NFL 2019/20 Preview
American Football – the sport that feels like the season flashes before your eyes, and the off-season takes an eternity to come around again – is back!
It’s only taken 214 days from last season’s Super Bowl to this year’s kickoff game between the Bears and the Packers, so let’s enjoy it while it’s here.
Last season’s betting results were far better than what we could have ever imagined, going 136-125-1 (W-L-P), winning 38.29 units. Obviously the aim will be to have similar results in the upcoming season, but like you’ve all seen with my horrible turn for the worse in this year’s AFL, nothing is every guaranteed, and I will never guarantee a profit in any sport, in any season.
Regardless of the profit, I’m just glad NFL is back. So let’s get into it.
The Browns are all the hype in the AFC North coming into this season. “Odell this, Baker that” has been the talk of the North for about 6 months now. The Browns finished last season by winning 4 of their last 6 games, where all 4 wins were to non-playoff sides whereas their two losses came to playoff teams. That’s probably a true reflection of where the Browns are at – they’ll beat the mediocre teams, and struggle against the better sides.
I don’t blame for people talking about the Browns, I personally think it’s great to see a side that has been in turmoil for the majority of the time since they were re-established in the league in the mid 90’s, but I’m not buying into their stock, not this season, anyway. Going from below average to a great team doesn’t just happen overnight, unless you’ve got a coach like Sean McVay, and I’m not sure if the Browns have that in Freddie Kitchens.
McVay is young, and a common perception is that just think he magically burst onto the scene, a perception that is just plain wrong. McVay spent two years in the NFL as a position assistant coach, then onto being a positions (TE’s) coach with the Redskins, then spent three full seasons as an Offensive Coordinator at the same team, before being promoted as the Head Coach of the Rams. In the space of 5 months, Kitchens went from being a positions coach (RB’s) to interim Offensive Coordinator, to Head Coach. Don’t be surprised if Kitchens has bitten off more than what he can chew in his first season.
The Steelers came 2nd in the AFC North last season, missing out on the crown by one singular tie, and it still felt like they massively under achieved, and they did. A lot of people will expect the Steelers to regress since they have recently lost their number 1 receiver in Antonio Brown, but on the contrary, I believe the end of this partnership will actually help Pittsburgh. In their final season together, it was marred with distractions and controversy – something that had become all-too familiar in the Steel city. I believe Brown has taken all of that with him, something that the Steelers won’t entirely miss. On paper, losing what is arguably the best Wide Out in the game is never beneficial, but if there is one team that knows how to draft and develop Receivers, it’s the Pittsburgh Steelers. Keep an eye on 2nd year receiver, James Washington to burst onto the scene.
Combine that all with the fact that I expect Ravens QB, Lamar Jackson, will experience a massive sophomore slump – something that is even more prevalent in scrambling Quarterbacks – I believe the Steelers are great value to win the North here.
Two Units – Steelers to win the AFC North @ $2.90 (Bet365)
Let’s get one thing straight before I say too much here: this division is a two horse race; The Giants or the Redskins will not win this division
Interesting stat: No team has won back-to-back NFC East’s since 2003 – over 15 years ago… But that’s not the only reason why I love the Eagles to win this division.
Let’s start with the Quarterback: People often forget just how good Carson Wentz was in their Super Bowl season before he did his ACL against the Rams late into the season. Wentz was arguably the leading MVP with a 33:7 TD:INT ratio while throwing for over 250 yards per game. Last season, he wasn’t as good, partially due to his recovery from his knee, but ultimately ended with a season-ending back injury. Reports say that Wentz has had an unblemished offseason, so any lingering injuries isn’t a concern to me. If Wentz stays fit, I expect him to be in the MVP talks late into the year.
The Eagles have bolstered their roster in the off-season also. Bringing DeSean Jackson back home, while also acquiring RB Jordan Howard and DT Malik Jackson. Combine that with a fully-fit Carson Wentz, I can only see the Eagles climbing this year.
