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2020 NFL Draft Review FINAL - AFC West + links to all divisions - Analysis and Career Predictions for Each Team's Draft Class

The AFC West is the final division in the 2020 NFL Draft review series. Catch up on the other installments of this 2020 NFL Draft review series with the NFC West, AFC South, NFC South, AFC East, NFC East, AFC North, and NFC North.
Every year after the draft, I write a way-too-long review of each team’s draft. The purpose of this draft review is to give predictions for the careers of each team’s drafted players. I’ve watched film of each player I’m commenting on. Draft grades are overly optimistic and unrealistic. Unlike the majority of post-draft coverage out there, I will pick busts. Keep in mind that 23.4% of all first-round picks bust.
Let me preface this by saying: predicting the career of an NFL draft pick is a ridiculous exercise. There is so much unknown that goes into whether a player succeeds or fails at the next level. I can make educated guesses based on team situation, supporting cast, and research about the prospect’s character and work ethic, but there’s a reason teams make so many mistakes every year. You simply don’t know for sure how a player will react to being a pro. Injuries are also a huge factor in the fate of a player and impossible to predict accurately. Nevertheless, this is a fun exercise and gives us a chance to review how each team approached the draft.

Overview

Before we start, here are some of my general thoughts on the 2020 NFL Draft.
Quickly on the broadcast - they did a great job given the circumstances. The production quality was great and they did more actual analysis than usual. My main gripe with draft coverage every year is that they don’t show incredible highlights (they somehow didn’t show the Aaron Dobson catch in 2013). This year, they showed more footage of actual football and I appreciated that. The only two negatives for me were the constant tragic stories and Booger McFarland.
Oh, and if any poor soul bet on Justin Jefferson Under 21.5 draft position, ESPN should apologize to you. They showed him on the phone celebrating right before cutting to Goodell announcing the 21st pick - Jalen Reagor to the Eagles. Jefferson was of course on the phone with the Vikings, who took him at 22. Brutal beat.
As for the draft, remember this tweet about mock drafts being “wronger” than ever? Funny, this was probably the chalkiest first-round ever in the internet age. Nothing was truly shocking to me, including the Packers trading up for Jordan Love (more on that here). I had Damon Arnette in the first round in my first mock draft this draft season. I wrote an article lauding Jordyn Brooks as an undervalued commodity. Noah Ibinoghene going in the first was surprising, I suppose. But there was no Clelin Ferrell at No. 4 or Tyson Alualu at No. 10. It speaks to how the media and internet scouts might be catching up to, or God forbid actually influencing the teams.
So here is the next installment of my annual draft review. Each player will receive their career prediction in parentheses following their name. For example: Joe Burrow (5). Here's how the picks break down:
5 – All-Pro: Starter who has performed at an elite level at his position. 4 – Above-Average: Starter who has been among the best at his position. 3 – Solid: Starter or valuable back-up with significant positive production. 2 – Replacement Level: Below-average starter or back-up who made minor contributions. 1 – Bust: Player who didn’t amount to anything positive.
Next up, the AFC West.

Las Vegas Raiders

The Raiders came into the draft with needs at wide receiver and cornerback. They wasted no time addressing those positions and ended up taking two corners and two-and-a-half wide receivers total. I think they aced this draft, but not for the reasons you might think.
Las Vegas opted for speed over production by selecting Henry Ruggs III (3) as the first receiver off the board. Ruggs played a supporting role alongside lead dog Jerry Jeudy at Alabama, but ran a 4.28 at the combine and aced the draft process. His speed popped on film, as he routinely cribbed slants and ran by people in the SEC. Ruggs was lauded for his competitiveness and edge, particularly as a blocker, which directly conflicts with my notes of his film. I noted missed blocks, him getting tossed, and labeled him as “weak.” Perhaps I watched the wrong games or my standards are too high.
As far as receiving the football, Ruggs was fantastic, making highlight diving catches and using his hops to climb the later and show off his above-average hands. There are two major unknowns with Ruggs - how he will deal with being the No. 1 option, and how he will develop as a route-runner. Unfortunately, I do not believe he will live up to his physical attributes. Derek Carr ranked 25th in Air Yards Per Completion last year, and while accurate, has never excelled at utilizing a deep threat. I also have a hard time endorsing a player who was not the number one receiver on his own team to be the number one receiver in a loaded draft class.
At No. 19, the Raiders took Damon Arnette (3), which was a surprise to some. I had Arnette going in the first round in my first mock draft of the year and liked his film more than most. His skillset is that of a quality starting corner, despite unorthodox technique and tendencies. Arnette’s play was up-and-down at Ohio State, in part due to being thrown at so much. He showed weird stances and punches from all different angles and body alignments in press coverage, but generally got the job done.
At the NFL level, if unique individual technique is effective, coaches don’t care. Arnette is more comfortable in press than off and will give up the inside. Most importantly, he can get his head around defending vertical routes in man. He was competitive and alert on film, flying down in run support and showing the necessary swagger and short memory needed from a pro corner. He’s going to get beat, but I like his transition to the league as someone who’s been picked on a bit but kept getting better.
At No. 80, the Raiders took one of my favorite players in the draft in Lynn Bowden Jr (4). Lynn Bowden Jr. played quarterback and receiver at Kentucky and is most known for throwing a punch in a pre-game scuffle before the Belk Bowl. Bowden’s film is that of a grown man with an edge. His receiver film shows nothing in terms of advanced route-running, but his speed absolutely plays and his hands are good enough. His quarterback and returner film shows joystick moves in the open field and elusiveness that rivals Lamb and Shenault. I don’t know if he’s a pro wide receiver (neither do the Raiders), but I’ve seen too many converted quarterbacks have success to bet against his natural football traits. I expect Jon Gruden to use him all over the field and for him to be one of the most explosive swiss army-knife weapons of this generation.
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With the very next pick, the Raiders again took one of my favorite players in Bryan Edwards (4) of South Carolina. Edwards was the No. 15 overall player on my board so I obviously loved this pick. Aside from injury concerns and a few miscommunication issues working the boundary with his quarterback, Edwards’ film was outstanding. He’s technically sound with strong hands, tremendous contact balance, evidence of beating press, and great concentration skills. As a physical run-after-catch threat, he’s dynamic and strong. He is the prototype big-bodied NFL receiver in terms of traits, plucking the ball and transitioning as a runner smoothly. I predict he’ll be better than Ruggs. He just needs to get and stay healthy.
I think Tanner Muse (2) can be a special-teamer (tripping up J.K. Dobbins was a gigantic play in the National Semifinal), and John Simpson (3) was a steal. I love mauler guards who fall due to a lack of quickness. Simpson is physical and sometimes dominant in the run game. His stance gives away pass or run, but he can be coached and work on his body to develop into a starting guard.
The Raiders took yet another one of “my guys” in Amik Robertson (4) at pick No. 139. I had Robertson ranked 75th overall and featured him in this article. Robertson is tiny and his film isn’t without flaws, but I am always a proponent of taking players whose main knock is lack of size. I think Robertson will struggle with the brute size and strength of NFL football, and I actually don’t think he’s that fast (didn’t run a 40). But as far as being a pure football player and having coverage instincts and ball skills, Robertson is unbelievable.
Robertson plays big, talks a lot, and backs it up. He jacked up the 6-6 Collin Johnson at the line of scrimmage and almost mossed No. 16 on Texas. He’s able to match everything, has a smooth pedal, and gives up almost no separation in man. Slight jersey tug but disciplined hands play in the league. His production at the college level was unreal - 14 interceptions, 2 blocked kicks, 3 defensive touchdowns, and an onside kick return for a touchdown. I worry about his tackling, but I project him to be one of the best slot cover men in the league.
The Raiders chose to stick with Derek Carr and Marcus Mariota, despite having enough draft ammo to move around and take one of the quarterbacks. I loved what they did with most of their picks. Carr now has more weapons and zero excuses. This is a huge year for him.

Los Angeles Chargers

The Chargers came into the draft with primary needs at quarterback and inside linebacker. They addressed those needs in the first round, selecting the No. 3 and No. 8 players on my board.
The madmen did it. They took Justin Herbert (4) at 6. After being inundated with negative Justin Herbert analysis, I went back for a second look at the former Oregon Duck. In terms of college performance, Herbert’s film is reminiscent of recent busts, including Mitchell Trubisky. He lacks ideal anticipation, inexplicably misses some throws, and wasn’t always trusted by his coaching staff. It is also fair to wonder about his transition, coming from a screen-heavy, spread system at Oregon.
However, evaluating NFL prospects is not just about college performance - it’s about projecting traits. Scouting quarterbacks is difficult, and there’s a reason so many teams miss. A lot of times teams fall in love with physical traits such as arm talent and are burned because the player struggles with the complexities, speed, and decision-making difficulty of the NFL game. I believe a critical look at Herbert’s film through the lens of traits-based scouting gets him to potential franchise quarterback level worthy of a high pick. Like with all prospects, his ultimate NFL fate will come down to a lot of surrounding and unknown factors such as situation, coaching, and intangibles. I will pick my No. 3 overall prospect to succeed. His traits are that of a franchise quarterback and his intelligence and athleticism will help his transition.
Arm talent, throwing on the run, short-level accuracy, ball handling, and mobility make Justin Herbert the complete package in terms of traits. He poorly placed just one throw under five yards in the games I watched. He has good footwork, touch, and excels with play-action. The translatable trait that makes me confident is his ability to look like the best player on the field in the face of pressure. Herbert can move around and deliver strikes on the run or simply use his legs as a weapon. He also showed the ability to go through full-field "rainbow" reads. Players with his running ability can afford to not be the most accurate passers in the world. He showed off his rushing skills in the Rose Bowl win against Wisconsin.
I understand the negatives, but with good coaching, I think Herbert can develop into a franchise quarterback as a mix between Josh Allen and Cam Newton.
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After selecting their quarterback at 6, the Chargers traded up for the best inside linebacker in the draft in Kenneth Murray (5). Murray had a productive and storied career at Oklahoma, displaying all the traits of a great pro off-ball linebacker for the Sooners. His speed and instincts make him a sideline to sideline threat, and he has the strength on contact of a thumper. His tackling technique is terrific, pointing to his ability to be coachable. He’s a little out of control at times, but he’s better than Devin White. The move up was worth it.
The Chargers want to bring Justin Herbert along slowly, and will look to make the playoffs with Tyrod Taylor as the starter. The surrounding talent is enough to take them there. With young stud defenders at all three levels, the Bolts just need to build an offensive line and add weaponry for Herbert to compete with the Chiefs in a few years.

Denver Broncos

The Broncos came into the draft with a clear plan - get Drew Lock some weapons. To say they achieved their goal would be an understatement. Their haul included my No. 7 overall player and my No. 1 tight end.
Jerry Jeudy (5) suffered from some prospect fatigue as analysts scrambled to poke holes in his game. While most of his success did come from the slot at Alabama, it’s not like his traits don’t translate to the outside. In Denver, Jeudy can man the slot primarily, whereas if he went to the Jets he may have had to learn an entirely new position. The only question about Jeudy is whether or not Drew Lock is good enough to allow him to reach his extremely high ceiling.
Jeudy has amazing quickness, length, and top-notch speed, but is known most for being an outstanding route-runner. He is the best route-runner I have ever scouted in college. He understands the nuances of changing speeds, is quick with a plan, and shows an uncommon ability to separate that surely translates to the pro game. He’ll be a star if Drew Lock proves to be competent.
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With their second pick, the Broncos doubled down on wide receiver with K.J. Hamler (2) of Penn State. Hamler is the prototypical deep threat and an excellent complement to Jeudy and Courtland Sutton in theory. He might be too small for the NFL, but his college film shows route-running ability on slot fades and out routes that rival most pros. His main weaknesses are due to his lack of size, as he struggles in contested catch situations and is dominated by strength in terms of ball security.
Hamler made a couple of tremendous sliding catches but does not display much in terms of hands an almost exclusively body-catcher. It’s a common misconception that receivers are never taught to catch with their body as coaches will teach it in certain situations. Hamler can succeed in the NFL, but there are too many mouths to feed in Denver for him to be more than a situational deep threat.
Michael Ojemudia (2) has the athletic profile and size to be a starter, but his film doesn’t show the natural football traits of a pro. He isn’t physical enough and doesn’t show great awareness in zone, letting receivers get behind him.
Lloyd Cushenberry (2) was one of the most overrated prospects in the draft. He’s a classic case of a decorated collegiate who gets overdrafted due to great character. He was beaten badly by the Texas nose tackle and generally lacks balance.
McTelvin Agim (1) was overdrafted as a former five-star recruit who didn’t dominate in the SEC. He has the size and tools to be a rotational defensive lineman, but plays too high and bends at the waist, losing leverage and balance too easily.
Denver's best pick after Jeudy was Albert Okwuegbunam (3). His size/hands mix is rare and his physical ability is special. After last season I thought he’d be a high pick, but he never seemed to put it together. He’s an instant red-zone threat as a project with huge upside.
The draft community is giving high praise to this Broncos class. I think they nailed their first pick but wasn’t overly impressed with the rest of the haul. Denver’s defense is loaded with talented veterans and a returning Bradley Chubb, so Drew Lock’s progress will be an intriguing storyline in the AFC Wild Card race.

