From feeling anxious about falling to day two, to being selected by the best secondary in football, the Simmons family ran the full gauntlet of emotions. Agony to ecstasy in one phone call. Not long after, came a text from TJ Ward, making it even more surreal.

The will to achieve what the mind can conceive 

He admits during his rookie season, he was focused on trying to stay afloat, learning as much as he could about football and not mess up. As he enters his sophomore season, he says he’s more confident in what he’s doing during a play and why. Based on his off season of wreaking havoc against both quarterbacks, it appears he’s made the leap with flying colors. He wasn’t shoddy at it as a rookie, either.

Want to know why Justin Simmons has been succeeding and will continue to? He has every tool in the box. He’s learned courage and commitment from his parents, has a strong and loving partner, has the will to achieve what his mind can conceive, and he believes.

There is something to the phrase so many athletes use: faith, family, football. It’s real. It’s powerful. Together it’s powerfully real and it is what drives Justin Simmons, husband, son, free safety for the Denver Broncos. 

 

Jacksonville Jaguars vs Tennessee Titans Game Preview. Barry Church & the Refs are the keys.

Jacksonville Jaguars vs Tennessee Titans Game Preview. Barry Church & the Refs are the keys.

Round Two match-up is about to go down and if the Jags can pull off a win, they could shatter all hope the Titans have to make the play-offs and that’s worth a whoop. Jacksonville Jaguars vs Tennessee Titans Game Preview. Barry Church & the Refs are the keys.

What’s Important to know is this: will this ref crew be fair or be the same crapfest we’ve seen most of the year?

Referee Crew: 

The last time the Jags faced the Titans, we saw a couple of bad calls that helped Tennessee get their win and the worst call helped them get the FG that made all the difference.

As far as injuries go, no surprises except for Abry Jones who’s managed to stay off the injury report all season until now. This might hurt because the best way to bother Mariota is right up the middle.

Tennessee looks beat up, but really they’re in the same boat. Sure, Mariota is hurt, but so is our NT. Marcus been really good at eluding pressure from the sides and making a run for it, so pressure up the middle is key. Good thing starting NT Marcel Darius is off the injury report or Jax would be in deep trouble.

Several of their names are like the Jags, off and on you see the many of the same players – sometimes the same injury, sometimes a different one. Both teams are about what most franchises look like in terms of injuries. The difference is the size of the Jaguars Injured Reserve List. That’s a phone book.

When these two teams faced off back in week 3, they looked fairly similar and I’d say the same is true. Defenses that are unpredictable and offenses that are crap.

Jax defense is third in least amount of points allowed and Tennessee is fifth. When it comes to allowing passing TD’s, The Jags are tied for first with Minnesota at 15 and the Titans are right behind with 16.

When it comes rushing TD’s, the Titans have allowed eight and the Jaguars, ten. So, almost mirror images of each other on defense.

Defense is the key for both teams

As far as offense, I usually put passing charts, but this would be a waste of space and time. Cody Kessler is in his second start and Mariota has been all over the place due to a season long injury.

When it comes to Total Offense, they’re ranked 17 and 18. To me, yards don’t matter a whole lot, it’s points that do. Case in point is Ryan Fitzpatrick throwing hundreds of yards in a game and not a single TD. 

Based on that, when it comes to passing TD’s, both teams are tied for 14; however, that was with Bortles. Kessler threw zip. I’d say advantage TT, just because that’s all we’ve got to go on.

As far as rushing, the Titans have eight TD’s and the Jags have six. To note though is Leonard Fournette will be playing and he usually is good for a score. I’m going to give the advantage to Jax here because he is a better rusher than what Tennessee has.

Bottom line is these two teams are an evenly matched mess. But, here are my keys:

For the Jags:

*Pray, bribe and beg for fair reffing. This isn’t a joke, I’m dead serious. This game will come down to them as is often the case with two teams that are similar.

*Keep Barry Church reps down to a minimum. Last week, Church was hurt, so Ronnie Harrison took the helm and boy the defense looked good. That happened because it seemed like they were pulling the same way and had good communication.

*Because they were doing their jobs, Luck had to hold the ball a touch longer which allowed the DL to get after him. As I’ve written before, when the secondary was disjointed, QB’s could get rid of the ball quickly which is why sacks were down.

The secondary must be white on rice, so the DL can get to Mariota and harass him and hope the refs call a fair game.

*Finally, which is a big DUH, Jacksonville must win the turn over differential.

For the Titans:

Screw y’all, hope you lose and if your readers want to know how to defeat Jacksonville, it’s pretty simple since we have a back-up QB. That’s all I’m saying.

*On a side note – Jay believe the Jags will lose because the locker room is a mess.

I say Jags win with fair reffing, yes, I’m a broken record. If it’s the usual bad reffing, they’re not good enough on offense to overcome and will lose.*

GO JAGS!

AFCS Week 12 Scouting Report – Injury Reports, Stats, Passing Charts, Referee Crews, TV Viewing

AFCS Week 12 Scouting Report

Buffalo Bills, Houston Texans, Indianapolis Colts, Jacksonville Jaguars, Miami Dolphins, Tennessee Titans are featured in this AFCS Week 12 Scouting Report – Injury Reports, Stats, Passing Charts, Referee Crews, TV Viewing.

Mathematically, Jacksonville still has a chance to make the play-offs (don’t laugh), so until they’re eliminated, we’re going to treat this as a normal week. Once they do get the ax, then we’ll switch to 2019 and draft watch mode.

The first game up is of course the Jags as the lone AFCS 1:00 game.

