Tag Archives: Russell Wilson

Triple Zeros: From DangeRuss to Danger, Russ

From DangeRuss to Danger, Russ

In Triple Zeros – ‘From DangeRuss to Danger, Russ’, Josh sorts through Russell Wilson’s  Super Wild Card Weekend including Russell Wilson struggling and Doug Pederson getting the boot in the NFL. In the NBA,  Kyrie Irving went M.I.A. and John Collins‘ qualms with Trae Young. All that and more!
 
 

Clocker Sports. 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. DangeRuss

Clocker Sports. 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.

Picturing Perfect Playoff Payoffs

You go through an entire sports season (in this case a 16-game, 17 week NFL slate) and get amped up for a thrilling playoff match just to get something with no appeal. Oh, you thought this was about quality of play? Nah. More than likely, if a team is in the playoffs the game will be good. Often the least expected matchups wind up being the most entertaining.

But that does nothing for the personal investment of a storyline that really piqued your interest never coming to fruition. For years the quintessential matchup was Tom Brady and the New England Patriots taking on Peyton Manning and the Indianapolis Colts. Or Drew Brees and the New Orleans Saints against Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers. Well, Manning is retired now and the other three now reside in the same conference with Brady’s move to Tampa.

Ideal Payoffs For a Long Road to the Playoffs

For the Nostalgia

Some combination of Rodgers versus Brady versus Brees is still very much a possibility. Rodgers is a legitimate MVP candidate with 33 touchdowns to just four interceptions and completing passes at his highest rate since becoming a full-time starter. Brees’ top-seeded Saints are 2-0 with him on the mend from 11 cracked ribs. Brady is bringing up the rear for the trio and his Bucs are still 7-5 with the seventh-ranked scoring offense and the second-highest DVOA of the three defenses, per Football Outsiders.

It wouldn’t matter what leg of the postseason, if any two of these three were to meet it would be must-see tv. Brees-Brady has the most extensive history, despite being in different conferences, with Brees owning a decisive 5-2 edge in their head-to-head matchups, including a sweep of the season series this year. Next is Brees-Rodgers, where the Packers passer holds a 3-2 lead after winning in Week 3 this year. Brady-Rodgers have faced off three times as starters and had taken one apiece before Brady’s Bucs stomped a mudhole in Rodgers’ Packers in Week 6.

Again, all would be great matchups but, given the comparative rare nature of a Brady-Rodgers matchup that might be ideal to some. But if we are going off of the current performance of the principles, Brees-Rodgers 6 would be the one. Both quarterbacks are playing at an extremely high level (or were in Brees’ case). Brady’s team might be the most talented. But the cohesion hasn’t been there and Brady has committed many uncharacteristic mental errors this year.

Air Forces

Conference Championship week has often been referred to as the best round of the playoffs. The two teams are the best of their respective conferences but tend to have a level of familiarity that adds both to the strategery of the game as well as the personal investment. Losing is bad enough, losing to a “rival” is unfathomable. In that vein, is there a more exciting potential meeting than the seemingly inevitable one of the undefeated Pittsburgh Steelers and the reigning Super Bowl champion Kansas City Chiefs?

It’s really a matchup of Ben Roethlisberger and Patrick Mahomes, though they will never be on the field at the same time save for possibly the coin-toss and the post-game handshake. Still, Roethlisberger versus Mahomes is must-see programming at its finest. Mahomes has thrown 30 touchdowns to just two picks with 3497 yards to go with that. Roethlisberger, with his 26 touchdowns and six interceptions, hasn’t generated the same kind of buzz because his team is so well rounded. But he is still throwing touchdowns at his highest rate since 2012 and throwing interceptions at his lowest rate since 2010.

Home field advantage could play a significant part in this one; both locales are notoriously tough for visitors. That’s with fans though. With empty stadiums, the bigger deciding factor could be the defenses. This is where the Steelers could prove to be the kryptonite to Mahomes and the Chiefs’ Superman. Pittsburgh’s defense is first in DVOA, sacks, and scoring. Kansas City ranks 17th in DVOA and 23rd in sacks. They are sixth in scoring, though, so maybe that squares it.

