Predicting the Top 5 defenses this season

Is the Rams defense the best in the NFL?

By: Adam Hulse (@AdamHulseSports)

The 2021 NFL season is now less than a week away. The preseason has been completed and rosters are being finalized as teams prepare for week 1 of the regular season. Now is as good a time as any to start projecting how each team will perform this year. In particular for this article, let’s predict who the top five defenses in the NFL can be this season, counting down from 5th place and continuing all the way to the number one spot.

5. Buffalo Bills

The Bills were an average defense last year, ranking 14th in yards allowed per game with 352.5 and 16th in scoring with 23.4 points per game allowed. What’s encouraging is that they played much better defensively late in the season than they did earlier. For example, in their final six regular-season games following their bye week, they held four of their six opponents to under 20 points and then also held the Ravens to just three points in a playoff game. That gives reason for optimism heading into the 2021 NFL season, especially because head coach Sean McDermott is defensively focused. In addition, they addressed their lack of “true pass rushers” in the NFL Draft this year with first round pick Greg Rousseau and second round pick Boogie Basham. With the improved pass rush and renewed focus on defense, the Bills can get back to playing like they did in 2019 when they ranked 2nd in scoring defense at 16.2 points per game and 3rd in total defense at 298.3 yards per game.

4. San Francisco 49ers

The 49ers suffered an extreme amount of injuries in the 2020 NFL season, including their top two pass rushers in Nick Bosa and Dee Ford. Despite the fact that neither of them played much at all, in addition to all of the other injuries as well, they still managed to finish ranked 5th in total defense at 314.4 yards allowed per game. They only recorded 30 team sacks in 2020 but that number should greatly improve with their overall health, as demonstrated by their 48 team sacks in the 2019 NFL season. Lead by superstar linebacker Fred Warner, the 49ers should have another great year defensively, even without Robert Saleh as the defensive coordinator anymore after he accepted the New York Jets head coaching job.

3. Washington Football Team

Last season WFT ranked 2nd in yards allowed per game with 304.6 and 4th in scoring defense with 20.6 points allowed per game. There is good reason to believe that they could be even better this season than they were last season because of the development and progress of their young and dominant front seven. Chase Young and Montez Sweat are already one of the very best EDGE duos in the NFL and should continue to improve as they mature a bit more. The team ranked 6th in sacks last year with 47 and that number will likely go up this season. The front seven was the biggest strength of the team last season but that didn’t stop them from using their first round draft pick on linebacker Jamin Davis out of Kentucky. As long as they can keep this unit together, WFT will have one of the top defenses for many years to come.

2. Pittsburgh Steelers

The center piece to their defense, linebacker Devin Bush, only played in five games last season due to injury but the Steelers still ranked 3rd in both scoring and total defense with 19.5 and 305.8 respectively. They did lose pass rusher Bud Dupree to free agency but replaced him with a very capable veteran in Melvin Ingram. He was plagued by injuries last season, but from 2015 to 2019 he recorded 43 total sacks with the Chargers. He will pair with one of the best EDGE players in the NFL in TJ Watt, whose 15 sacks helped the Steelers lead the league in team sacks last year with a massive 56 total. In just four seasons, Watt has already accumulated 49.5 sacks and 17 forced fumbles. The Steelers have an absolute stud at all three levels of their defense, with Minkah Fitzpatrick on the back end to go with Watt on the EDGE and Bush in the middle.

1. Los Angeles Rams

The Rams were the most dominant defense in the NFL last season. Their 281.9 yards per game allowed was best in the league by a very wide margin of more than 22 yards per game. In addition, they lead the NFL in scoring defense at 18.5 points allowed per game and were second in team sacks with 53 total. They have, arguably, the best cornerback in the entire NFL in Jalen Ramsey and he’s not even their best defensive player. That is, of course, Aaron Donald. He is not only the best defensive player in the NFL but he very well may be the best overall player period. In seven season with Rams he has only missed two games total while accumulating 85.5 sacks, 19 forced fumbles, and 6 recovered fumbles despite being double or triple teamed on every single play. He is the “favorite” to once again win the Defensive Player of the Year award this season, as he should be favored every year. Based on their dominance last season, as long as they have Donald and Ramsey then there is no real reason to believe that they will regress as a defensive unit.

Predicting the Top 5 Offenses This Season

Will the Chiefs top the list once again?

By: Adam Hulse (@AdamHulseSports)

The 2021 NFL season is now less than 3 weeks away. The preseason is halfway completed and rosters are being finalized as teams prepare for week 1 of the regular season. Now is as good a time as any to start projecting how productive each team will be this year. In particular, let’s predict who the top offenses in the NFL can be this season, counting down from 5th place and continuing all the way to the number one spot.

5. Tampa Bay Buccaneers

The defending Super Bowl champion Bucs finished last season as the 7th ranked offense in the NFL with 384.1 yards per game. This is very impressive considering it was the first year for Tom Brady in a brand new style of offense. Going from the “Patriot way” to the air it out style of Bruce Arians is a drastic change so it took Brady a few weeks before he really got things rolling last year. Now that he has had a full season and offseason to learn the new system and tweak it a bit to fit his own style, it is likely that the Bucs offense will take a step forward this season. They are returning pretty much their entire championship roster from 2020 so another year of chemistry should work in their favor as well. Their combination of weapons is one of the best in the entire league, including one of the top wide receiving groups in the NFL of Mike Evans, Chris Godwin, and Antonio Brown. They helped lead the Bucs to the second best passing offense last year with 289.1 yards per game.

4. Buffalo Bills

The Bills finished the 2020 season tied for the second ranked offense with 396.4 yards per game. Most of this was due to the MVP caliber play of quarterback Josh Allen who really had a break out season. He put up by far the best numbers of his career throwing the ball, completing 69.2 percent of his passes for 4544 yards and 37 touchdowns, which were all new career highs. It appears that one of the main keys to unlocking his potential was the addition of wide receiver Stefon Diggs. In his first year in Buffalo, he had the best season of his career while leading the NFL in both receptions with 127 and receiving yards with 1535. The chemistry between Allen and Diggs appears to be extremely strong and this combination should have the Bills as one of the top offenses for many years to come. Having the creativity of one of the top young offensive coordinators in Brian Daboll definitely helps them as well.

3. Kansas City Chiefs

Last season the Chiefs finished as the top offense in football by an incredible margin of nearly 20 yards per game over second place. To show just how wide that gap is, the separation between the second and 12th place offenses was 20 yards. Clearly the Chiefs offense at 415.8 yards per game was absolutely dominant last season and as long as they keep their core together there is no reason at all to believe that they won’t be in the top five every season. The combination of Andy Reid at head coach with Patrick Mahomes at quarterback is a seemingly perfect match, as demonstrated by finishing as the number one ranked offense in two out of their three seasons together. They have the best “tight end” in football with Travis Kelce and one the top, and fastest, wide receivers in Tyreek Hill. Also, second year running back Clyde Edwards-Helaire should take a step forward this year as a true dual threat now that he is more comfortable in this system.

2. Tennessee Titans

Tied for second last season on offense with the Bills were the Titans. Unlike the Bills who relied heavily on their passing game, it was the rushing game in Tennessee that was the key to their success. They ranked second in rushing yards per game with 168.1 while superstar running back Derrick Henry eclipsed the 2000 yard mark. In addition, Ryan Tannehill is one of the most underrated quarterbacks in the NFL and his fourth ranked QBR of 78.3 demonstrates that. To make this great offense even better than it already was, the Titans added Julio Jones this offseason to pair with emerging star AJ Brown in what is now one of the best wide receiver tandems in the entire league. In just two season, Brown already has accumulated 122 receptions for 2126 yards and 19 touchdowns in the passing game. Jones, who is one of the best receivers of the past decade, recorded 1000 or more yards in every season of his career that he has played in at least 14 games. Between Henry, Brown, and Jones the Titans create an absolute nightmare situation for opposing defenses to try and match up with. They are in line for a monster season on offense.

1. Dallas Cowboys

In 2019, which was the last full season for quarterback Dak Prescott, the Cowboys lead the NFL in offense by a very wide margin with 431.5 yards per game. In addition to the fact that they were about 24 yards per game clear of second place, they totaled the most offensive yards in a season by any team since the Denver Broncos in 2013. Before Prescott was injured in 2020 they were off to yet another scorching hot start for offensive production. In particular, Prescott was on an absolutely ridiculous pace that could have set a new single season record for passing yards if he did not get hurt. As long as he fully returns to health this season, the Cowboys should have another huge year on offense and could be even better than before with the addition of second year wide receiver CeeDee Lamb. In the five games last season that Prescott started, Lamb registered 29 receptions for 433 yards and two touchdowns. This is a connection to watch this season and could really be something special moving forward. Of course, Prescott will also still have the luxury of his usual arsenal of weapons too with Ezekiel Elliot, Amari Cooper, and Michael Gallup.

