2020 Final Four Odds: Killian Tillie & Gonzaga in Top 10
2020 Final Four Odds: Killian Tillie & Gonzaga in Top 10
Final Four 2020 Lines & Prop Bets, Final Four Odds to
March Madness – Final Four odds, betting lines and
2020 March Madness Odds: Betting Picks & Final Four
2020 the Memorial Tournament Round 4 Odds and Betting Preview
Betting odds going into the Conference Finals: Warriors have a 61.4% chance of winning the Finals. Bucks 26.3%, Raptors 9.5%, Blazers 3.1%. How accurate do you think these are? Who is undervalued? Who is overvalued? Why?
Odds converted to % odds from the Betfair Exchange. As is often said of betting odds, these are a reflection of where the money is flowing and not necessarily accurate. Which is precisely why I'm sharing them. If you think the betting public has any of them wrong, please let us know and share your reasoning.
General Election Polling Discussion Thread (June 2020)
Welcome to the /politics polling discussion thread for the general election. As the election nears, polling of both the national presidential popular vote and important swing states is ramping up, and with both parties effectively deciding on nominees, pollsters can get in the field to start assessing the state of the presidential race. Please use this thread to discuss polling and the general state of the presidential or congressional election. Below, you'll find some of the most recent polls, but this is by no means exhaustive, as well as some links to prognosticators sharing election models. As always though, polls don't vote, people do. Regardless of whether your candidate is doing well or poorly, democracy only works when people vote, and there are always at least a couple polling misses every cycle, some of which are pretty high profile. If you haven't yet done so, please take some time to register to vote or check your registration status.
Below is a collection of recent polling of the US Presidential election. This is likely incomplete and also omits the generic congressional ballot as well as Senate/House/Gubernatorial numbers that may accompany these polls. Please use the discussion space below to discuss any additional polls not covered. Additionally, not all polls are created equal. If this is your first time looking at polls, the FiveThirtyEight pollster ratings page is a helpful tool to assess historic partisan lean in certain pollsters, as well as their past performance.
Prognosticators are folks who make projected electoral maps, often on the strength of educated guesses as well as inside information in some cases from campaigns sharing internals with the teams involved. Below are a few of these prognosticators and their assessment of the state of the race:
Cook Political Reports - Charlie Cook's race ratings are well regarded in the political field, and he's been in the business for a while. Cook is known to incorporate both public and nonpublic (ie. internal polling) information in his projections. Also covers (and is perhaps better known for) Senate and House races.
Larry Sabato's Crystal Ball - Larry Sabato has also been in the political prediction business for a while now, and the team at the UVA Center for Politics has been fairly successful in past cycles. Towards the end of the election cycle, Sabato has a policy of making a call in each state, refusing to leave any race in the tossup category. Also covers Senate and House races.
Inside Elections - Inside Elections, run by Nathan Gonzales, is the successor to Stu Rothenberg's Rothenberg Political Reports, which used to be a part of Roll Call. This prognosticator did fairly well in 2018, though Rothenberg himself boldly (along with some other pundits) predicted in 2016 that Donald Trump's path to the presidency was nonexistent. Also covers Senate, House and Gubernatorial races.
Daily Kos Elections - Daily Kos Elections is the direct successor to the Swing State Project website, which merged with Daily Kos in 2010. Despite the liberal lean of the site as a whole, the Daily Kos Elections predictions tend to be fairly even-handed, if not even slightly bearish for Democrats. Presidential numbers aren't up yet but they have Senate, House and Gubernatorial races.
RRH Elections - Red Racing Horses Elections is a site founded by former conservative-leaning members of the Swing State Project community. Despite the conservative nature of the commentary, like DKE, the race predictions tend to be fairly neutral, if slightly bearish for Republicans. Like the Crystal Ball, RRH will call all races before the election so that none are left in the tossup category. The presidential rankings have not been published but they do cover Senate, House, Gubernatorial and Row Officer (statewide elected officials, such as state Attorney General, Secretary of State etc.) races.
Polling models are similar to prognosticators (and often the model authors will act like pundits as well), but tend to be about making "educated guesses" on the state of the election. Generally, the models are structured to take in data such as polls and electoral fundamentals, and make a guess based on research on prior elections as to the state of the race in each state. Below are a few of the more prominent models that are online or expected to be online soon:
FiveThirtyEight - this model isn't active yet, but it's the original model from Nate Silver that debuted in 2008 and really kicked off this genre of race prognostication. For now, here's the polling aggregates that they've set up in lieu of a now-cast (which is likely not returning to the model this year). Will likely also include Senate and House projections like in past years.
Princeton Election Consortium - this is the model run by Dr. Sam Wang, a neuroscience professor at Princeton University. This model has run in the past two cycles as well, though Sam Wang famously said he'd eat a bug if Donald Trump won the election because his model predicted no path to victory for the eventual winner of the 2016 election. Also includes projections for Senate and House.
JHK Forecasts - the earliest model on the scene this cycle. Jack Kersting's model is one of the newer ones this year and also includes projections for Senate and House.
The Economist - this is the model run by G. Elliott Morris, who previously had a midterm election model under The Crosstab.
Niskanen Center - Rachel Bitecofer's projection, which only seems to update a couple times a cycle. Part of this has to do with Bitecofer's central argument that there are generally no swing voters, and electoral fundamentals drive the outcome of the election. This was put to the test in the 2018 midterms, where Bitecofer very early on predicted a Democratic pickup of 40-45 seats in the House, which fell about where the election ended up.
Lean Tossup - a foreign model from Canada. This model did relatively well in the 2019 Canadian election, but this appears to be the first time they've tried forecasting the US Presidential election. Also includes Senate and House projections.
Prediction markets are betting markets where people put money on the line to estimate the likelihood of one party winning a seat or state. Most of these markets will also tend to move depending on polling and other socioeconomic factors in the same way that prognosticators and models will work. Predictit and Election Betting Odds are prominent in this space, although RealClearPolitics has an aggregate of other betting sites as well.
Since Riggs, Trent, and Frankie have turned their golf positions at Barstool into less blogging and more playing with themselves and selling $50 cases of soda, I decided to take a dull, butter knife stab at a preview blog for this weekend’s Memorial Tournament. Last Week Real quick let’s talk about how much we should all hate the PGA after Sunday’s off-air debacle, and then about some questionable feature groups this week. For weather reasons on Sunday, the Workday final round tee times were moved up so players could finish before incoming storms. Great, that all makes sense. But somehow the PGA was not able to broadcast the round on TV, and when they did have to kill the live broadcast, they didn’t even mention where to go watch the rest of the tournament. THERE ARE NO OTHER FUCKING SPORTS ON, WHAT COULD CBS HAVE MADE PRIORITY OVER THIS FINAL ROUND? No seriously, someone please tell me because I would love to know what aired on CBS from 11 am to 3 pm instead of live sports. Can we also talk about how terrible the Thursday/Friday coverage is every weekend on all networks? You usually get 2-4 featured groups you can stream online from 9-3 (even these groups you often need NBC Sports Gold to watch), and then get maybe 3 hours of full coverage in a TV broadcast. There is legitimately a channel called the Golf Channel, who are airing a shitty preview/talk show while you are missing coverage. Here’s a fucking mad idea - put live golf on the golf channel before the major networks get prime coverage. Then we got a look yesterday at the featured groups for the Memorial. How do you fuck this up? If you are younger than 70 and even sporadically watch golf, you could do this job better than whoever does it for the PGA. Here’s the formula: Brooks Koepka makes a joke about Bryson Dechambeau using steroids one week ago = you put them in the same group. Golf has so little drama because all these guys are friends and making millions of dollars even when they aren’t winning. Fans need these storylines/rivalries to be buffed up, not ignored because they might hurt Bryson's feelings. This Week As far as a course preview, we get a strange twist this week with the players coming back to Muirfield, who just hosted the Workday Charity Tournament. I’ve been watching golf for a long ass time and cannot remember the last time this happened, but it’s not a major headline at all so maybe this does happen on occasion. Either way the setup this weekend will look different than last weekend, with much faster greens, thicker rough, and some changes in tee box locations. I think we see some youngeinexperienced players struggle with the change in green speeds, especially since they just played these same greens and they were rolling like carpet (stimpmeter will go from 11 to 13.5). My gut tells me the winner is either a veteran or someone who didn’t play here last week. This would rule out guys like Hovland, Burns, Merritt, Niemann, etc. Finally, we have to mention that Eldrick Tiger Woods returns to the field this week. I’m looking at his +2000 odds and hate the value because we have no idea where his game is at right now. That being said, Tiger has won the Memorial five times and placed T9 last year, and T23 the year before. I will root for Tiger to win every tournament he enters, but I won’t look at a future for him at these low odds, and for his first post-break golf since The Match. Now let’s go over wagers this weekend and what you should look for. I am usually not a fan of betting on outright winners, before any golf has been played. The odds always look so good but you will rarely have a profitable year trying to bet winners every week. That being said, here are some of the best value picks IMO.
This man is -69 (nice) in his 4 tournaments since the resumption of the season, with final results of 3rd, 8th, 6th, and 1st. Not only is he launching drives 10% further than the field consistently, but his confidence is sky high and that mental edge goes a long way. Bryson also won here 2 years and 40 pounds ago, so he does like this course. But let’s not forget what a whiny bitch he is. Give me odds on if he will punch a cameraman this week and I would hammer yes.
Rory McIlroy/Justin Thomas +950
Rory holds the current #1 world golf ranking, and JT holds the current #1 FedEx cup ranking. Neither golfer has won since returning from quarantine, however they each grabbed a trophy or two early in the season (pre-pandemic). Both have seen some inconsistencies in the past month, with over par rounds or missed cuts, but undeniably still playing great golf. You might want to think about JT’s state of mind after blowing a lead and then a playoff last weekend, but I still like him to show up and be in the mix.
DJ recently daddy-dicked Brendan Todd in the final round of the Travelers, starting his final round 2 shots behind and leaving with a 1 shot victory (6 shots ahead of Todd). He might win, he might not, either way he’s going home to Paulina Gretzky and a Johnny Depp style lunch spread.
I’m going to choose to ignore Brooks’ round one 74 at the Workday this weekend, followed up by a missed cut. His previous two tournaments he posted 8 consecutive rounds under par, and a Sunday 65 to place 7th at the RBC Heritage. That being said, in my brief research it looks like his best finish at the Memorial was T31 in 2017, so maybe he hates this course. But Petty King’s hate for everyone besides himself is a great motivator. Can’t wait until we get a “suck on that Faldo” on a hot mic.
My guy Collin is less than a year removed from his amateur status, and has now made 24/25 cuts to start his career. Three weeks ago he lipped out a 3 footer to lose in a playoff, had a rough 2 weeks at the RBC and Travelers, but then he came right back and won in a playoff this past weekend. This dude is a sniper from the fairway, but can he stay straight off the tee and hole some putts? 2 playoffs in his last 4 tournaments would indicate yes.
Cantlay/Matsuyama/Rose/Kuchar +1250 to +6500
All four of these guys have won the Memorial in the past, with Cantlay at the best odds trying to repeat his title from 2019. I sneaky love Justin Rose here who has been playing great golf, and reminds me of a slightly less hate-able version of Adam Scott. Always fun to root for Kuch daddy as well, but his association with Sketchers is unforgivable.
Hovland/Simpson/Schauffele/Berger +2000 to +3000
Three young studs who have won or come close to winning this season, and a veteran who has been playing lights out golf (Webby). I would not be surprised to see a slow start for Hovland after two disappointing Sundays in a row, but he is too good not to make a push if he makes the cut. Schauffele actually scares me, he is definitely the odds on favorite to be a serial killer after his PGA career (eh maybe Mickelson). But that focus and weird fatheson relationship has been working for him, and he’s sitting just a few spots outside the FedEx cup top 10 and playing great golf. Meanwhile Webby is sitting at #2 in the FedEx cup rankings with a win at the RBC Heritage and a top 10 at the Rocket Mortgage Classic. Side note, why is there a “t” in mortgage? Fuck that word.
My pick: once again reiterating I will likely not bet on a Sunday winner before Thursday starts, but if I was I would put my money on Justin Rose +4500 or Xander Schauffele +2500. Thursday Matchups Easily the best way to bet on golf, and in my experience the most profitable. Here are a few picks I’ll be making before Thursday. Currently I am 4-2 betting matchups (last 4 PGA events) and I’ll track my picks moving forward. If I get to Jack Mac or Reags level of bad betting, I promise I’ll retire and not pretend I know what I’m talking about. I’m only going to pick matchups in the featured groups for Thursday. Nothing worse than betting on someone like Marc Leishman, and having to refresh the golf cast simulator thing instead of watching live play. Dechambeau (-115) over Thomas (-105): everything is so planned out and calculated with Bryson, and his sit-out at the Workday feels like a part of his plan. Fucking hate rooting for this kid, but I see him coming in fresh against JT who blew an enormous lead last weekend. D. Johnson (even) over Morikawa (-120): my favorite first round matchup bet. It seems counter-intuitive going against the guy who won at this course a few days ago, but don’t forget the major change this week will be how the greens roll. And Morikawa is 150th on tour in strokes gained with the putter. Lock it in. Take a flier - round 1 leader I don’t think I’ve ever bet this prop but I’ve also never written a golf blog before so let’s take a shot here. I’ll put a half unit on it as well: Rickie Fowler +4000 Rick's finishes at the Memorial the past 3 years: T14, T8, solo 2nd. In 2017 when he placed 2nd, he shot an opening round 66. I also feel like I see him in the mix a lot in early rounds, but can’t quite put together those low weekend rounds. That’s all I’ve got. Sorry it’s not funny but it’s better content than we’ve gotten out of Foreplay. Let’s make some money and blow off work Thursday and Friday.
