Tag Archives: NFL Playoffs

2021 NFL Free Agency Winners and Losers

It’s been one week since the legal tampering period unofficially began the 2021 NFL free agency period. The first wave is always action-packed. That’s because there is already a week’s worth of speculation and fans worked into a lather. By the time free agency officially opens, we have a pretty good idea on a number of deals and the frenzy only grows from there.

It must be said, no team wins the Super Bowl in March (or April or any month that isn’t February really). Still, there were clear winners and losers of this first run on the open market. Some earned their designation through shrewd activity while others watched the world pass them by.

Winners and Losers of the First Wave of 2021 NFL Free Agency

We’re about six weeks out from the NFL Draft but free agency in the NFL is in full effect. By the time the new crop of NFL players gets set to hear their name called, we should have a better picture of who’s landing where and why. Please note, “better” does not mean we’ll know for sure, but it’ll be a heck of a lot easier both in predictions and in the aftermath when explaining picks.

Winners

New England Patriots

Let’s just get this out of the way, there is definitely some bias implicit in this ranking. Cam Newton is a personal favorite and the thought of the Patriots actually trying this season with him at the helm is intriguing. Now, this isn’t to say New England won’t be drafting a quarterback early on. But Cam will get a crack with the new pieces Bill Belichick has put around him.

Nelson Agholor and Kendrick Bourne received deals worth a combined $48.5 million which had everyone up in arms. So much so that the additions of tight ends Hunter Henry and Jonnu Smith (combined $87.5 million, $56.25 guaranteed). Did they pay a premium? Yes. But how soon we forget what Belichick can do with two dynamic pass-catchers running up the seams.

This isn’t just about outside additions, either. New England lost nine of 11 defensive starters to opt-outs last season. Many of those players are returning including one Dont’a Hightower. His presence alone in the middle of that unit should uplift a defense that still ranked seventh in points and 15th in yards. Add in Matthew Judon and the return of Kyle Van Noy and there might be something cooking up in Foxboro.

Washington Football Team

The Washington Football Team has undergone a major facelift, even if it remains to be seen if the inner-workings have taken to the changes. Still, on the field, the Football Team (which they will be called for the foreseeable future) should be much improved after winning the NFC East last season at 7-9. They’ll certainly have a little magic.

Ryan Fitzpatrick joins his ninth team in his 17th season on a one-year $10 million deal that could be worth up to $12 million. Fitzmagic will have a new weapon joining stud wide receiver Terry McLaurin in former Carolina Panthers receiver, Curtis Samuel (3yr/$34.5 million). He’s coming off a season in which he set career-highs in catches and yards. Retaining Brandon Scherff might be the best move of all.

They didn’t ignore their stellar defense either, signing cornerback William Jackson away from the Bengals on a three-year $40.5 million deal with $26 million in guarantees. He’ll join Kendall Fuller and should allow a little more flexibility in coverage than his predecessor Ronald Darby. And with their stellar defensive front, they could once again be the team to beat in the division.

Los Angeles Rams

This is more about quality than quantity, as the Rams only made two outside additions, and one was via trade. But when that trade brings back a franchise quarterback in Matthew Stafford it’s worth noting. Jared Goff got paid a couple of years ago but, ultimately, he was a limiting factor for an offense that ranked 11th in yards and 22nd in points.

Stafford has spent the entirety of his 12-year career toiling away in Detroit. This has to be like hitting the lottery. The Rams offense is just a year removed from ranking second in both points and yards and two years from being the highest-scoring act in the league. His Lions offenses never ranked higher than third in yards or fourth in points and were incredibly imbalanced.

L.A. brought DeSean Jackson home as their other outside addition. He’ll theoretically help to stretch the field but he’s only appeared in eight games total over the past two seasons. Leonard Floyd re-signing is the more impactful decision after his career-high 10.5 sacks for the league’s top-ranked defense.

Losers

Chicago Bears

Not all free agency activity is created equal. Some have criticized the amount of the deals given to Kenny Golladay or Bud Dupree. But both of those moves at least have a shot at paying off big in areas of need for the Giants and Titans, respectively. The Bears big move was signing Andy Dalton to a one-year, $10 million deal that could get up to $13 million.

