NFL Christmas Wish List: AFC Edition

Joe Nicely explores what each AFC team should have on their Christmas lists this year.

Happy Holidays! Thanks for joining me here at The Combine! You hopefully had a few presents under the tree this year and, just like you, your favorite NFL team probably has some wants and needs on their Christmas wish list. Let’s check out what each NFL team should be asking for this year!

AFC North

Baltimore Ravens: The Ravens have kinda already had their wishes come true, as Lamar Jackson has stepped into the starting QB role and has them on the cusp of winning the division as we head into Week 17. Baltimore’s Christmas wish would probably be for a time machine to stop themselves from giving Joe Flacco such a massive contract. Look for the Ravens to right that wrong this offseason and send Flacco and his huge paycheck packing.

Pittsburgh Steelers: I guess the wish that immediately comes to mind, is that the Steelers could’ve used Le’Veon Bell this season…but truth be told, Pittsburgh’s numbers from the RB position are perfectly fine. What the Steelers should ask for is the ability to closeout games, as they’ve recently blown second-half leads against the Raiders, Chargers, and Saints. Pittsburgh is also being haunted by the season-opener, a game in which they totally gifted the Cleveland Browns a tie.

Cleveland Browns: The lowly Browns have already received a huge gift in the form of rookie QB Baker Mayfield, who has lifted the Browns from winless in 2017 to a respectable 7-7-1 this season. Cleveland made a smart move by running Hue Jackson out-of-town early this season. What the Browns need from Santa Claus is a home run coaching hire this offseason. The Cleveland job is more desirable than it has ever been, as they have a nice young core of players on the roster. Now, they just need to get this hire right.

Cincinnati Bengals: Like the Browns, we expect the Bengals will also be hiring a new coach when the season is over, so they could definitely use some holiday magic during that process. While a new voice in the locker room might help Cincy, their true wish for the new year will be health. The Bengals are entering the final week of the season without Andy Dalton, A.J. Green, and Tyler Boyd…and that’s just on offense. Cincy has some solid pieces on both sides of the ball, but was never really able to get them on the field together for much of the season.

 

AFC SOUTH

Houston Texans: The AFC South wish list is all about the quarterbacks and the Houston Texans should wish for the continued health of theirs. Drafting Deshaun Watson has proven to be a game changer for the Texans. After a sluggish start to the season with Watson returning from a major injury, the Texans ran off nine straight wins once the second-year QB knocked the rust off. Besides being the answer to Deandre Hopkins’ prayers, Watson offers Houston a chance to both win now and feel great about the future.

Indianapolis Colts:  The pair of Andrew Luck and Frank Reich might as well have big red bows on their heads. The hiring of Reich and return of Luck from a scary injury, have turned around the Colts’ fortunes in just one season. While the Colts should be thankful for what they have, it wouldn’t hurt for them to ask the big guy in red for another explosive player to pair with Luck and T.Y. Hilton on the offensive side of the ball. Maybe Santa will bring the Colts a very special Bell via the free agent market this summer.

Tennessee Titans: The Titans have to be thankful to be in a position to make the playoffs with a win in Week 17, but their wish list should have one thing at the top…clarity. Tennessee is in sort of a middle-of-the-road purgatory. They aren’t bad enough to tank, rebuild, and get a high draft pick, but they also aren’t good enough to realistically compete for a Super Bowl. This mediocrity is best exemplified in QB Marcus Mariota. Like the Titans franchise itself, Mariota looks amazing at times and pedestrian at others. This is when he’s able to actually stay on the field. With his rookie contract winding down, Tennessee will need to make a difficult decision regarding what to do with the injury-plagued Mariota.

Jacksonville Jaguars: What a difference a year makes. The Jags were a half of football away from playing in the Super Bowl last year, but have looked downright ugly in 2018. The Jaguars made their bed with QB Blake Bortles this past offseason and have spent the entirety of 2018 tossing and turning in it. The Christmas wish for the Jags is simple…please bring them a quarterback. With a talented RB in Leonard Fournette and a defense that could still be great, Jacksonville management can’t allow this possible window of success to close.

 

AFC EAST

New England Patriots: It would probably be greedy for the Patriots to ask for much this Christmas, but despite all the franchise’s success in the past, both the present and future are looking a little bleaker than usual. With Josh Gordon gone, Rob Gronkowski looking human, and Tom Brady on the downside of his career…the once explosive Patriot offense appears to be stalled out. If New England hasn’t already used all of it’s Christmas wishes, the Pats should cross their fingers for an injection of young talent. The New England dynasty is showing the ill-effects of years without a high draft pick that would infuse the roster with a young star.

Miami Dolphins: Like the Tennessee Titans, the Dolphins are mired in mediocrity. And like the Titans, Miami has been tied to an oft-injured QB. Ryan Tannehill has missed 25 regular and post-season games since injuring his knee in December of 2016 and is due to make a salary that would make him the sixth-most expensive quarterback in the league in 2019. This for a Dolphins organization that is already in ugly salary-cap shape. Miami needs a Christmas miracle in the form of a young and cheap QB.