Back in middle school, we had a teacher (we’ll call him “Mr Teacher”) who was kind of a jerk. He was kind of an odd guy who came off as very condescending to students. He also seemed kind of disinterested in teaching in general. One day, during math class, he’s generally butchering a lesson on the basics of algebra (literally the introduction to how an equation is formed and balanced). One kid is really struggling and asking a lot of questions.... Mr Teacher is struggling to come up with a coherent explanation. Finally, the class clown (we’ll call him “Kid”)(who was actually pretty smart) couldn’t handle it anymore and interjects - Kid: Mr Teacher you’re explaining this in a really confusing way, it’s not as complicated as you’re making it out to be. Mr Teacher: Look, do YOU want to teach this class? Kid: Sure! I bet I can explain it better than you are right now. Mr Teacher: I’d like to see that, go right ahead. Now, the tone of this wasn’t friendly. Mr Teacher was trying to put Kid in his place and he was really sarcastic about the whole thing. You could tell he thought Kid was going to bomb and be embarrassed. Well, Kid marches up to the whiteboard, grabs a marker, and spends 5 minutes walking the struggling kid through the lesson (in front of the entire class). His explanation is clear, it makes sense, and at the end the struggling kid goes “Oh ok!!! NOW I finally get it. Thanks!” Mr Teacher is pretty sour about this turn of events and picks up on a small detail (“detail x”) that Kid omitted from his explanation. He says: Mr Teacher: You know Kid, you didn’t mention anything about [detail x].... Kid turns around and looks dead in Mr Teacher’s eyes and says: Kid: Mr Teacher..... do YOU want to teach this class? The class erupts in laughter and clapping and Mr Teacher looks like he wants to kill Kid. Meanwhile it was legit like a movie and the bell rings and class ended. Edit: fixed acronyms into proper pseudonyms Edit2: fixed some brackets
Equity bulls believe everything is fine. The bond markets know better
Global bond markets refuse to ratify a V-shaped economic recovery. Futures contracts in fixed income derivatives are even more bearish, signalling nothing less than a worldwide deflationary slump as far as the eye can see. "If markets are pricing a 'V', they're going about it in an odd way," says Andrew Sheets from Morgan Stanley. It is simply not true that investors are ignoring the massive economic shock of the pandemic. The picture is being distorted by equities, and within that by a clutch of US tech stocks in the grip of a parabolic spike all too like the final phase of the dotcom bubble in 2000. But debt markets are three times bigger and ultimately matter far more. Yields on 10-year US Treasuries have not rebounded as you would expect if the economy is genuinely healing. They are trading at 0.62 per cent, close to their all-time low during the panic flight to safety in late March. You can perhaps rationalise such low yields on the grounds that the Federal Reserve has repressed the Treasury market with its $US3 trillion ($4.3 trillion) blast of pandemic QE, although be aware that the Fed balance sheet peaked at $US7.2 trillion in early June and has since fallen by $US200 billion. What you cannot so easily rationalise is the long-range pricing of futures contracts. They imply that yields will remain pinned to the floor until the mid-2030s and that the Fed will not come close to meeting its inflation target by the middle of the century. Fixed income funds are telling us central banks will fail to generate more than a flicker of inflation despite heroic efforts. It is the portrait of a truncated recovery with corrosively high unemployment. Swathes of the US stock market remain in distress. David Rosenberg, from Rosenberg Research & Associates, says the sectoral tally is: auto stocks (minus 23 per cent), advertising (minus 34 per cent), energy and regional banks (minus 37 per cent), hotels (minus 43 per cent), and airlines (minus 55 per cent). I notice a growing unease among the equity gurus at the big US banks. JP Morgan says the risk no longer justifies the reward. Tobias Levkovich, from Citigroup, says his "panic/euphoria" model is now signalling an 80 per cent chance of an equity correction. He has cut his year-end target for the S&P 500 to 2900, a 10 per cent drop from current levels. Citigroup estimates that global profit forecasts for the next year are 30 per cent too high. Wall Street is being held up by a diminishing handful of equities. Microsoft and the FAANGs (Facebook, Amazon, Apple, Netflix and Google/Alphabet) added half a trillion dollars in capitalisation over the six trading days up to the end of last week. I can appreciate Tesla's first-mover advantage in electrification but I do not believe that it is worth more than VW, Daimler and BMW combined. This tech surge has pushed Wall Street capitalisation to a record 152.2 per cent of GDP even as the pandemic spins out of control across the US Deep South, with a similar pattern building up in the Mid-West. Total hospitalisations in the US are back near their peak in early May. "Not to be hyperbolic, it really is the perfect storm," says Anthony Fauci, the US pandemic tsar. And remember, he warns us, this is still only "wave one". The FAANGs and Microsoft make up a quarter of the S&P 500 index by value, and 8 per cent of revenues, but employ just 1 per cent of the American workforce. Leaving aside the obvious point that a significant bloc of their customers is in difficulty, American society will not allow these companies to attain monopolistic supremacy for long. They will be broken on the democratic wheel. The monetarist view is that the sheer scale of QE and money creation by central banks trumps all else. We now have a perverse situation. The worldwide shock from COVID-19 is getting worse. The IMF has slashed its global growth forecast to minus 4.9 per cent for this year, from 3 per cent in April. The OECD has come in even lower. Its forecast for Europe is catastrophic, with figures ranging from minus 11.4 per cent to minus 14 per cent for France and Italy, and minus 11.5 per cent to minus 14 per cent for the UK, depending on the outcome of the pandemic. Equity bulls are betting that the combined fiscal and monetary stimulus is large enough to overwhelm the damage of the pandemic with all its long-tail consequences. But is it actually big enough if the crisis drags on for months in a messy fashion with fresh lockdowns? Emergency relief in the US and Europe was designed on the assumption that COVID-19 would be done and dusted by now. America has been running through the $US2 trillion injection of the Cares Act at a terrific pace. The Economic Policy Institute in Washington estimates a 10th of the US workforce will never regain their previous jobs. Nor have the job cuts ended. I find it hard to believe that there will be a surge in pent-up spending in this atmosphere of pervasive angst. It is more likely that large numbers of people will save frantically in self-defence, and this will combine with efforts by thousands of over-leveraged companies to pay down loans taken out during the crisis to stave off collapse. It will take years to rebuild damaged balance sheets. Nor is the European stimulus large enough or fast enough. The fiscal component of the recovery fund does not kick until next March at the earliest. Until then it is a patchwork of national plans, vastly differing in intensity. The monetarist view is that the sheer scale of QE and money creation by central banks trumps all else and will drive an explosive surge in activity almost by mechanical effect, probably culminating in an inflationary boom in 2021. I do not rule that out. But the monetarist premise, anchored on the theories of Milton Friedman, is that the velocity of circulation will return to normal over time and ignite this reservoir of monetary jet fuel. If they are wrong on that core point, the monetary expansion could prove to be inert. Nobel economist Myron Scholes told me over the weekend that the monetarists were likely to lose their bet this time. I pay attention because he cut his teeth under Friedman in Chicago before going on to master the arcane world of financial derivatives. His view is that the pandemic shock has broken large parts of the American economic system and accelerated the "death of Thatcherism" as dirigiste ideologies come back into favour. It will be a very long time before the process of creative destruction unleashes fresh growth. Specifically, he predicts that velocity will keep falling and the extra money created by the Fed will accumulate in idle excess reserves. "Milton Friedman was wrong; velocity can keep on falling," he said. "The banks cannot figure out how to lend in this environment and the multiplier only works if there is an opportunity to lend. You can bring a horse to water but you can't make it drink." https://www.afr.com/markets/equity-markets/equity-bulls-believe-everything-is-fine-the-bond-markets-know-better-20200715-p55c4g
You know what really grinds my gears? People ditching waifus they liked one season for another they fell for in another anime season. This utter lack of waifu loyalty simply disgusts me. And that's why I'm grateful One Piece is year-round so that seasonal waifus don't distract us here. Hrm? What's that? There was an oni girl with light-and-dark hair revealed in the latest One Piece chapter? Sorry, Pudding, but I've gotta go!
Ladies and Gentlemen, Boys and Girls, and everybody in between, welcome back to...
Bets and Bravery!
Welcome one, welcome all, we're glad to have you! If you're new to Bets and Bravery, B&B is a weekly thread on this subreddit where users bet with fake currency, the Beli from in-universe, on what they think will happen in each week's chapter in a series of bets made by yours truly. I keep track of everyone's money in a giant Google Sheet, which is available in the links above. So, if you're new, enjoy your time! But, if you're a regular on this thread, we're glad to see you back at OnePiece's unofficial official pasttime! I hope you've all had a good week so far with whatever's been happening in your lives. If you haven't had such a good week so far, I'm wishing the best for you and hope I can brighten your day even a little bit with this post. Before we get started, let's refresh your memory of last chapter to get you back on betting track!
Last Time on One Piece
So let's talk about that chapter. In proper anime fashion, Page One and Ulti immediately get up completely unscathed from a big attack from our heroes and begin their chase after Luffy and Yamato. Meanwhile, Yamato fends off Luffy's attacks while trying to get him to come along and listen to Yamato's pleas, eventually managing an escape from the scene. Blending in alongside Kaido's men are numerous Kozuki samurai, Nico Robin, and Jinbe, who all decided having a quick drink would be more important than saving Momo from being executed. At the backside of the mountain, Law and the Heart Pirates' Bepo, Shachi, and Penguin use Law's room to teleport to Onigashima's rear shore alongside the Scabbards who stowed away on their ship. Meeting them at the back entrance are Nekomamushi, who now sports a gun on his hand to finally match the cat he was based on, Marco, who immediately dips as though his job at Wano is done, and Izo, who reunites with Kiku for the first time since leaving with Whitey-chan. Kaido and his All-Stars take the stage at Momo's execution to announce the "New Onigashima" Project, but more importantly we finally get some Short King representation with the man, King, himself, as he barely even reaches Kaido's shoulders. Back inside the castle, we learn that Yamato has become a devout Christian and devoted himself to the only God in the One Piece World, EnelUsopp Kozuki Oden, adopting his ideals after witnessing his execution and later discovering his journal. Then, what happens next shocks the world, Oda finally introduces another monster girl waifu in Kaido's oni daughter, Yamato, who declares her joining Luffy's cause. With that out of the way, let's get right into the real meat of the thread...
Chapter 985 Betting
The Bets of the Week
Making their surprise entrance at the Roast of Kozuki Momonosuke, which frankly was pretty disappointing so far with the biggest stingers being "this little whelp" and the classic "your dad's dead" jokes from Orochi, were Kaido and his All-Stars. Before entering the stage, Kaido asked where Linlin was, only to be informed that she was on her way there despite the very clear dramatic irony in that we know she's too preoccupied with her daily prayer to GoD Usopp to do so. Despite this clear plot hole from Oda, Kaido and his commanders take the stage, deciding to liven up the execution with an exciting announcement. The "New Onigashima" Project! Yep, that's all we get. Oda's blue-balled us again by cutting away to a different plotline. But this project of Kaido's could end up being something massive. Considering the Beasts Pirates already know about the Yonkou Alliance between Big Mom and Kaido, it couldn't just be a simple restatement of the fact. And the name's suspect too, "New Onigashima", what does it all mean? Considering Kaido asked for Big Mom, it possibly has something to do with her or her family please not another marriage, Oda. I don't want a repeat of WCI's plot nor could I handle romance when I'm dreadfully single. Either way, you all know the drill by now. Dear audience, what exactly is the "New Onigashima" Project?
A. The plan for the Yonkou Alliance's world domination! Odds 1:2
B. A massive restructuring of Onigashima and/or Wano! Odds 1:3
C. Yamato marries into the Big Mom family! Odds 1:9
D. Something to do with Onigashima's past and/or what it used to be called before! Odds 1:4
E. Something else entirely! Odds 1:2
Having breached the ocean currents around the wintry backside of Onigashima with the Polar Tang, Law, his most-trusted subordinates, and the Scabbards aboard the ship have finally reached Kaido's back door. Joined by Izo and Nekomamushi, the Scabbards have almost reunited completely for the first time in decades, and their goal of reclaiming Wano by killing Orochi and Kaido is within their grasp. The problem is, there's two pathways at Onigashima's rear, and Law believes the one up top "has to be the way to Kaido". Knowing Oda, that's probably not true, and it's especially unlikely that this plan will actually go off without a hitch. With swarms of Beasts Pirates all over the island, multiple branching pathways, a hefty surveillance system, Neko and Inu actually having to work together, and One Piece's curse against plans working as intended, there are plenty of obstacles preventing smooth sailing. Dear audience, will Law and the Scabbards be able to reach Orochi and/or Kaido without any troubles?
A. The infiltration team will successfully reach the keep completely undetected! Odds 1:4
B. The infiltration team will end up having to fight their way to the keep, but will remain hidden from Kaido/Orochi! Odds 1:3
C. The infiltration team will be reported to Kaido and/or Orochi before they can reach the keep! Odds 1:3
D. The infiltration team will run into Orochi, Kaido, his All-Stars, or Kanjuro before they reach the keep! Odds 1:2
E. Something else entirely! Odds 1:3
What's that? A new character has appeared in One Piece, is working parallel to or with the heroes, has a unique design, a backstory, and a dream that can only be fulfilled by working with the Strawhat crew? I guess it's time for another one of these bets, so without further ado, let's get right into it. Having witnessed Oden's execution 20 years ago, Kaido's daughter Yamato decided to carry on the deceased Kozuki's will. Finding his journal from his voyages at sea and adopting his style, Yamato became the Oden she so admired. She clashed with Ace years ago when he reached Wano himself, she wants to open Wano to the world at large, and she wants to join the Strawhat Alliance to make those ends come to fruition. Is Yamato's role temporary, or will she truly follow in Oden's footsteps and go out to sea just like he did once he found a suitable pirate crew? Dear audience, will Yamato join the Strawhat crew?
A. Yes! Odds 1:2
B. No! Odds 1:3
This bet is where you can bet how many pages Chapter 985 will feature! Note: Shounen Jump covers, fan art pages, or translator note pages from early scans or the official release are not counted here. Double page spreads are counted as two separate pages. Color pages and color spreads are counted. Cover story serials and fan-requested cover pages are counted.
A. 16 or less pages! Odds 1:15
B. 17 pages! Odds 1:1.3
C. 18 or more pages! Odds 1:10
Our final bet this week is about the main focus of this week's chapter! The chapter may cover multiple storylines, in which case, the correct answer will be whichever storyline the chapter gave the most attention to in terms of pages or panels, should it get that close!
A. Luffy and Yamato! Odds 1:2
B. Momonosuke's Execution! Odds 1:3
C. Other storylines, such as Law and the Scabbards, Kin and Denjiro's advance, the Strawhats and Big Mom, or something else outside of Wano! Odds 1:5
As is customary when I have no clue what the next chapter's going to be about, it's time for your regularly scheduled panel mini-game! Dear audience, I want you to guess how many panels will make up Chapter 985!
Criteria for WMG: It's a panel, in Chapter 985. What else?
Note: Shonen Jump covers will not count toward the total should One Piece make an appearance. The cover story serial or, if one should appear, a color spread will count toward the total. Panels that make up scene transitions are counted separately toward the total.
Guess 100% correctly on this, and you'll receive a whopping 1,500,000 Beli! If nobody guesses correctly, the closest answer receives 750,000 Beli! If multiple people guess correctly or are evenly close to the correct answer, the bounty is evenly split among them to the nearest 1,000 Beli!
