NFL

Week 1 Picks ATS

New Orleans @ Atlanta
Lay the number NO (-3)

Had you been on board with Sugarbookie and our picks before the preseason you would have gotten a stone cold lock. The Saints opened at (+2) that’s not a typo yes they were getting two points. Oh yeah, and I offered the Saints as a sleeper Super Bowl team to get at 17-1, if you didn’t jump on it you missed the boat they are 9-1 now and no longer a good risk reward. I generally want at least 15-1 on futures to make it worth waiting 18 weeks to get my money back.
Hard Knocks is a great show, they are detailed and in depth. In this case they showcased injuries and weaknesses that the Falcons have, moving the line. The Saints are a much better offense and their offense is going to be semi nuclear. The Falcons are weak at LB and Jimmy Graham is the best in the game. Look for him to light up the scoreboard and the Saints to have this one locked up fairly early. The Saints have a good secondary so they should be able to slow Roudy Roddy and Julio enough to lay the points.

Browns @ Steelers
Take it at (-6.5) leave it at the TD (-7)

I like the Steelers at home against a QB with 4 starts and not a lot of experience. Oh, did I mention every little error he makes he will be looking over his shoulder for Johnny Fucking Football? I don’t like to lay the full TD and some books have moved the line to (-7) if that were the case I would buy the hook and get it back to (-6.5) or just walk away.

Jaguars @ Eagles
Lay double digit points in the NFL….Almost ALWAYS (historically 54% winners)
Jaguars (+10.5)

Here’s the skinny on this pick, the Jags have a terrible reputation, therefore week 1 NOBODY bets them. Well, that’s where you come in; you want to make money right? The Eagles are the “trendy” team right now and people are infatuated with Chip Kelly’s offense. This has forced Vegas to make it a big number for the Jags to get people to bet them. They have a second year coach that was the defensive coordinator when Seattle first started wrecking ship in the hawks nest. He now has had enough time to get his pieces and system in place. Henne has been good when healthy and this offense has some good young pieces, they will actually score this year. The Jaguars will not be the worst team in the NFL this year; in fact I could see them winning 5-7 games. Good news is you will be able to take advantage of their favorable lines for the first few weeks. Don’t miss the boat, bet this line and I would feel confident to bet big. This game is my ***Pick of the week***

Raiders @ Jets
Take the points Raiders (+5.5)

Let’s just be real, neither of these teams are going to be great this year. The Jets could be one of the worst teams in football; do you think they deserve to be one of the biggest favorites this week? I sure don’t. This will be a sloppy game but Derek Carr looked pretty good in the preseason, and they will likely run a lot in this game. The Jets defense is pretty good up front, but their secondary is decimated. They were getting torched by other team’s starters in the preseason. Take the points this will likely be a sloppy game decided by a field goal.

Giants @ Lions
Lay the points Lions (-6)

The Giants are installing a new offense and Eli Eli-Manning-funny-face has had trouble picking it up. He went as far as saying he has trouble understating Ben McAdo’s Pennsylvania accent when he is making the play calls, remember Eli is a good old country boy from Louisiana and prefers a southern drawl. This is more about the Lions and how good they will be then how bad the Giants have looked. They added a WR that can actually punish teams for doubling Megatron in Golden Tate. They hired a coach that will actually hold people accountable for not giving 100% effort. The Lions offense will be really strong under Caldwell and the defense will be more discipline resulting in less penalties extending drives for the opposition. Eli will throw a costly INT and the Lions will win this one by two scores.

NFL Season Preview

As the new NFL season approaches, it’s time to put your name on the line and make predictions. The NFC is the stronger conference top to bottom this year, but the cream of the AFC is just as good as the top NFC teams. Some teams will actually approach the 13-14 win mark in the AFC, the weak East and South. The NFC West is still the top conference in football, but with all the issues with the 49ers, the Bradford injury, and the injuries/suspensions on the Cardinals defense, it might not be the case by seasons end.

x – Division winner & First round bye
y – Wild Card
z – Division winner
* – Homefield Advantage throughout

AFC North
X-Bengals 11-5 (4-2)
Y-Steelers 9-7 (3-3)
Ravens 9-7 (3-3)
Browns 5-11 (2-4)