Kansas City Chiefs

Congratulations to the Chiefs and their fans on winning the Super Bowl. The World Champs came into the draft without any pressing needs and selected three extremely talented young prospects with their first three picks.
Clyde Edwards-Helaire (4) is a perfect fit in Andy Reid’s offense. My No. 2 running back, CEH reminds me of Maurice Jones-Drew. His lack of height is a non-issue, if not a positive, as he gives defenders a small target on his way to eluding tacklers and making guys miss. He's short but sturdy. His film against Alabama was inspiring, breaking tackles and moving piles against defenders twice his size. His best trait is his ability as a receiver, showing advanced route-running skills and soft hands. He’s competitive, fiery, and tough.
While he didn’t quite excel against the Georgia pros, he’s going to have so much space with Patrick Mahomes it’s scary. His 4.6 40 shows a lack of ideal long speed, but his ten-yard split was among the best for running backs at the combine. Amazing fit, PPR fantasy points everywhere.
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Willie Gay Jr. (3) has very inconsistent film and character red flags. Andy Reid took a chance on Marcus Peters years ago, who has had a very good pro career. The Chiefs culture should keep Gay on the right track. His film in 2018 was better than 2019, as he had more splash plays and tackled better. In 2019, some of his film showed poor angles and undisciplined missed fits. His speed plays and if he puts in any work at all his floor is a talented special teamer. I think Reid gets the most out of him and he starts at linebacker as a rookie. The burst and pop when he hits people is impressive.
Lucas Niang (3) has a very ugly body, but I liked his film a lot. He has a small lower half and is fat up top, which teams usually don’t like. He can be effective and quick, and has functional strength and movement skills despite his odd shape. I had him at No. 39 on my big board and project him to be a starting right tackle whenever the Chiefs need one. Solid pick.
The Chiefs have the best player in the NFL and a good enough defense. They should be favored to win it all again. The main takeaway from this class is that Andy Reid running backs are fantasy gold and he just got one that fits his scheme perfectly.
That wraps up the 2020 draft review series. Thank you so much for reading. On to 2021!
AFC West article with gifs: https://www.rotoballer.com/2020-nfl-draft-review-and-team-grades-afc-west/737495
NFC West: https://www.rotoballer.com/2020-nfl-draft-review-and-team-grades-nfc-west/737289
AFC South: https://www.rotoballer.com/2020-nfl-draft-review-and-team-grades-afc-south/736898
NFC South: https://www.rotoballer.com/2020-nfl-draft-review-and-team-grades-nfc-south/736460
AFC East: https://www.rotoballer.com/2020-nfl-draft-review-and-team-grades-afc-east/736202
NFC East: https://www.rotoballer.com/2020-nfl-draft-review-and-team-grades-nfc-east/735919
AFC North: https://www.rotoballer.com/2020-nfl-draft-review-afc-north/735564?src=cat_feat_9954
NFC North: https://www.rotoballer.com/2020-nfl-draft-review-and-team-grades-nfc-north/734932
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[OC] In 1979, Sports Illustrated released an article with coaches and executives wondering what the NFL would look like in the year 2000. Here's a look back at their predictions

The article was released on September 3, 1979. Keep in mind that in 1978, there was some drastic changes made; the rules changed to make the game more offensive-minded, and the league expanded the schedule from 14 games to 16. So what would the league look like in 2000 according to some coaches?
There won't be any contact below the waist
While this prediction didn't come fully true (fortunately), something similar to this for QBs has come into play, where any hit to the knee area is illegal
The 25-yard end zone is the single greatest thing that could change the game. The whole concept of goal-line defenses would change with that
That never happened, and I highly doubt that will happen in the near future
Players will look a lot different: lighter equipment, more formfitting shoulder pads, a different type of helmet, soft rib pads
Pretty much on the money with this one. To say that equipment has changed a lot in the last 40 years would be a massive understatement
By 2000 there'll be pari-mutuel betting on every play in every game in the NFL
Betting has changed a lot since 1979, to the point where it has even become acceptable to talk about lines on TV (look at SVP's "Bad Beats" segment)
There'll be a little metal fleck in the football, so you can tell for sure whether the guy with the ball got over the goal line or was pushed back
Unfortunately, this does not exist, but I could see it happening in the future
Everything will become more specialized. On defense, you'll get pass rushers and run defenders, first-down and third-down defensive ends. You'll see relief quarterbacks.
Right on the money for the most part. Defensive ends in particular have become specialized, though we haven't seen relief quarterbacks
I think you'll have a lot of women playing quarterback by 2000. For one thing, they have a higher threshold of pain
Not even close
"I don't think there'll be a franchise in a poor-weather area without a domed stadium. And you won't see franchises moving into 50,000-seat baseball-oriented stadiums
Half-right, half-wrong. There are no baseball stadiums left once the Raiders move out of Vegas, and nobody moved into one of those venues. However, there are a bunch of franchises in cities with poor winter weather without domes
Maybe the football players will come from someplace else. The best lineman in the country might be on the streets of L.A., and not at USC—and we'll find a way to find him
NCAA is still the king. This incredibly vague prediction is wrong
It's a very tough, very hard game, and I think more and more it's going to be played by the so-called underprivileged. It's too tough, too physical a game for a society that's become so affluent. Kids can get the same great cardiovascular exercise from soccer.
TIL this argument has been around for over 40 years now. As much as I love soccer (unfortunately had a rough Saturday today as a Fulham fan), it's not taking over the NFL anytime soon.
The quarterback will have a calculator in his helmet. It will be on his Lexan visor, so he'll be able to see readouts based on percentages and statistics to determine the ideal play to run
Analytics have taken over the sport, but not quite to that extent
The coaches will begin to dress alike, and maybe there will be a machine out there doing the coach's job. It'll be second and four, the guy will punch a button on his chest and—wonk, wonk, wonk—he'll say, 'O.K., run off tackle'
He correctly predicted "Ask Madden." I'll give him that.
We'll see equipment that will be supportive of body functions. I'm visualizing devices that will allow a player—a receiver, say—to jump two or three feet higher than he does now. Or we'll put a strong enough biomechanical device on a quarterback's back so he can pass 150 yards, which will be important, because the field will have to be that large by then
There's no way this is happening anytime soon. Though there is equipment that supposedly helps players run faster or catch more balls, it's nothing this drastic, and an element of skill is still required
All the stadiums will have seats that will collect power from the sun. The field will be blown up, a large air mattress, so you can change the air pressure, depending on who is playing, to make it safer. The pros might play on a surface with seven pounds per square inch, while a bunch of junior high school kids would play at 2 1/2 psi. The athlete will be trained by new types of computers, and there will be more than four downs—all with different names, of course...
TIL trolls also existed in 1979
There won't be any more old scouts sitting in the stands watching a practice. And there'll be no mistakes on draft choices
0-for-2 on that one. Amazingly, the biggest busts in NFL history have come since the release of that article
So, there's a lot that they got wrong, but there's some stuff that they got right. Makes you wonder if we predicted what the league would look like in 2040 how many predictions would be right on the money, and how many would be laughably bad in hindsight.
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Bet India - Your Free Source to Online Sports Betting Sites|Betbarter.net

Finest cricket websites checklist in India
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Name Pros Cons
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Betbarter is a family member beginner on the on-line betting market. Yet, they have actually right away approved the scenario as one of the most effective online wagering sites for payouts in numerous European countries, and now they have actually transformed their focus to India. Uncomplicated to use interface Selection of sports competitors for wagering Enormous promotions use for brand-new consumers Easy ways of deals to sustain local Indian consumers Client service assistance is a little bit sluggish.
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Bodog Although some might be listening to this name for the first time, yet, Bodog is amongst the oldest bookmakers [2] currently running. It was originally developed in 1994, that makes its presence among the earliest sites for wagering. They started as just an on the internet poker area. Nonetheless, with time procured numerous competitors with other betting highlights, and also in the end, turning into the significant and also popular betting website that they are today, complete with betting on sports, on-line betting club, live club, online poker and more. They have now made their entire wagering portfolio accessible to Indian gamers, so we expect that they will wind up being an inexorably widely known as well as best on the internet betting site in India via the span of minimal years! Practical choices for deposits like Visa card and e-wallets, for example, Skrill, Neteller and also more. Uses cost-free live streaming of different sports matches like cricket, horse auto racing, football and more. Deal both choices of gambling establishment as well as sports video games. Withdrawal alternatives for consumers are restricted. Competition wagering is not offered.
Online Cricket Betting in India
India has close connections with cricket although, cricket is not the national sporting activity of India yet, Indians have high spirits when it concerns cricket. We don't be reluctant to state that Indians think about cricket as their faith. Cricket as well as cricketers have a close organization with the enthusiastic side of the Indians, similar to football is to Brazil, as well as cricket is to India. Minutes of accomplishment, happiness, and enormous satisfaction are what cricket has given to the nation of diverse variety. Thinking of the reach of the video game in the nation, it resembles the extra substantial part of different video games, made use of to turn cash also. Wagering on cricket in India might not be regular on an expert level. However, it exists. A section of the sites that give the very best online wagering sites of cricket can be discovered in this article.
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NFL Algo Best Bets 11-3 on the year! Here is our play this week with our leans! from CheatSheetPros!

NFL Sports Betting Picks WEEK 12 from CheatSheetPros! << Up arrow if you like the content! >>
QUICK NEWS AND NOTES:
Last week we had another BEST BET win with the New England Patriots moving our Algo Best Bets to a solid 11-3 on the year and we have another one this week for you! As always, we are going to give you our “Best Bets” and then our lean games that were close.
BEST BETS FOR WEEK 12:
Baltimore Ravens (-3) over LA Rams!
Vegas line opened at pick and quickly moved to Ravens -3. We have this game on our NFL CheatSheet Algo as 30-23 easily covering the 3. If you use the YPP Algo that is used by a lot of professional sports betting gurus then they would have this as Baltimore -6. Baltimore is #1 in PPG at 34.1 while the Rams are 12th with 24.3 PPG. Both teams are allowing close to the same amount of points per game at 19.6 and 19.8. Both teams have solid rush defenses allowing only 94.3 rush yards per game for the Ravens and 89.1 for the Rams. Rams have struggled as of late barely beating the hapless Bears 17-7, then losing to a beat up PIT team 17-12 and only hanging 24 on the Bengals. Ravens have been surging beating Houston in what was supposed to be a tight game 41-7, then facing the Bengals they dropped a 49-13 bomb on them and even beat the Patriots 37-20. Over the last 4 games the Ravens are averaging 39.25 points per game. This line on this game is off and take the gift at -3 as this should be -6 or even -7!
LEANS FOR THE WEEK: These are the games that are jumping out at us but didn’t quite make the cut in our “Best Bets”.
DETROIT (-3.5) over Washington:
My NFL cheatsheet algo has this game DET 24 over WAS 16. I also have a secondary algo I run in google sheets kind of behind the scenes and it picked it at 24-18. Again if you are looking at the YPP algo that the sharps are using they would have this as high as DET -8! DET is averaging 24.4 points per game (11th) while WAS is dead last at 12.5 points per game and they are starting Haskins the rest of the year. WAS should have success running the ball as DET is giving up 124.2 rushing yards per game (24th) and they have Derrius Guice and AP so Haskins shouldn’t have to do much work. DET is leaning on Bo Scarbrough, who has looked pretty solid and WAS is giving up 133.9 rushing yards per game (28th). The edge here for me is Jeff Driskel > Haskins. Driskel has 71 pass attempts in 2 games and only 1 pick in those attempts while tossing for 3 TDs. He even hung with a tough Dallas team and lost 35-27. He also rushed for 37 and 51 yards in those two games getting it done on the ground. Haskins has 79 pass attempts across 4 games and has tossed 5 picks and been sacked a whopping 14 times already. If DET can hang with the high powered Cowboys then shouldn’t have a problem with the lowly Skins, lay the -3.5 here.
NYG (+220) over CHICAGO:
Our NFL Algo has this as a 21-20 game with the Bears squeaking out a “W”. So you can take the +6 or +7 but I’d rather take this monster +220 moneyline. If this game comes down to the wire I don’t think Chicago is going to win it. Yes both teams are horrible and Mitchell T. starting is the worst thing for them right now. Bears are 28th in PPG at 16.7, 30th in offensive yards per game at 262.7, 29th in rushing yards per game at 79.9 and 30th in passing yards per game at 182.8 and you are telling me the Giants can’t muster up some offense to beat those stats? Saquon Barkely, Danny Dimes, Golden Tate, Sterling Shephard, come on guys! The NYG have at least put up 27, 18, 26 and 21 points in their last 4 games while the Bears have only put up 7, 20, 14 and 16. This is going to come down to an ugly Bears offense vs. an ugly Giants defense. I think this is a 50/50 game here so +220 is a gift.
SEATTLE +1.5 over PHILLY:
Seattle is the betting public pick here. Line opend at +3 down to +1.5 or +1. We have Seattle winning 25-24 in a tight game. Sports Betting algo line is Seattle -3.5. My only fear in this game and the reason I likely won’t bet it is that Seattle has a horrible pass defense that is giving up 271.8 passing yards per game (28th). Wentz should be able to go down the field fairly easy keeping this a tight game. Philly has turned their defense around and allowing only 86 rushing yards per game (4th) and 237.5 passing yards per game (17th).
MIAMI +10.5 over BROWNS:
Yes the Browns actually think they are a real football team but their coaching is awful. Chubb should run all over them as the Dolphins are allowing 148 rushing yards per game (31st). Running the ball keeps the clock moving. Browns are only averaging 19.2 points per game (25th) and the Dolphins are scoring 14 points per game (31st) so I’m taking the +10.5 here. Sports betting algo line is CLE -6 so they priced 10.5 as to high for me.
3 TEAM 10 POINT TEASER:
SAINTS (+10 down to pick), NEW ENGLAND (-6 to +4), BALTIMORE (-3 to +7):
The rule of thumb on teasers is you are not supposed to cross 0 as that is a losing battle in the long run. However, Saints down to pick follows the rule of not crossing 0 and we have them winning by 4 (hopefully more) as that defense has been a beast recently and they are at home. Baltimore we have winning the game easily so getting points is just a cushion. Patriots have a big game at home this week facing the Cowboys. That defense will be tested and a lot of people are on the Cowboys to win. I doubt that happens but if they do win it’s hard to bet the Patriots by more than a FG.
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Which coaches should be fired? The Firing Squad zeroes in on the AFC North / South