End of Chapter 985 Betting
And with that, we've come to the end of another exciting week of Betting and Bravery! I hope you enjoyed what we had this week, as I enjoyed making B&B for you! Now, please listen to the following tutorial on how to play:
I can tell that you are very good at gambling... and you haven't even bet your hardest yet!! 200K on 390D! 500K on 391B! 10M on 392A! 2M on 393B! 250K on 394B! 74 panels for the WMG!
Notes and Reminders
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Thanks for Participating!
thanks to everyone out there who dropped by to read this thread, whether all the way through, just skimming, or just dropping by to see what this thread was. I'm truly grateful you all come by and support my work here as much as you do, so thank you. I hope I can keep living up to your expectations as host! I wish you all good luck on this week's bets, and I will see you all back later this week after the chapter drops and the results thread is out for you all to see how you did! Until next time! -MADKITTIEZ
28/06/20 - FA CUP QUARTER FINAL - Leicester City vs Chelsea - Match thread
Leicester City hosting Chelsea at the Kingpower in FA Cup Quarter Final 4pm Kick Off // Coverage starts from 3:30pm Prize Pool for Winners of Quarter Final: £720,000 Coverage: BT Sport 1, BT Sport Extra 1 and BT Sport Ultimate throughout the UK (EE mobile customers can stream BT Sport coverage at no cost for three months). Betting Odds (as taken from Paddypower today at 10am): Home 21/10 Draw 23/10 Away 5/4 Players Out: "Dennis Praet is available but Rodgers will be without Daniel Amartey (ankle) and Ricardo Pereira (Achilles)." "Fikayo Tomori is still out, while Callum Hudson-Odoi is also likely to be unavailable again, despite being back in training. Jorginho is available after suspension, but Lampard opted for Gilmour as a substitute against Manchester City, which suggests the young Scot could deputise in midfield." Notable Manager Comments: Rodgers said: “In our time together we wanted to create history of our own and throughout this season we have broken records and had performances that have enabled us to do that. The club has not won the competition. There is a real motivating factor for us to do it for ownership, the players and supporters. We’ve shown our intent in the cup competitions, getting to the semi-final of the League Cup and now the quarter-final of the FA Cup. We now want to get to the final. That has been the aim since the outset.” Reference: https://www.bt.com/sport/news/foxes-in-hunt-for-fa-cup-glory-as-brendan-rodgers-targets-historic-triumph “Asked about his team selection to face Leicester, Lampard said: "We will certainly have to think about if we need to rotate a bit to keep the freshness in the players and it is nice that I can call upon players, particularly in certain areas of the pitch.” Reference: https://www.leicestermercury.co.uk/sport/football/football-news/leicester-chelsea-team-news-lampard-4271454 Form Against Chelsea this season in the Premier League: 01/02/20 - 2 - 2 18/08/19 - 1 - 1
[Bloomberg] Day Traders Will Have Fun Until They Get Wiped Out
https://www.bloomberg.com/opinion/articles/2020-06-23/robinhood-traders-will-have-fun-until-they-get-wiped-out One time when I was sitting in my college dormitory, I heard a whoop of joy from down the hall. My dormmate announced that he had just made $500,000 trading in the stock market, after having invested only a few thousand dollars. When I asked him how he did it, he grinned and simply said: “Call options.” I spent the rest of the day reading about how this marvelous financial instrument could be used to make a fortune in a day with just a small initial stake. Of course, my lucky dormmate doubled down on his investment and ended up losing most of his money when the dot-com bubble burst a couple of months later. This saga illustrates the danger of day trading, especially with leveraged instruments such as options. After the 2000 tech bust, day trading declined, but the coronavirus pandemic seems to be driving something of a renaissance. Goldman Sachs Investment Research reports that the percent of trading volume in the stock and option markets from small trades has increased a lot since January, while discount brokerage TD Ameritrade reports that visits to its website teaching people how to trade stocks have nearly quadrupled. Robinhood, a trading app that offers zero-commission trades and a simple, video-game-style interface, had 3 million new accounts opened in the first quarter. Half of its new customers are first-time investors. Many online communities are filled with the standard elements of day-trader culture -- stories of fabulous fortunes gained, hot tips, trading systems and theories and so on. Coronavirus probably isn’t the only reason for the boom in day trading. Brokers realized that they could offer zero-commission trades and make up for it with interest earned by lending out their cash balances. Mobile apps made trading easier and more fun than ever, and allowed new traders to start off with small amounts of cash. A new generation of speculators has no painful memory of the dot-com bust. But whatever the reasons, the new day trading mania is not likely to result in a happier outcome than the last one. There are many theoretical reasons and a wealth of empirical evidence to suggest that most day traders are wasting their money. One of the most important concepts in finance -- and yet seemingly one of the hardest to understand -- is that there are two sides to every trade. For a day trader to make money, someone else has to lose money. In the most optimistic case, the loser could be a normal person who needs to put money in or take money out of their retirement account, and who therefore doesn’t worry much about the price at which they buy or sell. But most trades are not this. Instead, day traders are usually buying and selling either from each other, or from algorithms programmed by skilled, experienced financial professionals. If it’s the former, their trading is a zero-sum game. If it’s the latter, human day traders are very likely to lose because the people who program trading algorithms are typically very smart, and their computers can spot market-moving developments faster than people can. This is why professional human traders have been increasingly driven out of the market. A related problem is the idea of slippage. Day traders might think that because they’re paying zero commission, their trades are free. But when a day trader places an order, a trading algorithm somewhere quickly figures out that they want to buy or sell, and raises or lowers the price accordingly, so that the day trader gets a less favorable price. Another reason day trading is a bad idea is that people often fail to understand when they’re winning and losing. If the market as a whole goes up (as it has recently), many stocks will be winners. That can make a day trader feel like they won, even if they would have made as much or more money if they had simply bought an index fund and held onto it. This is especially true right now, when correlations between stocks are very high -- in this case, meaning many stocks are rising or falling together. Finally, day traders often don’t understand the amount of risk they’re taking. Call options of the type my college dormmate bought, for example, are a form of leverage -- you might make fabulous riches, but you’re very likely to lose your money. One young novice investor tragically committed suicide after seeing his account generate large losses; though he probably misread the account statement, this incident drives home the point that investors may not be prepared for how much money they can lose with the trades they’re making. A large amount of empirical evidence confirms that most day traders lose money. A very large 2004 study of Taiwanese day traders, for example, found that more than 80% lost money. A tiny number -- about 0.03% -- earned consistently large profits, but the odds of possessing this kind of skill are slim. Most studies of day traders in the U.S. and Finland yield similar results -- a few traders are consistently good, but most lose out. Day trading might therefore be a fun way of gambling for those who are locked inside waiting out the pandemic. But if regular Americans start betting large amounts of their money on individual stocks and options, they’re courting financial ruin. If you want to day trade, the best thing to do is to bet only a small percent of your money to learn whether you’re one of the few who has the skill to beat the market. Day trading should be treated like an expensive video game, not like a way of getting rich quick.
TLDR: I recently created a UFC web app that allows users to interactively and comprehensively explore UFC 251 fight outcome probabilities, comprehensive historical statistics, and daily fantasy sports performances for all fighters/bouts on the card. I imagine this tool would be useful to any MMA fans who enjoy the quantitative side of the sport, as well as anyone into betting or DFS looking to do their own research. https://natelatshaw.shinyapps.io/ufc_fight_night_statistical_companion/ The goal of the web app is to provide users with a comprehensive set of tools to facilitate in-depth research on all fighters on the upcoming UFC card. The app is updated regularly to always show the upcoming UFC event. The first feature allows users to build their own Tale of the Tape. Choose any bout on the card and then select from over 100 statistics to create your own custom Tale of the Tape. This tool includes options for fighter characteristics, historical fight outcomes, as well as stats on offensive & defensive striking, offensive & defensive wrestling/grappling, and DraftKings & FanDuel fantasy points. Choose as many stats as you'd like from each category and instantly create a side-by-side comparison like the example below. https://preview.redd.it/vfoztmt5w0a51.png?width=1972&format=png&auto=webp&s=9d119da22774a6028b6a3a6b472292e0d268decd Next is odds-implied fight outcome probabilities for the entire card. The figure below shows all outcomes on a single plot, but other figures are available that only show win probability or knockout probability (with the actual probabilities at the end of the bars so you don't have to guess), as examples. These probabilities typically come out a few days before the fight night and are regularly updated up until the start of the first fight. https://preview.redd.it/hfudc87cw0a51.png?width=1000&format=png&auto=webp&s=8b9a6c722fe065489ce938006ba0e4461eae044b Detailed historical statistics are also available. The figure below shows the UFC history of Masvidal. This figure contains a lot of information, almost all of which may be swapped out for something else. You can change the fighter, the statistic, the scaling of the statistic, what information is displayed at the end of each bar, other visual parameters, and much more. https://preview.redd.it/41rvcr2fw0a51.png?width=1000&format=png&auto=webp&s=0e6effb4baa62887872ab5060047c978f99b1512 In addition to looking at a single fighter's UFC career, you can also select a bout and compare the UFC careers of each fighter. The figure below compares the striking pace of Volkanovski and Holloway and allows for comparison to the average Featherweight pace. Like the prior figure, this one also allows for nearly all parameters to be changed at the user's discretion. https://preview.redd.it/h9g6go1iw0a51.png?width=1000&format=png&auto=webp&s=ae39f78b31e94478072873fbea5b99d43746404a Next, for the DFS fans, the same tools that created the preceding two figures are also available for DFS-specific statistics for DraftKings, FanDuel, and PrizePicks. The figure below shows Aldo's historical DraftKings performances, but much more detailed perturbations are available. As an example, you can filter this figure down to DraftKings points earned from grappling/wrestling per minute and then compare how any fighter does in wins vs losses and how his/her opponent does in that same category. As a research tool for building your lineups, I believe this is much more valuable than just looking at each fighter's average fantasy points. https://preview.redd.it/a4cof91nw0a51.png?width=1000&format=png&auto=webp&s=d65ff3d92a57c301380270d3752b22b81fa37b0a Hopefully it's clear that there's a pretty comprehensive suite of tools here for anyone interested in taking a deep-dive into the stats of those on the upcoming UFC card. The last figure I'll show below is a simple high-level overview of the main card comparing striking pace to accuracy. https://preview.redd.it/cnpilkwpw0a51.png?width=1000&format=png&auto=webp&s=36d905c87a6b02457a963edc4b275868fc820bdb The final point I'd like to emphasize is that all figures are downloadable through the click of a button and ready to be shared here on Reddit or on Twitter or any other media. Many sports have had recent analytics revolutions, but I haven't seen too much growth in MMA, certainly not when compared to that of the more mainstream American sports. As the capabilities of this app continue to expand, I hope it can play a small part in that growth.
