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AFC EAST PREVIEW

All four (4) Divisions. East, North, South & West 


Buffalo Bills, Win total: 10.5

The Bills won 13 games last season and looked like contenders for the Super Bowl for much of the year. This offseason they haven’t done anything to hurt their chances as they re-signed key players and were able to find replacements for key losses. And as long as Josh Allen stays healthy, they should continue to be a force in the AFC. Their schedule isn’t a cake walk, as they face both 2020 Super Bowl participants, but they also get the bottom of the NFC South and AFC South, which includes a Drew Brees-less Saints team and possibly the Texans without Deshaun Watson, along with the Jets and a Patriots team without a strong quarterback. As long as health isn’t a major factor, the Bills are poised for another strong season.

Coach Sean McDermott 

QB Josh Allen, Mitch Trubisky

RB Devin Singletary, Zack Moss

Defense: Jerry Hughes,A.J. Epenesa, Gregory Rousseau and Carlos Basham Jr; Ed Oliver, Matt Milano 

Buffalo is the team to beat with one of the best passing offenses in the league with a stout defense that can win on its own. The Bills have the ability to be the best team in the AFC at the end of the season. Buffalo crushed last season behind more improved play from Josh Allen and the arrival of Stefon Diggs. 


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Miami Dolphins, Win total: 9

The Dolphins rode their defense and a scrappy Ryan Fitzpatrick to a 10 win season last year. Fitzpatrick was relieved by rookie Tua Tagovailoa, who did very little to help bring in wins. Tagovailoa is now the no-doubt starter for 2021 and a lot hinges on his development. He looked overmatched last season, but he was a rookie and hadn’t played live football in a long time due to his hip injury. A fully healed hip, full offseason as the starter and a strong overall team around him should help a bunch.The Dolphins added a great deep threat in Will Fuller and will add a strong running back in the draft. Najee Harris or Travis Etienne would go a long way toward keeping pressure off of Tagovailoa. And they have a lot of draft capital to get their running back while also upgrading elsewhere. In the end it comes down to Tagovailoa playing better, but he won’t have to do it alone.

Coach Brian Flores

QB Tua Tagovailoa, Jacoby Brissett 

RB Myles Gaskin, Malcolm Brown, and Salvon Ahmed

Defense: Emmanuel Ogbah, 

The Dolphins are at a major crossroads. They’ve built a quality roster up and down the depth chart, have youth on their side, and should be a contender, but only if Tua Tagavailoa is legitimate. It is difficult to not love what Miami is building under Brian Flores and a smart front office that has accumulated massive amounts of draft capital. The mission for 2021 is clear: set up Tua Tagovailoa for success in his second season. They brought in Will Fuller V, Jaylen Waddle, Hunter Long, and offensive line help. If Tua breaks out, Miami could content for not only the division, but a Super Bowl. 


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New England Patriots, Win total: 9

Cam Newton was a disaster last season, but the Patriots still managed to win seven games. That’s a losing record of course, but after watching that offense last season, seven wins seems like a lot. The Patriots went hard at the start of free agency, upgrading the offensive line in a big way while adding the two best free agency tight ends in Jonnu Smith and Hunter Henry. But none of those moves netted them a new quarterback. Until they add a quarterback who can give the offense more options, I can’t consider them a winning team.

Coach Bill Bilichick

QB Can Newton, Mac Jones

RB Damien Harris, James White

Defense: Matthew Judon, Davon Godchaux

The Patriots went against typical convention and spent a ton of money in free agency. They have a championship-caliber defense, but simply need to score more points in 2021. If Cam Newton can’t get it done, then perhaps first-round pick Mac Jones can. New England is a bit of a sleeper for the division. The Patriots won seven games last year with not much on offense. Hunter Henry, Jonnu Smith, and Nelson Agholor add viability. I am bullish on Mac Jones with Bill Belichek and if Cam Newton does not show passing improvement from last year, expect to see Mac Jones by midseason.


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New York Jets, Win total: 6.5

The Jets will go into 2021 with a new head coach and likely a new quarterback. But no matter how you look at it, it would take a small miracle for them to turn things around in Robert Saleh’s first season. They had just two wins last season and they’ve done fine in free agency, especially on the defensive side, but we’ll need to see a Justin Herbert kind of rookie season for them to be competitive. 

Coach Robert Saleh

QB Zach Wilson 

RB Ty Johnson, La’Michel Perine, Tevin Coleman

Defense: Carl Lawson, Quinnen Williams, Folorunso Fatukasi, Jarrad Davis and Sheldon Rankins. 

The only team not expected to compete in 2021 is the Jets, but they should still be worlds better than 2020. The Robert Saleh era is beginning, as is that for Zach Wilson. New York did a great job of surrounding him with talent both on the offensive line and pass-catcher groups. They should be more competitive week-to-week, even if it doesn’t lead to a ton of wins. The Jets are a total wild card. The coaching staff is unproven in their new roles and they have a rookie quarterback that many weren’t sure deserved to go 1 or 2 in the draft. 

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AFC SOUTH

Indianapolis Colts, Win total: 10

NOTE: Carson Wentz is out for two months. More info to follow 

The Colts were back in the playoffs last year, but this year the most important position on the field will look a lot different. Indy got former first-round pick Carson Wentz in a deal with the Eagles after an inconsistent career. They’re primarily a running team, with Marlon Mack and Jonathan Taylor leading the charge from the backfield. But Wentz’s inconsistencies in the past have to be a concern for this team that won 11 games a season ago. Their schedule is also not easy at all. On top of Tennessee and the new-look Jags, they’ll see the Bills, Patriots, Dolphins, Seahawks, Ravens and Super Bowl champion Buccaneers. So it won’t be a fun time

Coach Frank Reich

QB Carson Wentz

RB Johnathon Taylor

Defense: DeForest Buckner, Justin Houston

Outside of Wentz, Indianapolis wasn’t too busy this free agency period. Meaning, a good amount of its season now hinges on the draft and if Wentz remind everyone of 2017. And with how good the offensive line is, it’s safe to assume he will be more productive than he was in the 2020 NFL season. Does that mean Indy wins the division? Maybe. Expect a close race between the Colts and the Titans near the end of the season.