Some are calling Dalton a competent starter but his interception rate has been over 2.4 in all but two of his 10 seasons. His penchant for turning the ball over (he threw eight interceptions in 11 games with nine starts for the Cowboys last season) and lack of mobility would seem to be the antithesis of what Chicago needs at the position. They franchised Allen Robinson though.

The defense didn’t miss out on the fun as it saw Kyle Fuller released, not traded, and replaced by the oft-injured Desmond Trufant. Mario Edwards returns and they add Jeremiah Attaochu as nice depth pieces. But, after all the build-up over a Russell Wilson trade, this was a big letdown.

Baltimore Ravens

Baltimore had one job. One. That was to get Lamar Jackson a number one wide receiver. They can be excused for not retaining Matt Judon and all of his six sacks. The money paid to Kevin Zeitler is fine; they missed Marshal Yanda last season. But not addressing the wide receiver room in free agency is borderline criminal.

They went after JuJu Smith-Schuster but he took less to stay put. Yes, this draft class is deep at receiver but the position usually takes time to develop. Golladay would have been  perfect fits for this group with Marquise Brown on the outside and Mark Andrews down the seams. But even some of the lesser names like Marvin Jones or Corey Davis would have been nice additions.

Baltimore is also in danger of losing Orlando Brown due to a contract dispute. This is shaping up as a regressive offseason for the Ravens. Maybe they add T.Y. Hilton, who would be nice in this offense, but they’d still need a big body on the outside. And this says nothing of their waning pass-rush.

Best and Worst of 2021 NFL Free Agency

This is just the first wave of free agency and we still have the 2021 NFL Draft yet to come. So we’ll check back in to see where things stand then. But these are the teams that have had the best and worst free agency periods.

The Chicago Bears Season in Review and Ahead

It’s been a rough season for the Chicago Bears. Okay, that may be putting it mildly. On paper, the Bears started strong with a 5-1 record. The defense was leading the way for the Bears. Many had hoped either Mitchell Trubisky or Nick Foles would improve the offense to a serviceable level of competition. The victories were close, but that’s what good teams do, win the close games. That was what the optimistic sect of Bears fans told themselves.

Reviewing the Chicago Bears Season and Taking a Look Ahead

The Skid

Then the losing streak hit. Each week it felt like groundhog day, with little change to the frustrating cycle. The defense would do its best to hold their opponent within arm’s reach. The offense would go entire quarters, sometimes even games without much production. Injuries to the defense piled up and glaring issues were exposed.

Chuck Pagano built his defensive reputation in Indianapolis but his time in Halas Hall has seen immense regression. Chicago went from number one in the NFL in points allowed per game (17.7) to 14th (23.1). This is despite a big offseason acquisition in Robert Quinn who has just two sacks. At 5-7 and six straight losses, Matt Nagy was on the hot seat.

The Resurgence

One constant of the Nagy organization is, his team refuses to turn on each other. After Foles’ injury against the Vikings in Week 10,  Trubisky was thrust back into the starting lineup. The offense began ticking again. In their next three games, Trubisky led his team to an average of 36 points per game and won all three contests. This stretch paved the way to slip into the playoffs in the number seven seed and seems to have kept Nagy and company around for at least one more season.

Nagy’s run as head coach hasn’t always been the smoothest but this has been the most successful era since Lovie Smith. Nagy is without a losing season in his first three years as head coach, reaching the playoffs twice. This accomplishment shouldn’t be taken lightly, it’s been nearly a decade and a half since the monsters of the midway have seen the postseason that frequently. There is tangible frustration, and it’s warranted, but even when things seem hopeless some franchises find fortune.

The Strengths of This Team

The losses of Bobby Massie and James Daniels forced the offensive line to shuffle. Notre Dame alums Sam Mustipher and Alex Bars have stepped up huge. They are part of the reason why David Montgomery eclipsed the 1,000-yard rushing mark and finished fifth in overall rush yards. Nagy has capitalized on this and re-focused the offense to match its strengths.