Captain Thraxos perused the ship manifest one more time. There was a late entry to join the convoy to Cycria. Cycria was a remote world and had been having a pirate problem with merchant traffic attacked several times over the past two years. As the pirates had got more bold the situation had become untenable and the Galactic Federation had to finally do something about it. Thraxos was the captain of the light cruiser GFN Duhrel and he had been tasked to escort a merchant convoy from Dilolla to Cycria as deterrence to the pirates. He did not relish the assignment to babysit a motley fleet of civilians, but as GalFed captain he went where he was ordered to. The final ship to join the convoy was the IMS Antelope. A Human merchanter that had been berthing here at Dilolla even before Thraxos had arrived. Apparently they had had some difficulty in securing new cargo to take on board and looking at the ship’s specs Thraxos could not blame anyone for not wanting to put their valuables on board this old rustbucket. But Cycria was not exactly a prime destination and apparently someone had been desperate enough to contract the Antelope to ferry their cargo to Cycria at the last minute. IMS Antelope was an Independent Merchant Ship, owned and operated by her captain Robert Nele. Even her designation was thoroughly Human. The Humans had some of the most stringent licensing requirements to own and operate starship class drives which basically put them out of reach of civilian individuals. So, in turn, the independent merchanters had banded together and founded the Independent Merchant Ship company which held the licenses for the starship drives operated by their members with minimal interference from the company itself. Thraxos scoffed, but the Humans were an upstart species. Perhaps it was for the best that not just anyone could get their hands on potentially volatile technology. That showed more responsibility of them than Thraxos had heard based on their reputation. The Antelope herself was almost 60 years old and looking through her log she had mostly been operating within or near Human space. This was as far as she had ever been from home. Still, for all the tarnish on her hull, she had passed her latest spaceworthiness inspection only six months prior. She was one of the weirdest looking ships Thraxos had ever seen. She was basically a lattice spine on which standard cargo containers were mounted like grapes on a vine. Front end had habitation and docking, the back end had its large engine, ending on a flat plate mounted on what looked like pillars. Curious. Thraxos studied her engine specifications. Her main engine was of type Thraxos had never even heard of before, something the Humans called ‘orion’ type nuclear pulse thruster and with her mass, impulse and thrust she would be by far the slowest ship in the convoy, only barely scraping over the acceptable lower limit. Her jump engine likewise was an antiquated Type-I, only barely able to do the jumps required for this route. But she was over the bar so Thraxos had to grudgingly accept her to the convoy. Slightly annoyed, Thraxos sent the engine specifications to his astrogator to have their course and time estimates recomputed to match the Antelope’s slow speed. Then he fired off a message to all ten ships in his convoy to prepare to unberth and meet at the system’s jump point in twelve hours. At the start of next morning’s shift Thraxos entered the bridge to relieve the nightshift watch officer. It would be two hours until their scheduled jump off time, plenty of time to undock and make their way the 50 000 kilometers over to the jump point. Captain Thraxos turned to the operations officer of the previous watch. “Anything interesting going on?” Lieutenant Commander Tarkran shrugged. “Just the Humans, sir. The Antelope cast off six hours ago and has been slowly making their way to the jump point using manoeuvring thrusters only.” Thraxos was taken aback. “What? Why?” Tarkran shrugged again. “No idea, sir, but they’ll be arriving at the jump just before the scheduled time.” Captain Thraxos just shook his head. “Alright, thanks. I have the bridge.” Tarkran nodded and announced, “Captain has the bridge.” Tarkran turned and left as Thraxos sat down on the command chair. Captain Thraxos waited for the other stations to complete their watch handover and then turned to communications. “Lieutenant Coccols, request undocking.” “Aye, sir.” the comm officer responded. Thraxos then turned to the astrogation officer. “Lieutenant Ulan, please prepare a course plan to take us to the jump point after we’ve moved past the station’s safety perimeter and execute once we have undocking permission.” Next Thraxos glanced over his executive officer sitting at the operations station. “While we’re en-route, prepare a convoy placement assignment for each ship according to the exclusion zones of their engines. I want us to be in the middle. Hopefully the pirates will think we’re just another fat merchantman until it’s too late.” Commander Nivek nodded. “Aye sir. I think I can nestle us between GMS Aelat and IXS Naholl. I’ll have to see what we can do with the human ship.” “Very good.” Lieutenant Coccols turned around. “Sir. Undocking clearance granted, we have 1 minute window.” Captain Thraxos nodded. “Lieutenant Ulan, undock and execute.” “Aye, sir.” There was an almost imperceptible shift as the GFN Duhrel unlatched from the station and then pushed itself away from station’s bulk using its manoeuvring thrusters. After thirty seconds they had cleared the station perimeter and they were able to engage their fusion drive. Even at the minimal power that was allowed to be used near stations, it would only take them about 30 minutes to reach their designated staging point. “Ummm… Captain?” Commander Nivek interrupted after a few minutes. “Have you looked at the exclusion chart for the Human ship?” Thraxos furrowed his brow. “No, why?” Commander Nivek hesitated for a moment. “I think you should.” Captain Thraxos called up the schematic of the Human ship on his terminal. It was still one of the ugliest ships he had ever seen, but he wasn’t here to judge a beauty contest. He switched the overlay layers to the engine exclusion zone. “What the fuck?” he exclaimed. For most ships the exclusion zone was a cone behind them a few degrees wide. For IMS Antelope it was a whole half sphere and then some, covering just under 200 degrees of arc and extending all the way to 5000 kilometers, with an advisory zone all the way to 20 000 kilometers. “I think I know why they’re limping out there with their manoeuvring thrusters only.” Commander Nivek posited. “There’s no way they could have fired up that drive anywhere near the station.” After a moment he continued. “I think the only place we can put them is as the last ship in the convoy with nobody behind them.” Captain Thraxos shook his head in disbelief. “Do they have a completely unshielded reactor back there or something?” “I don’t know, I’ve never seen anything like this, but it must be by design and approved, since they’ve passed their inspections.” Thraxos sighed. “Well, transmit the assigned relative positions to all ships and manoeuvre us into position to wait for them.” The convoy of all ten merchant ships had taken up their positions around the cruiser GFN Duhrel with the IXS Ikol at the front and IMS Antelope at the rear. All the ships slaved their jump engines to the control of GFN Duhrel and in concert they tore a hole in reality that whisked them to another starsystem a dozen light years away. The system the convoy appeared in was uninhabited, a puny red dwarf with only a catalogue number as its name. They would then have to traverse the system to the next jump point that would allow them to jump to the next star in the chain to Cycria. Most of the time in traversing the galaxy was spent moving from jump point to jump point within each starsystem. Some systems were lucky and their jump points were close-by, others had them far apart and it took a long time and a lot of Δv to traverse. The locations of the jump points and where you could jump from them depended on the background arrangement of the dark matter permeating the galaxy which warped the extra dimensions of spacetime. The convoy would have almost a week ahead of them to traverse to the next jump point in this system, and just over two months to reach Cycria. Captain Thraxos looked over the monitors and concluded that everything was in order. “Lieutenant Ulan, plot a course to the next jump point.” The astrogator glanced over. “Already laid in, Captain. Ready to execute on your command.” “Very good Lieutenant.” Thraxos acknowledged with pleasure. “Signal the convoy to get underway and execute.” Ten of the ships in the convoy each fired up their fusion torches of various sorts and the convoy started moving, but then behind the eleventh ship, the IMS Antelope, something exploded with nuclear fury. “CAPTAIN!” Sensor officer Birrai shouted. “The engine of the Antelope just exploded!” “What?” The captain looked up. Just his luck that the Human rustbucket would have a catastrophic engine failure immediately upon firing up that lethal engine of theirs. “Signal all stop!” Just as soon as the fleet had started moving the torches died down as each ship ceased accelerating. Thraxos hit transmit button on his terminal. “This is captain Thraxos of GFN Duhrel to IMS Antelope, do you require assistance?” Thraxos looked at the sensor scan on his screen as he waited for their reply. At least there didn’t seem to be much debris. Hopefully the Humans didn’t have many casualties. A calm, if slightly confused, voice came on the speakers. “This is IMS Antelope. Uh, negative on assistance. Why, what is the problem?” Captain Thraxos looked at his sensor officer, who just spread his arms. Then back to the sensor display, until he finally hit transmit again. “Duhrel to Antelope, did you not just have a catastrophic engine failure?” “Um. Oh!” There was a sudden realization in the voice on the radio. “Negative Duhrel. That was the detonation of our 50 kiloton nuclear propulsion charge.” “50 kiloton propulsion?! YOUR SHIP SHITS OUT NUCLEAR BOMBS!?” Captain Thraxos immediately regretted his lapse in decorum, but the sheer insanity of the idea had caught him completely off guard. “Affirmative Duhrel. Apologies for the confusion. The shaped nuclear charges are used to push against the driveplate at the back of the ship which transfers the momentum imparted to the ship through a staged shock absorber assembly.” After the convoy had gotten over the shock of the Humans’ propulsion system the rest of the voyage to the jump point had passed quietly. Or as quietly as a fleet trailing a stream of nuclear explosions can go. As had the second and third jumps. When the convoy appeared in the fourth system on the route, another nondescript nameless star, things rapidly went south. Before the convoy had a chance to start moving a warhead detonated half a million kilometers away from the jump point. Three pirate cruisers brought up their EM suites and aimed their targeting radars at the merchant convoy. The pirates were well poised about to catch any merchants that chose to try to flee, with each pirate able to cover a large part of the possible trajectories. An ultimatum was transmitted on all the universal emergency channels. “This is captain Qauk’ats of The Blood Raiders. Stand down your ships and prepare to be boarded. Any resistance will be met with lethal force.” Captain Thraxos considered his options. The Federation Fleet Command had not anticipated this heavy pirate presence. The previous raids had been performed by single ships each. His light cruiser might be able to take on two of the pirates, depending on how well they were equipped and trained, but all three would be too much. Especially when they were spread out like this, so he would not be able to concentrate his point defences in any single particular direction. On the other hand he had not yet betrayed that GFN Duhrel was a warship. His ship had been chosen for this because it was roughly the correct size to pass as a medium merchantman. Could he use this to his advantage somehow… “Lieutenant Coccols, signal the convoy to stand by. Comm laser only, let’s not tip our hands yet.” Captain Thraxos prayed that none of the merchanters would panic and start running, he was only one ship, he couldn’t be in two places at once to protect everyone. “Lieutenant Commander Birrai, use passive scanners only. Limit actives to equipment a merchantman could realistically have. Go loud on sensors only if our cover is blown.” Thraxos was stalling for time and he knew it. He needed something to give him an extra edge somehow. Something, anything. Just one way to neutralize one of the pirate cruisers to even the odds. On the screen vectors appeared showing the pirate ships starting to accelerate carefully towards the convoy since the convoy seemed to be capitulating. Whatever he comes up with he would have to come up with quickly. Then the comm officer piped up. “Captain, we have a laser message from IMS Antelope. Captain Nele wants to talk with you.” Thraxos sighed. Great, he didn’t have time to babysit a panicking merchanter right now. “Signal them to just stand by.” Few moments later lieutenant Coccols replied. “He’s being very insistent, sir.” “Fine.” Thraxos grumbled. “Put him on my monitor.” Captain Thraxos waited until on his screen appeared the image of a middle aged human wearing a black collared suit with a white shirt underneath and a tie around his neck. On his head he had a white hat with a black visor. On the hat was a golden patch with a stylized antelope rimmed with golden stylized ropes. “Captain Nele, what do you want?” Thraxos tried to hide the annoyance in his voice, but it still leaked through. “We’re kind of busy right now.” Captain Nele ignored his tone. “Captain Thraxos, I’m sorry to interrupt, but I have a suggestion. Am I correct to assume that three pirate ships are too many for you to handle?” Thraxos hesitated. Nele sighed. “Captain, this is no time for ego. Is it so?” He looked at Thraxos with stern eyes. “Because if it is, then the Antelope can take on one of them.” Thraxos’ eyes widened. “What? No, out of the question!” “Captain, the Antelope’s driveplate is designed to withstand repeated nuclear explosions with minimal ablation. It is tougher than battleship hull. And I bet the pirates don’t know that our ship ‘shits out nuclear bombs’ either as you so eloquently put it.” Nele glared at Thraxos. “I’m not planning to die today after a failed last stand, so one more time: do you need help or not?” Thraxos glanced to the side. As much as he didn’t want to admit it, he did need help. After an agonizingly long moment he turned back to face the other captain. “Yes. You’re right. We can probably take on two, but not all three of them.” Nele nodded. “Alright. So here’s what I have in mind...” The control room of the merchantman was spartan compared to the bridge of a warship. Captain Robert Nele was standing next to the sensocomm station looking at the radar plot. His heart raced and he hoped he wasn’t about to do something completely stupid. He glanced around and he knew that the rest of his crew felt the same. But they had to at least try. He breathed deep once and then exhaled. “Alright Terri, jettison the cargo containers. Arkady, use the azipod thrusters and lets make like bat out of hell.” The engineer, Terri Grove, hit buttons on her console and a series of thumps echoed throughout the ship. “All containers released.” Helm officer Arkady Stachowiak used the translation joystick to pull the ship backwards out from between the containers that were now lazily floating in space. “We’re free.” Then he turned the ship to a new heading and fired the azipod manoeuvring thrusters at full. “Batting out of hell.” The azipod thrusters could be turned to allow the ship to accelerate in almost any direction. They were meant for use near ports for both manoeuvring and mobility where the Antelope couldn’t use her main nuclear pulse engine. Because of this the azipods were unusually powerful for a ship of her size and with the Antelope shed of all her cargo they could give her pretty decent acceleration. Niels Becker glanced up to the captain standing next to him. “Radio from Duhrel.” He pressed a button to put it on the loudspeakers. Captain Thraxos’ voice sounded frantic as he yelled at the Antelope. “Get back here Antelope! Didn’t you hear what they said!” Robert shook himself to get into character. Then he pressed a button on Niels’ station and shouted back in panic. “Fuck that shit! I’m getting the hell out of here! It’s every man for themselves!” He took a second to steady himself again. “Alright Niels, let’s see which pirate takes the bait. Arkady, once we know who is chasing us, turn us so our driveplate is pointed at them. Make a good show of trying to get away, we need to lure them out far enough.” “Will do, Bob.” Arkady acknowledged. “I’ll give them a merry chase.” “Now we just hope they want us disabled and don’t use missiles.” Robert voiced everyone’s concern. “Terri, how are your modifications coming along?” Without even looking up from her console, Terri replied, “I’ve got the launcher patched. I’ve voided pretty much every warranty we have, but I managed to coax it to load four charges at once. With our biggest bombs that’ll give them a two megaton surprise.” Robert nodded. “Very good.” Terri continued, “The bombs turned out to be trickier. I should be able to get their attitude control software overridden, but they also have hardware safeties. I had to send Jonesy to physically bypass them. But that also means he can slap a radio module on them while he’s at it, so we’ll be able to detonate these on command.” Robert grinned. “Excellent. Great work. Let me know when Jonesy is done with the mods.” “Aye. Just one last thing. Once we load up any bombs into the launcher, we won’t be able to unload them any more.” “Alright. Keep the launcher on full manual then and load only on my command for now.” Niels interjected. “Contact-3 is altering course to intercept. I’ve coloured her pink on the radar plot.” Robert glanced over at the helm. “Arkady?” “On it. On our new course they’ll reach weapons range in 52 minutes. By that time we’ll have spent 84% of our manoeuvring propellant.” Terri winced. Robert noticed it. “What’s wrong, Terri?” “Oh, I’m just thinking of our next overhaul. The azipods weren’t meant to be used this hard for this long.” “Good to see you’re still an optimist.” Arkady commented. As Terri glowered at him, he added, “You think we’re gonna live long enough to service them.” Terri laughed