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1. Four years ago around this time, many (if not most) in the news media touted Hillary Clinton as a solid favorite to win...and we know how that ended. Today, several are describing Joe Biden in the same light. As I mentioned in the intro, we had Austin, Texas-based GOP strategist Matt Mackowiak on the program. He said he expects this to be a VERY, VERY close election and is convinced that whoever wins the presidency is going to win it by a narrower Electoral College margin than 2016. Do you share that view and do you think the media is making the same mistake they did four years ago by GROSSLY underestimating President Trump’s chances of winning?
2. Speaking of the Electoral College, you live out west in Colorado near another pivotal state that needs just as much attention as Florida and the four major Midwestern states (Michigan, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and Minnesota). That state is Arizona. For well over a year, Dave Wasserman of the Cook Political Report has remained unwavering in his belief that Arizona is more likely to flip from Trump to Biden than Florida AND Wisconsin are. And there are more than enough reasons to take his thoughts seriously. Arizona is an increasingly diverse and metropolitan state with the kinds of voters moving TOWARD the Democrats whereas Wisconsin on the other hand is the whitest, most rural of the four Midwest battlegrounds and has the kinds of voters that are moving AWAY from the Democrats. Would you be surprised if a Biden victory consisted of all the Clinton states + MI/PA/AZ as opposed to all the Clinton states + MI/PA/WI?
3. Right now, with voting underway, the biggest priority for the Democratic party MUST be GOTV efforts. And given the pandemic, most Democrats plan on casting their ballots BEFORE November 3. According to a recent NBC News/Survey Monkey poll, 71% of Democrats intend to vote absentee whether by mail or using in-person early voting. Everybody MUST make a plan to vote, but given a weakened, hobbled postal service, many voters (especially those living in states without a universal vote-by-mail system like Colorado) may have to adjust their plans. If someone wants to receive a ballot in the mail, what is the LATEST possible date to submit a request? Several are recommending that those who receive their ballots on or after October 14 return them in person to their county election office or a ballot drop box if available. Would you recommend that as well?
4. Several top-tier Biden supporters have voiced concern in recent days, most notably, his chief rival for the 2020 Democratic nomination, Bernie Sanders. He suggested that Biden would almost certainly lose unless he stopped his centrist approach and catered more to progressive voters on economic issues. Also, some more establishment Democrats in swing states believe there is still a sizeable enthusiasm gap between the Trump base and the Democratic base and that Biden needs to do a lot more in-person campaigning to energize voters, as NYT reported. Do you think there is such a gap and if so, should Biden pivot and endorse progressive policies like the Green New Deal or Medicare For All?
1. Season Headlines
-In the wake of the deaths of George Floyd, Breanna Taylor and others at the hands of police violence, NFL players have made it clear they will NOT be silent and will kneel during the playing of the National Anthem in protest. Even owners who are passionate supporters of the President (such as Jerry Jones), have given their players the green light to do so. Upon hearing the news, Eric Trump, the second of the President’s three sons, tweeted that the NFL was over. And there is no doubt that the President will try to make kneeling for the national anthem a centerpiece of his re-election campaign. If ratings show a sizeable drop, the NFL will be caught between a rock and a hard place and have to walk the tightest of lines in an attempt to avoid alienating significant chunks of the fan-base
Matt: COVID…can they finish the season?
-The NFL will decide to conduct the 2020 playoffs and Super Bowl in a bubble environment, especially if the pandemic worsens the further we get into fall and winter.
-Von Miller has played his last down as a Denver Bronco
-Jalen Ramsey’s blockbuster contract extension further ensures that the Rams will remain in a state of mediocrity (or worse) for the foreseeable future
-Kyler Murray will have a similar breakout campaign in 2020 to Lamar Jackson’s in 2019, even if he doesn’t win MVP
-The Chiefs are heavy favorites to repeat as AFC Champions
-The Packers will NOT make the playoffs in 2020
-Because of there being no preseason games due to COVID, the opening month of the 2020 season will be DOMINATED by offenses and defenses will struggle
3. GAME OF THE WEEK: Texans at Chiefs
-Will the speed of the Texans WR corps help mitigate for the loss of DeAndre Hopkins against an opponent like the Chiefs?
-Just how low is the floor for the Texans defense given the TREMENDOUS holes and inconsistencies in their secondary?
-On paper, how much have the Chiefs improved compared to last season’s Super Bowl triumph? How much have they regressed on paper?
-Game deciding matchups: Chris Jones vs. Texans interior OL, Chiefs WR’s/Kelce vs. Texans secondary
4. GAME OF THE WEEK: Bucs at Saints
-You have been EMPHATIC that Tom Brady has little to nothing left. Do you anticipate seeing a similar decline from Drew Brees this year like we supposedly saw from Brady last year?
-Does this Bucs D have the potential to be a top-10 unit?
-Can Emmanuel Sanders be the most consequential free agency acquisition of 2020?
-Game-deciding matchups: Saints iOL (Ruiz, McCoy, Peat) vs. Bucs behemoth DT’s (Vita Vea, Ndamukong Suh), Tristan Wirfs vs. Cameron Jordan??
5. Game Predictions
-Seahawks at Falcons
-Raiders at Panthers
-Colts at Jaguars
-Eagles at Washington
-Browns at Ravens
-Jets at Bills
-Dolphins at Patriots
-Packers at Vikings
-Bears at Lions
-Chargers at Bengals
-Cardinals at 49ers
-Cowboys at Rams
-Steelers at Giants
-Titans at Broncos
6. BOLD PREDICTIONS
ME: Saints and Bucs will combine for 80 points and the game will end with 0 seconds on the clock as Drew Brees finds Emmanuel Sanders for a 10-yard TD on fourth and goal
MATT: Garoppolo throws for 4 TD’s (2 to Kittle, 1 to Aiyuk, 1 to McKinnon) 350 yards
7. Challenge Flags
ME: NFL teams…do what the Bucs, Lions and Eagles did and turn your stadiums into voting locations for the 2020 election, giving your fans a VERY safe option to vote in-person during this pandemic.
MATT: Fans and analysts…DO NOT OVERREACT TO WEEK 1
1. Last week, the sports world briefly hit the pause button in wake of the Jacob Blake shooting, starting with the NBA. As a result, it was announced that all NBA clubs intend to use their arenas as voting locations for the general election, whether it be for voter registration drives, in-person early voting, and/or having county officials there to collect completed absentee ballots. Given all the issues and red tape with voting by mail (not just USPS), isn’t voting in person at a sports arena one of the best ways of voting imaginable, especially during a pandemic?
2. One of the President’s last remaining hurdles to overcome on the path to reelection is his handling of Covid-19. From a policy perspective, what MUST he do between now and November to prepare the country for the expected uptick of cases in the fall/winter?
3. In the aftermath of George Floyd’s unconscionable murder, we have seen America at its best and at its worst. I personally have witnessed both Biden and Trump voters alike saying we need to significantly address racial biases in our criminal justice system. But we have also seen lawlessness and violence on both the extreme left and right alike. Whether it’s Antifa setting fire to police facilities or armed white supremacists firing guns at innocent bystanders, EVERY American should be equally outraged at the instigators on both sides. And just this week, three innocent demonstrators (two anti-Trump in Kenosha, one pro-Trump in Portland) were killed. This has only heightened my concern that a wave of violence a million times worse than we’re seeing right now could erupt after the election, especially if it’s super close and the outcome is in doubt. What do both Democrats AND Republicans need to do ASAP to ensure that doesn’t happen?
4. Another nightmare scenario that could lead to such violence is the so-called “blue shift” that happened in the Arizona US Senate race in 2018. When we woke up the morning after the election, Martha McSally was leading, but the absentee ballots counted subsequently put Kyrsten Sinema over the top. If a similar scenario happened to Trump, which is possible given the fact that a record number of Americans are expected to vote absentee given the pandemic, it is a virtual guarantee that he will consider the election stolen. Currently, 14 states, including some key battlegrounds, prohibit the processing of these ballots until the morning of the election. However, Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf has proposed that the state begin processing absentee ballots three weeks before the election (as opposed to the morning of) so they have a better chance of completing the count by election night or the following day at worst. Do you agree with that proposal and if so, should all other battleground states follow?
5. Whoever wins in November will not only have to deal with this once-in-a-century pandemic, but an increasingly dangerous Russia and China, who are hell bent on creating a new world order in their respective totalitarian images. In recent weeks, Vladimir Putin has threatened to deploy armies to Belarus to help Lukashenko retain power and poisoned his chief rival, Alexei Navalny. Xi Jingping has accelerated his crackdown on pro-democracy activists in Hong Kong, and more alarming info about his genocidal campaign against the Uighurs in Xinjiang has come to light. And of course, China gravely misled us on the dangers of COVID-19. Putin and Xi are arguably the two most dangerous men in the world right now, and we need to act FAST in order to stop them. What do you think should and can be done in order to do so? Should we grant asylum to some Uighurs and dissidents of both regimes?
