49 thoughts on “2019-2020 NFL Regular Season

  1. When thinking about an evaluating the teams for the upcoming season, I always evaluate them based on their chances for winning the Super Bowl. For me, this can be very different from whether a team can be good in the regular season. Additionally, the teams with the best chances to win the Super Bowl may not necessarily be the most impressive teams during the regular season.

    My evaluation is based on the belief that the style of play matters–some styles have an significant advantage. Here are the three types of teams that I think have a good chance of winning the Super Bowl:

    1. Teams with a really good, physical defense, and running game, and a QB that can make a handful of crucial throws, while protecting the football.

    There are two variations on this: a) dominant defense, good ST, but merely OK run-base offense; b) Offense that is really good at ball control and scoring, solid, physical defense and ST. Actually any team that falls somewhere in between these two would be a third possibility. (A fourth possibility is a team with great physical defense and offense great at ball control and scoring–like the Super Bowl winners in the 80s and 90s–but there hasn’t really been a team like this for twenty years.)

    2. Balanced, well-rounded teams–that is, teams that are good-to-very-good in all phases, but not necessarily the best in any one. Examples: 2015 Cardinals and Bengals

    3. Teams with pass-first offenses, but also with a good run game, and defense. Teams like the Eagles and Colts fit this mold.

    4. High-powered, explosive passing offenses with competent defenses.

    If there are one or two really good teams that fit #1 or #2, I think the chances of teams that fit #3 and #4 are a lot less (even if those teams are really good.) Because of this belief, I always want to know if there will be any teams that fall into the #1 and, to a lesser degree, #2. If there are no teams like this, then I believe the road to the Super Bowl is wide open. But if there are one or more good teams like this, then the road is narrow.

    Edit

    I forgot to mention one thing. Specifically, last year the league seemed very mediocre and inconsistent last year. A part of me feels like some of the teams, especially offenses and offensive players, may have looked better than they actually were because of this. I’m not sure who these players are, though. In any event, the other thing I’m wondering about is whether the overall quality of the league will improve, or if there were at least be a handful of teams that are consistently good, if not very good. Right now, I really don’t have a good sense about this.

    Going back to the type of teams that have the best chance of winning the Super Bowl, I’m really uncertain if any team will fall under #1 or #2. Let me first start with the teams that have the potential to have a dominant defense:

    Bears–I have a favorable impression of Chuck Pagano as a DC. Why? To me, the Colts never had great talent when he was there, but he seemed to be able to get the defense to play above their talent. The seem to have a roster that have the makings to be dominant.

    I’m a little less certain about the following teams:
    Cowboys: I would be even more confident if their offense returns to the 2016 or 2014 form;
    Browns: They seem like they have the talent to be great, but with new coaches and new pieces, it’s hard to say;
    49ers: I’m mostly thinking about the talent on DL, but I’m not sure how Ford and Bosa will perform;
    Eagles: Their DL still seems strong. I’m less certain about their secondary, though.
    Chargers: Bosa was hurt for a lot of last year, and I think he’s healthy now.

    Even less certain about these teams:
    Vikings: They’ve slipped, but Zimmer’s a good defensive coach. I don’t know if they’ve added any good pieces, though, and I think they lost Sendejo.
    Jaguars: They seem to be a mess, and they lost Telvin Smith, who was a really good MLB;
    Broncos: Chubb in his second year, Fangio’s a good DC; if the Broncos have a great run game, that could elevate their defense.
    Panthers: I’ve heard their DL rotation looks tough. I’m not sure about their secondary, though.

    #1:
    Cowboys–I think a lot of this rides of whether their OL can return to their 2014-2016 level. If so, I like their chances of being this type of team.
    Vikings–Not sure what role Kubiak has there, but they execute his offense well, they could fall in this category. A part of me also wonders if the defense is just past their prime.
    Bears–I have a good feeling about Chuck Pagano as DC, and if this is correct, the Bears seem to have a roster that could lead to a dominant defense (I have very little faith in Trubisky, but if the Bears get close to an all-time great defense, this may not matter.)

    #1 or #2
    Browns–They seem to have the roster for this, although I’m uncertain about their OL
    Chargers–Same with the Browns

    #2
    Saints–They were one of the more balanced teams last year, but they really declined by the end. Jared Cook could be a missing piece they needed, though.
    49ers–This is my sleeper team.

    #2 or #3
    Colts–With a good run game and defense, and I’d classify them as a #2. If not, a good #3.
    Eagles–Ditto

    #3 and #4
    Steelers
    Chiefs
    Rams

  2. Not that I disagree with a lot of what you wrote, but if I had to pick teams just based on the talent of the team last year plus what they have added, I would pick the Chargers and Colts. I like what they had plus what they added.

    However, if I had to bet on teams to win it all and the bets for every team’s payout were exactly the same (meaning there were no odds), I don’t think I would pick either based on the Chargers playoff history and Indy’s performance in last year’s playoffs. I probably would put money on New England and New Orleans and bet on the two old QBs.

    1. As far as rosters, I’m pretty clueless about all the teams, except for the Seahawks. (Speaking of which, they may have the worst DL, particularly pass rush, heading into the season.) So, it would be hard to use that method for me, but I would depend more on the approach I describe above, even if I did.

      The Colts, more of a pass-first, team–although not as aggressive as the Chiefs or Steelers. They can use that for ball control. But if they go against a good Type 1 team I describe, I’m going with the Type 1 or Type 2 team.

      I think the Chargers have a good chance of being either type–although I lean towards Type 2 (balanced).

      As for the Patriots, I forgot to mention that they’re in a special category by themselves–with their protean style they can beat anyone. The exception is there are really good type 1 or 2 teams. A team that can execute classic run-first pro style offense with a good, physical defense has pretty firm advantage. The problem is that those teams seem hard to build these days.