Few fans will disagree that Trubisky’s legs are one of his stronger attributes. The play calling now includes more moving pockets and RPO’s and less deep dropbacks and slow-developing plays. When the defense gets pressure on the quarterback, Eddie Jackson and Kyle Fuller have the freedom to jump routes and make plays. All-Pro special teamer Cordarrelle Patterson will need to make his presence felt if the Bears have any chance at winning on Sunday against the Saints.

It’s a New Season for the Chicago Bears

As the postseason gets underway this weekend the Chicago Bears do have a chance to make a run, no matter how unlikely it may seem. Teams with more systemic problems have united in the past and forged unlikely roads to success in the playoffs. The 2011 New York Giants are an example of a team that surprised analysts and fans alike. They made adjustments at just the right time leading to iconic playoff memories. Tom Coughlin and Eli Manning led the G-Men who had an eerily similar season to this year’s NFC North contenders.

The Giants lost five of six games late in the season and fans were calling for Coughlin’s head. The team limped into the playoffs with a 9-7 and a negative point differential. The defense was pitiful in the regular season giving up over 25 points per game but in the playoffs, they averaged just 14 points against even though only one of the games was held at home. They ended their season with a Lombardi trophy upsetting the legendary duo of Bill Belichick and Tom Brady for the second time. As a fan, enjoy this Sunday, who knows when another game as meaningful as this will take place for the Chicago Bears.

Clocker Sports

Triple Zeros: Is Deshaun Watson Gone?

Triple Zeros

Is Deshaun Gone?

Josh goes over the big news out of Houston that Deshaun Watson is “extremely unhappy”. He also laments the injury to Markelle Fultz and so much more!

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Deshaun Watson gone

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Philip Rivers vs Josh Allen Leads Super Wild Card Weekend

The NFL is in full playoff mode as everyone gears up for the first-ever “Super Wild Card” round. That just means that an extra team has been added to each conference’s playoff field, making it seven teams each from the AFC and NFC and 14 in total. But the additional entrants won’t be diluting the on-field product as we have a slew of great matchups ahead this weekend.

Previewing Super Wild Card Matchups

Indianapolis Colts @ Buffalo Bills

There’s a new sheriff running the AFC East and it’s the Buffalo Bills who won the division for the first time since 1995. Led by MVP-candidate Josh Allen at quarterback, the Bills unlocked their offense with the acquisition of Stefon Diggs in the offseason. Buffalo is second in points and yards this season; their highest marks since the 1992 season.

If “building from the trenches out” was a team, it would be the Indianapolis Colts. Aside from their heavy (and wise) investment in their offensive line, they also traded a first-round pick for DeForest Buckner to bolster their run defense. They then supplemented that with drafting players like Johnathan Taylor and Darius Leonard. Philip Rivers just has to take care of the football most of the time.

This is a matchup of the fourth (Buffalo) and 10th-ranked (Indianapolis) teams in DVOA, per Football Outsiders with Buffalo obviously having the edge. But the Colts defense, ranked seventh to the Bills 12th, could be the equalizer here. Buffalo is extremely reliant on the passing game and the Colts are top-10 in both pass and rush defense DVOA, with their pass defense ranking slightly higher. Meanwhile, Buffalo can check Rivers but could struggle with Taylor who ran for 253 yards in Week 17.

Prediction: Colts 24-21

Los Angeles Rams @ Seattle Seahawks

It’s always a thriller when division opponents face off. Knowing your opponent well levels the playing field or completely making it no contest. It’s the former for these teams as the Los Angeles Rams have been playing Seattle tough since before they were a good team themselves. Now, after John Wolford got them into the playoffs in Jared Goff’s stead in Week 17, they get the chance to make it count for something.

The Seattle Seahawks are riding a heater. After starting the year 5-0, they hit a bump in the road, going 3-4 over their next seven and losing to two playoff teams in the process. But they’ve won four straight and will host this game, for whatever that’s worth with no fans in attendance. And the addition of Carlos Dunlap has added teeth to the pass rush that was led by safety Jamal Adams. They’ve also turned from letting Russell Wilson “cook” to a more balanced attack.

L.A. is the only team in the NFC West Wilson has a losing record against (8-10) which includes being 3-5 against the Sean McVay-led version. But Seattle won the last meeting between the two in Week 16 20-6, in Los Angeles. Perhaps they’ve figured something out between the added juice to the pass rush that neutralizes Goff. They’ll need to in order to come away with a win.

