PREVIEW: Patriots versus Steelers Sunday December 17

For all intents and purposes, we all know that Sunday afternoon’s game between the New England Patriots and Pittsburgh Steelers will determine which team will clinch the #1 seed in the AFC playoffs, and secure home field advantage throughout the postseason.

Interestingly enough, the Steelers enter this game as the underdog (the latest lines have the Patriots as three-point favorites in the football odds for Patriots game), despite the fact that Pittsburgh is not only riding an NFL-high eight-game winning streak and has the best record in the conference, but also has generally played a bit better in the friendly confines of Heinz Field, versus on the road (they’re 11-2 at home, compared to 11-3 on the road, since the start of 2016).

But then again, we’re talking about the Patriots. Even with the ugly loss against the Miami Dolphins last Sunday evening, New England is still the highest scoring team in the AFC (averaging 28.3 points per game), but also has the second-highest point scoring differential in the conference as well (+118). With the season-ending injury to Carson Wentz last Sunday, Tom Brady may have found himself in the proverbial driver’s seat for the NFL’s Most Valuable Player (MVP) award, which would move him into a tie with Jim Brown, Earl Campbell, and Kurt Warner as the only individuals to win the award three times over the course of their career.

New England’s famous modus operandi of attacking opponents is described as “making their opponents play left-handed.” In other words, they identify what the opposing team does best, devotes their top resources towards eliminating the opponent from relying on that, and forcing them to have to rely on “Plan B.”

But in terms of the Steelers, which “poison” is the Patriots comfortable with picking? Do they focus on stopping wide receiver Antonio Brown, who is in the midst of an MVP campaign of his own? Or do they worry about stopping running back Le’Veon Bell, who leads the NFL in both rushing yards and total yards from scrimmage?

That’s the challenge the Steelers present. Bell’s patience, vision, and ability to rip off chunks of yards time and time again is absolutely demoralizing to opposing defenders, and he could make life very miserable for a Patriots rushing defense that’s ranked 23rd in the NFL in rushing yards allowed per game, and dead last in the league in average yards per carry allowed by opposing runners.

And then there’s Brown, who is not only on pace for his 5th consecutive season with at least 100 receptions, 1,200 yards receiving, and nine touchdowns, but has averaged almost 10 catches for over 130 yards and more than one touchdown over the last four games. Brown has easily distanced himself from all other peers at his position, and sits alone atop the “best wide receiver in the NFL” discussion.

Of course, it’s not like the Patriots’ defense will be the only unit with the totally unenviable task of stopping the opposing offense; the Steelers offense will spend all week answering the nearly-unanswerable question of “how do we slow down Brady?” Pittsburgh’s pass defense was already something of a question mark, and with the loss of speedy linebacker Ryan Shazier (to a very scary spine injury on December 4th), that could open up spots on the middle of the field, which Brady is lethally effective at exploiting.

Plain and simple: in this battle among the AFC’s top heavyweights, expect an old-fashioned shootout between two of the best offenses the conference – and the league in general – has to offer.

PREVIEW: Eagles at Hawks Sunday Night Showdown


Between the Philadelphia Eagles and Seattle Seahawks, who will square off in the nationally-televised game on Sunday evening, the narratives seemed pretty entrenched before the season started.
Given the betting odds for Philadelphia Eagles at Seattle Seahawks game everyone wants a piece of the action. The ff-winners.com artificial intelligence computer projects Seattle to win 25-22.

One of these two teams was the presumed favorite to represent the NFC in the Super Bowl, thanks to a ferocious defense that could single-handedly wrest control of the game from whoever they played, and an MVP-caliber quarterback who could make up for the fact that the team really didn’t have any other stars on offense.

The other team was likely going to be right in the playoff mix themselves, but probably on the outside looking in around this time of year. There were a lot of interesting and talented pieces on defense to work with, and they had a promising do-it-all quarterback of their own, but they didn’t quite seem like they could compete with the very best that the conference had to offer.