AFC East
*X*-Patriots 12-4 (4-2)
Dolphins 6-10 (3-3)
Bills 5-11 (2-4)
NY Jets 3-13 (3-3)

AFC South
Z-Colts 10-6 (4-2)
Texans 7-9 (4-2)
Titans 5-11 (2-4)
Jaguars7-9 (2-4)

AFC West
Z-Broncos 11-5 (4-2)
Chargers 7-9 (2-4)
Y-Chiefs 9-7 (4-2)
Raiders 5-11 (2-4)

NFC North
Bears 9-7 (2-4)
Vikings 5-11 (1-5)
Y-Lions 10-6 (3-3)
Z-Packers 11-5 (5-1)

NFC East
NY Giants 7-9 (3-3)
Cowboys 5-11 (2-4)
Z-Eagles 10-6 (4-2)
Redskins 7-9 (3-3)

NFC South
Buccaneers 7-9 (3-3)
*X*-Saints 12-4 (5-1)
Panthers 6-10 (2-4)
Falcons 6-10 (2-4)

NFC West
49ers 9-7 (3-3)
X-Seahawks 12-4 (5-1)
Y-Cardinals 10-6 (2-4)
Rams 8-8 (2-4)

If you want to see the game by game picks for the season they are linked here.

Wild Card Round
NFC
6) Cardinals @ 3) Packers
5) Lions @ 4) Eagles

AFC
6) Steelers @ 3) Broncos
5) Chiefs @ 4) Colts

Divisional Round
NFC
5) Lions @ 1) Saints
3) Packers @ 2) Seahawks
AFC
3) Broncos @ 2) Bengals
4) Colts @ 1) Patriots

AFC/NFC Championship
Bengals @ Patriots
Seahawks @ Saints

Super Bowl 50
Patriots vs. Saints

World Champion
Saints

20140804-163212-59532318.jpg

The Andy Dalton Contract; Good for both parties!

Initial Thoughts: This is the exact situation that I wanted for the Bengals this year.  I know that some people wanted to make Andy “play it out,” but I was not one of them.  This way the media will not be talking about this all season.  Andy can just go out and play football without having to answer questions about his contract after every game.  It brings some form of stability at the position so they can get AJ Green to sign long term now too.

This was the perfect deal for the Bengals, and for Dalton. Dalton doesn’t have to play a year where he makes 1 million dollars with the risk a major injury costing him big-time.  He gets essentially 25 million in guaranteed money for 2 years.  He gets 17 million in bonuses now and his same 1 million dollar season base salary, and 7 million next year. Dalton would have to play pretty bad to get cut when only making 7 million bucks next year, don’t you think?  The structure of the deal is great too, more on that later, just an example.  If Dalton takes this team one round further each year, he will win the Super Bowl in 2017 and will make 110 million over the life of the deal.  That means he will average 15.5 million per year over the 7 years of the deal.  That’s definitely less then market value for a guy that went to the playoffs the last three years.

The structure of the deal was magnificent.  If you don’t trust what Katie and Marvin are doing now, you are living under a rock.  Marvin texted AJ Green as soon as Dalton deal was done and told him to call his agent he is next.  He gets it and is a defacto Coach/GM.  Now, let’s get back to the structure of this deal for Dalton.  For those who think Dalton is not the guy, there are outs after two years.  For those that want him to “prove himself” he doesn’t make real big money unless he goes deep in the postseason.  For those that worry about needing money for AJ and Vontaze, his contact is small in the early years to leave room for other signings.  This can’t be compared to the Flacco deal because he wasn’t under contract when he signed it.  Flacco got 6 years 120 Daltons is basically 7 Years 98 million plus 17 million in escalators.  They didn’t let Dalton play out his deal and get Flaccoed like the Ravens did; Flacco’s deal is way more difficult to get out of.

I really think Dalton is a smart guy, he knows he is not Peyton Manning, he will need weapons.  He didn’t want to break the bank; he wants to keep his toys on offense and the big players on defense.  This is a great deal for both sides and I could be happier.  This will give him confidence to not play timid this year and to win in big games.  Simply put perfect deal, sign AJ, sign Tez, and go get that Lombardi Trophy!