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Tennessee Titans, Win total: 9.5


The Titans won the division pretty easily with an 11 win year last season, but it’s unlikely to be that simple again this season. There just simply won’t be as many easy division wins up for grabs and they’ll have to take on the entire AFC East division, which has three quality teams in it. They also have to play Kansas City, which isn’t easy for anybody. Still, with Derrick Henry in the backfield, it’s tough to see them not getting to at least 10 wins.

Coach Mike Vrabel

QB Ryan Tannehill 

RB Derrick Henry

Defense: Bud Dupree, Denico Autry

The jury is still out on if Tennessee can repeat as division champion. At this point, it is far from a shoo-in. It will boil down to if the offense – specifically Derrick Henry – can put together anything close to another historic season. But as it stands now, fans should like Tennessee’s chances against the grain.


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Jacksonville Jaguars, Win total: 6.5

After winning just one game a season ago, the betting world is high on the Jags. Why wouldn’t they be? Nabbing Urban Meyer as head coach is huge and it will be interesting to see how he makes the transition from college to the professional game. Barring anything unforeseen, they’ll also be picking up one of the best quarterback prospects in history in Clemson’s Trevor Lawerence.

Coach Urban Meyer

QB Trevor Lawrence 

RB James Robinson, Travis Etienne and Carlos Hyde

Defense: Josh Allen, Yannick Ngakoue

The excitement for Jacksonville entering the 2021 season is real, and it’s warranted. For the first time in a long time, the franchise seems to be making moves that make sense. And adding Urban Meyer is also gives fans an intriguing storyline to follow throughout the season. However, they are far from contending for the divisional crown. The team is still young around the edges, and unless Lawrence hits the ground running, the offense is going to go through growing pains. But the reason for excitement is still there.

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Houston Texans, Win total: 4.5

With Bill O’Brien out of the picture, 4.5 wins should be an easy number to hit. But with off-the-field allegations swirling about star QB Deshaun Watson, there’s no certainty that he’ll be around when the season is kicked off this fall. The roster isn’t full of elite talent littered everywhere, so without Watson, it could be a rough first season for new head coach David Culley.

Coach David Culley

QB Tyrod Taylor, Ryan Finley, Jeff Driskel and the rookie Davis Mills

RB Mark Ingram II, David Johnson, Phillip Lindsay 

Defense: ( Key Losses: DE J.J. Watt),

Shaq Lawson, and major rebuild.

Watson and his legal situation stand center stage for now. He is the organization’s best player, and without him, not many football games are going to be won in Houston. Hypothetically, if Watson can play, still Houston is looking at a lengthy rebuild. Their chances at contention in the AFC South are slim-to-none. And the two quarterbacks, Taylor and Finley, are clear insurance against a Watson suspension. There is a good chance the Texans franchise quarterback doesn’t play this season as he faces a litany of lawsuits for his alleged misconduct. These two quarterbacks give Houston at least a chance to have an average offense if Watson is unavailable come the fall.

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AFC NORTH

Baltimore Ravens, Win total: 11

The Ravens made their way to the AFC Divisional Round of the playoffs last season where they fell to the Buffalo Bills’ stout defense. The Baltimore offense, which saw such success in 2019 and parts of 2020 will be under a lot of pressure this season. There were times went they became too one-dimensional and even reportedly had opposing defenses calling out specific plays before they were even run.

Coach John Harbaugh

QB Lamar Jackson 

RB J.K. Dobbins & Lamar Jackson 

Defense: Calais Campbell, Derek Wolfe, Brandon Williams

The Ravens didn’t have as successful of a 2020 campaign when compared to their 2019 year where they really burst onto the scene. I believe the addition of wide receiver Rashod Bateman and Tylan Wallace will help balance out their passing attack to complement how good they are on the ground—but it might not be right away, as those guys are rookies. On the other side, I think the defense will still be good, but their pass rushers will tell the story of just how good. The Ravens have a tough schedule

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Cleveland Browns, Win total: 9.5

The Browns made the playoffs for the first time since 2002 last season under first-year head coach Kevin Stefanski. They nearly took down the Kansas City Chiefs in the divisional round as well but came up just short. Their biggest weakness was their secondary, which was injured and iffy at best. They added a couple of free agents in safety John Johnson and corner Troy Hill to sure up the back end of the defense.

The solid offense led by Baker Mayfield doesn’t lose much and will get back Odell Beckham Jr. after dealing with injuries the latter half of the season.

Coach Kevin Stefanski 

QB Baker Mayfield 

RB Nick Chubb, Kareem Hunt

Defense: Malik Jackson, Andrew Billings, Jordan Elliott, 

In free agency, they added Jadeveon Clowney and Takk McKinley on the edge. In the draft, they added Greg Newsome II at cornerback. They bring back one of the best offensive lines in football with one of the top rushing attacks to lean on, led by Nick Chubb. They’ll also get wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. back after he missed most of last season with injury.

People have believed in the Browns before and been burned, but this is a roster to bet on—especially with last year’s Coach of the Year, Kevin Stefanski. They will go as far as their quarterback Baker Mayfield can take them. The heights of that could even be to the AFC Championship Game, and maybe even a Super Bowl appearance. 

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Pittsburgh Steelers, Win total: 8.5

The Steelers had an extremely shaky season in 2020. They started the season out on fire, winning their first 11 games, but losing all but one for the remainder of the season. There are question marks surrounding the offense, as it failed miserably for the last month and a half of the season before getting whacked in the playoffs by their division rival, the Browns. The defense remains solid though, with one of the better pass rushes in the NFL.

Coach Mike Tomlin 

QB Ben Roethlisberger 

RB Najee Harris

Defense: Cameron Heyward, Stephon Tuitt, Tyson Alualu, 

It was a tale of two teams in 2020 for the Steelers, and they started the year off 11-0 and then lost five of their last six, including their first-round playoff game. Roethlisberger, for as impactful as he has been for nearly two decades, really looked like he lost a step last year. When the running game was not on point, Roethlisberger struggled when asked to take over games. The Steelers added running back Najee Harris in the first round of the draft, but lost veterans along their offensive line and it’s hard to believe they’ll be able to survive what is the hardest schedule in the NFL in terms of last year’s win-loss records.

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Cincinnati Bengals, Win total: 6.5

The Bengals ended the 2020 season with four wins and a rookie QB with a decimated ACL. Joe Burrow was taken down more than any other QB in the league before he got injured in week 11, so the offensive line needs a ton of work to protect their prized signal-caller. There are always questions surrounding how well a player will recover from such a serious injury as well and how fast he can get back to 100%. Still, if he’s able to play the whole season, they should inch close to that 6.5 win mark.

