8 teams that should sign Colin Kaepernick

If the 2019 NFL season taught us anything, it’s that there are a lot of teams who have neglected the backup quarterback position. The teams that sufficiently addressed it (Kansas City, Tennessee) weathered the storm when their starter was ineffective or hurt. Meanwhile, teams that clearly had no real succession plan (Detroit, New York Jets) saw their seasons unravel with sudden, er, absences at the position. Does mononucleosis count as an injury?

 

colin-kaepernick
Kaepernick has been out of the NFL since 2016 after he began kneeling during the national anthem to protest police brutality in America. (Wikimedia Commons)

Finding a backup quarterback is important and there aren’t many players more qualified for the job than Colin Kaepernick. With the NFL admitting it mishandled the national anthem protests in 2016 and commissioner Roger Goodell even going as far as encouraging teams to sign Kaepernick, the door finally seems to be for the former 49ers quarterback to return to the league. Sure, he has been out of the league for a few years, but Kaepernick has the experience and talent to be a spot starter.

Don’t believe me? Let’s compare Kapernick to the league’s average backup quarterback. I compiled every backup quarterback’s stats into this Google Sheet.

On average, the NFL backup completes around 61.1 percent of his passes and averages roughly 6.95 yards per attempt. Additionally, they throw a touchdown on 3.8 percent of their throws while 2.7 percent of their attempts result in an interception. The average backup also has a career winning percentage of 46 percent in the regular season. These numbers look much worse if you remove some of the long-time former starters currently in backup roles like Andy Dalton, Joe Flacco and Matt Schaub. 

Kaepernick by comparison completed 59.8 percent of his passes for an average of 7.3 yards per attempt. He threw a touchdown on 4.3 percent of his passes and an interception on just 1.8 percent of them. His career regular season win percentage sits at 48 percent. Additionally, Kaepernick has playoff experience, including a Super Bowl appearance. Flacco and Nick Foles are the only current backup quarterbacks who have started a Super Bowl.

The biggest knock anyone could possibly have on Kaepernick is his ability to hold onto the ball. He averaged almost eight fumbles per season over his five years as a mostly full-time starter.

If you want to put a label on what Kaepernick represents to the NFL right now in terms of position value, it is a high-end backup. Those averages, which he mostly matches or beats, don’t factor in his running ability either. His mobility is a plus for any team evaluating him. 

Without a doubt, Kap could still cut it in the NFL. Let me make this clear though. I don’t think Kaepernick has what it takes to be a starter in this league anymore. He is 32 and has some mechanical flaws he is not going to fix now. However, he is still good enough to win a game if his number is called. From his workout in 2019, he clearly still has the arm strength and the zip on his throws to make plays. Kaepernick should be no team’s first option, but there are much worse plan B’s. Here are the eight teams that should consider signing Kaepernick for the 2020 season.

Denver_BroncosDenver Broncos
With Drew Lock sufficiently entrenched as the starter for the Broncos, this could be an ideal situation for Kaepernick to work his way back into the league. Denver’s current quarterback room outside of Lock includes Jeff Driskel, Brett Rypien and Neal Riley. Driskel is far from a reliable backup having struggled in stints filling in for Andy Dalton and Matthew Stafford over the past two seasons. He is 1-7 as a starter and has completed under 60 percent of his passes in his career. It helps that Denver’s current running backs coach Curtis Modkins was the 49ers offensive coordinator during Kaepernick’s final season in San Francisco.

Titans logoTennessee Titans
Few teams had a better quarterback situation last year than the Titans. When Marcus Mariota proved to be ineffective as the starter, Ryan Tannehill came in and worked wonders all the way to the AFC Championship game. With Mariota now in Las Vegas, Tennessee is left with Logan Woodside and undrafted rookie Cole McDonald on the roster. Neither one of them has attempted an NFL pass. The front office made a wise move last year to find a stable backup plan. Kaepernick would give the Titans the same assurances that Tannehill provided for them last year.