Prediction: Rams 31-27

Tampa Bay Buccaneers @ Washington Football Team

In our first “David vs Goliath” matchup of the weekend, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers travel to Washington to face the team with no name. It’s Tampa’s first playoff berth since 2007 and, given where the differences between this year’s roster and last year’s, is in no small thanks to Tom Brady. Of course, adding Rob Gronkowski and Antonio Brown to Mike Evans and Chris Godwin doesn’t hurt either.

The Washington Football Team shouldn’t be here, and that’s not in reference to them having a losing record. A team that has gone through four different starting quarterbacks and settled on the one that had 17 surgeries to his leg isn’t supposed to be in the playoffs. But, led by a defense ranked third in DVOA, they present an interesting challenge. Not in the secondary as the Bucs are loaded. But the Washington pass rush is third in Pass Rush Win Rate, per ESPN whereas Tampa is just 17th in Pass Block Win Rate, per ESPN.

As much as it would be a cool story for the Football Team to pull off the monumental upset, we have to be realistic. Tampa is far more talented and has much more leeway for the slow starts and mistakes that have plagued them throughout the year. But they need to remember what happened to the Steelers. Dawdling too long will see Washinton walk away victorious.

Prediction: Buccaneers 31-14

Baltimore Ravens @ Tennessee Titans

Sunday’s first game is a bit of a throwback. These are the first and second-ranked teams in rushing this season even though they go about it in a different way. The Baltimore Ravens focus in the ground game is quarterback Lamar Jackson who became the first quarterback in the NFL with multiple 1000-yard rushing seasons. Baltimore is having a “down” year compared to last, but they are still averaging 37-plus points per game over their last five.

This season, Derrick Henry of the Tennessee Titans became just the eighth person in NFL history to rush for 2000 yards. H also was the first to do so without a Pro Bowl offensive lineman. In a league that constantly reminds you why you don’t pay running backs, Henry is bucking the trend and proving you can still build around the position. You need a Ryan Tannehill to fill in the appropriate gaps, though, and the work the Titans have done there might be their best.

These teams met back in Week 11; a game the Titans won in overtime 30-24. Added to Jackson’s postseason struggles and it’s easy to see a path to a Titans win. Their biggest defensive weakness is also Jackson’s: the passing game. If they can manage to keep him in the pocket they can make short order of the Ravens. But the Tennessee pass rush is mediocre at best. If they are forced to rely on Tannehill this game will play right into Baltimore’s hands.

Prediction: Titans 31-28

Chicago Bears @ New Orleans Saints

Make no mistake about it, the Chicago Bears are a playoff team only because the NFL expanded the field. But that isn’t to say they haven’t done their best to rebound from a mid-season skid that saw them lose six straight games. They were 3-1 over the final of the season and were among the top-scoring teams in that span. In control of their own destiny entering Week 17, they failed to take out the “big brother” Green Bay Packers.

The New Orleans Saints are a powerhouse. So much so they went 3-1 in the four games Drew Brees missed with cracked ribs. And they’ve done it without Michael Thomas for most of the season. Thomas should rejoin the team for this one as the Saints look to give Brees the chance to go out on top if reports that this could be the last hurrah for the surefire Hall of Famer prove to be accurate.

Chicago hasn’t beaten the Saints since 2008 and hasn’t won in the Superdome since 2002. They’ve played each of the last two seasons, including back in Week 8. New Orleans has won both meetings by an average of 31-24 and is fifth in scoring, offensively and defensively, this season. The Bears are also dealing with injuries to key players like Roquan Smith and Jaylon Johnson. Does Chicago have a chance to pull the upset? Yes, but it isn’t a good one.

Prediction: Saints 34-17

Cleveland Browns @ Pittsburgh Steelers

The Cleveland Browns are back in the playoffs for the first time since 2002 and they got there by beating the team they’ll face in the Super Wild Card round; albeit with a bunch of backups playing. Their 11-5 record is their best since 1994, Bill Belichick’s second to last year at the helm. Nick Chubb will have to find whatever cracks he can in the defense because bad things tend to happen when they rely on Baker Mayfield.