  3. I’m getting the sense that in 2019, the teams that can really pull ahead of the pack will be the teams that can run the ball well. Maybe I feel that way every year, to a degree, but it feels like that’s more germane in 2019. One of the main reasons for this may be the relatively high amount of quality QBs in the league. Specifically, there seems to be a fairly high number of solid QBs in the mid-tier range. But what I’m also saying applies to good QBs as well.

    The NFC North is a good example of this in my opinion. If you tell me that the Lions, Packers, or Vikings will have a top five rushing team, I’ll say those teams will be playoff team, and the last two would likely be serious Super Bowl contenders. A really good run game would not only help Cousins and the passing game, but I would expect it to elevate the defense, which is already solid. The Packers seem to have good defensive roster, if they can put this together well, I would expect to a good run game to elevate the defense. With the Lions, I they haven’t had a serious run game in a long, long time, and it might be the main thing Stafford and the defense have been missing.

    With Darryl Bevell and Gary Kubiak added to the Lions and Vikings, respectively, becoming a top running team is within the realm of possibility. (The tricky thing is that Kubiak isn’t the OC in Minnesota, but a position coach, so I’m not sure how this is going to work.) The Packers have a Shanahan disciple, supposedly, but it may be more of the McVay variety rather than the Shanahan-Kubiak variety. Also, I’m skeptical that Rodgers will allow a good run game to develop. His passing ability hasn’t deteriorated enough for him to allow this. Well, that’s my impression and theory, anyway.

    Oh, if the Bears also become a top rushing offense, and their defense lives up to their talent, they could also be a Super Bowl contender. I have very little faith in Trubisky, though. I might have him as the worst starter in the league.

    On a related note. I just realized something. If you have a franchise QB, the objective for your team should be to build a good run game. My sense is that many fans, especially analytics advocates, think the opposite–i.e.,. build a great passing attack, build your offense around the QB. But if you have a good QB and decent receiving corps, you will have a solid passing game. Now, you just need a solid run game. If you devote a lot of resources and energy to the passing game, that decreases your chances of building a good run game, and then your team will be one-dimensional. A really good run game, plus a really good QB, almost guarantees a balanced offense–that is, the offense will likely have a good running and passing game. I think about the Packers here. Their pass-catching unit may have been mediocre, but suppose they had a top rushing offense. If add a lot of play action, I would expect the passing game to be sufficiently effective, and that would lead to a solid offense overall–better than what they’ve had recently. I also think that this would elevate their defense as well. Show me a team with a really good QB and one of the better run games in the league, and I’ll bet they’re a serious playoff team, if not a serious contender for the Super Bowl.

  4. The consensus top teams seem to be Rams, Pats, Saints, and Chiefs in some kind of order. I’ve seen the Eagles in there as well, but not as consistently. I don’t really like those four teams I first mentioned, but no one should ever count out the Pats. The Saints losing Ingram and replacing him with Murray (Latavius that is), is what really could hurt them. The Rams didn’t look good coming down the stretch of last season (that goes for the Saints as well), and to me that doesn’t bode well for them. Of course if Gurley is healthy all bets are off on my comments, but who knows. The Chiefs defense has to take a step back (and they didn’t have much to step back to), although from what I hear they may have upgraded their weapons on offense with even faster guys.

    I would have seriously gone Indy if Luck was playing and healthy. I know they pass too much, but they have a team that can run the ball as they did against Dallas. I like the Chargers’ talent, but they will falter (as usual), they already lost their star safety for half (?) of the season. So those two teams are out for me. I think that leaves me with the Eagles (who I’m not a huge fan of their offense), Green Bay (who can win any game just because of Rodgers), Bears (who have to rely on Trubisky) and the mighty mighty Cowboys. I think the Cowboys will have a great chance. They upgraded their o-line, receivers, and their safeties have been good in camp. Their defensive line may not have necessarily upgraded, but they are a deeper group for sure. It will boil down to coaching with the Cowboys and most of that will be on the new offensive coordinator. If the offense becomes more diverse and more productive, the Cowboys will have a great chance.

    I like Minnesota as a sleeper pick, although Cousins didn’t play great last year. I also like the Ravens, their offensive coordinator could really do a lot for Lamar and I like that Lamar will have a complete off-season to improve. I also like the upgrade in Ingram (not that I think he’s great).

    1. I don’t really like those four teams I first mentioned, but no one should ever count out the Pats.

      Why don’t you like the Pats for 2019? I don’t have a good sense for this team. I will say that I didn’t think they were great last year. I vaguely recall hearing their defense looks good (because of youth?). If the defense is better (similar to 2014 or better) and they can run the ball well, I think they’ll be even more formidable.

      The Saints losing Ingram and replacing him with Murray (Latavius that is), is what really could hurt them.

      That could be a factor, but my thoughts turn to the passing game–specifically Brees not running out of gas later in the season and also finding 1 or 2 other threats besides Thomas. I think Jared Cook could be that second target that opens up the offense and keeps it humming.

      Also, if Davenport blossoms into a really good pass rusher, the Saints could be dangerous.

      The Rams didn’t look good coming down the stretch of last season (that goes for the Saints as well), and to me that doesn’t bode well for them. Of course if Gurley is healthy all bets are off on my comments, but who knows.

      I tend to agree. The thing I’m looking for is if McVay will install something that opponents just won’t be prepared for. Last year, I think it was the use of no-huddle and varying the tempo of the offense. My guess is that teams caught up to this. If he can install something that teams don’t know quite how to defend, the Rams could be good again. Without this sort of significant schematic shift, I tend to think the Rams won’t be as good.

      Another factor is their defense. They could be a contender if their defense is great.