Buying or selling Super Bowl LVI contenders

Are the LA Rams really Super Bowl contenders?

By: Chris Thomas

From the minute the Super Bowl ends speculation begins about who could make the Super Bowl the following year. The odds change throughout the offseason as hirings, signings, and the draft happens. At this point of the offseason, the Super Bowl odds seem pretty firm, barring anything crazy. 

Recently Sportsline came up with their Super Bowl odds for the 2022 NFL Season. According to CBS Sports, they simulate every NFL game 10,000 times to figure out their odds for who will win the Super Bowl. CBS Sports also reported that those who have bet $100 on their model since its inception six years ago are now up almost $7,900.

Even though there are so many talented teams around the league only two teams can make the Super Bowl and only one team can win it. There are a lot of loaded rosters across the league, but only a hand few could be considered Super Bowl contenders. Sportsline has set the odds for every team’s chance of winning the Super Bowl next season. Here is whether to buy or sell Sportsline top-10 Super Bowl contenders as teams who could win the Super Bowl. 

1. Kansas City Chiefs (+525)

Despite losing the Super Bowl last year, many believe the Kansas City Chiefs do have the best odds of winning the Super Bowl next year. It’s pretty hard to argue against it. Kansas City did not have many major losses across their roster this offseason. The Chiefs invested a lot of capital into their biggest weakness displayed during the Super Bowl which was their offensive line. They added veterans like Orlando Brown Jr. (via trade), Joe Thuney, Kyle Long, and Austin Blythe. Then drafted high upside interior offensive linemen Creed Humphrey and Trey Smith. Also, veteran guard Laurent Duvernay-Tardiff and 2020 third-round pick tackle Lucas Niang are returning to the team after opting out last season due to Covid-19. That unit is deep enough to ensure that former MVP Patrick Mahomes plays behind a top-10 offensive line all year. 

Kansas City does not have any major holes across its roster. They have done a great job retaining veterans and filling voids on their roster with high draft picks over the last couple of seasons. The combination of having an MVP caliber quarterback, consistency in the roster, and fantastic coaching is what makes the Chiefs a potential Super Bowl contender this season.

Verdict: Buying

2. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (+650)

It would be shocking to not have the Tampa Bay Buccaneers high on this list. The reigning Super Bowl champs did the impossible this past offseason and managed to retain every single player that started during the Super Bowl for them. Tampa Bay somehow managed to retain Shaquil Barrett, Chris Godwin, Ndamukong Suh, Leonard Fournette, and Rob Gronkowski in free agency. They also retained veterans Steve McLendon, Blaine Gabbert, Ryan Succop, and signed veteran running back Giovanni Bernard to join their running back committee. During the draft, Tampa Bay took the best player available and Jason Pierre-Pauls potential replacement next offseason Joe Tryon. Adding a prospect like Tryon to a defense that was capable of holding Patrick Mahomes and the Kansas City Chiefs to nine points during the Super Bowl was a great move. 

After last season it seems that anytime Tom Brady is a team’s starting quarterback they have a chance of winning the Super Bowl. Another season of Brady in that system with the outstanding weapons he has including Mike Evans, Chris Godwin, Antonio Brown, Rob Gronkowski, (A healthy) O.J. Howard, a plethora of great running backs, and outstanding defensive play could result in the Buccaneers winning back-to-back Super Bowls. 

Verdict: Buying

3. Buffalo Bills (+1300)

After the two teams who played in the Super Bowl last year, there is a cluster of teams that could prevent one of them from getting to the big game. Sportsline has the Buffalo Bills as the team most likely to take down the Kansas City Chiefs in the AFC and win the Super Bowl. At times last season the Bills looked like the best team in football. Quarterback Josh Allen took a massive leap and asserted himself as a top-10 quarterback and finished the season as the runner-up to the MVP. Last year they also added Stefon Diggs who was arguably the best receiver in all of football. Diggs led the league in receptions and receiving yards last year. On top of that, the Bills have an extremely solid roster with a couple of former Pro Bowl defensive players including Tre’Davious White and Tremaine Edmonds. They let go of John Brown who missed most of last season and replaced him with Emmanuel Sanders. 

The Bills are a really good team, but it is important to ask, how much better did the Bills get this offseason. Buffalo retained a lot of their starters from the year prior and brought in Sanders, but they did not bring any fresh blood who can make a major impact on this roster. During the draft, the Bills spent their first two selections on defensive linemen Gregory Rousseau and Carlos “Boogie” Basham. Both help fill the need Buffalo has for a premier pass rusher. But with all the veteran depth on this roster both in the interior and on the edge, how often are they going to be seeing the field next season? The answer is not extremely likely unless they show immediately that they are better than veterans Jerry Hughes, Mario Addison, Efe Obada, and 2020 second-round pick A.J. Epenesa. The sad truth is that Buffalo didn’t add enough to their roster to potentially become the sole favorite in the AFC and defeated the Kansas City Chiefs. 

Verdict: Selling

T4. Baltimore Ravens (+1400)

Since Lamar Jackson became the starting quarterback of the Ravens during the 2018-19 NFL season the Ravens have been one of the most dominant teams in the league. The Ravens are expected to continue that this season and may go farther this year than they have in Jackson’s previous three seasons. A couple of veteran players left Baltimore in free agency this offseason including Mark Ingram, Willie Snead IV, Matt Skura, D.J. Fluker, Matthew Judon, and Yannick Ngakoue. But the Ravens did a great job reloading their roster with more veteran and young talent this offseason to replace those players. In free agency, Baltimore added Kevin Zeitler, Alejandro Villanueva, Sammy Watkins, Ja’Wuan James (expected to miss the entire 2021-22 season), and Justin Houston. In the draft, Baltimore added both wide receiver Rashod Bateman and Odafe “Jayson” Oweh in the first round after they acquired a second first-round pick in the Orlando Brown Jr. trade.

It is hard to argue against Baltimore having one of the deepest rosters in the league, even after the roster turnover. The biggest factors for how Baltimore will perform this year will be the Ravens passing game and pass rush. The Ravens have gotten below-average play from their wide receivers in recent years, Baltimore hopes the additions of Rashod Bateman and Sammy Watkins could boost the team’s production from that position. The pass rush may have been a concern, but after adding Odafe Owey and Justin Houston to this loaded defense the Ravens should be able to generate enough pressure from the outside to play at a high level. Since Lamar Jackson’s contract is looming over the Ravens’ future this may be Baltimore’s best opportunity to win a Super Bowl with Jackson under center on a rookie contract. 

Verdict: Buying

T4. Los Angeles Rams (+1400)

The Los Angeles Rams started the offseason making a huge trade to upgrade their quarterback position. Before the Super Bowl, the Rams agreed to trade Jared Goff, their 2022 first-round pick, and 2023 first-round pick to the Detroit Lions for Matthew Stafford. This trade signals that the Rams believe they are a quarterback upgrade away from being a Super Bowl contender. A lot of notable players left the team in free agency including Josh Reynolds, Samson Ebukam, Gerald Everett, Malcolm Brown, Austin Blythe, John Johnson III, and Troy Hill. Not to mention they traded away Michael Brockers to free up salary space. The biggest addition the Rams made to this roster is DeSean Jackson who joins a deep receiving core including Robert Woods, Cooper Kupp, and Van Jefferson. The Rams didn’t have a first-round pick due to the Jalen Ramsey trade. They did not add any players who are expected to have an immediate impact, instead, they could likely develop into contributors in year two or three with the team. 

The Rams have a few players on the roster that are considered elite at their position including Aaron Donald and Jalen Ramsey. Then they have a couple of players who are great including Robert Woods, Cooper Kupp, Leonard Floyd, Matthew Stafford, and Andrew Whitworth. But after those guys, the Rams are relying on a bunch of unproven players who at best couple be solid. This roster is extremely delicate. One injury to a Rams star and they could miss the playoffs. Already the Rams have lost 2020 second-round pick running back Cam Akers to a torn Achilles before training camp. Everything for the Rams would have to go perfectly for them to have a shot at the Super Bowl with their current roster construction.

Verdict: Selling

T4. San Fransisco 49ers (+1400)

It is easily forgotten that the San Fransisco 49ers were in the Super Bowl two years ago. After a season derailed by multiple injuries, the 49ers made the most discussed transaction of the offseason. The 49ers traded two future first-round picks to acquire the third overall pick in this past draft. They used that selection of quarterback Trey Lance. The 49ers lost Richard Sherman and few depth pieces but overall had a positive offseason adding solid pieces in Alex Mack, Samson Ebukam, Maurice Hurst, Arden Key, and Wayne Gallman. Their best signing may be the extending left tackle Trent Williams to a six-year $138 million deal. 

