Category Archives: NFL

Patrick Mahomes Silences Doubters With Post-Pro Bowl Message

In one of the least surprising moments from the 2019 NFL Pro Bowl, Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes was named one of the MVPs. After a season in which Mahomes threw for 50 touchdowns and was arguably the best player in the league, adding another accomplishment to the season was almost expected.
Regardless, it was a strong performance and after the game, Mahomes took note of an interesting photo posted by the Chicago Bears Twitter account. It featured the Chiefs signal-caller with Bears quarterback Mitchell Trubisky and Houston Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson. The three players were all selected in the 2017 NFL Draft, and Mahomes responded with a few words for those who doubted the strength of their quarterback class.

They said we had a bad Qb draft class! 2 years later… @Mtrubisky10 @deshaunwatson https://t.co/qaasy0XrOd
— Patrick Mahomes II (@PatrickMahomes5) January 27, 2019

It’s hard to argue with Mahomes’ point here, as the three quarterbacks all impressed this season and each of their teams made it to the playoffs. Even beyond that, the Chiefs (12-4), Bears (12-4) and Texans (11-5) all won their divisions as well.

Patrick Mahomes’ Pro Bowl Performance
Although the Pro Bowl isn’t exactly the place to dive too far into stats, Mahomes finished the game by completing 7-of-14 passes for 156 yards (most of the game) along with one touchdown. Watson was a close second in passing, throwing for 128 yards with one score as well, but did throw an interception.
The AFC ran away with this game behind the play of the quarterbacks, winning 26-7 while the only touchdown on the NFC side came when Dak Prescott linked up with Austin Hooper in the fourth quarter. AFC quarterbacks also racked up 362 passing yards compared to just 101 for their opponent.

Patrick Mahomes Wraps 2018 Season With MVP Resume
While the Chiefs quarterback took home the hardware at the Pro Bowl, he deserves to win the NFL’s Most Valuable Player Award for the full season also. Mahomes completed 66 percent of his passes for 5,097 yards and the aforementioned 50 touchdowns. Of the 580 passes he threw, only 12 of them were intercepted.
For good measure, Mahomes tacked on 272 rushing yards and two additional scores, but his impressive first season as a starter was impressive beyond just personal numbers. The Chiefs had a great regular season and were an overtime loss away from playing in the Super Bowl. Their season ended in unfortunate fashion in the AFC Championship Game when Tom Brady and the New England Patriots picked up an overtime victory.
In the loss, Mahomes and the Chiefs didn’t even get the opportunity to score thanks to Brady’s impressive drive to end the game. It’s a safe bet that we’ll see plenty more of the 23-year-old quarterback in the playoffs moving forward in his career.
READ NEXT: Jared Goff Dating Model & Actress Christen Harper?


Patrick Mahomes Girlfriend, Brittany Matthews, Cheers Him on at Pro Bowl

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Mahomes Crew, missing Jack❤️ #probowl2019 #chiefskingdom
A post shared by Brittany Matthews (@brittanylynne8) on Jan 25, 2019 at 10:26am PST

Patrick Mahomes would have preferred to be playing next Sunday, but the Chiefs quarterback seems to be in good spirits with his girlfriend, Brittany Matthews, by his side at the Pro Bowl. Mahomes is playing with the AFC squad in Orlando, and Matthews is there cheering him on along with his mother, Randi Martin. Matthews has been posting photos on Instagram throughout Pro Bowl week.
“Mahomes Crew, missing Jack❤️ #probowl2019 #chiefskingdom,” Matthews posted referring to Mahomes’ brother, Jackson Mahomes.
After the Chiefs overtime loss to the Patriots in the AFC Championship, Matthews posted a video of her embracing Mahomes after the difficult loss.
“You’re the best in my eyes and that will never change ❤️💛 #MVP,” Matthews posted.
Here’s a look at the Instagram video Matthews posted after the game.

View this post on Instagram

You’re the best in my eyes and that will never change ❤️💛 #MVP
A post shared by Brittany Matthews (@brittanylynne8) on Jan 21, 2019 at 9:36am PST

Tom Brady Offered Patrick Mahomes Words of Encouragement After AFC Championship

Tom Brady just quietly approached a security guard waiting outside the Chiefs’ locker room — and asked if he could see Patrick Mahomes. Brady was escorted into a room where he spoke briefly with him. A very clear display of respect from one incredible quarterback to another.
— Jeff Darlington (@JeffDarlington) January 21, 2019

Matthews is not the only one who tried to encourage Mahomes. In the midst of celebrating another Super Bowl appearance, Brady made it a point to find Mahomes after the AFC Championship. During an ESPN interview, Mahomes detailed what Brady said to him after the game (via Kansas City Star).
I think it was a little bit of both. It was such a great game with so many emotions where it was going back and forth at the end. He just came up to me and was kind of giving me, saying, ‘Good game,’ and everything like that.
I mean, he was in my place. He was young. He got to win the Super Bowl in his first year with you (Bruschi) and everybody and so he understands that, I mean, time it flies by and ‘make sure to put in the work. ‘And I think he saw that I’ve put in the work to be in those situations.

Brittany Matthews Runs a Personal Training Business

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If you got into the gym today and you were apart of chiefs kingdom yesterday, I applaud you👏🏼👏🏼👏🏼 Me…not so much but here’s a lovely few lower body exercises for yaaa🤩🍑 8-12 reps 3-4 sets Save it for your next leg day and of course share with me how you love it☺️ Outfit: @lululemon Shoes: @adidas
A post shared by Brittany Matthews (@brittanylynne8) on Jan 21, 2019 at 5:11pm PST

Matthews runs a personal training business in the Kansas City area. She admitted that she did not make it to the gym right after the Chiefs loss to the Patriots, but still offered a few workout tips for those that did.
“If you got into the gym today and you were apart of chiefs kingdom yesterday, I applaud you👏🏼👏🏼👏🏼 Me…not so much but here’s a lovely few lower body exercises for yaaa🤩🍑 8-12 reps 3-4 sets. Save it for your next leg day and of course share with me how you love it☺️ Outfit: @lululemon Shoes: @adidas,” Matthews posted.
Matthews asked for some gym recommendations in the Orlando area. Later in the week, she posted a photo from the gym noting how excited she was to see the sun.
“Just growing the gunsss💪🏼💪🏼. Save for a later and definitely give these a go💯. 8-12 reps 3-4 sets •••••Guys, I have never been so happy to see the sun here in Orlando🤩☀️,” Matthews noted.
Mahomes and Matthews are hoping they are making a trip to the Super Bowl rather than the Pro Bowl next year.