Bengals would be dumb to cut before year two, since he would be $7mil in year two. So two years $25mil is basically guaranteed. Once he reaches a level it doesn’t regress.
Full breakdown below
No escalator/2nd Rd(WC win or Bye)/AFC Champ/SB win
2014 –> $17 million plus original $959,000 base salary.
2015 –> $7mil/$8mil/$8.5mil/$10mil
2016 –> $10.5mil/$11.5mil/$12mil/13.5mil
2017 –> $13.1mil/$14.1mil/14.6mil/16.1mil
2018 –> $13.7mil/$14.7mil/$15.2mil/$16.7mil
2019 –> $16mil/$17mil/$17.5mil/$19mil
2020 –> $17.5mil/$18.5mil/$19mil/$20.5mil
Plus $1.2 million in total workout bonuses at 200K per year.

Basically cut out the franchise tag and avoided getting Flaccoed!
No escalators
One year $18 million
Two years,$25 million
Three years, $35.7 million
Four years, $49 million
Five years, $62.9 million
Six years, $79.1 million
Seven years, $96.8 million

Bengals Player Preview: Victor Hampton

Victor Hampton

Height: 5’9″

Weight: 197 lbs

Age: 22

College: University of South Carolina

Hometown: Charlotte, NC

Even the biggest Bengals fans might not know the Victor Hampton story.  Unless you bleed orange and black and love draft prospects, you probably don’t know much about Victor Hampton.  You’re in luck, I happen to be one of those weirdo’s that watches tape of prospects, and fans think lives in my parents basement and eats Totino’s pizza rolls.

As an undrafted free agent, like all of his fellow UDFAs, he is a longshot to make the squad.  He does have one thing on his side, that’s talent.  He is not an UDFA that was not selected because he cant play and is invited to be a camp body.

Hampton has a checkered past and teams passed on him because they didn’t want to use a pick on a guy who might bring a distraction to camp. He even lost his starting job because of poor effort last year, even though he was clearly the most talented cover corner.

If you like Vontaze because he talks trash, well then you will love Hampton, as he is a chatterbox.

Hampton  has great instincts from the CB position and is excellent at tracking the ball in the air.  He needs to work on his consistency in his run support.  He is not big enough to just throw his body at people, which he does, and he rarely wraps guys up.

I wont get into too much detail on his game play he will be one of the UDFA featured in my article that will come out right before camp.  It will go over all of the UDFA with my typical play breakdowns and analysis.  He played in 8 games as a junior totaling 43 tackles and 3 INTs.  He did return some punts for South Carolina last year but didn’t have much success, so I don’t suspect that he will be used in the role for the Bengals.

Its going to be tough for him to crack this lineup at CB, especially with all the 1st rounder’s in front of him.  With Dennard, Jones, Newman, Hall, and Kirpatrick all locks to make the roster, that leave the rest of the guys to fight for likely one roster spot.

It will be quite the uphill battle for all of them.  If Hampton stays out of trouble and shows flashes of his talent, it will come down to him and Westbrooks for the last spot.  He will need to have success in the slot in his preseason games to win the last spot.  That is the best spot for him to backup with his skillset, and his small build wont matter as much against smaller slot receivers.

 

If there is a sting of injuries, look for Hampton to have a real shot at the roster.  A spot could open up if Hall is not fully recovered for the start of camp, let’s hope it is not the case but that could be another way for a spot to open.  Hampton may feel like Sisyphus in camp, but if he keeps putting in work he will at least get a spot on the practice squad, if not picked up by another team.

Video link via gamecocksonline.com

burfict

Cincinnati Bengals Player Preview: Linebacker Vontaze Burfict

Vontaze Burfict

Height: 6’1″

Weight: 248 lbs

Age: 23

College: Arizona State University

Hometown: Corona, CA

Experience: 3 Years

If you have turned on a Bengals game the last two years, you know who Vontaze Burfict is. He led the team in tackles for the last 2 years. In 2013 he lead the team by nearly 100 tackles, and more importantly, led the team by 62 solo tackles. He doesn’t miss in the open field, and that is extremely clutch.