Jaguars (3-7) vs Bills (3-7) CBS

As an aside, if Walt Anderson ever refs another Jaguars game, I may need to jump on the field and kick his ass. I’ve never been arrested, but might as well add it to my bucket list. My guess is I won’t be alone as he’s lucky the field wasn’t stormed last week by infuriated fans carrying torches and pitchforks.

Referee Crew:

Walt Anderson referee crew

This game is going to sooo exciting, just like the KC/Rams aerial-fest we saw this week. Not sure how the tens of millions watching will be able to contain themselves. I’m sure history will be made for all the primetime viewers to witness. I’m thinking 9-3.

Only posting their last games to make a point and one it’s clear to see what it is.

I wanted to get the ugly out of the way before moving on the injury reports which look better than those outstanding passing charts.

For Jags fans, the big, oh crap, is DJ Chark because he’s the fastest guy on the team and while he’s raw, he’s made gains. However, since Bortles doesn’t need a fast receiver to get downfield for all those deep bombs, he may not be a big missing key.

These two teams are top of the boards in total defense, each have only allowed 14 passing TDs. As far as rushing TD’s, Jags have allowed eight and Buffalo nine. Buffalo is averaging 99 yards to the rush and Jacksonville 109, so these teams are very close.

As far the offenses go, when it comes to the run, the Bills have seven scores to the Jaguars’ four; however, Jax is averaging .2 more yards a carry (woohoo).

Here’s the one and only stat that matters: Buffalo has a grand total of 5 passing TD’s. As anemic as Bortles has looked, he does have 13.

That’s the key for Jax to win.

  • Contain the run
  • don’t turn the ball over.
  • Score on defense

For Buffalo

  • force Bortles to throw deep or to the outside
  • contain the run
  • don’t let Bortles run to the outside

It’s tough to get excited about two teams who have pitiful offenses and you hold your breath each time the ball is thrown. I believe the Jags will win because their defense is much better than Buffalo’s offense.

Normally, I have a lot more to write about Jacksonville, but there’s not much to say because it’s obvious the key is for the defense to give a damn. The game lies on them.

Dolphins (5-5) vs Colts (5-5) 4:25 CBS

I don’t like the Dolphins, but we sure need Adam Gase to find a way to win.

Referee Crew

Clete Blakeman ref crew

The Dolphins are a wreck injury-wise, adding one more reason their work is cut out for them. The Colts real concern is two TE’s that are questionable, since they are Andrew Luck’s favorite targets.

Once again, not posting the full passing charts because Ryan only played a handful of games before getting hurt. In his five games his completion percentage was pretty good, that’s what the Dolphins will need to win.

Obviously, this will have to be a defensive game for Miami in order to give Tannenhill a chance to keep up. I’m not going to use Miami’s passing stats because Asweiler isn’t playing.

Miami only has 3 rushing TD’s compared to Indy’s seven, but some of that is due to the QBing. It’s tough to run if teams can load the box because there’s not a fear of the pass. However, not sure Tannehill is that much of an upgrade. It may be up to Amendola (who’s hurt).

When it comes to stopping the run, Miami is bad. They allow 142 yards a game and are tied for 19th in TD’s given up. Indy is tied for 7th for TD’s and give up 105 yards game.

The grits come down to passing defense. Indy has given up 16 TDs, Miami, 18. That’s the ball game. If Miami’s defense can’t have the game of their season, this is a done deal for Indy. The bad news is Miami ranks down at 29th for sacks while Indy is 16th.

The good news is Indy is down to only two TE’s from the four they had just two weeks ago. This will limit Luck which Miami will need since they’re not great at stopping TE’s.

As far as Miami’s TE’s, Indy isn’t great stopping them, either. In fact they’re down in 26th.

Keys for Miami to win

use their TE’s

force Luck from the pocket

Indy to win

Luck just needs to throw no picks

Yes, simple. On paper, Miami needs to do more than they have in a road game and Indy play the same.

 

Titans (5-5) vs Texans (7-3) Monday 8:15 ESPN

Don’t like either team and if they tied, I wouldn’t cry. I wish they had Walt Anderson and his crew so the fans could have freak-outs all game.

Referee Crew

 

Craig Wrolstad ref crew

While Tennessee is very healthy, the same cannot be said of the Texans. Here’s the deal, if the Jags lose, then I’m pulling for the Titans to lose, too. Considering that Marcus Mariota is like a box of chocolates, that could happen.

An injured Mariota (again) behind an OL that also has some injuries may not be a recipe for success. However, Deshaun Watson has his own OL issues that have left him a battered soul, too.

This game could end up in which QB lasts the longest. Neither offense is tearing up the NFL, but Watson has 18 TD’s to Mariota’s 7. For these two, I am posting more charts because there wasn’t a chart for Mariota with all his throws. Odd.

The Titans haven’t won from a passing attack, which is obvious since they have the second worst TD amount and overall are 30th. As far as rushing, they’re mid-pack in TD’s and yards.

When it comes to Houston, they’re tied for second worse with only 4 TD’s and an average of 4 yards. Both QB’s will run, but Mariota is the dangerous one when he does.

On the passing side, Houston is 15th and Tennessee is 31st. Bottom line, it means that these teams are dependent on their defenses which is a great thing for Tennessee who’s third best in not allowing passing TD’s.

The Texans aren’t far behind with only three more. In stopping the run, both teams are aces in only allowing 5 (Houston) and 6.

The keys for both defenses is the same, but feel bad to say, it’s to hit the QB’s since they’re so beat-up.

Keys for Texans:

  • Keep Mariota in the pocket
  • Rush from the edges
  • Throw to the edges

Keys for the Titans:

  • Spy on Watson
  • Rush him up the middle
  • Play man

May both teams lose.