      The Chiefs defense has to take a step back (and they didn’t have much to step back to), although from what I hear they may have upgraded their weapons on offense with even faster guys.

      I think more highly of Frank Clark and Steve Spagnuolo than you. Also, they added the Honey Badger, who has never returned to form, but I suspect will still be solid. Having said that, if they Chiefs offense is super explosive, I think it will be hard to have a strong defense.

      I would have seriously gone Indy if Luck was playing and healthy. I know they pass too much, but they have a team that can run the ball as they did against Dallas.

      I feel like that was anomalous performance. They weren’t a great running team. They sure needed a run game against the Chiefs in the playoffs.

      I like the Chargers’ talent, but they will falter (as usual), they already lost their star safety for half (?) of the season.

      Okung is hurt, too. Also, if Gordon doesn’t play for them, that could be a big deal. If you tell me they have a great run game, I’m saying they’re contenders. Do they have a chance to be a great running team without Gordon? I don’t think so. To be fair, even with Gordon, they don’t have a run-based philosophy, so they likely wouldn’t be a great running team, anyway. But without Gordon, I tend to think they’ll be too one-dimensional, especially against the better teams.

      Eagles, Packers, Bears, Vikings, Cowboys–as with the the Chargers (and many other teams), I can’t help but think that the quality of their run game will make them strong contenders or not–i.e., strong run game=strong contender; merely OK run game or less=not strong contenders.

      Of these teams, I think the Vikings and the Cowboys have the best chance of having a strong run game, so I like them more than the others. The Packers have the players, but I’m skeptical Rodgers would allow something like this (i.e., he’d get in the way).

      And with the Cowboys, I think more about the OL and pass catchers. If the OL returns to form, I predict they’ll have a really good run game. If the pass catchers can get consistently open, I predict the Cowboys will have the most balanced offense in the league, being good at ball control and scoring. And unlike their 2014 team, this defense should be significantly better. I think a lot comes down to the OL. (Now, if Kellen Moore turns out to be a great OC a la Kyle Shanahan or Sean Payton, then yes, he could elevate the offense. But I don’ t that’s a fair or realistic expectation.)

      1. The Vikings will be committed to the run (I’m guessing), but will their o-line be good enough? Did they acquire any big names on the o-line?

    2. The Vikings used their first round pick on a center, and they seem to like him. They also brought in Gary Kubiak, and I think they’re installing his scheme. (The situation is weird though. Kubiak is not the OC, but apparently the OC likes the Kubiak’s system. This doesn’t sound like a great situation, but if they can successfully install Kubiak’s system, look out.)

      1. When Kubiak was at Houston his teams were not stats wise one of the top three rushing teams right? Or were they? But their RB would always get hurt so that’s probably a big reason why.

        So although Minnesota had a terrible line last year, just by bringing in Kubiak they could be a top three running team this year? I guess that’s possible…

        My guess will be the top three rushing teams by yards per game this year will be the usual Seattle and Cowboys, with Baltimore. You think Minnesota or Detroit will have more rushing yards per game this year?

    3. I don’t know the ranking for Houston’s rushing offense when Kubiak was there. Arian Foster was good, though. Kubiak turned Justin Forsett into a good runner when the former was the OC at Baltimore, too. I have confidence that he build a really good run game. I’ll put it this way–he was one of my top choices for OC after Bevell was fired.

      Also, the Vikings have brought in players to upgrade their line. (They may have had injuries last year as well.)

      I don’t know if the Vikings or the Lions will be one of the best running teams in the league. I would say the Vikings have a shot, but I would be pretty surprised if the Lions do this (although I like Kerryon Johnson). My point is that if any of them do become a great rushing team, that would really elevate their chances to get into the playoffs or even get to the Super Bowl.

      As for the Ravens, I suspect they’ll be good rushing team, but I feel like they need to add new things–or Lamar will have to have really improved.

  5. Okay. I’ve meditated.

    AFC East (most interesting division)
    Patriots
    Jets
    Bills
    Dolphins

    I don’t know why I’m so amped about the Bills and Jets but I am. I don’t think they can outlast the Patriots, but if they keep it close, a few balls could bounce the wrong way and one of these teams could find itself in first place after Week 17. Also I think Sam Darnold has Pro Bowl potential.

    AFC North
    Ravens
    Steelers
    Browns
    Bengals

    I actually think this division is wide open, and the final standings may show all four teams plus or minus one or two games from top to bottom. I’m also not buying the late-season excitement from last year about the Browns. I’ll honestly be mildly surprised if they finish 10-6. The Ravens might be this year’s Chiefs, not in the way they play but in the way the fans get excited about watching a team they don’t usually root for.

    AFC South
    Jaguars
    Colts
    Texans
    Titans

    What should have been a fun division is now going to be a yawner. I feel like last year, everyone was saying, “We were wrong about the Jags!” but really, I think we were right about the Jags and last year was just a speed bump. Foles is the right guy for this team and I expect the Jags to win the division easily. The Texans are so hard to predict. And I just find the Titans boring.

    AFC West
    Raiders
    Chiefs
    Chargers
    Broncos

    Yes. I’ve talked myself into the Raiders winning the West, mostly because I think the other teams aren’t going to be good. What Don said about the Chiefs D is exactly what I’m thinking, plus losing Karim Hunt is meaningful, and Patrick Mahomes played out of his mind last season. That team overperformed. The Chargers are my pick for surprisingly bad team this year.

    AFC Wildcards: Steelers, Chiefs

    NFC East
    Cowboys
    Eagles
    Redskins
    Giants

    I thought the Giants were going to be good last year. I still want to think it, but I just don’t have the heart to predict it. Redskins might be my team out of nowhere this year: I’m going to decide by the time I get to the end of this.

