MLB is coming back, and it’s bringing the DH with it

The 2020 Major League Baseball season will begin on July 23 and is scheduled to end on September 27. The postseason will begin on September 29. The World Series is set to begin on October 20 and a potential Game 7 will be played on October 28.

I am genuinely really looking forward to it, it’s going to be great to have competitive team sports getting back.
We are getting a much shorter season, of 60 games, I feel cutting the season down to less than 40% of the normal season will give it more importance in regular season play. Baseball is a traditional summer sport, and has always been a great American pastime, but, for me, it’s slow patient pace has always left it behind football, basketball, and hockey.
All much faster paced sports.
But, here I am, and I couldn’t be happier about baseball coming back, sure it is going to be a strange season, with just 60 games. We are getting sports back, and that’s great!
Now, not to be “that guy” – but players did come off pretty greedy during the negotiations – the entire labor negotiation between everyone involved, actually, was pretty derisive to the fans. Personally, I was turned off by the greed on all sides, with players saying that they just wanted to play, and then blaming the owners. Meanwhile, then saying they won’t play – unless they get their 30 million. The whole thing was a mess and didn’t paint the players in a good light – but, I digress. I think in the end, we are long overdue for a serious salary cap to be put in place.
But, anyway, in the end, they were able to hammer it out, and get us games on the field.
The season is going to be bringing in a big change and some are not looked at in the most favorable light. The one I think is the most intriguing and bugs traditionalists the most, is the universal designated hitter.
There will be a DH on every team.
Personally, I love the universal DH idea. For years, we have been watching pitchers struggle to make any sort of contact with the ball – it is beyond embarrassing. When you have .135 and .156 averages coming to the plate, it is not competitive, and it is extremely downtrodden when there are 2 outs already. I feel the DH is better for the game, bringing a player who you know can swing the stick.
I feel the introduction and coming of the DH to the National League was coming either way, so I am all for the universal DH adjustment. And I don’t think anyone should be shocked if it sticks around after this season is over. I think this is going to be the norm, going forward, after this is over. The players seem like they all want it – and it is great for guys that can’t really play a position on the field anymore, but can still hit.
Especially the older guys, like Ken Griffey Jr. and Albert Pujols played parts of their great careers at DH. Does anyone think any less of them?
I don’t think so.
It seems that the ones that don’t want it – are the traditional baseball fans. I understand the culture – but maybe it is time for a change.
A change to improve upon a sport that America holds dear, but can use some changes and upgrades. And, as far as a batting pitcher goes – when a team is paying a guy $30 million a year to pitch – it’s irresponsible to risk losing him to injury from running the bases or going to bat.
Don’t get me wrong – change isn’t always good.
But, sometimes it isn’t so bad.
After all this quarantine and absurdity that we have been dealing with for the last 3 months and then with no sports, for sports fans, it has been rough. It is inspirational and outstanding that we’re slowly trying to get back to normalcy, Japan and China have been playing baseball for some time now – so, so can the MLB.
I strongly think that every team has a chance to get in, if I were a team, I wouldn’t even focus on looking to get the best record, I would aim more for about 35 wins. I think that will be a solid number to get to the postseason. The MLB didn’t have to bring back the season – I am grateful that they are bringing us something. I will truly appreciate having some baseball in this weird year – even with all the complaints that are coming with it.

The NHL is bringing some great ideas for the playoffs

Since the NHL went on suspension back on March 12 – which in case you were wondering, was along time ago – there have been numerous potential playoff formats thrown out. As, of course, the NHL paused its season, like the world did – with obvious concerns over the Coronavirus.
Which have brought out lots of responses on what was going to happen, well it looks as if the NHL playoffs are coming, albeit they will not be holding a normal postseason – and they have gotten some interesting changes and are very creative. NHL commissioner Gary Bettman announced a top 24 team playoff format – which will feature the top 12 teams in each conference based off each team’s record at the time the league was put on hold.

The NHL has created a modified playoff format in which 24 of the teams will return to the ice – playing for the Stanley Cup at 2 different “hub” cities. Each Conference will have their own “hub” city with their own arena for the teams to play. There is going to be a qualifying round with a round robin “play in” round – which will then roll into the 1st round for the Stanley Cup playoffs. Using this unique opportunity to get creative with their playoff format, and going forward with a season, that many thought could have been lost – opens the door for a lot of neat things happening, and getting a satisfying ending to get a Stanley Cup champion for the season.

The NHL had played roughly 85% of the regular season, that started back in early October, so the vast majority of the season was over – and they don’t want to go too deep into the summer or fall. I don’t think they would want to run against other sports trying to get themselves organized – they want eyes peeled for their sport. The biggest advantage teams like St. Louis and Boston will have – is that they were a top 4 team at the time of the pause, and they will not have to play in the play in rounds. But the teams that were looking at squeaking in and on the cusp essentially have to earn their spots, it might be a strange and weird look this season – but the situation we have been dealt this year has been more than weird, as well.

The seeding and playoffs will look like this;
The top 4 seeds in each conference automatically advance to the traditional 16 team playoff structure, so the top teams are in, no concerns for the best of the best.
The top 25% of the teams.
Giving them a bye from the qualifier round – but those teams will then play each other once to seed the order of the top 4 for the playoffs.
Ok, thats fun.

Then we have the other teams – seeds 5 through 12.
They will need to play their way in – through the qualifying round, which is a best of 5 format.
Having a qualifying round – is basically giving teams that were still trying to fight for a playoff spot – a chance to make up ground that they may have made up throughout the rest of the regular season.
The winners of those games, then advance to the 1st round of the playoffs.
This sounds great to me.
It brings toughness, grit, and excitement, all things I want from my hockey.

So let’s take an early look at what we are going to see when the NHL returns to the ice.