6. Thoughts on Steelers
1. What we have seen with Major League Baseball (with the COVID-19 outbreaks within the Marlins and Cardinals causing games to be postponed) thus far is likely a preview of what to expect in the NFL this season. Peter King a few weeks ago wrote he is convinced that at some point the league will likely have to suspend play like the NBA did in March when the pandemic first hit. However, Richard Sherman countered that he only sees that happening if things get REALLY REALLY bad. Under what circumstances should the NFL suspend play?
2. Biggest Training Camp Storylines for Each Team
-NFC West: 49ers, Seahawks, Rams, Cardinals
-AFC West: Chiefs, Broncos, Raiders, Chargers
-NFC North: Packers, Vikings, Bears, Lions
-AFC North: Ravens, Steelers, Browns, Bengals
-NFC East: Eagles, Cowboys, Giants, Washington
-AFC East: Patriots, Bills, Jets, Dolphins
-NFC South: Saints, Bucs, Falcons, Panthers
-AFC South: Texans, Titans, Colts, Jaguars
A. Latest Buzz (Buy Or Sell)
-Chris Mortensen said today of all the teams that are being discussed as strong candidates to trade up, the Falcons are expected to be the most aggressive and could move up all the way to the top five. So buy or sell: the Falcons will trade up to the top five and take Jeffrey Okudah if the Lions pass on him at 3, or move down to 6.
-The run on WR’s will begin earlier than most expect with two WR-needy teams trading up to the 8-10 range to get their guy
-If the Dolphins want Tua Tagovailoa, they’ll take one of the four OT’s at five, and will be able to stand pat at 18 where he’ll fall into their lap
-If the Dolphins do NOT want Tua, they will wait until 26 overall to take a QB…and that QB will be Jordan Love as opposed to Justin Herbert
-There will be no more than five trades in the first round due to the complex logistics of conducting the draft virtually
-The first round will last an hour longer than expected due to technical glitches
-The 49ers will move back from both 31 AND 13, especially if the WR run occurs earlier than expected
1. CIN: Joe Burrow
2. WAS: Chase Young
3. DET: Jeffrey Okudah
4. NYG: Tristan Wirfs
5. MIA: Andrew Thomas
6. LAC: Isaiah Simmons
7. CAR: Derrick Brown
8. AZ: Jedrick Wills
9. JAX: Justin Herbert
10. ATL (from CLE): C.J. Henderson
11. NYJ: Mekhi Becton
12. LVR: CeeDee Lamb
13. DEN (from SF): Henry Ruggs III
14. TB: Javon Kinlaw
15. SF (from DEN): Jerry Jeudy
16. CLE (from ATL): K’Lavon Chaisson
17. NE (from DAL): Tua Tagovailoa
18. MIA: Xavier McKinney
19. LVR: Jordan Love
20. JAX: Jeff Gladney
21. PHI: Denzel Mims
22. MIN: Justin Jefferson
23. DAL (from NE): Cesar Ruiz
24. NO: Kristian Fulton
25. MIN: A.J. Terrell
26. MIA: Yetur Gross-Matos
27. CLE (from SEA): Ezra Cleveland
28. BAL: Patrick Queen
29. TEN: Ross Blacklock
30. GB: Jalen Reagor
31. DEN (from SF): Josh Jones
32. KC: Jonathan Taylor
1. Chase Young is clearly the best prospect in this draft class. This past decade, we have seen pass rushers of Young’s ilk get drafted high and go on to have productive careers: Von Miller, Khalil Mack, Joey and Nick Bosa, Myles Garrett, etc. How does he compare to those aforementioned players as a prospect and would it surprise you if he ended up having the best career out of all of them?
2. There is quite a sizeable drop-off after Young as far as this EDGE class goes. The player widely expected to be the second EDGE off the board is LSU’s K’Lavon Chaisson. Chaisson is an extremely versatile player, who is able to rush the QB from the edge and inside on sub-packages, plus drop into coverage and cover RB’s and TE’s as well. He is also a freakish athlete. However, there was a similar prospect taken in the top-15 three years ago in Haason Reddick, and he’s pretty much been a bust thus far. Do you get Haason Reddick vibes from Chaisson?
3. In August, many (if not most) people were talking about Iowa DE A.J. Epenesa as a top-10 pick. However, an uneven season plus below average testing at the Combine could have him potentially falling out of the first round altogether. Several believe his best chance at long-term success in the NFL is him putting on an additional 15-20 pounds and moving inside to three or five-tech DT. Do you share that view?
4. Headed into the Combine, most had Derrick Brown as a top-five pick. But there has been some buzz from many in the NFL and Draft Twitter alike that Brown isn’t that much of a pass-rush threat and could fall out of the top 10 because of that. Would you be comfortable using a top-10 pick on Brown?
5. South Carolina’s Javon Kinlaw is one of the most inspiring stories in this draft. He grew up homeless and began his college career at JUCO before transferring to SC and becoming the anchor of Will Muschamp’s defense there. Many believe he can be an interior disruptor in the Chris Jones mold. However, Kinlaw’s stats were rather underwhelming and Marcus Mosher, who was on the program in recent weeks to break down the receiver class, did a study on DT prospects and noted that those at the position whose stats didn’t match their traits in college have rarely succeeded at the pro level. Do you think Kinlaw has a better chance than most to buck that trend?
6. Ross Blacklock of TCU is somebody who could have sniffed the top-15 if it wasn’t for an Achilles injury he suffered in 2018. Like Kinlaw, he is a freakish athletic interior pass rusher. If he can get stronger and clean up his technique, do you think he can end up being the best DT from this draft class?
7. Buy Or Sell: Yetur Gross-Matos, Terrell Lewis, Josh Uche, Jabari Zuniga, Alex Highsmith, Derrek Tuszka, Justin Madubuike, Jordan Elliott, James Lynch, Leki Fotu, Neville Gallimore, Marlon Davidson, Davon Hamilton, Jason Strowbridge
8. Best Team Fits
-Chaisson: Falcons, Jets
1. As of right now, you have CeeDee Lamb as your top receiver. Why is that?
2. There has been buzz building for quite a while now that Henry Ruggs will be the first receiver off the board on April 23. And it makes a ton of sense since Ruggs appears to be the new WR archetype NFL teams prefer after witnessing the success of similarly skilled players like Tyreek Hill and their ability to dictate coverages, which gives defensive coordinators headaches. However, you have another speedster, TCU’s Jalen Reagor ranked one spot ahead of Ruggs at the present time. Why you are slightly higher on Reagor than Ruggs?
3. I’ve been hearing buzz that some teams view Jerry Jeudy as a slot-only wide receiver. Do you share that view and if so, is that a big reason you could see him sliding out of the top 15?
4. One of the biggest winners at the Combine was LSU’s Justin Jefferson, who ran a 4.43 40. Jefferson was obviously one of CFB’s most accomplished receivers last year as he was one of Joe Burrow’s most trusted targets in his historic season. However, several have voiced similar concern about Jefferson as some have about Jeudy. Do you think Jefferson can be a good boundary receiver as well as a reliable slot option?
5. Arguably the biggest winner of the entire draft process up to this point has been Baylor’s Denzel Mims. I saw him with my own two eyes dazzle everyone down in Mobile at the Senior Bowl, and he continued it at the Combine, where at 6-3, 207, he ran a 4.39 in the 40 and posted a freakish 6.66 time in the three-cone drill. Now, some buzz suggests that not only could he go in the top 20, but he also could be the third WR taken, if not the second. Would it surprise you if he gets selected before Jeudy or Lamb?
6. Given the circumstances we are in with Covid-19, a receiver likely to experience a drop down boards is Colorado’s Laviska Shenault. Shenault re-aggravated a nagging groin injury at the Combine and his extensive injury history coupled with the fact there will be no med re-checks likely suggest he could be one of the best possible draft bargains this year. How far do you see him falling and what is the earliest spot you’d be willing to pull the trigger on a rare athlete like him?
7. Buy Or Sell: Tee Higgins, Brandon Aiyuk, Donovan Peoples-Jones, Michael Pittman, Devin Duvernay, Collin Johnson, Antonio Gandy-Golden, Van Jefferson, K.J. Hamler, John Hightower, James Proche
8. Best Team Fits
1. While there has been smoke to suggest otherwise, most all signs still point to the Bengals making Joe Burrow being the first overall pick in the draft. Some believe him to be the best QB prospect since Andrew Luck. Regardless of whether or not you share that view, what makes Burrow such a special prospect?