Buffalo Bills: It’s kind of hard to believe that the Bills were in the playoffs last season. The Bills have continued to play hard for coach Sean McDermott during what amounts to a “soft reboot” this season. Buffalo drafted a very talented, but very raw quarterback in Josh Allen. The Bills also have an exciting, young defense led by budding star Tre’Davious White. You can’t put time in a bottle, but that’s what Buffalo needs this Christmas; time for this raw, but talented group to grow up and reach its potential.

New York Jets: Todd Bowles probably hasn’t gotten a fair shake as the head coach of the Jets. He took over Rex Ryan’s defensively geared roster in 2015 and finished 10-6, but hasn’t won more than five games in a season since. I say that Bowles hasn’t gotten a fair shake because the Jets offensive roster has been a dumpster fire for his entire tenure. With the draft pick of QB Sam Darnold, New York appears to have an offensive centerpiece to build around, but it’s fair to wonder if Bowles is the right coach to guide this ship into the future. Perhaps the Jets can find the next Sean McVay under their tree this Christmas.

 

AFC West

Kansas City Chiefs: The Chiefs’ cup overfloweth this year, so they are looking for more of a Christmas bonus, than a Christmas miracle. Kansas City probably wishes Santa could go back in time and make Kareem Hunt less of an idiot, but that’s probably a stretch, even for jolly old Saint Nick. The best gift for this talented Chiefs team would be a win in Week 17 that would clinch home-field throughout the playoffs. Playing at Arrowhead would give Kansas City a big advantage in the post-season.

Los Angeles Chargers: Christmas thoughts and prayers up for Philip Rivers’ wife, who is pregnant with the couples NINTH CHILD! We all know how expensive kids are, so maybe the Chargers should wish for Rivers and his beautiful bride to continue adding to the family. The more children that Rivers has, the longer he will have to play for the Chargers.

Denver Broncos: Ugghh…John Elway has earned the benefit of the doubt, but the Vance Joseph/Case Keenum experiment has been a bust. The Broncos still have unbelievable talent on defense and two exciting rookies on offense in Phillip Lindsay and Courtland Sutton, so there’s no need to panic. Elway has engineered quick turnarounds before, he just needs to reach into his mile-high Christmas stocking and pull out a shiny new head coach/QB combo to get things back on track.

Oakland Raiders: We round out our holiday wish list with the team that needs a Santa’s sleigh packed full of goodies. The Raiders probably have a very long list of wishes this Christmas, but perhaps the most important one isn’t the most obvious… the Raiders need a home. After bouncing between Oakland and L.A., and now being Las Vegas bound, Gruden and his elves need a place to settle down for a nice winter’s nap. With their whereabouts unknown for next season, the Raiders will have to make do with their plethora of upcoming draft picks. Perhaps when they get settled into their new Vegas digs in 2020, the Silver & Black will be ready to head in the right direction.

 

 

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NFL Week 16 Bet of the Week

Spencer Aguiar digs into his top rowdy bet for Week 16 of the NFL season

Welcome back to The Combine Sports and another edition of the Bet of the Week article. We increased our record to (6-1-1) on the season with an excellent 41-17 Minnesota Vikings (-7) victory. Laying a touchdown worth of points isn’t one of my favorite betting strategies, but sometimes you have to step out of your comfort zone when value presents itself.

We were also able to provide winners on our two other recommendations of the Indianapolis Colts -3 over the Dallas Cowboys and the Carolina Panthers +6.5 over the New Orleans Saints. While those aren’t graded towards the official “Bet of the Week” yearly record, they were winners for anyone that chose to follow the picks.

With Week 16 upon us, I know I sound like a broken record here, but man, this is a brutal betting slate. It makes me wish I didn’t call some of the other weeks a struggle to handicap because this card is appalling. The Los Angeles Chargers and the Baltimore Ravens under 45 points was one of the plays that intrigued me, but it dropped nearly 3.5 points before I could get the article posted. If you can find under 21.5 in the first half, that is probably the way to play the game now, but even that number appears to be gone.

With a couple of days left in the week, it looks like the public is coming in on the Redskins, Chargers, Cowboys, Falcons, Vikings, Bears and Chiefs. I think the opposite side can be argued in most cases, but a lot of those games still present uncertainty. The last couple of weeks in an NFL season will always become difficult because of the lack of motivation some of the eliminated teams will exhibit. It is tough to tell what we should expect, and that backs us into a corner when trying to handicap these contests.

Green Bay Packers (-3.0) versus the New York Jets (+3.0) O/U 47.0

In what has become one of the stranger matchups of the week, the (5-8-1) Green Bay Packers will go on the road to face the (4-10) New York Jets. Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers was initially ruled out for the game after suffering a groin injury in Week 15’s loss to the Chicago Bears, but after experiencing some backlash for quitting on his team, the 35-year-old has now been ruled active for Sunday’s proceedings.

