2017 NFL Football Futures Odds For Winning Super Bowl LII!

Right after the New England Patriots were crowned once more as the Super Bowl champions, oddsmakers were busy at work determining the futures odds for winning Super Bowl LII. Of course, you can probably guess at which teams are the early favorites without too much trouble, but where do you place other teams? This year’s season hasn’t even started but already there are those making their NFL betting picks according to SkyBook a top online sportsbook.

 

While it’s too early to even take a wild guess at which teams can make it all the way to the Super Bowl, based on the odds it might not be too bad of an idea of laying down some money right now while the odds may be soft. In case you’re wondering here are Super Bowl LII odds as they stand right now:

 

ODDS TO WIN SUPERBOWL LII – ALL IN       

 

ARIZONA CARDINALS  +2800

ATLANTA FALCONS       +1000

BALTIMORE RAVENS   +3500

BUFFALO BILLS              +8000

CAROLINA PANTHERS +2500

CINCINNATI BENGALS +4000

CLEVELAND BROWNS  +20000

DALLAS COWBOYS         +900

DENVER BRONCOS         +1400

DETROIT LIONS                +3500

GREEN BAY PACKERS    +1000

HOUSTON TEXANS          +1600

INDIANAPOLIS COLTS   +2800

JACKSONVILLE JAGUARS +8000

KANSAS CITY CHIEFS          +2000

LOS ANGELES CHARGERS +5000

LOS ANGELES RAMS             +12000

MIAMI DOLPHINS                 +4500

MINNESOTA VIKINGS         +2800

NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS +250

NEW ORLEANS SAINTS +3500

NEW YORK GIANTS  +1800

NEW YORK JETS       +20000

OAKLAND RAIDERS +1000

PHILADELPHIA EAGLES  +4000

PITTSBURGH STEELERS  +1200

SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS    +15000

SEATTLE SEAHAWKS        +1000

TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS   +3000

TENNESSEE TITANS                +5000

WASHINGTON REDSKINS    +5000

 

See anything you like? At +3500 (a $100 bet bags you $3.500 bucks if the team wins), perhaps you  like the New Orleans Saints. Ditto goes for the Kansas City Chiefs. Of course, you could go for the long shot and place a bet on the the New York Jets at +20000 or perhaps the San Francisco 49ers at +15000. But maybe you think the Patriots will make it once more, in which case you’d only see $250 for your $100.

 

Then again, it’s not over till the fat lady sings and every team has a shot at being this year’s champs, so might as well get your bets in early before the odds change ! 

FF-Winners.Com Releases 5 Shocking Predictions for the Coming NFL Season

The Cincinnati Bengals  Win the AFC North: We absolutely loved the Bengals draft class, they got two future stars in WR John Ross and RB Joe Mixon. The Bengals relied heavily on WR A.J. green early in the season and had no one step up when Green got injured late in the season. The Bengals went 6-9-1 last year basically relying on Green, a non-existent ground game and defense. Ross will take pressure off Green as he is a true deep threat that will force the defense to account for him. He can also take a slant or screen and use his blazing speed and quickness to score from anywhere on the field. Mixon would have been a top 15 pick if he had not punched a woman in 2014, he has kept his nose clean for 3 years and the Bengals took a chance on him. He was the 2nd best RB in the draft in our opinion behind Dalvin Cook as he is explosive, powerful and has great hands out of the backfield. The Bengals will bounce back and win the AFC North with a healthy Green, and two new stars to help him.

The Indianapolis Colts  Fail to Win the AFC South Again: The Colts drafted the best coverage safety in the draft in Malik Hooker, and also got a solid cover CB in Quincy Wilson to help their weak secondary, but they once again failed to upgrade their most pressing need. The Colts offensive line is a disaster and they still have not made the proper effort to upgrade it. Andrew Luck is overrated and a mediocre system QB  but not even Tom Brady could be successful with that offensive line. The combination of Luck’s mediocrity, the lack of run game and a horrible offensive line will result in yet another failed division crown. The Colts may even miss the playoffs because the Houston Texans drafted QB Deshaun Watson and the Tennessee Titans are on the rise. The Colts will once again fail to win the weakest division in professional football.