Of course, back in September, everyone thought the Seahawks fit that first team description, and the Eagles fit that second team description. And yet, entering the first week of December of 2017, it’s actually the complete opposite.

In a conference that legitimately has as many as 10 teams who could realistically challenge for a playoff spot, the Philadelphia Eagles have been head-and-shoulders above the other nine teams – if not any other team in the NFL. The last time they lost a game, it was still technically summertime (September 17th). They’ve outscored teams by a league-leading 160 points, which is 37 more points than the team with the second-highest point differential. We’re barely clearing our Thanksgiving meals off the table, and yet the Eagles could very likely clinch a playoff spot already.

Meanwhile, if the playoffs started today, the Seahawks would snap a five-year playoff streak, as they’re currently behind the Atlanta Falcons in the playoff standings (both teams have a 7-4 record, but Atlanta has the head-to-head victory tiebreaker). The previously impenetrable Seattle defense has been decimated by injuries along the defensive line, but especially among the pillars of its vaunted “Legion of Boom” secondary; cornerback Richard Sherman and safety Kam Chancellor have both been placed on season-ending injured reserve.

But what really makes this game worth watching is the duel between the two quarterbacks playing in this game. We’re very likely looking at two of the three finalists for the 2017-2018 Most Valuable Player award.

Through 12 weeks this season, Carson Wentz of the Eagles leads the NFL in touchdown passes (28), and could become only the third quarterback in NFL history to lead the NFL in touchdown passes in his second year of the league; the other two guys who did so are in the Hall of Fame: Dan Marino and Kurt Warner.

Wilson gets overlooked because he’s seemingly not even the top quarterback in his own conference. But, he has the third most touchdown passes this year (23), is second in total touchdowns (passing + rushing) only behind Wentz, and averages 35 more passing yards per game than Wentz (275 to 240). You could easily make the argument that the Seahawks would be in much bigger trouble if they lost Wilson to a long-term injury, versus if the Eagles lost Wentz to a similar injury.

Regardless, Seattle is going to give Philadelphia everything they have on Sunday evening. The Eagles find themselves in a really tough spot, having to play the Seahawks in Seattle, knowing in the back of their mind that they’ll face the NFC West-leading Los Angeles Rams one week later. If the Eagles were going to lose again at some point in the regular season, early December looks like the time frame for that to happen.

Washington Versus Dallas: Thursday Night Preview

FF-Winners.com AI Program has Dallas winning 24-23 based on a weak Washington defense. What do you think?

Thursday Night Preview: Buffalo Bills at New York Jets

 

It was only two months ago when many people believed the Buffalo Bills and New York Jets might not only be two of the worst teams in the NFL, but contenders to finish with the lowest win total in the NFL overall.

After all, new General Manager Brandon Beane and new head coach Sean McDermott came into Buffalo, and started dismantling remnants of regimes past, with eyes on the future. Meanwhile, only two seasons removed from an impetuous free agent spending spree, General Manager Mike Maccagnan and head coach Todd Bowles found themselves with what many considered to be the least-talented roster in the NFL, and their job security being tenuous at best.

And yet, halfway through the season, not only are the Buffalo Bills only one-half game behind the New England Patriots in the AFC East standings, but their 5-2 record is tied for the second best record in the entire conference. Their +38 point differential this year is the third highest in the conference, and even greater than that of the Patriots. And perhaps most notably, Buffalo is the only team in the AFC to have not lost a single home game this season.

If the New York Jets entered this game with a 1-6 or 2-7 record, nobody would’ve thought twice about it. There was still a ton of housecleaning needed on that team, before they could be anywhere near competitive in the division or the conference. And yet, their 3-5 record is actually something to be positive about, considering they’ve won three of their past six games, after starting the year 0-2. Their three losses in the past six games were all seven points or loss, and they actually held third quarter leads in two of those three losses.

The biggest matchup to watch in this game will be whether the beleaguered Jets rushing defense can stop a Bills team that would prefer to pound the football right down the collective throats of their opponents.