The loss of Rodgers initially sent this number on a five-point swing in the Jets favor, going from +3 to -2, but it has settled back into its initial price at most books of +3 with the news of Rodgers being active. One of the most interesting things to me is that although a five-point shift is a lot, it never crossed a key number after moving off plus-three. As an example, a movement from -3 to -8 would have a lot more substance than a move from +3 to -2. In our hypothetical situation, you sail past three significant numbers (minus-3, minus-6 and minus-7.) However, in the actual movement of the bet, all we saw was that the price was driven off +3, transferred through 0 and stopped before it reached three on the other end. The only significant move was the move off of three and even going through 0 doesn’t do all that much.

I know that may sound like useless information, but I always find movements interesting because they tip the hand of the sportsbook in a lot of ways. Once you figure out what the public side of the game is going to be, you can start gauging the risk that casinos are willing to take based on their movement. Books never want to find themselves in a situation to be “middled” (landing between the opening number and the closing number), and if they think they are on the right side of a game, you won’t see them budge all that much.

Sadly, that still doesn’t quite tell us exactly where this number is heading and what the casinos will need with a 50/50 split at many books right now. I do think that some signs point towards them liking the Packers with the number failing to get to Green Bay +3 when Rodgers was ruled out initially, but in the same breath, I don’t think much can be taken from it because he was announced back in so quickly, and the number was hovering in a dead zone price wise.

Breaking down a game goes a lot further than movements and bet slips, and there are a few things that stuck out to me from a statistical and matchup perspective. It is always interesting when you start breaking down a game in a more in-depth fashion and find potential matchup advantages that you would never have expected. On the season, the Packers rank fifth in the NFL in offensive success rate running the football at 53 percent but grade out just 18th in the league when it comes to success rate passing at 45%. Defensively, the Jets are 11th in the league in success against the run at 46 percent and fourth in the NFL against the pass at 44 percent. I know Rodgers has been playing injured practically the whole season, and the team is 5-8-1 for a reason, but I was surprised to see just how much the Packers have struggled through the air on the year.

While the early-season injury hasn’t helped Rodgers and his new groin injury will only make things worse, a lack of support on offense hasn’t made it any easier for the two-time Most Valuable Player either. Wide receiver Davante Adams has been brilliant, but outside of Adams and the emergence of running back Aaron Jones in Week 8, other Packers players have offered very little help.

Unfortunately for Green Bay, Jones suffered a sprained MCL in Week 15 against the Chicago Bears and was just placed on the injured reserved list for the rest of the season. I know we live in an age where running backs mean nothing to the point total, but the loss of Jones will be significant now that more of the burden is going to be placed on an injured Aaron Rodgers. Backup running back Jamaal Williams has proven that he can’t handle a full workload, averaging 3.7 yards on 98 carries this season. It seems likely that the Packers will attempt to get Williams going early in the game, but he has looked mediocre all year and has been limited with a toe injury himself.

To make matters even worse, the Packers will be without their second-best wide receiver Randall Cobb and offensive tackle Jason Spriggs. The loss of Spriggs will be negated if Bryan Bulaga can play — which appears like it will be the case, but the team will be left with zero depth outside of Alex Pankey. Rodgers has been hit the third most in the NFL during the last eight weeks, and even though the Jets only rank 24th on the year in sack rate, they rank top-three in QB hits, QB pressures and sacks the last four weeks. A lot of that damage came against Houston quarterback Deshaun Watson in Week 15, but the Jets are playing tough and have not given up on the season.

Since Week 11, the Jets rank fourth in the NFL in success against the pass and 14th against the run. The Packers in the same time frame are 32nd against the pass and 12th against the run. Kenny Clark, a key figure of the Packers front-four remains out, and the potential lack of pressure to Jets quarterback Sam Darnold would help the rookie to settle into the game.

After nearly a month without Darnold in the lineup, he returned to face the Buffalo Bills in Week 14, throwing for 170 yards to go along with one TD and one INT. And last week, he put together a 253-yard performance against the Houston Texans, converting on two TD passes with no interceptions. Small sample sizes need to be taken with a grain of salt, but in the last two weeks, the Jets rank 10th in passing success rate and appear to be trending in the right direction.

Some might view Rodgers giving it a go on Sunday as heroic, and others might think it is dumb to put your injured franchise player into a game that doesn’t matter. You can make the argument for either, but I can’t seem to figure out what the motivation is for Green Bay in this game. Rodgers is one of the best quarterbacks of our era, but even Batman needs Robin from time to time. I am not overly enthusiastic about the selection and still don’t entirely trust the Jets, but I struggle to find a single playmaker on the Packers outside of Davante Adams this week. I would tread lightly on the play if you do place a wager, but there is enough pointing in the direction of the Jets being the right side. I’d anticipate that this number should trickle back down as the week goes on and would jump on three before it does start to decrease.