The New England Patriots  Win Yet Another Super Bowl:

The Patriots won the off-season, there is no question about that. They signed WR deep threat Brandon Cooks from the New Orleans Saints and signed shutdown CB Stephon Gilmore and power RB Mike Gillislee from the Buffalo Bills. They also drafted a solid edge rusher in Derek Rivers in the 3rd round. The Patriots are the overwhelming favorites to win it all again next year, and they will. The AFC is not as strong as the NFC and the only real challengers we see the Patriots having are the Oakland Raiders with a healthy Derek Carr and then probably the Pittsburgh Steelers as they are always dangerous in the postseason. The Patriots just came back down 25 at halftime to the red hot Atlanta Falcons and stunned the entire world to cap the most improbable super bowl victory last year. They actually improved this off-season with their first real deep threat since Randy Moss and a great CB to help their secondary. The Patriots will repeat as super bowl champs this year.

The New York Giants  Have The Best WR Corps:

The New York Giants will give opposing secondary’s nightmares as they already have one of the best three WRs in the NFL in Odell Beckham Jr. and a rising star in the slot in 2nd year Sterling Sheppard. They also added veteran WR Brandon Marshall, and with those three alone they would be one of the best WR corps in the NFL. Most people believed it could not get any better for QB Eli Manning, but that was before the 2017 NFL Draft. They got a steal with the 23rd pick in hybrid TE/WR Evan Engram, who is 6’3″ 215 Ibs and runs a 4.42 40 time. Engram will be a matchup nightmare for LBs and safeties, and then defenses will be scrambling to try and figure out who to cover and who to double. Marshall and Beckham both are stars and Sheppard and Engram are matchup problems down the seam and over the middle. Eli Manning will light up opposing defenses with all his new weapons and the Giants will win games because of the best WR corps in the NFL.

The Dallas Cowboys Do Not Win 10 Games :

The Dallas Cowboys shocked everyone by winning 13 games with two major rookie contributors last year with QB Dak Prescott and RB Ezekiel Elliott. What people forget is that they were 4-12 the previous season so they played a weak schedule. This season the Cowboys will play a first place schedule which will be much tougher, plus the division rival New York Giants will be a lot better and more explosive. The Cowboys must travel to the Arizona Cardinals, Atlanta Falcons and the Oakland Raiders as well as play the Green Bay Packers and Seattle Seahawks at home. All of these games are potential losses especially because the Cowboys did not give their defense much help. They drafted DE Taco Charlton in the first round but passed on stud MLB Reuben Foster who was a top 5 talent in this class. Teams will have an entire off-season to plan for Dak Prescott, and if we add that to the fact that they play a much tougher schedule as well as did not upgrade their defense, the Dallas Cowboys will fail to win 10 plus games this year.

3 Teams That Fumbled the NFL Draft

With the 2017 NFL Draft officially completed and in the books, it’s time to analyze which team walked away with a draft class that can potentially alter the future of their franchise for the better, or which teams completely whiffed on the guys whom they chose. As far as the latter, there were three teams who appeared to do the worst job of restocking their talent pool this weekend. Here’s our look at the three teams who appear to have the least productive outcomes from this past draft:

3. New York Giants — Nobody is disputing the fact that the New York Giants added four quality football players to their team in the first three rounds of the draft. But for a team that’s very much built to “win now,” did they really do anything to take that next step forward, and dethrone the Dallas Cowboys from the top of the NFC East? Their first round pick, tight end Evan Engram from Ole Miss, is a fantastically athletic tight end with dynamic playmaking skills. But he’s more of a “Y” receiver than a tight end, especially considering he’s not a very good blocker. The Giants already invested a second round pick in 2016 in Sterling Sheppard, a promising wide receiver who happens to play the same position. Sure, the Giants can employ both of them on the field, but did they really need to spend their top pick on a position where they have an answer, especially considering someone like linebacker Reuben Foster — who was still on the draft board when the Giants were picking — could have filled a major need? Similarly, the Giants spent their third round pick on quarterback Davis Webb from California. Webb is a nice prospect, with some people thinking he could have slipped into the first round. But did the Giants really need to spend a Day 2 pick the heir apparent to Eli Manning? Couldn’t they have addressed a bigger need immediately, and waited ’til 2018 — when the depth and quality of the quarterback group looks much richer — to find their “quarterback of tomorrow?”