Micro Machines

Remember those fun, tiny little toy cars where the spokesman in the commercial talked like he was hooked up to a caffeine drip? This is kind of like that. Unconventional as they may be, the Seattle Seahawks Russell Wilson and the Arizona Cardinals Kyler Murray have proven they can hang with the big boys. Both of these players spent time as the MVP favorite this season. Wilson, who has never even received a first-place vote for the award, had a case for longer than Murray, but the latter was a popular preseason pick for MVP.

The season has been filled with ups and downs for both quarterbacks and franchises. Neither escaped the rash of severe injuries that hit the NFL so hard this season with Seattle losing their top-four running backs for different stretches of the season and Arizona losing stud pass-rusher Chandler Jones. The quarterbacks both had hands in their own undoing, with both having three-interception games at one point or another.

These two have split the series both seasons since Murray entered the league, with Seattle taking the most recent duel in primetime. Playing in what might be the toughest division in professional football, these teams have spent much of the season beating up on each other and that has led to many taking both to task for their flaws. But the NFC is wide open and both of these offenses can hang points on you in a hurry. Seattle is third in scoring and Arizona is eighth.

Picture Perfect Playoff Payoffs

There are just some of the potential matchups that would be worth the price of admission. A playoff game between the Buffalo Bills and Miami Dolphins would be a throwback to the ’80s and ’90s. If they were healthy, seeing the San Francisco 49ers take on the Tennessee Titans might not be the Super Bowl the league wants. But seeing the game’s greatest rushing system and its greatest runner go at it for the ultimate glory just feels like an ode to its origins. At any rate, we’ll get to see the actual playoff pairings in just a few weeks. Hopefully, the payoff is worth it.

Week 12 Primetime Moneymakers: Staying on Schedule

Week 11 saw the return of significant season-ending injuries and Week 12 is back to screwing with the schedule. After losing Joe Burrow and Rex Burkhead, among others, to injury last week we might lose an entire game due to COVID. An outbreak at the Baltimore Raves facility that has claimed Lamar Jackson and forced a shutdown until at least Monday. This obviously puts their game against the Pittsburgh Steelers in even further doubt after the game was already moved from Thursday.

Moving that game may have been for the best. It was another week of taking it on the chin, going 1-3 in Week 11 which was an improvement over the week before. Undeterred, we must forge on with a two-game primetime slate. There’s still plenty of opportunities to make some money this week and if anyone is going to make it, it might as well be us (for a change, sheesh).

Staying on Schedule with Week 12 Primetime Moneymakers

Chicago Bears (5-5) at Green Bay Packers (7-3)

Spread: Packers -9

O/U: 44.5

What a fall from grace it’s been for the Chicago Bears (5-5 ATS) who began the season 5-1. They went into their bye on a four-game losing streak and with a loss to the Minnesota Vikings for the first time since 2017. As usual, their defense is among the best, ranking fourth in defense DVOA, per Football Outsiders and sixth in scoring. But their offense checks in at 29th in DVOA and 31st in scoring. You see the problem. Now, they turn back to opening-day starter Mitchell Trubisky with Nick Foles still on the mend. They also don’t know if Akiem Hicks will be available to stop the run.

The Green Bay Packers (6-4 ATS) should be 8-2. Marquez Valdes-Scantling’s fumble in Packer territory in overtime allowed for a game-winning field goal by the Indianapolis Colts. All three of Green Bay’s losses have been of a confounding nature for various reasons. They still rank ninth in total DVOA and second in offense DVOA. Their (sometimes glaring) weakness is their defense. After making tremendous strides last season, they have regressed some. They still rank 18th in defense DVOA (15th in 2019), but aren’t getting to the quarterback in the same way as before. Still, the trio of Aaron Rodgers, Davante Adams, and Aaron Jones is as good of an eraser as there is.