The Jets are ranked 27th in the NFL in rushing yards allowed to opponents, giving up over 128 yards on the ground per game. Meanwhile, Buffalo is ranked 10th in the NFL in rushing yards per game, putting up an average of over 124 yards per game on the ground. Veteran running back LeSean McCoy of the Bills is currently ranked 6th in the NFL in rushing yards with 521, and quarterback Tyrod Taylor is always a threat to pile up rushing yards because of his athletic ability.

If the Bills are able to control the clock with the running game, then it will be up to the Jets to score anytime they get the ball on offense. Unfortunately, that might be easier said than done. In contrast to the Jets, the Bills are one of the most stout teams in the NFL against the run, giving up only 80 yards per game (good for third in the NFL). On top of that, they only allow 16.9 points per game to opponents in general (also good for third in the NFL). The Jets only score less than 20 points per game themselves, so it might be the case where the first team to score 20 points ends up winning the game.

Game Preview: Arizona Cardinals versus Los Angeles Rams (London, Sunday, October 22, 2017)

This Sunday, the Arizona Cardinals and the Los Angeles Rams travel to London for their game. NFL betting for the Cardinals vs Rams game  has the Rams as the 3.5 point favorite  with a total score of 47. However, FF-Winners AI-generated prediction (52-33 ATS this year) favors Arizona by 2 with a total of 44.

We’re now over one-third of the way through the 2017 NFL season, and the Los Angeles Rams are sitting atop the NFC West with a 4-2 record. Before the season started, if you had told any NFL fan that this is how the first six games of the season would go down in that division, they would have thought you had never watched football before.


Over the last three weeks, the Rams have been scoring an average of over 34 points per game, thanks to the innovative play designs of first year head coach Sean McVay, and the hard running of a rejuvenated Todd Gurley. This past Sunday, the Rams headed to Florida and picked up a very quality road win against a Jacksonville Jaguars team that has been one of the more fun stories in the NFL this season. The Rams put up 27 points on a team that was holding opponents to less than 17 points per game this year.
This Rams team looks like it’s legit. If they can get a defense that’s ranked 27th in the NFL in opposing yards per game to come together, this could be a fascinating team to watch down the stretch of the season.

After a big win against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers last week, the Arizona Cardinals seemingly got their season back on track, pulling back to a 3-3 record halfway through October. They’ll travel to London this week to take on the Rams, hoping they can snap the trend of playing poorly away from home; they’re 2-0 at home this year, and 1-3 on the road.

Expect the Cardinals to feature another heavy dose of the newly acquired Adrian Peterson, similar to what they offered Tampa Bay last week. Peterson went for 134 yards rushing and two touchdowns last week, looking reminiscent of the Peterson we remember from five years ago. This week, he — and the Cardinals — will face a Rams defense that’s 29th in the NFL in rushing yards allowed per game, while allowing an NFL-high eight touchdowns this season.

Ironically, while the spotlight was on Peterson after last Sunday’s performance, Arizona quarterback Carson Palmer also enjoyed his best performance since his MVP-caliber season in 2015, throwing for 283 yards and three touchdowns while completing 81.8% of his passes that day. He threw the ball in the direction of the guy who still might be the most reliable wide receiver in the NFL in Larry Fitzgerald, who caught 10 passes for 138 yards, and is currently 6th in the NFL in receiving yards.

It’ll be up to the Rams’ defense to keep the football away from the Arizona offense, and ensure that Peterson doesn’t slow down the game by keeping the Rams’ offense off the field. Arizona’s defense is still very talented, but the way McVay has been calling plays for the Rams, if there’s an opening somewhere, he’ll certainly find it and exploit it. The Cardinals also don’t play very well when they’re away from home, so Los Angeles has to do whatever it can to continue to make life uncomfortable for Arizona.