Rowdy Bold Prediction: New York 23 – Green Bay 20

Recommended Bet: New York (+3)

Bet of the Week Record : (6-1-1)

 

 

Talented & Troubled: A Josh Gordon Timeline

With the news that Josh Gordon will be leaving the New England Patriots and football, Joe Nicely takes a look at the troubled star’s career timeline.

Today’s breaking news that Josh Gordon will be leaving the New England Patriots and football to focus on his mental health, might signify the end of his career. Gordon’s talent has made coaches and fans drool for years, but his troubled life off the field has kept him from ever reaching his full potential on it. At the time of this writing there are conflicting reports as to whether Gordon might potentially be facing a suspension for substance abuse from the NFL, but it’s fair to wonder what’s led to this drastic measure. The 27-year-old seemed to finally be in a good place both off and on the football field in New England, but bailing on a perennial Super Bowl contender just as the stretch run is coming up, will make it hard for Gordon to get another shot in the NFL. No one has had more “second chances” than Josh Gordon, but this might have been his last one. Let’s take a look at the talented, but troubled receiver’s career timeline.

Middle & High School

Born in Houston, Texas, Gordon’s troubles started as far back as we can document. In an interview with GQ, he admitted that he began using Xanax, marijuana, and codeine in middle school. He was expelled from two different middle schools for stealing. After receiving a basketball scholarship to a private Houston prep school, Gordon was kicked out for marijuana use in 10th grade. He eventually landed at Houston’s Lamar High School, where he starred in football, basketball, and track…all while increasing his drug and alcohol use. Gordon also began selling drugs in high school and was involved in numerous illegal activities, which led to a felony credit card theft charge when he was 17-years-old.

College

Gordon was recruited by several Division I programs, but his main reason for choosing Baylor University was an odd one…his probation for the credit card theft wouldn’t allow him to live outside the state of Texas.

After flying under the radar his freshman year, Gordon would soon find himself in trouble during the middle of his sophomore campaign. In October of 2010, police officers found Gordon and a Baylor teammate passed out in a car at a Taco Bell drive-thru with multiple bags of marijuana. The teammate, Willie Jefferson, was kicked off the team by then-coach Art Briles, while Gordon was only suspended. He went on to play 13 games in his sophomore season, flashing his speed and talent while recording 42 catches for 714 yards and seven touchdowns. At this time, Gordon was also selling drugs at Baylor. Not your run-of-the-mill dimebag operation either, as he admits he was bringing in around $10,000 a month from selling drugs while at Baylor.

Gordon was suspended indefinitely in July of 2011 before the start of his junior season. The suspension was due to multiple failed drug tests. In August of 2011, Gordon transferred to the University of Utah, where he tried cocaine for the first time and began using Adderall on a daily basis. He never played a down for the Utes and declared for the NFL’s supplemental draft in 2012.

NFL

Gordon was selected in the second round of the NFL’s 2012 supplemental draft by the Cleveland Browns. He signed a four-year, $5.3 million contract with the team.

Gordon’s rookie season in 2012 would be the only time in his career that he played in all 16 games, racking up 50 catches for 805 yards and five touchdowns.

Prior to the start of his second season in 2013, Gordon got in trouble with the NFL for the first time, drawing a two-game suspension for violating the league’s substance abuse policy. Gordon came back from the suspension with a vengeance, leading the NFL with 1,646 receiving yards in just 14 games. He earned All-Pro honors and made the Pro-Bowl. This is the season that put Josh Gordon on the map and had those in the football world salivating at his potential.

Problems came fast and furious after Gordon’s breakthrough season. He was arrested for DWI in the summer of 2014 and just over a month later he was suspended by the NFL for one year. That suspension was later reduced to 10 games by the league and Gordon appeared in only five games in 2014 before being suspended for the final game of the season by the Browns. This would kick-off a seemingly never ending string of suspensions from the NFL. Following the final game of the 2014 season, Gordon wouldn’t see action on the field until Week 13 of the 2017 season.

The gap between 2014 and 2017 included numerous trips to rehab and relapses. The Browns stood by Gordon during this time, including in 2016 when Gordon was set to return to action, but voluntarily checked himself into a rehab facility. He applied for reinstatement to the NFL in March of 2017, but was denied. The league eventually granted Gordon a conditional reinstatement. He then returned in Week 13 and finished out the 2017 season.

In March of this year the Browns signed Gordon to a one-year, $790,000 contract. With Gordon seemingly past his troubles, excitement was high for him to team up with number one draft pick Baker Mayfield. However, Gordon announced he would miss the start of training camp to focus on his recovery and personal well-being. He showed up to camp three weeks late and struggled with a hamstring injury. Gordon caught a touchdown pass in Week 1, but prior to the Browns Week 2 matchup with New Orleans he was ruled out after showing up late and injured from a non-team photo shoot. The Browns announced their intentions to part ways with Gordon on September 15, citing trust issues.