Looking at their roster it is clear that the 49ers can be one of the league’s best if they stay healthy. On offense, they have an elite running game and three outstanding pass catchers in George Kittle, Deebo Samuel, and second-year receiver Brandon Aiyuk. Behind their offensive line, it may not matter if Jimmy Garoppolo or Trey Lance is under center. Then the 49ers’ defense still can be as elite as it was two years ago with all their premier talent. If the 49ers could stay healthy and make it out of the NFC West they are as dangerous as any team in the NFL. 

Verdict: Buying

7. Green Bay Packers(+1600)

Since the NFL Draft, the most talked about team in the league has been the Green Bay Packers. The reasoning is that it became public knowledge that league MVP Aaron Rodgers wants to be traded from the team. He felt he has been mistreated by management and would rather go to a situation where he feels he will be treated as he should. Besides that, the Packers have had an okay offseason. Green Bay lost All-Pro center Corey Linsley and running back Jamaal Williams in free agency. They brought in free agents De’Vondre Campbell and Dennis Kelly to fill voids on their roster. Green Bay also retained cornerback Kevin King on a one-year deal and Pro Bowl running back Aaron Jones to a four-year $48 million deal. During the first round of the draft, they added Eric Stokes to upgrade their CB2 spot that was exposed during the NFC Championship.

In all honesty, the Packers have an extremely loaded roster. But their biggest problem this season may be what happens in the locker room. After negotiating with Packers brass Aaron Rodgers agreed to come to training camp under the condition that the Packers trade him following this season. Since he has returned he has been extremely passive-aggressive about all that has happened and seems to have the Packers organization doing his bidding. That bidding included traded for veteran receiver and former Packer Randall Cobb who will now likely start over third-round pick rookie Amari Rodgers in the slot. On top of that All-Pro receiver Davante Adams has now expressed that he may leave the Packers this offseason, especially if Aaron Rodgers isn’t there. Both Rodgers and Adams are under the impression that this is the “last dance” and this is their last shot to win it all before they both split from Green Bay this offseason. It is hard to recall a time where a team with this much dysfunction in the locker room won a Super Bowl. 

Verdict: Selling

8. Cleveland Browns (+1800)

After their outstanding performance, last season the Cleveland Browns are being recognized as a potential Super Bowl contender last season. Cleveland had a fantastic offseason as well. The Browns signed John Johnson III, Troy Hill, Jadeveon Clowney, Takk McKinley, Malik Jackson, Anthony Walker Jr., and resigned Rashad Higgins. They also had a great draft taking two first-round talents in cornerback Greg Newsome II and linebacker Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah in the first two rounds. 

It is hard to find a major hole across this roster. The biggest factor for the Browns this season is the play of Baker Mayfield. So far throughout his career, he has played well but is considered an average NFL quarterback. In year two playing for Kevin Stefanski, Mayfield hopes to make that leap. A healthy Odell Beckham Jr. should help Mayfield realize his potential as long as he doesn’t feel pressure to force plays to Beckham as he has in the past. What may hold this team back at the end of the day is the team’s inexperience in huge games. Last year the Browns managed to pick up a playoff win over the Pittsburgh Steelers and came close to beating the Kansas City Chiefs. But it is hard to call the Browns a contender without evidence that they can defeat the teams at the top of the AFC let alone the entire league. 

Verdict: Selling

9. Denver Broncos (+2000)

The most shocking team to appear on this list is the Denver Broncos. According to Sportsline, the team that went 5-11 a season ago has the ninth-best odds of winning the Super Bowl. That sounds crazy but after acknowledging all of the Broncos offseason moves it doesn’t seem entirely impossible. They let go of a few veterans including Phillip Lindsay, Jurrell Casey, A.J. Bouye, and Ja’Wuan James. But Denver added to Pro Bowl-caliber cornerbacks in Kyle Fuller and Ronald Darby to go with their star-studded secondary that features Bryce Callahan, Justin Simmons, and Kareem Jackson. Simmons and Jackson received extensions from the Broncos this offseason as well as Garrett Bolles and Shelby Harris. During the draft, Denver elected not to draft a quarterback and took cornerback Patrick Surtain II in the first round. 

The most impactful move the Broncos made this offseason can be the acquisition of former Panthers quarterback Teddy Bridgewater. He is engaged in a quarterback competition with Drew Lock. That uncertainty at quarterback is what holds Denver out of conversations as legitimate Super Bowl contenders. Denver has a very exciting young offense and premier defensive talent. But their below-average quarterback play likely caps their ceiling at around .500. If Drew Lock wins the quarterback job and breaks out then the Broncos may have a chance of making the playoffs. The only way Denver becomes Super Bowl contenders is if Lock plays at least at a Pro Bowl level or possibly an MVP level.

Verdict: Selling

T10. Indianapolis Colts (+3000)

So far the Indianapolis Colts have not had an outstanding training camp. Freak foot injuries to their new franchise quarterback Carson Wentz and All-Pro guard Quenton Nelson have tempered the expectations for the team. However, both may be able to return from their injuries around Week 1. Earlier the Colts made the trade to acquire Wentz from the Eagles to replace the recently retired Philip Rivers. They gave up a 2021 third-round pick and a conditional 2022 second-round pick for Wentz. That conditional second-round pick would become a first-round pick if Wentz plays 75% of the snaps or if he plays 70% of the snaps and the Colts made the playoffs. This offseason Colts lost both of their starting edge rushers Denico Autry and Justin Houston, veteran quarterback Jacoby Brissett, linebacker Anthony Walker Jr., and former first-round pick Malik Hooker. But they managed to retain Xavier Rhodes, T.Y. Hilton, and Marlon Mack. The Colts also signed former Chiefs left tackle Eric Fisher. During the draft, the Colts took pass rusher Kwity Paye towards the end of the first round. 

The Indianapolis Colts have a nice blend of younger players and veterans throughout their roster. But they feel like they’re missing another x-factor player to make them legitimate contenders. That player could be Carson Wentz if he returns to his form during the 2017-18 season. Besides Jonathan Taylor behind the Colts’ elite offensive line, there are a lot of questions about their offense. What Carson Wentz will the Colts get, Is T.Y. Hilton still a threat on offense, and can Michael Pittman Jr. emerge as the Colts’ number one receiver. Defensively the Colts have enough to be legitimate Super Bowl contenders. It all comes down to the offense that would need to take a big leap forward for this team to become a Super Bowl contender. 

Verdict: Selling

T10. New Orleans Saints (+3000)

As it stands right now it appears the New Orleans Saints missed their Super Bowl window over the last four seasons. But they still have an extremely talented roster. The Saints lost some of their major contributors from a season ago including Emmanuel Sanders, Trey Hendrickson, Sheldon Rankins, Janoris Jenkins, and Jared Cook. They also brought in a couple of solid veterans in Nick Vannett, Tanoh Kpassagnon, J.R. Sweezy, Jeff Heath, and Brian Poole. Their first-round pick this past year was a puzzling one. They reached on edge rusher Payton Turner who many had a Day 2 grade on. 

The biggest storyline in New Orleans has been what the Saints do at quarterback in the post-Drew Brees era. New Orleans retained both Jameis Winston and Taysom Hill who are both expected to compete for the starting quarterback job. It doesn’t help that their number one receiver Michael Thomas is expected to miss a huge amount of time due to a lingering ankle injury. The Saints are not very deep at receiver after Thomas. New Orleans still has a lot of talent across this roster but will need trustworthy play at quarterback to make the playoffs next season let alone win the Super Bowl. 

Verdict: Selling

Expect the Lions, Eagles, and Texans to have the worst records in 2021

The worst NFL teams in 2021 will be…

By: Andy Davies

Plenty of uncertainty surrounds the Detroit Lions, Philadelphia Eagles, and Houston Texans going into the 2021 season. Their quarterback situations are far from clear and their overall rosters are mediocre at best.

The same goes for their head coaches, with all three going into their first seasons at the franchise. Neither of Dan Campbell, Nick Sirianni, or David Culley has been a full-time head coach in the NFL. Campbell is the only one to have some experience, with his spell as interim head coach of the Miami Dolphins in 2015.

Here is why you should be expecting the Lions, Eagles, and Texans to have the three worst records in the league in 2021.

Saying Goodbye To A Franchise Legend In Detroit. Struggles For The Replacement

Matthew Stafford was the number one overall pick in 2009, with the entire city of Detroit hoping he would be the man to turn around the fortunes of the franchise. Despite three seasons of making the playoffs, the Lions and Stafford never won a single postseason game as the wait continues. The Lions remain the team with the second-longest period without a playoff win, their last taking place on January 5th, 1992.

Stafford had some great individual moments as a Lion, most notably his Mic’d up moment during his 2009 rookie season. In a week eleven game against the Cleveland Browns, he overcame injury to produce a moment of pure heroism. He played with a separated shoulder despite the efforts of the medical staff to keep him off the field, leading the Lions to a touchdown-winning drive.