2. Health aside, the main concern some people have about Tua Tagovailoa is that he was more of the product of the weapons around him and not the other way around. Why or why not is that a reasonable concern?
3. There is still some people who believe that Justin Herbert will be the second QB off the board as opposed to Tua. However, he didn’t show the growth most wanted to see during his senior year at Oregon. That said, Jordan Reid of The Draft Network, a friend of the pod and one of THE brightest football minds out there believes that the offensive system the Ducks ran last year wasn’t designed to feature some of the main components of Herbert’s athletic toolkit. If Herbert can land in the right place, do you think there’s a good chance we could see the progress most wanted last season during his rookie season?
4. Jordan Love is arguably the biggest wild card in this QB class. He may have the highest ceiling of any QB’s, yet he may have the lowest floor as well. In 2018, he had a 32-6 TD/INT ratio. Yet in 2019, that ratio drastically fell to 20/17. What factors do you think were mostly to blame for his regression last year? Did you initially think he should have stayed in college and transferred to a larger program?
5. Since Jalen Hurts is not the athletic freak Lamar Jackson is and is WAY behind as a passer than Jackson was coming out of school, some scouts anonymously told reporters that they want him to switch to running back in order to succeed at the pro level. Do you think Hurts has a future under center in the NFL?
6. Another QB that slid down draft boards during the 2019 season was Georgia’s Jake Fromm. With a downgraded supporting cast in the passing game, Fromm’s limitations (lack of size and desired arm talent) were brought to light more than ever last year. However, many believe teams will still want him because of his football intelligence and his ability to do most of the basic things right. Do you think Fromm can turn into another Kirk Cousins if he lands in the right situation?
7. Best Team Fits
-Love: Colts, Bucs
-Hurts: Chargers, Raiders, Bucs
-Fromm: Patriots, Colts
-Eason: Bucs, Titans
1. Last night, Adam Schefter and Dianna Russini reported that despite a unamious recommendation from GM’s to delay the draft due to the Coronavirus pandemic, the NFL held firm in its plans to hold the draft April 23-25 as originally scheduled. One of the main concerns GM’s had was the disadvantage of some teams in areas that are currently hotbeds for Covid-19 (i.e.: NY/NJ area) having to draft from home with others still being able to use their team facilities. That said, the league is also ordering all team facilities to be closed from tonight through April 8 at the very least, which could signal that all 32 clubs might have to conduct the draft from home. Do you think that’s the case? If yes, would you say the draft occurs as scheduled and if not, how much does that increase the odds of the draft being pushed back?
2. As you and others have reported recently, arguably the biggest prospect whose stock is in limbo due to Covid-19 is Tua Tagovailoa. Since there will be no med re-checks, many QB-needy teams might have additional pause about drafting him. Should the Dolphins opt to select Justin Herbert instead and the Chargers decide to take an OT at 6 overall, how far can you see Tua falling?
3. There is expected to be a lot of wheeling and dealing early and often in this draft. As of January, the consensus belief was that Joe Burrow and Chase Young would go first and second overall, respectively, and the draft would essentially begin at #3 overall with the Lions likely trading down. However, there was buzz coming out of the Combine that the Redskins may move down from two and there’s even some chatter that the Bengals may even trade down from one overall in a blockbuster deal with the Dolphins. Do you still believe the Lions are the most likely of those three teams to trade down or is that buzz surrounding Cincinnati and Washington real?
4. Another spot in the draft where things can get really wild, as Falcons GM Thomas Dimitroff hinted weeks ago in a radio interview, is around the range from picks 9-11 to picks 20-22. A big reason why? Wide receivers. Although this is arguably the deepest, most talented WR class in years, there is a pretty sizeable drop-off in terms of tiers from the top three WR prospects: Henry Ruggs, Jerry Jeudy and CeeDee Lamb. The Jaguars at nine and the Jets at 11 have been mentioned as trade back candidates given the alarming holes all over their respective rosters, and the Browns at 10, since they are back to a more analytics-driven approach, have been mentioned as a possible candidate to trade back as well. And look at the amount of WR-needy teams picking behind the Jets: the Raiders (12, 19), 49ers (13), Broncos (15), Eagles (21), and the Vikings (22, 25). Out of the three trade back candidates (JAX, CLE, NYJ), which one do you see as most likely to move back and which of those teams urgently in need of immediate WR help do you see as their most likely trading partner?
5. LISTENER QUESTION: What should the Packers game plan be for the draft?
6. LISTENER QUESTION: What do you think the Bears to do with their two second-round picks?
1. Amidst an atmosphere of economic uncertainty for the NFL and the country in general due to Covid-19, NFL owners and 51% of dues-paying players breathed a sigh of relief a little over a week ago as the NFLPA ratified the new CBA, albeit by a very narrow 60-vote margin. Matt and I are ardent critics of this deal, but now that it’s done, what does the NFLPA have to do next?
2. The New League Year began with a flurry of trades beginning with the Houston Texans trading DeAndre Hopkins and a 2020 fourth-rounder to the Cardinals for a 2020 second-rounder and a 2021 fourth-rounder. Do you ever remember such a big trade being more one-sided than this one? If you’re Deshaun Watson, do you tell the McNair family that either Bill O’Brien leaves or I leave?
3. Another big blockbuster trade that occurred involved your San Francisco 49ers as they traded Pro Bowl DT DeForest Buckner to the Colts for Indy’s 2020 first-round pick at 13 overall. Buckner also got a mega-contract extension from the Colts that will average $21 million per year, making him the second-highest paid DT in the game. Is Buckner worth that amount of money for the Colts, and do you think he and Philip Rivers give them a good shot at potentially winning the AFC South? As far as the 49ers are concerned, I think they have their eyes on five prospects at 13 overall, DT’s Derrick Brown and Javon Kinlaw, and the top three WR’s in the draft (Ruggs, Jeudy, Lamb). Would you be surprised if the Niners go with any of these five, should they be available? Should the Niners consider trading down from 13, if they think it will net them better picks than trading down from 31 will?
4. What are your thoughts on Tom Brady’s fit with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers? Do you trust Bruce Arians to adapt his offense for Brady? Should the Bucs be considered either favorites or co-favorites in the NFC South as of now?
5. Best fits for QB’s still without work or on the trade block
-Jameis Winston: Chargers
-Andy Dalton: Patriots
-Cam Newton: Steelers?
6. FA Absolutes
-Team with the best free agency period? Cardinals
-Team with the worst free agency period? Texans
-Best signing? Melvin Gordon to Broncos
-Worst signing? Tom Brady
-Biggest steal? (whether via trade or signing):
1. Tristan Wirfs is an EXTREMELY athletic, versatile lineman from Iowa, which is arguably college football’s main offensive line factory for the NFL. He has experience at both left and right tackle, and many also believe he has the skill-set to be a good guard as well. Also, he delivered an historic performance in the vertical jump and broad jump. In your view (and your Hawkeye bias aside), what makes Tristan Wirfs the best OL prospect in this draft class?
2. The other prospect neck-and-neck with Wirfs to be the first OT off the board is Mekhi Becton of Louisville. A mountain of a man at 364 pounds, he moves incredibly light on his feet and ran a jaw-dropping 5.10 40 at the Combine. Why do you think many analysts and teams view Becton as the best OL in this class?
3. Alabama’s Jedrick Wills rounds out the first tier of offensive tackles. However, there were rumors coming out of the Combine that his stock may be falling a bit. Tony Pauline, respected draft analyst and NFL insider, reported that teams think Wills isn’t quick enough to process more complex blocking schemes and projects far better at guard than at tackle. Do you think he’d be a better guard?
4. Georgia OT Andrew Thomas is a very interesting prospect. Entering the fall, most draftniks had him as a sure-fire, can’t miss, top-10 prospect. Now, it has been reported that his stock can vary from a top-15 pick, to a late first-round pick. Why do you and many others think that Thomas isn’t in the same tier as Wirfs, Becton and Wills? Can he play guard?
5. One of THE biggest winners at the Combine was Boise State OT Ezra Cleveland. He finished best among OL in the three-cone and 20-yard shuttle, and he also finished in the top-five amongst OL in the bench press and 40. But in as early as late December or early January, Tony Pauline was reporting several around the league believed that Cleveland could go in the first round. Based on what you’ve seen on his game tape so far, do you think that such beliefs are justified?