Read More From Heavy
Brittany Matthews, Patrick Mahomes’ Girlfriend: 5 Fast Facts You Need to Know


Super Bowl Atlanta 2019: What Free Events & Concerts Are Today Sunday, Jan. 27?

Category : Atlanta , Football , NFL , Sports , Super Bowl

Super Bowl 2019 week has hit Atlanta and is headlined by a series of free concerts throughout the week. What Super Bowl festivities are going on today Sunday, January 27th? Famed producer Jermaine Dupri helped organize a full week of free concerts at Super Bowl Live in downtown Atlanta.
The shows are free to the public and take place at Centennial Olympic Park. Fans will want to use the entrance by the Ferris wheel to enter the festivities after going through security. Entry to the events is free but expect to pay a little more than normal for parking in the downtown Atlanta area.
Sunday’s schedule has a country theme and the hours for Super Bowl Live (where the free concerts are taking place) are from 12 p.m. to 7 p.m. Eastern. Today’s performances include REMakes, Jake Michael, Lyn Avenue and Seckond Chaynce. Super Bowl Live also features a number of interactive exhibits for fans of all ages.
Free concerts will also take place at Centennial Olympic Park on Monday, January 28th; Thursday, January 31st; Friday, February 1st and Saturday, February 2nd.
The NFL Super Bowl Experience will run every day through Saturday, February 2nd at the Georgia World Congress Center. Unlike Super Bowl Live, you must have a paid ticket to enter the event. Tickets on most days are $40 for adults and $10 for kids. Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday have the least expensive tickets at $20 for adults and free entry for kids. Kids are considered children ages 12 and under (with a maximum of three kids per adult) and children ages two and under are free on any day. Click here for ticket availability on the day you are interested in attending.
The Patriots and Rams are scheduled to arrive in Atlanta today. According to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, the Patriots will arrive at 4:25 p.m. while the Rams touch down at 7:40 p.m. This is closed to the public but fans can watch via the Atlanta Journal-Constitution live stream.
Here’s a look at today’s schedule of Super Bowl events in Atlanta.

Super Bowl Atlanta Events: Schedule for Sunday, January 27

PERFORMER
LOCATION
TIME (ET)

Gospel Brunch, Players Gospel Choir
Centennial Park
1:30-1:50 p.m.

REMakes
Centennial Park
2:30-3:15 p.m.

Jake Michael
Centennial Park
4:00-4:25 p.m.

Lyn Avenue
Centennial Park
5:00-5:30 p.m.

Seckond Chaynce
Centennial Park
6:00-6:45 p.m.

NFL Super Bowl Experience
World Congress Center
10 a.m.-8 p.m.

What Is the Super Bowl Experience & Super Bowl Live?
Both Super Bowl Live and the Super Bowl Experience are taking place in downtown Atlanta. What is the difference between the two events? Super Bowl Live is where the free concerts will be taking place at Centennial Olympic Park along with a few exhibits from NFL sponsors.
Super Bowl Experience requires a paid ticket and takes place at the Georgia World Congress Center also in downtown Atlanta. This features more football-related activities and games. Here’s how the NFL describes the Super Bowl Experience.
Super Bowl Experience Driven by Hyundai is the NFL’s interactive theme park celebrating Super Bowl LIII from Saturday, January 26 – Saturday, February 2 in Georgia World Congress Center (Building B). At the Super Bowl Experience, you can participate in immersive exhibits and interactive games, take photos with the Vince Lombardi Trophy, collect free NFL player and Legend autographs, get an up-close look at the collection of all 52 Super Bowl rings and more!


Super Bowl 2019 Is Not on TV Today Sunday, January 27

Category : Football , NFL , Sports , Super Bowl

Fans will have to wait another week for NFL football as the Super Bowl is not until Sunday, February 3rd. The NFL Pro Bowl is on today on ABC and ESPN at 3 p.m. Eastern. The exhibition game is the NFL’s version of an all-star contest. The two rosters feature the top players who are not injured or playing in the Super Bowl. Teams are divided by the NFC and AFC conferences.
Tom Brady rarely plays in Pro Bowls since the Patriots have a long history of competing in the Super Bowl. Former teammate Brandon Spikes noted that Brady does not feel like he is missing out.
“I had one of my best years my third season,” Spikes explained to Sports Illustrated. “I’d been playing off the charts. And I didn’t get picked to go to the Pro Bowl. I was moping around, actually in tears, and a few guys were trying to lift me up, like, ‘It’s gonna be alright man. We’ve got to worry about what’s in front of us.’ Then The Pharaoh himself walks up to me—I used to call Brady The Pharoah and he hated that—Brady walks up to me and says, ‘Hey B, you think I play this s— to go to Pro Bowls? Get it together. Get your head up. We’re trying to win rings. That’s what it is here.’ That’s where I knew what kind of environment I was in, how blessed I was.”

The Patriots Are Slight Favorites Over the Rams
For a few minutes, the Patriots were slight underdogs against the Rams when the Super Bowl line opened. Now, the spread continues to move towards New England as the Patriots are 2.5-point favorites, per OddsShark. Rams head coach Sean McVay discussed what Brady brings to the table for the Patriots.
”I think, you’re just such a fan of the game – that Tom’s [Brady] been doing it for so long, he’s certainly one of those guys when you watch – I think the type of competitor that he was,” McVay said, per Turf Show Times. “I don’t know that I probably had the perspective back then to really think about it from that standpoint. But, what you did respect, was a guy that no moment was too big for him. You talk about the mental toughness that you want to display. Whether, they were behind or whether it was in those crunch-time moments, he seemed to always be at his best.”
Here’s a look at the upcoming NFL events leading up to the Super Bowl.