In HUB 1 –
In the Round Robin seeding in 1st round
1. Boston Bruins ( 100pts)
2. Tampa Bay Lightning ( 92pts)
3. Washington Capitals ( 90pts)
4. Philadelphia Flyers ( 89pts)

HUB 1 – The best of 5 Qualifying round
#5 Pittsburgh Penguins ( 86pts) vs. #12 Montreal Canadiens ( 71pts)
#6 Carolina Hurricanes ( 81pts) vs. #11 New York Rangers ( 79pts)
#7 New York Islanders ( 80pts) vs. #10 Florida Panthers ( 78pts)
#8 Toronto Maple Leafs ( 81pts) vs. #9 Columbus Blue Jackets ( 81pts)

In HUB 2 –
In the Round Robin seeding in 1st round
1. St. Louis Blues ( 94pts)
2. Colorado Avalanche ( 92pts)
3. Vegas Golden Knights ( 86pts)
4. Dallas Stars ( 82pts)

HUB 2 – The best of 5 Qualifying round
#5 Edmonton Oilers ( 83pts) vs. #12 Chicago Blackhawks ( 72pts)
#6 Nashville Predators ( 78pts) vs. #11 Arizona Coyotes ( 74pts)
#7 Vancouver Canucks ( 78pts) vs. #10 Minnesota Wild ( 77pts)
#8 Calgary Flames ( 79pts) vs. #9 Winnipeg Jets ( 80pts)

In the return – a playoff series between the blazing centers of the Oilers vs an aging, tough, veteran goalie Corey Crawford, and a team that can make plays like Toronto vs a Columbus team, that has struggled to close games out, sounds pretty darn great to me.
Who chokes?
Who plays bigger than life and carries their teams?
Let’s get this show on the road!

The NBA return will be very interesting

There have been reports all over the news, that the NBA is looking at the possibility of picking up play relatively soon. Players are working out, getting ready for the next step, as they need to start getting mentally and physically ready for the final push of the NBA season. I would think that most players are ready to get back on the court and finish the season they started.
The NBA is targeting July 31st 2020 for a return to play, per Charania. NBA commissioner Adam Silver and the league office informed Board of Governors that July 31 is a target date for return of season, sources tell @TheAthleticNBA @Stadium.
The NBA seems like they are going to be able to move forward with the season, including an interesting playoff format. There have been talks of having an expanded playoff, a notion that essentially would have teams that were on the brink of making it during the season to play in to get the final spots. The NBA could have “play in” playoffs for teams that were close to the 8th seed – this could be a ton of fun, and borderline brilliant. It would bring excitement to teams that were catching momentum late in the season, until stoppage, or banged up, and were thinking they were done. The NBA having essentially 2 sets of playoffs, one for the top tiered teams and another for the lower tiered teams trying to get in, would be awesome. With a compromised on court season, some teams were already packing it in – this could change that mindset – this breathes new life into them.
From what I have seen, and heard, there won’t be fans, and home court advantage will be nullified, as games will be played at a neutral court and our VegasTopDogs experts will be ready.
Things are going to be different in many ways. The season finishing and playoffs impending, can not only bring some closure to the league’s season, but also some much needed sports excitement. Of course, the playoffs popping up at this stage of the year, could very well lead to the Finals this year going into August, which would be very different. And obviously, the sooner the playoffs begin, then, the sooner the brass can start figuring out when next season can start, with some basis of a game-plan in place.
You cant get to step 2, until you get through step 1.
I think it would be unfair if the NBA went directly to the playoffs, like some have suggested. Especially, when there are teams like the Portland Trail Blazers, New Orleans and the Sacramento Kings, who were all very much in striking distance of getting into the playoffs in that 8th slot, as the West is filled with teams that can make that jump in. Yes there are some teams altered in some way from the time off – like Philly and Portland, but in basketball, notably, I feel that the better team wins the series, probably 90% of the time. And if a team like the Lakers cannot handle the 8th seed, regardless of who it would be, then maybe there is something to be said there.
We miss the euphoric escape of sports. Sports is something that brings people alive and fills is with excitement. I feel society as a whole, need sports entertainment – we can watch flowers grow, only for so long. It’s good to feel that win as your team is on top at the end of the buzzer, and it is great fun to watch fast paced action with great athletes. These players are getting paid lots of money a year, these guys are young, hungry and competitors, although some are hesitant – I would believe the vast majority of the guys want to compete, at least I would hope so. Anything that brings back some keyhole semblance of basketball, and gets us back to normalcy is going to be accepted. Some may be excited and sit with their fingers crossed – others may not want the season back, under these circumstances – but I think, no – I know – regardless of which side of the fence you stand on, basketball fans will watch the games that return.

Five Coaches on the Hot Seat

The NFL is unique in so many ways and the leash that is afforded coaches is unlike any we see in most of the other professional or even college ranks. Basketball coaches typically receive three seasons (or at least two) to get things back in place unless the results are brutal. Major League Baseball is usually at least two. The NFL is an entirely different animal though as we have seen in recent years with the examples being one and dones Steve Wilks in Arizona and Jim Tomzula in San Francisco. Hell, the Chargers fired Marty Schottenheimer in 2006 after he went 14-2.

 

Today, I want to take a look at the top five NFL coaches who are feeling the heat this season from most likely to be “relieved” of their duties to the least likely.

1-Dan Quinn-Atlanta Falcons

You want to talk about toeing the line, Quinn might be standing on it. The Falcons have a very good quarterback and have surrounded him with weapons in recent seasons but it is always something. They either turn the ball over in the RedZone or don’t get the ball to Julio Jones enough. On the defensive side of the ball they seem to rarely ever stop anyone and this season they let Vic Beasley walk. The Falcons are now three seasons removed from the greatest Super Bowl collapse in history and two seasons removed from their last playoff appearance. Owner Arthur Blank is not going to want to waste his window with Ryan/Gurley/Jones/Ridley for more than one more season.