Coach Zac Taylor 

QB Joe Burrow 

RB Joe Mixon

Defense: D.J. Reader, Larry Ogunjobi, Mike Daniels

I think the Bengals will take another step this next season, hopefully with Burrow as their quarterback for all 17 regular season games. However, this is still a roster that is building and, unfortunately for Cincinnati, they’re in one of the toughest divisions in football. This isn’t a playoff team yet, but it could be an important year for the Bengals’ current regime to tell everyone the arrow is pointing up.

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AFC WEST


Kansas City Chiefs, Win total: 12

Coach Andy Reid
QB Patrick Mahomes
RB Clyde Edwards-Helaire 
Defense: Chris Jones, Derrick Nnadi. Tyrann Mathieu.

The two-time reigning AFC champions are favored by many to win the Super Bowl like they did two years ago. In 2020, KC won 14 games in the regular season, both of which came to a divisional opponent. They’re returning virtually every major contributor to the team from last season and will still be led by Patrick Mahomes. Because of that, it’s tough to see them winning any less than 12 games.

The Competition has Final Caught up to Them

The Chiefs are the perennial favorite in this division, as they represented the AFC in the last two Super Bowls. Their offense is still a high-powered one that is almost impossible to defend. But opposing teams, especially the trio in this division, have tried to build their team to compete with them. Some opted to bolster their defenses to attempt to slow them down, while others added to their offenses to be able to keep up with the Chiefs on the scoreboard and hope to come out on top. The Patrick Mahomes led offense will still put points up with efficiency.

Note** As good as the 14-2 Chiefs were last year, the last we saw of them was in Super Bowl LV against Tom Brady and the TB Buccaneers who crushed them by the lopsided score of 31-9, the worst offensive performance by QB Patrick Mahomes since he has been in the NFL.

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Las Vegas Raiders, Win total: 7.5

Coach Jon Gruden 
QB Derrick Carr
RB Josh Jacobs
Defense: Solomon Thomas, Johnathan Abram, Trevon Moehrig. 

No matter what happens on the field in Vegas this season, Jon Gruden will still be the head coach for the foreseeable future. Last season, nothing the team did was fantastic but nothing they did was horrible either. That’s why they came out of the season with an 8-8 record. They’ve made some odd moves along the offensive front this offseason, trading away key pieces and signing young players to absurd extensions. But with the young players this team has on offense and if Derek Carr continues to play at the level he did toward the end of last season, Vegas shouldn’t take a step back in the win column. Not saying they’ll be in the playoffs, but they shouldn’t regress.

Sin City gets Wins

The Raiders in their second season in Las Vegas, the first with fans, are hoping their defense can stay healthy. Offensively, receiver Henry Ruggs will have more of an impact than in his rookie campaign last season. Derek Carr will finally quiet the naysayers who have questioned whether or not he is head coach Jon Gruden’s guy, and whether he can take his team to the next level. The answer to both will remain unanswered for another season.

Note** As great as the Raiders played last season on offense – they were top-10 in both points and yards – they lacked an effective defense, their squad allowing almost 30 points per game, which was the third-most in the league.

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Los Angeles Chargers, Win total: 9

Coach Brandon Staley
QB Justin Herbert
RB Austin Ekeler
Defense: Joey Bosa

The Chargers have a promising future ahead with Justin Herbert at the helm of the team. Still, he’ll be heading into his second NFL season with a new head coach, Brandon Staley. They have solid offensive weapons and a decent defense, but having to pick up an entire second offensive system in less than 12 months is a big ask for a young QB.

Changing of the Guard

This division has belonged to Andy Reid and the Kansas City Chiefs, but that will come to an end. Los Angeles Chargers quarterback Justin Herbert‘s career path took an early turn thanks to the team’s medical staff. He made the most amazing opportunity. The Chargers were a must-watch every week. Although he didn’t record many wins, the Chargers were in every game. The Offensive Rookie of the Year will put up even more impressive numbers than last season.

Note** It was quite a surprise to watch rookie quarterback Justin Herbert adjust so quickly to the NFL last season, the kid completing almost 67 percent of his passes for 31 touchdowns with just 10 interceptions on the year, fantastic numbers for a veteran let alone a freshman player.

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Denver Broncos, Win total: 7.5

Coach Vic Fangio
QB Drew Lock
RB Melvin Gordon
Defense: Von Miller, Bradley Chubb, and Justin Simmons.

The Broncos were by far the worst team in the division last season, just earning five wins. Looking at the schedule this season, it probably won’t get much easier having to face off with KC and Oakland twice. They don’t face a ton of other playoff teams from last season, but they do see teams that are still vastly better than they are in the Cowboys, Steelers, Washington as well as the Browns and Ravens who were in the playoffs.

The Quarterback Turmoil Continues

Another season and another controversy at the quarterback position in Denver. Injuries plagued this team last season, especially at the receiver position. But the organization’s confidence in Drew Lock has wavered just a bit. The Broncos acquired Teddy Bridgewater, who was one and done in Carolina after the Panthers traded for Sam Darnold. The decision of who will start Week 1 will likely be decided after the preseason. Even then the decision may not be set in stone, but rather week by week. With the young receivers healthy, whoever the quarterback is, will have viable options in the passing game. 

Note** Denver Broncos – there are a number of problems with the Denver Broncos right now, with a big one being the question of who will be starting under center, though second-year player Drew Lock has been trying, so far with an 8-10 record as the starting QB in Denver. Lock’s main problem was with accuracy – he tied for the league lead in interceptions with 15 

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NFC NORTH

Green Bay Packers, Win total: 10.5

The Packers are coming off a season in which they finished 13-3 for the top spot in the NFC but fell short in the conference championship game. Green Bay will have a bit of turnover with this roster, but Aaron Rodgers remains one of the best players in the NFL coming off another MVP season. The Packers have a pretty rough schedule, but getting to 11 wins in a 17-game regular season should be doable assuming a healthy Rodgers.

Coach Matt LaFleur
QB Aaron Rodgers 
RB Aaron Jones
Defense : Kenny Clark, Za’Darius Smith, Jaire Alexander 

I think as long as Rodgers plays in Green Bay, he has a great shot at seeing continued success. I think Rodgers will start all 17 games for the Packers, sport a 13-4 win-loss record, and complete around 62.4 percent of his passes. I also believe that Rodgers will toss 34 touchdowns and six interceptions, while racking up 4,200 passing yards.