2. Kansas City — Speaking of “quarterback of the future,” the Kansas City Chiefs traded their first round pick (#27 overall), a third round pick, and their first round pick in 2018 to the Buffalo Bills, in order to move up to get quarterback Patrick Mahomes. In theory, the move made sense. Incumbent quarterback Alex Smith will be 33 years old when the season starts, and there are growing doubts as to whether he’s the guy that can lead the Chiefs to a Super Bowl. But considering the Chiefs finished the regular season with 12 wins last year, and are right in the midst of their closest shot to winning the Super Bowl in years, was now the time to start thinking about the future? And it’s not like Mahomes was some generational prospect that they simply could not pass up. He’s undoubtedly a physically talented prospect, but he’s years away from being ready to contribute full-time in an NFL offense. Even while playing in the quarterback-friendly “Air Raid” system at Texas Tech, he still looked much more like a sandlot quarterback, versus a polished passer. The Chiefs passed on the opportunity to take a pass rusher or a running back with their top pick (where there was plenty of talent available with the #27 pick) and then reached for players at both positions with their two ensuing picks (taking Tanoh Kpassagnon in the second round and Kareem Hunt in the third round).

1. Chicago — There’s no more simple way to put it: the 2017 draft class for the Chicago Bears, at least as of today, looks like a total disaster. First off, it’s already well known that the San Francisco 49ers — whom the Bears surrendered three picks over to, just to flip flop between the #3 and #2 overall selections — were bluffing about their interest in quarterback Mitchell Trubisky, or having other suitors for Trubisky’s services. For a team that needs to fill many more holes on their roster, the Bears didn’t have that type of draft capital to waste, and especially not at a position where they seemed to have some semblance of an answer already. If the current front office regime sticks around, there will be pressure to put Trubisky into the lineup as early as late this season (if the Bears find themselves out of the postseason race by the early winter). That’s reportedly already going over extremely poorly with quarterback Mike Glennon, whom the Bears promised the starting quarterback job to less than two months ago, when signing him as a free agent. Add in the fact that the Bears selected three players who didn’t play Division I college football last year, and you have a lot of people wondering what the heck General Manager Ryan Pace was doing this past weekend.

The Raiders Touch Down in Sin City! Las Vegas Awaits Arrival of The Raider Nation

The Raiders are on the move again! This time from their home in Oakland to shiny Las Vegas. This move isn’t their first move away from their home base and is supposedly not their last. But for all it’s worth, it did make a huge number of fans thrilled with the move, albeit some others are disappointed.
If you belong to the latter category of NFL fans, then don’t worry we have something to cheer you up! When you plan a Las Vegas trip, to support your favorite football team, you could rest assured that Vegas has plenty to offer!
There is much fun to be had, plus you get to support your team in a brand new,state of the art stadium.
Things to do and to see in Las Vegas
It’s called the most happening place in America for something, right? Las Vegas has much to offer – like its omnipresent casinos, themed parks, tourist attractions, theaters, fun activities, natural and wildlife areas, and other attractions to keep you busy while you take a rest from all football in town.
Casinos
Traditional casinos are the forte of Las Vegas, but if you are the one who gets dissuaded with large crowds, then you may find some respite in online casino gaming. Old Havana Casino is one such gaming outlet which lets you play in the comforts of your own home or hotel room! Unlike traditional casino outlets, where you would be expected to make your move as soon as possible, you are given ample amount of time to decide on your next step.
Also, you can play on the go, while going places, and experiencing other attractions that Las Vegas has to show.
Natural Attractions
You can also visit the Red Rock Canyon national park, watch the dolphins rumble at Siegfried and Roy’s Dolphin Habitat, or watch the Flamingoes with piqued interest at the Flamingo Habitat. Everything is to be done at your own personal discretion.

Theme parks
If a bout of adrenaline rush right after an exciting Raiders game is what you need, then you could visit places like Vegas indoor skydiving and machine guns park.