2-Pat Shurmur-New York Giants

Being from New England, I know a lot of Giants fans and they aren’t happy. Shurmur is 9-23 in two seasons with the Giants and is riding superstar Saquon Barkley into the ground. After the disaster that was the Ben McAdoo era, you have to think that the Giants are ready to make a splash and Shurmur cannot lean on his resume’ for any more leash as his career record coaching record is 19-46.

3-Zac Taylor-Cincinnati Bengals

This one is probably not fair but life isn’t fair and it’s even less fair in the NFL. The one saving grace here is that the Bengals have not been typically quick on the trigger historically. Only Sam Wyche, their first coach, received two seasons or fewer but if the Bengals go 2-14 or 3-13 this season, Taylor is going to be sweating.

 

4-Doug Marrone-Jacksonville Jaguars

The once-promising window for the Jaguars has been slammed shut over the last two seasons and a 11-21 record leading to two last-place division finishes. This offseason, the organization has shaken up its coaching staff, front office, and scouting department. They have also moved on from Nick Foles to Gardner Minshew and parted with Calais Campbell in the offseason after trading Jalen Ramsey during the season. The winds of change are blowing in Jacksonville and Doug Marrone might swept away if the Jags aren’t able to find a rhythm that led to a first place finish in 2017.

5-Anthony Lynn-Los Angeles Chargers

If you have been reading any of my preseason wagers and projections you already know, I am not an Anthony Lynn fan. If you have watched Chargers games in recent seasons you already know, every game is an adventure with at least one “what the?” call coming from the Chargers sideline and Phillip Rivers absolutely losing his mind about something. Well, Rivers and his Hall of Fame career are now gone and it could get ugly in a hurry. My guess is that unless this team signs Cam Newton or Jameis Winston as a stop-gap, they are going to be one of the three worst in the NFL and Lynn will be gone.

 

If you are betting on which NFL Coach loses his job first; head to RealBookies.com; our favorite pay per head bookie site!

 

 

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Here’s what you should know about the 2020 NFL Draft

There is uncertainty regarding the return of many leagues right now, due to the Covid-19 crisis, as we all know, but the NFL, given its scheduled to return until August, for the pre-season, has tried to keep everything in place and hope that things will go back to normal before then. All of us sports fans are hoping the same, and by August, we expect to be back on track and getting ready to enjoy a new season.

However, the first big event of the new NFL season will take place much sooner, in late April, if everything goes as planned; we’re talking about the 2020 NFL Draft, which is set to take place from April 23rd to 25th in Paradise, Nevada. As we all well know, the NFL Draft is the event where all the different teams in the league get to choose their newest and youngest stars, fresh out of college; it is a very important event, as it can mark the present and future for many teams, depending on how many good or bad decisions they make during those three days.

This will be the 85th edition of the NFL Draft, with a total of 255 selections in 7 rounds, and the Cincinnati Bengals will be the ones to choose first.

Sports wagering applied to the NFL Draft

For a long time, the sports betting industry has made it a tradition to offer lines and propositions for the NFL Draft, and it has become a very expected event by gamblers from all over. In fact, this injects some extra adrenaline from way before, as gamblers follow the NCAA Football season with a close eye, so that they’re able to make better betting choices for each year’s draft.

Joining a good Price per Head service provider will assure you and your bookie operation that you will be able to deal these lines and much more for your players, which we’re sure will be eager to make their choices, even more, this year, with the lack of sports events these days.

Some of the options that are usually available to bet on for the Draft, include, for example, total number of offensive players vs defensive players selected in the first round, total of players selected from different NCAA conferences, like ACC, Big Ten, Pac 12 and so on, or total players selected from specific teams, some of the favorites, of course, like Alabama, LSU, Ohio State, etc.  

 

Other NFL bets available right now

It’s important that, as a bookie, you make sure to be offering your players everything they’re looking for right now, and even more during this health crisis. As we said, the NFL is not expected to deal with many abrupt changes, and so, sportsbooks from all over the world are offering future bets like odds to win the Super Bowl, odds to win conferences and divisions, odds to win NFL MVP award, total season wins by team and much more.

Join the Price per Head industry right now and learn from the best, Payperhead247.com to make the most out of the new NFL season, since now! Give us a call today and let’s get started!

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Grading the Winners and Losers in NFL Free agency and Trades

In This piece Rob will grade each NFL Team and take a look at Key additions and Departures in free agency as well as trades.
The teams will be listed in alphabetic Order

Arizona Cardinals- Grade A
Key additions: WR DeAndre Hopkins (trade), DT Jordan Phillips, OLB Devon Kennard, LB De’Vondre Campbell
Key losses: RB David Johnson (traded), DE Rodney Gunter
Notable re-signings/tags: RB Kenyan Drake (transition tag), WR Larry Fitzgerald
The Big trade netting DeAndre Hopkins headlines the off season and gives 2nd Year Qb Murray a big time target. Arizona made some solid moves on the defensive side of the ball while also dumping some bad contracts. Solid off season thus far.
Atlanta Falcons- Grade C-

Key additions: DE Dante Fowler Jr., RB Todd Gurley III, TE Hayden Hurst (trade)
Key losses: TE Austin Hooper, RB Devonta Freeman (released), CB Desmond Trufant, DE Vic Beasley, LB De’Vondre Campbell
Notable re-signings/tags: None
The Falcons made some nice upgrades and did so efficiently  Fowler is better at his point than Beasley and taking a chance on Todd Gurley at a nice price while saying good bye to D. Freeman. Atlanta over paid  to obtain  Hurst while letting go ofHooper, they also lost Campbell and Trufant and now are without a round 2 draft pick. Atlanta could struggle this season

Baltimore Ravens- Grade B-

Key additions: DE Calais Campbell (trade), DT Michael Brockers
Key losses: DT Michael Pierce, S Tony Jefferson (released), G Marshal Yanda (retired)
Notable re-signings/tags: OLB Matt Judon (franchise tag), CB Jimmy Smith.