and the rest of the command crew chuckled. Their moment of mirth was, however, cut short when Niels announced a message from contact-3. “Antelope, this is captain Mas’ieh of raider Bathed in Blood. Stand down immediately or you will be fired upon. This is your only warning.” After a moment of silence captain Nele said, “let them eat static.” It had been a tense half hour as the Antelope had led the pirate raider away from the rest of the group. Once they were too far away for Bathed in Blood to turn back and help his pirate brethren the GFN Duhrel had broken off the convoy and raced to meet the other two pirates. With all the pieces in motion it was now captain Mas’ieh’s turn to make a choice. He had three choices: continue pressing the Antelope, turn back and attack GFN Duhrel, or turn away and run. If he turned to attack GFN Duhrel, he would arrive to the battle too late to help Red Mayhem and Dread Rising. If the two ships could not beat Duhrel, then he would face Duhrel on his own and it might go any way depending on how much damage Mayhem and Dread had inflicted on her. If on the other hand Mayhem and Dread managed to destroy Duhrel, then he had just let the Antelope escape for no reason. If he decided to run, then his chances depended on whether Mayhem and Dread could destroy or disable Duhrel. Duhrel was faster so she would be able to catch up with Bathed in Blood before he could slip out of the system at the next jump point. But if Mayhem and Dread did manage to destroy Duhrel, his attempt to flee would not be looked upon kindly by the leader of the Raiders. So, no matter what happens his only real option was to press on Antelope. If Mayhem and Dread won against GFN Duhrel, then capturing the Antelope was the most useful thing he could do. If Mayhem and Dread lost to GFN Duhrel, then he was in no better or worse position than if he had turned away from Antelope. He would still have to face Duhrel just the same. He sent a message to captain Qauk’ats aboard the Red Mayhem with his plan of action to continue chasing the Antelope to make sure she couldn’t escape, and the rationale for taking this action. What he didn’t mention was that if Mayhem and Dread lost to Duhrel, but damaged her enough for him to destroy her… well, then he would have just become the new leader of The Blood Raiders. The atmosphere was tense in the control room of the IMS Antelope. Minutes ticked by as the raider Bathed in Blood chased them. Several hundred thousand kilometers away the GFN Duhrel and raiders Red Mayhem and Dread Rising were fast approaching each other. “Nuclear explosion.” Niels announced suddenly. “The raiders have started firing on GFN Duhrel. I think Duhrel’s point defence got that warhead. It was too far to cause any damage.” Robert nodded in silence. They could do nothing more to help, that battle was now up to captain Thraxos. “Two more. This time against contact-2. Their point defence stopped them.” Thraxos and Duhrel had an advantage. They could fire their magazines empty if they had to without consequence. For the pirates, every missile they shot was invaluable, for they couldn’t just pull in to a naval yard to resupply. But there were still two pirate ships and if their magazines were full, then Duhrel would be in serious trouble. “No fire for a few moments. I think they were just probing each other at extreme missile range.” Robert turned to Niels. “How long until Bathed in Blood is in missile range, assuming their range is similar?” Niels looked at the range plot. “Two minutes.” Suddenly there was a radiation alarm. Robert looked at Niels with the look of ‘are you sure’ all over his face. Niels looked at his instruments. “That was ten thousand kilometers away and off to the side. I think it was a warning shot. Negligible radiation dose.” Robert thought for a moment and weighed his options. “We’ll keep going. Hopefully they won’t waste more missiles on us.” The uneasy silence returned as more minutes ticked by. Only occasionally broken as Niels reported events of the battle happening far away. The exchange of fire increased as the combatants got closer. GFN Duhrel was pressing on contact-2, the Dread Rising, and closing the distance as fast as she could. Her point defences were working at near saturation as the two pirates poured missile after missile upon her. But likewise, her missiles pushed the pirate crew aboard the Dread Rising to their limit as well. “HIT!” Niels exclaimed! “Contact-2 has left behind debris.” Everyone cheered. A hit was nice, but it wasn’t the end of the battle. Nowhere near. Warships were compartmentalized to the maximum and even a direct warhead hit only crippled them locally. Soon the flashes of missile warheads were joined by the invisible beams of anti-ship lasers as GFN Duhrel and Dread Rising reached energy weapon range. Both ships took hits to their hull. Warship armour had diamond threads woven into it, which were as close as you could get to thermal superconductivity. Each time a laser flashed across a panel, the weave would try to spread out the thermal load to try to keep the plating from vaporizing locally where it was hit and hopefully the plate would be able to radiate the heat load away before another hit. But if any plate was saturated by heat, the entire plate would melt all at once. Niels was able to see thermal spikes on his IR scopes, but his instruments weren’t powerful enough to resolve what effects those hits had. Neither were the instruments of the other merchanters who were relaying their scanner data to the Antelope as well, which let Niels see the Bathed in Blood even though it was in the shadow of their driveplate. Otherwise the plate would have been a blind spot for them, for no sensor could be mounted on it that would be able to withstand the constant bombardment of nuclear fire it was under in normal operation. They could only guess how the battle was going. Both ships were streaming air and metal behind them. Both ships were hurt, but how badly was anyone’s guess. Then their own trouble started. Terri frowned. “I think we’ve just been shot at by Bathed in Blood with their lasers. I’m reading an increased thermal load on the driveplate. Activating cooling system.” Robert swallowed. This was it for them. “Here goes nothing then. Arkady, start jinking with the azipods but make sure the driveplate remains between us. Let’s make it look good and not give them too easy a target.” “I think we just had a near miss. The driveplate heat load spiked again, but much less. I think only the halo of the laser caught us this time.” Robert nodded. “Keep going.” With their overpowered azipods being able to move them laterally in almost any direction the cargoless Antelope was an exceedingly difficult target for the Bathed in Blood to hit compared to a warship. But every jink burned even more of their manoeuvring propellant. They wouldn’t be able to keep this up for too much longer. “Direct hit on our plate.” Terri announced once more. “Vent all our airlocks, let’s make them think they hurt us.” The Antelope shuddered a little as the airlocks blew out a cloud of air around the ship. “Too bad we didn’t think of loading some junk in them before hand.” Niels commented. Robert grinned. “Yeah, but this’ll have to do. Terri, load up a 10 kiloton starter charge into the launcher. Next time they score a direct hit, fire it. Arkady, when it goes boom, put us into a spin. Hopefully they’ll think they’ve hit our engines and disabled us.” “Got it.” Arkady acknowledged. Terri hit some buttons on her console. “Charge loaded. Arkady, when I say ‘stop’ stop thrusting. I don’t want us to drift out of the driveplate’s shadow before the charge goes off.” Arkady nodded. The Bathed in Blood scored a few more near misses and but then the heat on the plate spiked again. A direct hit. “Stop!” Terri shouted, then hit the button to manually fire the drive once. A few moments later there was a brilliant flash visible to the Bathed in Blood and the Antelope felt the surge of acceleration as the shock absorbers pushed their ship with the momentum of the nuclear explosion in front of them. Arkady immediately used the azipods to give their ship a good bit of spin, making it turn end over end. This was the moment when Robert bet them all-in. If the pirate cruiser would fire their laser even one more time, they could hull them straight through. For a merchantman had no armour plating cladding it everywhere like a warship did. The bridge was deathly silent as everyone were holding their breaths. Seconds passed. Then seconds more passed. The recharge time of the pirate’s spinal laser came and went and there was no Earth shattering kaboom. Everyone breathed a sigh of relief and the seconds turned into minutes. The pirates wanted a prize and they thought they had it. Even as the battle lulled here, in the distance, the battle between Duhrel and the pirates raged on. Captain Thraxos had managed to break the Dread Rising in the laser exchange. The pirate cruiser was a wreck, hulled straight through in multiple places with a large hole where her main powerplant used to be. But Duhrel had suffered greatly as well. On one side her hull had been scoured clean of her point defences. A number of missile launchers were disabled or destroyed and several compartments were open to space as well. She was streaming air as she turned towards the remaining pirate. All the while they continued exchanging as much missile fire as they could. But the crew of the Antelope had no time to spectate for long. With them ‘disabled’ and dead in space the raider Bathed in Blood had been able to close the remaining distance much faster and they were getting ready to pull up alongside them. Captain Nele stood at the sensocomm station and watched the plot with officer Becker. He and Niels kept glancing at each other nervously as the distance closed. Getting the final part of their plan correct was critical, for they would only get one chance. Once their element of surprise was lost, they would be sitting ducks to the missiles of the pirate raider. “Terri, load up the launcher with four of the biggest charges we have. Arkady, once Bathed in Blood is within 10 kilometers, stabilize us and aim the driveplate at him. Terri, once we’re stabilized go to rapid fire on the launcher with as many of the 500 kiloton charges as you can.” Robert breathed deep to calm himself. “Detonate the charges when you think is optimal, or if it seems they’ve spotted our ruse. Let’s hope this works.” Terri nodded and worked frantically on her console to execute the instructions. She would have to program the bombs to rotate to face Bathed in Blood instead of their own driveplate. She’d replaced the normal inertial stabilizing software with her own and uploaded it to the bombs, but she still had to compute the difference based on her best guess where the Bathed in Blood would be in relation to them when the bombs would be triggered. The bombs couldn’t do it themselves, since they had no external sensors, only gyros so they knew their own orientation and nothing else. “20 kilometers.” Niels announced. Time seemed to crawl as every person ran on adrenaline. “15 kilometers.” Arkady held the stick, ready to execute. He had already turned the azipods ready to cancel their rotation, but then he would have to turn to face the pirate cruiser. “12 kilometers. 11 kilometers. 10 kilometers.” Arkady waited for a moment more before he pulled on the stick to make sure they would stop as close to the target attitude as possible. The ship heaved as the azipods worked to halt its turn. With the spin nulled, Arkady then rolled the ship so the azipods wouldn’t have to slew to a new direction before he could point the ship towards the pirate. He wanted to shave every second he could. “On target!” Arkady announced. Terri hit the button to execute the program. “Launching.” The whole operation had took only seconds and the pirates were caught completely off guard. The pirate ship took no action as the four little elongated spheres flew toward it from the little hole in the middle of the Antelope’s massive driveplate. A few seconds later another group of spheres flew out and another. The pirate ship finally stopped their approach with their manoeuvring thrusters and started to turn their spinal laser to point at the not-as-disabled-as-they-thought merchantman to finish them off. Terri waited until the last moment possible before the first group of nukes would drift past the pirate and put the ship out of the cone of their shaped charges. Then she pressed the fire button. “Firing!” A dozen 500 kt nukes exploded in unison at point blank range to the pirate cruiser. Six megatons total of nuclear fury. But these weren’t just nukes, they were shaped charges with most of the blast directed forward through a heavy layer of tungsten that was turned into vapour and shot as plasma towards the hapless pirate whose hull did not have the heavy reinforcement the Antilope’s own driveplate did. At point blank range this barrage could have hulled a battleship. Then a few seconds later another 2 megaton barrage exploded. Then another. Bathed in Blood finally finished turning to bring their spinal laser on the merchantman, but it did not stop. It continued to turn, its laser remaining dark. A cloud of air and debris surrounded the hulk of the pirate ship. Then the fourth barrage of bombs hit their main powerplant and Bathed in Blood split in two as the reactor amidships exploded. Sound of debris rang all around the Antelope as the explosion pushed against its driveplate, pushing the ship harmlessly away from the destroyed hulk of the pirate cruiser. “Holy. Fucking. Shit.” Niels mouthed as he looked at his sensor screen. Captain Robert Nele walked over to his chair and collapsed into it as the tension of the adrenaline in his system disappeared. Everyone on the bridge deflated as if they had been balloons from which the air had been let out. “Reload the drive with propulsive charges, get us the fuck out of here.” Robert breathed heavy with relief. Terri fired the last modified charges to clear the launcher. Her hand shook as she hovered over the fire button. She couldn’t bring herself to press it, not any more. The pirate ship was already more than destroyed. She let the nukes drift away past the wreck as she adjusted the loading priority for the launcher and reset it to standard automatic operation. In few seconds the first 10 kt charge aimed at their own plate fired and pushed them away. Terri let the computer take over and soon the Antelope picked up speed at great rate, galloping away from the broken and hulled wreck of the pirate ship like her namesake. Empty of cargo even the lightest charges accelerated her like she was an olympic sprinter. The direction didn’t matter, as long as it was away. They’d already forgotten the battle that had been going on elsewhere. Ten minutes later the numb silence in the control room was broken by a radio call. “GFN Duhrel to IMS Antelope. Captain Nele, what is your status?” As IMS Antelope joined back with the convoy, GFN Duhrel pulled up to alongside her. Or what was left of GFN Duhrel. The battle with the pirates had taken a tremendous toll on the light cruiser. There was nary a square meter on her hull that wasn’t scarred by battle damage. There was a large gash along one side and even a hole clear through her. The other side was scoured clean of her hull mounted weapons and sensors and several compartments were open to space. Over third of her crew were dead. It was a small miracle she was still flying at all. But the pirate fleet had paid even more dearly. All three cruisers floated dead in space as wasted, hulled wrecks. Bathed in Blood lay in twain with her spine broken. Dread Rising was missing an entire quarter of the ship where the powerplant had used to be. And Red Mayhem lay shattered in pieces after multiple missile hits when Duhrel had finally managed to overwhelm her point defences. There were very few survivors from the pirate fleet, and even fewer who had wanted to be a survivor. Only fifteen lifepods had been launched from the hulks, out of their total crew of a hundred and twenty. The rest had perished in the battle, or chosen to perish in the hulks. The survivors’ pods would be picked up in due time to face justice for their actions. Captain Thraxos watched the Human ship on his screen and saluted. The Antelope may have been old and tarnished, she may have looked odd and ugly, but right now captain Thraxos was proud to have her and her crew in his fleet. She was no longer part of the convoy, she was one of its protectors. And it was thanks to her that they had triumphed today against insurmountable odds.
Is Keisha Lance Bottoms the best VP pick for Biden? How much would her on the ticket help compared to other candidates?
Keisha Lance Bottoms is the mayor of Atlanta Georgia, and has a positive reception amid Coronovirus and the Floyd protests. With Georgia being competitive this cycle, it may increase black southern turnout to keep more states competitive. Currently, Biden's shortlist of Vice President contenders include: Elizabeth Warren: Former nominee contender. Despite being a white woman from Massachusetts, she's polling higher than other contenders among the African American community. Kamala Harris: California Senator from a hard blue state. She is largely considered the most likely pick for Biden, and is the most mentioned candidate among betting pools and news outlets. This is despite her police record coming into question during the presidential debate last year. Susan Rice: Served as Secretary advisor in the Obama administration. Of the final six, she's the only one who hasn't held elected office. Val Demings: Congresswoman in Florida, a swing state. Has served as police chief and helped oversee Trump's trial in the Senate. She's suffering a police reputation problem similar to Kamala Harris. Michelle Lujan Grisham: New Mexico governor in a largely blue state, presumed to be able to increase latino voter turnout. Since Trump can increase Latino turnout far more than she can, this is probably the least likely among all the candidates.
Will the Philadelphia Eagles win OVER/UNDER 9.5 games? By University Stats Prof!
The Eagles have been a good model of consistency. Over the past 20 years, they have had just four losing seasons. It wasn’t always pretty, but Philly managed to secure the NFC East title with a 9-7 record last year. They closed out the regular season with a four-game winning streak to edge the Cowboys atop the division. Unfortunately, Carson Wentz exited the wildcard playoff game early and the team couldn’t overcome his absence in a 17-9 home loss to the Seahawks.