6. While this interior OL class is relatively unspectacular, there are two REALLY good center prospects in this year’s class: Michigan’s Cesar Ruiz and LSU’s Lloyd Cushenberry III. Many project the two to be selected in the top-50. Give us your impression of both and where/why you currently rank them on your board.
7. Buy Or Sell: Josh Jones, Lucas Niang, Austin Jackson, Isaiah Wilson, Matt Peart, Colton McKivitz, Damien Lewis, Ben Bartch, Robert Hunt, Matt Hennessy, Keith Ismael, Michael Onwenu
8. Best Team Fits
1. Yesterday morning, lawyers from the NFL and NFLPA completed the 456-page document of the proposed CBA, and shortly thereafter, the full populace of players began a week-long vote on the proposal. The deal, if ratified, will bring uninterrupted labor peace all the way through the 2030 season, expand the regular season from 16 to 17 games by as early as 2021, expand the playoff picture from 12-14 teams, raise minimum salaries, and strip Roger Goodell of most of the disciplinary powers that he has under the current CBA. While that may sound good on the surface to some, it is obviously way more complicated than that. And those of you who have been listening to the pod and reading my tweets and Facebook posts in recent weeks know very well that I firmly believe the players did NOT receive enough in return for a 17th game. What are your thoughts on this proposed CBA, Hal? Do you buy the argument that if the players reject this deal that the overall pie will shrink in a year or two leading to a substantially worse offer?
2. Even with most league business currently on hold until the CBA vote ends at 11:59 PM ET on March 12, two trades went down this week. First, the Jaguars traded CB A.J. Bouye to the Denver Broncos for a fourth-round pick, which means nearly all of that star-laden 2017 Jaguars defense is no longer in Jacksonville. Next, the Carolina Panthers traded Pro Bowl guard Trai Turner to the Chargers for LT Russell Okung. It is clear both the Jaguars and Panthers are having a fire sale and will treat 2020 as a rebuilding year. Which of those teams do you think is trying harder to tank for Trevor Lawrence like the Dolphins supposedly did for Tua last year?
3. Tag and Trade…or Tag and Keep?
4. Biggest Combine Takeaways
-Me: Henry Ruggs will be WR1, Justin Jefferson and Denzel Mims now at the top of the second tier of WR’s. Combine format will have to be changed back to the previous one where workouts and drills occurred early in the morning as opposed to mid-to-late afternoon/evening.
-Hal: More and more amazing athletes are coming into the NFL
5. Word out of New England is that Patriots owner Robert Kraft is fiercely trying to convince Bill Belichick to keep Tom Brady regardless of the cost whereas Belichick is indifferent. Bob Kraft has rarely, if ever, undercut a decision made by Bill Belichick. How good of a chance is there that Kraft will actually do so here?
6. If Tom Brady does leave New England as ESPN’s Jeff Darlington anticipates, would the Titans or the 49ers make more sense for him?
7. Ideal landing spots for the following (non-QB) free agents:
-Byron Jones: Eagles
-Chris Harris, Jr.: Lions, Titans
-D.J. Reader: Dolphins
-Jadeveon Clowney: Colts
-Cory Littleton: Broncos, Jets, Raiders
-Anthony Harris: Dolphins, Raiders
-Joe Thuney: Jets, Lions
-Jack Conklin: Browns
-Robby Anderson: Jets, Raiders, Patriots
-Austin Hooper: Packers, Patriots, Texans, Steelers
1. Yesterday, the Broncos traded the 4th-round pick they acquired from the 49ers in the Emmanuel Sanders trade to the Jaguars for CB A.J. Bouye. It was a move that makes sense on the surface given that Bouye likely would’ve commanded a higher salary if he was released plus the fact Chris Harris, Jr. is likely headed elsewhere in free agency. What are your thoughts on this trade and based on what you’ve seen on film so far, how much does Bouye bring to the Broncos secondary?
2. Of all the Broncos in-house free agents, retaining All Pro S Justin Simmons is the team’s top priority. All signs point to him getting the franchise tag by the March 12 deadline next week. That said, every player who’s received the tag under John Elway’s stewardship of the front office eventually ended up getting a long-term deal. Do you anticipate a similar outcome with Simmons or do you have a feeling this case could be different?
3. Some other notable Broncos coming out of contract include Derek Wolfe, Shelby Harris, and Will Parks. Which one of those three SHOULD the Broncos re-sign, in your view?
4. What outside free agents do you anticipate the Broncos signing?
5. Aside from the A.J. Bouye trade, the biggest move the Broncos have made so far this offseason was parting ways with OC Rich Scangarello and hiring former Giants HC Pat Shurmur in his place. You seemed initially skeptical about this hire, and while caution is recommended since nothing is a guarantee to work out, are there any legitimate reasons to believe Shurmur could very well be the guy to develop Drew Lock into a legit starter and make this Broncos offense into a much more fearsome unit?
6. Which player do you think will have the biggest leap under Pat Shurmur?
7. Broncos 7-Round Mock Draft
-(15): Henry Ruggs
-(46): Denzel Mims
-(77): Ezra Cleveland
-(83): Darnay Holmes
-(95): Akeem Davis-Gaither
-(108): Damien Lewis
-(161): Terrell Burgess
-(214): Darius Anderson
1. Earlier this week, Benjamin Allbright (Pro Football Network) reported that the Bears are looking at veteran QB options. While Trubisky is still going to get a shot to prove he’s the guy, his leash will be VERY short like Marcus Mariota’s was last season. He also noted that if the Raiders were to trade or release Derek Carr ($21.5M cap hit, $7.9M in dead money), they’d be interested. And another name he mentioned that the Bears are discussing is Andy Dalton. The Bears salary cap issues aside, which one of those two QB’s would be the best get for the Bears and why?
2. In order to get those QB’s, the Bears will likely need to free up more salary cap space. While they did just that yesterday by releasing Taylor Gabriel and Prince Amukamara, that only puts the Bears at an estimated $18M and change under the cap according to OverTheCap.com. Two other such moves that will net them more cap space are Leonard Floyd ($13.222M savings, $0 dead), Akiem Hicks ($8.8M savings, $3M dead). Do you see the Bears releasing one of those two players?
3. Another way they could potentially free up more cap space is with a contract extension for WR Allen Robinson, who is slated to count $15M against the cap this year. How realistic is it that a new contract (with a lower 2020 cap number) will be in place for ARob before the season?
4. The Bears made some coaching changes, particularly on the offensive staff. They fired OC Mark Helfrich and replaced him with former Dolphins and Bengals OC Bill Lazor. What potential upgrades over Helfrich does Lazor bring?
5. Another one of those coaching moves was puzzling to me was the firing of OL coach Harry Hiestand. Hiestand, to me, is a top-five OL coach in football at all levels. What did you feel about Hiestand’s dismissal?
6. What free agents do you see the Bears signing?
7. Bears 7-Round Mock Draft
-(43): Julian Okwara
-(50): Brycen Hopkins
-(145): Devin Duvernay
-(176): Antoine Brooks, Jr.
-(180): Darryl Williams
-(203): Salvon Ahmed
-(210): Kindle Vildor
1. Today, the NFL owners approved the terms of a potential new Collective Bargaining Agreement and the NFLPA will discuss those terms and perhaps vote on a conference call tomorrow. The terms of the deal include the expansion of the regular season from 16 games to 17 games (along with reducing the preseason by one game) and the expansion of the playoffs from 12 teams to 14 teams (seven per conference). As bargaining chips, the owners have increased the player’s share of revenue from 47% to 48.5% (which could go up to 49% with new TV $$), raised minimum salaries across the board, COMPLETELY took away the “judge/jury/executioner” role from Roger Goodell with the exception of matters concerning the “integrity of the game”, and put in more safety measures, particularly in training camp practices. Still, if I was a player, I’m not sure this would be enough for me to approve the proposal currently on the table. I said previously that unless I got SIGNIFICANT concessions such as receiving 50%+ of total revenue, an extra bye week during the regular season, and SIGNIFICANTLY improved health care and pensions for retirees, I wouldn’t sign off on a 17th game. What do you think?
2. Another one of many items that can derail this deal from getting done by the start of the new league year on March 18 is that players who have negotiated contracts based on a 16-game season would have their 17th game check capped at $250K as NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero reported. Granted, that reportedly only affects players making an average annual salary higher $4.25 million, which is like eight out of 1900 players if the 17-game season went into effect in 2021. Why would the majority of players benefit even more if those at the top were able to make far more money in a 17th game?