Jim Caldwell guided the Lions to these playoff appearances but was not seen as good enough to take them to the next step. New England Patriots assistant head coach Matt Patricia was brought in but never took to life as head coach. The Lions had three consecutive losing seasons under the coaching of Patricia. They will hope that they have found their guy in Dan Campbell. His press conference was certainly not dull, with Campbell referring to “biting kneecaps”. As a former Lions player, he knows what it takes to play in the league. He also knows about the city of Detroit and his intentions are both positive and clear. If he is given time, he has the desire to bring the good times back to Detroit. However, he is inexperienced as a head coach and the roster is below average.

New quarterback Jared Goff has the potential to struggle. This is despite the drafting of offensive lineman Penei Sewell at seventh overall, a selection that had Campbell and new General Manager Brad Holmes very excited.

Despite his brilliant 2018 season that saw the Rams reach Super Bowl 53, Goff had a poor game and struggled in 2020 as he and head coach Sean McVay’s relationship deteriorated.

Goff struggled despite a plethora of offensive talent around him. Robert Woods and Cooper Kupp form one of the best wide receiver duos in the NFL. He is going to a franchise that let go of their two best wide receivers and failed to replace them.

The Lions have a schedule that features the San Francisco 49ers, Baltimore Ravens, Cincinnati Bengals, Los Angeles Rams, Pittsburgh Steelers, Arizona Cardinals, Atlanta Falcons, and Cleveland Browns. There are also two games against their division rivals, the Green Bay Packers, Minnesota Vikings, and Chicago Bears. The Lions do not have it easy.

Prediction: 3-14

Trouble In Philadelphia; Reason For Hope?

The Eagles have seen three years of gradual decline after winning Super Bowl 52. The 2017 season saw the Eagles lift the Lombardi Trophy for the first time after two previous attempts.

Doug Pederson was the head coach to guide the Eagles to a Super Bowl but was fired after the conclusion of the 2020 season. His decision to bench rookie quarterback Jalen Hurts in order to lose and gain a higher draft pick appeared to be the final nail in the coffin.

Carson Wentz had an MVP caliber season before an injury derailed hopes of winning the award. Backup Nick Foles stepped in and guided the Eagles to the Super Bowl 52 win. He also stepped in a year later and guided the Eagles to a shock Wildcard Round win against the Chicago Bears, with thanks also going to a Cody Parkey missed field goal.

Both Foles and Wentz are no longer Eagles players. Out of the starters in that Super Bowl 52 win, only seven remain with the franchise. Their decision to draft Jalen Reagor over Justin Jefferson continues to be mocked by rival fans and nobody knows how new head coach Nick Sirianni will do in the role.

The schedule is mixed for Philadelphia. Whilst they face the New York Jets, Lions, and twice play the New York Giants, they also have to face the Atlanta Falcons, Carolina Panthers, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, San Francisco 49ers and the Kansas City Chiefs.. This is as well as facing a rising Washington Football Team twice as well as playing the Dallas Cowboys both home and away.

Reports have surfaced in recent days of the Philadelphia Eagles being the favourites for Deshaun, with talks said to be “heating up”.

This could be a move that transforms the franchise. However, Deshaun Watson had his best statistical season yet the Texans only managed four wins all year. This proves that whilst it is very important to have a good quarterback, you need more around to be successful.

Unless the Eagles do something in what remains of the offseason, they will continue to be mediocre if their roster continues to be this poor. If they get offensive or defensive talent in the next one or two offseasons, then they are a team that will compete for years to come. Otherwise, the Eagles will fail to be a threat to both the NFC and NFC East.

This is why Deshaun should avoid the Eagles at this present time. He will be going into a situation no different to what he experienced in Houston.

Prediction: 4-13

What A Difference A Year Makes

Where do we start with the Houston Texans? The 2019 season saw them take a 24-0 lead against the Chiefs in the Divisional Round. However, they allowed 41 unanswered points as they lost 51-31. What has unfolded since in the following nineteen months has been reminiscent of a Greek tragedy.

Head coach Bill O’Brien, who also was general manager, made the unusual decision to trade star wide receiver, Deandre Hopkins. In exchange, the Texans received a running back past his sell-by date in David Johnson, one second-rounder and one fourth-round pick. O’Brien only lasted four games in the 2020 season as they finished the campaign with just four wins.

Since the conclusion of the 2020 season, franchise legend J.J Watt has left and there continues to be an uncertain future surrounding quarterback Deshaun Watson. Houston’s quarterback requested a trade in January before allegations of sexual assault arose. These have lingered throughout the remainder of the offseason. It is unclear if Watson will play in the NFL at all in 2021 but even if he does, it is unlikely that he will be wearing a Texans jersey.

Houston has said they would listen to trade offers for Watson, with the franchise said to be wanting three first-round picks. They have also acquired Tyrod Taylor via Free Agency and used their first pick in the draft on Davis Mills in the third round. Even if the Eagles stick with Hurts, there will be plenty of other suitors.

Even with Watson, the Texans are light on the ground when it comes to elite talent. Linebacker Zach Cunningham and Laremy Tunsil are talents and despite adding Phillip Lindsay and Mark Ingram to the running back room, the roster is one of the league’s worst.

David Culley has developed somewhat of a worrying reputation after his time with the Eagles, Chiefs, and Baltimore Ravens. During his fourteen-season spell with the Eagles, his four seasons with the Chiefs, and two years with the Ravens, he had 0 wide receivers earn a PFF grade of 80 or above.

The Chiefs wideouts went an entire season without a touchdown under Culley. With a wide receiver room featuring Brandin Cooks, Nico Collins and Anthony Miller, this is not exactly a position of strength for the Texans. Culley is unlikely to see any of these receivers score high PFF grades.

Whilst the Texans might be playing the Jacksonville Jaguars twice and the Jets, they have a tough schedule. They will face the Cleveland Browns, Buffalo Bills, Arizona Cardinals, Los Angeles Rams, Miami Dolphins and Seattle Seahawks. Houston will also play the Los Angeles Chargers and the San Francisco 49ers as well as the Indianapolis Colts and Tennessee Titans twice.

They are unlikely to win many of these games. Fans should be expecting a difficult season.

Prediction: 2-15

3 overrated and 3 underrated offseason moves by the Buffalo Bills

Buffalo Bills defense took positive steps this offseason

By: Caleb Holfoth (@cmhfilm)

The Buffalo Bills entered the 2021 offseason knowing that they are closer to the Super Bowl than they have been the whole 21st century. After falling to the Kansas City Chiefs in the AFC Championship game Buffalo looks to build even more for the 2021 season. Under head coach Sean McDermott, offensive coordinator Brian Daboll, and young star quarterback Josh Allen the Buffalo Bills have made huge progress each season together. The next step for Buffalo is to the Super Bowl. Going from a perennial non-contender to a contender is what the past three seasons were for. Now, Buffalo is attempting to move from perennial contender to champions. This offseason is so important to Buffalo because it will help decide if Buffalo can continue this high level of growth. This offseason has not been as exciting as the 2020 offseason where general manager Brandon Beane pulled off a blockbuster trade for star receiver Stefon Diggs. Regardless, this offseason remains important to the success and future of the Buffalo Bills. Here are the most overrated and underrated moves of the 2021 offseason by general manager Brandon Beane.

Underrated: Resigning Matt Milano and Daryl Williams

During the season a hot topic of conversation was how Buffalo was going to retain linebacker Matt Milano and right tackle Daryl Williams. Many analysts and fans believed that retaining one of Milano and Williams was the Bill’s only option. However, Brandon Beane pulled off what everyone thought was impossible. Beane was able to sign Williams and Milano to very team-friendly deals to keep them in Buffalo for at least the next three seasons. While their deals were very friendly for the team both players also now are compensated justly for their play. Williams was signed to a one-year prove-it style deal coming off a poor season and played like one of the best right tackles in the AFC for Buffalo. Milano is arguably the Bill’s best defender in the front 7 and makes a huge impact when he is healthy. 

One thing that is so underrated about these deals is that Buffalo never had to use the franchise tag and defer these contracts to next year where the price of both players may have inflated just like the salary cap. In addition to that, Beane now has elite-level players at left tackle, right tackle, cornerback, linebacker, and wide receiver all under contract for at least three more seasons. One thing Beane wanted to do when he came to Buffalo was draft, develop and resign. While Williams is more of a free agent gem Milano is the perfect example of what Beane wants to do. A former 5th round pick Milano developed into one of the league’s best overall linebackers and Beane was able to keep him in Buffalo for more than just a rookie deal. Something that many general managers before him failed to do.

Overrated: Restructuring Mario Addison 

The move of restructuring Mario Addison is not the really overrated thing. It’s not the move itself but more of the fact that this was the move instead of cutting him outright. While Addison did lead the Bills with 5 sacks in 2021, he was very disappointing considering his salary and hype before the season. The Bills should have cut Addison just because of the pure number of pass rushers they brought in this offseason. In the draft, Buffalo added pass rushers in rounds 1 and 2 as well as signing Efe Obada who had 5.5 sacks while playing nearly half the number of snaps as Addison. 