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Minnesota Vikings, Win total: 8.5

Minnesota went 7-9 last season, falling a game short of the playoffs. The Vikings ranked fourth in the NFL last season in yards per play on offense, as they developed an incredible wide receiver combination with Adam Thielen and Justin Jefferson. However, they really struggled on the defensive side of the ball in 2020. They allowed 6.1 yards per play, which ranked No. 27 in the NFL. Minnesota likely overpaid for Patrick Peterson to help out at the cornerback position, but will he be enough to turn around that defense? I have my doubts.

Coach Mike Zimmer
QB Kirk Cousins
RB Dalvin Cook
Defense: Dalvin Tomlinson, Eric Kendricks, Patrick Peterson

While Cousins has some knocks, he does deserve more credit as one of the most consistent signal callers in the league, which is certainly difficult to find these days. My projected stat line for Kirk Cousins looks like this: 8-9 record, 67.2 completion percentage, 28 passing touchdowns, 10 interceptions, and 4,687 passing yards.

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Chicago Bears, Win total: 7

The Bears made it to the playoffs at 8-8 last season before being bounced in the Wild Card round against the New Orleans Saints. Chicago has been a bit of a punching bag this offseason after speculation of them trying to bring in Russell Wilson or Deshaun Watson, which is now a blessing in disguise. Instead, the Bears will ride with Andy Dalton, who is certainly an upgrade over the Nick Foles-Mitch Trubisky combination from last season. With a good defense and an improved quarterback situation, there is no reason to think this franchise will regress.


Coach Matt Nagy
QB Justin Fields, Andy Dalton
RB David Montgomery 
Defense: Akiem Hicks, Khalil Mack, Roquan Smith 

I think Dalton will ultimately end up being replaced by Justin Fields at some point, and I think he’ll only start about six games for the Bears before the transition takes place. My projected stat line for Dalton has him completing about 62 percent of his passes for 1,864 passing yards with a touchdown to interception ratio of 7:5. I think Dalton will break even with a 3-3 record during that span as well.

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Detroit Lions, Win total: 5

The Detroit Lions and Los Angeles Rams completed the rare starting quarterback for starting quarterback trade with Matthew Stafford and Jared Goff. I’m probably a bigger Stafford fan than most, but Goff along with draft picks was a good move for the franchise moving forward. We’ll see if new head coach Dan Campbell is the answer for the long term success of this team, but he can motivate this team to play hard and reach five victories in Year 1 especially going up against a weaker schedule.

Coach Dan Campbell 
QB Jared Goff
RB D’Andre Swift
Defense: Will Harris, Corn Elder, John Penisini

It’s hard to predict what Goff will do in his first season in Detroit, as the team doesn’t have a lot of good weapons for Goff to throw the ball to. My stat line for Goff looks like this: 5-12 record, 61.6 completion percentage, 3,941 passing yards, 22 passing touchdowns, and 15 interceptions. Detroit won’t be a contender in the NFC North this year.

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NFC EAST

Dallas Cowboys, Win total: 9.5

One of the biggest stories across the NFL in recent years has been what the organization would do with Dak Prescott, and the Dallas Cowboys finally locked him with a huge contract. The star quarterback went down with a brutal injury last season, so we’ll see how healthy he is as we get closer to the start of the season. Dallas should improve offensively assuming a healthy Prescott, but the defense could remain an issue for a unit that ranked No. 23 in opponent yards per play allowed last season.

Coach Mike McCarthy

QB Dak Prescott, Cooper Rush, Garrett Gilbert
RB Ezekiel Elliott, Tony Pollard, Rico Dowdle
Defense : DeMarcus Lawrence, Randy Gregory, Neville Gallimore

Dak Prescott’s return to the lineup alone makes the Cowboys better than any other NFC East squad. Dallas’ defense does need to be better, but the organization spent its first six draft picks on that side of the ball. Besides, the Cowboys offense is explosive enough to win the division by itself. Dan Quinn will be an interesting addition as the defensive coordinator. 


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Washington Football Team, Win total: 8

Being the defending NFC East champions is usually a death sentence for a division title the next year. The Washington Football Team went 7-9 to claim the division last season and were bounced in the Wild Card round of the playoffs. Washington used four starting quarterbacks, and their two main options Alex Smith and Dwayne Haskins Jr. are no longer with the team. Ryan Fitzpatrick is the No. 1 guy for now, but head coach Ron Rivera said there will be competition. Despite for several NFL teams, Fitzpatrick has never led a team to the playoffs. The Football Team had a fantastic defense in 2020, but they struggled to move the ball, and there isn’t much to point to for a huge improvement.

Coach Ron Rivera
QB Ryan Fitzpatrick, Taylor Heinicke, Kyle Allen
RB Antonio Gibson, JD McKissic, Peyton Barber
Defense : Chase Young, Montez Sweat, Kendall Fuller,

There are 31 other teams that would definitely swap defensive lines with Washington. It’s loaded with star power at the top and has tremendous depth. Chase Young and Montez Sweat should be improved from  last season, which is a terrifying thought for opposing offensive lines. The Washington Football Team has several players along their defensive line that make them a force to be reckoned with for seasons to come

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New York Giants, Win total: 7

The Giants finished 6-10 in 2020, but they should be drastically improved offensively heading into the next NFL season. Daniel Jones did not have a very good season, completing 62.5% of his passes with 11 touchdowns to 10 interceptions, but he will have much better weapons this year. Star running back Saquon Barkley will return after missing nearly all of last season with a knee injury, and New York drastically improved their passing game with the addition of Kenny Golladay at the wide receiver position. Additionally, they now have a very good tight end combination after signing Kyle Rudolph to go along with former first round pick Evan Engram.

Coach Joe Judge
QB Daniel Jones, Mike Glennon, Clayton Thorson
RB Saquon Barkley, Devontae Booker, Corey Clement
Defense : Blake Martinez, James Bradberry

The single most positive development for this team over the offseason was the receiving class. Last season, the Giants’ receiving corps, for better or worse, was known mostly for Evan Engram’s drops. They lacked explosive and consistent playmakers. This offseason though, New York made a conscious effort to improve its receiving room. The Giants signed Kenny Golladay in free agency and added veterans Kyle Rudolph and John Ross before selecting wideout Kadarius Toney in the 2021 NFL Draft. After finishing dead last in the league last year in average yards after the catch per reception, New York is well-positioned for improvement next season. Having RB Saquon Barkley back will create huge interest. 


