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.

Dark horse Super Bowl contenders in the AFC and NFC

The 49ers are back to being a threat

By: Adam Hulse (@AdamHulseSports)

As the kickoff to the 2021 NFL season quickly approaches, it’s time to start really taking a look at what teams are built to make a Super Bowl run. There are certain teams on all radars such as the Kansas City Chiefs, Buffalo Bills, Tampa Bay Bucs, and Green Bay Packers but there are no sure things at all in the NFL. Every season is different and filled with surprises. There are always teams that exceed expectations as well as others that greatly disappoint. Looking past the top favorites, here are a few teams that have a realistic opportunity to be Super Bowl contenders this year.

NFC: Dallas Cowboys

The 2020 season was one to forget for the Cowboys but that is mostly because quarterback Dak Prescott was only able to play in five games before suffering a season-ending ankle injury. In 2019 Prescott lead the Cowboys to be the top-ranked overall offense in the NFL at 431.5 yards per game, the second-ranked passing offense at 296.9 yards per game, and the sixth-ranked scoring offense at 27.1 points per game. It’s possible that these totals could be even higher in the 2021 NFL season with the addition of CeeDee Lamb to the returning weapons of Ezekiel Elliot, Amari Cooper, and Michael Gallup. The defense has been an issue for the Cowboys, especially in the 2020 season where they were towards the bottom of the NFL in almost every category, but drafting Micah Parsons and signing Dan Quinn to be the new defensive coordinator should both greatly help to improve on that side of the ball. Finally, the Cowboys have the second easiest strength of schedule ranking this year so they have an excellent opportunity for a huge season.

NFC: San Francisco 49ers

Unfortunately, the 49ers season in 2020 was one that was defined by an endless list of injuries including key players like Jimmy Garoppolo, George Kittle, and Nick Bosa. It was a very disappointing season, especially considering that they were the defending NFC Champions. Looking back to the 2019 season when they were healthy, they had the fourth-ranked total offense at 381.1 yards per game and the second-ranked scoring offense at 29.9 points per game to go with the second-ranked total defense at 281.8 yards allowed per game and eighth-ranked scoring defense at 19.4 points allowed per game. This obviously demonstrates not only how dominant they were but also their elite balance. They were towards the top of the NFL in just about every statistical measure and they have good reason to believe they can have a similar season in 2021 now that everyone is healthy again and they are returning the large majority of their roster.

AFC: Tennessee Titans

Possibly the biggest move of the entire NFL offseason was the Titans adding superstar wide receiver Julio Jones to their already potent offense. They were already the second-ranked total offense last season at 396.4 yards per game and will likely be much better this year with their new weapon. The Titans offense is going to create a huge problem for opposing defenses now that Jones is joining AJ Brown and Derrick Henry. In particular, the defending safeties are going to have to pick their poison. It’s impossible to double team both wide receivers as well as load the box to defend against the dominant rushing attack of Henry. If these three players, and also quarterback Ryan Tannehill, can all stay healthy this season the Titans are likely going to have a very special offense. Their defense was fifth-worst in the NFL last season at 398.3 yards allowed per game but they are hoping their added reinforcements, such as Bud Dupree and Caleb Farley, can help them improve on that side of the ball.

AFC: Pittsburgh Steelers

After finishing the 2020 season with a 12-4 record and winning the very tough AFC North division it’s a little strange to consider the Steelers a dark horse but that is exactly what they are. According to the Draft Kings Sports Book, they have only the 16th best odds to win the Super Bowl this year and their projected win total is just 9 games. This is interesting because they are returning all of their offensive weapons and the majority of their impact defenders as well. In addition, they probably upgraded at running back by drafting Najee Harris and will get back one of their best defenders, Devin Bush, who missed ten games last season. The biggest loss for the Steelers this offseason was to their offensive line, where they will basically have a brand new unit this year that is completely unproven. The Steelers are not getting much respect at all heading into the 2021 NFL season but as long as their blocking comes together, they can be right back in the mix again for a Super Bowl.

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

Why the QB situation may prevent the 49ers from winning the NFC West

The 49ers QB spot is a question mark

By: Andy Davies

The San Francisco 49ers are one of the most successful franchises in NFL history. Only the New England Patriots and Pittsburgh Steelers (both 6) have more Super Bowl wins than the 49ers (5). The 49ers’ five Super Bowls all came between the years of 1981 and 1994. They have lost two since, in the 2012 and 2019 seasons. The quarterbacks that led the 49ers to the Lombardi Trophy were Hall of Famers Joe Montana and Steve Young. Three of those five wins saw Montana as the starter and Young as the backup.

Young is seen by many as the best backup quarterback in history, considering the gold jacket that he earned despite many years as the backup to Montana. He would win a Super Bowl as the starter after the franchise moved on from Montana. Ever since Young decided to hang up his cleats, the 49ers have struggled to find his replacement. Have they found the guy in Trey Lance?