Typically, 5-6 coaches get fired every offseason cycle. There are reports that number may swell to as many as 8-10 this season.
The question here isn't: what coaches will be fired, but rather: which coaches deserve to be fired?
I'm going to run through the league with a FIRING SQUAD SERIES to make those determinations and potential executions. In the interest of length, we're breaking this up into divisions, with the AFC East, NFC East, and NFC South already in the books. Today, we'll be able to run through two separate divisions as well.
AFC NORTH
The "Bill Belichick Law" states that coaches who are OBVIOUS keepers will not go to trial. An overzealous prosector may go after John Harbaugh, but that feels like a bit of a stretch. Given the prosecution's struggles so far, we won't push that. Thus, Harbaugh (and Mike Tomlin) get a pass today.
CINCINNATI
the defendant: Marvin Lewis, 5-9 record, 123-112-3 all time with the team
the prosecution
After the failures of my predecessor, I intend to bring a whole new approach to this prosecutor's office. I'm going to leave the politics aside, and focus on the matters at hand. After all, I'm a humble southerner who enjoys the simple pleasures in life: a cold beer in my hand, and an incompetent coach roasting on the open fire.
Which brings me to Marvin Lewis. There was a time, perhaps, when we would have praised and appreciated Mr. Lewis for stabilizing the Cincinnati organization. Of course, there was a time when I appreciated my AOL dial-up connection as well. But there was only so many times that sucker would crash out on me before I realized that I needed to upgrade. In that same vein, there's only so many times this Bengals team can crap out before we all have to admit that an upgrade is necessary.
More than anything, we've come to realize that Mr. Lewis benefited greatly from some excellent coordinators around him. He initially struggled in Cincy (1 winning season in his first 6 years) before eventually being buoyed by two studs in Jay Gruden and Mike Zimmer. Since they've left, the team has predictably and slowly sunken back into the depths of the AFC once again. The rapid decline in point differential is the most troubling of all – from +140 in 2015, to +10 in 2016, to -72 in 2017. There's a hole in this ship about 100 points a year wide, and the Bengals can't wait any longer to plug it up.
the defense
As mentioned by the prosecution, Marvin Lewis deserves credit for stabilizing this franchise over the years. Before his hiring in 2002, the Bengals were mired in a 55-137 stretch that saw them win an average of 4.6 games over a twelve-year period. He's completely reshaped the front office, the scouting department, and the organization as a whole. Aside from Green Bay, no team in the NFL sustains itself on homegrown draft picks more.
If Lewis erred lately, it was trusting that system too much. He thought R1-R2 pick offensive tackles Cedric Ogbuehi and Jake Fisher would be ready to start by this, their third season. They weren't. He thought in-house OC Ken Zampese would improve in this, his second season on the job. He didn't. Lewis can learn from those mistakes and add some fresh blood and fresh talent around him. This team still has the talent to be a playoff contender with a few tweaks, and with Lewis at the helm.
the verdict
We the jury agree with the defense that fresh blood is needed, but more blood than he lets on. With all apologies and due respect to Marvin Lewis, we instruct the squad to raise their muskets and FIRE AWAY.
CLEVELAND
the defendant: Hue Jackson, 0-14 record, 1-29 all time with the team
the prosecution
Sports fans are savvy these days. Like Sting on a hot date, they don't mind exercising patience and delayed gratification. Essentially, they "trust the process," so long as they trust the leadership behind that process at the same time.
The Cleveland Browns' latest rebuild clearly didn't meet that criterion. Sure, Hue Jackson got saddled with a huge task and a huge rebuild, but there's nothing in his resume so far that suggests that he's capable of leading this team out of the muck and mire.
Worse yet, his biggest blind spot happens to be the most important one: his handling of the QB position. Every move the team has made lately has suggested that they have no clue how to elevate or develop QBs. DeShone Kizer may have been worth a boom/bust flier in R2, but the team took that flier and that lottery ticket and promptly wiped their ass with it: allowing him to take punishment (31 sacks in 430 pass attempts), and ruining his confidence by toggling him in and out of the lineup.
Afterwards, Mr. Jackson shifted the blame to Kizer, as he always does. If this coach has mastered anything, it's deflation and scapegoating. He puts his foot in his mouth so many times that Rex Ryan masturbates to clips of his press conferences. He's become an embarrassment to an organization that's suffered too much embarrassment already. Please, make it stop.
the defense
If your goal as a franchise is to establish stability, the worst way to do that would be fire another head coach. Call it the Curse of Bill Belichick if you like, because after the team (albeit a different version of the "Browns") axed him prematurely, Cleveland hasn't found any sense of continuity on a staff yet. They've had a total of 9 head coaches -- 7 of whom got fired in two seasons or less.
If you're going to commit to a rebuild and "trust the process," then you're going to have to tolerate some ugly losses and some embarrassment along the way. That's part of the "process." But at the end of the day, the foundation still looks fertile here. After all, what would you prefer from Hue Jackson? A Jets-like season, and a spirited 5-6 wins that won't mean anything at all? Or another clunker, which results in another # 1 pick (in addition to the Houston pick, which currently lands at # 4)?
We can't judge Hue Jackson or this latest rebuild yet. Let's give him one more year and his first stab at an actual franchise QB before we do.
the verdict
We the jury have decided (with the urging of Josh Rosen and his agent) to execute Hue Jackson before he gets his hands on another young QB. FIRE AWAY.
AFC SOUTH
There's only one coach in this division who gets the Bill Belichick Law pass: Doug Marrone, who's surprisingly led the Jaguars to a breakout year.
INDIANAPOLIS
the defendant: Chuck Pagano, 3-11 record, 52-42 all time with the team
the prosecution
Originally, we planned on stockpiling a whale ton of evidence for this case. We had our plucky office intern Danny compile exhibits of every single one of Chuck Pagano's bungles (including that infamous fake punt.) Poor little fella dropped dead from exhaustion. RIP Danny.
What's harder to find is evidence of Mr. Pagano's virtues as a head coach. His specialty is the defensive side of the ball, but despite six offseasons to reshape his roster, that defense is still quite mediocre. In fact, they've totaled 22 sacks on the season so far, 2nd worst in the entire NFL.
You'd think that Mr. Pagano would be able to come up with ideas on how to pressure the QB by watching his opponents. After all, they have racked up 53 sacks on the year, MOST in the NFL. Part of that is Jacoby Brissett's slow release, but this is also a team that allowed Andrew Luck to take 41 sacks himself the year prior.
Now, I'm no offensive guru (nor is Mr. Pagano), but you'd think that either of us would realize that protecting a generational franchise QB would be a paramount part of his job description. Instead, he's allowed his offenses to take deep shots, and allowed his QB to take the defense's best shots. This is no laughing matter, because it makes you wonder how much of Luck’s durability issues are the direct result of this lawed approach. Hopefully Luck comes back for 2018; hopefully, Mr. Pagano does not.
the defense
No doubt, it's unfortunate that Andrew Luck got injured. Immediately, it doomed the entire 2017 season. Unless you're Bill Belichick, no coach in the NFL is going to make the playoffs with a depth chart that leads off with the name "Scott Tolzien." As a result, the team needed to rush in Jacoby Brissett. And hey, they did a serviceable job of getting Brissett ready to go on such short notice. The Colts started 2-3 and had some nice moments and some flashes from Brissett.
Given the expectations, Pagano's 3-11 record is understandable. In fact, that record (coupled with his 8-8 record when Luck missed a lot of time in 2015, speaks to Pagano's "virtue" as an NFL coach. His team still competes and fights for him, even when the odds are stacked against them. He hasn't lost that locker room yet, and therefore he shouldn't lose his job yet.
the verdict
We the jury have seen enough to make a ruling – and have seen too much of Chuck Pagano to wait any longer. We give the order to the squad to FIRE AWAY.
HOUSTON
the defendant: Bill O'Brien, 4-10 record, 31-31 all time with the team
the prosecution
Bill O'Brien is a brilliant coach and a true QB guru; if you don't believe me, just ask him yourself. Through his entire Houston Texans tenure, he's made a habit of skimping on his offensive staff. Like Hue Jackson, he's decided that he doesn't need an offensive coordinator to help him. He's got all the answers himself.
Unfortunately for him, the results tell a different story. Through four seasons on the job, he's opened with four different quarterbacks -- Ryan Fitzpatrick in 2014, Brian Hoyer in 2015, Brock Osweiler in 2016, and Tom Savage in 2017. Notice I didn't mention "Deshaun Watson" there, because Mr. O'Brien thought that Savage was his better bet to open Week 1. Considering he'd been coaching Savage for two seasons already, you'd think a "QB Guru" would be able to gauge the two a little better than that.
It's also fair to question how beneficial his system truly is -- or whether there's much of a "system" at all. The best coaches (like Billy Boy's former bosses in New England) manufacture mismatches for their stars and get them open spaces. Mr. O'Brien's top plays include: 1) throwing a contested catch to DeAndre Hopkins and hoping he can battle his way to the ball and miraculously toe tap onto the sidelines, and 2) running Lamar Miller into a brick wall. That speedster of a running back has 1 carry of 20+ yards, in 220 attempts. That "system" sure isn't helping him much.
You may think Mr. O'Brien's had success in Houston -- with three 9-7 seasons prior -- but that doesn't tell the whole story. In fact, his point differentials have been in steady decline (+65 to +26 to -49 to -61). That coincides with some injuries to his superstar J.J. Watt, who has bailed out this team time and time again. Sadly, Mr. O'Brien may not be able to count on that happening again; there's no telling if All-Pro J.J. Watt will be walking through that building. If he isn't the dominant force that he used to be, O'Brien's flaws will be on full display.
the defense
The 2017 Houston Texans struggled. Shocker. This is a team that lost a Hall of Famer in J.J. Watt and a potential rookie of the year in Deshaun Watson. It's no wonder that the team couldn't rebound from there.
You may criticize Bill O'Brien for not starting Deshaun Watson from Week 1, but that’s irrelevant now. O'Brien wanted to show some patience and make sure that Watson would be able to hit the ground running (so he wouldn't lose confidence like Kizer). Turns out Watson did that quicker than he anticipated -- that's a good sign, not a bad one. Going forward, Watson should be healthy and ready to fire away to DeAndre Hopkins, who's regained his mojo and his status as a top 3 WR.
The defense took a step back this year, but should be better next season regardless of whether J.J. Watt is a DPOY candidate anymore or not. There are other good young pieces on that side of the ball, including Jadeveon Clowney and their rising star DC Mike Vrabel. If the offense and defense can click at the same time, this team still looks like a true threat for the playoffs for many years to come. O'Brien constructed a program that's built to last here, and needs to stick around to shepherd it through.
the verdict
We the jury find in favor of Bill O'Brien (no matter what the media may suggest) and look forward to seeing him and a healthier Watson back together in 2018. KEEP HIM.
TENNESSEE
the defendant: Mike Mularkey, 8-6 record, 19-20 all time with the team
the prosecution
If Marvin Lewis feels like an outdated AOL dial-up, the Tennessee Titans feels like communicating with smoke signals. Mike Mularkey's staff values experience, perhaps too much so. In fact, he currently employs the oldest defensive coordinator in the league (Dick LeBeau, 80) and the oldest offensive coordinator in the league (Terry Robiskie, 63) at the same time.
We won't dare to disrespect LeBeau, especially because the ageless wonder's unit is actually playing solid defense this year. However, the offensive issues of this team are a bigger concern and a bigger reason to move on from this coach.
Mr. Mularkey intended to bring back "smashmouth" football to the league behind a good offensive line and two power backs. That worked initially, but has started to yield diminishing returns. In fact, his franchise QB Marcus Mariota has started to regress to troubling degrees. At the moment, Mariota has thrown for 12 TDs against 14 ints, with a 62.9% completion percentage and a 79.7 QB rating that trails well behind most of the NFL. To make matters worse, he's only rushed for 228 yards on the ground.
Essentially, Mr. Mularkey's old school staff has managed to turn back the clock on the NFL and their quarterback at the same time. They've taken one of the most exciting young QB talents to come around in years and turned him into one of the worst starters in the league. 8-6 record or not, no one fears these Titans. No one respects these Titans. Heck, Vegas made them an underdog against a 3-10 San Francisco team, and the Titans promptly proved them right by dropping that game. The retro look was fun while it lasted, but now it's time for this team to take a clear step forward.
the defense
Mike Mularkey's gotten a lot of flak for his comments about "exotic smashmouth" football, but the Titans are well aware that phase was never meant to last. In fact, they drafted a WR in Corey Davis with the # 5 overall pick, intending to open up this offense and allow Marcus Mariota to start slinging it around the field more.
That plan hasn't worked out yet because Corey Davis hasn't been fully healthy yet. However, that doesn't mean it'll never happen. The defense cites Exhibit F, the rookie years of other superstar receivers. As rookies, neither Calvin Johnson nor Julio Jones cracked 1000 yards (logging 756 and 959 yards, respectively). If Corey Davis can take that famous sophomore leap, then he can provide the team with the improved passing game it needs. Davis has that type of potential; after all, this is a kid who logged 1400+ yards and 12+ TDs in college for three years in a row. Let's wait to judge this offense until Davis can get healthy first.
They may have been blinded by the aura of Jimmy G., but this is a playoff team now that should only get better from here.
the verdict
We the jury appreciate Corey Davis’ upside and all, but we're not betting an entire franchise on him. Marcus Mariota is still an exciting talent, which makes this potential job opening an appealing one. Let's see what the kid can do with a new coach in his corner. Sorry, Mike Mularkey, it's time to FIRE AWAY.
scheduling update
We’re going to take a break in order for all this gun smoke to clear. With games this weekend and the holidays, we probably won’t return with this series until Wednesday or Thursday. We’ll come back with some new writers/prosecutors to finish up strong before the end of the season.
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MLB DFS *MEGA Breakdown* for PITCHERS & TEAM STACKS (August 16th) from CheatSheetPros!