On the Cowboys side of things, I can’t help but think that this whole “pay me” saga with Dallas’ “Big 3” of Amari Cooper, Dak Prescott, and more so with Ezekiel Elliot will have an impact on the Big-D. The latter could easily miss the majority of the season as he holds out, and although it shouldn’t impact Dallas too much early on in the season with games against Giants, ‘Skins, and the Dolphins, it could take a toll after these games. In typical ‘Boys fashion, I expect this season to be flawed with distractions.
The Cowboys have an inferior Head Coach, Quarterback, and roster to the Eagles in my opinion. Dallas may be good enough to qualify for the playoffs, but I reckon the Eagles pip them for the Division.
Two Units – Eagles to win the NFC East @ $2 (Bet365)
0.5 Units – Wentz MVP @ $21 (TAB)
To Make the Playoff – Bets
One of (if not the) biggest reasons why the Falcons went from being a Super Bowl participant to a middle-rank team was the transition from a very smart and innovative Offensive Coordinator in Kyle Shanahan to a boring, predictable and ineffective one in Steve Sarkisian. Shanahan left the Falcons when they were the best scoring offence in the league, and it wasn’t even really close – scoring 4.5 more points per game than the next best. Fast forward two years, and Sarkisian leaves the Falcons after two seasons of being ranked 15th and 10th. You could argue that 10th and 15th is above average, and technically you would be right, but this is well below where the Falcons should be considering the offensive weapons that they have at their disposal.
With Sarkisian now shown the door, the Falcons welcome a familiar face in recently fired Buc’s Head Coach, Dirk Koetter, for his 2nd stint as the Falcons’ Offensive Coordinator. In the three years that Koetter was the Falcons OC from 2012-14, they went 13-3 in one of the seasons with a top 10 offense, and missed the playoffs in the other two. It’s safe to say that their failures in the other two seasons had more to do with the fact that they conceded the 6th most points in each of those two seasons – something that is completely out of Koetter’s scope.
I’d be lying if I said that the Falcons had a good Defence last year – conceding the 8th most points and 5th most yards per game, but the reality is is that they were smashed with injuries right from the get go, namely to Pro-Bowlers Keanu Neal and Deion Jones. You can also throw in Devonta Freeman’s name as a welcomed addition, albeit on the Offensive side of the ball. If Head Coach, Dan Quinn, can keep his players on the field, we all know what a Quinn-led Defence can look like, and with an improved offence, the Falcons should make the playoffs this season, and may even be in contention for the NFC South.
1 Unit – Falcons to Make the Playoffs – Yes @ $2.60 (TopSport)
0.5 Units – Falcons to win the NFC South @ $4.75 (Bet365)
Player Props – Bets
Most Receiving Touchdowns
Davante Adams has the equal second most Touchdowns last season with 13. Who was first and equal-second? Antonio Brown and Eric Ebron. Well, Brown doesn’t have Roethlisberger throwing the ball to him anymore, and Ebron doesn’t have Luck throwing it to him either. Both of those have had significant downgrades at the Quarterback position over the summer. I do have doubts as to how efficient the Packers offence will be run this year under new Head Coach, Matt LaFleur, but there is one thing I am certain about the Packers this year, is that Adams will be thrown to… just ask their Quarterback.
Aaron Rodgers said in the middle of last season, and again repeated his opinion in the off-season under the new coach that he “wants to throw the ball to Adams more, he’s that open”. Adams was already targeted a lot last season; the second-most in the league, in fact. Adams was only targeted one less time throughout the season than league-leader Julio Jones, despite Adams missing a game.
Unlike Adams, Jones’ targets are predominately closer to the middle of the field – only 17 of Jones’ 170 targets (10%) were in the Red Zone, diminishing his chances of scoring – where as Adams was the most targeted Receiver in the Red Zone with 31 Red Zone targets. Again, even after missing a game. With more emphasis being put on Adams in the passing game, I’d expect him to maintain is #1 rank for Red Zone targets, hopefully equating to touchdowns.
1 Unit – Davante Adams Most Receiving Touchdowns @ $8 (Multiple Books)
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Enjoy the season!