On September 17 the New England Patriots completed a trade for Gordon that had them sending a 2019 fifth-round pick to Cleveland in exchange for the star. This seemed to be the perfect situation for Gordon. New England has a successful track record of dealing with troubled players and castaways. Gordon hit the ground running, starting 11 games for the Pats and logging 40 catches for 720 yards and three TDs.

There has been no indication of problems for Gordon in New England, which makes today’s announcement so shocking. One thing is without doubt, Josh Gordon is a very talented football player, but a very troubled person. We can debate the NFL’s marijuana policy until the cows come home (I think it’s ridiculous and outdated), but I think this goes much deeper than smoking weed. Gordon began getting into trouble as a child and has struggled at every stop throughout his life. He’s not been able to stay clean, even with the promise of millions of dollars if he does. We can call him an idiot, a drug addict, or a tragic figure and probably be correct on all three accounts, but the most accurate description for Josh Gordon also happens to be both the saddest and most frustrating…a waste of talent.

Tuesday Morning Tilt – Week 16 Edition

The Combine’s Joe Nicely discusses some winners & losers from the weekend in this edition of Tuesday Morning Tilt.

What’s up guys? Thanks for joining me here at The Combine! As I’m sure you all experience, the holidays throw everything off schedule, so this week’s edition is more of a “Tuesday Afternoon-ish Tilt”. Next Tuesday will be Christmas Day, so there won’t be a column up, but I will try to throw something together later in the week. Ok, enough scheduling talk, let’s look at some winners and losers from the weekend.

WINNERS

Chicago Bears – The Bears exorcised some demons Sunday, defeating the rival Green Bay Packers to clinch the NFC North Championship. This was another impressive accomplishment by rookie head coach Matt Nagy and his Bears team. I have to admit, I was one of the people that wondered what the hell Bears GM Ryan Pace was doing when he mortgaged Chicago’s future in order to trade up for QB Mitch Trubisky in the 2017 draft and to acquire Khalil Mack prior to the start of the season. I thought it was kind of weird for the Bears to be in “win now” mode when they had no chance of winning now, but after a home win against the Rams two weeks ago, the Bears have to be considered a legit Super Bowl contender.

Indianapolis Colts – The Colts stumbled into a great hire this past offseason. After New England’s resident prick offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels left them standing at the altar, the Colts pivoted to then-Philly coordinator Frank Reich. It appears that Reich was an underrated part of Philly’s success last season and he is doing a great job in Indy. Obviously, the return of Andrew Luck has played a huge part in turning things around and Colts fans have to breathing a huge sigh of relief after things looked touch-and-go with Luck just a year ago. A shutout of the red-hot Dallas Cowboys Sunday draws some attention to this Colts team that has been quietly solid over the past two months. As batshit crazy as Colts owner Jim Irsay is, he made a terrific move by firing Ryan Grigson and bringing in Chris Ballard.

DeAndre Hopkins – DeAndre Hopkins is having another great season and Saturday he became the second-youngest receiver in NFL history to catch 500 passes, with only Arizona’s Larry Fitzgerald doing it at an earlier age. It’s really unbelievable that Hopkins has been able to accomplish this feat with the true and utter garbage QBs he’s had throwing the ball to him over his career.

Here’s the list:

Matt Schaub

Case Keenum

Ryan Fitzpatrick

Brian Hoyer

Ryan Mallett

T.J. Yates

Brandon Weeden

Brock Osweiler

Tom Savage

DeShaun Watson

Forget 500 receptions, I don’t know how Hopkins is still in the fuckin’ league! Congrats Nuk, keep doing what you do and hopefully DeShaun can stay healthy for you.

 

LOSERS

Dallas Cowboys – This season has been a roller coaster ride for Jerry and the ‘Boys. After a slow start, a horrible-then-great trade for Amari Cooper, and impressive wins over the Saints and Eagles…the Cowboys did what they do best Sunday against the Colts: completely shit the bed just when everybody is getting on the hype train. The 23-0 beatdown in Indy proved a couple of things; 1.) Dallas isn’t “there” yet & 2.) Dak Prescott isn’t an elite NFL quarterback. After punching a couple of teams in the mouth, the Cowboys got a dose of their own medicine Sunday. The Colts ran freely against Dallas, while stifling the Cowboys run game. We saw that Dak is unable to carry the offense when needed. Prescott is a serviceable quarterback when things are going well and the run game is clicking, but when he is forced to throw when trailing, the offense falls apart.

Carolina Panthers – Ugghhh. What’s happened in Carolina? Cam Newton doesn’t look like the same quarterback lately and the Panthers have now lost a hard-to-fathom six games in a row. Last night’s loss against the division-rival Saints might be the final nail in Ron Rivera’s coffin. After losing to Denver in the 2015 Super Bowl, Rivera is now 23-23 in games since and is going to miss the playoffs for the second time in three years. We all know that “Franchise QBs” are hard to come by and Cam Newton’s prime years are slipping away.