MLB MEGA Plays & Stats from CheatSheetPros! << Up arrow if you like the content! >>
News & Notes: Today I’m going to cover alot of pitchers and stacks with all the stats that jump out at me. Read through them and pick the ones you like. I’m not recommending you play every single one of these options I’m just trying to condense the amount of time you have to spend researching and digging around. Also working on a lineup building strategy article this weekend for everyone. Also going to work on a Fantasy Football ADP movers article as time permits.
PITCHERS TO CONSIDER:
VERLANDER (12400) – Highest priced pitcher and 4 of last 5 games over 32 DK points. Great BVP as they are only hitting .228 off him through 123 team Abs with a 31% strikeout rate. Verlander has a whopping 17.2% swinging strike rate, 2.76 road ERA and allowing a low .160 average. #2 bullpen behind him. 6 of the 8 hitters for Oakland have <4.5 FPPG over the last week, ice cold! A little worried about the “W” here as there has been a reverse line movement toward Oakland. Houston opened at -200 now down to -180 and that’s only 16% of the public which tells me the sharp pro sports betters are hitting Oakland early.
CHARLIE MORTON (11600) – Solid swinging strike of 14.2% and stellar home stats with an ERA of 2.75 – 0.98 whip and allowing a .204 average. He gets a dream matchup facing a DET team who is 29th in our L10 game power rankings and scoring 3.0 runs per game. DET also has a 25.9% K rate vs. RHP and 24.2% while on the road. Best matchup on the slate if he can deliver! -300 favorite tells me he is very likely for the “W”. He also faced DET on June 5th and went for 32.8 Dk points. He has also put up 24 and 25 in his L2 starts.
LUIS CASTILLO (10800) – Coming off 20, 40 and 28 point starts he gets to face the STL Cardinals at home. He has a stellar home ERA of 2.22 with a 0.92 whip and allowing a low .174 batting average. STL beat up on KC but still only hitting .245 over the last week. Castillo has a solid BVP vs. STL as they are only hitting .227 off him through 97 Abs. Much cheaper than Verlander and 800 less than Morton he gives you a viable top end option tonight!
NOAH SYNDERGAARD (10100) – If you are in a pinch then you can use Syndergaard for a GPP shot. If you have followed me for the last two years then you know I live in KC and these Royals are pesky! They shit the bed vs. horrible pitchers and then they come out and rock Chris Sale, Giolito, etc. They are definitely a boom-or-bust team which is why I’m GPP only here. KC has terrible numbers but they are one team that numbers don’t indicate what they are going to do. They are 22nd in our L10 power rankings, scoring 3.8 runs per game and only hitting .195 as a team over the last week. KC has 5 hitters on the bottom of the lineup that should get dominated by Noah so he could have 30+ point upside. KC plays better at home with a lower K rate so use with caution.
MIKE MINOR (10000) – I didn’t have Minor on here but after his 41 DK point last night for 4k at a 5 figure price he makes the cut. He has good BVP as they are only hitting .146 off him through 41 team ABS. Eddie Rosario is 0 for 11 and Marwin G is 0 for 13 off Minor. This is pretty much a split game per Vegas but don’t feel safe for Minor to get the “W” with TEX ranking 27th in our L10 power rankings and hitting .211 over the last week.
JEFF SAMAR. (8500) – ARI has lost 2 straight, 5-5 in their L10 games and rank 15th in our power rankings. They are only scoring 4.1 runs per game and hitting .252 over the last week. Samardzija isn’t great but a decent mid option with a lot of question marks. He has a 3.55 ERA – 1.11 whip and allowing a .224 average with the 5th ranked bullpen behind him. BVP is decent with ARI hitting .247 through 97 team Abs. Not my favorite but a good mix in option if you can’t get up to the stud range.
KENTA MAEDA (7100) – He is just too cheap for his upside! Coming off a 30 DK point start vs. ARI and only 7.1k? All his stats are garbage, matchup sucks but I just think he would be a good GPP dart tonight. 15.5% swinging strike rate is monsterous! His home ERA is a solid 2.84 but on the road (where he is tonight) is jumps to 5.66 but xFIP indicates it should be closer to the 4.5 range. Allowing a .208 average overall with .176 at home and .243 on the road makes him a good $7.1k pitcher. GPP only.
JOE MUSGROVE (6200) – If you need to save money (and I’m hoping I don’t when I build my lines) look at Joe Musgrove. He has a good BVP history as Cubbies are only hitting .148 off him through 61 team Abs. Cubs also suck on the road. Cubs are 41-19 at home but on the road they are a horrible 23-38. Their wRC+ drops from 127.6 town to 83. The OBISO number we discuss (where .600 is a power house team), the Cubs have a .596 at home but on the road it is only .483. Also the K% jumps from 21.7% at home to 25.2% on the road. Musgrove has a decent 12.4% swinging strike rate, 1.26 whip and allowing a .259 average. He is an average pitcher is a good matchup. Cubs are 21st in our L10 power rankings and hitting only .204 as a team over the last week while scoring 2.8 runs per game.
DAILY PUNT: MIKE MONTGOMERY (5200) – I will likely have a lot of MM tonight mixed with the likes of Verlander, Morton, Castillo, Noah and Minor. $5.2 is dirt cheap and if he can put up 10 points that’s a solid punt to get the stack you want. Let’s start off wit the split, he has been terrible on the road with a 7.16 ERA, .437 wOBA allowed, 1.84 whip and allowing a massive .353 batting average. However, at home he is worth a look with a 2.78 ERA, .300 wOBA allowed, 1.28 whip and .271 allowed batting average. He struggles vs. LHH and right now NYM are only projected to have 2 of them in their lineup (Conforto who is 1 for 4 off him and Panik who is 3 for 10). MM was close to a no hitter last time out before it got broke up and then the pen gave up a 6 ball. He is coming off a nice 41.4 DK point start with solid home stats and we are only looking for 2x which is around 10 points? Yes please! If he put up 15 or 20 that is 3x and 4x value which is what you need for a GPP. Plus he allows you to afford several expensive stacks tonight! Red Flag: He faced NYM on June 21 and only put up 3 DK points. However, I think he is turning a corner and the juice is worth the squeeze!
STACKS & PITCHERS TO TARGET AGAINST: Huge slate tonight and I think there are several stacks that require your attention so I’m going to hit on 8-9 with the stats that I’m noticing and you pick your favorite ones!
CHALK: BOSTON vs. Aaron Brooks – Showing signs of line they are back to hitting .314 over the last week and scoring 6.8 runs per game thanks to a recent outburst. They are projected at 6.9 runs and top 5 hitter stack is a whopping 5180 average per hitter. They are expensive, chalky so be careful if you are using them for GPPs. Brooks has a 5.60 road xFIP with a 1.63 whip and allowing a .304 average. Boston does have a OBISO number of .614 at home (teams over .599 usually explode!).
FADE: COLORADO vs. Alcantara – This is going to be monster CHALK projected at 7.3 runs. COL is 28th in our L10 game power rankings and they are expensive with a 5160 average per hitter for top 5. Alcantara is terrible with a 6.37 road xFIP and 1.58 whip. Due to the chalk, recent struggles of COL and prices I’m going to fade them. It may bite me but I’d rather look elsewhere.
HOUSTON vs. Tanner Roark – Like I have always said I will always have some Stros! In only 25 Abs they are hitting .440 off Roark. He also has a 4.20 home ERA with a 1.40 whip and allowing a .262 average. He is a mid-range pitcher but Houston is a power house offense. Coming off 3 losses in a row their top 5 hitters are down to a 4920 average and you can get that down to 4600 with some pivots. They get the #17 bullpen after Roark is out of the game.
NATIONALS vs. Houser – Nat’s jump to 4th in our L10 game power rankings. They are scoring 7.2 a game and hitting .314 over the last week. I love riding hot teams. Projected at only 4.9 they should be lower owned tonight. They have won 4 straight and 7-3 in their L10 games. Notable stats for the stack: Playing at home their OBISO number jumps from .479 to a whopping .604 (that’s NYY level power). wOBA also jumps from .315 to .373 and wRC+ (my favorite catch-all stat) goes from 91.8 on the road to 125.8 on the road. You can stack 5 hitters from as high as 4820 down to around 4000. The 1-43 hitters in Turner, Eaton (on fire right now), Rendon and Soto are almost must haves. Notable stat on the pitcher side is that Houser isn’t terrible. When he is pitching at home (and he is not tonight) he has a 3.00 ERA and allowing a .202 batting average. However, on the road he has a 4.76 ERA and allowing a .307 batting average. Nationals great splits at HOME and Houser rough split pitching on the ROAD. Nationals!
CLEVELAND vs. Tanaka – Projected at only 4.8 they should also be lower owned. NYY are projected at 5.7 so I think more public stackers will go with NYY. CLE is hitting Tanaka at a .321 clip through 81 team Abs. CLE is 3rd in our L10 power ranking and hitting .306 over the last week while scoring 6.6 runs per game. You can stack them cheaply. Now I will warn you that Tanaka has a good home split. He is a 7.51 ERA on the road but at home it is 3.29. He is at home tonight. His xFIP indicates he should be closer to a 3.77. With the pricing of CLE hitters ranging from 4600 on the high end down to 4160 for a solid low end stack and their BVP history they are on the table for me tonight. Carlos Santana is 5 for 15 and Jose Ramirez (who is red hot right now) is 6 for 14 off him. Bonus stat: CLE on the road has an OBISO number that jumps from .515 up to .613. Somehow their strikeout rate also drops from 21.2% down to 17.1% on the road. Look for a tight game that could have a lot of scoring!
MID RANGE STACK: DODGERS vs. Soroka – Soroka has been pretty solid with a 2.32 ERA and allowing a .228 average. However the split jumps out at me for this game. With LAD only projected at 4.8 runs they should be low owned. They are also priced fair with a 4640-4100 average range for a 5 man stack. They are also #1 in our L10 game power ranking with 7.7 runs per game and hitting .267. Soroka is pitching at HOME tonight where his ERA jumps from 1.32 (road) to 4.08, wOBA jumps from .225 to .311, whip from 0.91 to 1.38 and batting average allowed .192 to .286. ATL also has the 30th ranked bullpen since July 1st. Dodgers are going to be a little sneaky tonight!
CHEAP STACKS THAT HAVE VALUE:
CINCY VS. Waino – I love this Cincy team. They are hitting .287 over the last week and scoring 4.9 runs per game. The top 5 man stack for most stud teams like NYY, BOS, HOU is 4900-5200 average per hitter. My mid-range stacks run 4300-4700. You can stack a 5 man CIN stack for only 3920 and even get that down to 3680. There is a lot of risk but if you have two stud pitchers and Cincy goes off that is a GPP winning combo! Waino has a low 8.7% swinging strike rate. His home stats (where he is not pitching tonight) are solid with a 2.19 ERA – 1.23 whip and .238 opponent average. However, on the road they climb up to a 6.96 ERA – 1.62 whip and allowing a .298 batting average.
TAMPA BAY vs. Daniel Norris – I can never get Tampa right so I likely won’t be stacking them but my word they are a -290 favorite projected at 4.9 runs and come in 10th in our L10 game power rankings. You can get a 5 man stack on the high end at only 4100 per hitter and get that down to 3700. DIRT CHEAP! With only 29 Abs vs. Norris they are hitting him at a .414 clip and DET has the 23rd ranked bullpen when he comes out of the game. Tommy Pham, Heredia and Kiermaier are the highest graded hitters. Heredia is 5 for 8 vs. Norris with only 1 K and he is only 3100 on DK. Norris has a 4.76 ERA, 1.43 whip and allowing a .291 average. His stats are pretty much the same for home or road so no split just horrible stats. RED FLAG: Tampa at home is only 31-28 vs. their amazing road record of 40-23. The OBISO number that we discussed earlier is .564 on the road (which is a solid number) but at home it drops to .480 so play with auction.
PHILLY vs. Chris Paddack – Philly has won 3 straight, they play better at home and all their stats jump around 15% at home. Only projected at 4.7 runs makes them very low owned and they come in as 11th in our L10 game power rankings scoring 6.3 runs per game and hitting .275 over the last week. Paddack started off the year red hot, hit a slump went down to AAA and then came back up with hit and miss results. His home stats are amazing with a 2.53 ERA – 0.77 whip – allowing a .168 average. Wow! But he isn’t at home tonight. So how do his road stats look? 3.95 ERA – that is good but his xFIP indicates it should be closer to 5 with a 4.68 xFIP. This is a GPP shot as Paddack could have a good game or he could get in trouble. Harper and Muto are red hot right now.
RECAP: Right now my favorite stacks are Cincy for cheap, Dodgers for mid-range and then CLE / WAS / HOU for the upper tier fading on Boston & Colorado. Those are my early thoughts and always subject to change!
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[Game Preview] Playoff Edition Championship Round - Minnesota (14-3) at Philadelphia Eagles(14-3)