Super Bowl Week Schedule for 2019

DATE
EVENT
TIME(ET)/TV

Sun. Jan 27
NFL Pro Bowl: AFC vs. NFC
3 p.m. ABC/ESPN

Mon. Jan. 28
Super Bowl Opening Night
7 p.m. NFL Network

Sat. Feb. 2
NFL Honors 2019
9 p.m. CBS

Sun. Feb. 3
Super Bowl 53: Rams vs. Patriots
6:30 p.m. CBS

 


Why The NFL Can’t Rely On Defense

In an NFL season marked by historic offensive production and a championship round that was conspicuously absent a top-10 defense,2 aficionados of low-scoring rock fights, filled with punts and field goals, have been left disappointed. The best defensive teams to make the playoffs were eliminated early in the tournament, with the Bears, Ravens and Texans all losing in the wild-card round. A week later, Joey Bosa and the emerging Chargers defense were dismantled by the Patriots, and the Cowboys — perhaps the best defensive team left in the divisional round based on their end-of-season play — lost to the Rams. Extracting the strong defensive teams with relatively weak offenses led to historically exciting playoff football, producing two overtime games in the championship round for the first time in NFL history. Now we have a Patriots and Rams Super Bowl pitting perhaps the greatest QB of all time in Tom Brady against the hottest young offensive mind in the league in Sean McVay.
We shouldn’t be surprised that great offensive teams have made it this far. Teams are more reliably good — and bad — from game to game and year to year on offense than on defense. Individual defenders often have wild swings in performance from season to season, and defensive units forecast to be dominant often end up being merely average. The Jacksonville Jaguars’ defense took them as far as the AFC championship a year ago, but that same defense led them to five wins this season. Meanwhile, performance on offense is generally easier to forecast, making investments on that side of the ball more reliable.
Even then, football is largely unpredictable. When an otherwise sure-handed Alshon Jeffery3 lets a well-thrown Nick Foles pass sail through his fingers for an interception to end the Eagles season, or when Cody Parkey double-doinks a partially blocked field goal to end the Bears’ playoff hopes, we are essentially cheering, or bemoaning, randomness. Most vexing for forecasters and league observers trying to make sense of things is that the plays that matter the most in football are often the most unpredictable. But again, this is particularly true on the defensive side of the ball.
Turnover margin is the canonical example. Teams that win the turnover battle go on to win their games at a very high rate. Home teams win about 73 percent of their games when they are plus-1 in turnover differential, according to data from ESPN’s Stats & Information Group, and the home team win rate climbs to more than 86 percent when it’s plus-2 or better.

Yet despite their clear importance, the number of turnovers a team creates in one season has no bearing on how many turnovers the team will create in the next. Both interceptions and fumbles are completely unpredictable from season to season at the team level. And this pattern holds true for defense in general. If we measure the stability of defensive stats from one year to the next,4 we find that compared with offensive performance, most defensive stats are highly variable from year to year.

Defensive performance is unpredictable
Share of performance across various team-level metrics predicted by the previous season’s performance in the regular season, 2009-2018

metric
Share predicted

Total offensive DVOA
18.9%

Offensive passing DVOA
18.8

Defensive passing DVOA
10.0

Offensive rushing DVOA
9.7

Total defensive DVOA
9.7

Defensive rushing DVOA
8.3

Sacks
3.6

Interceptions
2.4

Fumbles
1.6

Source: Football Outsiders

High-impact plays on defense turn out to be the least predictable. And while we’re by no means great at identifying which teams will succeed on offense, offensive DVOA is about twice as good at forecasting future performance as defensive DVOA.5
For teams like the Chicago Bears, who won 12 games despite fielding the 20th best offense in the NFL, this has major ramifications. The Bears were third in the league in turnover margin and third in sacks — feats we shouldn’t expect to repeat based solely on this season’s results. (Just ask the Jags.) Casting even more doubt on their ability to field an elite defense in back-to-back years, Chicago also lost its defensive coordinator, Vic Fangio, who left to become the head coach in Denver, further destabilizing the strength of the team.
Still there is some hope for lovers of the three-and-out. While rare, there are plays a defense makes that do tend to carry over from year to year. One of the most stable defensive stats is hits on the quarterback, which has a relatively impressive year-to-year r-squared of 0.21 — better even than total offensive DVOA, which is the gold standard for stability in team metrics. Quarterback hits include sacks — 43.5 percent of QB hits end in a sack, and those by themselves tend to not be predictive — but also plays in which the passer is contacted after the pass is thrown, and that contact is incredibly disruptive to a passing offense.

When a quarterback is hit, his completion percentage is affected on a throw to any part of the field.6 Teams that can generate pressure that ends with contact on the opposing QB greatly improve their chances of causing incompletions and getting off the field. And best of all, teams that are good at generating hits on the quarterback tend to stay good at it.

Philadelphia led the league in QB hits but not sacks
Total quarterback hits, sacks and expected sacks for teams’ defensive lines in the regular season, 2018