2. Offensive Position-by-Position Breakdown
2.1 Quarterbacks (QBs) Carson Wentz needs to be applauded for his 2019 performance. He had to deal with numerous injuries to his receiving corps and yet, he led the team to a playoff spot and he finished with a career-high in passing yards with 4,039. He threw 27 TD passes versus 7 interceptions, while playing all 16 games for the first time since his rookie season in 2016. In the season finale, his top targets were Boston Scott, Dallas Goedert, Josh Perkins, Deontay Burnett and Greg Ward. Outside of Goedert, none is an established starter in the NFL. The Eagles still secured the NFC East title with a 34-17 road win in New York. Philadelphia selected Jalen Hurts late in the second round of this year’s draft. He transferred from Alabama to Oklahoma for his senior year since Tua Tagovailoa was projected to be the starter. Hurst was actually replacing Kyler Murray who had just been taken as the number one overall pick in the 2019 NFL draft by the Cards. Hurts did not disappoint in his lone season with the Sooners. He completed 237-of-340 passes (69.7%) with 3,851 passing yards, along with 32 TD passes and eight interceptions. He also rushed for 1,298 yards with 20 TDs on the ground! His weaknesses are an average accuracy, inconsistent decision-making and a tendency to take off as a runner too often (sometimes when a receiver was open). He is likely to be used as a gadget player by Doug Pederson this year. Nate Sudfeld will compete for the backup job. He missed the entire 2019 season due to a wrist injury he suffered during preseason. He was a sixth-round pick out of Indiana in the 2016 draft. He has attempted just 25 passes in the NFL in four years, so it’s hard to tell what to expect from him. 2.2 Running Backs (RBs) Miles Sanders’ rookie season was a resounding success. He led all rookies with 1,327 yards from scrimmage. He carried a heavier workload as the season went on. During the first eight games, he averaged 8.3 carries per game, as opposed to 14.1 over the last nine contests (including the playoff loss to the Seahawks). Jordan Howard’s injury at midseason contributed to the increased usage of Sanders in the backfield. With Howard gone to Miami, the sky’s the limit for second-round pick out of Penn State. Darren Sproles retired and Jay Ajayi was waived. That leaves the door wide open for third-year man Boston Scott. He flashed big time last year and unquestionably passed my eye test. The 5’6’’ back is very explosive. Scott made a name for himself in Week #17 as he had to step in for Sanders who sprained an ankle in the first quarter against the Giants. Scott went on to rack up 138 total yards and three touchdowns. 2.3 Wide Receivers (WRs) This unit was decimated by injuries last year. DeSean Jackson pretty much played just one game, while Alshon Jeffery and Nelson Agholor missed six and five games, respectively. Despite playing under his age-32 campaign, Jackson showed he still has field-stretching abilities in his lone meeting last year. He was spectacular with 8 catches for 154 yards and a couple of scores. He hasn’t played a full 16-game season very often in his career though. Jeffery is another aging receiver coming off a significant injury. He underwent Lisfranc surgery, which requires a long rehab period. He’s questionable for the start of training camp. Since two outstanding seasons in 2013 and 2014 with the Bears, Jeffery has missed four games per year on average, while showing signs of slowing down on the field as well. His 11.4 yards-per-catch average last year was a career low. To be honest, I feel like Jeffery’s time in the league is coming to an end soon. Lisfranc injuries can be tricky for wide receivers, and full recovery is even more difficult for guys above 30 years of age. Nelson Agholor was a younger WR who could have provided adequate depth, but he signed with the Raiders. The former first-rounder has not lived up to expectations, but he was still a decent pass catcher, albeit his drops were a big issue last year. Maybe a change of scenery will help rejuvenate his career. Philly drafted Jalen Reagor with the #11 pick overall last April. He’s a smallish deep threat who is at his best on straight routes. He was good with contested catches, but will it still be the case in the NFL given his size? That’s a big question mark. Reagor opened a lot of eyes by scoring eight touchdowns as a freshman with TCU after being a high recruit out of high school. He followed up with a great 72-1061-9 receiving line as a sophomore. Reagor’s numbers dropped quite a bit as a junior (43-611-5), but you can attribute that to having a freshman QB at the helm. He’s an electrifying player who can take it to the house every time he touches the ball. The competition for the number three role is also likely to involve Greg Ward and J.J. Arcega-Whiteside. These two guys have had completely different paths before making it to the NFL. Ward went undrafted before joining the AAF. He eventually was added to the Eagles’ practice squad, and later on promoted to the 53-man roster until a depleted receiving corps forced him onto the field. Meanwhile, Arcega-Whiteside had more of a “conventional” journey by being drafted in the second-round of the 2019 draft. Such resumes would suggest Arcega-Whiteside would be the superior wideout, but that’s not what we saw on the field. He only caught 10-of-22 targets for a disappointing 45% catch rate. He was rarely targeted down the stretch, despite the numerous injuries at the position. On the other hand, Ward filled in admirably late in the season. Over the final four meetings, including the playoff game, he caught 20-of-25 targets (an 80% catch rate). He clearly deserves a shot as a top reserve for the upcoming season. 2.4 Tight Ends (TEs) The Eagles have a nice duo at the tight end position with Zach Ertz and Dallas Goedert. Ertz is a true warrior. He hasn’t missed more than two games in each of his first seven season in the league. Last year, he played with two rib fractures one week after lacerating his kidney. Talk about a tough guy. His numbers are also staggering. His lowest figures in terms of receptions and receiving yards over the past five years are 74 and 816. That’s truly remarkable! Please note that he’ll be turning 30 years old during the season. Just like Ertz, Goedert is also a former second-rounder. However, he is four years younger. He caught 58 passes for 607 yards and 5 TDs, all career-highs. He was targeted 4 times per game on average before the team’s bye week versus an average of 7.9 for the remainder of the year. Granted, injuries to other targets probably boosted his numbers, but he still developed nice chemistry with Wentz. 2.5 Offensive Line (OL) The Eagles have a heck of an offensive line. You cannot blame Jason Kelce for anything over the past five years. He hasn’t missed any start, while consistently being one of the top centers in the league. As a matter of fact, he was rated as the #1 center in the NFL according to PFF grades last year. He’s now 32 years old. Left tackle Jason Peters has been just as good as Kelce. He was nominated to nine Pro Bowls in his career and he finished as the number 6 tackle in the league with his 83.4 PFF mark. Unfortunately, the team decided to let the 38-year old hit the free agency market. EDIT: he was re-signed three days ago (this article was written several weeks ago). He is projected to play guard instead of tackle. Peters will be replaced with 2019 first-round pick, Andre Dillard. Is he ready to take on the full-time job? It remains to be seen, but it will be difficult to fill Peters’ shoes. As for Lane Johnson, the right tackle finished as the 3rd-best tackle in the league based on the PFF grading system. He’s been very good throughout his seven-year career; the former #4 overall pick has not disappointed at all! Brandon Brooks also had a huge 2019 season! He ended the year as the top guard in the NFL with a jaw-dropping 92.9 PFF mark. Much like Lane Johnson, Brooks is another player above 30 years old who’s been reliable his entire career. Left guard Isaac Seumalo started all 16 games for the first time of his career. He’s the one that received the lowest grades on this OL, but finishing 17th out of 81 guards is nothing to be ashamed of! The former third-round pick from the 2016 draft is not as talented as his colleagues, but you could do worse than having him as one of your starters. The team lost good depth with the departure of Halapoulivaati Vaitai to Detroit. The 2019 season was clearly his best year; it would have been nice to retain him but he signed a huge contract with the Lions. 2020 VS 2019 OFFENSE When comparing the upcoming 2020 season with last year, there are some positives and some negatives. Let’s discuss the negative stuff first. I do expect a downgrade on the offensive line. They played at an extremely high level last year with four guys finishing among the 6 players at their respective position (based on PFF rankings). That’s unlikely to happen again, especially with three linemen aged 30 years or above. Also, second-year man Andre Dillard has good potential, but it will be difficult to match Jason Peters’ 2019 performance. I do expect a drop-off here. At quarterback and tight end, the situation remains stable. At the running back position, losing Jordan Howard to free agency won’t hurt too much with the emergence of electrifying Boston Scott. Also, Miles Sanders is expected to take a leap in his sophomore season. Finally, how could you not expect better production from the WR group? They were hit by the injury bug a lot last year. Agholor’s departure is a moderate blow; getting DeSean Jackson back is a bonus! Hopefully, speedy rookie Jalen Reagor can provide a spark to an offense that sorely missed game breakers last year. The Eagles offense scored the 12th-highest number of points last year. My final conclusion, based on the arguments above, is that I expect similar production in 2020. Final call (2020 vs 2019): Stable
3. Defensive Position-by-Position Breakdown
3.1 Defensive Linemen (DLs) Fletcher Cox is an animal. Plain and simple. Despite posting his second-lowest sack output of his illustrious eight-year career, he still graded as the 4th-best interior defenders in the NFL based on PFF rankings. On average, he has recorded 6 sacks per year (he only got 3.5 last year) He has also been very durable; he’s missed just three games out 128. He still has good years to come at age 29. Tim Jernigan was a decent starter next to Cox, but he clearly wasn’t needed on the team anymore after the Eagles signed stud DT Javon Hargrave. The former Steeler showed steady improvement in each of his first four years in the NFL. His 83.4 PFF mark last year put him in the 8th spot out of 114 DLs. With Hargrave entering his prime years and Fletcher Cox being a perennial beast, good luck running the ball inside the tackles against the Eagles in 2020. After playing three years in Indy, Hassan Ridgeway had a below-average season in his first year with the Eagles. He’s more of a rotational player, whom you hope won’t be needed as a starter. 3.2 Defensive Ends (DEs) / Edge Rushers (ED) Brandon Graham is 32 years old, but he refuses to slow down. He led the team with 8.5 sacks last year, and he has averaged six sacks over an eight-year period! The guy also finds a way to stay on the field. Can you believe he has missed a single game in eight years! He’s been consistently good and remains a force, both against the run and rushing the passer. Derek Barnett is a former first-rounder coming off a career-high in sacks with 6.5. However, his 2019 PFF grade was the lowest of his three-year stint in the NFL and he finished as the number 83 edge defender out of 107 qualifiers. He’s an “okay” player. Vinny Curry played 38% of the snaps last year, but it does not appear like he will be back with the team. At the time of writing, he was still a free agent. He did pick up five sacks last year, but teams seem reluctant to sign him because he’ll be playing his age-32 campaign. He actually played pretty well when called upon. With Curry gone, the team must hope Josh Sweat will elevate his game. The 2018 fourth-round selection posted his first four sacks of his career last year, but his 62.5 overall PFF mark ranked him as the 76th-best edge defender out of 107 guys. 3.3 Linebackers (LBs) After playing four years in Buffalo and four years in Philly, Nigel Bradham was cut by the Eagles, mainly for cap reasons. He provided average play at the LB position; he was good in coverage, but he was a liability defending the run. The team also lost Kamu Grugier-Hill, who signed with the Dolphins. You could characterize him as a decent player, albeit far from being great. That leaves the team pretty thin at the position. Nathan Gerry is the lone 2019 starter that is still with the team. He ranked as the 34th-best linebacker out of 89 players. He does not offer much upside, though. It would be stunning to see him crack the top 25 someday. Can Duke Riley and/or T.J Edwards crack the starting lineup? Neither seem to be an up-and-coming star. Riley was acquired for peanuts prior to last year and he played 35 snaps. As for Edwards, he was an undrafted rookie out of Wisconsin that did well in limited time last year. He proved to be stout against the run. 3.4 Cornerbacks (CBs) Philly’s back end has been revamped for the upcoming 2020 season. The Eagles signed one of the best slot corners in the league: Nickell Robey-Coleman. He has received consistently good grades from ProFootballFocus over the past four years. At 5’8’’ he is pretty small, but you couldn’t tell from the quality of his game. He’s a nice addition. Philly also acquired Darius “Big Play” Slay, who played the first seven years of his career with the Lions. He had a down year in 2019, but I’m not worried he can rebound in a new environment. He’s been covering opponent’s top receivers for a while in this league, and he’s done a good job at it. He has 19 career interceptions. Ronald Darby’s career has been plagued with injuries recently and he was let go during the offseason. His PFF grade took an enormous drop last year, all the way from a respectable 70.6 in 2018 down to an abysmal 44.8 last year. He signed a one-year deal with the Redskins. Rasul Douglas and Avonte Maddox are still on the team, but neither has proven to be an impactful contributor. Both graded as very below-average corners in 2019. 3.5 Safeties (S) Malcolm Jenkins and Rodney McLeod both played the entire 2019 season. They ranked as the 32nd- and 52nd-best out of a bunch of 87 safeties. The organization and Jenkins couldn’t agree on a deal, so the Eagles had to let him go after six very successful seasons. He picked off 11 passes during his six-year stint in Philly. He signed with the Saints, with which he spent the first five seasons of his career. Even though he wasn’t getting any younger, his present will be missed. McLeod’s 2019 PFF grade was the lowest he had obtained over the past five years, but he still did a decent job. Jalen Mills will be one piece of the puzzle in replacing Jenkins. But let’s face the reality: he has been pretty awful throughout his four-year career, except 2017 where he did better. Another option will be newly acquired Will Parks, who is coming over from Denver. However, he’s clearly not a long-term solution either. He’s pretty versatile, but he’s a below-average player. 2020 VS 2019 DEFENSE This unit was upgraded quite a bit during the offseason at two positions, but it also suffered a severe downgrade at a couple others. First, acquiring Javon Hargrave to team up with Fletcher Cox on the interior of the line was big! At CB, getting Darius Slay and Nickell Robey-Coleman will provide much needed help at a position that has caused headaches for years in Philly. Unfortunately, the defense lost its best safety when Malcolm Jenkins signed with the Saints. Also, even though none of them was a true difference maker, losing linebackers Nigel Bradham and Kamu Grugier-Hill creates a hole. Since the team acquired some big time players while losing good/average players, I envision a small improvement. In 2019, the Eagles finished in the middle of the pack in terms of points allowed per game (15th out of 32 teams). I envision Philly finishing around the #10-#13 spot this year. Final call (2020 vs 2019): Small upgrade
4. Regular Season Wins
According to sportsbooks, the Eagles are expected to win 9.5 games this season. Should we bet the “over” or the “under”? Here is the methodology I used in order to answer this vital question:
Use BetOnline.ag’s point spreads on all 256 regular season games.
Convert those point spreads into win probabilities.
Simulate each of the 256 games, according to those win probabilities, via the R statistical software.
Repeat the previous step one million times (you get 1M simulated seasons).
Count the proportion of seasons where the Eagles won more or less than 9.5 games.
Here are the results:
OVER 9.5 WINS
UNDER 9.5 WINS
Tip: Bet UNDER 9.5 wins Return On Investment (ROI): +13.7% Rank: 19th-highest ROI out of 32 teams Minimum odds required to bet (i.e. ROI = 0%): -136 Here are BetOnline’s point spreads for the Eagles’ 16 regular season games:
HOME: +2 vs BAL, -10 vs CIN, -2.5 vs DAL, -4 vs LAR, 0 vs NO, -5 vs NYG, -2 vs SEA, -10.5 vs WAS.