3. If there is no new CBA by March 2021, and the NFL decides not to lock out, do you strike if you’re the players?
4. LET’S PLAY TAG!!!
-Cowboys (Dak Prescott, Amari Cooper, Byron Jones)
-Franchise Tag: Dak Prescott, Transition Tag: Byron Jones
-Buccaneers (Jameis Winston, Shaq Barrett)
-Franchise Tag: Shaq Barrett, Transition Tag: Jameis Winston
-Titans (Ryan Tannehill, Derrick Henry)
-Franchise Tag: Derrick Henry, -Transition Tag:
5. Which of these three teams would be the BEST possible fit for Tom Brady should he leave the Patriots: Titans, Raiders, Chargers
6. Ideal landing spots for QB’s on the move…or possibly on the move
-Teddy Bridgewater: Patriots
-Taysom Hill (RFA): DON’T TOUCH…or Ravens????
-Philip Rivers: Colts
-Jameis Winston: Bears
-Derek Carr: Patriots?? Titans??
-Ryan Tannehill: Bears, Raiders
-Andy Dalton: Dolphins as backup
-Marcus Mariota: Ravens, Bills, or Seahawks
-Jacoby Brissett: Stay with Colts
1. CeeDee Lamb is usually mentioned in the same breath as Jerry Jeudy as a serious candidate to be the first WR taken off the board. However, the expectation is that Lamb will run in the 4.5s in the 40 yard dash. While I constantly, passionately stress that 40 time isn’t the end all, be all for WR’s, the NFL has a history of letting uber-talented receivers who post such a result slide much farther than they should. A notable recent example of that is Michael Thomas, who is now arguably the best WR in the NFL. Based on the tape alone, do you think Lamb is worthy of a top-10 selection?
2. The WR that’s likely to generate the most buzz in Indy is Henry Ruggs. Many believe he will break the record for fastest 40 time ever recorded at the Combine, which was recently set by John Ross three years ago. Ross ended up being the ninth overall pick in the 2017 draft. Do you think Ruggs is a better prospect? If so, what makes him so and do you think his film alone should put him in the conversation along with Lamb and Jeudy to be the first WR off the board?
3. Another speedy receiver with a chance to skyrocket up boards with a good showing in Indy is TCU’s Jaelen Reagor. Many on Draft Twitter are enamored with his skillset, but several other respected analysts are not as high on him. What were your major takeaways from Reagor’s tape and do you think he can be a top-25 or top-15 pick if he does well for the remainder of the draft process?
4. This is one of the better OT classes we have seen in quite some time. There could very well be five OT’s selected in the first round, if not more. But there are some interesting questions surrounding two of the top five prospects; Iowa’s Tristan Wirfs and Georgia’s Andrew Thomas. Reportedly, many around the league believe both of them are better fits inside at guard (Wirfs due to length and Thomas due to play-style). Do you share those views?
5. Another position group with some incredible depth in this 2020 draft class is corner. The headliner of the class is obviously Jeffrey Okudah, who is a borderline lock to go top-five. But after him, it’s a bit of a mystery. Which corners do you think have the most convincing case to be the second CB taken off the board?
6. We were down in Mobile for the Senior Bowl last month, and arguably the biggest star down there was South Carolina DT Javon Kinlaw. I heard from a credible source down there that scouts around the league have near-identical grades on him and Auburn DT Derrick Brown, another blue chip prospect. If he tests as well as expected in Indy, do you think he deserves to be drafted before Brown?
7. Another star player we saw down in Mobile was safety Kyle Dugger from Lenoir Rhyne. Last week, Matt Miller, the lead NFL Draft analyst from Bleacher Report reported that some scouts think Dugger is a better prospect than LSU’s Grant Delpit. What are your thoughts on Dugger and how high do you think he can be drafted?
8. Name some under-the-radar prospects who you believe have the potential to dramatically increase their stock at the combine
We kick off our 2020 NFL Draft Coverage with a special interview with Nick Gauna, who was a placekicker on the 2015-16 University of Alabama National Championship football team!! He discussed how his inspiring journey led him to Tuscaloosa, his experience playing for Nick Saban, and shared his thoughts on the top prospects the Crimson Tide have in the 2020 NFL Draft
1. Initial thoughts on Super Bowl LIV
-Opposite styles attract!
Hal: Both teams have good offensive lines, especially at OT…and good DL too
-The 49ers ground game will be even more difficult for the Chiefs to stop than that of the Titans
-The Chiefs wide receivers against the Niners DB’s is the biggest mismatch in favor of the Chiefs
-Jimmy Garoppolo will have to throw for at least 250+ yards and 2 TD’s for the Niners to win
-The Chiefs will have to allow less than 150 rushing yards for them to win
-The 49ers will start the game throwing it over the yard with the Chiefs anticipating the run
-Andy Reid should be in the Pro Football Hall of Fame one day REGARDLESS of Sunday’s outcome
-A Niners win means that Kyle Shanahan’s father Mike will be enshrined in Canton within the next five years
3. David and Hal’s picks of the Modern Era Finalists for the Pro Football HOF Class of 2020
-Troy Polamalu, Steve Atwater, John Lynch, LeRoy Butler, Edgerrin James, Isaac Bruce, Torry Holt, Reggie Wayne, Tony Boselli, Alan Faneca, Steve Hutchinson, Richard Seymour, Bryant Young, Sam Mills, Zach Thomas
4. 2019 NFL Awards
AWARD DAVID’S CHOICE HAL’S CHOICE
MVP Lamar Jackson Lamar Jackson
Offensive POY Michael Thomas Christian McCaffrey
Defensive POY Shaq Barrett Stephon Gilmore
Offensive ROY Josh Jacobs Josh Jacobs
Defensive ROY Nick Bosa Nick Bosa
Comeback POY Ryan Tannehill Dalvin Cook
Fantasy POY Christian McCaffrey Christian McCaffrey
Breakout POY Courtland Sutton Shaq Barrett
Most Improved POY Davante Parker Josh Allen
Coach of the Year Kyle Shanahan Mike Vrabel
Assistant Coach of the Year Greg Roman Dante Scarnecchia
5. Super Bowl LIV Analysis and Game Predictions
-Key matchups: Nick Bosa vs. Eric Fisher, DeForest Buckner vs. Stefan Wisniewski
-Rank these four potential deciding factors in order of importance for this game: Average starting field position, RZ efficiency, time of possession, turnovers
-Predictions of final score, MVP, and unsung hero
6. BOLD PREDICTIONS
ME: Dee Ford strip-sacks Patrick Mahomes on the final drive of the game to seal the win for the Niners
HAL: Chiefs defense is going to hold the 49ers offense to 60 rushing yards or less
7. Challenge Flags
ME: Jimmy G…shut the haters up and show us who you really are
HAL: Patrick Mahomes…this is the year of destiny for you. SEIZE IT!!!!!
Ohio State WR KJ Hill was another player who made himself some money at the 2020 Reese's Senior Bowl. I caught up with him after the final day of practice and he talked about why Brian Hartline, his position coach in college, is such a masterful teacher, discussed the strengths of his game aside from his superb route running skills, the advice his former Buckeye teammate and current star Redskins WR Terry McLaurin is giving him as he goes through the draft process...and more!!!
Texas WR Collin Johnson was another player that stood out to me at the 2020 Reese's Senior Bowl. We spoke after practice and he discussed why he's running routes better than most 6-6 receivers, what makes the comeback route so difficult (he ran a great such route in practice that day), the amazing feeling he got from getting to conclude his college career in Mobile playing with fellow Longhorn Devin Duvernay...and MORE!!!
Wide receiver Antonio Gandy-Golden from Liberty University is one of the more inspiring stories of the 2020 NFL Draft. I spoke to him after one of the practices at the 2020 Reese's Senior Bowl to discuss his story and game. He talks about growing up in Chicago's impoverished Englewood neighborhood and the inspiration he takes from NBA star Derrick Rose (who also grew up in Englewood). We also discussed the parts of his game he felt he improved during the week in Mobile, his favorite NFL wide receivers and more!!!
Utah DB Terrell Burgess is one of the most versatile players in the 2020 NFL Draft. He can play all four secondary positions. I interviewed him at the 2020 Reese's Senior Bowl after practice and he discussed which position he's most comfortable at, what he's learned from watching similarly hybrid defensive backs like All Pro Tyrann Mathieu of the Chiefs...and MORE!!!
Baylor WR Denzel Mims was another big standout at the 2020 Reese's Senior Bowl. I spoke to him after the second day of practice, and he discussed why his track background helps him play the wide receiver position, why his coach at Baylor, Matt Rhule (now the head coach of the Panthers) will be successful in the NFL, what makes him admire Saints All Pro WR Michael Thomas so much...and MORE!!!!!