    NFC North
    Packers
    Vikings
    Bears
    Lions

    Still man-crushing on Aaron Rodgers. I don’t know why everyone thinks the Bears are going to be good. I see no reason they should be. Vikings are much more intersting to me, partially because I still love their receivers. Cousins should be able to get those guys the ball!

    NFC South
    Buccaneers
    Panthers
    Saints
    Falcons

    Honestly, I don’t know what to think about this division. I could have tossed the team names into a hat and drawn the order of finish from it and not known whether it was a good guess or a bad one. I do love watching Brees and Thomas connect, though. This division used to interest me but now I don’t even care.

    NFC West
    Seahawks
    Rams
    49ers
    Cardinals

    Another division I don’t care about. I’m picking the Seahawks just because I expect them to be at least as good as last year, while I expect a little bit of a dip from the Rams. We still don’t really know what Garoppolo can do, while we all think Kyle Shanahan after three years is likely to show us something. Barring catastrophic injury (but that disclaimer applies to everything prediction-like in this league) the Niners might not win a lot of games but I don’t think any team will be able to sleep on them.

    NFC wildcards: Panthers, Rams

    Scratch my Redskins talk. I’m picking the Bucs as my team out of nowhere.

    Super Bowl: Packers over Patriots. I think this was my prediction last year too.

    MVP: Aaron Rodgers

    1. Bills and Jets:
      What I hear about the Bills and Jets are they are getting close. With the Bills, their defense was already good last year, so it’s a matter of how good their offense is, and that means how good Josh Allen will be. I can’t say I’ve seen him a lot, but I hear he wasn’t a great passer last year. But the Bills got John Brown (who’s healthy) and Beasley, which should help. Not that these guys are great, but they can make a QB better. The Jets are built well from what I hear, and they have talent in a lot of areas. Their two big weaknesses are o-line and DBs, and from what I understand it isn’t great at those two positions. That will really hurt their chances if it’s true.

      Bucs:
      I would be super surprised if the Bucs are any good. Their defense was horrible last year, and my guess is they didn’t improve much. I’m not as big a fan of Arians as the rest of the pundits seem to be, but if the he can turn Winston around, I would be a believer. They have weapons on offense for sure.

      Raiders:
      I think for me to pick the Cowboys, they would have to be really good (which I think they will be this year). Meaning I would probably downplay their talent and chances, but maybe you are different, but the Raiders are not better than the Chargers and Chiefs. I talked about why I think the Chargers and Chiefs could falter, but for both to falter and the Raiders to be that good would be surprising.

      Seattle:
      If I was forced to pick a NFC West team, I think I too would go Seattle. But Reid’s talk about their d-line, and the fact that their receivers could be bad, worries me. However, I’m just not a huge believer in the Niners (although they have some talent) and there is a chance the Rams wouldn’t be as good as last year. No need to talk Cardinals.

      1. It’s been only one week, yet I will admit that the Raiders may have a chance after last night’s performance. Their offense looked good against a Denver defense that I really thought would be pretty darn good under Fangio.

      2. I’m very guarded about the Raiders. I thought the Broncos might be good, too, but they did not look good. Same with the offense. (If they use Flacco in a lot of shotgun, I think bringing him over was really foolish. To me, getting him only makes sense, if they have more of a run-based offense.)

        But it’s really early in the season. So much can change–for both teams.

    2. Also I think Sam Darnold has Pro Bowl potential.

      Parcells had some nice things to say about him recently.

      I actually think this division is wide open, and the final standings may show all four teams plus or minus one or two games from top to bottom.

      Including the Bengals? I wouldn’t include them, but I’m with you about the other three teams.

      I’m also not buying the late-season excitement from last year about the Browns. I’ll honestly be mildly surprised if they finish 10-6.

      I’m pumping the brakes a little on them, but their roster looks really good. If that OL is solid, and the antics of Baker and OBJ don’t get out of hand, I think they could be really good.

      Foles is the right guy for this team and I expect the Jags to win the division easily. The Texans are so hard to predict. And I just find the Titans boring.

      If the Jaguars had a run-based offense, I think Foles would be a better fit (although he didn’t do well in offenses like that in the past). Still, if the run game and defense are really strong, he would just have to make a few handful of plays and that would be good enough.

      I agree about the Titans being boring, alas. But the fact that the Texans are hard to predict should give you pause about the Jags running away with this. I also wouldn’t count out the Colts. It seems rare that one team really dominates the division, and I tend to think that’s true this year. (The Jags losing Telvin Smith seems like a huge loss to me, too.)

      Yes. I’ve talked myself into the Raiders winning the West, mostly because I think the other teams aren’t going to be good.

      I’m surprised that you think the teams won’t be good. The Chiefs defense, for most of the season, stunk, and they had a chance to win get into the Super Bowl. I think the defense could actually improve, but it’ll be hard if the offense is fast-breaking all game. As for the Chargers, given some key injuries, it wouldn’t surprise me if they struggle a bit.

      But here’s the thing, even if the other teams aren’t as good, I think there’s indications the Raiders won’t be good, either. (Also, if the Broncos defense and run game are good, I think they could be a sleeper team.)

      I don’t know why everyone thinks the Bears are going to be good. I see no reason they should be.

      One main reason: They could have a dominant defense. They have good players on offense. (If they had Tannehill or Keenum, and their defense plays at a similar or better level than last year, I think they would be Super Bowl contenders.)

      Honestly, I don’t know what to think about this division. I could have tossed the team names into a hat and drawn the order of finish from it and not known whether it was a good guess or a bad one.

      You and Don don’t seem too optimistic about the Saints. Why is that?

  6. Hos is one of my favorites, but I’m surprised to see him on this.

    Cool to see Kreutz on here.