Minnesota Vikings (14-3) at Philadelphia Eagles (14-3)
The Eagles proved the pundits and Vegas wrong as they pulled out a win against the Atlanta Falcons last Saturday despite being the first number one seed to be an underdog in their first game of the playoffs. The Eagles welcome the Minnesota Vikings to Lincoln Financial Field where they are again in the Underdog role as Vegas has them a +3. The team and the city embraced the moniker as Amazon as sold out of German Sheppard mask 2 separate times now since the masked were donned by Eagles DE Chris Long and RT Lane Johnson following the win against Atlanta. Overcoming the odds will be a little harder this week as the Vikings finished the season with the same record as the Eagles at 13-3 and boast one of, if not the best defense in the league this season. The Vikings have an impressive front seven which includes Linval Joseph, Everson Griffen, Anthony Barr and Eric Kendricks, the unit is great at creating pressure and is second only to the Eagles in stopping the run. They also boast an impressive secondary that can play man to man and cover anyone in the league. Pederson and Reich will have their work cut out for them craft a game plan that will allow Nick Foles to succeed. I expect a lot of quick passes and leaning on the run game with some screens and the occasional shot to keep the Vikings off balance. On the other side of the ball, the Vikings have a backup of their own leading the offense in Case Keenum, however Keenum has been at the helm since week 3. Keenum has weapons on the outside in Stefon Diggs and Adam Thielen to go along with big Kyle Rudolph at TE. The key for the Eagles will be getting pressure on Keenum which is where he struggled last week. The Eagles front seven has been great at putting pressure on the QB this season, so expect Graham, Cox, Curry, Long, Jernigan and Barnett to get after it. The game will be tough one, but the Eagles have played extremely well at home this season going 8-1 with the only loss coming to the Cowboys in a meaningless game where the starters were rested. The home crowd will try to push their team over the top to make it to the Super Bowl for the first time since the 2004 season.
General Information
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Date
Sunday, January 21, 2018
Game Time Game Location
6:40 PM - Eastern Lincoln Financial Field
5:40 PM - Central 1020 Pattison Ave
4:40 PM - Mountain Philadelphia, PA 19148
3:40 PM - Pacific Wikipedia - Map
Weather Forecast
Stadium Type: Open
Surface: Grass
Temperature: 43f.°F
Feels Like: 41°F
Forecast: Mostly Cloudy. Foggy overnight.
Chance of Precipitation: 18%
Cloud Coverage: 83%
Wind: SW 4 MPH
Betting Odds
Oddsshark Information
Favorite/Opening Line: Minnesota by -3.5
OveUnder: 38
Record VS. Spread: Philadelphia 11-6, Minnesota 11-6
Where to Watch on TV
FOX will broadcast Saturday’s game. Joe Buck will handle the play-by-play duties and Troy Aikman will provide analysis. Erin Andrews and Chris Myers will report from the sidelines.
TV Map – N/A All games televised nationally.
Internet Streams
NFL Streams - Look here 30 minutes before the game for Streams
Radio Streams
Disclaimer: Subscription Based Official NFL Radio Streams available via TuneIn
List of Eagles Radio network member stations with internet broadcast availability
Radio.com 94.1 Desktop Streaming
Listen to Merrill Reese and Mike Quick
Calling the game on 94WIP and the Eagles Radio Network will be Merrill Reese, the NFL’s longest-tenured play-by-play announcer (41st season). Joining Reese in the radio booth will be former Eagles All-Pro wide receiver Mike Quick, while Howard Eskin will report from the sidelines.
Location Station Frequency
Philadelphia, PA WIP-FM 94.1 FM and 610 AM
Allentown, PA WCTO-FM 96.1 FM
Atlantic City/South Jersey WENJ-FM 97.3 FM
Levittown, PA WBCB-AM 1490 AM
Northumberland, PA WEGH-FM 107.3 FM
Pottsville, PA WPPA-AM 1360 AM
Reading, PA WEEU-AM 830 AM
Salisbury/Ocean City, MD WAFL-FM 97.7 FM
Wilkes-Barre/Scranton, PA WEJL-FM 96.1 FM
Salisbury/Ocean City, MD WAFL-FM 97.7 FM
Salisbury/Ocean City, MD WEJL-AM 630 AM
Salisbury/Ocean City, MD WBAX-AM 1240 AM
Williamsport, PA WBZD-FM 93.3 FM
Wilmington, DE WDEL-FM/AM 101.7 FM
York/LancasteHarrisburg, PA WSOX-FM 96.1 FM
Philadelphia Spanish Radio
Rickie Ricardo, Macu Berral and Gus Salazar will handle the broadcast in Spanish on Mega 105.7 FM in Philadelphia and the Eagles Spanish Radio Network.
Location Station Frequency
Philadelphia, PA LA MEGA 105.7 FM
Allentown, PA WSAN 1470 AM
Atlantic City, NJ WIBG 1020 AM; 101.3 FM
Vikings Radio
Vikings Radio Network Paul Allen enters his 16th season in 2017 as the Vikings radio play-by-play voice is KFAN radio mid-day personality. Joining Allen as the color commentator was former Vikings linebacker and coach Pete Bercich.
National Radio
Westwood OneKevin Harlan (play-by-play) and Trent Green (analyst) will call the game broadcast. Ross Tucker will report from the sidelines.
Satellite Radio
Station Eagles Channel Vikings Channel National Channel
Sirius Radio SIRI 82 (Internet 825) SIRI 83 (Internet 819) SIRI 88 (Internet 88)
XM Radio XM 82 (Internet 825) XM 83 (Internet 819) XM 88 (Internet 88)
Sirius XM Radio SXM 82 (Internet 825) SXM 83 (Internet 819) SXM 88 (Internet 88)
Eagles Social Media Vikings Social Media
Website Website
Facebook Facebook
Twitter Twitter
Instagram Instagram
Snapchat: Eagles Snapchat: vikings
NFC East Standings
Team Record Pct Home Away Div Conf PF PA Strk
Eagles(XYZ) 13-3 .813 7-1 6-2 5-1 10-2 457 295 1L
Cowboys 9-7 .563 3-5 6-2 5-1 7-5 354 332 1W
Redskins 7-9 .438 5-3 2-6 1-5 5-7 342 388 1L
Giants 3-13 .188 2-6 1-7 1-5 1-11 246 388 1W
[x]-Clinched Division [Y]-Clinched 1st Round Bye [Z]-Clinched Home Field Advantage
NFC Playoff Picture
Seed Team Division Record
1 Eagles East 14-3
2 Vikings North 14-3
3 Rams West 11-6
4 Saints South 12-6
5 Panthers South 11-6
6 Falcons South 11-7
This Weekends NFC Games
Game Time Location
Eagles vs. Vikings 1/21/2018 6:40PM EST Lincoln Financial Field, Philadelphia, PA
AFC Playoff Picture
Seed Team Division Record
1 Patriots East 14-3
2 Steelers North 13-4
3 Jaguars South 12-6
4 Chiefs West 10-7
5 Titans South 10-7
6 Bills East 9-8
This Weekends AFC Games
Game Time Location
Patriots vs. Jaguars 1/21/2018 3:05PM EST Gillette Stadium, Foxboro, MA
Series Information
The Series is tied 13-13 with Vikings leading in the Regular season 13-10 and Eagles leading in the post season 3-0.
Series History
Head to Head Box Scores
First Game Played
October 28th, 1962 at Metropolitan Stadium in Minneapolis, MN. Minnesota Vikings 31 – Philadelphia Eagles 21
Points Leader
The Philadelphia Eagles lead the Minnesota Vikings (612-587)
Coaches Record
Doug Pederson: 1-0 against the Vikings
Mike Zimmer: 0-1 against Eagles
Coaches Head to Head
Doug Pederson vs Mike Zimmer: Pederson leads 1-0
Quarterback Record
Nick Foles: Against Vikings: 0-2
Case Keenum: Against Eagles: 0-0
Quarterbacks Head to Head
Nick Foles vs Case Keenum: First meeting between the QBs
Records per Stadium
Record @ Lincoln Financial Field: Eagles lead Vikings 3-1
Record @ US Bank Stadium: N/A
Rankings and Last Meeting Information
AP Pro 32 Ranking
Eagles No. 5 - Vikings No. 2
Record
Eagles: 14-3
Vikings: 14-3
Last Meeting and Last at Site
Sunday, October 23rd, 2017
Eagles 21 - Vikings 10
The Eagles defense sacked Sam Bradford 6 times and Josh Huff returned a kickoff 98 yards in the 21-10 victory at the Linc, in a game that same 5 turnovers between both teams in the first quarter, three from the Eagles.
Click here to view the Video Recap
Click here to view the Stats Recap
Last Meeting in Playoffs
Sunday, January 4th, 2009
Eagles 26 – Vikings 14
The Eagles defense held the Vikings defense to 301 yards and Asante Samuel returned an errant Tavaris Jackson pass for a TD while a late short pass and 71 yard scamper by Brian Westbrook secured the Wild Card round win for the Eagles in Minneapolis.
Click here to view the Video Recap
Click here to view the Stats Recap
Last 10 Meetings
Date Winner Loser Score
10/23/16 Eagles Vikings 21-10
12/15/13 Vikings Eagles 48-30
12/28/10 Vikings Eagles 24-14
1/4/09 Eagles Vikings 26-14
10/28/07 Eagles Vikings 23-16
1/16/05 Eagles Vikings 27-14
9/20/04 Eagles Vikings 27-16
11/11/01 Eagles Vikings 48-17
9/28/97 Vikings Eagles 28-19
12/6/92 Eagles Vikings 28-17
Injury Reports Depth Charts
Eagles Eagles
Vikings Vikings
2017 Weekly Matchup
Championship Round - "Expert" Picks
2017 Team Stats
Eagles Season Stats
Vikings Season Stats
2017 Stats (Starters/Leaders)
Passing
Name CMP ATT PCT YDS TD INT RAT
Foles 57 101 56.4 537 5 2 79.5
Wentz (IR) 265 440 60.2% 3296 33 7 101.9
Keenum 325 481 67.6% 3547 22 7 98.3
Rushing
Name ATT YDS YDS/G AVG TD
Blount 173 824 47.9 4.4 2
Ajayi 70 408 58.3 5.8 1
Murray 216 842 52.6 3.9 8
McKinnon 150 570 35.6 3.8 3