Perhaps, but here is why the quarterback situation involving Lance and current starter Jimmy Garoppolo could prevent the 49ers from winning the NFC West during the 2021 season.

Struggles Since Young

Jeff Garcia was the man to come in for Young. During his five seasons in the Bay, he threw for 113 touchdowns and 56 interceptions as well as 16,408 passing yards. He had a 35-36 record as a starter for the 49ers in the regular season and a 1-2 record in the postseason, meaning he never hit the heights of his predecessor.

Alex Smith was the number one overall pick in 2005, shattering Aaron Rodgers’ dreams. However, he was a good quarterback, not a great quarterback. Colin Kaepernick replaced Smith and took the 49ers to the Super Bowl. They ended up losing to the Baltimore Ravens in a game often called the ‘Blackout Bowl’. Kaepernick failed to live up to the standards he set that season.

He would be kicked out of the league for taking the knee in a protest against police brutality in 2016. He has not played a snap in the NFL since. Jimmy Garoppolo was traded from the Patriots to the 49ers midway through the 2017 season. He gave hope to the organization after winning all five of the games he started in 2017. The fanbase had hope going into the 2018 season.

Many non-49ers fans had San Francisco down as their dark horse for the season. A season-ending injury to Garoppolo in Week 3 saw the starting role shared between Nick Mullens and C.J. Beathard. However, the 49ers finished 4-12 as they went into 2019 with the second overall pick. Nick Bosa was selected and transformed the defense of San Francisco and Jimmy G had the best season of his career. He threw for 3,978 passing yards, 27 touchdowns and 13 interceptions. Despite these stats, Garoppolo saw his production limited in the NFC Championship game as the coaching staff decided to use more of their running game. This led to many questions leading to the Super Bowl. The 49ers threw away a ten-point lead in the fourth quarter as they would end up losing to the Kansas City Chiefs in Super Bowl 54.

Garoppolo was criticized heavily for an overthrown pass to Emmanuel Sanders that would have given San Francisco back the lead. His 2020 season saw a mixture of poor form and injury. During the 2021 offseason, the 49ers traded up with the Miami Dolphins to gain the number three overall pick. They took Lance with the pick, showcasing their intentions to eventually move off from Garoppolo. There is now talk of whether San Francisco and head coach Kyle Shanahan will start Lance in week one. The other scenarios discussed are either Lance coming in mid-season or sitting out the whole campaign as the backup to Garoppolo. The uncertainty will have a significant impact on the 49ers’ season.

The Strength of the NFC West

This is a problem that will affect all four teams in the best division in the NFL. There is a chance that all four teams can make the playoffs. Los Angeles has an exciting new quarterback in 2009 first overall pick Matthew Stafford. Both the Seattle Seahawks and Arizona Cardinals have quarterbacks in Russell Wilson and Kyler Murray that they would never dream of trading away. Meanwhile, the 49ers’ starting quarterback is largely unpopular by fans, due to a mixture of the overthrown pass in the Super Bowl, his poor 2020 campaign and his injury record.

San Francisco has the least trusted quarterback in the division. With the position being one of the most crucial in all sports, it does not bode well for a team when there is uncertainty in the position. Garoppolo may be benched at some point during the season for Lance. However, the 49ers would be putting a rookie that will still be learning the system into the toughest division in the NFL.

Learning From Mahomes, Jackson, Tua and Burrow

If San Francisco are to help Lance succeed, they will need to take some lessons from recent draft classes. Patrick Mahomes, widely seen as the best quarterback in the league, spent all but one game of his 2017 rookie season as a backup to Alex Smith. The Chiefs then traded Smith the following offseason and Mahomes has never looked back. In his first three full seasons as a starter in the NFL, he has reached two Super Bowls, winning one. He has also been crowned MVP and Super Bowl MVP and reached three successive AFC Championship games. All three have been at home. On the flip side, 2020 first overall pick Joe Burrow started in week one of his rookie year. He wouldn’t last the season, only playing ten games before injury curtailed his first NFL campaign. He was impressive before his injury but there are no guarantees he will be the same player when he returns.

Lamar Jackson was a backup to Joe Flacco during his 2018 rookie year but won the starting role midseason. He has since gone on to win an MVP award and is the future of the franchise. Meanwhile, the Miami Dolphins brought Tua Tagovailoa in mid-season but he struggled in his rookie season. He is seen to already be on the hot seat, with many feeling the Dolphins rushed him in. These examples all show there are reasons for the 49ers to be hasty when it comes to choosing when to bring Lance into the starting role.

Lance Or Garoppolo In 2021?

The 49ers will have to decide soon who their starter will be in 2021. Considering Lance has only played one full season (2019), he is likely to start the season as the backup. He only threw for a combined total of 31 passing attempts, two touchdowns and 1 interception across the 2018 and 2020 seasons, albeit the latter campaign being disrupted by the pandemic. He is likely to be a work in progress but his 28 touchdowns and 0 interceptions in 2019 mean that he is one for the future.