Game Preview: Green Bay Packers at Minnesota Vikings (Sunday, October 15, 2017)

Riding high after their huge victory against the Dallas Cowboys last Sunday, the Green Bay Packers are riding high as they enter brand-new U.S. Bank Stadium this Sunday, as 3.5-point favorites against the Minnesota Vikings according to NFL betting odds for Packers vs Vikings gameAnd that’s exactly why they could be in position for a big upset this weekend…

When we think of the Vikings, we first think of their defense, thanks to the organizational philosophy laid down by head coach Mike Zimmer. Minnesota enters Week 6 of the NFL season with the 11th-ranked defense in the NFL. They have star players at every level of the defense. Defensive end Everson Griffen is third in the NFL in sacks (six). Cornerback Xavier Rhodes has been one of the best in football this season. Outside linebacker Anthony Barr is a freakish athlete that does so many things for them.

But even with the in-and-out from Sam Bradford due to various injuries, this offense has been deceptively good as well. Minnesota actually averages more passing yards per game (357 — 5th most in the NFL) than Green Bay (336.6 — 11th most in the NFL). It’s even more disparate when you look at each team’s rushing attack: Minnesota averages 118.2 yards per game (#11 in the NFL) versus Green Bay’s 91.6 yards per game (22nd in the NFL). In place of promising rookie Dalvin Cook, who was lost to a season-ending injury to his ACL, Jerick McKinnon provided a spark to Minnesota’s offense, evidenced by his 146 total yards against the Chicago Bears on Monday night. Wide receiver Stefon Diggs is in the midst of a breakout season of his own, sitting in 5th place in the NFL with 395 receiving yards. And the Vikings are just as likely to spread the ball around to the rest of their offense, as they are to force-feed their stars. On Monday evening, quarterback Case Keenum — playing in place of the injured Bradford — threw 16 of his 21 passing attempts to his running backs and tight ends.

Of course, the great equalizer in this entire game — or any game Green Bay plays in — is Aaron Rodgers. At some point, it just feels like we’re going to run out of superlatives to describe his level of play. Tom Brady is the greatest quarterback of all time right now, but Rodgers is the best in the game as of today. His stats don’t tell the whole story (although his league-leading 13 touchdown passes certainly help), but the way he puts the Packers on his shoulders, week after week, is unlike anything we’re seeing in the league today (this side of New England, anyway).

Minnesota’s defense has held Rodgers to less than 220 passing yards in each of the last three games these two have played in Minnesota. Of course, the Packers are 2-1 in in those games, thanks to the balance provided by the Packers rushing attack.

Minnesota handled two very potent offense at home already: New Orleans in Week 1, and Tampa Bay in Week 3. They should be well aware of this, given that they play them twice a year, but if Green Bay is not careful, they could have their hands full.

But as of right now, Green Bay looks like they’re one of the two best teams in the NFC, alongside the Atlanta Falcons. While this game should be a really good matchup, the Vikings aren’t quite as dangerous as the Packers… or as Rodgers, anyway.

My Pick: Green Bay.

 

Game Preview: Patriots at Buccaneers – Here We Go….


The New England Patriots travel to Tampa Bay for a Thursday night game against the Buccaneers.

Source: http://www.patriots.com/news/2017/10/02/game-preview-patriots-buccaneers

FF-Winners.com’s 2017-8 AFC West Preview

For all the buzz around the other teams in the division, it gets easily overlooked that the Kansas City Chiefs are the reigning division champions, coming off a 12-4 record last year. But the question around the Chiefs is whether this team can take that next step forward and make a deep postseason run, or will they take a step back given all the questions they have on offense. The defense shouldn’t miss a beat, with as many as five Pro Bowl-caliber players on defense — cornerback Marcus Peters, safety Eric Berry, outside linebackers Tamba Hali and Justin Houston, and inside linebacker Derrick Johnson — along with an emerging stud in defensive end Chris Jones, and a very solid free agent acquisition in defensive tackle Bennie Logan. But the offense, which ranked in the bottom half of the league in total yards (20th) and passing yards (19th) per game, has plenty of questions left to be answered this season. How does the Chiefs selection of quarterback Patrick Mahomes with their top pick in the 2017 NFL Draft affect the play of quarterback Alex Smith, whom Mahomes was drafted to replace? How will the Chiefs running game fare with rookie Kareem Hunt (the team’s 3rd round pick) taking over for Spencer Ware, who was lost to a season-ending injury in the preseason? And does the team have any receiver they can reliably trust, outside of Tyreek Hill, after releasing Jeremy Maclin in the offseason? It’s going to take every ounce of guidance that head coach Andy Reid can muster to get this team to the heights that many believe they’re capable of, given the aforementioned challenges.