Receiving
Name REC YDS YDS/G AVG TD
Ertz 74 824 58.9 11.1 8
Thielen 91 1276 79.8 14.0 4
Sacks
Name Sacks Team Total
Graham 9.5 38
Griffen 13.0 37
Tackles
Name Total Solo Assist Sacks
Bradham 88 61 27 1.0
Kendricks 113 67 46 1.0
Interceptions
Name Ints Team Total
Robinson 4 19
Smith 5 14
Punting
Name ATT YDS LONG AVG NET IN 20 TB BP
D. Jones 67 3033 62 45.3 40.6 21 5 1
Quigley 71 2994 56 42.2 39.2 29 0 0
Kicking
Name ATT MADE % LONG PAT
Elliot 31 26 83.9% 61 39/42
Forbath 38 32 84.2% 53 34/39
Kick Returns
Name ATT YDS AVG LONG TD
Barner 10 194 19.4 27 0
McKinnon 12 312 26.0 39 0
Punt Returns
Name RET YDS AVG LONG TD FC
Barner 27 240 8.9 76 0 15
Sherels 39 372 9.5 46 0 24
League Rankings 2017
Offense Rankings
Category Eagles Stat Eagles Rank Vikings Stat Vikings Rank
Total Offense 365.8 7th 356.9 11th
Rush Offense 132.2 3rd 122.3 7th
Pass Offense 233.6 13th 234.6 11th
Points Per Game 28.6 3rd 23.9 10th
3rd-Down Offense 42% 8th 43.5% 3rd
4th-Down Offense 65% 3rd 14.3% 30th
Red Zone Offense (TD%) 65.5 1st 57.9 9th
Defense Rankings
Category Eagles Stat Eagles Rank Vikings Stat Vikings Rank
Total Defense 306.5 4th 275.9 1st
Rush Defense 79.2 1st 83.6 2nd
Pass Defense 227.3 17th 192.4 2nd
Points Per Game 18.4 4th 15.8 1st
3rd-Down Defense 32% 3rd 25.3% 1st
4th-Down Defense 22% 1st 39.1% 12th
Red Zone Defense (TD%) 55.3 20th 40.0 3rd
Team
Category Eagles Stat Eagles Rank Vikings Stat Vikings Rank
Turnover Diff. +11 4th +5 T-12th
Penalty Per Game 7.3 T-27th 6.3 11th
Penalty Yards Per Game 60.1 22nd 59.3 21st
Recap from Last Week’s Games.
Eagles - Video The Eagles welcomed the Falcons in the the Linc where they have played well all season and continued that trend Saturday. The Eagles struggled early fumbling the ball 4 times in the first half and giving it away twice one of which was a short field of a muffled punt. The Eagles defense was able to hold the Falcons to just 10 points in the first half. The Eagles were able to come away with a TD and added a last second 53 yard FG to close out the half and bring the game with in a point. The Eagles added two more FGs in the second half, while the defense shutout the Falcons for the 15-10 win. The Falcons had a chance to win it at the end, but the Eagles defense held strong on the late goal line stand denying a Matt Ryan and Julio Jones 3 times. Following the game the Eagles embraced the underdog moniker as Chris Long and Lane Johnson donned dog masks.
Vikings - Video – The Vikings came out firing on all cylinders to start the game as they jumped out to a 17-0 lead in the first half and picked off Drew Brees twice. Brees and company were not going to go away quietly though as they fought back in the second half. Brees through 2 TD passes to Michael Thomas to bring that game within 3 before Forbath added a field goal to stretch the lead to 6. The games excitement level went through the roof at US Bank stadium. Alvin Kamara ran it in with 3 minutes left to give the Saints their first lead of the game. A minute and a half later Forbath kicked his third FG of the game for the Vikings to give them back the lead before just over a minute as Brees drove the Saints down the first and Lutz added a FG of his own to take the lead back. With just 25 seconds on the clock Sean Payton mocked the Viking faithful before Keenum completed a pass to Diggs to take them up to the 39 yard line before launching another pass to Diggs which he caught and spun away from the defender to go 61 yards for the game winning touchdown in dramatic fashion.|
Connections
Vikings OC Pat Shurmur has spent 13 seasons with the Eagles - 1999-2001 as the OL/TEs Coach, 2002-08 as the QBs Coach and 2013-15 as the Offensive Coordinator. Shurmur served as the Eagles interim head coach for the 2015 regular season finale, a 35-30 win over the Giants, after the dismissal of Chip Kelly the previous week.
Vikings QB Sam Bradford played for Philadelphia in 2015, setting Eagles franchise records for completions in a season (346) and completion percentage in a season (65.0). The Eagles acquired Bradford via trade on March 10, 2014 from St. Louis and traded him to Minnesota on September 3, 2016.
Vikings LB Eric Kendricks is the younger brother of Eagles LB Mychal Kendricks.
Vikings Director of Sports Medicine/Head Athletic Trainer Eric Sugarman, Coordinator of Rehabilitation/Assistant Athletic Trainer Tom Hunkele and Assistant Athletic Trainer Rob Roche all spent time with the Eagles prior to joining the Vikings.
Eagles DT Beau Allen is a Minnetonka, MN native and was named to the Minnesota Vikings All-State HS Football Team in 2009.
Vikings DT Sharrif Floyd grew up in Philadelphia and attended George Washington High School.
Vikings CB Xavier Rhodes started alongside Eagles LB Nigel Bradham while at Florida State.
Vikings DT Sharrif Floyd was teammates with Eagles TE Trey Burton, K Caleb Sturgis and S Jaylen Watkins at Florida.
2018 Pro Bowlers
Eagles Vikings
OT Lane Johnson WR Adam Thielen (Starter)
QB Carson Wentz (Starter) DE Everson Griffen (Starter)
TE Zach Ertz (Starter) CB Xavior Rhodes (Starter)
G Brandon Brooks (Starter) LB Anthony Barr
DT Fletcher Cox (Starter) S Harrison Smith (1st Alt)
FS Malcom Jenkins DT Linval Joseph (2nd Alt)
C Jason Kelce (1st Alt) Lb Eric Kendricks (3rd Alt)
DE Brandon Graham (1st Alt)
CB Jalen Mills (3rd Alt)
K Jake Elliot (2nd Alt)
ST Kame Grugier-Hill (2nd Alt)
General
Referee: Ed Hochuli
Since Chairman & CEO Jeffrey Lurie’s first full season in 1995 (23 seasons), Philadelphia has qualified for six NFC Championships (26.1%).
The Eagles’ six conference championship appearances (2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2008 and 2017) since 1995 are the 4th-most in the NFL, trailing only New England (13), Pittsburgh (eight) and Green Bay (seven). Since 2001, Philadelphia is tied with Pittsburgh for the 2nd-most such appearances (six), behind New England (12).
The last time Philadelphia hosted an NFC title game was during the 2004 season (1/23/05 vs. Atlanta - W, 27-10).
Philadelphia finished the regular season with a franchise record-tying 13 wins (also 2004), tying Minnesota, New England and Pittsburgh for the best record in the NFL.
The Eagles are 14-7 (.667) all-time at home in the playoffs, including a 5-3 (.625) mark at Lincoln Financial Field.
Philadelphia has produced a 14-3 (.824) record at home under head coach Doug Pederson, which is the best home record in the NFL over the last two seasons (including playoffs). The Eagles also own the best home record in the NFL this season at 8-1 (.889).
Philadelphia has outscored opponents 244-117 (+127) at home this season, allowing just 13.0 points per game.
Philadelphia led the NFL in red zone TD efficiency (65.5%), time of possession (32:41) and opponent rushing yards per game (79.2). The Eagles also tied with New England for the NFL lead in point differential (+162).
Philadelphia’s 457 points ranked 3rd in the NFL, behind L.A. Rams (478) and New England (458). The Eagles’ 457 points were also the 2nd-most in team history, trailing only their 2014 production (474).
Philadelphia led the NFL in rushing defense (79.2), posting their lowest mark since 1991 (71.0). The Eagles’ 79.2 opponent rushing yards per game were the fewest allowed by an NFL team since the 2014 Lions (69.3).
Philadelphia ranked 3rd in the NFL in rushing yards per game (132.2), behind Jacksonville (141.4) and Dallas (132.2). The Eagles also ranked 3rd in third-down defense (32.2%) and fourth-down offense (65.4%).
Philadelphia produced the 4th-most takeaways in the NFL (31), trailing only Baltimore (34), Jacksonville (33) and Detroit (32). The Eagles ranked 4th in the NFL in turnover differential (+11), behind Baltimore (+17), Kansas City (+15) and L.A. Chargers (+12).
Draft Picks
Eagles Vikings
DE Derek Barnett RB Dalvin Cook
CB Sidney Jones C Pat Elfein
CB Rasul Douglas DT Jaleel Johnson
WR Mack Hollins LB Ben Gedeon
RB Donnel Pumphrey WR Rodney Adams
WR Shelton Gibson OG Danny Isidora
LB Nathan Gerry TE Bucky Hodges
DT Elijah Qualls WR Stacy Coley
DE Ifeadi Odenigbo
LB Elijah Lee
CB Jack Tocho
Notable Off-season Additions
Eagles Vikings
WR Torrey Smith OT Riley Reiff
WR Alshon Jeffery OT Mike Remmers
DE Chris Long RB Latavius Murray
DT Timmy Jernigan QB Case Keenum
RB LaGarrett Blount P Ryan Quigley
CB Patrick Robinson WR Michael Floyd
G Chance Warmack
S Corey Graham
CB Ronald Darby
K Jake Elliott
LB Dannell Ellerbe
OT Will Beatty
Notable Off-season Departures
Eagles Vikings
CB Nolan Carroll LB Chad Greenway
DE Connor Barwin G Brandon Fusco
DT Bennie Logan Rhett Ellison
QB Chase Daniel OT Matt Kalil
CB Leodis McKelvin WR Charles Johnson
WR Dorial Green-Beckham CB Captain Munnerlyn
DE Marcus Smith WKR Cordarrelle Patterson
RB Ryan Mathews OT Andre Smith
RB Matt Asiata
Pro Football Focus Matchup Charts courtesy of PFF Edge