The Benefits of Moving to Las Vegas?
Firstly, it’s very easy to travel to Vegas; a flight could take you from Los Angeles to Las Vegas in an hour. Also, if you book it at the right time, you can find cheap tickets!
The Raiders are getting a huge stadium, and honestly, it could be the biggest in the entire NFL. Constructed at a whopping $1.9 billion, it is going to be an impressive complex. And anyways, weren’t Raiders already due for a new stadium? This transaction was overseen by the likes of Bank of America, Las Vegas taxpayers money and Raiders organization.
The Raiders move to Las Vegas may not have come as a surprise to many. After all, they are known for their on the move nature. Though this time, this move could work in their favor, as well as yours, as the new stadium and the city of Las Vegas it is sure to give this team a fresh new start.

Six Tips for an Awesome Tailgate Season

You already take your tailgating seriously. It’s not like you’re someone who would show up on game day with a bag of chips and a six pack of beer and think you’re prepared. But there is a difference between holding a good tailgate that has the basics covered and hosting the tailgate people are still talking about after the game.

All great tailgates excel in three main areas: food, drinks and setup. Check out these six tips for taking all aspects of your party to the next level — and get ready for a winning tailgate season.

The Food

A great tailgate takes typical game day food and turns it up a few notches. You don’t need a five-star tasting menu. Nope, just add some flair to the normal hamburger and chip-dip selection.

1. Make Your Food Portable.

Your tailgate guests don’t want to be stuck hovering over the food table, so set them free by making most of your food easy to hold with one hand. Think wax paper sleeves for your burgers (in team colors, of course) as well as kettle corn and other snacks already packaged in mini-brown paper bags. Oh, and don’t forget a cupcake tier of bite-sized desserts.

2. Pick Out a Themed Recipe.

Make one item on your spread themed to your team. Are you a Bills fan? Then you’ll need some Buffalo chicken bites. Baltimore Ravens tailgaters will love your Edgar Allen Poe-boy sliders. The more creative, the better.

The Drinks

Like your food, you don’t need to have a fully stocked bar to throw a great party (although we’re not stopping you). In addition to a variety of beer, wine, water and soda on ice, offer at least one fun drink option to help your tailgate stand out.

3. Create a Bloody Mary Bar.

For early morning tailgates, a decked out Bloody Mary bar can serve as both drink and food. Load mason jars with pickled vegetables, cheese cubes, bacon, olives and lemon wedges, and let your guests make their own skewers. Provide pitchers of your favorite Bloody Marys (spicy and non-spicy), along with celery salt-rimmed glasses.

4. Strongly Consider Ice Pops.

Frozen drinks become essential for proper hydration and enjoyment, especially for those early season games. The night before the game, add sangria, screwdriver or cosmo mix into Popsicle molds and break out your boozy treats when the sun starts beating down the next day. Just be sure not to go too heavy on the alcohol or your ice pops will be too slushy to freeze.

The Setup

Any seasoned tailgater will tell you that people will stay for your food and drinks, but they’re initially attracted to the party you’ve set up. In addition to ample seating, a few party games and shade, invest in one big thing that will make your setup stand above the rest.

5. Go Big on Your Ride.

The bigger you can go, the better. What other kind of party gives you an excuse to trick out your vehicle? If you have a truck, bump up your tire size and outfit your rims. If you have an RV, get that custom team paint job you have always been dreaming about.

6. Throw in Some Tech.

Bring a mobile Wi-Fi hub and a few external batteries to use as mobile charging stations and your guests will hail you as a genius (particularly when it’s time to go to the game and their phone has 5 percent battery life).

Three NFL Teams that Crushed Free Agency in 2017!

There’s a tried and true saying in the NFL: “championships aren’t won in the offseason.”  Year after year, there are numerous teams who go out and “break the bank” in free agency, only to see mediocre results in the regular season, with some of those high-priced acquisitions failing to live up to the fat paychecks they’re earning. But at the same time, those teams who make the right combination of moves, by balancing the high-priced free agent acquisitions with the moderately-priced role players or young players with upside, can quickly change the trajectory of a given side of their football team, if not their football team as a whole.