Nobody will question whether the Oakland Raiders will have the capability to move the football and score a lot of points with their offense. Derek Carr is one of the most exciting young quarterbacks in the league. Michael Crabtree and Amari Cooper are one of the most productive wide receiver duos in the NFL. The offensive line doesn’t get quite as much credit as it should, but it’s easily one of the three or four best units in the league. The unretired Marshawn Lynch should, at least in theory, provide some punch to the running game. No, the thing that everyone will question is whether Oakland can stop anyone from moving the football up and down the field against their defense, which finished last season giving up the seventh-most yards per game in the league last year. While the team used six of their nine draft picks in the 2017 NFL Draft on defensive players, the unit remains largely the same as the group from last year. Will the continuity, coupled with the addition of John Pagano as the Assistant Head Coach — Defense, be enough to get a serviceable performance from that side of the ball?

Less than two years removed from winning the Super Bowl, the Denver Broncos now find themselves amidst a major transition in the team’s direction. Gone are surefire Hall of Fame quarterback Peyton Manning, head coach Gary Kubiak, and venerated defensive coordinator Wade Phillips. New head coach Vance Joseph seemingly has his hands full, with a team that has a bevy of talented players, but a roster that’s been slowly depleted because of free agent defections and ineffective draft classes. The team’s calling card will remain its defense, considering the team still has the best pure edge rusher in the NFL (Von Miller) and the best pair of cornerbacks in the league (Aqib Talib and Chris Harris Jr.), but it may not be safe to assume they’ll be just as dominant has they have been in years past, considering how many key veterans they’ve lost from that group in recent years — most recently safety TJ Ward, whom the team released just days before the 2017 roster cut down date. On offense, the team still has yet to find it’s answer at quarterback, as they’ll continue to start Trevor Siemian under center, behind an offensive line that still has plenty of questions of its own.

The Chargers, who officially moved to Los Angeles this past offseason, will also have a new head coach along with a new home town. After parting ways with Mike McCoy, they brought in Anthony Lynn — the former interim head coach of the Buffalo Bills — as the new lead man, along with Gus Bradley as the new defensive coordinator. Lynn helped guide the Bills to the top-ranked rushing offense in the NFL in 2016, which only bodes well for running back Melvin Gordon, who enjoyed a breakout season of his own last year. On defense, Bradley will oversee a defense featuring breakout edge rusher Joey Bosa — the Defensive Rookie of the Year last year (voted by his peers) — and Melvin Ingram, along with cornerbacks Jason Verrett and Casey Hayward (the latter of whom led the NFL in interceptions last year). With Philip Rivers under center, the return of Keenan Allen at wide receiver, and second year tight end Hunter Henry emerging as yet another red zone weapon, the Chargers could be the biggest wildcard of this division, and a darkhorse playoff contender.

FF-Winners.com’s 2017-8 AFC South Preview

There’s a reason why many people believe that the AFC South is essentially the Junior Varsity division of the NFL. All four teams have plenty of interesting young players and essential pieces needed to build a successful team, but they have even bigger questions that are hindering them from truly being among the contenders in their conference.