Team
qb hits
Sacks
expected sacks
Difference

Philadelphia
123
44
53.5
-9.5

Pittsburgh
110
52
47.9
+4.1

N.Y. Jets
109
39
47.4
-8.4

Seattle
105
43
45.7
-2.7

Kansas City
101
52
43.9
+8.1

L.A. Rams
99
41
43.1
-2.1

Baltimore
96
43
41.8
+1.2

Chicago
95
49
41.3
+7.7

New Orleans
95
49
41.3
+7.7

New England
93
30
40.5
-10.5

Dallas
92
39
40.0
-1.0

Washington
91
46
39.6
+6.4

Jacksonville
90
37
39.1
-2.1

Tampa Bay
88
38
38.3
-0.3

Denver
86
44
37.4
+6.6

Houston
86
43
37.4
+5.6

Minnesota
86
49
37.4
+11.6

San Francisco
85
37
37.0
+0.0

Arizona
83
49
36.1
+12.9

Buffalo
83
36
36.1
-0.1

Cleveland
83
37
36.1
+0.9

N.Y. Giants
81
30
35.2
-5.2

Cincinnati
80
34
34.8
-0.8

Tennessee
80
39
34.8
+4.2

L.A. Chargers
77
38
33.5
+4.5

Detroit
74
43
32.2
+10.8

Indianapolis
74
38
32.2
+5.8

Atlanta
73
37
31.8
+5.2

Miami
73
31
31.8
-0.8

Green Bay
71
43
30.9
+12.1

Carolina
68
35
29.6
+5.4

Oakland
48
13
20.9
-7.9

Show more rows

Sources: NFL, Elias Sports Bureau

The Eagles, Jets and the Seahawks all appear to have better days ahead of them on defense. Each team racked up more than 100 QB hits in 2018. But they also experienced bad fortune, converting their hits into sacks at a rate below what we’d expect. If these teams generate similar pressure next season, we shouldn’t be surprised to see their sack totals rise just based on reversion to the mean. Meanwhile, Chicago, New Orleans and Kansas City experienced good fortune in 2018, converting their QB hits at a rate higher than we’d expect. Assuming the defensive lines return largely intact, we probably shouldn’t be surprised to see their sack totals dip next season.
Stats like QB hits are rare to find on defense. And because of the high variance in defensive performance, teams built with a defense-first mindset end up controlling their own destinies less than we might expect. When it comes to team-building, this suggests that investments on offense are better long-term bets for stability. The results this year are particularly encouraging. Lighting up scoreboards by focusing on scoring points instead of preventing them has proved to be both successful and incredibly entertaining to watch. For this season at least, defense isn’t winning anyone a championship.
Check out our latest NFL predictions.


Move Over, Brady. The Patriots’ Running Backs Are Stealing The Show.

The identity of the New England Patriots has been not having an identity. What’s made them so difficult to beat in the Tom Brady era is an amorphous quality that has them adapting a game plan effortlessly to any opponent. So the team’s emphasis on the run versus the pass — and to whom the passes are targeted — historically has changed based on where the defense of that week’s opponent is most vulnerable.
But the Patriots’ identity this season has seemed to take on a more specific shape — particularly in the postseason. Over the past two wins, the Patriots have become a power-running, ball-control passing team that has their offense flow through their backs. And even more shockingly, they often indicate whether they are going to run or pass based on who they have on the field. They are winning less with deception, instead simply daring the defense to stop them.
This postseason, nearly 59.9 percent of New England’s offensive snaps have ended with the ball in the hands of a running back (meaning a run or a completed pass to a running back), according to ESPN’s Stats & Information Group. Since 2001, this is the fourth-highest running back usage rate among playoff teams.

New England’s running back usage rate was 12 percentage points lower during the regular season — though its share of 47.5 percent was still the sixth-highest in the NFL. Rather than dialing down their running back usage and putting the season in the hands of the NFL’s greatest quarterback, the Patriots have dialed the RB game up to 11. This increase in running back usage is the highest in the 16 postseasons of the Brady-Bill Belichick era. Belichick and his coaching staff have typically chosen to go in the other direction — in 12 of those postseason appearances, the rate of running back touches went down. That includes last season, when it declined from 49.5 percent during the regular season to just 38 percent in their playoff run, which ended with a pass-happy Super Bowl shootout loss to the Eagles.
And not only can the defense reasonably guess that the ball is going to a running back, it can determine with an even higher degree of certainty whether Brady is going to hand off or pass depending on which running back is in the huddle.
In the regular season, when Sony Michel was on the field, the Patriots ran the ball 75.9 percent of the time. But when the Patriots subbed in James White, the Pats ran on only 23.8 percent of plays, while the Pats threw the ball the other 76.2 percent of the time. In the postseason, rather than seeking to cross up the opponent, their tendencies have somehow gotten even more extreme: 83.8 percent of plays with Michel on the field have been runs, while 89.2 percent of snaps with White have been throws. In the process, the Pats scored 78 points in their two wins and rolled up 1,022 yards, well above their per-game regular-season averages of 27.3 points (fourth most) and 393.4 yards (fifth). So, the game plan may be predictable, but it’s working.
(When necessary, the Patriots do have a back that they can deploy without strongly indicating run or pass. With Rex Burkhead on the field, the Patriots threw the ball on 53.2 percent of plays during the regular season. And in the postseason, that’s risen to just 55 percent.)
The Patriots have long championed passing to a running back, given that they drafted White in the fourth round in 2014 and quickly made him a receiving specialist with more career catches than rushes. But this heavy reliance on the run is a new identity for them. As recently as the 2015 season, their rate of running back usage in the postseason was just 24.1 percent, which ranked above only the 2011 Lions among all 216 playoff teams in the sample. Last year’s team ranked 158th in postseason running back usage. And their Super Bowl-winning edition in 2016 was 132nd. The last time a Brady-led Patriots playoff team was this running back-centric was in 2004, when the team had Corey Dillon and Kevin Faulk. With 54 percent (21st) running-back usage, that team beat the Eagles in Super Bowl XXXIX.
It’s unknown whether this transformation was by necessity or design. There’s no doubt that the passing game is without its full arsenal. No one expected a healthy Rob Gronkowski to virtually disappear as a receiving threat (149 yards in his past five games, though 79 came in the AFC championship). And the tight end’s ineffectiveness comes after former All-Pro wideout Josh Gordon in December first “stepped away” and then was suspended indefinitely from football for violating the terms of his reinstatement after he was previously suspended under the NFL substance-abuse policy.
So bereft of game-breaking receiving threats, the backs via Michel’s running and White’s pass-catching have had to fill the void in a passing game that was left in “shambles.”
Brady, for his part, has really ramped up his checkdown game. During the regular season, the Pats connected on just 74.8 percent of passes to backs (mainly White) within 5 yards of the line of scrimmage, which ranked the Patriots 28th in the NFL. New England’s success rate11 on these plays was just 49.7 percent, barely above the NFL average of 45.9 percent. But in the postseason, those numbers have climbed to a 85.2 percent on 27 passes to backs, including seven first downs, and a playoff-leading play success rate of 63 percent.
Even though running their offense through their backs was a trademark of New England’s regular-season success, we can’t dismiss the possibility that it just perfectly aligned with the weaknesses of its playoff opponents. The Patriots’ divisional-round foe, the Chargers, were reasonably stout against the run (12th in yards allowed per rush); but they had transitioned to a defense featuring smaller defensive backs in place of linebackers. And they were just 24th in the regular season on defensive play success on passes to running backs. The Chiefs were poor both against the run (31st in yards allowed per rush) and in preventing success on running back passes (31st).
The Rams are a mixed bag, actually ranking last in yards allowed per rush but first in preventing success on tosses to backs. That could end up meaning a lot more Michel and a lot less White in the Super Bowl. Or, given the Patriots history, this could all be an elaborate con — and Brady may cross up Los Angeles completely by throwing early and often to Gronkowski and his wide receivers.
Check out our latest NFL predictions.