Cutting Addison would have been a better move for Buffalo as it would have saved the team just over six million dollars on this season’s salary cap. Cap space that could later be used on free agents. While at the time of Addison’s restructure it seemed like a good deal since then Buffalo has added three pass rushers who all have higher potential than Addison. Addison will have to fight for his role on the team and could be a veteran cut candidate considering the amount of young talent Buffalo now has at the position. If Addison gets cut Beane likely will regret letting him stay for the summer when instead his cap space could have been used at the height of free agency.

Underrated: Drafting Defensive Ends in Round 1 & 2

The Buffalo Bills pass rush was not that effective last season. Combine that with the type of damage that the Tampa Bay Buccaneers were able to do against the Kansas City Chiefs in the Super Bowl with their pass rush. You get Brandon Beane’s understanding that the Bills need a better pass rush. Buffalo is great in the secondary and even has very talented linebackers. The defensive line is more of a project. Beane addressed that significantly by drafting defensive ends in the first and second rounds. Gregory Rousseau and Carlos Basham look to come into Buffalo and infuse the defensive line with some young energy and high potential. This move seems like a weird one at first considering teams usually do not draft the same position back-to-back that early in the draft. What makes these picks so interesting is the versatility of both players. While both are defensive ends first, we could see them all over the Bills line. 

This tactic is slightly genius by Brandon Beane. Buffalo already has key young stars at every position group except for the defensive line. Add that with the fact that the franchise quarterback is about to paid and the two next highest-paid positions in left tackle and cornerback already have elite players who are being paid a significant amount of money having not one but two defensive ends on rookie deals for the next four seasons could be a game-changer. While Basham and Rousseau are different styles of defensive ends both have really high potential in their own unique ways. If Buffalo can get one elite defensive or even just two really good ends from this tactic it will be a game-changer for the years coming forward. This move may not pay off instantly but in three seasons it could be the move that made Buffalo a championship-caliber.

Overrated: Drafting Offensive Tackles in Rounds 3 & 5

Using a similar tactic to his first two rounds of the draft Brandon Beane doubled up on tackles right after defensive ends. While you would think that you can use the same theory for defensive ends here it does not quite work. It doesn’t work because Buffalo has a left tackle and right tackle both under contract for the next three seasons and both are so good that their jobs are untouchable. That means that both Spencer Brown and Tommy Doyle will spend most of their time on the bench for the next three seasons. While either could see some spot action if someone gets hurt, they both are strictly tackles with little to no position flexibility. 

While you can never have enough good lineman, this drafting tactic works more when it is at a position of need as opposed to a position of strength. The Bills are strongest at tackle along the offensive line so it is slightly redundant that Beane not only drafted one but two players who likely will sit for a while instead of attempting to improve other areas of the team that may have weaker players or depth.

Underrated: Signing Matt Haack

A punter? Yes, a punter is an underrated signing. First, letting Corey Bojorquez walk was a smart yet difficult thing for the Bills to do. Bojorquez has one of the biggest legs in the league and was open to flip the field several times for Buffalo even ending up second the whole league in yards per punt. However, letting Bojorquez was smart for Buffalo because they do not need to flip the field often because of how good their offense is. It still is hard to see a powerful leg like Bojorquez leave the Bills after such a good season. However, what leaves in power now comes to Buffalo in a different form. Finesse. Matt Haack is essentially the opposite style of punter as Bojorquez. While Bojorquez will boom the ball down the field full-strength every time Haack likes to hang the ball super high in the air with precise accuracy. 

The swap of punters may look like nothing to the outside fan. But Matt Haack and his ability to be so precise and accurate punting the Ball will help the Bills so much in 2021. Haack tied for the second-lowest touchback rate at 2.9% which will replace Bojorquez’s rate of 15.4% which landed him last place leaguewide. The reason why this move will be so beneficial for Buffalo will be because due to their offensive ability they will punt around the 50-yard line much more often than close to their own end zone. Haack gives the Bills a weapon when it comes to pinning teams with bad field position. While Buffalo may not be able to reverse fields as easily signing Haack makes Buffalo considerably better at controlling field position.

Overrated: Offensive Line signings 

While there were several signings of offensive lineman in the offseason none of them are big impact type players. Buffalo did not necessarily need a superstar at guard or center but a player who can be a top 20 player at either position would have helped the Bills. Instead, Brandon Beane opted to sign several depth options who likely will find their way back to free agency or a practice squad. None of these signings were bad because of how little the Bills are tied financially but with Buffalo recently opening up extra cap space by converting Stefon Diggs salary to a signing bonus it is confusing why this was maybe not done earlier by Beane to go after better lineman. 

The offensive line is not a huge weakness for Buffalo but after seeing how Cody Ford, Ike Boettger, and Mitch Morse played in 2020 other options need to be explored. None of those players are bad but none of them give you major confidence when they play either. The best signing that Beane made was Forrest Lamp who is a former high draft choice that played some solid years for the Los Angeles Chargers. The rest of the offensive line signings by Beane likely will not even make the team. On the surface, depth signings are low risk and are done by every general manager. What makes these signings overrated is that they do not make the 2021 Buffalo Bills any better and make them essentially meaningless offseason paperwork.

Final Thoughts

While all of this is written before the season starts a good portion of this article will be relevant as the season goes on. Just because a move is overrated does not mean that it still provides value to the Bills. Same goes for underrated signings. Just because a signing may be underrated does not mean that those players will play above their skill levels. Regardless, Brandon Beane had a very good offseason for the Bills. The Bills were able to retain all their important talent while added a large number of young players who have really solid high potential. In addition to the quality signings that Beane has made he has kept the coaching staff intact and kept the Buffalo Bills out of and tough salary cap implications.

Top training camp rumors surrounding the Buffalo Bills

TE Zach Ertz in Buffalo?

By: Caleb Holfoth (@cmhfilm)

The Buffalo Bills begin their 2021 training camp in about a month and a half. For the second year in a row, the Bills will complete their camp at home in Buffalo as opposed to traveling to St. John Fisher College in Rochester. Due to Covid-19 and the potential protocols that will be in place through August the Bills management decided it was best to stay at home. Now that Buffalo knows where they will be practicing all of August there are still certain rumors that are floating around about the Bills roster. Post Free Agency and NFL Draft is a very interesting time for teams especially when there are quality free agents available just like there is this season. Buffalo heads into training camp with the best roster they have had in the entire 21st century. In all three facets of the game, Buffalo has elite talent. Not only is that talent elite but it is also young. A majority of the cornerstone players on the Bills roster have not even touched age 28 yet. With a really good and young roster, Buffalo hopes to make a jump to the Super Bowl season. However, before all of that even begins the Bills are still circulating in the news due to several rumors. Here are three major Bills rumors before training camp.

Rumor: Buffalo Trades for Philadelphia Eagles Tight End Zach Ertz

This is a rumor that has been attached to Buffalo for some time now. For a good portion of the early offseason, many people thought that the Buffalo Bills would trade a late-round draft pick to the Eagles in exchange for the former Pro-Bowl tight end. Ertz voiced his frustration with the franchise last season and both sides have been in a rift since. The only option for the Eagles seems to be to part ways with the disgruntled veteran. However, the Eagles have stood pat that they do not want to release Ertz but instead trade him. The Bills have been connected because they do have a weakness at the tight end position.

As this rumor has come and gone throughout the offseason it varies how much the Bills seem interested in trading for Ertz. While Ertz certainly would be worth a 5th round pick or later and easily become the best tight end in Buffalo there are reasons Beane could be hesitant. First, Ertz had a very rough injury-riddled 2020. Although just 30 years old this is something to certainly keep in mind. Ertz does not have an extensive injury history, but players are rarely traded for after injury-riddled seasons. Second, it is no secret that Ertz wants no part of Philadelphia. Brandon Beane could be in wait-and-see mode to see if the Eagles eventually give up and release Ertz. Lastly, Ertz does carry a large cap hit of 12.7 million in 2021 with a dead cap hit of 3.5 million in 2022 (UFA after 2021). Even though the Bills just cleared up some cap space by converting Stefon Diggs salary to a signing bonus, likely, Beane will not want to take on such a huge hit for an older tight end.

What makes this rumor, so intriguing is that Beane has commented on the state of the Bills tight end room several times this offseason. Beane has emphasized that Buffalo needs more from the tight end position. At the same time, Beane has circled back to that comment saying he does have faith in Dawson Knox and the rest of the tight end group to be able to step up. While Knox has always had potential and a high ceiling, he has not come close to that ceiling or being consistent. The addition of Ertz would certainly push Buffalo from a mediocre tight end group to potentially a top ten group. Ertz adds a different dynamic as a pass-catcher from both the hand in the dirt and the slot.