Taking a look at the 2017 NFL offseason to date, three teams appear to have positioned themselves for significant improvements this upcoming season, thanks to both the quality, and quantity, of moves that they’ve made:

3. Philadelphia — After two straight seasons of finishing with a 7-9 record, the Philadelphia Eagles have positioned themselves to take a sizable step forward this offseason, given some of the additions they made. For anyone who watched the Eagles for any period of time last season, their biggest need — at least on offense — was painfully clear: they desperately needed reliable weapons to whom Carson Wentz could throw the football. The Eagles decisively addressed said need by adding wide receiver Alshon Jeffrey, formerly of the Chicago Bears, and wide receiver Torrey Smith, formerly of the San Francisco 49ers. Jeffrey provides Wentz with the tall, reliable receiver who can go up over cornerbacks to catch the ball, whereas Smith provides the vertical threat that Wentz can use to attack defenses vertically. On defense, the unit looked like it would mostly stay the same, save for any badly needed upgrades they would make at the cornerback position. But, they were prepared to lose the services of defensive tackle Bennie Logan to free agency. That became a reality when Logan signed with the Kansas City Chiefs. However, the Eagles actually may have ended up with a better player in the long run, after acquiring defensive tackle Timmy Jernigan from the Baltimore Ravens, for nothing more than a swap of third round picks. Such a price is nothing short of a steal for Philadelphia, as they acquire the rights to one of the young, talented, and unheralded defensive linemen in the NFL. That essentially means that if the Eagles were to make any upgrades at cornerback and running back in the 2017 NFL Draft, this could be a profoundly different — and profoundly better — team next season.

2. New England — It might seem silly to include the reigning Super Bowl champions on a list of teams that have improved themselves this offseason, but that is actually the case with the Patriots (as scary as that may seem). New England, under Bill Belichick, usually won’t make any overtures towards free agents sure to garner lucrative contracts. That’s why it came as a surprise to many people when the Patriots quickly inked cornerback Stephon Gillmore to a five-year deal with $65 million, on the first day of free agency. Coming off a Pro Bowl season, Gillmore gives New England a pair of Pro Bowl cornerbacks, alongside Malcolm Butler. Their other big move in free agency wasn’t actually an acquisition, but rather the retention of Pro Bowl linebacker Dont’a Hightower. Hightower opted to return to New England on a four-year, $35.5 million deal. As the middle linebacker for New England (and a favorite of the coaching staff), Hightower was an integral part of the Patriots defense. Being able to retain his services was a huge win for them. On offense, New England gave future Hall of Fame quarterback Tom Brady yet another weapon, in the form of wide receiver Brandin Cooks. The Patriots sent the #32 overall selection in the 2017 NFL Draft to New Orleans for the rights to Cook, who will provide Brady with a deep threat that was sorely lacking last year. Add in the acquisitions of defensive end Kony Ealy from Carolina (an underrated pass rusher) and tight end Dwayne Allen (who has shown the ability to be a dominant red zone option), and it’s not hard to see why New England should be the favorites in the AFC yet again.

1. Jacksonville — For the second straight year, Jacksonville has gone out and spent liberally in free agency, enhancing the young and talented foundation of players they’ve taken via the NFL Draft with veteran players at key positions. This year, the Jaguars were able to secure the services of one of the true crown jewels of the 2017 Free Agency period: defensive end Calais Campbell, formerly of the Arizona Cardinals. The Jaguars only had one player finish with eight more sacks last season — rookie defensive lineman Yannick Ngakoue — whereas Campbell himself has recorded  56.5 sacks over his nine seasons in the league. Jacksonville also went out and signed cornerback A.J. Bouye to a five-year, $67.5 million deal.  As one of the breakout stars of 2016, not only does Bouye give the Jaguars one of the very best tandems of cornerbacks in the NFL (alongside uber-talented rookie Jalen Ramsey), but it also makes a key division rival — the Houston Texans — weaker in the process. Finally, the Jaguars also went out and upgraded what could’ve been their biggest position of need heading into this offseason at left tackle, acquiring veteran tackle Branden Albert from the Miami Dolphins through a trade. Albert has struggled with injuries recently, but he’s less than two seasons removed from a Pro Bowl appearance. With his acquisition, it not only affords quarterback Blake Bortles more protection next season, but it also allows Jacksonville to continue to upgrade their team, by taking the best available player with their first round pick (#4 overall) in the 2017 NFL Draft.