Matchups

Eagles WRs vs. Vikings DBs IMAGE. (CAPS = Shadow Coverage)
Tm WDB Pos H Wt Sp Rt L% S% R% %TaRt Cat% YPRC Gr Adv
PHI ALSHON JEFFERY LWR 75 218 4.48 577 45 16 39 20 50 1.44 80 -8
MIN XAVIER RHODES RCB 73 218 4.43 520 28 5 67 19 55 1.25 83.7
PHI Torrey Smith RWR 72 205 4.41 465 38 17 45 14 61 0.99 41.4 -48
MIN Trae Waynes LCB 72 190 4.31 515 71 4 26 23 58 1.7 77.2
PHI Nelson Agholor Slot 72 198 4.42 502 7 86 7 19 67 1.58 79.1 -6
MIN Terence Newman Slot 70 197 4.37 311 5 88 7 18 55 1.04 81.5
Vikings WRs vs. Eagles DBs IMAGE
Tm WDB Pos H Wt Sp Rt L% S% R% %TaRt Cat% YPRC Gr Adv
MIN Stefon Diggs RWR 72 191 4.46 448 24 24 52 22 65 1.96 85.4 11
PHI Jalen Mills LCB 72 191 4.61 609 87 3 10 18 60 1.14 71
MIN Adam Thielen Slot 74 200 568 27 52 21 26 66 2.49 83.6 4
PHI Patrick Robinson Slot 71 191 4.46 464 6 80 14 19 56 1.34 90.4
MIN Laquon Treadwell LWR 74 215 4.52 315 63 8 28 11 57 0.65 46.3 -49
PHI Ronald Darby RCB 71 193 4.38 232 6 3 91 22 55 1.5 81.8
TE Matchups IMAGE
Tm TE/Def H Wt Rt Bl% Inl% S% W% %TaRt Cat% YPRC Gr Adv
MIN Kyle Rudolph 78 265 527 16 53 41 6 18 73 1.2 80.6 8
PHI Malcolm Jenkins (S) 72 204 262 8 64 0.48 83.8
PHI Zach Ertz 77 250 488 7 42 41 17 23 73 1.82 85.7 8
MIN Eric Kendricks (LB) 72 232 84 12 40 0.69 76.9
OL/DL Matchups IMAGE
Note: Pressure Rate and Yards Before Contact are projected numbers based on the starters' grades and are adjusted for injuries. All other stats are based on this season's data
Tm Press% SkConv YBCon Runs ins. 5 yd ln/gm TD ins. 5 yd ln% PB Adv. RB Adv
MIN (OL) 4.2 10 1.5 1.1 39 -13 -20
PHI (DL) 7.3 19 1.36 0.6 33
PHI (OL) 4.4 16 1.84 1 31 -12 6
MIN (DL) 6.9 16 1.43 0.9 40
Stats to Know
Trench Warfare
Despite having a much higher average grade of starting Offensive Linemen, the Eagles' OL has allowed the same number of pressures as Minnesota's (154). The Vikings have allowed 12 fewer sacks, however. The Eagles' OL edged the Vikings' in terms of Pass Block Efficiency, which measures pressure allowed on a per-snap basis with weighting toward sacks allowed.
On the other side of the ball, Minnesota has an Interior Defender positionally in the top 10 (9th) in Run Stop %, Linval Joseph, while the Eagles have an Edge Defender positionally in the top 5 (4th) in Run Stop %, Vinny Curry. As far as Pass Rushers go, the Eagles have 2 Edge Defenders in the top 20 for Pass Rush Productivity--also a snap-weighted stat--in Brandon Graham and Vinny Curry, while Minnesota has 2 Edge Defenders in the top 20 for total pressures generated, Everson Griffen and Danielle Hunter. On the Interior, Vikings cannot much the pressure generation of the Eagles, with Fletcher Cox leading the way and spreading the rest out just about evenly between Beau Allen and Timmy Jernigan. The Vikings also have even pressure generation between Tom Johnson and Linval Joseph, but the Eagles main DIs have generated about 30 more pressures in total, in the regular season.
Across the entire Defensive Lines, including all players, in the regular season the Vikings have generated 232 pressures to Philly's 306. Both Defensive Lines can get after it. --Courtesy of PFF Elite|
Matchups to Watch
Eagles Offensive Line vs Vikings Defensive Front
The Vikings enter the NFCCG with the most talented defensive front the Eagles will face on the season. The Eagles defensive matchups will be discussed later on but this match up here is probably the most important match up for the Eagles to win this game. If you only took the word of Vikings fans, you’d walk away thinking everyone on the Vikings is literally Jesus and the Eagles don’t have a chance. We know that is not true since the Vikings do not have a Pro Bowl safety and that makes them fallible. Up the middle they feature the former but still quite literal giant Linval Joseph who finished the season as the 11th best Interior Defender per PFF and 10th best Defensive Tackle on NFL1000. Joseph is monster against the run and pretty solid as an interior rusher as well. His presence gives Zimmer the opportunity to send the blitzes he wants to send with regularity. Joseph is a strong finisher and can more than adequately handle himself on double teams. Next to him is Tom Johnson, who is PFFs 53rd rated interior defender and NFL1000s 15th. Johnson is a pretty reliable 3-tech that is good as a pass rusher and in the run game. The Vikings also have a great EDGE rushing duo in Everson Griffen and Danielle Hunter. Griffen finished as the 10th best EDGE rusher on PFF, which is misleading given his score was an elite 90.1. He also finished as a 3rd best 4-3 DE per NFL1000. He is a game wrecker and is excellent as a pass rusher and run defender. Danielle Hunter obviously overcompensates for his girly name and openly carries his guns on Sunday’s. Per PFF Hunter ranks as the 32nd EDGE rusher and the 20th ranked 4-3 DE per NFL1000. They are as formidable a pair as the Eagles have faced all season on a line that is as talented as the Eagles as a whole. This doesn’t include Anthony Barr and Eric Kendricks who will also look to party in the backfield Sunday as Mike Zimmer is not afraid to bring his patented Double-A Gap blitzes. Fortunately, the Eagles have one of the best offensive lines in the NFL even without Jason Peters. Lane Johnson and Jason Kelce are the best players at their respective positions in the league and 1st team All-Pros. Brandon Brooks is also deserving of All-Pro honors even though he wasn’t recognized as one. Stefan Wisniewski has been a very reliable left guard all season even with some bumps in pass protection. Big V has been up and down this season at LT but would start at tackle for a number of teams in the NFL. This is the premier match up in this game and could really help determine the winner. With Foles at QB, the Eagles coaches and OL must consistently execute the game plan well against a defensive line that has the ability to take over games. The Eagles will need to find a way to be balanced against this group while keeping Foles clean. It won’t be an easy battle for the Eagles and Vikings may get their share of wins, but if they play well enough they could help control the game. The trenches can make all the difference.
Eagles Defensive Line vs. Vikings Offensive Line
The reason why Mike Zimmer had eye problems the last few years was due to having to watch his offensive line. Gone are the days of human turnstile TJ Clemmings. The Vikings made a strong effort to reshape their OL this past offseason; in the process, they elevated their offenses level of play. Make no mistake; while the unit is improved it’s still vulnerable to good defensive lines. The Eagles have the best defensive line the Vikings will face this season. Rookie Pat Elflein has solidified the Center position for the Vikings and has had a solid year despite ranking 32nd on PFF among all Centers. Free agent acquisition Riley Reiff has been solid at Left Tackle finishing as the 14th best Left Tackle on NFL1000 and the 60th best tackle per PFF this season. Don’t let the wide variation in grades fool you, he is better than anything they’ve had of late and it has been a noticeable difference. Old man Joe Berger occupies one guard spot for the Vikings and has had a solid season for them finishing as PFFs 15th ranked guard. Berger has been equally good in run and pass protection. These three have helped steady a very bad offensive line but are they good enough to help hide the holes that have presented themselves of late? At the end of the regular season, starting guard Nick Easton landed on IR. The Vikings decided to shift Mike Remmers inside to fill his position while starting Rashod Hill at Right Tackle. Needless to say Hill has been a liability outside for the Vikings and will see a lot of Brandon Graham during the game. Hill struggled a lot with Cam Jordan last week and it doesn’t get easier this week. Fletcher Cox is fresh off a game wrecking performances and looking to attack the suspect Vikings interior line. The Eagles can bring the heat from all spots along the line and can do it with more regularity than almost every team in the NFL. The Vikings struggled for part of the game last week. They’ll likely struggle again this week in this department. How much is to be determined but the Eagles certainly need their defensive line to wreck the Vikings game plan in order to win. They’ll be an influence in this game it’s just a matter of how much.
Nick Foles vs. Vikings Pass Defense
The Eagles enter the game with one of the best rushing attacks in football thanks to good running backs and one of the toughest, well-executed run schemes in the league. Like the Eagles, the Vikings defense is excellent against the run. The Eagles will use the run game to help put the offense in more favorable situations and to keep the Vikings off balance but at some point Nick Foles is going to have to help the offense move the ball down the field. The Vikings defense is very talented in the secondary featuring a lesser Malcolm Jenkins in Harrison Smith, who is a candidate for DPOY. The Vikings use Smith everywhere and for everything. He finished as one of the best players in the NFL per PFF this season. Andrew Sendejo is in the concussion protocal but appears to be trending towards playing this week. Sendejo is the more traditional deep safety for the Vikings whose presence allows Harrision Smith to do his thing. The Vikings also feature one of the leagues most talented corners in Xavier Rhodes. Opposite him you’ll see 3rd year pro Trae Waynes. Rhodes is ranked as the 31st CB per PFF while Waynes is ranked 59th. These ranks can be a bit deceiving, especially for Rhodes. Waynes has become a good cornerback the last few years but is someone offenses would rather target than Xavier Rhodes. The Vikings also rotate Terrance Newman and Mackenzie Alexander into the game plan. The Eagles should be aware when either of these two are on the field and attack them with Nelson Agholor. Nelly has the speed and quickness to beat these two cornerbacks and make plays for the offense. Alshon Jeffery has had the time of his life against the Vikings considering he has done very well against them since 2013. The Vikings defense disguises a lot of their coverages and play smart football. They are very difficult to beat through the air especially when you factor in their pass rush. They are beatable when the rest of the pieces are put together on offense but it is going to have to take the Nick Foles the Eagles had in the second half of their first playoff game for the duration of this one. Otherwise, it could be a long day for the Eagles offense.
Eagles Defense vs. Vikings Weapons
This will be one of the more difficult matchups for the Eagles defense on the season when they take on the plethora of weapons and diverse offensive scheme the Vikings bring to the table. The Vikings enter with the 3rd ranked passing offense per DVOA on the season and it only makes sense when you look at the seasons Case Keenum, Stefon Diggs, and Adam Thielen have had. Both receivers are able to line up outside or in the slot and are excellent route runners with even better hands. It’s pretty amazing watching these two receivers go to work except for the fact the Eagles have to find a way to neutralize them this week. Diggs and Thielen finished 8th and 9th respectively per PFF among all WRs. Diggs finished as NFL1000 7th ranked outside receiver while Thielen finished as NFL1000 2nd ranked slot receiver in the NFL. Both are able to diagnose coverages, beat press man coverage, and find soft spots in zone defenses. Did I mention the hands? They’ll catch every Keenum YOLO ball when his ambitions are unable to match his arm talent. Speaking of Keenum where the heck did that come from? Say what you want about his future outlook but the season he has had is a testament to his ability to at least be good and the coaching staff’s ability to help him succeed. Keenum finished as PFFs 8th ranked QB and NFL1000 10th ranked QB for the 2017 season. He is able to diagnose coverage and find his receivers. He’s also built up a lot of chemistry with his receivers and trusts them to make plays with the football when he puts the ball in position. Keenum has been pretty good under pressure on the season, especially when outside the pocket. The Eagles will need to keep him in the pocket while rushing him hard and fast forcing him to make mistakes. We saw in the second half last week when he is under a lot of pressure he can make a lot of bonehead throws. He’s been fortunate on some to have talented receivers to make plays but has also done a good job putting passes in places that won’t hurt the team. The pass rush he’ll face Sunday is one of the best he’ll see. The Vikings will need to continue to beat man coverage given the emphasis the Eagles place on it. The Eagles need to be mindful of rub routes and all of the mesh routes/pick plays Shurmur likes to run to free open his receivers. The Eagles will be better served by mixing their coverages more often than normal. Confuse Keenum while forcing him into taking hits and making poor decisions. The Vikings still have the reliable tight end Kyle Rudolph. While he is down from the pace he set last year, he is also a reliable receiver and a popular red zone target for the Vikings. The Eagles need to be very wary of who is on the field and force the Vikings into 3rd and long situations. The the Vikings offense is nowhere near as effective on 3rd and long as they are in more favorable situations. Latavious Murray and Jerrick McKinnon are solid and complimentary backs but they aren’t the dynamic rusher that Dalvin Cook is. The Vikings offense took a solid hit when he went down. The Eagles will need to continue to dominate opposing rushing attacks while keeping the Vikings offense in worse looks to prevent them from winning their matchups more often. The receiving duo of Diggs and Thielen is probably the best starting pair the Eagles will face this season. The Eagles will more that earn that W if they manage these two.
Special thanks to MikeTysonChicken and abenyishay for their help in creating this Game Preview
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[OC] Lost Leagues: History of the Professional Spring Football League (1992)