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Philadelphia Eagles, Win total: 6.5

It’s officially the Jalen Hurts show in Philadelphia as he will be the quarterback moving forward with Carson Wentz now a member of the Indianapolis Colts. The Eagles went 4-11-1 last year for the bottom of the NFC East. The passing game was a bit of a mess last season between Wentz and Hurts. In his rookie season, Hurts appeared in 15 games with four starts and completed 52% of his passes with six touchdowns and four interceptions. The Eagles have a great deal of inexperience at the wide receiver position with several unproven options that a significant jump doesn’t seem likely.

Coach Nick Sirianni
QB Jalen Hurts, Joe Flacco, Nick Mullens
RB Miles Sanders, Boston Scott, Kenny Gainwell
Defense : Brandon Graham, Darius Slay,

Jalen Hurts is the one who’s going to command the most attention. Having Smith and Jalen Reagor helps, but Jalen Hurts is being given an opportunity in just his second season in the NFL – and with four career starts – to prove that he can be a franchise quarterback. Jonathan Gannon is in as defensive coordinator and his unit should be among the NFL’s best if Philadelphia can land a cornerback to pair opposite Darius Slay. Milton Williams (third-round pick), Tarron Jackson (sixth-round pick), and Marlon Tuipulotu (sixth-round pick) give the Eagles three versatile, high-energy guys that can help take some of the stress away from Fletcher Cox and Javon Hargrave.

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NFC SOUTH PREVIEW

Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Win total: 11.5

The Super Bowl champs finished 11-5 in the regular season last year for second place in the division. One of Brady’s biggest strengths throughout his career has been to motivate his team to success even after winning it all the season before. However, we’ve seen it plenty of times in his career where Brady’s teams look good during the regular season but really turn it on come playoff time. I’m not going to be the millionth person to predict the demise of Brady over the last decade, but too much can happen over the course of a season to justify predicting Tampa Bay to reach 12 regular season wins.


Coach Bruce Arians

QB Tom Brady, Blaine Gabbert,

Kyle Trask

RB Ronald Jones II

Defense: Vita Vea, Ndamukong Suh,

Will Gholston

Brady gets a chance to go back-to-back as a champion for the second-time in his career. Backing up Brady is Gabbert, who Bruce Arians recently called “the most underrated player in the NFL”. The hope is that second-round pick Kyle Trask eventually becomes the Bucs starter after Brady.

Additionally, the Bucs bring back all 22 starters from a team that lifted the Lombardi Trophy in February.

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New Orleans Saints, Win total: 9

One of the strangest items to look forward to in the 2021 NFL season is the New Orleans Saints without Drew Brees under center. With his retirement, the Saints are left with Jameis Winston and Taysom Hill as the quarterback options. Hill is the jack-of-all trades of jack-of-all trades but has never been the No. 1 guy. The last time Winston was a full-time starter, he threw 30 interceptions and the year after he left, his former team won the Super Bowl. The Saints played incredible defense last season, and they will need to keep that pace or be even better to reach this win total.

Coach Sean Payton

QB Jameis Winston, Taysom Hill

Trevor Siemian, Ian Book

RB Alvin Kamara

Defense: Marcus Williams, Malcolm Jenkins, Demario Davis, and Cameron Jordan.

The Saints are one of the few teams in the NFL with an open competition at the quarterback position, although most expect Winston to win the job over Hill. Last year’s No. 2, Hill was surprisingly solid, going 3-1 as a starter and completing over 72 percent of his passes. In 2019, Winston fumbled 12 times, was sacked 47 times and threw 30 interceptions. His numbers shouldn’t be that bad in the Saints’ more high-percentage offense, and Winston should be able to bring a vertical element. 


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Carolina Panthers, Win total: 7.5

The Carolina Panthers finished 5-11 last season without their main offensive weapon Christian McCaffrey, who appeared in just three games in 2020. He will be back to help improve an offense that finished about average last season. Teddy Bridgewater appears to be the starter heading into the season after an okay season last year. Carolina could definitely try and grab a quarterback with their first round pick, so it will be interesting to see where they go at No. 8 overall. McCaffrey is a very good player, but he isn’t enough to improve the Panthers by three games.


Coach Matt Rhule 

QB Sam Darnold, P.J. Walker, Will Grier

Tommy Stevens

RB Christian McCaffrey

Defense: Derrick Brown, Bravvion Roy,

DaQuan Jones 

Sam Darnold will take the reins in Carolina. He’ll be out to prove that Adam Gase was the problem in New York. Walker threw five interceptions on 60 dropbacks last year, while Grier has been a disappointment as a third-round pick two years ago. Stevens could be the Panthers’ version of Taysom Hill, if they can develop the Saint’s versatility.

——————
Atlanta Falcons, Win total: 7

The Atlanta Falcons struggled to a 4-12 season in 2020 and despite the bad record, they allowed just 18 more points than they scored throughout the season. Work needs to be done to improve that record, but that slight point margin suggests their record should’ve been better. Defensively, Atlanta needs to improve quite a bit on last year, but they continue to have some dangerous weapons on the outside for Matt Ryan. The Falcons should take advantage of the bad schedule they are likely to see as teams that finish last place in the division typically will have.

Coach Arthur Smith 

QB Matt Ryan,A.J. McCarron,

Feleipe Franks

RB Mike Davis

Defense: Grady Jarrett, Marlon Davidson and John Cominsky

While his arm seems to have declined some, Matt Ryan is still one of the more mentally sharp and accurate passers in the NFL. If something happens to Ryan, the Falcons might be the worst team in the NFL. McCarron hasn’t been great when given opportunity, and Franks might not be practice squad-worthy.

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LAS VEGAS RAIDERS PREVIEW

For the 2021 season to be a success, the Raiders MUST:
Make the playoffs. Is their HEAT on Jon Gruden??

There was a lot of praise heaped on the Raiders for nearly pulling off the season sweep of the Chiefs last year. But the time for moral victories is over. The Raiders need to reach the postseason. Gruden is one of 14 coaches to coach the same franchise since 2018 — and he’s the only one of those coaches to not make the playoffs in that span. He — along with the 49ers’ Kyle Shanahan — are the only two to be below .500. Las Vegas has to be playing into mid-January.