Baltimore can move ahead by bringing back more of their own guys.They should be a handful after getting Brockers and Cambell, good luck running the ball on this team. They did lose Guard Yanda to retirement and that could hurt as they like to run the ball. However we may see the offense open up a bit this season anyway as Baltimore wont want to become too predictable.

Buffalo Bills- Grade A

Key additions: WR Stefon Diggs (trade), OLB Mario Addison, LB A.J. Klein, DT Vernon Butler, DT Quinton Jefferson, CB Josh Norman
Key losses: DT Jordan Phillips, DE Shaq Lawson
Notable re-signings/tags: G Quinton Spain
The Bills made a statement here picking up Diggs which is the game breaking Wiedout that has been missing for them. They did give up a lot to get him but they are looking to seize control of the AFC East and upgraded what is already a top 3 defense.

Carolina Panthers- Grade C+

Key additions: QB Teddy Bridgewater, DE Steven Weatherly, WR Robby Anderson
Key losses: LB Luke Kuechly (retired), CB James Bradberry, OLB Mario Addison, DT Gerald McCoy, DT Vernon Butler, S Eric Reid (released), TE Greg Olsen (released)
Notable re-signings/tags: S Tre Boston
Carolina gets the C+ grade just for Getting Bridgewater who should make the fan base quickly for get about Cam Newton.They also big up big play threat Robby Anderson. However losing Kuechly who is retiring and a pair of defensive tackles will hurt. They need to draft well this year.

Chicago Bears- Grade D-
Key additions: DE Robert Quinn, TE Jimmy Graham, QB Nick Foles (trade)
Key losses: LB Nick Kwiatkoski, OLB Leonard Floyd, S Ha-Ha Clinton Dix, QB Chase Daniel, WR Taylor Gabriel (released), CB Prince Amukamara (released)
Notable re-signings/tags: LB Danny Trevathan
Chicago is taking a big chance on Quinn here who was solid last year but not so much in years past. Jimmy Graham and Nick Foles may not have much left. The Bears lost a lot of depth on defense and look to be headed in the wrong direction.

Cincinnati Bengals- Grade A
Key additions: DT D.J. Reader, CB Trae Waynes
Key losses: OT Cordy Glenn (released)
Notable re-signings/tags: WR A.J. Green (franchise tag)
The Bengals Went balls to the wall this off season obtaining Waynes and Reader to upgrade the defense. They tagged Green and are likely to take Heisman winner J. Burrows number 1 overall later this month. This would make for a solid off season.

Cleveland Browns- Grade B+

Key additions: TE Austin Hooper, OT Jack Conklin, QB Case Keenum, CB
Kevin Johnson, S Karl Joseph
Key losses: LB Joe Schobert, LB Christian Kirksey, S Eric Murray
Notable re-signings/tags: None
Cleveland did well here landing two of the top free agents in Hooper who is the best tight end available and Top offensive lineman Conklin, both will support an offense which is likely to improve as Mayfield enters his 3rd year at the helm. Cleveland did lose sone quality on the defense. If they upgrade their line backers this grade can easily go to an A.

Dallas Cowboys- Grade D-

Key additions: DT Gerald McCoy, S Ha-Ha Clinton Dix
Key losses: CB Byron Jones, DE Robert Quinn, WR Randall Cobb, S Jeff Heath, DT Maliek Collins, TE Jason Witten, C Travis Frederick (retirement)
Notable re-signings/tags: WR Amari Cooper, QB Dak Prescott (franchise tag), TE Blake Jarwin
Dallas decided to bring back Cooper which they almost had to do and after that tagged Dak Prescott. However they did lose Jones and Quinn and that will be a severe blow to the defense.Another big loss on the offensive line is Center Travis Fredrick as he decides to call it quits. Also departing is Cobb and Witten. This was a rough off season.

Denver Broncos- Grade B+

Key additions: G/C Graham Glasgow, RB Melvin Gordon, CB A.J. Bouye (trade), DT Jurrell Casey (trade)
Key losses: C Connor McGovern, CB Chris Harris, QB Joe Flacco (released)
Notable re-signings/tags: S Justin Simmons (franchise tag)
Denver brings in Melvin Gordon to change the pace with Lindsay in the back field to take the pressure off Drew Lock. They scored getting Casey for a 7th round pick to upgrade the D-line. The Broncos also tagged safety Simmons and did not lose too much other than Bouye. A very Productive off season so far be Denver who looked good late last year.

Detroit Lions- Grade D-
Key additions: OT Halapoulivaati Vaitai, LB Jamie Collins, DT Danny Shelton, QB Chase Daniel, S Duron Harmon (trade)
Key losses: CB Darius Slay (trade), G/C Graham Glasgow, LB Devon Kennard, OT Rick Wagner
Notable re-signings/tags: None
The Lions have not done much and lost Darius Slay. They panicked and over paid Vaitai who hasnt been a full time starter. This looks like a long year for Detroit and probably spells the end for coach Patricia who looks in over his head with this roster in the tough NFC North.

Green Bay Packers- Grade C-
Key additions: LB Christian Kirksey, OT Rick Wagner
Key losses: LB Blake Martinez, OT Bryan Bulaga, TE Jimmy Graham, OLB Kyler Fackrell
Notable re-signings/tags: None
The Packers have not done much and wont be as good as last season. They have Kirksey replacing Martinez. Other than that Rick Wagner takes over for Bulage and that will hurt them. The Packers really need to make a splash and we havent seen it yet.