Perhaps no team in the NFL fits the “this team could be really good if they just had an answer at quarterback” description more than the Houston Texans. Needless to say, the $64 million gamble they took on quarterback Brock Osweiler last season turned out to be an utter catastrophe, to the point where they actually gave Cleveland a 2nd round pick in the 2018 NFL Draft, in exchange for the Browns taking Osweiler off the Texans’ hands. If they can even get replacement-level play from under center, courtesy of either Tom Savage or first round pick Deshaun Watson, this team has a lot of interesting pieces assembled. DeAndre Hopkins is one of the most lethal wide receivers in the NFL. Lamar Miller is a very capable running back. There might not be a defense in the AFC with a better front seven than that of the Texans, and no team in the NFL has three fear-inspiring pass rushers like Houston has with Jadeveon Clowney, Whitney Mercilus, and the return of JJ Watt. If Houston’s offense doesn’t do its job this season, the seat that head coach Bill O’Brien is currently sitting on may begin to get uncomfortably warm.

The Tennessee Titans have become one of the “trendy” picks to win the AFC South and/or make the playoffs in 2017 by the media and fans, especially given the fact that they finished the season with a 5-2 record over their last seven games, en route to a 9-7 record overall. But for all the intrigue around the development of quarterback Marcus Mariota, the “exotic smash mouth” running game featuring Demarco Murray and Derrick Henry, the bevy of pass catchers this team has assembled, and a workmanlike group of defenders on the other side of the football, this team still has a lot to prove before they’re anointed as the next up-and-comer in the NFL. Mariota has sustained season-ending injuries over each of the past two seasons. Head coach Mike Mularkey has a career head coaching record of 27-46, and has never taken a team to the postseason. Murray is a few months away from his 30th birthday, the age when running backs start to fall off the proverbial cliff. The secondary was one of the worst in the NFL last season, and while they invested in the cornerback spot via free agency (signing Logan Ryan) and the draft (taking Adoree’ Jackson from USC), it’s far from solved. So, while t wouldn’t be that big of a surprise to see the Titans usurp the AFC South crown from the Texans, it wouldn’t be any surprise if they fell surprise if Mularkey’s crew fell short of expectations either.

The darkhorse team in this division is undoubtedly the Indianapolis Colts, but the entire outlook of their season rests on the surgically-repaired shoulder of Andrew Luck. Only days away from the start of the 2017 regular season, head coach Chuck Pagano claims that he hasn’t seen Luck throw the football normally this year. Indianapolis is planning to start backup quarterback Scott Tolzien in their season opener against the Los Angeles Rams, but how long will Tolzien have to continue to play in place of Luck? That’s a question that virtually nobody in and around the team has been able to answer, and that dark cloud of uncertainty has cast a big shadow over what was otherwise a promising offseason. The Colts finally rid themselves with the general ineptitude of former General Manager Ryan Grigson, and replaced him with well-respected personnel czar Chris Ballard. In Ballard’s first draft, he took three guys who can help the perpetually beleaguered Colts defense immediately: safety Malik Hooker, cornerback Quincy Wilson, and edge rusher Tarell Basham. Running back Marlon Mack, whom the team also took in this year’s draft, presents an interesting change-of-pace option for the ageless Frank Gore as well. But as long as the cornerstone of this franchise is standing on the sidelines and not wearing a uniform, this team is still running in place.

Ironically, who continually rounds out the bottom of the AFC South — the Jacksonville Jaguars — find themselves in the same boat as the team that won this division last year. Blake Bortles was supposed to be the franchise quarterback for this team, and yet he’s turned into a quarterback version of Benjamin Button: he only gets worse with more experience. There have been plenty of headlines this offseason about Bortles’ teammates making their displeasure towards his poor caliber of play publicly known, to the point where the team seriously considered replacing him with backup quarterback Chad Henne; Henne didn’t get the job because he played equally as terrible in the preseason, during what was presumably his audition to be the starting quarterback. The mess under center overshadows what is otherwise a deceptively loaded roster. The depth this team has at both the running back (Leonard Fournette, Chris Ivory, and TJ Yeldon) — and wide receiver (Allen Robinson, Allen Hurns, Marqise Lee, DeDe Westbrook) positions would be the envy of many teams around the league. The defensive front four has the potential to be one of the very best groups in the league. They have two Pro Bowl-caliber cornerbacks (Jalen Ramsey and AJ Bouye) and a pair of the rangiest linebackers in the NFL (Telvin Smith and Myles Jack). But the sheer incompetence this team has received from the quarterback position is the main reason they have never been able to finally emerge from the basement of this division.