There isn’t much mystery here as the Packers have owned the Bears since Bret Favre’s time in Wisconsin with some highly critical games along the way including an NFC Championship. Chicago hasn’t beaten Green Bay since 2018 and, with the current state of both teams as it is, they don’t appear poised to snap that streak in 2020. Trubisky, who was already benched this season, has only thrown four touchdowns (with three interceptions) in five games against the Packers. So it’s unlikely he is the answer to their scoring woes, let alone breaking out of their slump. This game opened at Packer -7.5 and has only grown. Follow that lead and take Green Bay laying the points. We’re leaving totals alone this week for…reasons.

Seattle Seahawks (7-3) at Philadelphia Eagles (3-6-1)

Spread: Eagles +5

O/U: 50

It was around this time last week that we were on the brink of eulogizing the Seattle Seahawks (6-4 ATS) in advance of their matchup with the Arizona Cardinals. “Let Russ Cook” took a backseat as Russell Wilson tied a season-low with 28 pass attempts and set a new season-low with 197 yards. The Seahawks still managed a 28-21 victory in primetime. Seattle is much like Green Bay in that they are carried by their offense. They rank fourth in offense DVOA but 23rd in defense DVOA. So perhaps they can find a happy medium between letting Russ cook and their run-heavy approach of the past two seasons.

Carson Wentz is fighting for his career as a starter with the Philadelphia Eagles (3-7 ATS) while they are fighting for the crown in the worst division in football. With a win, the Eagles would take over first place from the Washington Football team by virtue of having a tie in place of a loss. It’s a dubious honor but a loss could usher in the start of the Jalen Hurts era in Philly. The Eagles defense ranks 30th in DVOA thanks in no small part to Wentz’s league-leading 14 interceptions. But their defense ranks 13th bolstered by their stout run-stopping ability.

The Eagles have lost and failed to cover in each of their last two games and neither contest was against top-tier competition. On the other side, the Seahawks bounced back from implosion but have failed to cover on the road since Week 4 in Miami. Philadelphia is also getting healthier at wide receiver and tight end. Can they offset the juice seemingly added to Seattle’s pass rush by the addition of Carlos Dunlap? This feels like a trap after opening at -2.5, but home dogs have covered over 50 percent of the time making Philly plus the points feel best. Both defenses shut down the run meaning more passing which usually means more points. Pound the over.

Baltimore Ravens (6-4) at Pittsburgh Steelers (10-0)

Spread: Steelers -4.5

O/U: 45  

This on-again, off-again affair is back on again for primetime after being moved from Thursday night to Sunday afternoon, now to Tuesday night following an outbreak of COVID among the Baltimore Ravens (4-6 ATS). In the midst of what would be considered a down year offensively, the Ravens will face an undefeated opponent having not been allowed to practice until Monday at the earliest. On top of that, even if they end up playing the game, Baltimore’s 23rd ranked offense (DVOA) will be led by Robert Griffin III as Lamar Jackson has tested positive. They’ll be relying on their defense that ranks seventh in DVOA a little more than usual.

“Undefeated” might as well be a four-letter word as you won’t find many teams that will ever entertain the idea. The same goes for the Pittsburgh Steelers (8-2) who are having an incredible season. They’re third in total DVOA, first in defense DVOA, fourth in scoring offense, and first in scoring defense. This is a well-rounded machine even if it isn’t always well-oiled. Pittsburgh has scored at least 24 points in every game this season while allowing an opponent to score more than that just once.  The Steelers also lead the league in sacks, just one more thing for fill-in RGIII to worry about come (hopefully) Tuesday night.

There is no way the Ravens can be as prepared to play this game as they need to be to have a chance. And that’s before factoring in a backup quarterback. When these two teams met back in Week 8, the Steelers came away with a 28-24 victory on a Ben Roethlisberger touchdown pass to Chase Claypool late in the fourth quarter. It won’t get that close this time with the way this game is shaping up. 4.5 might not be enough for the Ravens to cover the first quarter, take Pittsburgh. And if you’re feeling frisky take the under. Baltimore might have trouble hitting their implied total of 20.5 and Pittsburgh could turn to James Conner and the run early with the Calais Campbell set to miss another game.