Ohio State is a defensive line factory for the NFL and an underrated DL prospect in the 2020 NFL Draft is Davon Hamilton. I talked to him after practice at the 2020 Reese's Senior Bowl and we talked about what makes Buckeyes DL coach Larry Johnson such an effective teacher, what advice he's seeking from former Buckeye DL-mates Nick Bosa (2019 NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year!) and Dre'Mont Jones...and MORE!!!
Freakish, athletic Alabama edge rusher Terrell Lewis is one of the more intriguing prospects in the 2020 NFL Draft. I spoke to him after one of the 2020 Reese's Senior Bowl practices, and we discussed what makes his game so unique, what it was like playing for such a legendary head coach like Nick Saban, the latest on his college teammate and friend Tua Tagovailoa...and MORE!!!!
LSU center Lloyd Cushenberry III was another one of the big winners at the 2020 Reese's Senior Bowl. I caught up with him after practice and he talked about his versatility (he can play guard as well as center), what it was like playing with 2019 Heisman Trophy winner Joe Burrow, why having Ed Orgeron, a former DL coach as his college head coach helped get him pro ready and more!!!
Houston OT Josh Jones was one of the star performers at the 2020 Reese's Senior Bowl, and he could very well end up a first-round pick as a result. In this interview, he describes his game, why going up against fellow Houston Cougar and current Buffalo Bill Ed Oliver (the 9th overall pick in the 2019 NFL Draft) in practice helped make him a better player, why he would be an asset to an NFL club on and off the field and more!!!
I was fortunate to run into North Carolina OT Charlie Heck at the 2020 Reese's Senior Bowl. We talked about his father Andy (former guard for the Seahawks and Bears and current OL coach for the Chiefs), what he taught Charlie about football and life, what it would mean to his family if the Chiefs won Super Bowl LIV, his thoughts on the big game and more!!!
In this deep and insanely talented 2020 WR draft class, Devin Duvernay is arguably one of the best possible options on Day 2. I spoke with him at the 2020 Reese's Senior Bowl and he talked about why he's much more than a "deep threat", who he credits for his 106 reception season in 2019 and more!!!!
Offensive weapon Antonio Gibson, who played running back AND wide receiver at Memphis, joined me at the 2020 Reese's Senior Bowl. He discussed which of the two positions he thinks he plays the best, what NFL players he tries to model his game after, and more!!!!
One of the stars of the 2020 Reese's Senior Bowl was Lenoir Rhyne safety/linebacker Kyle Dugger. I caught up with him there and he discussed what positions he played in college, why versatile, hybrid players like him are increasing in value, what NFL players he looks up to, and what aspects of his game he wanted to improve on during the week
I caught up with versatile Maryland DB Antoine Brooks at the 2020 Reese's Senior Bowl. We discussed why hybrid "position-less" defenders like him are now highly coveted by the NFL as opposed to years past, what his favorite position to play is, his thoughts on soon-to-be Pro Football Hall of Fame inductee Troy Polamalu and more!!!!
Matt Lombardo, Giants beat reporter for the Newark Star-Ledger, joined me at the 2020 Reese’s Senior Bowl to talk about what awaits the New York Giants in 2020 and beyond. He discussed why history is an encouraging sign for new Giants head coach Joe Judge, why new offensive coordinator Jason Garrett will be helpful to the development of Daniel Jones, and who the Giants should take with the 4th overall pick in the 2020 NFL Draft
Matthew Fairburn, Bills beat reporter for The Athletic, joined me at the 2020 Reese’s Senior Bowl to talk about the Buffalo Bills and their promising future. He discussed the Bills plans in free agency and the draft, what QB Josh Allen must do to take another big step forward next season, and the potential of DT Ed Oliver contending for an All Pro selection in his second NFL season
Former All Pro NFL safety Steve Atwater joined me at the 2020 Reese’s Senior Bowl for a fun-filled interview. He discussed why the NFL is valuing hybrid, “positionless” defensive players more than ever, his thoughts on Super Bowl LIV, and his chances on getting enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame
Thomas Reed, Browns beat reporter for The Athletic joined me at the 2020 Reese’s Senior Bowl to discuss the current state of the Cleveland Browns. He shared his thoughts on new Browns head coach Kevin Stefanski, whether or not Odell Beckham, Jr. will be a Brown in 2020, what the Browns may do with the 10th overall pick in the 2020 NFL Draft, and what the new front office structure should look like
Friend of the pod Turron Davenport, now covering the Tennessee Titans for ESPN, joined me at the 2020 Reese’s Senior Bowl to discuss immediate issues facing the Titans in the wake of their defeat in the AFC Championship. He mentioned how the Titans will keep Ryan Tannehill and Derrick Henry for 2020 and beyond, discussed what the Titans should do in the 2020 NFL Draft, and their plans at defensive coordinator in the wake of the retirement of Dean Pees
Ryan O’Halloran, Broncos beat reporter for the Denver Post joined me at the 2020 Reese’s Senior Bowl to discuss the Broncos, what they should do in the draft with the 15th overall pick, their free agency plans (including contract negotiations with All Pro safety Justin Simmons), and the team’s ownership situation
Vincent Bonsignore, Raiders beat reporter for the Las Vegas Review Journal, joined me at the 2000 Reese’s Senior Bowl to talk about the Raiders, their plans in the 2020 NFL Draft, why it doesn’t seem too likely they’ll pursue Tom Brady in free agency, and why Vegas will be a “home run” market for the Raiders and the NFL
Dave Richard, fantasy football analyst for CBS Sports, joined me at the Reese’s Senior Bowl to discuss the potential 2020 fantasy value of Joe Burrow and CeeDee Lamb (assuming he gets drafted by a team in which he’ll automatically be the go-to WR). He also gives a list of Senior Bowl participants he thinks can be fantasy relevant next season
1. Divisional Round Takeaways
Me: Bill O’Brien is squandering the Texans championship potential with Deshaun Watson and he must be fired NOW
Matt: MVP’s don’t win Super Bowls
-The Ravens blew their best chance to win a Super Bowl with Lamar Jackson
-If Antonio Brown doesn’t seek the right help fast, he will never play another down in the NFL
-The Giants will stunt Daniel Jones’ development if they hire Jason Garrett as OC instead of retaining Mike Shula
-Joe Burrow just authored the greatest single season performance in college football history and will be the next superstar NFL QB
-With a looming “cap crunch”, the Minnesota Vikings Super Bowl window might have already closed with Saturday’s loss to the Niners
-Regardless of what he thinks of the new coaching staff, the Browns must do all they can to trade Odell Beckham
3. Coaching Carousel
-Browns: Thoughts on Kevin Stefanski hire?
-Broncos: Was it the right move to part ways with Rich Scangarello and bring in Pat Shurmur?
4. AFC Championship Preview: Titans at Chiefs
-If Chris Jones doesn’t play, how much does that increase the likelihood of a Titans upset?
-Do you see the Mike Vrabel having a Belichick-esque game plan on defense to slow the Chiefs down like dropping eight or nine guys in coverage and conceding the run?
-Key matchups: Jurrell Casey, Jeffery Simmons, DaQuan Jones versus Chiefs iOL, Derrick Henry vs. Chiefs DL
5. NFC Championship Preview: Packers at 49ers
-Matt LaFleur is consulting Sean McVay on how to attack the Niners D. The Rams had some success doing so in Week 16 with a lot of boots and rollouts. How are the Niners better equipped to handle such concepts this time around?
-Will Aaron Rodgers have to be Superman for the Packers to win…or do you see them doing all they can to get Aaron Jones and the ground game going early and often?
-The Niners OL did a FANTASTIC job handling the Vikings front, especially in the run game. How much more difficult of a challenge will the Packers front be for them?
-Key matchups: Kenny Clark vs. Ben Garland, 49ers DL vs. Aaron Jones
6. BOLD PREDICTIONS
ME: AFC Championship goes to overtime. Chiefs get the ball first and are forced to settle for a field goal. Then on the ensuing possession, Titans win on a 90-yard TD run by Derrick Henry!
MATT: 49ers DL sacks Aaron Rodgers seven times
7. Challenge Flags
ME: GIVE US MORE LAST MINUTE DRAMA THIS WEEK!!
MATT: Andy Reid…GET THAT MONKEY OFF YOUR BACK!!!!