Garoppolo will likely start in week one but it was clear from the NFC Championship game that Shanahan doesn’t completely trust him.

Jimmy G is a capable quarterback but his health is a concern. Expect Garoppolo to remain as the starter provided the 49ers are winning games but for Lance to come in should Garoppolo either be injured or start the season poorly.

Should this happen, this will be the end of Garoppolo’s time in San Francisco. Depending on timing, he will then be traded either before the deadline or in the 2022 offseason.

Can The 49ers Returning Players Avoid A Repeat Of 2020?

This is key if the 49ers are to challenge for both the NFC West and the NFC. After earning the number one seed and reaching Super Bowl 54 during the 2019 campaign, San Francisco finished 6-10 in 2020 and bottom of the division. A ‘Super Bowl Hangover’ played its part but the main cause of such a decline was down to a colossal amount of injuries the team suffered. Along with the aforementioned Garoppolo, the 49ers also saw Bosa, Dee Ford, George Kittle, Raheem Mostert, Deebo Samuel and Solomon Thomas miss large chunks of the 2020 season due to injury.

San Francisco had 33 players reported questionable and there were 186 occasions when the 49ers reported a player on injured reserve. They had the second-most injuries of any team in the NFL over the past twenty years. Should all these players come back, then this 49ers roster will be one of the best in the league. This will make life much easier for whoever the San Francisco starting quarterback is.

However, from the strength of the division to the uncertainty at quarterback, San Francisco will find it tough to win the NFC West.

Why Jimmy Garoppolo could start in Week 1

Will Jimmy G start for the 49ers offense?

By: Adam Hulse (@AdamHulseSports)

Now entering his fifth season with the 49ers, Jimmy Garoppolo finds himself in a competition for the starting quarterback job for the first time since arriving in San Francisco. This is because the organization traded all the way up to the third overall pick in the NFL Draft this year to select Trey Lance out of North Dakota State. A move like this is only made out of necessity, and the extensive injury history of Garoppolo played a major factor in this decision. He has unfortunately only been able to complete a full season once in his seven year career.

The 49ers have a roster that is built to win now, as demonstrated by their 2019 season where they made it all the way to the Super Bowl before being defeated by the Kansas City Chiefs. The organization does not want to continue to gamble on the health of Garoppolo and run the risk of wasting another season while their championship window is still wide open. That’s exactly what happened in the 2020 season when Garoppolo was only able to play in six games and the 49ers finished their disappointing season in last place in their division despite being the defending NFC conference champions.

All of this was factored in and lead the 49ers to draft Trey Lance as the likely eventual replacement for Garoppolo. A player drafted this high is not just an insurance policy but a huge part of future plans. The real question is centered around when Lance will get his opportunity to start. There is an open competition in training camp right now, so either of the two quarterbacks could be the starter for week one of the regular season. Here is why Garoppolo will get one more chance to keep his job.

Developing the Rookie

While Lance is an extremely talented and athletic quarterback, he may need some time to develop into an NFL ready quarterback. He only started 17 games in his entire college career including only one game in 2020 because of the pandemic restrictions. His one complete season in 2019 was off the charts and what justified his high selection in the draft. He completed 67 percent of his passes for 2786 yards and 28 touchdowns with zero interceptions while also rushing for an additional 1100 yards and 14 touchdowns.

Lance has a very high ceiling due to his raw talent as well as his situation but it’s still unclear if he is ready to play at the NFL level because of his overall inexperience. He is young, didn’t play a ton of games at the college level, and when he did play it was not against the highest quality of opponents. The best plan of action to maximize his potential may be to wait and let him develop first before starting.

Returning to Glory

Putting the Lance situation aside, the main reason why Garoppolo will get one more chance to be the starter is because of how much success he and the team had in the 2019 season when he was fully healthy. The 49ers won their division that year, won the NFC Conference championship game, and were minutes away from winning the Super Bowl if not for a spectacular come back lead by Patrick Mahomes. It’s hard to justify moving on from the quarterback that got you that far if he can find a way to stay healthy and productive. The former has always been the issue for Garoppolo because he has really been solid overall when he is actually on the field.

In that 2019 season, Garoppolo completed 69 percent of his passes for 3978 yards and 27 touchdowns against 13 interceptions. He was good enough to lead the 49ers to the 4th ranked total offense at 381.1 yards per game and 2nd ranked scoring offense at 29.9 points per game. They also had the 2nd best total defense in the NFL that year at 281.1 yards allowed per game and the 2nd best rushing offense at 144.1 yards per game.

The 49ers are returning the large majority of their roster and coaching staff for the 2021 season so it’s very fair to believe that their defense and rushing attack will again be towards the very top of the NFL. If Garoppolo can repeat or improve on his 2019 production the 49ers will once again be in the conversation of Super Bowl contenders and that is why he will be the opening day starter. That being said, he will be on a short leash and will need to perform to keep Lance on the sidelines.