NFL Odds: Week 9 Betting Lines & Trends

Category : Football , NFL , Sports , Sports Betting

One of the greatest post-game rants by an NFL head coach ever was Monday, October 16, 2006, in Phoenix. The Arizona Cardinals blew a 23-3 third-quarter lead and lost to the unbeaten Chicago Bears. Cards coach Denny Green then spouted the infamous: “They are who we thought they were!” speech.
What does that have to do with Week 9 of the 2018 season? The Bears are 10-point favorites on the NFL Week 9 odds at sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com at the Buffalo Bills on Sunday. It’s the biggest Chicago has been favored on the road since that Arizona classic. The Bills are easily the NFL’s worst offensive team, on a short week, and have to turn back to interception machine Nathan Peterman at quarterback due to injuries. Chicago has won just three of its past 19 road games straight up.
Two games clearly stand apart in Week 9: Los Angeles Rams at New Orleans Saints in the Sunday afternoon late window, and Green Bay Packers at New England Patriots in the prime-time game. The former could be an NFC title game preview, while the latter a Super Bowl preview – although obviously, both can’t be true because the Packers also play in the NFC.
The Rams are the NFL’s only unbeaten team – after barely escaping the Packers last Sunday – and 8-0 for the first time since 1969, which was right before the AFL-NFL merger. Los Angeles is the 25th team in the Super Bowl era to start 8-0, and eight of the previous 24 won it all. Alas, the Rams are 1.5-point underdogs at the 6-1 Saints. The winner has a crucial tiebreaker for the NFC’s top seed. New Orleans is 2-6 ATS in the past eight against the Rams.
Two of the NFL’s greatest quarterbacks in history will meet for only the second and quite possibly last time when the Packers visit New England. Aaron Rodgers and Tom Brady previously met in 2014 and the Packers won at home. In 2010 when the teams played, Rodgers was hurt. Hard to believe they haven’t met in a Super Bowl, and time is running out on Brady’s career.
The Patriots are 6-point betting favorites for a game that should draw the biggest regular-season TV ratings of the year. Green Bay is just 3-7 ATS in its past 10 overall and its playoff hopes will be in jeopardy with another loss.
History varies on what teams do when a head coach is fired midseason. Some find a spark, some go in the tank and some just continue on as they were. The Cleveland Browns will find out Sunday what that’s like as they play for the first time since ownership fired Hue Jackson along with offensive coordinator Todd Haley. The Browns are +9 against the visiting Kansas City Chiefs. The Chiefs have the AFC’s best record at 7-1 but are 0-3 ATS in the past three in this series.
Check out OddsShark on Twitter and Instagram or head to YouTube for betting picks and analysis on this week’s top games. You can also download the free odds tracker app.


San Antonio NFL Team: Best Potential Franchise Names

Category : NFL , San Antonio , Sports

Fans of San Antonio sports may want to gear up for the future because it apparently could include an NFL team. While the city currently has five professional sports teams as well as minor league and plenty of college athletics, the latest rumor points to the next move being a football team.
In a recent interview with RJ Marquez of KSAT, San Antonio Mayor Ron Nirenberg revealed the news. He’s expecting an NFL team in town within the next 10 years.
“I really believe the momentum that San Antonio has experienced over the last few years, most recently with the announcement of major jobs coming to Brooks City Base as well as the downtown UTSA campus and the rise of Texas A&M, the community college districts as well, you will see an NFL team in San Antonio in the next 10 years.”
The mayor went on to cite the economic growth of the city and the fact that professional teams and leagues are “looking to San Antonio as a place where they can find success.” It’s an eye-opening statement, but one that does make sense. The San Antonio Spurs have had major success in the NBA and are beloved by the city. There’s no question NFL owners would surely take note of that.
So with the rumblings of this future move, we’re going to take a look at a few possible team names for a San Antonio NFL franchise.

Potential NFL Team Names for San Antonio Franchise
*Note: There is no factual basis behind any of these suggestions, it’s all in good fun.
San Antonio Brigades
The popular city of San Antonio is known for a wide range of things, but they are certainly a military city. So what better way to pay homage to that than by naming an NFL team in a fashion that relates to the military? The name has a pretty nice ring to it as well, and the fanbase could come up with a few pretty unique nicknames for themselves.
San Antonio Diamondbacks
According to the National Park Service, the city has quite a few pretty terrifying snakes. And while quite a few of them have unique names, I’m not sure we can get away with the “Diamondback Water Snakes” or “Diamondback Rattlesnakes.” So, just the Diamondbacks will have to do. Sure, the MLB team in Arizona may not be thrilled, but it’s still a solid name.
San Antonio Toros
People don’t forget about the Toros. As W. Scott Bailey of the San Antonio Business Journal pointed out, the Toros were a semi-pro football team back in 1967. As Bailey so delicately put it, the team was “first looked upon simply as another schedule filler for the fledgling Texas Professional Football League.”
Full disclosure here, I wasn’t actually alive when the Toros played, but it seems they drew a big audience and turned out to be a good team. So, if an NFL team does come to San Antonio, why not bring back the popular name and memory that comes with it?
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Patrick Mahomes Is Proving That QBs From Gimmicky College Offenses Can Succeed In The NFL