New England Patriots – The Patriots have been declared “dead” several times over the years, only to eventually win the Super Bowl.  I wouldn’t be surprised if that happens again this year, but man…the Patriots look, for lack of a better word, old. I’m convinced that Gronk is held together with duct tape, popsicle sticks, and chicken wire under his uniform and while they’ve won Super Bowls without Gronk before, he plays a key role in keeping their offense humming. There were tons of un-Patriot like mistakes against the Steelers Sunday and it makes you wonder if the end is near. I mean this shit will end at some point right? Right?!?

New York Giants Fans – Congrats Giants fans, you’ve got a once-in-a-generation talent at running back, a top-10 wide receiver, and Eli Fucking Manning. The Giants organization’s loyalty to Manning is something we don’t see much anymore in the NFL and I’m starting to understand why. Football is an ever-changing animal and it really looks like the Giants are severely hindering their future by trying to hold on to the past. Yes, Eli won two Super Bowls for the Giants (though it’s debatable how much those can be attributed to Eli), but HE’S NOT WINNING ANYMORE SUPER BOWLS. I’m sorry Giants fans, I really am.

Fantasy Football Players – Perhaps the biggest “L” of the week went to those in fantasy football league playoffs. What a clusterfuck it was for all the “great” fantasy teams. You know what I have to say? Welcome to my world, motherfuckers! I’ve been living in my own personal fantasy football hell this season and it’s nice to have a little company from you Saquon Barkley, Melvin Gordon, OBJ owners. How does it feel? I’m hearing a lot of people complaining that after working on their fantasy teams all year, it sucks that it all comes down to one week. Hmmm, that sounds almost like…real football! Suck it up fantasy players. How do you think the team that loses the Super Bowl feels? This isn’t some new-age kid’s soccer league, there are winners and losers in fantasy football.

 

 

 

Week 15 NFL Picks ATS

The Rowdy Sports Guys at The Combine team up with Kev and Ben Rolfe to bring you their Week 15 NFL picks ATS

Welcome to Week 15 of the NFL season, fellow degenerates. We called on a few buddies today to help us with some Consensus Picks. From RotoBaller, we have Ben Rolfe and RotoSurgeon-Kev along with Combiners RowdyRotoJB, Ronnie Boo-Boo Child, El Presidente, and Spence. The spreads were recorded Friday, 14 December. Here is the final product:

nfl

The Majority Picks

  1. Texans (-7.0)
  2. Texans @ Jets – Under 44.0
  3. Browns (+3.0)
  4. Browns @ Broncos – Under 46.0
  5. Packers (+6.0)
  6. Packers @ Bears – Over 45.0
  7. Cowboys @ Colts – Over 47.5
  8. Titans @ Giants – Under 43.5
  9. Dolphins @ Vikings – Under 44.5
  10. Ravens (-7.5)
  11. Cardinals @ Falcons – Over 44.0
  12. Raiders (+3.0)
  13. Redskins @ Jaguars – Over 36.0
  14. Bills (-2.5)
  15. Lions @ Bills – Over 39.5
  16. Seahawks (-4.0)
  17. Eagles (+13.0)
  18. Eagles @ Rams – Over 52.0
  19. Saints (-6.5)

The Unanimous Rowdy Pick of Week 15

  1. Buccaneers @ Ravens – Under 46.5

 

Agree or disagree with our picks? Which guy do you see finishing with the highest percentage this week? Leave a comment or hit us up on Twitter!

NFL Week 15 Bet of the Week

Spencer Aguiar digs into his top rowdy bet for Week 15 of the NFL season

Welcome back to The Combine Sports and another edition of the Bet of the Week article. Last weekend was about all you can ever ask for as a gambler. We found the winner’s circle with two plus-five underdogs that prevailed as outright victors (Colts and 49ers) and scrambled late in the Cowboys versus Eagles game to get the total over 43 points.

Our 3-0 week increases our total to (5-1-1) since starting this write-up in Week 11, and we will attempt to keep the momentum rolling on what appears to be a less exciting weekend of value. Picking and choosing your spots to attack is essential to success in sports betting, which means that just because we expanded our bankroll, we shouldn’t foolishly be putting our funds back on the line without good reason to do so.

Week 15 provides a collection of semi-substantial road dogs for us to have to decipher if there is any value. During the Sunday and Monday games, eight of the 13 matchups feature a home team that is favored by three or more points, with six of those contests coming in at minus-six or higher. That isn’t necessarily a negative, but I am not usually a huge fan of road underdogs that are receiving around 50 percent of the wagers and a touchdown worth of points. On the flip side, I am also not a major proponent of laying points in what looks like the public side of the game. That doesn’t mean I never do those two things, but I am not overly excited about this card, and very few of those situations are jumping out to me.