Projecting the floor and ceiling for Trey Lance

The 49ers rookie QB holds a lot of ability

By: Adam Hulse (@AdamHulseSports)

The San Francisco 49ers made a big move in the NFL Draft this year when they traded all the way up to the third overall pick to select Trey Lance out of North Dakota State. They traded away three first round picks and a third rounder to the Miami Dolphins in exchange for the rights to draft their potential quarterback of the future in Lance. He is an extremely dynamic talent with a skillset that fits the modern version of the NFL very well because of both his big arm as well as his rushing abilities.

College Career

In just one full season as a starting quarterback, Lance put up some ridiculous numbers at North Dakota State. In his freshman season he was the back up and only threw one pass, while his junior season was unfortunately limited to just one game because of Covid restrictions. It was his sophomore season that he can be really be judged on and he was absolutely spectacular. In 16 games that year he completed 67 percent of his passes for 2786 yards with 28 touchdowns and zero interceptions. Just as impressive as his his throwing stats were his contributions on the ground, carrying the ball 169 times for 1100 yards and 14 touchdowns. He is a true dual threat quarterback who absolutely dominated his competition at the college level.

Projected Floor

The real floor for Lance this season would be if does not play, and instead just serves as the back up to Jimmy Garoppolo all year. This is a possibility because Garoppolo is likely going to be the week one starter so he would presumably keep the job for as long as he is healthy and playing well. He has had some success when he plays but unfortunately he just can’t seem to stay healthy, which is a big reason why the 49ers made such a big move to acquire a quarterback this offseason. Garoppolo has only been able to complete a full season once in his 7 year career and that was back in 2019. He did play pretty well that year, though not spectacular, completing 69 percent of his passes for 3978 yards with 27 touchdowns and 13 interceptions.

The big thing that Lance brings to the table that Garoppolo is missing is the run threat. Lance would add a whole new dimension to an already efficient and explosive offensive unit with his impressive athleticism. The arsenal of Lance paired with the solid weapons around him such as George Kittle, Raheem Mostert, Deebo Samuel, and Brandon Aiyuk make it pretty hard to imagine him having a low floor if he does in fact get his opportunity to start at some point this year. The 49ers have an excellent coaching staff too lead by the offensive mastermind Kyle Shanahan so the success of Lance seems highly probable. It’s more a question of when rather than if he will succeed.

Projected Ceiling

Lance is not only a high floor player, as long he gets his chance to start of course, but his ceiling is sky high. The offensive scheme of Shanahan, by design, is extremely friendly to quarterbacks. The elite rushing attack opens up the field for the passing game beautifully and the built in reads of the system assists quarterbacks in being very efficient. The 2020 season was one plagued by injuries for the 49ers but back in 2019 they were one of the top offensive units in the entire NFL. They ranked 4th in total yards per game at 381.1, 13th in passing at 237 yards per game, 2nd in rushing at 144.1 yards per games, and 2nd in scoring at 29.9 points per game.

From a talent perspective alone, Lance is clearly an upgrade from Garoppolo so if he develops to his true potential than his expectations are massively high. Pretty much all of the key offensive pieces from 2019 are still on the team so Lance has a real chance to bring an already elite unit to a new level. Adding his rushing ability to the mix, which will be fun to watch with the creativity of Shanahan, is a nightmare for opposing defenses who already struggled to slow down this offense with a stationary quarterback. The most similar comparison for Lance would be a bigger and stronger version of Kyler Murray. That’s a dangerous concept to add to an already stacked offense.

All things considered including the talent, weapons, scheme, and coaching, it’s hard to imagine any way that Lance turns out to be a bust with the 49ers. The only thing that is a big question mark is the when factor. It is still completely unknown when he is going to get his opportunity at the starting quarterback role. It could be at some point this season or it might not be until the beginning of the 2022 season. When that time does come, Lance has an excellent shot to become a top tier quarterback in the NFL very quickly.

Top 5 dark horse wildcard playoff teams right now

New AFC and NFC teams that could make playoffs this year

By: Adam Hulse (@AdamHulseSports)

Every season in the NFL there is a new field of playoff teams. It is extremely rare for the same exact group of teams to make it two years in a row, especially when it comes to the wild card spots. There are always teams every season that plays far below their expectations while other teams end up being much better than projected. Let’s speculate who some of the dark horse candidates could be this year for the wildcard spots in the playoffs. We will define a dark horse as a team that finished below 500 last season and did not make the playoffs. Here are five teams that fit the criteria.

New England Patriots

It seems a little strange calling the Patriots a dark horse considering how long they dominated the AFC and even the NFL in general but that’s exactly what they are heading into this season. Last season was the first time since 2008 that they missed out on the playoffs. Ironically, they actually won 11 games that year and were only the second team in the modern era to win that many games and not make a postseason appearance. Before 2008, the last time they missed the playoffs was in 2002, which was the first full season for Tom Brady.

Their 7-9 record in 2020 broke their incredible streak of 19 consecutive winning seasons. The last time they had a losing season was when they went 5-11 in the year 2000, which was before the Brady era. All things considered, it’s amazing how quickly they went from annual favorites to win the AFC conference to a team that’s being considered a dark horse team. Losing the greatest quarterback of all time can have that effect.