Houston Texans- Grade F
Key additions: RB David Johnson (trade), WR Randall Cobb, S Eric Murray
Key losses: WR DeAndre Hopkins (traded), DT D.J. Reader
Notable re-signings/tags: K Ka’imi Fairbairn, CB Bradley Roby
When the best move you make is bringing back your kicker that shows what a poor job of upgrading your team. David Johnson is no longer the back he was a few years ago and he makes a ton of money, they also  lost one of the best wide outs in the game in Hopkins. They made things worse by over paying Cobb to replace him. This could be one of the worst off seasons for any team in recent history. Yikes.

Indianapolis Colts- Grade B+
Key additions: DL DeForest Buckner (trade), QB Philip Rivers
Key losses: TE Eric Ebron, CB Pierre Desir
Notable re-signings/tags: OT Anthony Castonzo
The Colts bring in Philip Rivers here and this will be a significant upgrade. They also made a big slash trading for one of the best Defensive Lineman in Buckner who will bolster the line and cause havoc. They should be able to replace Ebron without much difficulty. We like their chances in this division and they have had a nice off season.
Jacksonville Jaguars- Grade D
Key additions: LB Joe Schobert, DE Rodney Gunter, CB Darqueze Dennard
Key losses: QB Nick Foles (trade), CB A.J. Bouye (trade), DE Calais Campbell (trade)
Notable re-signings/tags: DE Yannick Ngakoue (franchise tag)
The Jaguars will need a big draft to better this grade as they have not done much to upgrade this team. Their trades have given them some back end draft picks and defensive end Ngakoue isn’t happy with the tag. Schobert is a nice player, but a five-year, $53.75 million deal was simply not worth it and would have been allocated better somewhere else. Be a long year in the AFC South for the Jags.
Kansas City Chiefs- Grade C+
Key additions: OT. Remmers, CB Hamilton, QB Henne, TE Seals- Jones
Key losses: CB Kendall Fuller, DE Emmanuel Ogbah
Notable re-signings/tags: DE Chris Jones (franchise tag) WR Robinson
The Chiefs have been mostly dormant this off season and as seen above have just made some marginal moves. Offensive lineman Remmers may wind up starting but this looks like a team that knows it has to pay Mahomes and wont do too much this off season.
Los Angeles Chargers- Grade C- Perhaps a B
Key additions: G Trai Turner (trade), OT Bryan Bulaga, DT Linval Joseph, CB Chris Harris
Key losses: QB Philip Rivers, RB Melvin Gordon, OT Russell Okung (traded), FB Derek Watt, OLB Thomas Davis, LB Jatavis Brown, S Adrian Phillip
Notable re-signings/tags: RB Austin Ekeler, TE Hunter Henry (franchise tag)
The Chargers have been very busy this off season. They bring back  Ekeler and Henry as they start life without Rivers. The offensive line should be solid with the Turner and Bulaga as upgrades. The Chargers will have to make a move as Tyrod Taylor is not the answer.  Cam Newton or even Jameis Winston might wind up here. Should they obtain either one of these two the grade would go up to a B.
Los Angeles Rams- Grade D
Key additions: DT A’Shawn Robinson, OLB Leonard Floyd
Key losses: OLB/DE Dante Fowler Jr., LB Cory Littleton, DT Michael Brockers, RB Todd Gurley III (released), CB Nickell Robey-Coleman (released), OLB Clay Matthews (released), S Eric Weddle (retired)
Notable re-signings/tags: OT Andrew Whitworth
The Rams have had the second worst off season with only Houston ahead of them. Should they move Brandin Cooks the grading will be even worse.T he losses of Weddle to retirement and releasing of Mathews, Gurley and Coleman will hurt they pick up 2 decent defenders but this team is a shell of what is was just 2 years ago
Miami Dolphins- Grade A
Key additions: CB Byron Jones, LB Kyle Van Noy, DE Shaq Lawson, G Ereck Flowers, DE Emmanuel Ogbah, RB Jordan Howard, LB Kamu Grugier-Hill
Key losses: None
Notable re-signings/tags: None
The Dolphins spent a ton of money adding 6 potential starters and were one of the busiest teams in the off season, They did not lose anyone note worthy and have improved their team in what suddenly looks like a wide open AFC East. The feeling is they will do even more. Right now they are having a solid off season.
Minnesota Vikings- Grade C+
Key additions: DT Michael Pierce
Key losses: WR Stefon Diggs (trade), CB Xavier Rhodes (released), DE Everson Griffen, CB Trae Waynes, DT Linval Joseph, DE Steven Weatherly
Notable re-signings/tags: S Anthony Harris (franchise tag), K Dan Bailey
Minnesota loses one of the top wide outs in the game in Diggs and really the move was predicated on a bad cap situation as they did release some quality players particularly on the defensive side of the ball. They did get an above average return for Diggs but the feeling is that the team lost a lot of depth.
New England Patriots- Grade D
Key additions: DT Beau Allen, S Adrian Phillips, QB Brian Hoyer
Key losses: QB Tom Brady, LB Kyle Van Noy, LB Jamie Collins, DT Danny Shelton, K Stephen Gostkowski (released)
Notable re-signings/tags: S Devin McCourty, G Joe Thuney (franchise tag)
The Patriots start life without Brady and Brian Hoyer is clearly not the answer. There is a newton and or Winston out there but this team looks like it may wait a year and draft a new franchise guy. They still have sone talent mostly on defense and will always be better than we think. But this was a dismal off season unless they get a better QB.
New Orleans Saints- Grade B+
Key additions: S Malcolm Jenkins, WR Emmanuel Sanders
Key losses: QB Teddy Bridgewater, CB Eli Apple
Notable re-signings/tags: QB Drew Brees, G Andrus Peat, DT David Onyemata
The Saints look like they want to take one more big shot at things as they Bring back Brees. The loss of Bridgewater only hurts if Brees goes down. We should see nice production from Sanders and the Jenkins move at Safety will help as well. Quality over quantity in what should be a solid season for New Orleans.