    1. Marino
      Tomlinson
      Moss
      Harrison
      Sharpe

      I’m guessing this is not based on favorite player, but most effective team overall? Reid, do you think Payton is worth that much more than Peterson? To me they are very similar backs for way less of a price. Unless you take into account longevity, because Peterson got hurt a couple of times. Then it might be worth it. But if you take into account longevity, I would think you would have to find a way to get Gates over Sharpe for only a $10 difference.

    2. I’m guessing this is not based on favorite player, but most effective team overall?

      Yeah, mostly.

      Reid, do you think Payton is worth that much more than Peterson? To me they are very similar backs for way less of a price.

      I opted for Sweetness over AP for several reasons. 1) I was going to save money on WRs. TO, Moss, and AB would be off my list for off field type of issues; 2) I’m not entirely sure, but I don’t think AP is as good with ball security; 3) Sweetness is a more versatile player.

      Not saying he’s not worthy of the pick, but what’s your thought on choosing Tomlinson? I think I’d prefer AP over him.

      1. Yeah, you may be right. AP may be the best pure running, running back in this group in terms of power, shiftiness, and speed. I think I was just going to try and spend all my money. I want Marino, despite my thinking that Montana is the best QB and Brady isn’t too far behind. I just think in terms of pure passing I would pick Marino, I wonder if he would translate in today’s game, though, where mobility seems important. I also want Moss, just because I think he’s the most transcendent WR ever to play in terms of speed and size. TO is amazing, but really is Andre Johnson that far behind in terms of physical talent? I don’t really think so. Johnson just got hurt a lot. I would say Gronk is the best by far in terms of TEs, and really it’s not that close. He may not be the receiver Gonzalez is (but really he cannot be that far behind), but he has to be a much better blocker. So I will go with:
        Marino
        AP
        Moss
        Johnson
        Gronk

        But I probably would want to have Rice and Moss, Marino, Peterson and Witten if I could do that. Hmmm, that would mean having Rice and Witten over Johnson and Gronk. Man, that’s a close call for me.

      2. Yeah, you may be right. AP may be the best pure running, running back in this group in terms of power, shiftiness, and speed.

        I don’t know if I’d choose him over Sweetness, but he’s in that mold. When I watch AP I feel like I’m watching a RB from a different era–guys like Sweetness, Earl Campbell, Jim Brown.

        I want Marino, despite my thinking that Montana is the best QB and Brady isn’t too far behind. I just think in terms of pure passing I would pick Marino, I wonder if he would translate in today’s game, though, where mobility seems important.

        I think Marino’s a more talented passer than Montana, but I can’t see him being amendable to handing the ball off a lot, even if the game warranted this. That’s the main reason I wouldn’t go with him.

        In terms of having success now, I’d be surprised if he wouldn’t. I certainly don’t think a lack of mobility would be the reason. Peyton, Brady, Brees, and Rivers are really mobile, not significantly more than Marino.

        I also want Moss, just because I think he’s the most transcendent WR ever to play in terms of speed and size.

        Definitely. He would be unreal. But I think of character, motivation factors. Moss was sort of like Shaquille O’Neal to me. Given their talent, I feel like they should have been more dominant than what we actually saw.

        TO is amazing, but really is Andre Johnson that far behind in terms of physical talent?

        I probably haven’t watched enough of Johnson, but I would put TO clearly above AJ. In terms of talent, I think TO is one of the best I’ve ever seen–up there with Moss and Rice for me. Having said that, in terms of actual productivity and impact on the field, I have a hard time seeing if there would be a huge difference with any of them. Would there really be a huge difference between Megatron and Rice, for example? You’re offense is still going to be dang good with Megatron. Or at least that’s what it seems like to me.

        He may not be the receiver Gonzalez is (but really he cannot be that far behind), but he has to be a much better blocker.

        Honestly, I have zero clue about who’s the better blocker–with any of the TEs. Do you watch closely enough have a strong opinion about their blocking? Gronk is bigger so it seems like he’d be a better blocker, but I don’t know if that’s true. Witten is a big, slow guy, so I would assume he’s one of the best at blocking. I don’t put much stock in this way of assessing their blocking, though.

        But I probably would want to have Rice and Moss, Marino, Peterson and Witten if I could do that.

        If I were just going by talent, I like this line up (better than with Johnson and Gronk, too).

        1. Me and you must have a different memory of Payton. I remember him being super tough and I’m pretty sure he was great at picking up the blitz (ie: good blocker). He was fast, but I don’t remember him having the breakaway speed of Sanders, Tomlinson, or AP. He played in the same era of Dorsett, and I didn’t think he was Dorsett fast, so it could be clouding my memory. Payton was also not as shifty as Sanders (well nobody is) or AP. If I had to picture him, I see him more of a great one-cut runner, where they know when to make that cut and start going downhill. Again I just remember him being super tough, in that he never got hurt and he could probably run like 35 times a game and not slow down. Oh and he knew how to finish runs and punish defenders.

  7. To me, Payton had a combination of speed, power, and moves. This doesn’t mean he was the fastest. RBs like Dorsett, Dickerson, Bo–to name a few–might be faster. I don’t think he had the best moves–Sanders, Sayers, Simpson were probably better. He also may not be as powerful and physical as Earl Campbell or Christian Okoye. But that doesn’t mean he didnt have speed, moves, and power/physicality. I think you could switch Marshawn out for Sweetness in the above example. People might remember Marshawn for his power, but he had underrated moves, and he may not be considered the fastest, but he was fast enough.

    Where would Emmitt land in all of this? Also, when I think of Marcus Allen, I’m not thinking he great power, speed, or moves, but he was very good in all three.

    1. I agree with Payton being all-in-one, but don’t you think AP was faster, was more elusive, and probably just as strong or tough to bring down?