Note: The “Best odds” from the table above were obtained after looking at 13 well-known online sportsbooks on May 18th, 2020. I invite you to take a look at my other 31 NFL team previews! Good information if you are involved in fantasy football and/or if you want to be up-to-date on player movement and teams' strengths and weaknesses (for betting purposes)! Cheers, Professor MJ
NFL teams most likely to go from worst to first in 2020
We have talked a lot about the draft, biggest remaining needs for every NFL team, some breakout candidates and other stuff, so let’s now get back to more of a big picture and look at some teams from an angle of where could they go next season. In this article, I am analyzing those teams that finished fourth in their division this past year and why they could win it in 2020 or land at the bottom once again, plus an outlook where I actually see them. Of course much of this is about these eight teams and how much better or worse I feel about them than the general public, but it was heavily dependent on their three division rivals as well. The top half I could certainly see earn a playoff spot and surprise some people if everything goes right. After that a lot of my faith is more built around the lack of great competition and giving some hope to these respective fan bases. As the cliché goes – everybody is 0-0 right now. https://preview.redd.it/rs90lt6ckf751.png?width=720&format=png&auto=webp&s=3ddfc8945862472b52b5ef8c69076acde904c44c
1. Arizona Cardinals
Why they can win the division: Let’s just start with the main point here – this Cardinals squad has all the ingredients to make a big jump in 2020. I expect Kyler Murray to enter the superstar conversation in year two, after impressing with his arm talent and ability to extend plays in a (somewhat controversial) Offensive Rookie of the Year campaign. Steve Keim managed to unload a bad David Johnson contract and basically acquire an elite receiver in DeAndre Hopkins for a second-round pick. Kenyan Drake now has a full offseason to learn this offense and make himself a major factor once again, following up an outstanding second half of the season once the Cardinals traded for him with Miami. He perfectly fits into this offense with a lot East-West based rushing from shotgun sets and his involvement in the pass game, including those quick throws as an extension of the rushing attack. Arizona’s defense should be a lot better with run-stoppers being added in the draft that fit their 3-4 base front with Utah’s Leki Fotu and LSU’s Rashard Lawrence, since they can stay in those packages against the other teams in their division running a lot of 12 and 21 personnel probably. Add to that a do-it-all player with ridiculous range and overall athleticism in Isaiah Simmons at eight overall, plus all the other guys being in their second year under DC Vance Joseph. I love Budda Baker as a missile from his safety spot and I think some of the other young guys on that unit will take a step forward, like second-year corner Byron Murphy, who I talked about last week. Now let’s get to rest of the West – every other team in that division has some issues. The 49ers are facing the objects of a potential Super Bowl hangover and some limitations with Jimmy G at the helm. The Seahawks have question marks on the edge on either side of the ball with Cedric Ogbuehi and Brandon Shell fighting for the starting gig at right tackle and Jadeveon Clowney still on the open market, with a bunch of draft picks these last couple of years having to step up. And the Rams had one of the worst O-lines in football last season and they lost some pieces on defense. The Cardinals already gave all these teams issues in 2019 and have now added pieces that were clearly missing when last matching up against each other. Why they could finish last again: Most importantly, I am still not completely sold on the Cardinals offensive line, with D.J. Humphries being signed to a rather expensive deal as a below-average left tackle, third-rounder Josh Jones – while earning a late first-round grade from me – still needing an overhaul on his footwork before he can slide in at right tackle and guard Justin Pugh finally having played a full 16 games for the first time since 2015 last season. NFL coaches had a lot of time to study Kliff Kingsbury’s Air-Raid offense, which when you break it down is pretty simplistic in the amount of schemes they run. Yes, he diversified it a little as last season went along, going under center and running some pro-style rushing plays, but at its core, you can learn how to create some issues for all those mesh concepts and spread sets. As far as the Cardinals defense goes, it is more about pieces than proven commodities. Patrick Peterson is seemingly on the decline, they are thin in the secondary and could Chandler Jones follow soon, after he has been one of the most underrated pass-rushers in the league for a while now? You are staring the reigning NFC champs in the eyes, a team that was a few inches away from earning a playoff bye and another squad that went to the Super Bowl just two years ago. This is probably the best division in the entire league. Bottom line: I still believe the 49ers have done enough to repeat as division champs, re-tooling for all the losses they have suffered this offseason. However, I’m feeling pretty good about the Cardinals earning a wildcard spot. While I believe in the Seahawks quarterback and the Rams head coach respectively to not allow their teams to not have throwaway seasons, I also see enough issues with those squads to make me believe the Cardinals could have the second-best year of anybody in the West. To me they are pretty clearly the best of these eight teams, because they have a young phenom at quarterback, stars at pretty much every position, a different type of system around them and what I’d like to call “juice” coming into 2020. https://preview.redd.it/anrr9erfkf751.png?width=720&format=png&auto=webp&s=5655b4452baff2691a0e060e8d70918d58801a4c
2. Detroit Lions
Why they can win the division: Matt Stafford is back healthy and when he was in the lineup last season, this was a team that defeated the Eagles, Chargers and only didn’t finish the job against the eventual Super Bowl champion Chiefs because of some crazy stuff going on late. The veteran QB stood at 19 touchdowns compared to five picks and was playing at a near-MVP type level. However, Detroit’s identity will be built on the run game with re-investments in the offensive line as well as adding D’Andre Swift to form a dynamic one-two punch with him and Kerryon Johnson. Kenny Golladay and Marvin Jones may be the most underrated receiving duo to go with Danny Amendola as a tough guy in the slot and T.J. Hockenson coming into year two as a top-ten pick a year ago, having shown flashes when he was healthy. The defense is finally starting to take shape with third-overall Jeffrey Okudah as an elite corner prospect being added to an underrated secondary, Jamie Collins being a chess piece in the front seven after already having worked well with Matt Patricia and some young guys up front trying to prove themselves to go with the versatile Trey Flowers. Maybe more importantly than the Lions themselves – Nobody else got that much better and none of the other three really stand out to me. Other than the Vikings probably – who had the advantage of making a record-breaking 15 selections – the Lions might have had the best draft within the division. Thanks to that last-place schedule, they get to face the Redskins in the East (instead of Eagles & Cowboys) and Cardinals in the West, who I just talked about taking a step forward, but are still a better draw than the reigning conference champions or possibly having to travel to Seattle. I believe that new regime in Detroit has finally built an identity on both sides of the ball with the heavy investments in the run game and back-seven on defense. Winning ten games might earn you a division title, if everybody plays each other tough. Why they could finish last again: Can these guys finally stay healthy? Matt Stafford to my surprise played a full 16 games in eight straight years before last season, but a lot of that had to do with his toughness to fight through pain and he had major issues with that shoulder early on in his career before basically breaking his back after putting the team on it for the last decade. Kerryon Johnson has missed 14 of 32 possible starts and he has never carried the ball more than 118 times a season. Their receiving corp has been banged up quite a bit too. More glaring even – how will all these additions of former Patriots players work out? Can Matt Patricia build a New England 2.0 in Michigan or is he just bringing in players he knows will listen to him and the way he wants things to be done? Detroit could also rely on a lot of rookies to be immediate impact players – possibly two new starting guards on offense, running back D’Andre Swift probably sharing the load with Kerryon, Jeffrey Okudah having to immediately become their CB1 and Julian Okwara being asked to become a much more consistent player if they give him major snaps. And I recently talked about how their uncertainty at punter could be an issue for their ball-control, defense-minded style of play. They also have an early bye (week five), which I’m never a big fan of, after facing the Bears, Packers, Cardinals and Saints, which probably includes three playoff teams. If Chicago can get any competent QB play, all these teams should be highly competitive. Bottom line: I don’t think any team in this division wins more than ten games. Unfortunately I don’t see the Lions go over that mark themselves either. The Packers won’t come out victorious in so many close games (8-1 in one-possession affairs), the Vikings have lost a few proven commodities and look for young talent to immediately replace those and the Bears still have a quarterback competition going on. So if Detroit can do any better than just split the season series with those three teams, I see them finishing above .500, but ten wins is the ceiling for me. In terms of the competition inside the division, the Lions may be my number one team in this conversation, but I see a much clearer path to things crashing down for Matt Patricia and them having another disappointing season than I do with the Cardinals. No team in this division may finish below that 8-8 mark. https://preview.redd.it/7ivo914ikf751.png?width=720&format=png&auto=webp&s=d029ddd274b78e78f5bc932d00086b8c697a466e
3. Miami Dolphins
Why they can win the division: When you ask the general public, the Buffalo Bills right now are the favorites to win the AFC East, but they haven’t done so since 1995 and they still have to prove they really are that team. The Patriots lost several pieces on defense and Tom Brady of course, which probably leads them to starting a quarterback, who over his four career pass attempts has thrown more touchdowns to the opposing team than to his own. The Jets are still building up that roster, with GM Joe Douglas trying to plant seeds on burnt earth, and they face a BRUTAL schedule. So Miami has a lot of things going in their favor for an organization that I believe in what they are trying to build. Depending on what happens at quarterback, you could have a veteran in Ryan Fitzpatrick, who was by far the best inside the division in several key categories last season and/or Tua Tagovailoa, who had one of the most prolific careers we have seen from anybody in the SEC. They added at least two new starters on the O-line, they now have one of the premiere cornerback trios in the league with the all-time highest paid player at the position in Byron Jones and first-round pick Noah Igbinoghene to go with Xavien Howard and with some added beef up front, they are finally looking a lot like what Brian Flores had in New England. DeVante Parker really broke out over the second half of 2019 and Miami should have a much better rushing attack because of the additions up front and two quality committee backs in Jordan Howard and Matt Breida being added. They have two other young pass-catchers ready to break out this upcoming season in tight-end Mike Gesicki and a UDFA receiver from a year ago in Preston Williams. Whenever Tua’s name is called upon, he will be a perfect fit for Chan Gailey’s horizontal passing game. Why they could finish last again: As much as I like what I see from this entire organization, it is probably just a year too early for Miami. So many young players could be thrown into the fire and a lot of them I look at as needing that experience – 18th overall pick Austin Jackson (USC) is more of a developmental tackle still with his footwork and hand-placement issues, 30th overall pick Noah Igbinoghene (Auburn) has only played cornerback for two years and was bailed out by his athletic tools at times, third-rounder Brandon Jones has to develop more of a feel in deep coverage and at least one more rookie lineman will likely start for them. Even outside of this year’s draft class, they already had several players on their roster that are still moving towards their prime. Whether you look at last year’s first-rounder Christian Wilkins, a lot of second- and third-year pass-catchers or their young linebackers outside of Kyle Van Noy. The Bills are entering year four of that turn-around under Sean McDermott and Brandon Beane, the Patriots still have the greatest coach of all time and will be a tough matchup solely based on that and the Jets at least have people playing for their jobs, plus a very talented young quarterback I still believe in. As much as I doubt Adam Gase, as long as Sam Darnold doesn’t get mono again, the offense should at least be competent, and the defense could potentially have a top-five player at every level with All-Pro Bowl safety Jamal Adams, an 85-million dollar linebacker in C.J. Mosley and my number one prospect in last year’s draft on the interior D-line with Quinnen Williams. Bottom line: As I mentioned before, the Bills are the front-runners in this division for me. As much respect as I have for Bill Belichick, I haven’t seen enough from Jarrett Stidham to make me a believer and he shrunk in some big moments at Auburn. The Jets to me could be a lot better than they were in 2019 and still go 6-10 just because of the type of schedule they are up against. So the Dolphins to me could easily finish anywhere from second to fourth, depending on how some of the players on that roster progress. I wouldn’t bet on them actually making the playoffs, but they could absolutely be a pain in the butt for some of the better teams in the AFC and in 2021 they might be the pick here. https://preview.redd.it/nme3explkf751.png?width=720&format=png&auto=webp&s=3998c6026125c1b9b48438e3fc9afaf9601b116e
4. Los Angeles Chargers
Why they can win the division: First and foremost, this Chargers defense is absolutely loaded with no real hole that you can point to. Derwin James is back healthy after a first-team All-Pro rookie campaign, Chris Harris Jr. comes in to make this secondary one the elite units in the NFL to go with two more Pro Bowlers among it and they have some guys I expect to break out like Jerry Tillery, Drue Tranquill and Nasir Adderley. In terms of having matchup pieces and a versatile pass rush to challenge Kansas City, nobody in the league may be on the same level as these guys. Offensively, Ihave talked about how the left tackle spot is concern for L.A. with a battle between Sam Tevi and Trey Pipkins for the starting job, but the other four spots are as good as they have been in a while, acquiring Pro Bowl guard Trai Turner via trade, signing a top five right tackle in Bryan Bulaga and getting Mike Pouncey back healthy. Tyrod Taylor can steer the ship and even if Justin Herbert is thrown into the fire – which I wouldn’t recommend – they have the skill-position players and willingness to run the ball to take pressure off those guys. While the Chiefs return 20 of 22 starters from a year ago, this wouldn’t be the first time we saw a Super Bowl champion have some issues the following season and as much as we want to hype up the Broncos and Raiders, both their quarterbacks (and other players of course as well) have a lot to prove still. Outside of KC, the Chargers likely have the smallest changes to what they do other than moving on from Philip Rivers and we saw that formula work the year prior, when they challenged Kansas City until the very end for the division crown and the conference’s top seed potentially. While they probably would have liked to bring in Tom Brady over the offseason, the fact they decided against signing Cam Newton to a roster that is ready to win right now, shows you the confidence they have in that quarterback room. Why they could finish last again: I’m not a huge fan of Derek Carr, but the Chargers will probably have the worst quarterback in the division in 2020. And their starting left tackle could be the worst in the entire league. As good as their defense will probably be, you can not consistently win games in which your offense doesn’t put up 20+ points in the league today – especially when all these teams in their division have spent so much on acquiring offensive firepower these last couple of years. I believe all three of their division rivals got better this offseason and the Chargers spent their top draft pick (sixth overall) on a young quarterback, who might not even help them win games this season. As I already mentioned, Kansas City brings back almost their entire starting lineups and they went 12-4 despite Mahomes seemingly having his knee cap facing the sideline while laying on his back. I have uttered my thoughts on Denver several times now, which you can read up on later. As for Las Vegas’ new team, they did start last season 6-4 and just heavily invested into their two major issues – wide receiver and linebacker. And while I don’t like to talk about it – injuries have been a huge issue for this Chargers team in recent years and I don’t really know what it is even, but I can’t assume that they all of a sudden can stay healthy. Bottom line: In terms of talent on the roster outside of the quarterback position, you could make a pretty compelling argument that the Chargers are ahead of all the other teams on this list. That’s the reason they have a pretty high floor of finishing around .500 and if everything works out, they could absolutely be a playoff contender. However, for this exercise in particular, I believe their upside is capped by what they have under center. Tyrod Taylor can be a top-20 quarterback in the NFL this season and in terms of upside, Justin Herbert has all the tools to become a difference-maker once he steps on the field, but they don’t have the explosiveness the Chiefs or the Broncos have for that matter. With so much continuity on a team that has the best player in the entire league, I can’t go against the Chiefs and in the end we are evaluating the chances to actually win the division. https://preview.redd.it/rywropjokf751.png?width=720&format=png&auto=webp&s=ed77a7303af810b862abb2100c4f0b86841a2d38
5. Washington Redskins