Week 11 Primetime Moneymakers: Like Looking Into a Mirror

After weeks of having at least one stinker on the primetime NFL slate, we finally get treated to great matchups across the board in Week 11. All six teams are in the playoff hunt and two of the games feature divisional opponents. We also have no fewer than four MVP candidates and a candidate for Defensive Player of the Year. You could say it’s pretty loaded.

Week 10 was a rough one. We committed a cardinal sin in betting: betting with the heart and not with the mind (looking at you, Chicago Bears), resulting in an 0-3 week. It’s the first winless week of the year and it stings. The record now stands at 8-11. Yuck. It is what it is and we won’t be dissuaded. As usual, there’s money to be made and if anyone is going to make it, it might as well be us!

Primetime Moneymakers: Like Looking in a Mirror

Arizona Cardinals (6-3) at Seattle Seahawks (6-3)

Spread: Seahawks -3

O/U: 57.5

Arizona Cardinal’s (5-4 ATS) Kyler Murray Hail Mary’ed himself back into the MVP race with his late-game heroics in Week 10. A 43-yard heave found stud wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins in the end zone in the middle of three Buffalo Bills defenders. After starting the season 2-2, the Cardinals have won four of their last five to pull into a tie with their opponent in this very game. Arizona leads the league in total yards, rushing yards, and rushing touchdowns. They’re also seventh in points per game. And they’re far from one-sided, ranking ninth in scoring defense and have allowed just 23 touchdowns, four off the league-lead.

Russell Wilson has seen his MVP stock dip in recent weeks. He threw 19 touchdowns to just three interceptions through the first five weeks. He’s thrown nine scores to seven picks and lost three fumbles in the four games since. The Seattle Seahawks (5-3 ATS) need Wilson to play perfectly because their defense is as porous as they come. Seattle ranks 32nd in total yards and passing yards allowed. They’re a respectable fourth against the run but are 28th in scoring defense. It’s why they’ve lost three of their last four after starting off 5-0. Letting Russ cook has led to them getting burned.

This is the matchup that started the recent woes for the Seahawks. Tyler Lockett was dominant and D.K. Metcalf famously hawked safety Budda Baker but the Cardinals won 37-34 in overtime.  A Wilson interception essentially sealed that one too. Arizona has won the last two meetings between these two squads after losing the previous three. These two teams are trending in different directions heading into this battle for a leg up in the chase for the NFC West crown. Ride the heater and take the Cardinals plus the points. Speaking of points, expect a lot of them. Arizona has allowed an average of 32.6 PPG over its last three contests while Seattle has allowed 32.7 in their last four.

 

Kansas City Chiefs (8-1) at Las Vegas Raiders (6-3)

Spread: Raiders +8

O/U: 56.5

Led by MVP-frontrunner Patrick Mahomes, the Kansas City Chiefs (6-3 ATS) sit just behind the undefeated Pittsburgh Steelers for the best record in the NFL. The Chiefs are first in offense DVOA, per Football Outsiders, tied for first in points per game, and fifth in total yards. Mahomes is third in the NFL with 25 touchdown passes to just one interception. Kansas City may also get wide receiver Sammy Watkins back this week as well. He hasn’t played since Week 5 when these teams last met. They will be without tackle Mitchell Schwartz, however. Their defense is no slouch either. While they rank 14th in defense DVOA, they are sixth in scoring defense, allowing just over 20 PPG.

It’s been about as good of an inaugural season in Sin City as the Las Vegas Raiders (6-3 ATS) are off to their best start since 2016. They finished that season 12-4 but lost to the Houston Texans in the Wild Card round. Derek Carr was an MVP candidate that season but suffered a broken leg in Week 15. Flash forward and Carr is having the best statistical season of his career while the Raiders offense is eighth in scoring, ninth in DVOA, and 13th in total yards. Their defense is ungood so they rely on a run game ranked fifth in rushing attempts and touchdowns, and seventh in rushing yards to keep them looking average statistically.