OMG! NFL Wagering and College Football Wagering are Not The Same!

 

There are at least a half-dozen factors that separate college football betting from NFL betting. For starters, action on college football is much more likely to come from sophisticated bettors, known as “sharps” or “wiseguys”, who often possess some insight or kernel of information that may provide them with an edge against the house. Experienced bet takers know not to treat heavy activity on an obscure game, such as East Carolina versus Wake Forest, as casually as they might deal with increased wagering interest on a marquee NFL game such as a Redskins-Cowboys confrontation. For that reason, bookmakers usually move college football betting lines quickly, often one full point at a time. In general, it takes more money to move an NFL betting line(for example, NFL betting at Skybook ) and when it is moved, usually it is by only half a point.

Largely because of a lack of proficiency in the kicking game, key numbers such as 3, 4, 6, 7, 10, 13 and 14 are not nearly as sacrosanct in college football betting as they are in the NFL. College football games just do not fall on those numbers as often as they do in NFL contests.

We may never again see a three-touchdown favorite in the NFL but lines of -30, -40, or even -50 are not that uncommon in the college gridiron game. Oddsmakers and bookmakers also find college totals more difficult to gauge because some coaches try to impress those who have a vote in the polls by running up the score. Others, feel that a third-string player’s reward for practicing all week is to get to play in a blowout. It’s just these types of unique uncertainties that compel bookmakers to shift college “over/under” numbers more quickly than they move NFL totals.

It’s also the nature of college football that personnel change every year. This makes early season evaluation more difficult and leads bet takers to move lines and totals more quickly, especially in September and early October when the season is still young. There is personnel movement in the NFL too, of course, but mostly it involves players of established ability moving from team to team. In college football, you’re always dealing with fresh faces.

By collective bargaining agreement, each week, the NFL publishes a comprehensive list of injured players and their status. Sure, there are mistakes and abuses and players who have been listed as “doubtful” have played while those regarded as “probable” have not but overall, the list is accurate. On the other hand, colleges are under no obligation to announce the status of injured or disciplined football players. This vagueness over availability sometimes can create opportunities in college football betting. Consequently, bookmakers are wary if too much wagering attention is paid to one team.

When it comes to parlay card numbers, you are much more apt to see a slight gap between those prices printed on cards and those posted on the board in the NFL than you are in college football. The key element is that bookmakers can more accurately predict the public inclination for an NFL game than they can for a college football game. It’s not unusual then for traditionally popular team such as Dallas or a “hot” team such as Oakland, to be listed as a 7 1/2-point favorite on a parlay card but just a 6 1/2 or 7-point choice on the board. Through experience, bookmakers know that “public” teams such as the Cowboys, as well as “now” teams such as the Raiders, will be more aggressively played on parlay cards than they are straight up.

Clearly, understanding the differences between college football betting and NFL betting is essential to winning.

DIFFERENCES BETWEEN COLLEGE AND PRO FOOTBALL:

College Football:

‘Wiseguys’ frequently supply the action

College football betting lines often are moved by a full point at a time

Key numbers are not as important

Personnel changes can make early season analysis difficult

Information on injuries is not always accessible

There’s usually not a disparity between parlay card and board numbers

NFL:

Money from public is prevalent

Betting lines are usually moved by a half-point at a time

Key numbers are VERY important

Personnel changes are less volatile and easier to evaluate

Information on injuries usually is accessible

Parlay card numbers sometimes are intentionally different than prices on the board.