Bengals LogoCincinnati Bengals
Joe Burrow is undoubtedly the future in Cincinnati, but with Andy Dalton now in Dallas, the solution to a Burrow injury is unclear. Ryan Finley tanked in two appearances last season. Jake Dolegala is a fellow second year player who did attempt a pass last season. If Burrow were to go down, there is no one reliable to step in for the Bengals at quarterback. My biggest hang up with Kaepernick joining Cincinnati is I think they need someone who can start this season to ease Burrow into the NFL. I’m not sure Kaepernick quite fits the bill after so much time off.

Patriots Logo

New England Patriots
The Patriots have clearly latched their wagon to the Jarrett Stidham train. I’m not sold on him as the long term answer after only four career passes, but the rest of the quarterback situation in New England is nothing to trust either. Brian Hoyer is back for another stint, but the Pats actually cut Hoyer last season after the preseason, and he struggled in relief of Jacoby Brissett after signing with the Colts. New England’s other two options at the position are Brian Lewerke and J’Mar Smith, two undrafted free agents from the 2020 class. Rumor has it the team is interested Cam Newton, but Kaepernick could also make a ton of sense.

Arizona_Cardnals_logo_(1994-2004)

Arizona Cardinals
No one will be replacing Kyler Murray any time soon. However, when you have a mobile quarterback, particularly one with as slight of a build as Murray, there is always the risk of an injury arising. Arizona’s current backup plan is Brett Hundley. He has more interceptions than touchdowns in his career and a completion percentage south of 60. The only other options on the roster include Drew Anderson and Chris Streveler, both of whom have never attempted an NFL pass. Kaepernick has a similar play style to Murray, even if he cannot replicate the level of production. I could see him being a good fit in Kliff Kingsbury’s modified Air Raid system.

Los Angeles Rams logoLos Angeles Rams
Who is currently backing up Jared Goff? John Wolford, Bryce Perkins and Josh Love are all undrafted free agents L.A. signed over the past two years. None of them have taken an NFL snap. Goff might be one of the least sacked quarterbacks in the league, but the Rams certainly need a better replacement plan if he were to get hurt. Kaepernick might not be the most seamless fit in the Rams system given his struggles as a play-action passer, but I trust Sean McVay to find some creative uses for his arm and legs. Even four years removed from football, he would provide a much more reliable solution if Goff were to suffer an injury. 

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Seattle Seahawks
Don’t even begin to argue with me that Kaepernick would not be an upgrade over Geno Smith as a backup quarterback. As a Jets fan, I watched him struggle wildly to perform on a consistent basis and regularly commit back-breaking errors in important moments. Luckily for Seattle, Russell Wilson is one of the most durable quarterbacks in the league. Still, finding a better replacement than Smith would be smart. Pete Carroll has been open in his support of Kaepernick, admitting he regrets not signing him previously. The team met with Kap prior to the 2017 season. His ability to extend plays with his legs is not on the same level as Wilson, but he could help Seattle avoid a massive fall off if Wilson were to go down injured. 

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Baltimore Ravens
This last one is less about the team’s need at the position and more about the offensive scheme. Baltimore has the league’s reigning MVP in Lamar Jackson. Though Jackson has proven to be durable and smart about avoiding unnecessary hits, they have a clear backup plan in Robert Griffin III. They even have two young, dual-threat college quarterbacks on the roster behind RGIII. Trace McSorley and Tyler Huntley are definitely both project players, but this has the feel of a very sound quarterback room. However, Ravens offensive coordinator Greg Roman was the offensive coordinator for the 49ers while Kaepernick dazzled the football world with two deep playoff runs. I’m not saying Roman would be able rekindle that kind of magic, but given what Jackson has been able to do in this system, I think Kaepernick could find some level of success in a backup role. 

2020 NFL Draft takeaways: Who crushed it and who missed out?

Draft weekend has officially come to a close. It will go down as the most memorable in history for a laundry list of reasons, starting with Roger Goodell’s ever-changing wardrobe and incredibly comfy chair. 255 players heard their names called and 50 or more so players have signed on as undrafted free agents. I think it way too early to start handing out grades on draft classes. It takes about five years to be able to begin appropriately evaluating how teams did.

That being said, I think we can start handing out some winners and losers tags. Balancing filling team needs with taking the best player available. Some teams did that really well. Others, not so much. Here are the teams that crushed the draft and the teams that could have fared better.