Quarterback Cam Newton will enter his second season as the starter for the Patriots. It was a roller coaster of a 2020 season for Cam, who dealt with all sorts of adversity including injuries, Covid, and a lack of offensive talent. Despite finishing the season with a losing record, they were really just a couple of plays away from a winning season and being right in the race for a wild card last year. The two plays that really jump out are the fumble against the Bills on a game-winning drive and being stuffed at the goal line on the last play of the game against the Seahawks. That was likely the slim difference between 9-7 and 7-9.

That is still no excuse because the NFL is a game that is often determined by a play or two here and there. The Patriots did not make those plays which are why they finished as a losing team. This year could be a different story as they look to make another postseason run. They will return a bunch of key players on defense who sat out last year because of Covid and also added some offensive weapons in the offseason including Hunter Henry, Jonnu Smith, Kendrick Bourne, and Nelson Agholor.

Defense is a staple in New England and it will be better this year with who they have returning. As for the offense, there is much to be optimistic about with Cam leading the way. He has a ton more talent surrounding him this year, he will finally be fully healthy, and he has had a full year to really learn the system and work with the coaching staff. Even if Cam struggles, they have a rookie in Mac Jones waiting for his opportunity to show what he can do. All things considered, don’t sleep on the Patriots this year.

San Francisco 49ers

The 49ers are another team that is not a traditional dark horse. They finished last season with a very disappointing 6-10 record but the year before that they represented the NFC conference in the Super Bowl. Interestingly, the majority of that roster is still with the team today including most of their key contributors on both offense and defense. The biggest difference between the 2019 and 2020 seasons was the health of quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo. In 2019 he played a full season of 16 games for the only time in his career while in 2020 he was only able to appear in 6 games. Unfortunately, because of his extensive injury history, 6 games is actually the second-most in a season for his career.

In his full 2019 season, Garoppolo was a good quarterback but was not exactly spectacular. He was more of a “game manager” type but not necessarily a huge difference-maker. It is widely believed that the team won the NFC mostly based on elite defense and their dynamic rushing attack designed by Kyle Shanahan. The massive drop-off in results between 2019 and 2020 is not simply just because Garoppolo was hurt. They had many other injuries as well, especially on the defensive side. It’s also important to note that the backup quarterbacks were an absolute disaster.

Nevertheless, Garoppolo will enter the 2021 season as the starting quarterback again. He will of course hope to stay healthy, something he has rarely been able to do, unfortunately, but will also be looking to get the 49ers back to their dominant 2019 version. If he is unable to do so, they will turn to Trey Lance, who is a very talented rookie that they traded up to draft. It is very possible that he will eventually be a star but just needs some time to develop. If he is ahead of schedule, he may even be an instant upgrade from Garoppolo.

The quarterback situation in San Francisco is fascinating considering all of the different factors. It could really make or break the 49ers this year. As stated before, they still have many of the key players on their roster from that 2019 team including George Kittle, Raheem Mostert, Fred Warner, and Nick Bosa. The 49ers are a talented enough team from top to bottom, coaches included, to not only qualify as a wildcard dark horse but a sleeper Super Bowl contender as well.

Carolina Panthers

A team that qualifies as a true dark horse candidate is the Panthers. This is a rebuilding team with the potential to be very competitive this season. They have a ton of young talent that pairs perfectly with their young up-and-coming coaching staff including Matt Rhule and Joe Brady. They finished last season at just 5-11 but the 2021 version has a real chance to far exceed that because of how different the roster will look from players returning from injury to changes in player personnel.

Maybe most important is the return of Christian McCaffrey from injury after playing just 3 games in 2020. He is the most dynamic player in the NFL when healthy and his 2392 total yards in 2019 prove it. Another key factor to their success is the fact they have switched quarterbacks this year from Teddy Bridgewater to Sam Darnold, who they acquired from the Jets. Darnold is a real wild card and it will be very interesting to see what he does in this new and much better situation that he is in. He was a very high-rated prospect but never quite worked out with the Jets, but will now have a much better roster and coaching staff with his new team.

Rhule and Brady are a major upgrade from the revolving disaster he was dealing with on the Jets. The weapons available to him on offense will be much better also, starting with McCaffrey and DJ Moore but also including Robby Anderson, with who he previously played and had some success. The Panthers also drafted three very talented rookie weapons in Chuba Hubbard, Terrance Marshall, and Tommy Tremble. Darnold has a real chance to thrive in this ideal situation.

The defense is still going to be a weakness of this team but they are trying to improve on that side of the ball as well. Adding cornerbacks AJ Bouye and Jaycee Horn is a great start to getting better but the unit is still a work in progress. Taking everything into consideration, the Panthers are a true dark horse wildcard contender with a very wide spectrum of possible outcomes this season. They could make the playoffs or could finish towards the bottom of the conference but one thing is for certain, the Panthers are trending in the right direction and are a team to watch.