When the Kansas City Chiefs drafted Patrick Mahomes 10th overall in the 2017 draft, scouts lauded his work ethic and impressive arm strength — but they still had doubts about Mahomes’s NFL future. It wasn’t personal; it had to do with the high-flying college offense Mahomes played in at Texas Tech and old misgivings about how quarterbacks from pass-happy systems would translate to the pros.
All of that seems silly now, of course. In truth, Mahomes came along at just the right moment: the moment when NFL teams are finally embracing offensive elements they used to consider mere collegiate gimmicks. Now Mahomes and his MVP-caliber performance through eight games have the potential to forever eradicate questions about air-it-out college passers.
The history of college QBs with video-game statistics traces its way back decades before Mahomes lit up Big 12 defenses for 5,052 yards as a junior for the Red Raiders in 2016. According to Sports-Reference.com’s data, the first modern1 major-college quarterback to break 4,000 yards in a season was BYU’s Jim McMahon in 1980 — one of multiple passers to crack the milestone in Provo under the guidance of innovative coach LaVell Edwards. (Robbie Bosco, Ty Detmer — three times! — and Steve Sarkisian would also break that barrier over the next decade-and-a-half, while future Hall of Famer Steve Young barely missed it in 1983.)
Around the same time, other similarly pass-centric offenses were piling up big numbers, too. As the 1980s came to a close, Houston run-and-shoot passers Andre Ware and David Klingler racked up stats that still defy the imagination. That same offensive scheme would migrate to the NFL in the 1990s and find new life in the 2000s with Hawaii coach June Jones, who turned Warriors QBs Timmy Chang and Colt Brennan into ultra-prolific passers. Elsewhere in the spread, Utah’s Scott Mitchell had a field day in Jim Fassel’s wide-open system in 1988, while Drew Brees, Chris Redman and Tim Rattay thrived in the ’90s while running various versions of the single-back scheme championed by coaches such as Purdue’s Joe Tiller.
And we haven’t even gotten to the quarterbacks who played in the air raid system of Hal Mumme and his many proteges. The air raid borrowed elements from both the run-and-shoot and Edwards’s BYU offense, forging a passing playbook that has obliterated opposing defenses. Playing for Mumme at Kentucky, Tim Couch threw for 4,275 yards and 36 TDs in 1998, while Kliff Kingsbury joined the 5,000-yard club directing Mike Leach’s Texas Tech offense in 2002. Leach was just getting started: From 2002 to 2008, five different Red Raider QBs broke 4,000 yards and 30 touchdowns, with Graham Harrell tossing for 48 TDs and 5,705 yards (second-most in the FBS modern era) in 2007 and fifth-year senior B.J. Symons, Kingsbury’s former backup, going for a ridiculous 52 scores and 5,833 yards (first in the modern era) in 2003.
Leach was no longer in Lubbock by the time Mahomes arrived on campus — the coach had moved to Washington State, where he’s been rewriting the Pac-12 record books — but the young QB learned from the next-best thing: Kingsbury himself, now Texas Tech’s head coach. Kingsbury is part of a whole generation of quarterbacks-turned-coaches who came up in the air raid and spread it like wildfire across the college and high school ranks. Coaching the Red Raiders, he helped Mahomes become one of the most prolific passers in Big 12 history.
As the author S.C. Gwynne wrote about in his excellent book “The Perfect Pass,” these similar (yet distinct) strains of aggressive passing all came together to change the sport forever, dragging it out of an antiquated era of primarily run-based football and making it into the aerial showcase we see today. Nowadays, the college game is a passing game, one in which 86 percent of snaps come in the shotgun, and even Alabama — long religiously balanced on offense — is averaging nearly 350 yards per game in the air.
Just how much have extreme pass-first philosophies taken over college football in recent years? Kingsbury became only the third modern member of the 5,000-yard club (joining Detmer and Klingler) when he broke that barrier in 2002. Sixteen years later, the group has expanded its membership fivefold (including Mahomes), with current Leach QB Gardner Minshew on pace to join this season as well.2
But for all the collegiate success these prolific passers enjoyed, pro front offices became fearful of handing them the keys to an NFL offense. And not without cause: In the 1980s and ’90s, a number of the wide-open college passing game’s early adopters were picked highly in the draft, at least partly on the basis of their big NCAA numbers — and few were especially successful in the NFL. BYU’s Marc Wilson and McMahon, Houston’s Ware and Klingler, plus Trent Dilfer (who played at Fresno State under Tiller’s mentor, Jim Sweeney), Ryan Leaf (who starred at Washington State under spread-passing guru Mike Price), Kentucky’s Couch and Marshall’s Chad Pennington were all taken among the draft’s top picks. Pennington and McMahon had the best careers of the bunch with more than 60 points of Approximate Value (AV) apiece — the mark of a solid, if not Hall of Fame-worthy, career — while the rest went varying levels of journeyman or bust in the NFL.3
(Young, it bears mentioning, is a special case. Because he went to the USFL out of BYU, he was selected in the NFL’s supplemental draft, so he doesn’t get lumped in with the group above. Young easily had the best career of any pass-happy college product since the 1980s.)