Winners:

Cowboys logoDallas Cowboys
Biggest impact: CeeDee Lamb, WR, Oklahoma (17th overall)
Best value: Bradlee Anae, EDGE, Utah (179th overall)
I think it would be hard to qualify the Cowboys as anything other than the winners of this draft. They landed a top-10 talent in CeeDee Lamb at 17, then filled a major need at great value with Trevon Diggs in the second round. Dallas filled another need with Neville Gallimore, who slid into the third. Reggie Robinson is an interesting smaller school prospect to develop with decent size and speed. Tyler Biadasz has the potential to be a starter this season, which is great to find at the end of the fourth round. Travis Fredrick retired this offseason, so that was a huge hole to fill. I had a second-round grade on Bradlee Anae as well, who fell into the fifth. Taking a flier on a developmental quarterback in the seventh is never a bad idea either. Everyone other than Ben DiNucci has the potential to contribute this year. I think the Cowboys scored a really good core to develop.

Arizona_Cardnals_logo_(1994-2004)Arizona Cardinals
Biggest impact: Isaiah Simmons, LB/S, Clemson (8th overall)
Best value: Josh Jones, OT, Houston (72nd overall)
Arizona didn’t overthink things with Isaiah Simmons on the board. It definitely wasn’t their biggest need, but he is an incredible defensive playmaker. The Cardinals had no second-round pick because of the DeAndre Hopkins trade. However, all 32 teams would take Hopkins in the second round in a heartbeat. Josh Jones was one of the biggest steals of the draft. His drop to the third round was stunning. Leki Fotu and Rashad Lawrence help beef up the interior of the defensive line. Evan Weaver will contribute on special teams right away and provides solid depth at linebacker. Nabbing local kid Eno Benjamin in the seventh round was another impressive move to work into the backfield rotation. In two years, this roster has been thoroughly turned over.

Bengals LogoCincinnati Bengals
Biggest impact: Joe Burrow, QB, LSU (1st overall)
Best value: Tee Higgins, WR, Clemson (33rd overall)
Sure they had it easy picking up Joe Burrow, but the Bengals filled some big needs and found solid value down the line. Tee Higgins probably should have gone in the first round and gives Burrow a huge target to grow with. Logan Wilson is quick cover linebacker and no team in the league needed help at the position more than Cincinnati. Akeem Davis-Gaither is a similar player to Wilson, but that isn’t bad thing given how much talent the group lacked. Khalid Kareem should be a rotational player up front capable of eating up plenty of defensive snaps. Hakeem Adeniji is a developmental tackle to work with and Markus Bailey is worth a flier in the seventh. He has some major history, but when healthy, he could be a starting caliber NFL player. There will be a learning curve as the Bengals continue to rebuild, but they have some solid pieces in place now.

Vikings logoMinnesota Vikings
Biggest impact: Jeff Gladney, CB, TCU (31st overall)
Best value: Kenny Willekes, EDGE, Michigan State (255 overall)
Minnesota let the board come to them, traded back well and reloaded at some key positions. Having Justin Jefferson fall to them was a bit of luck, but trading back and still taking Jeff Gladney was a very skillful move. Ezra Cleveland is a tackle prospect worth developing. He might not be totally pro ready, but he is a future starter. Cameron Dantzler, D.J. Wonnum, James Lynch and Troy Dye are all high-upside players who can provide depth right away. Harrison Hand is an intriguing option on the back end as well. I thought K.J. Osborn was a reach, especially given the other receivers on the board. Kenny Willekes and Josh Metellus were very productive starters in college and well worth kicking the tires on in the later rounds. It wasn’t a very sexy draft for the Vikings, but this sets them up well for this season and beyond.

Ravens logoBaltimore Ravens
Biggest impact: Patrick Queen, LB, LSU (28th overall)
Best value: James Proche, WR, SMU (201st overall)
Very few teams draft as consistently well as the Ravens. Patrick Queen is a perfect fit in a massive position of need and J.K. Dobbins adds another dynamic player to potentially the scariest backfield in football. Devin Duvernay and James Proche are instant impact players at receivers that should work well with Lamar Jackson. Justin Mandubuike is a solid prospect to work with on the defensive line and could eventually take over for the 31-year-old Brandon Williams. Malik Harrison plays downhill and could become an extremely disruptive player in a few years. Tyree Phillips and Ben Bredeson offer offensive line depth too. Geno Stone isn’t a flashy player, but he was really good value in the seventh round. Give Eric DeCosta a lot of credit. This has the makings of a very good class that sets them up really well for the future.