Denver Broncos

On paper, the Broncos are a team loaded with talent. Unfortunately for them, it did not show up in the wins and losses last season as they finished a disappointing 5-11. Part of that is due to missing some key players like Von Miller but much of it can be credited to the big question mark at quarterback. Drew Lock has yet to prove that he can be a solid starter in the NFL. He has had some flashes of really good but also some long stretches of underachieving. This is why they decided to also bring in Teddy Bridgewater, but ironically his inconsistencies are not too different than those of Lock.

If one of these two Broncos quarterbacks can find a way to blossom into a better version of themselves then the Broncos can be a legitimate playoff threat. They are loaded at the offensive skill positions including Melvin Gordon, Javonte Williams, Jerry Jeudy, Courtland Sutton, and Noah Fant. They still have a very solid defense lead by superstar Von Miller and a stingy secondary anchored by Justin Simmons. This roster is built to win now if an answer can emerge at quarterback. They have the potential to be a team with double-digit wins and that makes them a dark horse for a wildcard this year.

Los Angeles Chargers

Not enough can be said about how good Justin Herbert was last year in his rookie season. Passing for 4336 yards and 31 touchdowns highlighted one best of the best rookie seasons ever. Herbert is what makes the Chargers a dark horse for a wild card this year. If he can repeat what he did last year, or possibly be even better than the Chargers need to be taken seriously as a contender this year. They did win just seven games last season but, more importantly, they actually finished the season on a four-game winning streak which included beating all three of the other teams in their division. This gives a great reason to be optimistic about the upcoming campaign.

Besides Herbert bursting onto the scene, the Chargers have a lot of good complimentary pieces as well. They have solid weapons on offense including Keenan Allen and Austin Ekeler while also using this offseason to improve their offensive line and focus on protecting their young superstar quarterback. Their defense, lead by Joey Bosa, is well above average and they will be getting a huge boost this season with the return of Derwin James. He is one of the most dynamic defensive players in the entire NFL and is an absolute game-changer when he is healthy.

In conclusion, if the rookie year of Herbert was not a fluke and he actually is the real deal then the Chargers definitely have a shot to make the playoffs this year. Those chances improve even more if Derwin looks like himself upon returning. Though not impossible, it is still unlikely that they will beat out the Chiefs in the divisional race this year but don’t count them out of the wild card race.

Top preview for each NFC West team in minicamp

NFC West preview for each squad heading into the 2021 regular season

By: Adam Hulse (@AdamHulseSports)

As the NFL offseason continues to roll on and the regular season quickly approaches, teams will head to training camp and begin their real practice and preparation. Camp for each team will include new faces in both the roster and coaching staff as well as new strategies and philosophies to implement with hopes of a successful campaign in the upcoming season. All of the changes and other storylines from the offseason now become a reality as players begin to report to the team facilities.

The NFC West is a division with four very solid teams heading into this season. All of them have expectations this year to at least making the playoffs and high hopes of a deep run with aspirations of a Super Bowl. There were plenty of headlines surrounding all four of these teams throughout the offseason. Let’s take a look at each team and the key storylines as they head to training camp.

Seattle Seahawks

After an excellent season including twelve wins and a playoff appearance, one would think that the Seahawks would be positive and optimistic heading into the offseason. Unfortunately for them, this was not the case for their superstar quarterback Russell Wilson. He was reportedly very unhappy with the organization and its decision-making processes. In particular, he felt that he was not being included enough in major decisions such as game strategy and personnel changes. He was upset by this, and so much so that there were heavy rumors going around that he wanted to be traded away from Seattle.

Luckily for the Seahawks, they were able to get together with Wilson and hash out their issues. It appears that he is satisfied with whatever conclusion was reached behind closed doors and is now ready to get to work. Wilson is easily a top-five quarterback in the entire NFL and with the weapons available to him on their offensive roster, the Seahawks are a very dangerous team and a true contender in the NFC Conference.

This offense is absolutely loaded and one of the best in the league on paper. The real question is going to be their defense. They were poor last year and didn’t do much to improve on that side of the ball. In the 2020 season, they ranked 11th worst in total yards allowed per game with 380.6 and 2nd worst in passing yards allowed per game with 285. They will need to be better than that but as long as Russell Wilson is playing quarterback with the offensive weapons he has at his disposal, the Seahawks have a shot to win any game.

Los Angeles Rams

The Rams made the biggest move in the entire NFL offseason when they traded away Jared Goff and draft picks in exchange for Matthew Stafford. It is uncommon for a team as successful as the Rams have been over the last few seasons to make such a sudden change at quarterback but that’s exactly what they did. Goff was not bad for the Rams last season but he definitely wasn’t great either. His 3952 passing yards ranked 14th and his 20 touchdown passes ranked 19th, which are both acceptable but not exactly impressive. The bigger problem was his 13 interceptions which was the second-highest total in the NFL.