What happens if Gruden doesn’t make the playoffs?  He’s halfway thru his $100M contract and Marc Davis loves him. Can’t possibly get fired!!

The Raiders could start out behind the eight ball. Las Vegas has the second-toughest schedule in the first four games of the season — because the Dolphins (in Week 3) and Chargers (in Week 4) are also challenging games.

Gruden has Josh Jacobs. Dude is the first player in club history to have 2,000 rushing yards in his first two seasons. Is he the answer?

The Raiders have allowed just 57 sacks since 2019, which is tied for sixth-fewest in the NFL. But they traded parts of their offensive line away. How will that affect them?

Can Henry Ruggs — the first of six receivers selected in the first round in 2020 — step up in Year 2? Ruggs did have four receptions of more than 40 yards. Will they finally GO DEEP? Or stay conservative?

Last year, some Raiders fans hoped the team was going to make a move for Tom Brady. This year, some of them are pining for Aaron Rodgers. 
Does this start to take a toll on Derek? What if the start out 1-3?

What all the Derek Carr doubters seem to miss is that he had one of the best statistical seasons of his NFL life in 2020, with a career-high 101.4 passer rating. His passing-yards-per-attempt mark (7.9) also matched a personal professional best. And he’s one of three quarterbacks with 4,000 passing yards and a passer rating over 100 in both 2019 and 2020 — the other two were Patrick Mahomes and Russell Wilson. Why doesn’t Raiders Nation bow down to him? It’s as if he can’t win them over. 


This is a must. Offense will live to see another day if they have one thing. 

Defense!!!!!!

In the three seasons since the start of the Gruden Era, Part II, the Raiders have posted the NFL’s worst scoring defense, ranking in the bottom three in passing touchdowns and rushing touchdowns allowed over that span. They are last in sacks. Last in third-down percentage. The defense also doesn’t create turnovers. It’s pretty bad. DC Bradley is going to be charged with rebuilding this thing. Some might want to just knock the whole thing over and rebuild from scratch — like they did when they knocked down the Las Vegas Club and built Circa.

The Raiders’ defense has not been kind to Derek Carr. Here is how the Raiders’ defenses have ranked in scoring during the years since Carr was drafted in 2014:
2014: Last
2015: 22nd
2016: 20th
2017: 20th
2018: Last
2019: 24th
2020: 30th

Get help from the rebuilt pass defense? Bradley is great at working with secondaries. I mean, he was the Lex Luthor of the famed Legion of Boom — which is perfect casting, like way better than Jesse Eisenberg (no disrespect). The key will be getting the most out of Damon Arnette and Trayvon Mullen. Arnette was a first-round pick last year, but he’s likely to be feeling a little heat from offseason free-agent signee Casey Hayward.
Hayward played for Bradley with the Chargers and would offer a bit more consistency than the Raiders have had in recent years.

The current Raiders depth chart in the secondary is filled with first- and second-round picks from the last three years. You have Mullen (second in 2019), Johnathan Abram (first in 2019), Arnette (first in 2020) and safety Trevon Moehrig, a second-round pick in 2021. This is a good place to note the team used five of its seven picks in 2021 on defensive players. 

Note: Even if the defense starts to come around, they still play KC and San Diego twice. And if Denver get the QB clicking, how will the Raiders ever make the playoffs???

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NEW ENGLAND QUARTERBACK Cam Newton vs Mac Jones

Cam Newton knows he’s on his way out. He’s not the face of a franchise; especially at New England. He’s not very likable either. 

The New England Patriots will likely take the field in Week 1 with Cam Newton as the starting quarterback. But as training camp draws closer, fans in Foxborough are even more excited about Mac Jones and counting down the days until he takes over.

After making the pick, Belichick made it clear Newton remains the starter. It holds true thus far during voluntary practices as the former NFL MVP is taking first-team reps. But coming off a disappointing season, fans are hoping they don’t have to wait long to see Jones.

Newton is still expected to start in Week 1 against the Miami Dolphins, but he might not hold the gig for long.
Newton ended the season with just an 82.9 passer rating and an ugly 8-10 TD-INT ratio. 

Belichick won’t hand Jones the job until the rookie earns it. If the Patriots make it through the first six games of their schedule with a 4-2 record and this team is in the playoff hunt, Newton might keep the job until the wheels come off.

————
MAC JONES

Meanwhile, rookie first-round pick Mac Jones has reportedly looked darn good during offseason programs after being selected No. 15 overall in late April. 

The 22-year old out of Alabama was fast-tracked during the course of OTAs and mandatory minicamp, on a number of occasions getting more reps than the incumbent Newton and, up until the final day of minicamp, looking better than Cam…It’s not just the physical that stands out. The Pats have thrown everything at Jones, and his grasp of a playbook that’s over 20 years in the making has been impressive. 

Jones is seen as the most pro-ready quarterback from the most-recent NFL Draft class. He dealt with a pro-style playbook at Alabama and dominated to the tune of 41 touchdowns compared to four interceptions while completing 77% of his passes.

An argument can clearly be made that Jones is already more accurate than Cam Newton. That’s a big thing in the Patriots’ timing-based offense under longtime coordinator Josh McDaniels and after the team added a ton of reinforcements at the skill positions during free agency. Much more will be discussed as camps are preparing to open up Football 2021 🏈🏈🏈

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THE LA RAMS AND THE MATT STAFFORD TRADE

Matt Stafford heads to a ready-made contender in the Rams, who have had one of the NFL’s best defenses for several seasons and had previously been one of the league’s most explosive offenses before Goff’s backslide over the past two years.

Jared Goff and head coach Sean McVay we’re at odds with each other so dumping Goff was an immediate success. Giving up draft picks is the only consideration on who won this trade. Detroit will have two first-round picks in 2022 and 2023.

Goff seemed to reach his peak when he threw for 4,688 yards, 32 touchdowns and 12 interceptions en route to a Super Bowl appearance during the 2018 season. Over the last two campaigns, he’s thrown for 42 touchdowns and 29 interceptions.

Stafford got a one-way ticket out after 12 seasons with a franchise that hasn’t won a playoff game since 1992. Although he’s made three postseason trips with the club, Detroit hasn’t been able to put a complete team around him.

This year, with two star defenders in cornerback Jalen Ramsey and defensive tackle Aaron Donald, Stafford probably won’t have to score 30-plus points to win games. He’ll have a complementary rushing attack and a decent defense. For the most part, Stafford had to put the offense on his shoulders. He’s played with just one 1,000-yard rusher—Reggie Bush in 2013—and one defensive unit that ranked in the top 10 in scoring.