This rumor has no straight yes or no answer of will it happen or not. With all the previous rumors of both parties being tied to each other it likely is something, the Bills have explored at one point this offseason. I think it is fair to say that a trade is unlikely. However, I believe that Zach Ertz will be on the Bills roster at some point during the 2021 season.

Rumor: Buffalo will sign a veteran cornerback before camp

This is a rumor that has swirled of late because of the salary cap that Buffalo just opened up by converting Stefon Diggs’s base salary into a signing bonus. The Bills now have about $9 Million in cap space ready to use. The reason that cornerback has been the main position a part of the conversation is because it is one of the weak spots on the roster outside of star cornerback Tre’Davious White. Opposite of White Buffalo has a very young group led by Levi Wallace. Each of the past three seasons the Bills have brought in a veteran cornerback to compete for the number two spot across from White. That was at least the case until this offseason. Buffalo neglected to add a cornerback in free agency and early in the draft instead opting to rely on young unproven talent and Levi Wallace the starter the previous two seasons.

What puts the Bills in the market for a corner is not only the money they now have but also the fact that there are several starting-caliber veteran cornerbacks on the market. Buffalo has options with Richard Sherman, Steven Nelson, Brian Poole, and a couple of other veteran corners. While Buffalo may be confident in the young group, they have now there is some very good value this late in free agency. For example, Richard Sherman who happens to fit Buffalo’s defensive scheme very well has declared that he wants to play for a contender. Buffalo is one of the few contenders who will not only be able to sign Sherman but compensate him at a pretty solid rate. The same goes for Steven Nelson who has been a very good corner the past couple of years in the league.

This rumor is interesting because if you go off of Brandon Beane’s habits he will bring in one of these players. However, I think that Beane will wait as long as possible to add a player to determine what Buffalo has at the position already and the confidence in that group. I think that Beane would be comfortable with some corners coming off the market and is in no hurry to make a move. While I think Sherman and Nelson would both benefit Buffalo significantly Beane seems to have high expectations and praise for Dane Jackson who is currently competing with Levi Wallace. I do think that Beane is exploring this option but will opt to not sign a veteran cornerback to bring in for the 2021 season.

Rumor: The Bills are having trouble getting players vaccinated

While not specifically football related it has been a topic of conversation around Buffalo for a couple of weeks now. Brandon Beane found himself in hot water after he said he would cut an unvaccinated player if it meant Buffalo would then meet the threshold of enough vaccinated players for looser protocols. Beane’s comments caused quite the uproar from the NFLPA, and Buffalo has been under vaccine watch since. Combine Beane’s slightly insensitive comments with the fact that all the Bills players who have been in press conferences have declined to comment on their vaccination status. Add on the public disapproval of the COVID-19 vaccine from both Stefon Diggs and Cole Beasley and Buffalo could be on the wrong side of the news when it comes to the vaccine.

This bodes well for the Bills who have found themselves in hot water with the vaccine talk recently. It looks like Beane, and Sean McDermott has been able to right the ship for Buffalo. While Buffalo is likely not one of the 16 teams that have at least 50% of their players with one shot the discourse about vaccines over the past couple of weeks has turned from a negative conversation to a positive one. Buffalo likely has a way to go to meet the threshold of vaccinated players to have minimal protocols to follow. However, McDermott and Beane have turned the team in the right direction and seem to have all the so-called vaccine drama in the past.

Why the Buffalo Bills could get the #1 seed in the AFC

By: Noah Nichols

To finish the regular season of 2020 the Buffalo Bills stomped the Miami Dolphins 56-26. The Bills wrapped up the season as a 13-3 juggernaut, looking nearly unbeatable. This success came on the waves of Josh Allen’s massive improvement, both throwing the football and running it. If not for Aaron Rodgers having a hall of fame type year, Allen probably would have won MVP. The Bills locked up the number two seed in the AFC and enjoyed their week off.

To begin the playoffs the Bills would face the Indianapolis Colts, whom they beat 24-27 in a game that was not quite so close as the score indicated. The Bills would then face the Baltimore Ravens and beat them 17-3. The game was, again, not as close as the score might indicate. The Bills finally prepared to face off against the Kansas City Chiefs in a game that was supposed to be “one for the ages.” The Bills lost 38-24. After the infamous decision to kick field goals twice, in the second and third quarters, Bills head coach Sean McDermott regretted the decision. “If I had to do it over again, I’d probably go for one of them,” said McDermott when asked about the field goals.

All of this is to say that the Bills season came to an unfortunate and abrupt close to finish the 2020 NFL season. However, there is light at the end of the tunnel. While the Bills folded at the end, they showed promise. They have a very strong team and showed poise in the playoffs. And to be fair to the Bills and McDermott, they did not have a lot of playoff experience. It should actually be seen as a good sign that the Bills hung with the Chiefs for about half of the game. It was the first time since 1994 that the Bills made an appearance in the AFC Championship game. And Sean McDermott is not planning on missing the Championship game.

“We accomplished a lot,” McDermott said. “We won a division, won 13 games, hosted and won two playoff games. There’s one game after the game that we just played. Do we make it a goal to make it to the AFC Championship Game? No. The goal is to win the World Championship. So we came up short, disappointed in that but extremely grateful for what we were able to accomplish this season. Believe me, we’re going back to work. We’re already back at work to assess where we are and how we can move our team forward. I feel good about what we’ve done, not satisfied.”

So, what can be expected of the Bills following that disappointing end to an otherwise great season? The Bills should be able to build on their success in 2020 and bring all that momentum into 2021. They should be a strong contender for the number one seed in the AFC. And besides the Chiefs, the Bills probably have the best chance to take the number one seed in the AFC this season. But before I get into why the Bills can and, potentially should, win the first seed in the AFC, its important to note why the first seed is valuable.

After the NFL expanded the Playoff teams to seven in 2020, only one team received a bye week. That bye week is extremely helpful to teams that want to win the Super Bowl. The last team to win the Super Bowl without a bye week was the 2012 Baltimore Ravens. And it took a couple of miracle plays to make that happen. Every other team since that point that has won the Super Bowl has had a bye week. It’s that important. So if the Bills want to get to the Super Bowl, which they do, the best way to do that is to secure the number one seed and have a bye week.

The Bills are loaded with talent

The first real reason that the Bills could win the number one seed in 2021 is because of how much darn talent they have. Taking a look at the offense you have to start with Josh Allen. Allen threw for 4,544 yards and 37 touchdowns. He also posed a threat on the ground, running for 421 yards and eight touchdowns. Allen was nearly unstoppable during the last six weeks of the season. He threw sixteen touchdowns compared to three interceptions. And on the year he only threw ten. During that same six week stretch to close out the regular season Allen ran for three more touchdowns and threw for almost two thousand yards. His strong finish put him strongly in contention for MVP, but Aaron Rodgers just outplayed him. If not for Rodgers, Allen probably would have received the award.

Not to be left out of the conversation, Stefon Diggs put up a career year. It might be the best Diggs will ever have. Diggs was arguably the best receiver in the league in 2020. He had 127 receptions, 1,535 yards, and 8 touchdowns. Stefon Diggs already had the Bills’ franchise record for receptions and receiving yards in a season, and lead the league in both categories. He added the NFL mark for most receiving yards by a player in his first year with a new team. That’s called domination. Sean McDermott had this to say when asked about what he thought his All-Pro receiver brought to the team:

“Well overall, I think he’s brought experience to our receiving corps,” McDermott explained. “We’ve had experience before to some extent, but he’s brought legitimacy to that group, even more than we were before. He’s brought energy and a dog mentality to our offense and to our football team, quite frankly. I think the yards everyone can pull it up, look on a computer, and find the numbers, but I believe it goes beyond that. There’s a lot of intangibles in there as well that we as a team have benefited from.”

Clearly, McDermott was pleased with what Diggs brought and pleasantly surprised with the production that Diggs created on the field. But Diggs was also pleasantly surprised with what Allen brought to Diggs’ experience with the team. “Everybody knows Josh to be a jokester,” Diggs stated. “He’s definitely jokester, so spending that time with him on the field whether we’re playing around or running routes or whatever is intentional. I do everything like I mean it, so spending time with him and getting to know him, even as to recent events, I just have more love and more respect for him. He’s become more of a brother than anything at this point and he never made an excuse, not one time. He didn’t use that we didn’t have an offseason or that we didn’t have much time, he used the time that was allowed, and he made it work.”

That chemistry that is always important to quarterbacks and receivers is clearly evident here. And in a season where it was incredibly hard for players to spend time together off the field, the brotherhood the two have with each other is remarkable. The rest of the receiving room cannot be forgotten either. Cole Beasley had 82 receptions for 967 yards in what seemed like a career resurgence. Rookie Gabriel Davis had 35 receptions for 699 yards, averaging an impressive 17 yards per catch. John Brown had 33 receptions for 458 yards, not bad as the third receiver in a stacked offense.