Goff played to a total QBR of 58.5 which ranked an uninspiring 23rd in the league. The Rams are a very good team at every other position group besides quarterback and even had the number one ranked defense last season. They believe that with an upgrade at quarterback they would become a real Super Bowl contender. This is why they traded for Stafford, a quarterback who is seven years older than Goff. They are fully committed to being a win-now team and sold off their future to prove it.

It’s going to be very interesting to see how Stafford does with his new team. He has spent his entire career with the Detroit Lions so far but now has the luxury of a better roster and coaching staff than he’s ever had before. His talent has never been a question and he has a bunch of excellent seasons to demonstrate that. The only thing missing from his career has been sustained winning and postseason success. The Rams are taking a gamble that his shortcomings were simply a product of being a stud on a bad team and that he will shine bright in a more favorable situation.

Arizona Cardinals

After finishing the 2020 season at an even 8-8 record and just barely missing out on the playoffs, the Cardinals are approaching this upcoming season with a ton of optimism. They appear to have found their quarterback with young star Kyler Murray, who is one of the best dual threats in the entire NFL. He has developed nicely so far and there is good reason to believe that with another year of experience he will be an even better player this upcoming year. The organization is fully committed to his growth and has made sure to surround him with as many weapons as possible.

The biggest thing they did for Murray was trade for DeAndre Hopkins last season, who is a top-three wide receiver in the league. They continued to improve the offensive weapons this offseason by acquiring wide receiver AJ Green and running back James Conner. The Cardinals were already the 6th ranked offense last year averaging 384.6 yards per game and with these new additions to compliment the growth of Murray, they can climb even higher than that.

Another huge addition to this team for the upcoming season is veteran pass rusher JJ Watt. He will definitely help them on the defensive side, which they do need, but it’s his leadership that may be his most valuable asset. Everything is trending in the right direction for Arizona and they should be feeling very excited heading to camp this year. Watch out for the Cardinals because they could be the biggest sleeper in the NFL.

San Francisco 49ers

It’s sometimes easy to forget that the 49ers are just one season removed from a Super Bowl appearance. In fact, if not for one missed throw by Jimmy Garoppolo they probably would have won that game. Unfortunately, he missed almost all of last year due to injury, playing in just six games. This has been an ongoing problem for Garoppolo. He just can’t seem to stay healthy and even when he is, his statistics are not at all jaw-dropping anyway. It seems like the 49ers have seen enough because they decided to trade all the way up to the third pick in the NFL Draft to select quarterback Trey Lance.

Lance is an incredible athlete with a ton of potential. He is a very exciting prospect but he just doesn’t have much experience even at the college level. Most scouts believe that he will blossom into a star but there’s no telling how long that process could take. That makes the quarterback situation in San Francisco a very interesting one. It’s likely that they will start the season with Garoppolo but at any time they could make the switch to Lance. This is one of the most intriguing storylines in the league, especially considering the potential of the 49ers team as a whole.

When they won the NFC Conference just two seasons ago, they had arguably the best defense in the entire NFL. The large majority of that unit will be back and healthy for the 2021 season. They also have one of the best rushing attacks in the league under the Kyle Shanahan system and solid offensive weapons across the board as well. All of these factors combined to make the 49ers a fascinating team with a wide spectrum of expectations. Mostly depending on how the quarterback scenario plays out, they may not be better than their 6 wins last year but could potentially be a Super Bowl team like they were two years ago.

Reflection on the career of Jerry Rice

Jerry Rice is the GOAT of WRs

By: Adam Hulse (@AdamHulseSports)

Jerry Rice is an absolute legend of the NFL. He is clearly the best wide receiver to ever play the game. His production paired with his longevity are unmatched and his numbers are a class above the rest. When debating who is the GOAT at each position in the NFL, it is a matter of opinion with more than one “right” answer. The exception to this is at wide receiver because it is not an opinion that Rice is the GOAT WR, it’s a straight fact. He is clearly better than anyone else to ever do it without any question when everything is factored in. Let’s take a look back at the legendary career of Jerry Rice.

Statistics

The list of impressive stats is endless for Rice. His career 1549 receptions for 22,895 receiving yards and 197 receiving touchdowns are all the most of all time by a wide margin. He is ahead of second place by 117 receptions, 5403 yards, and 41 touchdowns. He was the receiving yards and touchdowns leader in the NFL in six separate seasons and was in the top five in 11 seasons. He was also in the top five in receptions in nine seasons.

His career bests are just as impressive as the cumulative totals. His 1848 receiving yards in one season is the third-most in NFL history, and his 22 receiving touchdowns rank second-best ever. It’s also important to remember that the majority of his work came in the late 1980s and the 1990s, so it was in an era before the high-flying passing attacks took over the game. It’s crazy to think that his numbers realistically could have been even higher if he played in the modern style of football. Regardless, his numbers are still off the charts and stand high above the rest.