      Marshawn had one of the best balance of all the running backs. That’s what made him great, imo. But he’s not the runner that AP is for sure, at least to me. I think Seattle’s system helped Marshawn a lot as well, because they would keep running him where other teams would opt to pass, and my guess is that wore on defenses.

      To me Emmitt’s strength was being able to side step guys in tight spaces without big moves. A little wiggle here and a push-off with the off-hand there, and he could get through a hole while still moving north to south.

      When I watch Barkley and Kamara run, I would put them up with any of these guys. They are both either on the wrong team or playing during the wrong era. It’s a shame if either don’t become hall-of-famers.

    2. I agree with Payton being all-in-one, but don’t you think AP was faster, was more elusive, and probably just as strong or tough to bring down?

      My first reaction to this is to agree with you, but wouldn’t that mean that AP is better than Payton? Do you think he is? That would be something. In other words, AP might be top 3 RBs of all time.

      Recency bias is another reason I hesitate–namely, maybe our memories of AP are a lot fresher and vivid, so he might seem better.

      But he’s not the runner that AP is for sure, at least to me.

      No, I think I would agree with you on that. I would choose AP over Marshawn overall. My point is that when you evaluate each attribute by itself, speed, power, and moves, I don’t think Marshawn would be among the best in any of them (Well, actually, I’d probably put him among the best in the power category.)

      I think Seattle’s system helped Marshawn a lot as well, because they would keep running him where other teams would opt to pass, and my guess is that wore on defenses.

      Couldn’t you say the same for AP when he was in Minnesota? Certainly, you could say this about Sweetness for most of his career. Earl Campbell, too.

      To me Emmitt’s strength was being able to side step guys in tight spaces without big moves. A little wiggle here and a push-off with the off-hand there, and he could get through a hole while still moving north to south.

      But if you just evaluated his speed, moves, and power, would be in the top tier for any of them? I don’t think he would for me.

      When I watch Barkley and Kamara run, I would put them up with any of these guys. They are both either on the wrong team or playing during the wrong era. It’s a shame if either don’t become hall-of-famers.

      I see it in Barkley, but not Kamara. His running against the Seahawks surprised me. In previous games, I never got the sense he was an all-time great (not all-time great runner, anyway).

  8. These things pop on FB all the time. They’re mostly kind of fun.

    What were Randy Moss’s off-field things besides his marijuana issue in high school or college?

    I agree with Reid’s assessment of Marcus Allen as being a great combination of skills. What I remember of Payton is a lot like what I remember of Marcus, except Marcus was a far better receiver while Payton was maybe a notch above in toughness. Both runners could make one good move and break a play wide open.

    Gonzalez at ten bucks more than Gronk is a joke.

    Basically, if you spent the same amount on each position, you’re spending $20. Is Gonzalez worth twice as much as Gates? No way. Is Gronk? Heck yeah.

    Also, although I don’t dispute the pricing for RBs, Tomlinson at $20 is a STEAL. I’m not sure in today’s NFL I wouldn’t rather have him than Payton or Sanders anyway.

    I’ll take Marino at the $20 price so I can spend more on the guys catching the ball.

    Marino
    Faulk (sacrificed Tomlinson to get Gronk)
    Moss
    Andre Johnson
    Gronkowski

    1. What were Randy Moss’s off-field things besides his marijuana issue in high school or college?

      I don’t recall many problems with the Vikings, but when he went to the Raiders, my sense was that he didn’t practice or play hard. The fact that he was traded, more than once, when he was still really good is not a good sign as well.

      I agree with Reid’s assessment of Marcus Allen as being a great combination of skills. What I remember of Payton is a lot like what I remember of Marcus, except Marcus was a far better receiver while Payton was maybe a notch above in toughness. Both runners could make one good move and break a play wide open.

      I agree with this mostly. Allen’s toughness is underrated in my opinion, but I would say Payton is more than a notch above, especially if we’re talking about running in a physical style.

      Gonzalez at ten bucks more than Gronk is a joke.

      Meaning, Gronk is better? On a related note, how do you guys evaluate TE blocking?

      Also, although I don’t dispute the pricing for RBs, Tomlinson at $20 is a STEAL. I’m not sure in today’s NFL I wouldn’t rather have him than Payton or Sanders anyway.

      What’s your thinking behind the last point?

      All the players are steals at the lower price points, but I look at this as relative to the other options. Speaking of which, comparing Marino to the other QBs, Marino at $20 is a steal. If you push me, I could say that Marino is better than Brady and Montana–or at least as good as Montana. The only reason I wouldn’t choose him is that I don’t think you could have a balanced offense with him. (Heck, I might choose Aikman over Marino, even though I don’t think Aikman is better overall.) By the way, if Brady and Montana are above Marino becuase of Super Bowls, that’s a really dumb reason.

    2. Marcus Allen is the best short yardage guy of all time, right? He was a guarantee to get at least one yard. I thought of Marcus as a one-cut guy as well – not a lot of wasted moves. I think Marcus was faster than Payton and I agree a better receiver, but my memory would say Payton was a lot tougher than Marcus, not just a little tougher. In today’s game, Payton may get penalties, the way he used to finish runs and try to punish the defenders.

      1. Allen is up there for all time goal line RB, but I don’t know if he was the best. Sweetness was really good as well.

        In today’s game, Payton may get penalties, the way he used to finish runs and try to punish the defenders.

        I don’t notice many RBs getting penalties for this. I don’t recall Marshawn getting any. By the way, Carson had two nice plays where he tried to run through the defender last week.

    1. Difficult to list who I’d put on there before looking. You’ve got the whole list right there.

      I immediately thought of Johnny Unitas, Y.A. Tittle, Sonny Jurgensen, Norm Van Brocklin, and Sammy Baugh, but maybe these names aren’t in keeping with the spirit of the question.