Buccaneers logoTampa Bay Buccaneers
Biggest impact: Tristan Wirfs, OT, Iowa (13th overall)
Best value: Tyler Johnson, WR, Minnesota (161st overall)
When filling needs meets finding great value, you tend to have a solid draft. Tristan Wirfs is the perfect player to anchor the right side of the line for Tom Brady. Antoine Winfield Jr. is a ballhawking playmaker who should add some explosiveness to an underrated secondary. Ke’Shawn Vaughn provides another dimension to a Buccaneers backfield that has really struggled in recent years. Tyler Johnson provides great depth at receiver after a stellar career at Minnesota. This team got better at important positions and positioned themselves well to compete this year. I don’t need to explain how important that is with a 44-year-old quarterback.

Losers: 

Eagles LogoPhiladelphia Eagles
Biggest surprise: Jalen Hurts, QB, Oklahoma (53rd overall)
Biggest reach: Jalen Reagor, WR, TCU (21st overall)
Now some of this is personal preference, bordering on being a premature grade, but I was not a huge fan of the decisions the Eagles made in this draft. Jalen Reagor over Justin Jefferson drew a lot of scrutiny and rightfully so. That was one of the biggest surprises of the first round. Philadelphia then had the biggest surprise of round two by taking Jalen Hurts. Carson Wentz has an injury history, but this team was desperate for receivers, corners and linebackers. Finding a sub-package quarterback given the other holes on this roster is questionable at best. Davion Taylor and K’Von Wallace are solid mid-round picks. The Eagles did eventually find receiver depth in John Hightower and Quez Watkins in addition to trading for Marquise Goodwin. They might have also found a steal in Prince Tega Wanogho. Not taking a corner was a big miss though and waiting until the late third round to take a defensive player could cost Philly in the short term.

Packers logoGreen Bay Packers
Biggest surprise: Jordan Love, QB, Utah State (26th overall)
Biggest reach: A.J. Dillon, RB, Boston College (62nd overall)
No team’s draft confused me more than the Packers. Coming off an NFC championship appearance, it was clear Green Bay needed some more reliable receivers and an injection of talent at linebacker. Instead, the Packers traded up to take a project quarterback, despite having one of the best passers in the league. Then they drafted a running back in the second round despite having Aaron Jones and Jamal Williams already on the roster. Josiah Deguara and Kamal Martin finally hit on some needs and Green Bay built a lot of offensive line depth in the later rounds. The fact that the front office didn’t draft a single receiver is shocking. In what was the deepest receiver draft in at least a decade, not finding more options for Aaron Rodgers to work with borders on malpractice in football. This was a perplexing approaching by Brian Gutekunst.

Seahawks logoSeattle Seahawks
Biggest surprise: Jordyn Brooks, LB, Texas Tech (27th overall)
Biggest reach: Damien Lewis, G, LSU (69th overall)
Seattle stayed true to form, reaching in the first round before taking some high-upside prospects to develop later in the draft. Jordyn Brooks is an enticing player, but I had an early third-round grade on him. I think Darrell Taylor could be a good get for the Seahawks, but they reached on Damien Lewis in the third in an attempt to find some more protection for Russell Wilson. I like Alton Robinson in the fifth round, but Freddie Swain came from off the radar with much better prospects on the board. At least Colby Parkinson and DeeJay Dallas should be solid roll players as rookies.

Bears logoChicago Bears
Biggest surprise: Darnell Mooney, WR, Tulane (173rd overall)
Biggest reach: Mooney
It is amazing how different the league feels about the Khalil Mack trade two years later. Given the amount of cap space he takes up and draft capital it took to acquire him, Chicago probably would’ve been better off without the pass rusher. Given that the Bears were already down a first round draft pick, the team decided to take their 10th tight end. Their second pick of the round was much better in Jaylon Johnson at a big position of need. Darnell Mooney was another example of a team passing on better prospects at the position. Kindle Vildor is a really solid add in the fifth, but I can’t get behind waiting to find offensive line help until the seventh round. Chicago just does not seem like it had a great plan in place entering the draft.