While the slate isn’t the most enticing I have seen this season, three games have caught my attention. The Panthers +6.5 versus the New Orleans Saints is intriguing for a few reasons. New Orleans will be making their third trip on the road in the past three weeks and will have to go into Carolina for a Monday night game that presumably will be the Panthers essential Super Bowl. Carolina isn’t mathematically eliminated from the playoff picture, but they would need a handful of things to happen and should be able to play pressure-free football in front of a raucous crowd. Ultimately, I decided to leave that game off of my official “Bet of the Week” card, but there is some value to be had on Carolina if you can stomach opposing the high-powered Saints during a prime-time game.

The Indianapolis Colts -3 over the Dallas Cowboys is another game that has piqued my curiosity. I initially began the week anticipating this being my selection when they were at -2.5 and even wrote the write up for it, but with the number shifting to -3 and T.Y. Hilton being questionable for the game on Sunday, I will ultimately leave it off my card. I do have a bet on them at -2.5 but can’t fully justify it at its new price.

Miami Dolphins (+7.0) versus the Minnesota Vikings (-7.0) O/U 44.5

As you become more accustomed to my style and how I approach these games, you will realize that I mostly try to find value in underdogs, but this week presents a unique opportunity.

The Minnesota Vikings were embarrassed on national television during Monday night’s road debacle against the Seattle Seahawks by a score of 21-7. The Vikings looked anemic on offense and were verbally destroyed by the disastrous Monday Night Football announcing crew. I think it has become a widespread sentiment that the trio of Jason Witten, Booger McFarland and Joe Tessitore have done a pretty atrocious job this season of calling games — but for the Vikings to be lambasted in front of millions of viewers, it resonates in the mind of the average fan all week, even if they know that the source isn’t the most credible.

And the reason for this is simple. Our eyes were able to confirm the outlandish comments that were being made about Minnesota during the broadcast. Some of them were justified, but they were very harsh to a team that seemingly suffered every bad break imaginable during the game. That doesn’t excuse quarterback Kirk Cousins poor play or offensive coordinator John DeFilippo’s lousy play-calling, and someone had to be accountable for the embarrassment that was Monday night, which is why DeFilippo lost his job with what transpired during the game.

On the opposite end of the spectrum, the Miami Dolphins pulled out one of the all-time great shockers against the New England Patriots, completing a hook-and-lateral on the final play of the game for 69 yards to stun New England. The most iconic part of that play to me will always be running back Kenyan Drake outrunning Rob Gronkowski to get into the end zone and watching Gronk stumble near the goal line.

The differing outcomes last week does have me moderately surprised that we haven’t seen more Miami Dolphins money come in, but I am not concerned when the ticket slips are just about 50/50 on the game. Sharp bettors don’t seem overly interested in grabbing a touchdown with Miami this week, and I think it makes sense from a statistical breakdown of the game.

Miami Dolphins cornerback Xavien Howard, who is tied for the league-lead in interceptions this year, is doubtful for Sunday’s game –which would be a massive blow to an already struggling Miami defense. The Dolphins rank 24th in overall defensive efficiency on the year and 26th in passing defense. I know the narrative of Kirk Cousins being overpaid and incapable of beating a good team has been shoved down our throats this week, but Miami is an overrated team that is entering a classic letdown spot after last week’s season-altering victory.

The Vikings have struggled to get anything going this year on the ground, but I believe that Dalvin Cook being in and out of the lineup has caused them to grade out 31st in overall run efficiency. If we look at Minnesota’s rushing success rate the last two weeks when Cook has been fully healthy, the Vikings are grading out ninth in the NFL with a 50 percent success rate rushing. The impressive part about that is it features Monday’s fiasco in the statistics and still shows the success they have been having on the ground.

When breaking down Miami’s offense, I struggle to find how they can be successful if Kirk Cousins does get the Vikings off to a quick start. The Dolphins have had most of their success on the ground this season, but if they get behind in a challenging road game, quarterback Ryan Tannehill is going to have his hands full. Miami ranks 20th in passing efficiency, 28th in offensive line adjusted sack rate and they rank outside the top-24 in the league when it comes to offensive success rate passing and explosive runs and passes.

Both teams have a lot to play for this weekend, but I could see the Dolphins struggling to find any success on offense and forcing throws if the game gets away from them early –which is how blowouts start taking form. I would imagine that Cousins and the Vikings won’t be holding anything back either and should try to make a statement offensively. Like I mentioned above, you won’t find me laying these amount of points often, but sometimes you have to be willing to step outside your comfort zone when a situation presents itself.

Rowdy Bold Prediction: Minnesota 31 – Miami 13

Recommended Bet: Minnesota (-7)

Bet of the Week Record : (5-1-1)

 

 

 

Tuesday Morning Tilt – Week 15 Edition

How Jerry Jones and defense won the week!

What’s up guys? Welcome to the Week 15 edition of Tuesday Morning Tilt, where we catch up on things from the week behind us. Some interesting things happened in the NFL over the weekend, let’s dive in!