      Then Philip Rivers was the first one to pop into my mind, plus Archie Manning, Dave Krieg, Andrew Luck, Michael Vick, Daunte Culpepper, and Jim Zorn.

      I was going to say Steve Deberg, but turns out he was on that ’98 Falcons Super Bowl team.

      Looking at the list, I wouldn’t put Everett, Blake, or Cutler on there, but it’s nice to see Jeff Garcia, who I think is not remembered as well as he should be. I don’t know why but I would totally have forgotten about Warren Moon.

      1. I immediately thought of Johnny Unitas, Y.A. Tittle, Sonny Jurgensen, Norm Van Brocklin, and Sammy Baugh, but maybe these names aren’t in keeping with the spirit of the question.

        They chose QBs after the AFL and NFL merger–I should have mentioned that.

        Then Philip Rivers was the first one to pop into my mind, plus Archie Manning, Dave Krieg, Andrew Luck, Michael Vick, Daunte Culpepper, and Jim Zorn.

        I like Archie Manning pick, maybe Culpepper and Luck, too. Krieg was solid, but not sure if he was good enough.

        Looking at the list, I wouldn’t put Everett, Blake, or Cutler on there, but it’s nice to see Jeff Garcia, who I think is not remembered as well as he should be.

        I totally agree with this. I would put Krieg, probably Zorn, too, over those three. (I’d include Vick in that group.) And I agree about Garcia.

        I don’t know why but I would totally have forgotten about Warren Moon.

        He was not a name that came to mind, too. Also, I missed Fouts (which seems like a big oversight).

        Do you guys remember Bert Jones, specifically how good he was? I remember him, but I have almost zero recollection of his abilities.

        What about any QB in the 2000s? I feel like I’m missing some.

  9. Has the League Caught up to Sean McVay?

    That’s the headline I saw for the following tweet:

    I bristled at reading this, at least as a first reaction. It could be that the league has caught up the McVay. One theory I had last year was that McVay, using a lot of no-huddle, varying the tempos, really caught opponents off guard. (McVay also didn’t play any of his starters in the preseason.) Yes, the no-huddle/hurry up isn’t new, but it kinda disappeared. Additionally, McVay didn’t put his foot on the gas” the whole game–he’d play fast, slow, sometimes huddling up. This was a slightly different wrinkle. At the end of the season, defenses seemed to have caught up, and maybe that has played out this season (although the Rams seem to be using the no-huddle less, although I could be wrong).

    So why did I bristle when seeing the tweet? The first thing that came to mind is that the offense line is really shaky. In contrast the 2018 OL was dominant–as dominant as any OL I’ve seen in a long time, up there with the recent Cowboy OLs at their best. In my view, having a good offense with a shaky OL is really difficult–no matter how good of an OC you are. (Counterpoint: Vikings OL is shaky and their offense is better. Counter-counterpoint: Vikings probably have better skill position players than the Rams–maybe significantly better.)

    Now, if the 2018 Rams OL did well largely because of the no-huddle, then maybe we can say opponents have figured out McVay–i.e., the problem isn’t personnel so much. I don’t find that argument entirely convincing because they had changes to their personnel–losing their starting center and guard in the offseason, and also losing a guard, due to injury, during the regular season. (They may have lost other players, too.) Additionally, it looks like age (and injury?) have finally caught up to Andrew Whitworth, who has been a really good LT. So I hesitate to attribute their struggles simply to opponents figuring out McVay. With a better OL things could be a lot different.

  10. Some Thoughts at the (Little More Than) the Halfway Point

    2019 Might be the Best Iteration of League Parity

    There are several ways league parity can occur. Most the teams can be mediocre, for example. I don’t think that is good for fans (not this fan, anyway). The best version would be if most of the teams were good-to-great. I don’t think that’s realistic, though. The next best, realistic iteration would be if many of the teams were good-to-very good. In my view, 2019 is getting close to that. The difference between the top ten teams are really small. Because of this, ranking them is not very meaningful. There are a handful of teams outside the top ten that aren’t that far from the top ten teams–at least it wouldn’t be shocking if one of the former beat the latter (e.g., The Colts beating the Patriots.)

    There are no great or dominant position groups

    2019 teams don’t seem to have any truly great, dominant position groups with the exception of the QB. Is that right? Let’s go through this, starting with defense, offense, and special teams. Any truly great or dominant units? Maybe the Ravens offense? The 49er offense might have had consideration, but after Monday’s game, I don’t think I would put them in that category. Who am I missing?

    What about position groups? OL? Off the top of my head, there are no great/dominant OLs. Last year the Ram OL would qualify. This year, you have some good units–I would say the Chiefs look like one the best, but I’m not sure I’d call them dominant. Maybe the Colts? Steelers, Packers, Raiders (in the run game) look good, too. Some of the others like the Saints and Cowboys–can look vulnerable at times. There are a bunch that are competent, but can be brittle (e.g., Vikings, Seahawks, Lions).

    As for the DL, maybe the Niners come closest, but they look vulnerable in the run game. (Maybe the Ravens have improved?) The Steelers DL seems solid. The Browns seem really good on paper.

    I don’t think there are any secondaries that are truly great. The Cowboys and Seahawks are supposed to have good LB units. The latter hasn’t looked that great (although their DL has been bad). For the Cowboys, Vander Esch has been hurt.

    I bring this up because maybe this explains the lack of great offenses and defenses–and great teams overall.