New York Giants- Grade C+
Key additions: CB James Bradberry, LB Blake Martinez, OLB Kyler Fackrell
Key losses: LB Alec Ogletree (released), QB Eli Manning (retired)
Notable re-signings/tags: DE Leonard Williams (franchise tag)
The Giants may have over paid a bit but they did need to defensive help and bringing in Martinez and Bradberry will surely help. They had no choice but to tag Williams after giving the Jets a third rounder for him. If the Giants draft well and can get a solid offensive lineman this C+ goes to a B.
New York Jets- Grade A
Key additions: WR Perriman OT George Fant, C Connor McGovern, CB Pierre Desir, OT Lewis, G Van Roten, CB Poole, CB Maulet
Key losses: CB Trumaine Johnson (released) WR Anderson
Notable re-signings/tags: LB Jenkins, LB Burgess
The Jets swooped in and had one of the best albeit quietest off seasons of any teams. GM Douglas retooled the offensive line led by Fant and saved money replacing WR Anderson with Perriman from Tampa. The Jets bring back two solid line backers and a slew of much needed defensive back help. New York gets a solid A Grading no matter what they do in the draft.
Oakland Raiders- Grade B
Key additions: LB Cory Littleton, DE Carl Nassib, LB Nick Kwiatkoski, CB Eli Apple, S Jeff Heath, DT Maliek Collins, TE Jason Witten, WR Nelson Agholor, QB Marcus Mariota
Key losses: LB Tahir Whitehead
The Raiders did well here getting Mariota and Nassib as well as picking up Agholor who we think can flourish here. Witten comes over to add depth and experience from Dallas and Eli Apple will be a big help in the defensive back field. The Raiders have been very busy thus far and will be much improved this year especially on defense.
Philadelphia Eagles- Grade B
Key additions: CB Darius Slay (trade), DT Javon Hargrave, LB Jatavis Brown
Key losses: OT Halapoulivaati Vaitai, S Malcolm Jenkins (released), RB Jordan Howard, LB Kamu Grugier-Hill, WR Nelson Agholor, OT Jason Peters
Notable re-signings/tags: S Rodney McLeod
The Eagles plucked Darius Slay and Hargrave both of whom are expected to start as the Eagles retool on defense.  Philly lost some key pieces as they did not want to over pay. Most of what they lost is replaceable. Philadelphia spent wisely and did well this off season.
Pittsburgh Steelers- Grade C+
Key additions: TE Eric Ebron, FB Derek Watt, OL Stefen Wisniewski
Key losses: DT Javon Hargrave,G Ramon Foster (retired)
Notable re-signings/tags: LB Bud Dupree (franchise tag)
The Steelers did not do a whole lot to really improve. They get some tight end help with Ebron and shore up the offensive line. The loss of  Hargrave who was coming off a big year will hurt. However tagging Dupree was the right move. All in all though this off season was average at best.
San Francisco 49ers- Grade C+
Key additions: Gurard Compton, DE Hyder, WR Benjamin
Key losses: DL DeForest Buckner, WR Emmanuel Sanders
Notable re-signings/tags: DL Arik Armstead, S Jimmie Ward
San Francisco gets a C Grade as they were mostly looking to resign their own players and they did a decent job of it. However the loss of Buckner on the defensive line will hurt as they decided to stick with Armstead. Most of the players they are bringing in are depth deals on 1 year contracts. Nothing exciting thats for sure.
Seattle Seahawks- Grade C
Key additions: OT Brandon Shell, TE Greg Olsen, CB Quinton Dunbar (trade)
Key losses: OT George Fant, DT Quinton Jefferson
Notable re-signings/tags: DT Jarran Reed- Clowney ?
The Seattle off season is basically going to be graded on their ability to bring back Clowney. Bringing back Reed back was a nice move. They lost Fant to the Jets but were able to get Shell and Carolina long time tight end Greg Olsen which gives them a C. Should they get Clowney We will grade them as an A. Yes he is that important.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers- Grade A+
Key additions: QB Tom Brady, OT Haeg, LB Pieree Paul, DT Suh
Key losses: QB Jameis Winston, DE Carl Nassib, WR Perriman
Notable re-signings/tags: DE Shaquil Barrett (franchise tag), DE Jason Pierre-Paul
The biggest free agent splash this year is Brady to the Bucs. Winston and his picks will be a mere after thought. The Bucs bring in OT Haeg from Indy to protect him and Pierre Paul on defense as well as Suh. The Bucs have had a sensational off season and get our highest grade A+
Tennessee Titans- Grade B
Key additions: DE Vic Beasley, OT Kelly
Key losses: OT Jack Conklin, QB Marcus Mariota
Notable re-signings/tags: QB Ryan Tannehill, RB Derrick Henry (franchise tag), OL Dennis Kelly
The Titans Bring back Tanneyhill and wave good bye to Mariota. The key loss in Conklin on the offensive line though. On defense Beasley is a solid pass rushing pick up and they saved some nice change with offensive linemen Kelly who will replace Conklin. The rest of their moves were one year deals on guys who can add some depth.
Washington Redskins- Grade C-
Key additions: CB Kendall Fuller, S Sean Davis, OLB Thomas Davis, RB Barber, TE Rodgers
Key losses: G Ereck Flowers, QB Case Keenum, CB Josh Norman
(released), TE Vernon Davis (retirement), CB Quinton Dunbar (traded)
Washington has had an average off season thus far as they bargain shopped with Running back Barber and tight end Rodgers. They were smart to tag Guard Scherf and decided to bring back Fuller on defense. they did lose Flowers on the defensive line and he will be hard to replace. They did have a lot of cap space and the feeling is that they would make a bigger splash.
In closing we hope you enjoyed our NFL off season free agency and team activity report. Please stay safe and hopefully we will be able to overcome this pandemic and be able to at some point enjoy one of our favorite sports.