Many people called the Pittsburgh Steelers the most fraudulent 11-0 in history. A three-game skid that began with a loss to the Football Team reinforced that notion. Ben Roethlisberger led the Steelers to a comeback victory in Week 16 over the Colts, at least pausing the doubters. But questions about this offense still remain. Such as, can they effectively run the football? Their rushing attack ranked 32nd in the regular season.

These two technically split their regular-season matchups but, as mentioned, the Steelers played backups in Week 17. Pittsburgh will need to come out of the gates fast or they could find themselves playing catchup on a team that specializes in ball control. The Steelers defense is first in DVOA and third in both points and yards. If they get the lead it’s almost certainly a wrap for this young Browns squad that ranked about average in counting stats and was 18th in DVOA. It’s just hard to see the former scenario playing out over the latter.

Prediction: Steelers 28-17

Super Wild Card Weekend Set to Excite

It’s a first in NFL history and there’s a chance this won’t be the only season with an expanded field. It was on the table well before COVID was a thing so that’s why it has staying power. They’ve avoided adding extra regular-season weeks (for now) and it’s hard to argue this is a bad thing when you look at some of the games we’re getting on Super Wild Card Weekend.

Triple Zeros: Playoffs, Baby! Playoffs!

 

Triple Zeros Ep. 108

Playoffs, Baby! Playoffs!

NFL

🏈Playoff Field Set
🏈Week 17 Lowlights

NBA

🏀Steph Has Awoken
🏀More Fire Starts
+More!
 

Triple Zeros Playoffs to act as filler. Filler as act to text is this. This is text to act as filler. Filler as act to text is this. This is text to act as filler. Filler as act to text is this. This is text to act as filler. Filler as act to text is this. This is text to act as filler. Filler as act to text is this. This is text to act as filler. Filler as act to text is this. This is text to act as filler. Filler as act to text is this. This is text to act as filler. Filler as act to text is this. This is text to act as filler. Filler as act to text is this. This is text to act as filler. Filler as act to text is this.

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Triple Zeros: Brooklyn, Go Hard!

Triple Zeros Brooklyn Go Hard – Congrats Jags fans on winning the Lawrence Lottery, lamenting Ja Morant’s injury, and so much more! This is filler to make it green. Green it make to filler is this. This is filler to make it green. Green make it to filler this is. This is filler to make it green. Green it make to filler is this. This is filler to make it green. Green make it to filler this is. Triple Zeros Brooklyn this is filler.

Triple Zeros Ep. 107

‘Brooklyn, Go Hard’

NFL

Playoff Picture Still Murky

Congrats on landing Trevor Lawrence, Jacksonville Jaguars Fans!

NBA

Ja Morant, Spencer Dinwiddie both suffer injuries

Orlando Magic, Cleveland Cavaliers Both 3-0

+More!

Anchor

Congrats Jags fans on winning the Lawrence Lottery, lamenting Ja Morant’s injury, and so much more! This is filler to make it green. Green it make to filler is this. This is filler to make it green. Green make it to filler this is. This is filler to make it green. Green it make to filler is this. This is filler to make it green. Green make it to filler this is. Triple Zeros Brooklyn this is filler. This is filler to make it green. Green it make to filler is this. This is filler to make it green. Green make it to filler this is. This is filler to make it green. Green it make to filler is this. This is filler to make it green. Green make it to filler this is. Triple Zeros Brooklyn this is filler.

Triple Zeros: The Next Generation

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Triple Zeros

‘The Next Generation’

In this Triple Zeros, Josh talks about NFL Week 11’s most interesting storylines and plays playoff matchmaker. Then things switch over to the NBA as he overreacts to some draft picks and wonders if the Nets are planning on splitting up already. All that and much more!

Triple Zeros. This is content to help reach the green light. Tis is content to help reach the green light. Ths is content to help reach the green light. Thi is content to help reach the green light. his is content to help reach the green light. Tis is content to help reach the green light. Ths is content to help reach the green light. Thi is content to help reach the green light. his is content to help reach the green light. Tis is content to help reach the green light. Ths is content to help reach the green light. Thi is content to help reach the green light. Triple Zeros