Check Out the Musical Neural Network

Playoffs!? Wtf? Playoffs!? Rating the New NFL Head Coaches

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While almost everyone remembers that the Denver Broncos won Super Bowl 50, few people realize that they did so with a head coach that was brand new to the team heading into that season in Gary Kubiak. In 2016, of the 12 teams that qualified for the playoffs at the end of the 2016-2017 season, two of them were led by first year head coaches: Ben McAdoo of the New York Giants, and Adam Gase of the Miami Dolphins. So, it would stand to reason that the teams who made head coaching changes during this offseason are looking for their new head coaches to immediately replicate the type of success the aforementioned guys had. But who are the coaches in the best positions to lead their teams to the postseason? Here’s our list from least likely to most likely:

Kyle Shanahan, San Francisco 49ers — Shanahan and new General Manager John Lynch will start the process of rebuilding the great San Francisco 49ers franchise with the second overall pick in the 2017 NFL Draft. The problem is, they got the second overall pick in the draft because the team was so bad last year in general. The 49ers could basically use a major infusion of talent at the vast majority of positions on the team, most notably at quarterback. Blaine Gabbert and/or Colin Kaepernick are clearly not the answer, and the new braintrust will likely move quickly in trying to figure out who is the guy that’s going to lead their team for the near and long-term future. But outside of running back, where they have Carlos Hyde, and defensive lineman, where they drafted Arik Armstead and DeForest Buckner in recent years, there isn’t really a single position on the team that you could point to as a strength moving forward. Shanahan and Lynch will need a few years to restock the proverbial cupboard.

Sean McVay, Los Angels Rams — The Rams went in the total opposite direction of their previous head coach, when hiring their most recent one. They went from a grizzled NFL-stalwart in Jeff Fisher, to hiring the youngest head coach in NFL history in Sean McVay. McVay was considered somewhat of a “wunderkind” after guiding the Washington Redskins’ offense to the third-best ranking in the NFL last season. His job will largely be tied to the development of Jared Goff, the top pick in the 2016 NFL Draft. Even though it’s still way too early to make any type of judgment on Goff, we saw much he struggled last season. The Rams offensive line remains awful for yet another year. They’ve had one wide receiver top 1,000 yards receiving in the past decade. After a superstar-caliber rookie season, running back Todd Gurley looked painfully mortal last year. McVay might be responsible for helping Goff develop, but he’s got his work cut out for him with the rest of this offense. The saving grace for the Rams is that the defense still has talent, including defensive tackle Aaron Donald, who’s one of the five best defensive players in the NFL.

Sean McDermott, Buffalo Bills — Halfway through October, the Buffalo Bills looked like they might end up being one of the surprise teams in the NFL. They had a 4-2 record, including a shutout victory over the New England Patriots. But, from there on out, the bottom fell out for the Bills, as they finished with a 3-7 record down the stretch. That led to Rex Ryan’s dismissal, and the hiring of new head coach Sean McDermott. The first order of business for McDermott and Doug Whaley will be to find a starting quarterback, as it looks like Tyrod Taylor’s tenure in Buffalo is all but over. Many people think they’ll use the 10th overall pick in the draft to address the position, but let’s not forget they still have Cardale Jones as a developmental player, and perhaps the long-term answer. Still, the Bills don’t have much in the way of building block pieces around whoever fills the quarterback position. Running back LeSean McCoy looked great last season, but he’ll be 29 years old next season, and hasn’t played in all 16 games as a member of the Bills. Star wide receiver Sammy Watkins has missed 11 of his last 32 games. The offensive line has been inconsistent. The defense was ravaged by injuries and inconsistency last year. Buffalo proved they can be a good team if things break well for them, but they still have more questions than answers.

Doug Marrone, Jacksonville Jaguars — In reality, the Jacksonville Jaguars could end up being one of the most interesting and dangerous teams in the AFC, if not the NFL. It all depends on whether Marrone’s staff can resurrect the career of quarterback Blake Bortles. Bortles appeared to be on an upward trajectory in his second year, leading a young and talented offense. But last year, Bortles badly regressed, and the offense — as well as the whole team — struggled as a result. But this is still one of the youngest and most talented rosters in the NFL.  It’s not out of the question for young stars like Allen Robinson and Allen Hurns to bounce back, edge rusher Dante Fowler Jr. to take another step forward. Their group of linebackers is one of the more underrated units in the NFL, and they have talent at both Safety positions. If Jacksonville can make a few upgrades on their still-porous offensive line, and perhaps add a little more consistency from the running game, they could help fix what ails Bortles. But this team will only go as Bortles does.