The Raiders need big changes to get in the mix

The Oakland Raiders were just 7-9 this last season with a 24th ranked offense and a bottom feeding 24th ranking in defense. They have their share of issues going on in their team dynamics. They were 4-12 in 2018 – and 6-10 back in 2017. Now, the AFC West has the champions of the NFL in it, with the KC Chiefs – it is obvious, they need to try something new to challenge and move into at least a solid 2nd slot in the division.

Derek Carr at QB has been up and down – he is a solid pocket passer, without a ton of mobility. He isn’t a “running QB” – but he is a QB who can move around – and pick up needed yards with his feet, if he has to. Carr is pretty solidified in his pocket, nothing more, nothing less. Oakland bringing in 26 year old Marcus Mariota, I think was a slick move – it gives him someone to compete with to get his game back up to what many saw as his potential career going to – back in 2015 and 2016.

I think if their management actually gave him someone to throw the ball to – I think a lot of people’s tunes might change about him. He isn’t the worst passer with his steady completion ability – and he is pretty good moving around back there, as his ability to avoid sacks verifies. His TD% ratio has not been great, and he has struggled to push the ball downfield for several seasons. But, it seems he has become lazy and almost complacent as their QB. So although he has had problems – I think he is just one of the issues that needs tightening up on, but the problems go elsewhere as well.

They are also a very poorly disciplined team almost every year – and that falls directly on Head Coach, Jon Gruden. I thought signing him back in 2018 was a good move, but after 2 years, he is 11-21 since then, which is starting to make me feel maybe he is a bit overrated. He came in with a career 6 above .500 seasons out of 11 seasons coaching – which is solid – but they threw piles of cash at him to come back and be the savior for the organization, I would say 11 wins later, the team hasn’t looked so “saved.” They have looked better than from 2018, but this is the year for him to prove something.

Jon Gruden also doesn’t have the team just as he wants it, yet now in Vegas. Their biggest problem on offense has been their receiving corps – they need better WRs. Tyrell Williams and Hunter Renfrow were middling to say it best – with just 1256 YDs and 10 TDs between them, it wasn’t spectacular to watch. Williams can be a great WR2 who should be able to get 800+ yards and 8 TDs on his own – I just think they need that WR1 that is a great pass catcher to bring the best out in him. Oakland has had more than their share of problems stopping the opposition from putting up points, with 26.2 oppg. But, their offense is anemic. They scored 25 or more points in just 3 games in 2019 – a season average of 19.6 /game. They need to concentrate on offense for this team.

With the RB they have in Josh Jacobs – they should be calling 55% percent run to throw – I know Carr wants to chuck the ball, but Jacobs can move the chains on the ground – he is the future for this team. In 2019, the Raiders were 54% throwing the ball to running, which should be flipped. Jacobs should be the offensive leader – they have a 220lb back who can plow through or juke almost everything that comes at him. Jacobs gave them 4.8 YPC, 1150 YDs, and 7 TDs on a team that gave him more than 20 carries in less than half of his games. Imagine if he got 20 or more carries /game in 75% of the games? I think he could be a 12 TD and 1600 YD guy.

Oakland soon to be Las Vegas Raiders has more than their amount of problems to try and clean up for the next season. Gruden needs to keep building, this is a vital year 3. Carr has to push the ball downfield with confidence – and Jacobs must get more carries. I think if Jacobs starts to be the offensive cog and they can get WRs for Carr to move the ball to, this team can potentially be a 10 win team quickly, and at least be in the playoff conversation in their conference.

Why is nobody concerned about the Oklahoma City Thunder

The Oklahoma City Thunder lineup is going to be a really tough guard if they can find a way to get into the playoffs. I know we are a long way from the tournament – but they have some heat on that team, and I think more should be keeping an eye on them. They have several guys who are all above average to top end shooters, with 3 guys who can knock down 46% or better from the floor who take 12 or more shots / game, and they don’t have anyone on the team who soaks up a ton of wasted possessions, chucking up bad shots. They have a handful of guys who can also put the ball on the floor, and make plays as well.
Dennis Schroder has compiled an impressive body of work statistically with 18ppg and 47% shooting – coming off the bench, and still amassing 31 minutes /game. Schroder was the teams best player vs 2 of the better teams in the conference, the Clippers and vs the Jazz during a 2 week stretch, when he netted 28 and 27 points on 49% shooting in those games, which shows he can get it done with ease. Schroder hasn’t had great postseason success – when playing with Atlanta for his first 4 years in the league, with just one strong run in 14-15 when he didn’t get a lot of shots and never saw the court much.
Chris Paul’s shot creation skills off ISO plays have been incredibly good for a guy of his age. Paul turned 34 years old and has been having his best shooting season since 16-17 season, at 47%. He is super effective, and still plays good defense, as well, as he is tops on the team in steals. At 34 years old – he is bringing the veteran leadership for this team, Paul has everything you could want from an offensive centerpiece, including, the veteran smarts to not force bad shots. Paul can fade off into the corner, not touching the ball, then suddenly has 4 quick possessions in a row where he is either scoring or assisting. Could you imagine what he could have done for this team in his prime?
Then there is Shai Gilgeous-Alexander – who looks incredibly comfortable on the court with exceptional scoring skills. As a scorer, he’s the real deal – getting to the rim whenever he wants to, and he can drop shots from all over the court, he attacks with ease off the dribble going to the bucket, his 19.9 ppg is tops on the team. I actually think he is one of the better scoring jump shooters I’ve seen in awhile, and is showing more at a young age than many players. I also feel his quickness off the ball is very good, as he gets separation off the dribble and can drive to the rack. He isn’t an All-Star yet – but he is as close as it gets. His potential is sky high, as well at the fact that he is very athletic, and of course, he is just 21 years old.
If Paul can lead this Thunder team and sneak into the playoffs this year, as a potential 6th or 7th seed, they match up well vs a currently 2nd seeded Denver team, who they have played tough this year so far. Steven Adams is good for a double-double every night with points and rebounds. OKC is a good team, that could be a tough out if they make it to the NBA playoffs.