Most stat-stuffing college QBs of the 1980s-90s fizzled out
Career NFL Approximate Value (AV) for college passers who had at least 150 more adjusted yards per game than the Division I-A average and played in a notable college offensive system, 1975-2000

Best College Season
NFL Draft

Player
College
System
Year
Yds
TD
Year
Pick
NFL AV

Chad Pennington
Marshall
Spread
1999
3799
37
2000
18
62

Chris Redman
Louisville
Spread
1998
4042
29
2000
75
10

Tim Couch
Kentucky
Air raid
1998
4275
36
1999
1
32

Tim Rattay
La. Tech
Spread
1998
4943
46
2000
212
13

Ryan Leaf
Wash. St.
Spread
1997
3968
34
1998
2
1

Danny Wuerffel
Florida
Fun ‘n’ gun
1996
3625
39
1997
99
6

Josh Wallwork
Wyoming
Spread
1996
4090
33


0

Mike Maxwell
Nevada
Pistol
1995
3611
33


0

Trent Dilfer
Fresno State
Spread
1993
3799
30
1994
6
60

Jimmy Klingler
Houston
Run and Shoot
1992
3818
32


0

Craig Erickson
Miami-FL
Spread
1990
3363
22
1992
86
22

David Klingler
Houston
Run and Shoot
1990
5140
54
1992
6
11

Ty Detmer
BYU
Vertical
1990
5188
41
1992
230
15

Andre Ware
Houston
Run and Shoot
1989
4699
46
1990
7
5

Anthony Dilweg
Duke
Fun ‘n’ gun
1988
3824
24
1989
74
4

Scott Mitchell
Utah
Spread
1988
4322
29
1990
93
53

Robbie Bosco
BYU
Vertical
1984
3875
33
1986
72
0

Steve Young*
BYU
Vertical
1983
3902
33


171

Jim McMahon
BYU
Vertical
1980
4571
47
1982
5
71

Marc Wilson
BYU
Vertical
1979
3720
29
1980
15
40

* Selected in NFL Supplemental Draft
Sources: pro-football-reference.com, sports-reference.com/cfb

Over time, the prevailing notion became that a quarterback’s college statistics were as much a liability as an asset, a sign that some coach’s gimmicky scheme had propped up a mediocre talent, giving him numbers he had no real business producing — ones that almost seemed like they were specifically designed to deceive scouts. And in fact, Mumme did base the air raid in part around the notion of making an elite quarterback talent unnecessary for passing success. “If he could design a system that featured passing and could be run by average or sub-average football players who could not throw like Dan Fouts or Jim McMahon,” Gwynne wrote of Mumme’s philosophy, “he could truly change the game of football.”
Eventually, NFL teams all but gave up on drafting air raid or run-and-shoot products. When Kingsbury broke the 5,000-yard barrier, all it got him was a lousy sixth-round draft slot. (Unlike that other Patriots sixth-round pick, Kingsbury’s career transitioned to coaching not long thereafter.) Chang and Brennan combined to throw 248 college touchdowns at Hawaii … and neither threw a pass in the NFL. Likewise, Symons and Harrell both nearly cracked 6,000 yards in a season … and Symons wasn’t taken until the eighth-to-last pick of the 2004 draft, while Harrell wasn’t drafted at all. The system was unstoppable, but the players in it were easily brushed off.

For most of the 2000s, big college numbers got you nowhere
Career NFL Approximate Value (AV) for air raid or run-and-shoot passers who had at least 150 more adjusted yards per game than the Division I-A average, 2000-07

Best college Season
NFL Draft

Player
College
System
Year
Yds
TD
Year
Pick
NFL AV

Graham Harrell
Texas Tech
Air raid
2007
5705
48


0

Chase Holbrook
NM State
Air raid
2006
4619
34


0

Colt Brennan
Hawaii
Run and shoot
2006
5549
58
2008
186
0

Cody Hodges
Texas Tech
Air raid
2005
4197
31


0

Sonny Cumbie
Texas Tech
Air raid
2004
4742
32


0

B.J. Symons
Texas Tech
Air raid
2003
5833
52
2004
248
0

Kliff Kingsbury
Texas Tech
Air raid
2002
5017
45
2003
201
0

Nick Rolovich
Hawaii
Run and shoot
2001
3361
34


0

Sources: pro-football-reference.com, sports-reference.com/cfb

Here’s how Gwynne summarized the attitude surrounding air raid passers by 2008, the season in which Leach and Harrell’s Red Raiders pulled off a monumental upset over No. 1-ranked Texas: “The proof that this was a ‘system,’ commentators all agreed, was that hardly any of Leach’s players, and none of his quarterbacks, ever made it in the NFL,” he wrote. “They were merely products of a scheme that magically spun dross into gold, mediocre quarterbacks into NCAA record-holders.”
Because of that perception, the early to mid-2000s were a wasteland for QBs from wide-open college offenses. Some more traditional spread passers got more traction — Byron Leftwich and Rex Grossman were both first-round picks out of vertical passing systems in college, though neither ultimately lived up to early expectations. A feedback loop was established in which the shortcomings of past system passers were used as an excuse to discount current ones, whose lack of NFL success was in turn held up as further evidence that the model simply couldn’t work in the pros.
But more recently, the tide has begun to turn in favor of the college spread passer. First, Sam Bradford of the Oklahoma Sooners — where Leach worked as offensive coordinator in 19994 — was picked No. 1 in the 2010 draft. Bradford wasn’t highly regarded out of high school, either, but he passed for 4,720 yards and 50 touchdowns while leading the Sooners to the 2008 BCS title game. More importantly, he had the size and other attributes to quell concerns about the system he came out of. While Bradford’s NFL career hasn’t quite lived up to the expectations of the No. 1 overall pick, his acceptance by the scouts — and his subsequently decent NFL career — began to usher in the era of collegiate system passers as legitimate NFL prospects.
Around the same time, the NFL itself began to change. In a shocking upset in 2008, the Dolphins famously used the Wildcat — a literal college scheme — to run roughshod over the New England Patriots. Spread formations featuring the shotgun and/or the so-called 11 personnel — one running back, one tight end and three wide receivers — started being used on the majority of NFL plays. The lines between “pro-style” and college offenses began to blur even further with the quick success of mobile, read-option QB prospects such as Cam Newton, Colin Kaepernick, Russell Wilson and Robert Griffin III, each of whom thrived with plays that borrowed heavily from university playbooks. While defenses ended up adapting to some of these innovations — and Griffin and Kaepernick’s careers have fizzled due to, respectively, injuries and politics — the Philadelphia Eagles used college-style run-pass option tactics to win the Super Bowl with a backup QB in February.
As Kevin Clark recently wrote for The Ringer, the NFL’s scheme wars are over, and the spread — with its influences ranging from Edwards at BYU to Tiller at Purdue, Jones at Hawaii and Mumme at Kentucky — won the day. Against this backdrop, former big-number college passers have begun to thrive at the game’s highest level. Case Keenum, whose resume in Houston’s air raid system included a 5,631-yard, 48-TD season in 2011, went from an undrafted backup to one of the NFL’s best passers last season.5 Jared Goff, who starred in Cal’s “Bear raid” offense under coach Sonny Dykes (a Leach disciple), has a 104.6 passer rating and a 19-4 record over the past two seasons with the Los Angeles Rams. Oklahoma product Baker Mayfield parlayed his college performance in Lincoln Riley’s system into the No. 1 overall pick in the draft; he’s currently holding his own as a rookie with the Cleveland Browns.
All of this might culminate in the success of Mahomes, whose 22-AV pace this year would place him second only to Steve Young (peak AV: 23) among the best NFL quarterbacking seasons by pass-heavy college-system products. Between Mahomes’s own considerable skill set, the amazing amount of talent around him in Kansas City and the coaching genius of Andy Reid — himself drawing on many tricks and ruses from the college game — the Chiefs’ young passer is off to maybe the best career start of any quarterback ever, establishing himself as the MVP front-runner in the season’s first half. In the process, he may be driving the final stake into the heart of the myth that crazy college passing stats are the harbinger of NFL failure, or that playing QB in a wide-open scheme makes you unfit to run an offense in the pros.
If so, it would be the crowning moment of a trend decades in the making. We can trace the rise, fall and return of the spread-system quarterback prospect if we map out the career-high AV and draft value invested in FBS (or Div. I-A) passers who averaged at least 150 more adjusted passing yards than the NCAA average in a season and played in an air-it-out college scheme — whether it be the air raid, run-and-shoot, spread option, single-back, Fun ’n’ Gun, pistol or BYU vertical offense:

After the stellar success of Young and some decent seasons by Mitchell and McMahon, the failures of Klingler and Ware set off a long drought for prolific college system passers. But the recent rehabilitation of the archetype is evident on the right side of the timeline, with Mahomes currently soaring highest.
Fewer than 10 starts into his pro career, it may yet be premature to anoint Mahomes as the college-style passing attack’s permanent NFL savior. But as systems such as the air raid spread further throughout the college ranks, and as NFL teams show more and more willingness to embrace those same offensive concepts, it seems likely that traditional concerns about spread-system quarterback prospects will fade into oblivion. All it took was four decades of ups and downs, changing schemes and adapted attitudes — and miles and miles worth of college passing stats.


Dalvin Cook Fantasy: Should You Start or Sit the Vikings RB in Week 9?

If you’re a fantasy football owner of Minnesota Vikings running back Dalvin Cook, it’s been a tough season thus far. Unfortunately for the second-year running back who flashed tremendous upside last season, he’s been unable to get fully healthy and stay on the field. But with a crucial Week 9 divisional matchup against the Detroit Lions ahead, it seems Cook may have a real chance to return to action.
Although the 23-year-old has missed the last four games, a positive outlook was provided Friday morning. NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport joined Good Morning Football and spoke about the Vikings running back and his potential to return this week.
“My understanding is that Dalvin Cook is nearing a return to the field. We’ll have to see how he makes it through practice today, on Friday, the last big-time practice of the week. But it is trending in that direction that Dalvin Cook actually could for real, seriously, I’m not joking this time, be on the field for the Vikings.” Rapoport told Good Morning Football.
“It’s been on again off again several times, remember he returned for the Thursday night game, re-injured his hamstring, we thought he was going to play a couple weeks ago but was not able to go. They do have the bye after this week, so if they want to be cautious they could do that, but it really does seem like Dalvin Cook has a legitimate and real chance to play this Sunday.”
So the big question becomes, if the Vikings running back is out there this Sunday, how should fantasy football owners approach the situation? We’ve seen Cook suffer setbacks and even struggle at times this year, so let’s break down the start-sit debate around the young back.

Should You Start or Sit Dalvin Cook in Week 9?
Obviously, this entire conversation comes down to Cook being active for the game, which seems likely at this point. Things can change quickly, but for the time being he’s trending upwards and that’s a good sign. As far as the Vikings game against the Lions goes, that’s a big part of what makes this debate even more interesting.
On the season, the Lions have struggled mightily against opposing running backs. They’ve given up 959 rushing yards on 173 carries (5.5 yards per carry) along with 34 receptions for 305 yards and seven combined touchdowns. It’s hard to make an argument that Cook doesn’t make sense as at least a name to take a chance on in the bulk of fantasy leagues.
The big concern comes down to his production. Cook has 36 carries in three games for just 98 yards (2.7 yards per carry) while catching nine passes for 107 yards. Considering he has dealt with injuries, I don’t believe the Vikings would put Cook back on the field one week ahead of their bye unless he was nearly 100 percent healthy. In turn, he makes sense as a potential fantasy option this week.

Update
As Ben Goessling of the Star Tribune revealed, the Vikings do plan to play Cook, but he will be on a limited snap count.

Sources have said the Vikings plan to play Dalvin Cook on a limited snap count Sunday. They went into the Cardinals game with a similar plan, before Cook’s hamstring wasn’t feeling good that Sunday. He was on the practice field again Friday, though, and the hope is he’ll play.
— Ben Goessling (@GoesslingStrib) November 2, 2018

I’d tread lightly with using Cook, but do believe with the six teams on bye this week that he’s a potential flex play in 12-team leagues and a RB2/flex option in larger leagues. The latest news that Cook will be on a snap count is somewhat concerning, but I do still believe he warrants flex consideration based on the number of bye weeks.
It would also be incredibly wise to monitor the Vikings running back’s status ahead of the game. There doesn’t seem to be much of a chance of a setback here, but any updates from pregame warmups Sunday could be worth considering.
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