Las Vegas pulled off the shocker last time these two met, walking out of] Kansas City with a 40-32 victory over the defending Super Bowl champs. The Raiders are 3-1 since that game and have averaged 34 PPG over their last two contests. Too bad for them they are facing an Andy Reid team. His record coming off of extra rest is the stuff of legend. Add in the extra incentive of revenge and this could be a recipe for disaster if, unlike last time, the Raiders fail to establish the run. Look for the Chiefs to be aggressive early to eliminate that threat and protect their 27th ranked (30th in DVOA) run defense. Take K.C. but just moneyline as the Las Vegas ground game could keep this one close. That also makes the under appealing.

Los Angeles Rams (6-3) at Tampa Bay Buccaneers (7-3)

Spread: Bucs -4

O/U: 48

It’s been a bit of a mixed bag for the Los Angeles Rams ( 5-4 ATS) of late. Despite coming off their bye week to beat the Seahawks, they’re just 2-2 in their last four games after starting the season 4-1 with road losses to the San Francisco 49ers and Miami Dolphins. Jared Goff is 12th in passing attempts and 11th in passing yards but has just 13 touchdowns (and six picks) to show for it. L.A. is eighth in rushing and their 14 rushing touchdowns rank second but they’re only 18th in scoring. The Rams defense is second in total yards, third against the pass, and fourth in stopping the run.

Tom Brady’s Tampa Bay Buccaneers (5-5) are second in total DVOA while he leads the league in pass attempts and sits fourth in pass attempts. This is the Bucs best start since 2010 when they also started 7-3. They finished 10-6 that season but still missed the playoffs. That shouldn’t be an issue this year as they sit behind the 7-2 New Orleans Saints in the NFC South but Drew Brees just went on IR and Taysom Hill is starting his first-ever game in the NFL. The Bucs could easily find themselves in the catbird seat with a win. Tampa also boasts the number one defense in DVOA, though the unit has allowed 26 PPG over the last four games; nearly four points higher than their season average.

L.A. is looking for just its third win this season over a team with a winning record after beating the Chicago Bears a few weeks back in addition to the Seahawks last week. Tampa is still seeking its first. If we look at the season, all three of the Buccaneers losses have been against teams in the top-five in DVOA. Their only win against a team in the top half of the league in defense DVOA is against the Denver Broncos. The Rams are eighth. But Los Angeles is just 2-3 on the road this season while Tampa Bay’s lone loss at home was to the Saints. Both teams are just 2-2 ATS over their last four, so we revert back to home-field advantage (and Goff’s disadvantage). That makes the Bucs the preferred play and with these defenses, hit the under.

NFL Week 5 Primetime Moneymakers

Entering Week 5 of the NFL season we can finally form accurate opinions. Ones based on current data and not rely on what we saw last season and expected to see in the preseason that never was. We get a full slate after having the Tennessee Titans and Pittsburgh Steelers go into forced bye weeks following outbreaks of COVID-19. Tennessee isn’t out of the woods yet and there have been other positives from New England to Las Vegas. As of now, though, it’s all systems go this week.

Betting has been tough this year. Injuries have reshuffled depth charts across the league and no preseason had us guessing early on. Hitting on winners has been tough enough, betting against the spread that much tougher. That doesn’t mean we aren’t going to try though! With that, let’s get into this week’s primetime moneymakers; bets on (you guessed it) primetime games that can be bet separately or parlayed but should win you some money either way!

NFL Primetime Moneymakers Week 5

Tompa Bay Gronkaneers

Tampa Bay (3-1) comes into this game feeling solid after coming back from down 17 to beat the Los Angeles Chargers in Week 4, extending their winning streak to three games. Their opponent, the likewise 3-1 Chicago Bears, come in feeling…not so hot. They had made a living on down-to-the-wire finishes the first three weeks just to have that halted by the Indianapolis Colts.

Tampa is 9th in passing yards and averaging 30 PPG on the season; 32 PPG over the last three weeks. Chicago comes in averaging 21 PPG, but just 14 PPG at Soldier Field where they’re allowing 16 PPG. Tampa, for its part, is putting up 25.5 PPG on the road, but that was against far less formidable defenses. Brady has thrown a pick in all but one game this season and has had two returned for touchdowns.