The most disappointing NFL Teams of 2019

There are a lot of teams that I could go with. The Los Angeles Chargers, the over-hyped Cleveland Browns, or the high expectation of the Dallas Cowboys.
But the team that I have to choose are the LA Rams. LA had some really high expectations as the reigning NFC champs. Then the Rams won just 3 of their first 6 games. Losing a shootout to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, 55-40. The Buccaneers – a team with a QB who seems to love throwing the ball to the other team, as much as put TDs on the boards. With all of awesome talent they have on this team – I’m honestly not sure how that’s even possible. They seemed to only win the games they should win – vs the middling to bad teams this season.

The Rams returned this season with the core of guys from last season’s Super Bowl team – and returning to the big game, was surely their thought. But, the Rams not only failed to repeat a strong campaign, but they missed the playoffs. The Rams took a great big step forward in 2018, going 12-4 and getting to the Bowl – most saw them as being the team to beat in the NFC again this year. Then they started tumbling after their 3 game skid in late Sept to early October, where they just never seemed to get it back together.

Todd Gurley’s 2019 year, was far from being the player that we saw over the last few seasons. He put up just 57 YDs/game to last years 89 YDs/game – and only 31 receptions to last seasons 59 catches. His touches went way down – something was just not right with #30 this season – and we all witnessed it. QB Jared Goff was not sharp – passing inconsistency has been a key all year – his passing TD% of throws was the lowest since his rookie season in 2016 – he struggled in many ways to play like last year’s guy.
It felt like LA would make the final push for a ring in 2019. After such a great season in 2018 – nothing about the team really seemed to fire on all cylinders this year. Their rushing D was poor, their offense was shaky, and their Oline was just tolerable.
There was a lot more expected of the defense especially when they have Aaron Donald, Dante Fowler’s season, bringing in Clay Matthews, and then bringing in Jalen Ramsey. Donald was his usual dominant self – maybe not the ginormous wrecking ball that we saw last year – but he was excellent still. Ramsey brought a shutdown kind of play on the field and Fowler was all over the field in his best season ever. But, they still weren’t able to make the plays when needed, or stop teams from pounding the rock on the ground over and over.

They were expected to be far better than just going 9-7, that’s for sure – it is truly mystifying how the Rams have fallen since their Super Bowl.
It goes to show how fast things can turn around for any team, in a short while.

Tyreek Hill was a huge steal for the Chiefs

At a height of just 5-10 Tyreek Hill was a former WR for West Alabama – and in 2016 – Hill went into the NFL draft, where the Kansas City Chiefs picked him deep into the 5th round at 165th overall. He was a natural “raw” talent coming out in 2016 in the draft and was nowhere near seen as being as big a grab as he has been. The Chiefs did not whiff on their WR pick – like they did in 2015, with their Chris Conley pick in the 3rd round the year prior with a very unremarkable 1806 career receiving YDs and just 8 TDs in 64 games. Through his 1st 54 games, Hill is having an impact that even Hall of Famer WR, Marvin Harrison didn’t quite have at this age and stage. He has put up 3798 YDs and 30 TDs – and Harrison put up 3187 YDs and 29 TDs during the similar period in his career. There’s something to look at there, and now here we are – 4 years later, and Kansas City is reaping the great benefits of the 25 year old Tyreek Hill – while he is leading Kansas City to a 7-4 record, and a potential Super Bowl favorite.
A big reason for Kansas City’s success – has been the fantastic play of Tyreek Hill – Hill and his explosive game for Kansas City has been very impressive to watch every game. With many bigtime games in his 4 years in the league, he has already had 12 games of 100 YDs or more, and 23 games with a 17+ YPC or more as well. He has been far more than just a gimmick guy, but an incredibly valuable weapon that has the instinctual ability to take a 3 yard slant 90 yards in a flash – which has been his calling card. His electric speed is something more than the Chiefs expected in the game. WRs rarely develop such a quick adaptation of the game from college to the pro game – much less before their 26th birthday.
Hill is built for the big stage, and playing for Kansas City – he is always dealing with the big stage. A team that has been battling for the top spot in its division for years, and the ever dangerous QB, Patrick Mahomes. The speedy wideout has put up a huge 215 YDs vs the LA Rams and 169 YDs and 2 TDs vs division rival LA Chargers last year, with games like this under his belt, Hill has made a monstrous difference for Kansas City. He has been beyond just serviceable for the Chiefs – and I’m convinced that Hill is as good as he appears – with his big play ability and breaking speed. He has shown the eye popping ability to blow teams away deep and that he is a special weapon. He is more sure handed than many other WRs – with just around a 3% drop ratio – which also puts him ahead of star WRs, Odell Beckham and Keenan Allen currently.
Hill is something super special and easily one of the top WRs in the league. As always, with any great player – as long as the 5-10 WR stays healthy he will go down as one of the greats, and will very possibly end up in the HOF himself, someday. He will help lead his team to great places. This guy is only going to get better – he can already create immediate space – which is huge for any WRs. The Chiefs have to be beyond ecstatic they have him – because his brightest days are still ahead. We’ll see where things go for Hill and Kansas City – but I think the Chiefs should be very encouraged by the game Tyreek Hill has brought to their team.