Awards

In his 20 seasons in the NFL, Rice made the Pro Bowl 13 times, was selected as a First-Team All-Pro 10 times, and was a member of the All-Rookie Team in his first season in 1985. He was awarded the AP Offensive Player of the Year Award twice and is listed on the Pro Football Hall of Fame All-Decade teams for both the 1980s and the 1990s. He helped the San Francisco 49ers win three Super Bowls and was selected as the MVP of the game for one of them. Rice put together one of the most decorated careers in the history of the NFL.

Longevity

One of the things that make the career of Jerry Rice so special is how long he was able to perform at such a high level. For example, in his 18th season in the league and at 40 years old he put up a quite impressive stat line of 92 receptions for 1211 yards and 7 touchdowns. For almost any other player in history, this would be considered a career year or at least one in the middle of their prime. For Rice, in comparison to his own peak, this is when he was past his prime and nearing the final days of his long career.

The total package of the career of Jerry Rice is one that is unmatched to this point and won’t be surpassed any time in the near future, if ever. His dominance of the league compared to the style of the era he played in will probably never be replicated. Add in the fact that he played at an extremely high level that spanned three different decades and it is made clear that this is a truly one-of-a-kind player. Rice is the GOAT WR by a very wide margin and that is not going to change any time soon.

49ers win/loss ceiling in 2021

By: Corey Hietpas

After making an appearance in the 2019 Super Bowl, the San Francisco 49ers had extremely bad luck with injuries in 2020. By week 9, Jimmy Garoppolo, Richard Sherman, Nick Bosa, Solomon Thomas, Dee Ford, George Kittle, Raheem Mostert, and a few other less notable players wound up on IR. Surprisingly, the 49ers were still able to win 6 games, with 4 of those coming in the first 8 weeks of the season. It’s very fair to say that they would have had a much better season with better injury luck, but we’ll never know just how good this team could have been in 2020. Instead, we can assume that the 49ers will have much better luck with injuries in 2021, and we can look forward to this season and speculate how good they may be this year. Below, I’ve done just that, and you can find what I think to be the Win/Loss floor and ceiling for this 2021 49ers squad. Oh, don’t forget there is an added 17th game going forward, so records are going to look weird for a bit.

Worst Case Scenario

Week 1: W at Lions

Week 2: W at Eagles

Week 3: L vs Packers (with Rodgers)

Week 4: L vs Seahawks

Week 5: L at Cardinals

Week 6: Bye

Week 7: L vs Colts

Week 8: L at Bears

Week 9: L vs Cardinals

Week 10: L vs Rams

Week 11: W at Jaguars

Week 12: W vs Vikings

Week 13: L at Seahawks

Week 14: W at Bengals

Week 15: W vs Falcons

Week 16: L at Titans

Week 17: W vs Texans

Week 18: L at Rams

For me, the worst-case scenario for the 49ers is about on par with how they performed in 2020 as I have them finishing at 7-10. Even if the 49ers have poor injury luck again, it’s likely that they are able to defeat the lowly Lions, Eagles, Jaguars, Vikings, Bengals, Falcons, and Texans. That doesn’t need much explanation, those teams are not in good shape, and the 49ers are well-coached. Now, for the non-conference losses. The Packers with Aaron Rodgers are one of the best teams in football, the Colts are a very good playoff-caliber team and this assumes Carson Wentz can return to form, the Bears at home would be a tough beat and Justin Fields will likely be starting by week 8, and the Titans are a solid and well-rounded team that would be tough to beat in Tennessee. For the conference losses, the NFC West is a very tough division full of playoff teams, and there’s a scenario where the 49ers go 0-4 against the Seahawks and Rams. 

Best Case Scenario

Week 1: W at Lions

Week 2: W at Eagles

Week 3: W vs Packers (No Rodgers)

Week 4: W vs Seahawks

Week 5: L at Cardinals

Week 6: Bye

Week 7: W vs Colts

Week 8: W at Bears

Week 9: W vs Cardinals

Week 10: W vs Rams

Week 11: W at Jaguars

Week 12: W vs Vikings

Week 13: L at Seahawks

Week 14: W at Bengals

Week 15: W vs Falcons

Week 16: L at Titans

Week 17: W vs Texans

Week 18: L at Rams

In a best-case scenario, I have the 49ers finishing with a 13-4 record. Even in a best-case scenario, I believe that the 49ers would only split the season series with the Seahawks, Rams, and Cardinals. This division is so good that it has the insane possibility of 4 playoff teams. The only other loss I have is at the Titans for the same reason stated above. Some notable changes here are wins against the Packers, Colts, and Bears. This scenario assumes that Aaron Rodgers is not playing for the Packers, Carson Wentz is still not good, and the Bears’ QB situation is too much to overcome for them.

The 49ers have an argument for having a top-3 roster in the NFL. Considering the fact that there is no way they have as poor of injury luck as they did in 2020, I believe they will enjoy a lot of success throughout the 2021 season. I would give a much higher chance of them going 13-4 than 7-10. I would be extremely surprised if they don’t make the playoffs.

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