Washington made up logoWashington
Biggest surprise: Antonio Gibson, RB, Memphis (66th overall)
Biggest reach: Gibson
It is hard to put Washington in this category after landing a star edge player in Chase Young. However, they didn’t have a great draft after that. With Adrian Peterson, Bryce Love, Derrius Guice and Peyton Barber on the roster, taking a third-down back is a questionable move alone. I didn’t think Antonio Gibson was worth going before the fifth round either. Josh Jones was on the board there, which would have been a great get after not getting a ton in return for Trent Williams. I don’t think Saadiq Charles will be able to fill that void in year one either. There took a couple of fliers on players from big-name programs that often got lost in the shuffle at their respective school. Ron Rivera is a great coach, but I don’t think this set him up super well for success in his first season.

Patriots LogoNew England Patriots
Biggest surprise: Dalton Keene, TE, Virginia Tech (101st overall)
Biggest impact: Justin Rohrwasser, K, Marshall (159th overall)
Dare I put them in this category??? New England is often playing chess while the rest of the league is playing checkers. This year, it felt like the Patriots were trying too hard to out think the rest of the league. Kyle Dugger is raw, but if anyone can get the most of out his skills, it will be Bill Belichick. Josh Uche should also be a solid situational rusher as well. The Pats overdrafted two tight ends and then spent a fifth-round pick on a kicker that it seemed like no one else was even thinking about drafting. Failing to select a quarterback to develop as part of this class is a little surprising as well. I never thought Belichick would be aggressive in finding a passer, but ignoring the position all together seems like a mistake. You know that Dustin Woodard will be a Pro Bowler within two years though undrafted free agent will turn into Jarrett Stidham’s equivalent of Julian Edelman making me look like a fool for ever suggesting they had a bad draft.

2020 NFL Draft: Day 2 surprises and best players available

We are two days in, but still not even halfway through the NFL draft. This class is loaded with talented players that found their NFL homes on Friday. While the first round gets the biggest billing, this is where teams make their money. If you can find value in the middle rounds of the draft, you are going to be a very successful franchise. The teams that do this best (Seattle, New England, Baltimore) seem to always have players ready to step in when injuries strike or players leave in free agency. That’s because they find the diamonds in the rough.

I will talk about my favorite prospects still on the board, but first, let’s talk about some of the most shocking developments from rounds two and three. Check out day one’s biggest surprises here.

NCAA Football: Oklahoma vs UCLA, Sept 14, 2019, Pasadena, CA
Hurts was the runner-up for the Heisman in 2019. (Wikimedia Commons)

Eagles take Jalen Hurts
Wait … what??? Philadelphia signed Carson Wentz to a mega-extension worth north of $100 million prior to the 2019 season. So logically, at pick 53, the Eagles selected Oklahoma quarterback Jalen Hurts. Sure, the team could use a reliable passer to backup Wentz, who has a history of injuries. However, drafting a quarterback in the second round feels like a very odd decision given the cirumstances. Philly needs help at corner, linebacker and wide receiver, even after taking Jalen Reagor in round one. Howie Roseman has often been one of the general managers capable of finding talent in the later rounds, but his draft plan in 2020 is a mysterious to most outsiders. On back-to-back days, the Eagles made headlines for who they decided to draft, but not for ideal reasons.

Josh Jones slides … again
Well I definitely overestimated how much the NFL would like Houston offensive tackle Josh Jones. I had him going 18th overall to the Dolphins. Instead, he stayed on the board all the way until pick 72 for the Cardinals (who have had a great draft so far if you ask me). He is definitely a little raw, but he is a solid offensive tackle and there are tons of teams who were rumored to be interested in help at the position. He was my fourth-ranked player at the position, but was the eighth selected. This is just one fan’s opinion, but I was shocked to see Jones fall so far. Maybe that’s less of a reflection on him as well. After six offensive tackles went in the first round, only Ezra Cleveland went in round two and Jones was the first one off the board in the third.