1. Wild Card Weekend Takeaways
Me: The Kirk Cousins hate must stop NOW
Hal: Redemption for Deshaun Watson and Kirk Cousins and emergence of the new guard (Titans)
-The NFL should modify its OT rules allowing each team to possess the ball in OT REGARDLESS of what happens on the first possession
-The NFL must adjust the Rooney Rule by putting in a requirement that teams MUST interview at least one minority HC candidate from OUTSIDE your organization that has never previously been an NFL head coach
-The winner of Saturday’s Vikings/49ers game will be the eventual NFC Champion
-The Redskins must NOT trade the second overall pick unless they get an RG3-style king’s ransom (meaning firsts in 2020, 2021 AND 2022) in return
-People should bet on the Vikings, Titans AND Texans to cover the spread this weekend
3. Coaching Carousel
-Cowboys: Michael Lombardi said that while Mike McCarthy is the perfect fit for the Cowboys given the fact that McCarthy isn’t a guy that’s going to upstage Jerry Jones, he is “skeptical” whether or not McCarthy will bring the team successful long-term. Do you share that view?
-Panthers: Do you think Matt Rhule will end up being the best hire of this cycle?
-Giants: Thoughts on the Joe Judge hire?
-Browns: (Assuming McDaniels decides not to go there If the Vikings lose), should they immediately pounce on Stefanski? If Niners lose, should they pounce on Saleh?
4. QB Carousel
-If Josh McDaniels stays in New England, how much does that increase the likelihood Brady stays? If Brady is not a Patriot in 2020, where does he play?
-What SHOULD the Saints do: Re-sign Brees? Re-sign Bridgewater? Re-sign Taysom Hill?
5. Divisional Round Weekend
-Vikings at 49ers (Analysis, Game Picks)
-Titans at Ravens (Analysis, Game Picks)
-Texans at Chiefs (Analysis, Game Picks)
-Seahawks at Packers (Analysis, Game Picks)
6. BOLD PREDICTIONS
ME: Dalvin Cook gets 200 scrimmage yards and 2 TD runs of 20+ yards
HAL: NEITHER Desahun Watson and Patrick Mahomes throw 200 passing yards or a TD
7. Challenge Flags
ME: Divisional round…be just as exciting as Wild Card
HAL: Mike Zimmer and Mike Vrabel….DON’T TAKE YOUR FOOT OFF THE GAS
1. Week 17 Takeaways
Me: Brian Flores could be the best head coach to ever come off the Bill Belichick tree
Matt: Another Seahawks choke on the one-yard line (blame the delay of game)
-Browns owner Jimmy Haslam is now just as bad of an owner as the Redskins Dan Snyder
-Titans WR A.J. Brown should win Offensive Rookie of the Year award
-Dolphins WR Davante Parker should win Comeback Player of the Year award
-Out of all the four teams who earned first-round playoff byes, the Packers are the one most likely to be one and done
-The Detroit Lions should explore trading the third overall pick unless they like a certain player FAR more than others at that spot
-Alabama QB Tua Tagovailoa would be making a colossal mistake if he decides to return to school
3. Coaching Carousel
-Redskins: With the hiring of Ron Rivera and the firing of Bruce Allen, how hopeful should Redskins fans be?
-Browns: Which head coach/GM pairing would be the most ideal?
-Kevin Stefanski/Andrew Berry
-Josh McDaniels/Dave Ziegler
-Mike McCarthy/Andrew Berry
-Cowboys: Outside of treating him like a family member and ending this gracefully and respectfully, is there any other legitimate reason to wait until Jason Garrett’s contract expires on January 14? Should Jason Garrett be given another role within the organization?
4. Pro Football HOF Class of 2020 Modern Era Finalists (who would your five enshrinees be?)
5. Wild Card Weekend
-Bills at Texans (Analysis, Game Picks)
-Titans at Patriots (Analysis, Game Picks)
-Vikings at Saints (Analysis, Game Picks)
-Seahawks at Eagles (Analysis, Game Picks)
6. BOLD PREDICTIONS
ME: Kirk Cousins throws for 350 yards and 3 TD’s in a losing effort
MATT: Tom Brady held under 200 yards and throws 0 TD’s, 2 INT’s
7. Challenge Flags
ME: Deshaun Watson…do what you do best
MATT: Home teams…take advantage of your home field and WIN!!!
1. Week 16 Takeaways
Me: The five best teams in the NFL right now imo are the Ravens, 49ers, Chiefs, Saints and Patriots. Yet, there is a very good chance that three of those teams will have to be playing on Wild Card Weekend as opposed to watching it in the comfort of their living rooms. This tells me there is also a stronger-than-usual chance that we will see multiple road teams prevail in the Divisional Round, and perhaps the Conference Championships too.
Hal: Bills are a team NOBODY wants to face in the playoffs
-Of all the teams who’ve finished in last place in their respective divisions this season, the Arizona Cardinals are the one in best position to take a sizeable leap forward in 2020
-Unless he gets seriously injured in the College Football Playoff, the Cincinnati Bengals should put Joe Burrow’s name in sharpie on their draft card with the first overall pick
-It would be a scandal of monumental proportions if Chandler Jones does not make the NFL all-decade team of the 2010’s
-The Texans and Bills should follow the lead of the Vikings and Ravens and rest their key players on Sunday
-Michael Thomas’s historic season and the potential HOF career he’s starting to put together should be the ultimate lesson to NFL teams to not make the 40-yard dash the end all/be all of WR evaluations (Thomas ran a 4.57 in the 40)
3. Coaching Carousel/Black Monday
-Redskins: Eric Bieniemy, Ron Rivera (who is the better hire? Would you take the job if you were Rivera?)
-Giants: Should they fire Pat Shurmur or does Daniel Jones’ development this season warrant continuity?
-Falcons: Was it the right decision or wrong decision for them to retain Dan Quinn and Thomas Dimitroff for 2020?
-Jaguars: Currently, all signs point to both Doug Marrone AND GM Dave Caldwell surviving. Is that a mistake?
-Panthers: Albert Breer reported the Panthers could be interested in Patriots OC Josh McDaniels. What do you think that organization has in place that could lure him away from the Patriots for good?
4. Game of the week: 49ers at Seahawks
-Will Russell Wilson likely have to play one of the five best games of his career to date for the Seahawks to pull this one off?
-The 49ers are SORELY missing C Weston Richburg, who they lost for the season in their win over the Saints. While Jarran Reed and Poona Ford aren’t Aaron Donald, they are no slouches. Are those two capable of exposing Richburg’s absence almost as much as Donald did last Saturday?
-While the Seahawks lured Robert Turbin and Marshawn Lynch out of retirement, Pete Carroll said the Seahawks will lean on undrafted rookie Travis Homer for this game. How likely is it that Homer gets the lion’s share of backfield touches?
-Key matchups: Richard Sherman against whoever lines up across from him, George Fant vs. Nick Bosa,
5. Picks for remainder of Week 17 games
-Chargers at Chiefs
-Dolphins at Patriots
-Jets at Bills
-Browns at Bengals
-Packers at Lions
-Bears at Vikings
-Falcons at Buccaneers
-Saints at Panthers
-Redskins at Cowboys
-Eagles at Giants
-Cardinals at Rams
-Colts at Jaguars
-Raiders at Broncos
-Steelers at Ravens
-Titans at Texans
6. BOLD PREDICTIONS
ME: Chandler Jones sets the single-season sack record by sacking Jared Goff SIX TIMES!!!!
HAL: Daniel Jones 30 completions. 400 yards, 5 TD’s
7. Challenge Flags
ME: 49ers/Seahawks game…LIVE UP TO THE HYPE!!!!!
HAL: Jon Gruden and Raiders…TAKE CARE OF BUSINESS AND LET THE CHIPS FALL WHERE THEY MAY!
1. Week 15 Takeaways
Me: It’s time to put Drew Brees in the discussion as one of the five best QB’s of all time
Hal: 49ers with a huge lost opportunity
-The Browns should fire BOTH Freddie Kitchens and John Dorsey
-The Jaguars problems will only get worse if they retain Tom Coughlin
-Matt Patricia will get fired after the 2020 season if the Lions fail to sniff the playoffs
-The Buccaneers should extend Shaq Barrett by February and give Jameis Winston the franchise tag as opposed to a multi-year deal
-The Indianapolis Colts should use their first-round pick on Utah State QB Jordan Love if he significantly impresses them during the pre-draft process
-With their offense re-discovering its 2018 mojo and their defense playing underrated football, the Kansas City Chiefs are the team the Ravens should fear the most in the playoffs
-Kirk Cousins, Dak Prescott, Fred Warner, and Justin Simmons should have made the Pro Bowl as opposed to Aaron Rodgers, Drew Brees, Luke Kuechly and Earl Thomas
-ALL NFC playoff teams outside of New Orleans should be praying hard that the Saints don’t get the NFC’s #1 seed again
3. Game of the Week: Bills at Patriots
-Should anybody be surprised if the Bills pull off the upset in Foxboro on Saturday?