Anthony Lynn, San Diego Chargers — As snakebitten as this team was with injuries and plain old bad luck last season, San Diego sits near the top of this list for one simple reason: they still have quarterback Philip Rivers, who made the Pro Bowl last season (as an alternate). Even with an offense that continued to lose players seemingly on a weekly basis, Rivers still finished the year ranked among the top five quarterbacks in passing yards, yards per attempt, and touchdown passes. While he’s not exactly getting any younger, he’s still in the prime of his career.  The Chargers will also have some balance on offense, thanks to the second year breakout of running back Melvin Gordon. On defense, they have two of the best young talents in the NFL in defensive end Joey Bosa, who was the NFL’s Defensive Rookie of the Year last season, and cornerback Jason Verrett, who admittedly missed much of last year after suffering a season-ending ACL injury. Still, with the offensive and defensive pedigrees that new head coach Anthony Lynn and new defensive coordinator Gus Bradley, this team is not that far away from contending for a playoff spot.

Vance Joseph, Denver Broncos — Vance Joseph, the highly-regarded former defensive backs coach for the Miami Dolphins, is probably the one coach in the best position to guide his team to the playoffs in his first year as head coach, mostly on the basis of the defense he’ll be inheriting. That group still has Von Miller, who is still perhaps the best edge rusher in the NFL, as well as the best pair of cornerbacks in the league in Aqib Talib and Chris Harris Jr. Even with all the injuries and defections via free agency this team had after winning the Super Bowl, those guys represented the foundation of what was still probably the league’s best defense. Obviously, then, the biggest questions for the Broncos will be on the offensive side of the football, namely at the quarterback position. While most people believe that incumbents Trevor Siemian and Paxton Lynch will battle for the starting job, it’s hard to rule out the possibility of the team acquiring a veteran quarterback — say, Tony Romo? — who could step in and lead this team immediately. If they can get even an average-level of play from the quarterback position, they can rely on their skill position players like Demaryius Thomas, Emmanuel Sanders, C.J. Anderson, and second-year running back Devontae Booker to help spark an offense that sputtered down the stretch of last season.

[Analysis by NFL expert Rajan Nanavati]

P.J. Fleck and the Minnesota Gophers are Going Places

The Minnesota Golden Gophers made perhaps the best coaching hire of the off-season by landing former Western Michigan head coach P.J. Fleck. Fleck is only 36 years old, but he helped turn Western Michigan’s football program around in only four years. He went 1-11 in his first season, but he was able to recruit at a high level, finishing with the 36th best class according to 247sports.com before the 2014 season. The Broncos finished 8-4 in 2014 and Fleck was named the MAC coach of the year. In 2015, he finished 7-5 but led the program to its first ever bowl victory with a 45-31 win over the Middle Tennessee State Blue Raiders in the Bahamas Bowl. Fleck was able to put together the 4th consecutive best recruiting class in the MAC, and the talent acquired from those four years really proved to be special in 2016. The Broncos went undefeated in the regular season with a 12-0 record, then won the MAC championship, and qualified for an at-large bid to play Wisconsin in the Cotton Bowl. They lost 24-16, but it was the best season in program history. Minnesota has talent and has competed in the Big 10 in the past, and they are in the much weaker west division. This is huge because they play Iowa, Illinois, Northwestern and Purdue every year. They also play Nebraska and Wisconsin, who are both steady, consistent programs but it is not nearly as difficult as the east gauntlet of Ohio State, Michigan, Penn State and Michigan State. Fleck is a proven winner, and a great recruiter, plus he plays a manageable schedule every year.

We think it will take a year or two, like it did at Western Michigan, for him to really get the program going with his system and his players. The first few years may not be great, but once he establishes his program it very well could be a contender in the west every year. We think Minnesota could be a serious contender in the Big 10 in a few years, and that also means they very well could be a dark horse playoff contender if they somehow knock off one of the dominant programs out of the east division. Minnesota is going to go places it has never been with Fleck at the helm, as he is a great coach, recruiter and plays in the weaker division. We think it is very likely that Minnesota will be a very good program in the future that teams such as Ohio State and Michigan can no longer take lightly.

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