Burfict finished the year with 174 tackles, 114 solo, 3 sacks and a forced fumble. He is the most important guy on the defensive side of the ball.  He is in charge of calling all the plays and getting people lined up correctly, something Maualuga struggled with.

Most astonishing with Burfict is where he was drafted, or for that matter, that he was not drafted.  He was a 5-star recruit coming out of high school on both Rival and ESPN’s rankings, and was the No.1 MLB recruit in the country.  His attitude, penalties, weight gain, poor pro day, and terrible combine left a sour taste in many teams’ mouths.

This year, we can expect that Vontaze will be back at his WLB spot barring a major plague of injuries at LB before the season.  So what can the else can King Tez do to make himself better in 2014?  It will be hard for him to add much more to his 174 tackles from 2013, but he could improve a bit in his pass coverage.

His biggest issue is still penalties, and by that I mean he needs to work on eliminating them. I do think that referees target him and he gets a few cheap ones each year that totally bogus, but some he definitely deserves. Having James Harrison to learn from last year really helped him to walk that fine line between being intimidating and being penalized.

As his linebacker coach Paul knew how to get the most out of Vontaze, this year will be no different. Paul will lean on Vontaze to be his eyes and ears on the field, consulting with him for in game adjustments.

When Thomas Howard went down with a torn ACL in Week 2 of 2013, 3 days before the next game, Guenther had to scramble. Take your best athlete and teach him a new position, how he did that is just remarkable. He took to the gym at Paul Brown Stadium with chairs to teach Tez the basics of playing WLB.

Guenther is reportedly the one that was the mastermind of most of the exotic blitzes that Zimmer ran, so expect to see Tez blitzing more this year. His instincts make him great and it is the reason that opposing offenses fear him, he finds the ball and often.

He is so important to this teams success because he makes plays that swing the momentum of the game, like the forced fumble TD versus the Browns.  That game had a chance of going sour fast with the early INTs by Dalton, but the defense quickly took the wind right out of the Browns’ sails.

Marvin Lewis has made many references to Vontaze being “special” and that he looks a lot like “another guy he has coached in the past,” referring to Ray Lewis.

My prediction 160 tackles, 105 solo, 4.5 sacks, 3 forced fumbles, and 2 interceptions.

IMG_0231.JPG

20140713-000818-498962.jpg

AFC/NFC North chat, would you swap Josh Gordon for Andre Johnson if you were Ray Farmer

What to do with Josh Gordon? Will he get his life straight? Is he the next Odell Thurman?

What teams in the NFC and AFC North are the best fits for Andre Johnson?

We discuss all of that, so just tune in below!

http://www.blogtalkradio.com/nationalgridironnetwork/2014/07/11/the-coldfront-with-jason-marcum

Victor Hampton

Victor Hampton can he shed his past for his Bengals future?

Victor Hampton, CB, South Carolina

Height: 5’9″

Weight: 197 lbs

Bench press reps: 20 (top marks for CB)

40 yard Dash: 4.51

Vertical leap: 33.5″

Initial Thoughts: Hampton is a talented player, but after watching the tape I can see why teams passed on him.  He had off the field issues and struggles to support the run.  When the ball is in the air he is one of the best players that I have watched at competing for the ball.  He can let his attitude effect his play.  He was benched before a game and then was not active in run support for most of the game.

He will need to work on his run support and man coverage.  In the slot he will mostly be in on passing plays, where he excels.  With the additions of Dennard and Westbrooks this year I only give Hampton a 5% chance to make the 53 man this year. I think the Bengals will want him to prove he can stay out of trouble for a year and stash him on the Practice Squad.

I give him a 100% chance to make the PS as long as he stays out of trouble. If he doesn’t clear waivers and a team scoops him up, it’s not really a loss since he was a UDFA.  He could take Terence Newman or Adam Jones’ role in 2015 if he is still with the Bengals.