The rushing game was not bad either. Devin Singletary led the way with 156 carries for 687 yards. Rookie Zach Moss had 112 carries for 481 yards, and four touchdowns. He was the Bills leading red zone running back threat. Allen of course led the team with 8 rushing touchdowns, but the Bills seem to be preparing to hand the ball off to Zach Moss more. Moss was the lead back in the red zone, and there is no way the Bills will risk Allen by having him continue to run.

All in all, the Bills will be bringing a stacked offense into 2021. They will only be looking to grow on the repour that was built in 2020 and look towards a more established running game led by Moss. The Bills ranked second in 2020 in total offense and actually led the league in points scored per game. That had a lot to do with new offensive coordinator Brain Daboll, who was the 2020 AP NFL Assistant Coach of the Year. But the defense was no slouch either. And all the main players that starred on the Bills defense last year will still be there entering the 2021 NFL season.

The Bills defense ranked 16th in the NFL last year. But the Bills added Greg Rousseau and Carlos Basham in the first and second rounds of the 202 NFL draft. Rousseau will start at edge and Basham will start at defensive tackle. Both were drafted for one thing and one thing only: improve the Bills pass rush. Both will do that, Rosseau was arguably the best pass rusher available in the draft and Basham was no slouch either. Rosseau had 15.5 sacks in his junior season. Basham had 11. Clearly, the Bills had one goal here, and if the rookies play like they expect them to, the Bills pass rush will be much improved. The secondary is still fine, with Traedavious White leading the way as one of the best corners in the league.

The AFC East is not too tough

The Bills will be bringing a competitive team into 2021. The same cannot be said for the rest of their division. The New England Patriots will be starting either Cam Newton who showed his age last year or Mac Jones. The Patriots don’t exactly have anyone on offense that puts fear into opposing defenses. Neither do the New York Jets. While the Jets are young and have a new and potentially, star, quarterback, there is no way they can pose a real threat to the Bills in 2021.

The Miami Dolphins are the only real threat to the Bills next year. With a young and feisty defense, and an offense loaded with talent at receiver, the Bills will have a tough time sweeping the Dolphins. It really all revolves around what Tua Tagovailoa does next year. If Tua can take the step forward, the Dolphins offense could be deadly. And the Bills defense must play at its best to handle the speed that the Dolphins bring, with Jaylen Waddle and Will Fuller.

If the Bills can develop their pass rush then they can present a most likely above average defense to the Dolphins. But those games will still be close and hard-fought. The Dolphins have a real secondary, and even the tandem of Allen to Diggs won’t have an easy time against the Dolphins secondary. Ignoring the final game of the year, when the Bills were on fire and the Dolphins…were not, the Dolphins gave the Bills a tough time. In the first game between the two teams, the Bills won by only 3 points in a 31-28 win.

Sean McDermott wont let success go to their heads either.

“If you sit here and say, ‘All we need to do is do this much more to make it to the Super Bowl,’ you’re wrong,” McDermott said. “You have to start over. Yes, we can carry a lot of things forward, but every year you have to start over. You have to rebuild the football team, you have to grow as an individual. You have to take it upon yourself, just because we had success, to ask yourself the hard questions.”

McDermott knows the Bills won’t have an easy time in the division or the rest of the AFC.”To think well we made it, we won 15 games and lost four, well we’re perfect. No, we’re not. And even if we were, you have to take the growth mindset approach. That’s what you do when you’re a winner. That’s what you do when you’re hungry to be the best and that’s what we’re going to continue to do.”

And if the AFC East is not to hard for the Bills to handle, that is one step closer to a number one seed.

The Bills can overcome any hurdles that come their way

The Bills beat anyone not name the Titans, Chiefs, or Cardinals last year. The Cardinals game was close, but if the Hail Murray does not happen, the Bills win. The Titans and Chiefs game were not quite that close. The Titans pretty much blew out the Bills. However, the Bills were playing on a weird week that benefited the Titans more than the Bills. That loss is not an accurate representation of the Bills. They can beat the Titans. They have the weapons and players to do so. The same goes for the Chiefs game.

And just because the Bills lost to the Chiefs does not mean that the Bills cannot beat them. Everyone loses to the Chiefs. But the Bills have everything that they need to beat the Chiefs, and everyone else. The Bills have everything that they could want if their rookies work out. And even if their rookies don’t work out, the Bills will still be bringing back largely the same group as last year. There is not much turnover, so there won’t be a dropoff in play. Though, there is some change.

“The reality of it is, it’s not the same team,” Daboll stated. “Do we have certain players that are the same? Absolutely. Cole and Stef and Josh, Mitch and Feliciano. There’s a lot of the same guys, but there’s also 15 new people, so when you put everybody together in a room, you don’t know how everybody’s going to react when things aren’t great, you don’t have a great practice, you miss a pass. You have to build those relationships because, at the end of the day, that’s the business we’re in, we’re in a relationship business, figuring out how guys work. Do they respond better to tougher criticism? Less? How they work together. You’ve got to gel as a team and this is the start of what we’re trying to do, just trying to gel as a group more than anything.”

The Bills will gel together. They will use their rookies as best as they can, but won’t put them into situations they cannot win. The rookies will be eased into playing in a way that helps both the team and the player. Sean McDermott and Brian Daboll know what they are doing. The team will be ready to go when the season begins.

The Bills have the offensive talent needed to win the number one seed in the AFC. The division is not strong enough that it will stall them out. And the challenges that they will face won’t be too much for them to overcome. Aside from injuries, the Bills have one of the most talented rosters in the NFL. They have a great head coach. The only thing that might stop them is themselves. Otherwise, the Bills can beat anyone, on any given Sunday.

Top 3 Landing Spots for Justin Houston

What team will Justin Houston play for next season?

By: Adam Hulse (@AdamHulseSports)

It is now the back half of the NFL offseason and there are still some big-name free agents that are without a team for the 2021 season. One of the best available remaining players is edge rusher Justin Houston. He is now 32 years old but has shown in recent years that he still has plenty of gas left in the tank. Over the last four years combined he has recorded 37.5 sacks, including a minimum of eight sacks in each of those seasons and a high of 11 in 2019. That’s not quite as impressive as his career-high of 22 sacks back in 2014 but it clearly demonstrates that he still has the ability to contribute in a big way.

The ideal landing spot for Houston in this upcoming season is a contending team that could use some help in the pass-rushing department. He could help a win-now team take a step to the next level. Additionally, his age would imply that his price tag should be relatively reasonable. In comparison, Ryan Kerrigan, who is the same age as Houston, just recently signed with the Eagles on a one-year contract worth 2.5 million guaranteed. Houston will likely be looking to get more than that, but he will not break the bank for interested candidates now that the market has been set. All things considered, here are his top three landing spots.

Buffalo Bills

The Bills are a team that is looking to improve their pass rush. They were middle of the road last season, ranked 16th in the NFL with 38 team sacks. They did use a first-round draft pick on Gregory Rousseau and a second-round pick on Carlos Basham, which demonstrates that it was an area of focus this offseason. Houston would not only give them an established pass rusher to help them win now but would also assist in the development of the younger players in the position group.

The Bills are a real Super Bowl contender this season, but if they could improve their pass rush they would become a whole new level of competitor. Houston could help them do exactly that. After recently restructuring the contract of Stefon Diggs, they have some available cap space to play with, and this may be the best way for them to use it.

Tennessee Titans

The Titans have done a great job in recent years building their offense, but this offseason they have focused on improving their defense. They know they have to be better on that side of the ball if they want to improve from a playoff team to a real contender. They were fifth-worst in the NFL last season in yards allowed per game with 398.3 and ninth-worst in points allowed per game with 27.4. Knowing they have to be better than that, they made moves this offseason in an attempt to improve defensively including adding Bud Dupree and drafting Caleb Farley.

Pass rush is a particular area that they struggled in, recording the third least team sacks in the NFL last season with just 19 total. Adding Dupree will help that number, but pairing him with Houston would provide a significant jump in that category. They would potentially go from one of the worst teams in the league at pass rushing to one of the better ones, and that would be a wise move for a team trying to contend this season.

Pittsburgh Steelers

The Steelers are a team that did not struggle at all in rushing the passer last year. They had the most sacks in the NFL with 56 total. The problem is that they lost Bud Dupree this offseason to free agency. He was an extremely important part of their defensive scheme and they do not have a proven replacement on their roster. Having a complementary pass rusher to play opposite of superstar TJ Watt is crucial to their philosophy of pressure defense.

Houston could definitely solve this problem. He is a piece that would allow them to continue their defensive dominance, which is a staple of their organization. The Steelers believe that they are Super Bowl contenders this season, so if Houston believes that as well then this could be a perfect fit. They currently have around 8 million in available cap space so they have more than enough to sign him.

Three Bills that can break out in 2021

The Bills are filled with youth but who can stand out in 2021?