Stafford will get to work in an offensive system that has been friendly to quarterbacks, behind an offensive line that excels in pass protection, and with quality pass-catchers in Robert Woods, Cooper Kupp, Tyler Higbee, Gerald Everett, and Van Jefferson.

Financials:

The Rams signed Goff to a four-year, $130 million contract extension after his third NFL season, and will take a significant dead-money hit onto their books after making this deal. Goff will count for $22.2 million on LA’s books in 2021 while he is playing for Detroit, while the Rams inherit the two years and $43 million remaining on Stafford’s contract. One additional note to add about Stafford’s contract with the Rams came from NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport. The expectation is that Stafford will not require a contract extension as part of this deal. He will play out the remaining two years for $34 million on his contract with the Rams.

Similarly, Stafford will count for $17.8 million on the Lions’ books in 2021, and Detroit will inherit the four years and $106.6 million remaining on Goff’s deal. Crucially, though, there is no guaranteed money left on Goff’s contract, so the Lions will be able to move on from him after this season if they so choose.

The Rams, after trading for Stafford, will go seven consecutive seasons without making a first-round pick.

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NFL; LOOKING AHEAD AFC EAST PREVIEW

In a division long dominated by the Tom Brady led New England Patriots, the GOAT-less AFC East now seems to belong to the surging Buffalo Bills or perhaps the Tua-rich Miami Dolphins, so we look at the predictions, odds, and picks of which of these developing teams could run away with this division. The Buffalo Bills are just a few roster tweaks away from going deeper into the playoffs, so expect them to post yet another productive season with QB Josh Allen rapidly developing on the job.


Buffalo Bills -150
Win total: 10.5

Remember this is a 17 game season

The team’s salary cap in 2021 will be lower than expected, so GM Brandon Beane will be forced to get clever this offseason if he expects to use free agency and the upcoming draft to fill in the roster spots he is currently lacking.

This includes another edge rusher and some linebacker depth, both of which could help Josh Allen’s offense get back on the field with the talented playmakers he now has as targets, including WRs John Brown, Stefon Diggs, and Cole Beasley, plus soft-handed tight end Dawson Knox.

Is this possible? Go two years without losing a division game.  (Probably)

Miami Dolphins +325
Win total: 9


Given that the 10-6 Dolphins almost made the playoffs last season, they seem to be just a few rosters moves away from getting themselves to that next level, but that is assuming they are happy with Tua Tagovailoa as their franchise quarterback.

In his rookie season, Tagovailoa went 6-3 under center, completing 64.1 percent of his passes for just over 1,800 yards and 11 touchdowns with 5 interceptions, numbers that could see improvement as he continues to learn Miami’s offense and adjust to the NFL level.

The Dolphins had the third overall pick in the draft and selected Alabama wide receiver Jaylen Waddle.

Because of a strong early schedule, the Dolphins will be 1-3 after four games. 
Week 1 at New England 
Week 2 Home vs Buffalo 
Week 3 at LV Raiders
Week 4 Home vs Indianapolis 


New England Patriots +350
Win total: 9


With Cam Newton starting at quarterback in New England last season, the team posted their worst record since the 2000 season and failed to make the playoffs for the first time since 2008, the type of failures that do not sit well with GM and HC Bill Belichick.

Now Newton is a question and the Patriots’ starting QB job is open, with backups Jarrett Stidham and Brian Hoyer next in line, though chances are the team’s front office is looking to bring in some more veteran help at QB using free agency the way they did last offseason. 

For the first time in head coach Bill Belichick’s 21-year tenure, the New England Patriots have drafted a quarterback in the first round. The Patriots selected Mac Jones from the University of Alabama with the 15th overall pick during the 2021 NFL draft.

But there are plenty of holes to fill in New England’s roster, including in a defense that is historically excellent, so the Patriots used the draft to snag some young and affordable defensive talent to begin rebuilding the team on that side of the ball.

The Patriots will be 3-0 entering their Week 4 matchup against Tom Brady and the Buccaneers, who will also be 3-0 entering the game — further heightening the hype and excitement for what promises to be one of the most memorable nights in Gillette Stadium history.

New York Jets +2000
Win total: 6.5


The Jets’ front office was able to land the highly coveted Robert Saleh as their new head coach, the former defensive guru, and coordinator for the 49ers who was destined to lead his own NFL team at some point.

Saleh has inherited a mess in New York, his Jets roster as holey as Swiss cheese on both sides of the ball. Sam Darnold had become QB non gratis after failing to ever lead the Jets to the postseason and was traded to Carolina for draft picks. 

The Jets took BYU quarterback Zach Wilson with the second pick overall.

New coach, new quarterback, new offensive scheme, new defensive scheme, pretty much new everything — and that’s a good thing because the old way stunk.

The Added 17th Game 

The 17th game for AFC East teams that was implemented by the NFL for 2021 comes at home against the NFC East:

Washington at Bills
Giants at Dolphins
Cowboys at Patriots
Eagles at Jets

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50 Days From the MLB Trade Deadline

BEST PITCHER THAT COULD PUT YOU OVER THE TOP

This pitcher could get many teams to the World Series.  Max Scherzer

Washington’s injury woes — Juan Soto and Stephen Strasburg are both on the injured list — and underperforming rotation have some wondering if the Nationals would look to deal Scherzer this summer if the season went awry.

NEW YORK YANKEES 

As of Tuesday, the Yankees sat in third place in the AL East at 33-32, 10 games behind Tampa Bay and seven behind Boston. They are 2.5 games behind in the Wild Card race.

Max Scherzer is as lethal as ever, even as he approaches his 37th birthday four days before the July 31deadline. His 2.22 ERA is eighth in MLB and he’s only allowed 48 hits in 77 innings entering his start last week against the Giants. He has fanned 104, held opponents to a .180 average and has an 0.82 WHIP.

Remember how he looked May 8 at Yankee Stadium? He annihilated the Yanks lineup, allowing two hits and a run in 7.1 innings while striking out 14 and walking one.

All of that would make the future Hall of Famer a nifty complement to Gerrit Cole. The two could help the Yanks get to October and then be an intimidating 1-2 punch in any playoff series.

Are there other’s? MANY!!