Strengths:

  • Has great instincts and breaks on the ball well.
  • Is exceptional at tracking and contesting balls in the air.
  • Lives in the big moment and plays with swagger
  • Plays well in zone coverage and has good hands for deflecting passes and INTs.
  • Has lots of talent and physical ability.  Has experience in the slot and on the outside so he is versatile.
  • Has good quickness and fluidity of his hips; Had one of the fastest 3-cone times.

Weaknesses:

  • Lacks the size to effectively contribute in run support, and rarely finishes a tackle.
  • His aggressive approach to going to make tackles causes him to miss a lot of them and take bad angles.  He tries to push guys out of bounds or wait for help from his teammates.
  • Character concerns go all the way back to high school with him; he will need to keep himself out of trouble to have a shot.
  • The first sniff of a problem, and he will be sent packing instantly.
  • He is very chirpy on the field; will need to walk the line with this to avoid penalties.
  • Really needs to work on his man to man coverage, he lacks ideal top end speed.
  • His small stature makes if difficult for him to play bump and run coverage successfully, and can get caught up in blocks.

Key Plays vs Arkansas: (note: lost his starting job before this game)

1) Dances around the running back on the play, allows his teammate to make the hit and tackle (0:24)
2) Reads the QBs eyes and breaks on the pass for the INT.  Has a decent runback on after the catch as well. (0:33)
3) Working out of the slot he flies up to make the tackle and whiffs. (1:35)
4) Fails to breakdown on the play and the RB shakes him with a stutter step.  He flails at the RB to make the tackle and falls on his back unsuccessfully. (2:00)
5) He is responsible for holding the backside edge.  The runner cuts back he breaks down and just throws his pads at him and doesn’t wrap up (2:14)
6) He has a chance to stop a big play with an open field tackle, he dives at his feet and whiffs completely.  The runner gets an extra 25 yards.

2) Interception Play
Victor_pick_medium

Key Plays vs Mississippi State:
1) He does a great job of sitting in his zone coverage and breaking up the throw as it arrives.  As a result his teammate is able to make an INT. (0:39)
2) The smoke screen is thrown to the WR inside of him.  He sheds the blocker and comes up to make the tackle, unfortunately he misses the tackle. (1:13)
3) He waits for the WR to make is move and makes a big hit on him over the middle. (1:53)
4) He is the deep shell in the zone coverage; he is on the seam route but sees the throw and breaks on the ball.  His quick hips allow him to make up ground and he deflects the pass before it can get to the intended WR. (2:00)
5) There is a miscommunication on the play he thinks he has the flat 1/3 but he is supposed to be deeper.  He realizes the hole in the coverage and makes an acrobatic pass breakup.  After the play he talks to his teammate and realizes it is his mistake.  He takes ownership with the coaches for the error. (3:51)
6) He works against the WR on the fade route to the corner.  He keeps within arms reach of the WR and tips the ball away. (5:45)
7) He is guarding the blocking WR on the screen play.  He sheds the block then strips the WR of the ball as he makes the tackle.  It shows his great awareness and instinct to go for the knockout blow.

20140712-131856-47936980_medium

20140712-132000-48000674_medium

20140712-132020-48020773_medium

20140712-132133-48093536_medium

20140712-132133-48093536__1__medium

Final Thoughts:
If you just looked at the tape of Hampton, he would have been drafted.  It was his off the field antics that cost him hearing his name called.  Hampton got some bad advise from his agent.  He should have gone back to school for one more year.  That would have improved is stock in two ways.  He could have stayed out of trouble to build trust with teams, and added more quality game tape.

Regardless Hampton is in a good spot with the Bengals. He can get leadership from the likes of Newman, learn how to change his ways from Jones, and how he can dedicate to run support from Hall and Dennard. The problem with the Bengals is that they have five former 1st round picks in front of him.

If they only keep five CBs this year, which is very possibly, he has zero shot at the 53-man roster.  However, after 2015 one or more of those spots could open up.  If he is able to stay on the practice squad (PS) here, that might be the best thing for his NFL career.  He can practice and learn from some of the best at the position in the NFL.

My prediction: Hampton makes it to the final cutdown day and is offered a spot on the PS.  I’m not 100% convinced that he will clear waivers.  If he makes it to late September and has not gotten in trouble, a team with injuries at the position may claim him.