Why they can win the division: These guys are very reminiscent of the 49ers with their defensive line, in terms of having invested a lot of high draft picks into the unit these last couple of years and now with that second overall pick bringing in a true stud from Ohio State – this time in Chase Young. When you look at all those guys up front – with the Bama boys patrolling the middle, Matt Ioannidis capable of moving around the front, Montez Sweat looking to break out in year two and Ryan Kerrigan still being there as a productive veteran – they will wreak some havoc this season. Ron Rivera could finally bring some structure to this organization and help them turn it around on defense with the addition of an old companion in Thomas Davis, plus some high-upside players like Reuben Foster and Fabian Moreau looking to prove themselves. Quarterback Dwayne Haskins had a very underwhelming rookie campaign, but he clearly wasn’t ready to be out there and found himself in a bad situation in terms of the support system around him. I like a lot of their young skill-position players the front office has surrounded him with, when you look at Terry McLaurin trying to become a young star in this league, who produced despite shaky quarterback play last season, Kelvin Harmon and Antonio Gandy-Golden being two big-bodied targets I liked these last two drafts, Derrius Guice hopefully finally being able to stay healthy to lead this backfield and this year’s third-round pick Antonio Gibson being a chess piece that you can manufacture touches for. Somebody I forgot to mention in this discussion recently is Steven Sims Jr., who is a jitterbug with the ball in his hands. New offensive coordinator Scott Turner will implement a system that should make life easier on his second-year signal-caller as well, while relying heavily on the run game. Why they could finish last again: Haskins is by far the least proven QB of the bunch, with Daniel Jones even being head and shoulders above him in their respective rookie seasons. No pass-catcher outside of Terry McLaurin had any major production to speak. Counting on a 37-year old Thomas Davis to not only be a leader for them, but also make plays on the field, could create issues, and Washington lost some pieces in the secondary. This offseason is a challenge for any team, that is looking to implement a new system on each side of the ball, but I think especially for a motivator like Rivera, who can give his squad a heartbeat and push them to success, not being there in person with those guys will hurt. Most importantly however, this division to me will be a two-man race between the Eagles and Cowboys – as it has been for a while now. They both will likely have top ten quarterbacks, better receiving corps, better offensive lines and more experienced defenses. The Giants may not blow anybody away coming into 2020, but looking at the two matchups from last year between them and the Redskins, Big Blue beat them 24-3 the first time around, when Daniel Jones threw one touchdown compared to two interceptions and then he diced them up for five TDs and no picks in week 16. The one area Washington would have had the clear upper hand was with their front-four, but New York just invested a lot of draft capital into their O-line to prevent that. Just go through the Redskins’ schedule and show me more than six wins. I dare you. Bottom line: These last two sentences really say it all. Even if Philly and Dallas split the season series and Washington can get a game off either one of them, it will be tough to turn around this squad as quickly as this season – with reduced practice time and team activities – to a point where they can finish above both of them. Both of them could easily win double-digit games in 2020 and while I think the Redskins are on the right track if Haskins looks more like the Ohio State version of himself, other than their defensive line, no unit for them is ready to compete for the division quite yet. Just going through their schedule in an objective manner, it is tough to find any lay-ups and say Washington has some baseline of wins they count on. To not have them any lower than this is more due to the respect for Riverboat Ron and how high I was on a lot of the guys they drafted recently. https://preview.redd.it/szpawv9rkf751.png?width=720&format=png&auto=webp&s=62ca5fe882d8155d83eb3328e9bf1f1681a17384
6. Jacksonville Jaguars
Why they can win the division: I was going back and forth between my number six and seven teams, because the Jaguars are projected to pick first overall come next April for a reason – they did lose a lot of pieces. However, to me it came down to the fact that the AFC South might be won at 9-7 or 10-6 and this coaching staff actually has to win to keep their jobs. There is a lot noise about the Colts, but when you go back to last season, Philip Rivers was a turnover machine with serious questions about his arm strength. Bill O’Brien made some very questionable decisions for Houston and Tennessee is counting on a formula that is built on a 250-banger running the ball 25+ times and Ryan Tannehill finally repeating a career year, as they are coming off an AFC title game appearance. As far as Jacksonville goes, Gardner Minshew was the highest-graded rookie quarterback according to PFF and altogether I would have put him second only behind Kyler Murray. D.J. Chark broke out as one of the young star receivers and I had a first-round grade on Colorado’s Laviska Shenault if he can be healthy, because his talent is off the charts. I think the O-line would have benefitted from another tackle to kick Cam Robinson inside to guard, but those guys are some road-graders to make the run game work. Defensively the only real contributor from that Sacksonville group a couple of years ago who actually wants to be there is Myles Jack, but I really like their young duo off the edge in first-rounders Josh Allen last year and now K’Lavon Chaisson (LSU). There are some questions about the back-end, but they were built front-to-back with a lot of zone coverage behind it and depending on the development of ninth overall pick C.J. Henderson, they can roll away from him matching up with the opposing team’s number one receiver. Avoiding some of the better AFC squads altogether is pretty sweet as well, to go with facing no playoff team from last year outside their division until the middle of November. Why they could finish last again: I’m just not sure if all of these players are ready to fight for that coaching staff and organization. Two of their remaining veterans (Leonard Fournette and Yannick Ngakoue) have openly talked about how they want to be traded, they only have a few actually proven commodities on that entire roster and with the way they have unloaded big cap numbers, they have set themselves up for a true rebuild potentially, as they are expected to be in the Trevor Lawrence-Justin Fields sweepstakes come next April. Even if they can get a few breaks and the division is up for grabs, does this organization even want to win this season? If not for the injury to Jacoby Brissett in the middle of the season, all three other teams in that division would have almost certainly finished above .500 and the Colts are actually the team that improved by far the most among them. That Texans, who have actually won the South four of the last five years, including last season, may be the smallest challenge and still sweep Jacksonville. Vegas rarely misses completely and the Jaguars right now are the odds-on favorite to pick first overall come next April, with an NFL-low OveUnder of 4.5 wins on the season. And as favorable as the early portion of their schedule looks like right, check out this eight-game stretch after their week seven bye – at Chargers, vs. Texans, at Packers, vs. Steelers, vs. Browns, at Vikings, vs. Titans, at Ravens. Ouch. They might go winless over that period. Bottom line: The Jaguars to me are a very interesting team, because I believe they have accumulated a bunch of young talent, which gets lost a little when you see all the names that aren’t there anymore. There is a lot to like about this roster, when you look at what these players could develop into, but that doesn’t mean they will have success this year already. The Colts have the best 53 currently in the division (or 55 now), the Texans have the best quarterback and the Titans are coming off an AFC Championship game appearance. Gardner Minshew could make this kind of a tough decision if they end up picking anywhere after first overall and I think some of those other kids will put up pretty good numbers, but they are still pretty clearly fourth in the South as for now. https://preview.redd.it/5myv276vkf751.png?width=720&format=png&auto=webp&s=7fb25f47d0759e9b5a07876ea01787898c6cc817
7. Carolina Panthers
Why they can win the division: Nobody knows for sure what Matt Rhule and his new coaching staff will throw at them. Joe Brady gets to work with Teddy Bridgewater once again, who he already coached in New Orleans – so there will be familiarity for him in this system and they already “speak the same language”. That young receiving corp with D.J. Moore, Curtis Samuel, free agency addition Robby Anderson and even an up-and-coming tight-end in Ian Thomas is pretty underrated actually, plus of course they have one of the truly elite weapons out of the backfield in Christian McCaffrey, who is probably set to break his own RB reception record once again. The Panthers defense-only draft has brought them a monster in the middle in Derrick Brown (Auburn), a really talented edge rusher in Yetur Gross-Matos (Penn State) on the opposite of last year’s rookie stud Brian Burns, a super-rangy safety with linebacker size in Jeremy Chinn (Southern Illinois), what I think is a starting corner in Troy Pride Jr. (Notre Dame) and some other pieces in the secondary. The talent is clearly there and now you bring in a scheme that is probably going to be unique for the NFL level as well, when you look at that 3-3-5 Baylor ran under Rhule and defensive coordinator Phil Snow. As much as we want to praise our legends of the game, the quarterbacks of the two front-runners in this division will be 41 and 43 years old respectively and let’s not forget that Atlanta started out last season 1-7. Why they could finish last again: Especially this offseason, without certainty if there will be anything like training camp or even a real preseason, that completely new staff with new systems they are trying to teach will certainly have some growing pains. Bridgewater has been a top-20 starting QB maybe one year of his career and even when he was applauded for the way he filled in for Drew Brees last season, he finished dead-last in intended air yards among quarterbacks with at least 100 pass attempts. How will that mesh with a lot of vertical targets around him? When he has those guys running free on slants and dig routes, the ball will get there, but will he be willing to throw that deep post or give his guys a chance on go-balls? Defensively they are counting on a lot of young players and they have nobody to even come close to replacing Luke Kuechly, as well as making the switch to an unproven scheme possibly, if they actually use some of those 3-3-5 looks coming over from Baylor. When you look at Rhule’s track-record, it always took him until year two to show improvement and then in that third season is when those teams can really make some noise. And that was in the AAC and Big 12 respectively. Now he is in the NFC South with a team that just went 13-3 in the Saints and a Bucs squad that already was 7-9 and lost six of those games by one score, only because despite finishing fifth in takeaways, they ranked in the bottom five in turnover differential due to easily leading the league with 41 giveaways. That should get a lot better with Tom Brady coming in, who has never even quite thrown half of Jameis Winston’s 30 interceptions in any of his 20 years in the league. Even the Falcons – for as poorly as they started last season – went 6-2 after really coming together and making some changes in their bye week last season. Bottom line: The Panthers are clearly the most unproven team in this division. While new systems that haven’t been scouted yet certainly have an advantage in terms of game-planning early on, especially in this offseason with heavily limited live reps most likely, that might equal a net minus. You have to root for a guy like Teddy Bridgewater and the way he has worked his way up to a starting spot again, but I just don’t look at him as a surefire franchise signal-caller. The other three teams in the South all have top ten quarterbacks in the league in my opinion and much more continuity around them. Until the Panthers finally get to their bye week at the start of December, I don’t see them winning more than four of those twelve games. At that point they may have their eyes on a different goal already, if Teddy B isn’t the clear answer under center. https://preview.redd.it/y7agj2n2lf751.png?width=720&format=png&auto=webp&s=221af0a1f689d3b19d5e250fac0b58a35877edad
8. Cincinnati Bengals
Why they can win the division: We’re not that far away from 2015, when the Bengals won the AFC North with a 12-4 record as the fifth year in a row making the playoffs. Since then this is the first time I feel like there really is change happening with this team. Marvin Lewis was replaced by a young Zac Taylor, trying to prove himself to the league, they drafted Heisman trophy winner Joe Burrow first overall to replace as average a quarterback as we have had over the last decade in Andy Dalton and the front office finally spent some money in free agency. While you would think a quarterback going first overall usually comes into a situation, where he is devoid of talent around him, Cincinnati suddenly has one of the better group of skill-position players in the entire league, assuming A.J. Green is back healthy. Tyler Boyd is a stud in the slot, who will be Burrow’s version of Justin Jefferson, a 50-50 ball specialist in second-round pick Tee Higgins (Clemson) matches perfectly with Burrow’s expertise of winning with ball-placement and if they get anything from former first-rounder John Ross at least as a decoy with his speed, that’s a plus. I expect Joe Mixon to be among the league leader’s in running back receptions and be more effective in space with those receivers around him as well. The signings the Bengals have made on defense gives them a lot more talent and complements very well what they already had. D.J. Reader is one of the most underrated defensive linemen in the league and frees everybody up along the front, they completely overhauled that linebacker group, which was a major issue these last couple of years, they brought in a starting CB2 and nickel from Minnesota to pair up with William Jackson III, who is ready to announce himself as one of the best corners in football, and Von Bell is a great match with the rangy free safety Jessie Bates. Why they could finish last again: As talented as all those guys throwing, catching and running the ball may be, it all starts with what’s happening up front and the Bengals offensive line is still in transition. They could have two of the worst starters in the league at both guard spots and right tackle once again, with the prior ones close to reaching that bust status and Bobby Hart still somehow having a starting job. As great as Joe Burrow was last year at LSU and how clean his evaluation was, how much better than Andy Dalton will he be right away, especially going up against those scary defensive fronts inside his division? Defensively they could easily have six new starters, which obviously can be looked at as a positive sign, considering they allowed 20+ points in all but two games last season, but there is also a lack of continuity and reduced time to fit all those pieces together. Cincinnati’s coaching staff hasn’t really proven anything yet and they will be facing a massacre of a schedule, with three occasions of back-to-back road games and while three of their final four games of the season are at home, they will face the Cowboys, Steelers and Ravens, to go with a trip to Houston in-between. If they don’t beat the Chargers in the season-opener, they probably don’t get that first W until week four against the Jaguars and then they have to hope they can sneak out another one until their bye week. Baltimore is tied with Kansas City for the highest projected win total with reigning MVP coming into just his third season, Pittsburgh is favored to make the playoffs with Big Ben back under center and Cleveland was the offseason favorite in 2019, while fielding an even better roster this year. Bottom line: I feel bad for putting this team last, because I thought Joe Burrow was the top quarterback and definitely worthy of that number one pick and the Bengals finally spent big money in free agency to retool the defense. To me this is less about them than the Ravens, who just were the number one overall seed in the playoffs at 14-2 and haven’t done anything other than get better themselves, a Steelers team that made a run at the playoffs with the worst quarterback play in the league now getting Ben back and a Browns roster that is among the top ten league-wide in most people’s opinion. Still, there is a lot to like about this team at the skill-positions, which is probably behind only Cleveland in terms all the weapons they have, some young standouts on defense and hope that all of this brings a fresh breath of air. If you enjoyed this content, I would really appreciate if you could visit the original piece (with video clips) - https://halilsrealfootballtalk.com/2020/06/16/nfl-teams-most-likely-to-go-from-worst-to-first-in-2020/ You can also listen to my breakdown on Youtube - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R9kCcuPobNU
The big boys are expected back for the Final Four this year. Michigan State and Kentucky both come in at +125 on the DraftKings Sportsbook.Duke and Virginia both follow at +175 and +200. Memphis is a surprising name at +325, but when you look at their recruiting class and the returning players, they are going to be in the thick of it. Final 4 Betting: March Madness 2020 Commercial Content | 21+ | T&Cs Apply. In this article, we’ll focus mainly on the Final 4 betting & odds, talk about the potential picks and explain how and when you can bet on your favorite team. Betting On the Final 4. All roads lead to the Final Four, and that includes in the world of sports betting. The first two weekends of the NCAA Tournament might bring the drama and excitement, but the Final Four usually delivers two of the best games of the season. Per SportsLine, who simulated the Final Four 10,000 times, Virginia has the highest odds of winning the National Championship at 38.4 percent. They’re followed by Michigan State at 29.3 percent, Texas Tech at 18.7 percent and Auburn at 13.6 percent. We’ll be releasing our full game breakdowns later this week. Our Picks: These are the odds for the top 10 teams to win the National Championship from DraftKings Sportsbook, showing just how wide open this March Madness could be. Kansas is the current favorite at +600 to win, but Gonzaga and Baylor are just behind them at +800 and +1100, respectively.The current #1 team in the country is Kansas, with an unanimous 65 AP Top 25 votes.
Final Four Predictions: Auburn Tigers vs Virginia Cavaliers (Saturday, April 6th)
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