ST LOUIS CARDINALS 

The perfect fit is with the St. Louis Cardinals, who passed on the hometown hero as a free agent.

The Cardinals, with three-fifths of their starting rotation on the injured list – including ace Jack Flaherty who could be out two months with his oblique injury – are in desperate need for a starter. Scherzer is a free agent at the season’s conclusion, and with his family still living in the St. Louis area, they would have a huge advantage retaining him.

The Cardinals, after getting All-Star third baseman Nolan Arenado in February, could easily package top third-base prospect Nolan Gorman.

TAMPA BAY RAYS

Do you want to return to the World Series? It’s hard to imagine a better bet to be made with $12 million than on a half season of Max Scherzer.

The Rays are in first place; two games ahead of Boston and six ahead of the Yankees. 

50 Day Watch

There are 50 days left before teams have to officially decide whether they keep shopping, start selling, or simply wait until the next sale this winter.

Washington is 28-35 (.444) entering Tuesday and in fourth place in the NL East. They are seven games out in the division and nine games out in the NL Wild Card race. If they sink further, perhaps they dangle Scherzer and re-tool around Juan Soto and Trea Turner.

Stay tuned for a potential shopping spree coming to a city near you.

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TOP FIVE QUARTERBACKS FOR THE 2021 NFL DRAFT

FOR THE 2021 NFL DRAFT

Wouldn’t it be sweet if we could see all these young men develop into the likes of a Brady, Mahomes, Farve, Montana or Marino? So much talent to evaluate and every General Manager is dropping bottles of Tums sweating this week and the next few months. QB’s make the NFL teams their brand and the franchise while missing on a top draft choice will have some coaches fired down the line. We wish all these players the best this week and in the years to come. 

1. Trevor Lawrence—-Clemson
Height: 6’6″ Weight: 213 


Unless something bizarre happens, Lawrence is headed to Jacksonville where he’ll hook up with Urban Meyer and the organization will dip into its deep pool of available cash and hopefully surround him with more than just a patchwork offensive line. How quickly he learns what he can’t get away with against NFL defenses is the determinant to how good he’ll be. Lawrence is regarded as the safest bet at quarterback since Andrew Luck came out of Stanford in 2012, played seven seasons and retired before the age of 30. Lawrence threw 90 touchdowns and 17 picks in three seasons at Clemson and runs like a deer. His game and playing style is so well-rounded that he can function in virtually any offense that awaits him in the NFL. His arm is more then sufficient to run a vertical passing game. His mind is quick enough and his ball placement is good enough to work in a West Coast system. 

Mechanically Lawrence is as solid as it gets, and when you study him pay attention to his footwork in the pocket. Whether throwing from clean pockets or being forced to move and reset, Lawrence stays mechanically sound in those moments from head to toe.

Hopefully, having been the number quarterback for the past two years, nothing has changed his desires or leadership qualities along with his ego. 

2. Zach Wilson——BYU
Height:  6’2″  Weight: 214


Zach is a truly great thrower. His quick and nifty mobility is a complement to his game rather than a staple to old school drop back passer. When it comes to ball placement, accuracy, release, throwing a catchable ball he’s already there. Because of the teams quality of opponents played last season, some consider that a negative. He may have to work harder and get coached for a year on the sidelines like Mahomes did his rookie year. As a compliment, he has some Josh Rosen/Baker Mayfield to his style. Given how the league currently views Patrick Mahomes it is easy to see why Wilson is making a charge for QB1 on some boards. You can see how Wilson is reminiscent of Mahomes on almost every single throw. From the ability to make off-platform throws with ease, his willingness to create outside of the pocket, and his arm aggression, Wilson looks like a baby Mahomes on the field.


3. Justin Fields—-Ohio St
Height: 6′ 2 3/4″ Weight: 227 


His tools – strong arm, clean mechanics, accuracy, toughness, speed and power – are all there. Fields has that unknown risk factor related to how much of their brilliance is attributable to being surrounded by so much talent at OSU. His biggest claim was an eye-popping performance in the national semifinal game against Clemson which shot his stock up. After losing to Lawrence and the Clemson Tigers two seasons ago, Fields put on a show against them this past year, throwing six touchdowns, many of them after taking a brutal hit in the first half. Athleticism is one of his strengths, as Fields is a truly athletic quarterback that has drawn comparisons to Cam Newton. He posted recently a video on Twitter of him running a hand-timed 4.41 40-yard dash 

4. Mac Jones—-Alabama 
Height: 6’2″ Weight: 217 


In the National Championship Game against Ohio State, Jones was 36 of 45 passes for 464 yards, five touchdowns, and no interceptions. So is that why San Francisco trade up for a chance to draft him? Jones is not very powerfully built and the ball doesn’t pop off his hand with velocity like it does for the other four guys. He seems like a guy with a high floor and a low ceiling. With no combine this year, it’s somewhat difficult to grade him. How much should be attributed to the Alabama program and two incredible wide receivers?  He literally had better skill position players in Tuscaloosa than Cam Newton had in Foxboro. Mac’s name is McCorkle — Mac for short — which is a fact that I think you should know to win a trivia bet. Beyond that, however, Jones was the best at Pro Football Focus’s Adjusted Completion Percentage last season, positing a whopping number of 84.2%. Jones’ greatest strength is his accuracy, deep ball and ability to work at all three levels. He can move a little but he’s not particularly athletic and if he’s behind a less-than-stellar line, he’s going to have little elusiveness to fall back on. 


5. Trey Lance——North Dakota St
Height:  6′ 3 3/8″ Weight: 224


In his last full season, Lance threw 28 touchdowns and zero picks as a redshirt freshman in 2019. Because of Covid, his team only played one game in 2020. Much like Josh Allen of Buffalo when he was drafted and could go very deep, Lance may throw the best deep ball of any of the quarterbacks in this draft. There are some clear strengths that he offers. Easy arm talent is the first such strength. All of the top four quarterbacks in this class have what you might consider “plus” arms but Lance might have the best of the bunch. Effortless velocity shows up in every game. Then there is the athletic ability. Lance is a weapon with the football in his hands, and his rushing production at NDSU backs that up. 

He’s exceptionally poised in the pocket and throws with an excellent base and has played in the cold weather as did Allen in Wyoming. He’s also a better than capable runner offering that new type of quarterback that coaches want. Because of just one season of FCS football under his belt, his decision-making and reading defenses skills will need time to grow.