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Swift went 35th overall to the Lions on Friday night. (Wikimedia Commons)

Teams reaching on running back
After Clyde Edwards-Helaire went with the last pick of the first round, there was some buzz that we could see a run on running backs. Jonathan Taylor, D’Andre Swift and J.K. Dobbins all went as expected in round two, along with Cam Akers. What was surprising was to see A.J. Dillon and Antonio Gibson come off the board soon after. I like Dillon a lot, but I thought the Packers, once again, had bigger needs at receiver and linebacker. Dillon was still a bit of a ways down my board as well. Gibson was a stunner. I didn’t have him in my top 150 prospects and as my 12th running back overall. I wasn’t alone in the skepticism on Gibson either, Bleacher Report had him 164th overall, 98 spots later than he was selected by Washington. Green Bay’s decision is a bit more forgivable. Washington’s follow up to Chase Young was definitely a bit underwhelming.

Broncos double up on receivers
I applaud Denver for waiting and landing the best receiver in this draft. Getting Drew Lock a receiver to pair with Courtland Sutton made a ton of sense. I think Jerry Jeudy will have a great career in Denver. The surprise here was that then the Broncos dipped back into the position group to take Penn State’s KJ Hamler. Hamler is a speedster out of the slot with tons of big-play ability. I am not a huge fan of him as a prospect given his size and issues with drops. I was surprised to see the Broncos passing on either a corner or offensive lineman (although they did fill both positions later.) I didn’t think Denver really needed another receiver with Sutton and DaeSean Hamilton already in the fold prior to the draft, but they clearly want depth at the position.

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Prior to 2019, the Jets were the only team with which Bill Belichick had never traded. (Wikimedia Commons)

Jets and Patriots make a trade
This definitely caught me by surprise. Very rarely do these franchise negotiate trades, but maybe it really is the sign of a new era in New England. The Jets and Pats actually brokered a trade early in the 2019 season that sent Demaryius Thomas to New York in exchange for a 2021 6th round pick. This latest trade between the two teams that saw the Patriots acquire the 101st pick, which they spent on Virginia Tech tight end Dalton Keene. As part of the deal, the Jets landed two fourth rounders this year and New England’s 2021 sixth-round pick. Believe it or not, the two teams have now just swapped 2021 sixth rounders. If you are still reading at this point, know that I appreciate your love for football and quirky draft nuggets.

Through three rounds, there is a lot of talent still on the board. I actually see a ton of prospects in my top 100 available, 21 to be exact. Considering there have already been 106 selections, I am really positive about the players still on the board. Some quality defensive options, a bunch of lanky receivers and a pair of former Georgia quarterbacks highlight the group. Here are my favorite remaining prospects:

24. Bryce Hall, CB, Virginia
52. Tyler Biadasz, C, Wisconsin
55. Curtis Weaver, EDGE, Boise State
56. John Simpson, G, Clemson
59. Bradlee Anae, EDGE, Utah
62. Ben Bartch, OT, St. John (Minn.)
65. Donovan Peoples-Jones, WR, Michigan
66. Prince Tega Wanogho, OT, Auburn
67. Troy Pride Jr., CB, Notre Dame
73. Amik Robertson, CB, Louisiana Tech
80. Troy Dye, LB, Oregon
81. Leki Fotu, DL, Utah
84. Larrell Murchison, DL, NC State
86. Jacob Eason, QB, Washington
87. Kenny Willekes, EDGE, Michigan State
88. K’Von Wallace, S, Clemson
89. Thaddeus Moss, TE, LSU
91. Eno Benjamin, RB, Arizona State
92. Ben Bredeson, G, Michigan
93. K.J. Hill, WR, Ohio State
100. Jake Fromm, QB, Georgia
101. Brycen Hopkins, TE, Purdue
102. Collin Johnson, WR, Texas
104. Tyler Johnson, WR, Minnesota
105. James Lynch, DL, Baylor
106. Logan Stenberg, G, Kentucky
109. Solomon Kindley, G, Georgia
110. Trevon Hill, EDGE, Miami
113. Evan Weaver, LB, California
114. Gabriel Davis, WR, UCF
116. Akeem Davis-Gaither, LB, Appalachian State
117. Jason Strowbridge, DL, UNC
123. Quintez Cephus, WR, Wisconsin
124. A.J. Green, CB, Oklahoma State
125. Francis Bernard, LB, Utah