FF-Winners.com’s 2017-8 AFC East Preview

The story of the AFC East in 2017 remains the same as it has for 14 of the past 16 NFL seasons: this division belongs to the New England Patriots, and everyone else is just competing for second place.

To use a line made famous by legendary professional wrestler Ric Flair: “to be the man, you gotta beat the man.” And right now, there’s simply no two ways about it: there doesn’t appear to be a single team in the NFL that can go toe-to-toe with the New England Patriots, and beat them on a neutral field. Let’s start off with the fact that the Patriots are returning 17 of their 22 starters from the team that won the Super Bowl. Now, add in the fact that they might have actually gotten better at four of those five positions that will feature new players, like wide receiver Brandin Cooks, running back Mike Gillislee, cornerback Stephon Gillmore, and defensive end Kony Ealy. This was already a team that lost a grand total of one game after Tom Brady returned from suspension last year. What team, across the entire NFL, is capable of beating these guys?

You can make an argument that no team has been ravaged by injury before the preseason even started than the Miami Dolphins. Pretty much every single NFL fan is well aware of the season-ending knee injury to Ryan Tannehill, which led head coach to call up old friend Jay Cutler and convince him to take over as the starting quarterback of the Dolphins (after Cutler had decided to retire this past offseason).  But that was far from the only blow the team was dealt by the injury bug. Linebacker Raekwon McMillan, the team’s second round pick in the 2017 NFL Draft, looked like he was set to take over the starting middle linebacker spot for the Dolphins, but then suffered a season-ending ACL injury. Cornerback Tony Lippett, who started in 13 games for Miami last season, was lost for the year after tearing his Achilles tendon. Offensive guard Ted Larsen, who was both an opening-day starter and their insurance policy at center in case Mike Pouncey got hurt, tore his biceps muscle in training camp, and will miss a significant portion of this season. It’s going to take a borderline miraculous coaching job for Gase to help Miami move out from underneath the dark cloud they’re currently under.

No head coach will ever admit that they’re willing to lose more games in the short run if it means the team will improve in the long run. That’s why you’ll never hear head coach Sean McDermott of the Buffalo Bills say anything other than the fact that he’s positioning his team to compete in the AFC East immediately. But after spending much of the offseason waffling on whether to bring back quarterback Tyrod Taylor (whom they brought back on a deal that allows them to easily part ways after just one year), and then opening training camp by trading players like wide receiver Sammy Watkins, cornerback Ronald Darby, and quarterback Cardale Jones, the message is clear:  they’re willing to take one step back with the roster, if it means they can take two steps forward in their rebuild. McDermott is going to try and win games the same way the Carolina Panthers — his former employer — have in recent years: run the ball down the throats of the opponents, and use their stout defensive line to keep opponents from scoring.

As far as the New York Jets, you may have heard many NFL analysts around the league say the same thing over-and-over again, because it’s the truth: there isn’t a NFL roster with less talent across the entire league than the one the Jets have currently constructed. Frankly, it’s a miracle that head coach Todd Bowles and General Manager Mike Maccagnan weren’t fired by the notoriously fickle owner of the Jets, Woody Johnson. Bowles and Maccagnan are gambling on Christian Hackenberg as the starting quarterback of the Jets this season, and so far, the early word out of New York is that Hackenberg still looks as broken and as hopeless as many people believed he was after his star-crossed career at Penn State.  But even aside from Hackenberg, the Jets starting offensive line, wide receivers, and cornerbacks are all easily among the three worst units in the entire league, and two of the team’s former building blocks — defensive linemen Sheldon Richardson and Muhammad Wilkerson — have been malcontents that have spent time on the team’s trade block. Things are looking very, very bleak in Gotham, with Bowles and Maccagnan likely to be the first ones without jobs by Black Monday of 2018.