You Were Right Jerry

Never doubt a billionaire with a plan. We all pointed and laughed at Jerry Jones when he gave up a first-round pick in the Amari Cooper trade, but ol’ Jerry is the one laughing now. Cooper is straight-out balling for the Cowboys. His latest single-handed beatdown of the Eagles was just another example of what a game-changer he has been. After starting out an ugly 3-4 before the Cooper trade, the ‘Boys are now 5-1 with the former Raider in the lineup.

There is bad news and good news if you are a Cowboys fan. The bad news is that Jason Garrett now has at least 20 more years of job security, which might not sound bad at the moment, but trust me…it is. The good news is that this will hopefully embolden Jerry to  do some more crazy shit! I guarantee you Jerry is talking some shit in the Cowboys offices right this moment and I bet he’s probably trying to sign Kareem Hunt as I type this. I don’t know the ins and outs of the Cowboys organization, but I do know that Jerry Jones does not give a fuck to pull the trigger on any player he thinks will help his team win.

Defense Isn’t Dead

Writers and TV personalities have been talking about how defense is dead in the NFL for years, so it’s nothing new. But this year it has started to look like they might actually be right this time. Then came Week 14. We saw some fight out of a couple of the league’s old-school defenses this weekend, as Chicago defeated the high-octane Rams, Baltimore took the Chiefs to overtime, and Monday Night Football was an ugly defensive battle.

Maybe now all the “football guys” can calm the fuck down. Some of these guys take it personal when a team scores 45 points. I bet Rex Ryan was jerking off while watching the Seahawks and Vikings last night, even though I didn’t notice any foot shots on the broadcast. Give me a break with this bullshit. I get so tired of being told what’s “real football” and what’s not by these assholes on TV. I’ll tell you what would make the game better and it ain’t bringing back the ’85 Bears defense…STOP THROWING SO MANY FUCKING FLAGS AND TAKING SO MANY COMMERCIAL BREAKS. There you go NFL, problem solved. We’re getting to the point that they are gonna run an additional commercial during the commercial break, come back to the ref’s throwing a flag, before cutting to another commercial. Just show us the damn game.

You’re Next Tomlin

I’ve talked extensively in this column about why Mike McCarthy needed to be fired. Well, since that asshole has been sent packing, I’m on to my next victim and who it is might surprise you. Does any coach in the NFL skate by easier than Pittsburgh’s Mike Tomlin? He’s like the AFC version of McCarthy. He always has a stacked offense and always underachieves.

Maybe I just miss things, but why does no one ever call him out? The Steelers just lost to the fucking Raiders for crying out loud and not a word from the media! It’s not like Tomlin is great in the locker room either, as the Steelers have had TONS of problems over the last few years. The Le’Veon Bell situation has been a nightmare, Tomlin has sparred with Antonio Brown this season, and does anyone remember his handling of the Alejandro Villanueva anthem mess? Enough is enough. With Big Ben currently being held together with duct tape and popsicle sticks, it won’t be long until Tomlin is truly exposed. I know that he looks like an awesome coach when the cameras show him patrolling the sidelines, but I’m on your ass from here on out Tomlin, you aren’t fooling me!

Sark Must Go

A couple of months ago I got shouted down in a group text for saying Atlanta offensive coordinator Steve Sarkisian was horrible. I can see how a casual observer might have disagreed with me at the time. It was easy to look at Atlanta’s offensive stats and say that Sark isn’t the problem, but as someone who actually watches the Falcons on a regular basis, it has been fairly easy to see that this bastard may or may not still be dipping into the Vicodin. Nothing ever flows with the Falcons offense and things always seem to be just a little off. Sarkisian has been exposed as the season has wore on, as Atlanta has failed to top 20 points in five consecutive games. Let me say that again: THE ATLANTA FALCONS, WITH MATT RYAN, JULIO JONES, CALVIN RIDLEY, AND TEVIN COLEMAN HAVEN’T BEEN ABLE TO SCORE 21 POINTS IN FIVE STRAIGHT GAMES. You’re right guys, “Sark” is fuckin’ awesome!

Bryce Harper Owns The World

I’m not a huge baseball guy, but we have some great baseball minds on staff here at The Combine. I’ve gotta talk to them about this Bryce Harper thing, because my mind is blown. I’m pretty sure I read something the other day that said Harper turned down a 10-YEAR $300 MILLION OFFER from the Washington Nationals! What the actual fuck?!? Doesn’t Harper stay on the disabled list like half the time? I know he’s a great player, but damn, turned down $300 million stone-cold. The disparity between NFL contracts and MLB contracts continues to fry my brain. Football players really are getting paid peanuts in comparison to baseball players (and basketball players, for that matter) and have much shorter careers. More proof that NFL owners have the sweetest gig in professional sports! If any of you have kids that want to play sports, don’t even let them touch a football!