    Don’t Crown Lamar Jackson as the Next Great QB Until He Passes the Inevitable Test

    I saw that Bill Polian confessed to being wrong about Jackson. (I believe he said he should switch to WR.) I think that’s premature. There is almost certainly to be a situation that will serve as a test that Jackson will have to pass. The situation will involve facing a team (probably in the playoffs) that stops the run. It could be a game where the Ravens face a lot of long yardage situations and/or they get far behind. That is, they will have to pass a lot in predictable situations. Can Jackson deliver, from the pocket, in these moments, especially in high stakes games? That’s the test. If he can’t do that, he’s likely not a Super Bowl coach.

    Now, here’s an interesting possibility. If the Ravens run as well as they do–that is, if no team can really stop their running game–including in the playoffs–then Jackson won’t have to pass this test. Think of a great college team with a great option offense. If the Ravens run game is that dominant, what I’m saying doesn’t apply. I think this is highly unlikely thought, and it would be remarkable if it occurs.

    Can the Mayor of Munchkinville Last in the NFL?

    That’s what Mike Lombardi calls Kyler Murray. After seeing Murray for the first time, I marveled at how tiny he looked, and I wondered if he could take hits and last in the NFL. After watching him so far, what stands out is that he doesn’t take many hits. It’s not like his OL is great (although they look better than they did earlier in the season). And if he takes hits, it’s not really big ones, I think. He does a good job of either throwing the ball quickly or just evading pass rushers. And when he runs with the ball he will avoid the big hit. If he keeps doing this, I think he can play for a while.

  11. The NFL network is doing a show picking the best (100?) NFL players of all time. Belichick being a part of this makes me more interesting in seeing this. Anyway, I believe the first episode involves RBs, and I think they’re picking 12. Here are some thoughts off the top of my head:

    Putting aside stats, I think there are a tier of RBs that I think of as having true exceptional talent–talent that makes them rise above good players. For RBs, here are some that would fall into this category:

    Jim Brown, Gayle Sayers, OJ Simpson (and I based this on highlights, so this may not be real accurate)
    Walter Payton
    Barry Sanders
    Earl Campbell
    Adrian Peterson

    I think Eric Dickerson, Marcus Allen would be in here. (For some reason, I have a hazy memory of Ladanian Tomlinson, but I would probably put him in this group as well.)

    Guys like John Riggins, Larry Csonka, Marshawn Lynch, Bo Jackson seemed to have the exceptional talent, but I’m not sure if they belong.

    Marshall Faulk and Thurman Thomas, may not be my type of RB, but I feel like their talent puts them in the ball park. (What about Edgerrin James?)

    Some RBs that don’t seem to have that level of talent:

    Curtis Martin, Jerome Bettis, Frank Gore–and I really like these RBs. (I would prefer them to having Faulk, for example.)

    This may seem crazy, but just using this talent criteria, I hesitate on Emmitt Smith. If Martin, Bettis, Gore played on those Cowboy teams, would it be crazy to think that they would have similar success? I tend to think not.

    1. It’s tough to say because I didn’t see him play that much, but based on stuff I’ve read he was probably tougher than anyone else in this list.

      Those Howie Long clips are great. The hits look so much meaner when he’s got both his feet off the ground!

    2. I’m not sure when you started watching the NFL, but he was still playing when I started watching. I remember him because I liked his last name. There was also another Youngblood (on the Rams, I think.) I thought they were brothers, but I think that’s wrong. Anyway, I don’t have a strong impression of him being really great, and I don’t think many people mentioned him as being an all-time great. (I also think he was there at the only pro bowl I went to.) For example, I don’t have a clear memory of Lee Roy Selmon, but I remember people talking about how good he was (although, only until seeing Ron Wolf talking about him, I’m not sure I grew up thinking he was one of the all-time best).

      To me, Howie was unreal partly because he didn’t look very fast.

      1. I started watching the NFL seriously on January 9, 1977. Raiders 32, Vikings 14. 🙂

        Yes, of course I remember watching him play, but Youngblood’s career went from 1971 to 1984, and early in my football-watching experience, defense didn’t interest me much. I didn’t really get interested in defense until around 8th grade. In fact, even with Raiders games, before 7th grade, I would often just tune out and read a book whenever the team I was rooting for didn’t have the ball. And I never rooted for the Rams. I just didn’t like watching them. I watched them if I had an interest in whoever they were playing.

        The Rams also had a Jim Youngblood (linebacker) on their team, so both players had their entire first and last names on the backs of their jerseys, the first name stitched on above their last names, in smaller letters.

        1. Tangent: In Jack Tatun’s autobiography, They Call Me Assassin (when my dad saw me reading it in seventh grade for a book report, he said, “Gee, why would anyone call him Assassin?”), Tatum tells a story of one of his defensive teammates (I want to say it was Charles Philyaw but I honestly don’t remember). He asked the coaches if he could have his first and last name on his jersey, but the coaches said no. It was last name only on jerseys, unless there was someone with the same last name, in which case they’d add a first initial.

          “That running back has his whole name on his jersey,” said the player.

          “Who?” asked the coaches.

          “Van Eeghen.”

          1. Several years later, the coaches told Tatum, “See, it just says ‘McElroy’ on his jersey.” (Yes, I’m making that up.)

        2. I don’t really trust my evaluation of players during the 70s and maybe even much of the 80s, but I had the impression that certain players were great based on what commentators and others players said about them. And after the player retired, if they were good enough, you’d hear how great they were. I don’t recall Youngblood being in that group, but I thought I might have been forgetting, which is why I asked you guys.

          By the way, I learned that Lee Roy Selmon played for 8 or 9 years. He was drafted in ’79, so that would mean played until ’87-’88. I don’t really remember him during the mid-80s. This seems kinda odd–although maybe not because I want to say the Buccaneers weren’t on TV a lot or I didn’t really watch them.

          1. Tatum was just telling the story. He wasn’t the doofus who thought Van Eeghen’s first name was Van. 🙂

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