-Is there a case for Tre’Davious White as already being on the level of Stephon Gilmore?
-Key matchups: Cole Beasley vs. Devin McCourty, Jordan Phillips and Ed Oliver versus Patriots iOL
4. Game of the Week: Packers at Vikings
-While some people may see a high-scoring shootout in this game, I also think a defensive struggle is just as likely, especially given the inconsistencies of the Packers offense and Dalvin Cook looking iffy to play. What do you think?
-X Factors for each team
Packers: Kenny Clark, Jaire Alexander/Kevin King
Vikings: Alexander Mattison, Eric Kendricks/Linval Joseph
-Key matchups: David Bakhtiari/Bryan Bulaga vs. Danielle Hunter/Everson Griffen, Brian O’Neill vs. Za’Darius Smith, Blake Martinez vs. Alexander Mattison
5. Picks for remainder of Week 16 games
-Texans at Buccaneers
-Rams at 49ers
-Jaguars at Falcons
-Ravens at Browns
-Saints at Titans
-Panthers at Colts
-Bengals at Dolphins
-Giants at Redskins
-Steelers at Jets
-Lions at Broncos
-Raiders at Chargers
-Cowboys at Eagles
-Cardinals at Seahawks
-Chiefs at Bears
6. BOLD PREDICTIONS
ME: Matt Prater wins the game for the Lions on an NFL record 65-yard field goal
HAL: Mitchell Trubisky throws 3 TD’s, 250 pasisng yards, 100 rushing yards
7. Challenge Flags
ME: San Francisco 49ers…let last weekend’s loss against the Falcons hurt as bad as it can and let it be your fuel these final two games and in the playoffs
HAL: Jason Garrett, Doug Pederson: WHO WANTS THE NFC EAST????
1. Week 14 Takeaways
-It is the gravest injustice in the history of the NFL that a 12-win team (49ers or Seahawks) will have to go on the road for a playoff game against a 7-8 wins team (Eagles or Cowboys). And even worse? The NFL hasn’t even considered reforming their flawed playoff seeding system, which allows a division winner a home game!!
Matt: Niners with a statement
-The New England Patriots should be docked another first-round draft pick for being caught in an incident that is now being widely coined “Spygate 2.0”
-Barring an absolute implosion over these final three weeks, the Broncos must plan on sinking or swimming with Drew Lock as their unquestioned starting QB in 2020
-The Jets should NOT trade Jamal Adams unless they get a first-round pick, a fourth-round pick, AND an equally talented player in return
-IF Philip Rivers retires or departs in free agency, the Chargers MUST draft a QB in the first round if the right one is there
-If Thomas Dimitroff is retained as Falcons GM, that will be enough to get Josh McDaniels to leave New England this time and become the Falcons head coach
-The Browns should fire both HC Freddie Kitchens AND GM John Dorsey after this season
-Ryan Tannehill deserves serious MVP consideration if the Titans go on to win the AFC South and/or mount a deep playoff run
3. Game of the Week: Texans at Titans
-Do you anticipate this game being a shootout? An unexpected defensive struggle? Or somewhere in between?
-X Factors for each team.
Texans: Will Fuller (Me), Deshaun Watson (Matt)
Titans: A.J. Brown (Me), A.J. Brown (Matt)
-Key matchups: Jeffery Simmons versus Texans iOL, Harold Landry versus Chris Clark, Derrick Henry vs. Texans DL
4. Game of the Week: Bills at Steelers
-This game certainly has defensive struggle written all over it. Will it surprise you to see both offenses to have a somewhat conservative game plan to try not to turn the ball over and win the field position battle, especially early?
-X Factors for each team
Bills: Devin Singletary, Cole Beasley
Steelers: Diontae Johnson, T.J. Watt
-Key matchups: T.J. Watt and Bud Dupree vs. Dion Dawkins and Cody Ford, Ed Oliver vs. DeCastro/Pouncey
5. Picks for remainder of Week 15 games
-Jets at Ravens
-Patriots at Bengals
-Dolphins at Giants
-Eagles at Redskins
-Bears at Packers
-Buccaneers at Lions
-Broncos at Chiefs
-Seahawks at Panthers
-Jaguars at Raiders
-Browns at Cardinals
-Vikings at Chargers
-Rams at Cowboys
-Falcons at 49ers
-Colts at Saints
6. BOLD PREDICTIONS
ME: Tom Brady throws for 400 yards and 4 TD’s
MATT: Deebo Samuel puts up numbers like Emmanuel Sanders did against New Orleans
7. Challenge Flags
ME: Jaguars and Cowboys: SHOW SOME FIGHT!!!!
MATT: Titans/Texans, Bills/Steelers…LIVE UP TO THE HYPE!!!
1. What is the latest you’re hearing on Tua Tagovailoa’s decision?
2. If Tua’s med checks don’t come back clean, how high can you see Oregon’s Justin Herbert being taken in round one? Do you think he will attend the Senior Bowl at the moment?
3. If you thought the 2014 WR class was epic, this exceptionally talented and deep 2020 WR class has the potential to be the best in NFL history. When you look at the very top of the WR board, you can make a case for either Jerry Jeudy or CeeDee Lamb being the first WR taken off the board. But since the NFL is falling increasingly in love with smaller, faster receivers that are a threat to take it to the house every time they touch the ball, would it surprise you if Henry Ruggs is the first WR taken? How many WR’s can you see being taken in round 1?
4. Another position group that looks pretty good in this draft is OT. The top two on most Draft Twitter boards at the moment are Georgia’s Andrew Thomas and Iowa’s Tristan Wirfs. But another guy who may be making the move up to that tier is Alabama’s Jedrick Wills. Dane Brugler had him as the top OT off the board in the mock draft he did last week. Can you see him being the consensus top OT in this class when all is set and done?
5. While Joe Burrow may indeed be the first overall pick (especially if the Bengals remain in that spot), most everybody agrees the best prospect period in this draft is edge rusher Chase Young from Ohio State. Aside from his freakish athleticism and stellar production, what makes him so special?
6. Both you and I will be headed to Mobile, Alabama for the Senior Bowl next month. A position group I’m excited to watch down there is the DT group. Both South Carolina’s Javon Kinlaw and Alabama’s Raekwon Davis have accepted their invites, and Auburn’s Derrick Brown (currently the cream of the crop at this position) is expected by some to accept his as well. What makes Brown so intriguing and do you think Kinlaw, Davis, or anybody else has a shot to close the gap on him before draft day?
7. Which other position groups that we haven’t covered seem strong to you as far as this 2020 draft class goes?
1. Week 13 Takeaways
-Regardless of how the Steelers season ends, give Mike Tomlin Coach of the Year honors!!!!
Hal: Could we be headed for a Super Bowl XLVII rematch in February?
-The Broncos should put Von Miller and his MCL sprain on ice for the remainder of the season
-Tom Brady only has at MOST three years remaining in his illustrious NFL career
-If the Tennessee Titans make it to the playoffs, they’ll be the team NOBODY wants to face
-The Seahawks and 49ers are not only on a collision course to likely decide who wins the division in Week 17, but on a collision course to meet a third time in the playoffs as well!
-After Sunday’s loss to the Duck Hodges-led Steelers. Freddie Kitchens is back on the hot seat in Cleveland and a top candidate to be fired at season’s end
-Baylor head coach Matt Rhule should be the number one candidate for all NFL teams with a head coaching vacancy
3. Coaching Carousel
-Most ideal potential landing spot for Ron Rivera: Jaguars, Giants, Falcons, Lions, Browns, Redskins, Cowboys
-Top candidates for Panthers job:
4. Game of the Week: Ravens at Bills
-No defense other than the 49ers has done a better job against the Ravens offense this season. How capable is the Bills defense of doing as good or an even better job containing Lamar Jackson than the Niners did?
-How much more dangerous does the emergence of Ed Oliver make this Buffalo D? What does he add that wasn’t there earlier in the season?
-Everybody, and rightfully so, is praising the Ravens for designing a run first offense to suit Lamar Jackson’s strengths. But shouldn’t more people be saying the same about the Bills and what they’ve done with Josh Allen? According to ESPN’s Field Yates, both QB’s have a combined 1,407 rushing yards this season and on Sunday, that will represent the highest such total by opposing QB’s in the same game in NFL history. Josh Allen was heavily doubted by most (myself included) during the pre-draft process in 2018. How has he exceeded your expectations so far?
-Key matchups: Tremaine Edmunds vs. Lamar Jackson, Ed Oliver versus any Ravens interior OL not named Marshal Yanda, Holl