The money line isn’t paying here, but it is a gimme. Maybe you can parlay it with some riskier bets to add a little extra to your slip. The spread though, 3.5, is low if we are to believe what we have seen from both. This game shouldn’t be close, despite all of Tampa’s injuries, if the last four weeks hold true. Added to that, Brady is 5-0 against the Bears and there are cracks in Chicago’s once impenetrable defense. Take the Bucs and the points, and with a total set at 44.5, take the under in what should be mostly battle of two solid defenses.

Bonus Player Prop: Rob Gronkowski to score (+165) – The Bears have allowed three passing touchdowns this season. All three have been to tight ends, a position Brady has long had an affinity for, and where the Bucs just lost O.J. Howard to a torn Achilles. Ronald Jones has a solid chance too with Leonard Fournette doubtful.

Let’s Get DangeRuss

Did you know the undefeated Seattle Seahawks (4-0) are a pristine 4-0 against the spread this season? That’s important to remember as they prepare to face the Minnesota Vikings (1-3) with the largest spread to date at +7. Minny (2-2 ATS) is averaging 32 PPG on the road and the Seahawks defense just gave up 23 points to the woeful Miami Dolphins. That was the fewest amount the Seahawks have allowed this season. Long story short, this ain’t the Legion of Boom. Minnesota’s once-mighty defense isn’t much better off, allowing over 31 PPG this year.

The Seahawks are letting Russ cook and the MVP candidate is first in passing touchdowns, first in completion percentage, and third in passing yards. There’s a whole host of other categories he tops but you get the point. Minnesota is giving up the fourth-most yardage on the season and has allowed seven passing scores, including two last week to Deshaun Watson. Kirk Cousins is going to have to be at his best to get the win this week.

If you throw away the clamps Minnesota got put on them in Week 2 by the Colts the Vikings are putting up over 31 PPG so the over (57.5) is square in play here, something Seattle has hit in each of its last three games. The spread is a little too optimistic. Take Minnesota +7 and pray Kirk Cousins plays like he did in Week 4 and not Weeks 2-3 because the Seahawks are third against the run this year.

March or Charge?

Maybe the lack of preseason was hindering New Orleans Saints (2-2) quarterback Drew Brees because has heated up over the last two weeks, completing over 78 percent of his passes and throwing five touchdowns to just one pick against Green Bay and Detroit. The Los Angeles Chargers (2-2) defense is better on the backend than either of those teams. Even with all their injuries, they are allowing opposing quarterbacks to complete around 65 percent of their passes though they have given up eight touchdowns.

Alvin Kamara should star again in this one with Michael Thomas still nursing an ankle injury and the Saints having a bye next week. L.A. is allowing 4.5 YPC to running backs but have yet to allow a rushing touchdown. Luckily, the Chargers are also giving up the sixth-most catches to the position and two scores through the air.

Don’t get it twisted though, L.A. boasts the third-ranked red zone defense while New Orleans is dead last. So while the Chargers are down several pieces, they can still move the ball and will have scoring opportunities and have enough defensive talent to stall drives in scoring position. That makes L.A. getting +7.5 points more appealing and it helps that the Chargers are 3-1 ATS while New Orleans is 2-2 ATS. The under also feels in play, though there isn’t much confidence in that statement. The Saints have hit the over in every game but the Chargers have hit the under in three out of four.

Free Agency Best and Worst: NFC West

All good things must come to an end and, thus, we have reached that point with our Best and Worst series. Our final installment takes on the NFC West. There hasn’t been too much change at the top, but a cellar-dweller seems poised to make some noise in 2021 and a former contender suddenly has a need to retool.

AFC: North | South | East | West

NFC: North | South | East

Best and Worst of Free Agency: NFC West

Arizona Cardinals

Best Move: Nuking the Competition

The best trade of the offseason may be up for debate. Rob Gronkowski to Tampa has made it interesting. But the Arizona Cardinals trade (see: fleecing) with the Houston Texans for stud wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins might take the cake. Not only did they get arguably the best receiver in the game today, but they also moved the massive contract of running back David Johnson.