By: Caleb Holfoth (@cmhfilm)

The Buffalo Bills are filled with youth all across the offense and defense. Franchise cornerstones Josh Allen, Tre’Davious White, Dion Dawkins, Stefon Diggs, Matt Milano, and Ed Oliver are all under the age of 28. However, the roster is filled with players who have been drafted within the past three seasons whom all have made an impact. With Buffalo turning into one of the major contenders in the NFL Buffalo needs to have some of their younger players make major impacts. Buffalo has a very well-rounded team and young players either starting or backing up in several positions. Some players certainly have played below expectations in their careers and are going to be expected to step up this season. 

AJ Epenesa, Defensive End

AJ Epenesa played a total of 17 games last season including the playoffs making only one start over the course of his rookie season. A second-round draft pick in 2020 Epenesa was not allowed to participate in any of the normal rookie camps or offseason programs due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Epenesa was touted as a developmental player and the lack of offseason work with the team was part of the reason for the slow start to his career. Epenesa only tallied 17 tackles, one sack, three TFL, and five QB hits while playing only 27% of defensive snaps. Epenesa also came into the season not exactly how the Bills wanted when he cut much more weight than they anticipated. 

Epenesa not only has a big year because of his poor showing in the first half of last season but also because the Bills doubled up on defensive ends in the first and second round of this offseason draft. 

Now, why will Epenesa have a breakout year? Well, it starts with the fact that he gets a full offseason for the first time in his career. Epenesa started behind last season and was not able to show some potential until the end of the season. With Jerry Hughes and Mario Addison both on the wrong side of 30 and on the last year of their deals. There is some availability for snaps at the position.

Epenesa showed some flashes last season and has the potential to be a solid run defender as well as a pass rusher which is exactly what McDermott wants in his defensive ends. With a higher number of snaps not only should Epenesa improve on the field, but he should get better every single week. Just like last season Epenesa will likely start slowing but become more valuable down the stretch having most of his success closer to the playoffs. 

Projected Stats: 31 Tackles, 5 Sacks, 8 TFL, 2FF, 1FR, 48% of Snaps

Cody Ford, Offensive Guard

Cody Ford started fifteen games his rookie season for the Bills at right tackle and followed by starting the first six games of the season at guard for the Bills. Ford was declared out for the season when he tore his meniscus in practice. Ford was a second-round pick by Brandon Beane and Buffalo hopes that he can solidify the left guard position next to Dion Dawkins for the future. While Ford did come into the league with high potential, he has been slightly disappointed for Buffalo. In his rookie season, Ford could not ever definitively take the right tackle job from Ty Nsekhe.

Ford has the tools to be a very good guard in the NFL, but he needs to improve his footwork as well as his power when pass blocking. Ford has been overpowered by some of the larger defensive tackles since moving to guard. Ford has been more comfortable since moving to left guard and his performance in 2020 was certainly more impressive than his rookie season.

Ford will return stay at guard in 2021 with the other four positions across the line already locked up in long-term deals. Ford has real potential to make a jump from the below-average play that he has exhibited throughout his short career. If Ford can shore up his fundamentals at guard and become more comfortable and acclimated with the position, he could easily become a strength of the Bills offensive line. Expect Ford to take a jump this season because of the full offseason program as well as much more competition along the offensive line. 

Projected Stats: 14 Games Started, 7 Penalties, 4 Sacks Allowed

Dawson Knox, Tight End

Dawson Knox has been oozing potential since his rookie season. Regardless he has still yet to reach that potential. Knox’s career stats dating back to college have not been that amazing. 

Ole Miss Career: 17 Games, 39 Receptions, 605 Yards, 0 Touchdowns

2019: 15 Games, 28 Receptions, 388 Yards, 2 Touchdowns

2020: 12 Games, 24 Receptions, 288 Yards, 3 Touchdowns

 Knox has made some incredible plays since coming to Buffalo. However, those plays have come in a very limited manner. This season things may open up for Knox a little more than in previous seasons. Last season Knox was outperformed by receivers because there was so much talent at the position. The addition of Stefon Diggs and Gabriel Davis made it difficult for Knox to get more targets in his second season. In addition to that, Buffalo moved away from some tight-end sets opting instead to have more receivers on the field. Although Knox did play fewer games, he registered nearly 200 fewer snaps than his rookie season. 

Knox does have serious potential to break out in 2021. First, the emphasis on stopping All-Pros Stefon Diggs and Cole Beasley could mean that Knox will often have mismatches or be unnoticed by the defense. Offensive Coordinator Brian Daboll is a genius at creating winning matchups for Bills players. With Knox still relatively regarded as a non-factor to many in the Bills offense Daboll could creatively use him to create big plays. In addition to that, Knox is now in year three of Buffalo’s system. Knox should not only be able to play from the tight end position but also as a standup player in the slot. While will not have the impact of a player such as Stefon Diggs expect him to make a jump from a relatively unknown tight end to a weapon in Buffalo’s offense. 

Projected Stats: 15 Games, 48 Receptions, 623 Yards, 4 Touchdowns

Zack Moss needs to step up and be the true RB1

Bills Zack Moss will shine in 2021

By: Jason Ferris

At 15-3, and one win away from the Super Bowl, one glaring offensive weakness was exposed in Buffalo Bills’ second-ranked offense in the league in their 38-24 loss to the Kansas City Chiefs in the 2020 AFC Championship.

Statistically, the Bills’ offense was not terrible in that game. Josh Allen played well, throwing for 287 yards and two touchdowns. On the ground, the Bills ran for a combined 126 yards.

On the surface, it all looks like a balanced offensive output but in reality, the Bills’ ineffective running game was exposed. Of the 126 yards rushing, 88 of those came from quarterback Allen himself. He led his team in both attempts and yards, generally not a recipe for success in any game, let alone a conference championship game.

Yearlong starter Devin Singletary managed just 17 yards on six carries. The lack of a legitimate running game had finally caught up with the Bills. 

In Singletary’s final year of college at Florida Atlantic, the bruising back rushed 235 times for 1,416 yards and 17 touchdowns. That is the type of production the Bills were looking for when they drafted him in the third round of the 2019 NFL Draft. But in the two years since being drafted, Singletary has regressed.

As a rookie, he carried the ball 151 times for a healthy 5.1 yards/attempt and 20 broken tackles. It was a promising start. But by the time he had finished his sophomore season with the Bills, Singletary carried the ball 156 times for a very mediocre 4.4 yards/carry. He was 25th in the league in yards with 687 and 31st in broken tackles with nine.

The biggest elephant in the Bills’ running back’s room is that Singletary has scored only six total touchdowns, which translates into a scoring rate of 1.6% per touch, while fumbling five times over his first two years. By contrast, David Montgomery of the Chicago Bears, who was drafted one spot before Singletary, has scored 17 touchdowns on 568 touches over the same period. That is a scoring rate of 3.0% per touch, even with the bigger workload. Singletary simply isn’t measuring up to what he was drafted as.  

It is hard to rest the entire blame for the Bills’ lack of running attack solely on the shoulders of Singletary. The Bills obviously believe in Allen as an elite NFL quarterback and they built their offensive line with preserving his health in mind.

As the third-ranked passing offense, the Bills offensive line was blitzed a league leading 254 times. Yet Allen was given the luxury of protection with 2.6 seconds of clean pocket time (T-1st) and was only sacked 26 times (24th) and hit 47 times (20th).  For an offensive line that was called upon the most to protect its quarterback in 2020, the Bills’ line certainly delivered. This allowed Allen to have a career year with 4,544 yards passing and 45 total touchdowns.

That same offensive line play, however, did not happen for the running game. The Bills struggled to 20th in the NFL with 1,168 yards rushing and Allen put up 421 of those himself. 

So was Singletary’s lack of production in 2020 a reason for a running back to lose his job? Not necessarily, but it does point to a need to try at least try something else. The Bills 2021 draft class included Spencer Brown (OT), Tommy Doyle (OT), and Jack Anderson (G) to help beef up the run blocking but the Bills surprisingly did not draft a running back. In fact, the Bills passed up on highly-touted North Carolina running back Javonte Williams, instead choosing to pick edge rusher Gregory Rousseau with their first round pick. So who now emerges as the Bills’ lead back to start the season?

It has to be Zack Moss. As a rookie in 2020, Moss was limited to 37% of the snap count but made good use of those. Moss appeared in 13 games, had 126 total touches for 576 yards and, more importantly, produced 5 touchdowns. That is a scoring rate of 4.0% per touch, much more productive than Singletary’s 1.6%. Moss ran hard, breaking 16 tackles and also playing a role in the receiving game with 14 catches for 96 yards and a touchdown.

Moss has proven that he deserves at least a shot at being the starter. Heading into the 2021 season head coach Sean McDermott may be saying all the right things to the media about his total confidence in the running game, but he better be game-planning with offensive coordinator Brian Daboll on how to utilize Moss as their lead back in 2021

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