Competing football leagues in the offseason is all the rage right now. The Alliance of American Football started up this year, and promptly ended this year without even finishing its first season. And, the XFL is starting up again in 2020 (it’s almost impossible for the league to be as big of a failure as it was in 2001, when it flamed out in a blaze of glory).
Here’s the thing with other football leagues- I love getting my football fix at all times of the year. I was glued to my TV during AAF season, and watched practically every Orlando Apollos game. And when then XFL starts again in 2020, you can bet that I’ll be watching with a keen eye. There’s big names attached to the XFL, there’s financial backing, there’s a TV contract that is nothing short of impressive (half the games on network TV), and the rule changes look interesting.
But here’s the thing with other football leagues- 99 percent of them don’t work. In terms of outdoor professional football leagues in the United States, the only two outside of the NFL that worked were the AFL and the AAFC; they don’t exist anymore because they combined with the NFL. It’s extremely hard to get a pro football league up and running and give it any kind of success. There’s tons of leagues that have fallen by the wayside.
Case in point- the Professional Spring Football League.
Now seems like as good of a time as ever to revive the Lost Leagues series, where I take a look at failed professional football leagues. Some leagues, such as the United Football League post that kicked off the series two years ago, you may recognize. Others, like this one, you’ve probably never heard of. In fact, this league made such little of an impact that if you do a Google search for “Professional Spring Football League”, every link on the first page of results has absolutely nothing to do with the PSFL that I’m talking about.
With all of that said, let’s take a look at the incredibly short-lived existence of the Professional Spring Football League.
Part I: A Puzzling Formation
The league announced its existence on October 1, 1991, less than a year before the league was set to play in 1992. Already, you might be able to spot a major problem with this. There was already a pro football league in the spring in 1991, and that was the World League of American Football. That league had a lot of things that the PSFL would not wind up getting. For starters, it had the backing of the NFL. The league owners wanted to create a developmental football league in the spring that would also give the sport popularity overseas. The WLAF also had a television contract; not only were games shown on ABC and USA Network, but those networks actually paid the WLAF for the TV rights.
There were so many failed spring football leagues, and now, the PSFL was going to directly compete against a spring football league that actually had the backing of the NFL. Let’s put that in perspective. Professional hockey in Atlanta has not worked. The Atlanta Flames moved to Calgary in part because of low attendance, and the Atlanta Thrashers moved to Winnipeg in part because of low attendance. Imagine if the NHL decided, for whatever reason, to go back to Atlanta. Now imagine that after this announcement is made, a competing hockey league (and I use competing very loosely) announces that they’re going to be putting a team in Atlanta, and the season is going to run at the same time as the NHL. Why would that make any sense for the competing hockey league to do? Already, the league was behind.
But let’s take a look at that other pro league that was playing in the spring, and is still somewhat remembered to this day. The WLAF, in its inaugural season, averaged 25,361 fans per game. On its surface, that’s really good. However, if you take out the three European teams (London Monarchs, Frankfurt Galaxy, Barcelona Dragons) and the one Canadian team (Montreal Machine), you’re left with six American teams. Here’s the average attendance of those American teams:
Team Average Attendance
New York/New Jersey Knights 32,322
Birmingham Fire 25,442
Orlando Thunder 19,018
Sacramento Surge 17,994
San Antonio Riders 14,853
Raleigh-Durham Skyhawks 12,753
AVERAGE 20,397
Why do I bring this up? Let’s be very clear- an average attendance of 20,397 for a football league’s inaugural season is still extremely good… but only two of the six teams cleared 20,000. Remember that this was the league with the NFL’s backing and a relatively lucrative TV contract (it was in the eight figure range according to some reports). In the PSFL, a league with neither the league’s backing nor any TV contract to speak of, they needed each team to average 20,000 fans per game to stay afloat. Per the article:
[President] Vince Sette and the other league organizers figure each team will need to average just 20,000 fans per game to make this endeavor work. And they're not counting on television revenue to bail them out.
Each team needs to average just 20,000 fans per game? That’s all it’s going to take? A number that four out of six teams in the WLAF couldn’t reach? A number that, in the final season of the USFL, 8 out of the league’s 14 teams couldn’t reach? That seems like a fantastic business model that can’t possibly fail. You can probably already see some of the inevitable failures and red flags with this league just based off of the model.
But remember when I said that the PSFL did not have a TV contract? That doesn’t mean that they didn’t get some exposure on TV, in the form of an introduction video that aired on SportsChannel New York in 1991 (even though the league did not have any teams in New York). The video is… well, let’s just take a look at the video, because there’s a lot to dissect.
Part II: An Even More Puzzling Video
LINK TO THE VIDEO
I have no idea how I found this video, seeing as it has a grand total of 398 views on YouTube, two likes, and two comments. However, this is an absolute gold mine. This was a half-hour special aired on SportsChannel a few months prior to the launch of the league, and man, is it a weird video in all its early-90s cheese and glory. The first thing you’ll notice is that the commissioner of this league is Rex Lardner. About a quarter century later, he would try launching another pro football league in the spring. Considering the fact that the league has 195 likes on Facebook and the only video on the league’s website is literally five seconds long and is just a horribly-done Microsoft Word logo, I’m guessing that league is dead and that he learned nothing from the failures of this league.
After a shot of a logo that looks somewhat similar to the USFL logo, we get an introduction by a man who, literally less than one minute into the video, tries to stop skepticism of fans. In the first minute, they acknowledge that every other attempt has failed. That’s rather comforting. However, they explain why this league is different and won’t fail, and it’s because Vincent Sette (the founder and president of the league) said that he researched the other leagues. Checking in on what happened to Sette after the league’s demise, and it turns out that he’s doing great.
The founder of the league was also known Vincent Setteducate. There appear to have been no criminal charges filed in the aftermath of the PSFL. Five years later, he was charged by the SEC in a wire fraud case, and pleaded guilty, sentenced to five years probation and ordered to pay $300,000 in restitution in another business venture. He has had other brushes with the law as well.
And yes, according to this article, he goes by both names of Vincent Sette and Vincent Setteducate. Getting back to the video, after he promises that the league is going to work because he researched at the New York Public Library, you’ll also notice that Walt Michaels is the Director of Football Operations. I’ll give the league credit for that- Michaels is a recognizable name; in six seasons with the Jets and two seasons with the New Jersey Generals of the USFL, he’s made the playoffs four times, and only had a losing record twice. He even guided the Jets to the AFC Championship in the 1982 strike-shortened season. Unfortunately, that’s the only recognizable front office figure associated with this league. Not once in the video does it mention any coaches associated with the league. Considering the league was starting up in spring of 1992 (the first game seemed to be scheduled for February 29), and this TV special aired in late 1991, that seems like a major red flag. Again, just to reiterate- this league was announced on October 1, and the first game was to be played on February 29. People criticized the XFL the first time around for moving too quickly, but that was a year. This is less than five months. This is 151 days between announcement and the first game.
But how are the players in this league? Remember that the talent pool with any secondary football league is going to be somewhat worse; factor in the WLAF already existing in the spring, and the PSFL was playing third fiddle. They held three combines, with the one in the video taking place in Atlanta in October (less than a month after the creation of the league), and others taking place in December and January. Who were some of the players?
You know it’s a good sign when the first player that’s mentioned is Mickey Guidry. When the FIRST PLAYER YOU HIGHLIGHT is a man that threw 5 touchdowns and 5 interceptions in his four years at LSU from 1985-88 and a man who was so buried on the depth chart with the Sacramento Surge of the WLAF that he didn’t even throw a pass in 1991, that’s a horrible sign. Other quarterbacks in this league included Tony Rice (who threw 2 touchdowns and 9 interceptions in his final season at Notre Dame in 1989, completed 48.5% of his passes over his career, and was dreadful with the Barcelona Dragons in the WLAF in 1991 with one touchdown pass and three interceptions), Bobby McAllister (an atrocious QB in the WLAF in 1991 with Raleigh-Durham, throwing 7 touchdowns and 11 interceptions on 5.9 yards per attempt, a 46.7% completion percentage, and a passer rating of 54; Raleigh-Durham went winless), and Todd Hammel (a 12th round pick in 1990 who never played a snap, and then played in the WLAF with New York/New Jersey where he threw 2 touchdowns and 3 interceptions, had a passer rating of 53.7, completed just 45.5% of his passes, and averaged 5.8 yards per attempt). Remember- these were the guys they were highlighting, so this was their cream of the crop. Guys who were awful in the WLAF were, on paper, the best quarterbacks in this league.
As for the other offensive skill players, there were some recognizable names, even if they weren’t that good. Timmy Smith ran for a record-204 yards for Washington in Super Bowl XXII; he only had three regular season rushing touchdowns in his NFL career, and from 1989-91 (the three years before the PSFL’s scheduled inaugural season in 1992), had 6 rushing yards, but at least the name was recognizable. The second halfback mentioned is James Gray; while he was exceptional at Texas Tech, leading the Southwest Conference in 1989 with 1,509 rushing yards and 18 rushing touchdowns, he never played a down in the NFL after getting drafted by the Patriots in round five of the 1990 NFL Draft. Lydell Carr had a solid career with Oklahoma, but after getting drafted in the fourth round of the 1988 NFL Draft, did nothing in the NFL, never recording a single yard from scrimmage (in fairness, he did score eight touchdowns with the Barcelona Dragons in the 1991 season of the WLAF). And then, there was Lorenzo Hampton, who scored 28 touchdowns in his NFL career. Those were the four halfbacks highlighted; two of them never got a carry in the NFL. Quality-wise, that’s not good. Also, you may notice that half of this video is just the PSFL Combine and almost plays like a football instructional video; I’m not sure why this is.
Another major red flag with this video comes with the announcement of the teams. We’ll get to the teams later, but the map only shows nine cities, even though there’s supposed to be 10 teams in the league. That means that a new team would have to be announced and formed with roughly 70 days to go until the first game of the season. Good luck with that.
But how is this league going to be any different from the other leagues? After an interview with former BYU tight end Chris Smith that, no joke, starts off with the line, “I love children,” we find out how. For one, the players are going to do community service. There’s going to be autograph sessions. I’m failing to see how this is any different, but then we get two weird things. The first is that the games are going to be when the fans want. They’re scheduling for the fans. I have no idea what this even means. Does this mean that if the fans want them to play a game right now, that they’ll do it? The second is a cool idea but has no practicality whatsoever, and that is the universal ticket. Any fan who buys a season ticket to a PSFL team gets all of their team’s home games plus a universal ticket that can be used at any PSFL game. Good idea… but who’s flying halfway across the country to watch a PSFL game? Sette brings up the idea of staying at a hotel in Tampa for a PSFL game… who’s going to do that? It’s an interesting idea, but one that I’m sure nobody would actually use.
Some frequently asked questions about the league pop up next, and it’s always a good sign when one of the questions is whether or not a franchise can go under. The PSFL actually had a good idea with a single-entity structure; MLS has a similar system and it has worked well in ensuring the league’s survival. But here’s where it gets somewhat eyebrow-raising for me- each team has a salary cap of $2 million, and an average player salary of $45,000. Adjusting for inflation, today, the average player salary is around $82,000. That’s a pretty large amount for a minor football league. For some perspective, even the AAF’s average salary was less than that at $75,000 per season. And even though the AAF didn’t work, it had a TV contract and actual investors. This league was formed in the blink of an eye, had no TV revenue, had a business model that relied on a rather unattainable goal of 20,000 fans at every game, and yet, had a higher average salary per season when adjusted for inflation than the AAF.
After watching that video, it’s time to break down the actual markets chosen.
Part III: The Teams
The PSFL was pretty ambitious with their inaugural season, opting to have 10 teams play in the league. Four of the teams would be located in cities with NFL teams, with the other six teams being in unoccupied professional football markets. The New England Blitz seemed like an odd choice for a team. While the league stressed going into unoccupied markets, Boston already had a team in the NFL, MLB, NBA, and NHL, so this completely defeats the purpose. Additionally, the Boston Breakers were in the USFL in 1983, and drew the smallest average attendance in the league at 12,735 fans per game. Why Boston was chosen for a team, I’m not sure. The other baffling location was the Washington Marauders at RFK Stadium; the Washington Federals of the USFL bombed horribly (second-to-last in attendance in 1983 and 1984, including an average of just 7,694 fans per game in 1984), and there was competition in the area with the Bullets of the NBA and the Capitals of the NHL.
However, every other city makes sense. I’ll give the PSFL credit- they seemed like they had a good idea of where to go with their teams. Going to Tampa Bay with the Tampa Bay Outlaws made complete sense- in the USFL, the Bandits consistently ranked near the top of the league in average attendance, proving that spring football in Tampa Bay could work (if it’s done correctly, the XFL team playing in Tampa Bay in 2020 could have a strong following, though it’ll be tougher now that the city has an NHL team and an MLB team). Miami didn’t have the Marlins yet or the Florida Panthers (although Sunrise is an hour away from Miami), so there was little competition in the area for a spring football team to thrive. The other six locations were teams without NFL teams. The Arkansas Miners played in Little Rock (no pro sports teams), the Carolina Cougars played in Columbia (no pro sports teams), the Nevada Aces played in Las Vegas (no pro sports teams), the New Mexico Rattlesnakes played in Albuquerque (no pro sports teams), the Oregon Lightning Bolts played in Portland (only the Trail Blazers as competition), and the Utah Pioneers played in Salt Lake City (no pro sports teams). Yes, travel costs were going to be high, but the market selection seemed promising with a bunch of mid-sized markets who were starving for pro sports.
The logos, though? My, are some of them bad.
A lot of these logos would’ve been outdated very quickly. I have no idea what the New England Blitz logo is trying to be. The Carolina Cougars logo looks like the logo from Monster Energy (though the Carolina logo predates the Monster logo). Nevada’s logo is just the Alcorn State logo with cards coming off of it. And then there’s the Utah Pioneers helmet, which is the exact same thing as the Cleveland Browns helmet minus a logo on it. Why the Miami Tribe were named what they were, I’m not sure, seeing as the actual Miami Tribe is based in Oklahoma.
They were already thinking about expansion. As mentioned in this article, they were looking at expanding to 12 teams in the near future, putting teams in Fresno and Austin; both were large cities with no pro sports team.
So, we’ve got our teams. We’ve got our video promoting the league (even though we don’t have a television contract). And, we’ve got a schedule culminating with the Red, White & Blue Bowl at RFK Stadium on July 5. How does the first season of the league go?
Part IV: Collapse & Conclusion
Already, cracks were starting to show in 1992. Businessman Nick Bunick bought the Portland team a month before the season started, and immediately wanted to change the name to the Oregon Chargers. I’m sure the NFL would’ve been thrilled by that. They just hired a coach a month before the season started by taking former NFL quarterback Craig Morton.
February rolled around, and it was less than a month before the start. And when February rolled around, I’ll let Squidward explain why the league was struggling.
In what can only be described as a shocked Pikachu face for a lot of these other leagues, they had no money. It was February 12, just 17 days before kickoff between the Tampa Bay Outlaws and Utah Pioneers, and the league was in serious trouble. The Miami Tribe folded. The commissioner, Rex Lardner, said that they were considering shutting down the league. The Washington Marauders, who were a late addition to the league to begin with, threatened to cease operations by the end of the week if the league didn’t provide adequate financial arrangements. Remember those plans that said that the league needed each team to average at least 20,000 fans per game to survive? Less than three weeks before the season, and Washington had sold 100 season tickets. One hundred. I’m shocked that the team that was announced hastily in a market with lots of competition already and in a market where the USFL failed miserably could barely sell 100 season tickets.
And, as it turns out, nobody got any money. Washington wide receivers coach Brian Gardner said he was owed $5,000, and never got it, stating that “I have as much chance of getting that as I do of catching the clouds in my hands right now.” The league lied when they said that it had $50 million in the bank; only a small percentage of that was actually in the bank. The schedule, set to start on February 29, was in danger of getting pushed back two weeks. And the Marauders were running an awful operation:
The Marauders operation is tight. All the equipment is in Room 131 of the team's headquarters here, a Quality Inn. The shoulder pads are piled atop two beds; face bars sit on a table. Other pads and several jerseys are in the bathroom.
[Cornerback] Barry Wilburn kept his football shoes on after the morning practice today. That was because the tape he'd bought and used to anchor the shoes to his feet had run out. There was no tape for anyone. Until the season starts, players are responsible for their own football shoes. They pay their way to training camp -- and their way home if cut.
One week later, the league folded. On February 19, 1992, the PSFL shut down operations, and never played a single game. And thus, another professional football league collapsed. Considering the lack of name recognition or the lack of a TV deal, and considering the WLAF already happening in the spring of 1992 while this league was trying to get underway, I’m not sure many people noticed that this league died. But it goes to show you that trying to start a football league in five months is usually a bad idea.
Previous Posts
History of the United Football League (2009-2012)
History of the Spring Football League (2000)
History of the Fall Experimental Football League (2013-2015)
History of the Stars Football League (2011-2013)
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