Murray, the NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year, got through last season with the ageless Larry Fitzgerald as his top option. Fitz is a Hall of Famer without a doubt, but at this point, Hopkins is undoubtedly the better receiver. At least one writer thought Kyler Murray would be the MVP next season. That number is sure to rise now.

Worst Move: Not Protecting the Franchise

It just wouldn’t be a Best and Worst installment without lamenting an organization’s failure to address a porous offensive line. Murray tied with Matt Ryan and Russell Wilson for the league-lead with 48 sacks taken. Sure, some of that could be attributed to rookie struggles. But the Cards line was just as much of an issue in 2018 with Josh Rosen.

Murray mobile to say the least so it’s also not a stretch to say he covered up some of the deficiencies of the line. Arizona re-signed Marcus Gilbert, who didn’t see the field in 2019, and has starting center A.Q. Shipley sitting in limbo. He’s started every game for the last three years. With four picks in the first four rounds (but no second-rounder) watch for a couple of linemen to land in the desert.

Next Move: Stop…Anybody

Arizona’s offense should be very formidable next season. Murray, Fitz, Nuk, and the re-signed Kenyan Drake can be as good as any other group in the division. But the defense needs a LOT of work. They finished 2019 ranked 24th in rushing yards allowed and 31st in passing yards allowed.

They were in the top-10 in ESPN’s Pass Rush Win-Rate metric and had Chandler Jones’ 19.5 sacks (2nd) so the issue isn’t the pass rush, though Jones could use a running mate. Rookie cornerback Byron Murphy had a rough season opposite Patrick Peterson who was involved in trade rumors last season. The biggest issue is a lack of playmakers; Arizona ranked 27th in takeaways.

Los Angeles Rams

Best Move: Ummm…

This offseason has been…interesting for the Los Angeles Rams with not much of it being in a good way. They’ve had to cut their high-priced running back due to injury concerns. Cap issues have forced them to watch pass rusher Dante Fowler (who had 11.5 sacks) head to Atlanta. They also managed to retain Michael Brockers after his deal with Baltimore fell through.

Los Angeles did add A’Shawn Robinson from Detroit and Leonard Floyd from Chicago. So maybe that’s the best thing for the Rams this offseason. That they were able to add anyone (they’re currently $6 million over the cap) is remarkable. They even took advantage of the halt in physicals to keep Brockers and Floyd on hold while deciding who to keep or how to keep both.

Worst Move: Lack of Foresight

This might be the most obvious of all the sections so far. The Rams were a sub-.500 team just four years ago and deserve credit for their quick turnaround from that to appearing in Super Bowl LIII. But the cost has been immense and the bill has finally come due. Now they will have to navigate the next couple seasons with financial constrictions and no first-round picks.

Bears fans will tell you how much that lack of picks in the first round hurts. You can’t readily remedy a poor selection from the year before. And if you do, you have to hamstring yourself in future drafts; if you survive, that is. Luckily for L.A. they still have talent on the roster and who they believe is the franchise in Jared Goff under center.

Next Move: Practice Patience

Patience might as well be a four-letter word in the sports world. Almost no one is in favor of slow, drawn-out processes and the Rams were no different. Their mortgaging of the future paid off with that Super Bowl berth. Now, though, they might need to shift their focus. They were able to take advantage of Goff’s rookie deal and his extension has tightened the purse strings.

That isn’t a bad thing, or at least it doesn’t have to be. They should use this time, and the lowered expectations, to figure out who they really are. Most teams will look good when stacked like the Rams were. But when the onus has to be on the quarterback (second contract status), you get to see the truth. Goff is flawed and benefitted heavily from his head coach. They have to see if he can be more.

San Francisco 49ers

Best Move: Adding Another 1st

Trading away a key member from a unit that was your biggest strength is rarely a good idea but that’s where the San Francisco 49ers find themselves after flipping defensive lineman DeForest Buckner to the Indianapolis Colts for a first-round pick. Buckner and linemate Arik Armstead were reminiscent of John Henderson and Marcus Stroud in their heyday.

Buckner’s trade aided the Niners in retaining Armstead, who just re-signed for five years and $85 million with $48.5 million guaranteed. But more important, San Francisco didn’t get jobbed like many of the deals we saw go down; Arizona’s robbing of Houston comes to mind. Not only did they get a good deal, getting a first-rounder back moves this deal to ‘great’ territory.

Worst Move: Not Getting WR2

The not-so-subtle implication here is that the 49ers already have a top option at the wide receiver position. That option would be Deebo Samuel who, as a rookie, caught 57 balls for 802 yards. He showed versatility, too, toting the rock 14 times for 159 yards. He had 6 total touchdowns. But after him, the 49ers are banking on a lot of unrealized potential.

Emmanuel Sanders (36 receptions, 502 yards) is now in New Orleans. Kendrick Bourne had just six fewer catches than Sanders and only had 358 yards. They all fall in behind tight end George Kittle, but that doesn’t mean ignore the position altogether. Teams will be better prepared for the run game in 2020 and Jimmy Garoppolo will be forced to answer the challenge. Make it easier for him, San Francisco.

Next Move: Plan for the Future

Aside from another receiving threat and offensive line depth, the 49ers offense is largely set. And despite their defensive dominance, that side of the ball could be worth a look. They will likely replace Buckner with an incumbent and/or draft pick, but they might need to look at EDGE too with rumors they were looking to move pass rusher Dee Ford and linebacker Kwon Alexander.

But their biggest need might be cornerback. Richard Sherman is a three-time All-Pro, five-time Pro Bowler, and Super Bowl Champ. He’s also on the wrong side of 30 and had a poor game in Super Bowl LIV, reminding everyone of his struggles with speedy receivers. Well, receivers won’t be getting slower and Sherm isn’t getting any younger. The 49ers should be proactive in finding his successor.

Seattle Seahawks

Best Move: Letting the Market Play Out

It wouldn’t have shocked anyone if the Seattle Seahawks ponied up and paid Jadeveon Clowney. They didn’t give up much for him, but the three-time Pro Bowler was thought to be one of the premier pass-rushing threats in free agency, if not the entire NFL. Seattle, not exactly flush with cap space, didn’t move too quickly and might benefit from that.

We are less than two days away from the NFL Draft and Clowney is still a free agent. This despite being linked to multiple teams in rumors. Perhaps his extensive medical history played a role as teams are wary of paying big money for an injury risk without the ability to conduct a physical. But Clowney only had three sacks last season. That wee production could be to Seattle’s benefit.

Worst Move: Living DangeRuss

Is it possible the Seahawks offensive line got worse? A group that is far better executing the run game than the passing attack. Seattle also lost Germain Ifedi (16 starts) and George Fant (seven starts) to free agency. They did retain Mike Iupati and added Cedric Ogbuehi and B.J. Finney. Ifedi and Fant weren’t setting the world on fire, but Ogbuehi and Finney had all of four starts in 2019, all by Finney.

Wilson is a wizard at the quarterback position. His ability to extend plays and improvise when the play breaks down is unmatched. But Seattle has never protected him commensurate to his value. That has to change and the draft is a great place to do so. They have tackle Duane Brown but he, along with Iupati, is on the older side. By any measure, the Seahawks need to address this.

Next Move: Find the Pass Rush

The Seahawks tied for 31st in sacks in 2019 with 28. That is the lowest ranking and total in the Pete Caroll era. Their top sack artist, Rasheem Green, had a grand total of four. This is part of the reason why letting Clowney (and Ezekiel Ansah for that matter) sit in limbo while they weigh their options. There isn’t a ton of production on the line.

That isn’t to say they wouldn’t welcome either back, just at the right price. But there is also the avenue of the draft. Some mocks have them targeting Yetur Gross-Matos of Penn State in the first round. That would be a good start but don’t be surprised to see them double down on the position. They need all the help they can get with or without Clowney and Ansah.