NFL Draft Podcast – AFC Free Agency Primer and Draft Implications

After breaking down the NFC last week, it is time to discuss which AFC free agents will impact the 2020 NFL Draft. The Patriots await Tom Brady’s free agent decision while the rest of the division hopes to close the game and patch up their offensive lines. Tennessee’s incredible run came courtesy of a number of players that are not under contract for 2020. Houston, Indianapolis and Jacksonville all enter free agency with at least one major player it needs to bring back. The reigning Super Bowl champs have to figure out what they will do with Chris Jones. Meanwhile, Los Angeles might need to rebuild its whole offense. In the North, the Ravens have some difficult decisions to make regarding Matt Judon and Michael Pierce. The Browns, Bengals and Steelers all need reinforcements in the trenches. Catch up on all the major pending free agents ahead of the scouting combine! Listen to the latest episode now on Spotify, Apple Podcasts or wherever you get your podcasts.
https://anchor.fm/theaftermath

2019 NFL Power Rankings: Week 9

Don’t look now, but the NFL season is already halfway over. Well just the regular season. Don’t worry, you still have three more months of football ahead of you. It was a fairly predictable week, with the biggest upset coming in the form of Buffalo falling at home. It was far from a shock though to see the Bills struggle. The Eagles cannot defend the pass and the Bills cannot effectively move the ball downfield, so something had to give. Otherwise, we saw first year head coaches not named Matt LeFleur struggle, veteran quarterbacks get upset about playcalling and the Dolphins look like an NFL team for one quarter.

As a result of a slate of mostly expected results, there really wasn’t much movement in this week’s rankings. It was easily the least we’ve had all year. With some exciting matchups on the horizon, things will get a whole less predictable in the weeks to come.

Patriots Logo

1. New England Patriots: 8-0 (Last Week: 1)
Won 27-13 vs. Cleveland
Win number 300 came for Bill Belichick came against his old ball club as the defense once again led the way for a Patriot victory. New England forced three turnovers early in the game and built a lead that it rode the rest of the way. Baker Mayfield never got comfortable either as the Pats sacked him five times in the contest. With Josh Gordon going on the injured reserve, there might be some room for concern about this New England offense, but Tom Brady has done more with less in the past and there is no reason to think this year will be any different.

Saints logo

2. New Orleans Saints: 7-1 (Last Week: 2)
Won 31-9 vs. Arizona
Welcome back Drew Brees. The future Hall of Famer really didn’t miss a beat as he aired the ball out for 373 yards and three touchdowns. We still have not seen this Saints team at full strength, which is unbelievable given their success on the season. Sheldon Rankins missed the beginning of the year. Brees had missed the past five games and Alvin Kamara has been out the past two weeks. With the division seemingly already locked up, New Orleans might just be the favorite to take home the Lombardi trophy in February.

49ers Logo

3. San Francisco 49ers: 7-0 (Last Week: 3)
Won 51-13 vs. Carolina
If there was anyone still sleeping on San Francisco, which there really shouldn’t have been, there is no hiding from how good this team can be any more. Led by its stifling defense, the 49ers pummeled the Panthers en route to scoring 51 points. Tevin Coleman had four total touchdowns to lead the offense. Nick Bosa seems like a lock for Rookie of the Year with three sacks and an interception. No one expected the Niners to be this good, but this team has legitimate title aspirations.

Packers logo

4. Green Bay Packers: 7-1 (Last Week: 4)
Won 31-24 at Kansas City
It seems like Aaron Rodgers has found his groove in Matt LeFleur’s offense and that is a scary thing for the rest of the NFL. Rodgers put together another masterful performance on Sunday night, throwing for 305 yards and three touchdowns. He made one of the throws of the year on that touchdown pass to Jamaal Williams. What has been more surprising though is the emergence of Aaron Jones in the passing game. Green Bay will keep getting healthier and likely won’t face anyone with the speed Kansas City brings to the table again this year.

Ravens logo

5. Baltimore Ravens: 6-2 (Last Week: 6)
Bye Week
Baltimore got a chance to rest up and get a few key players healthy. Marquise Brown and Jimmy Smith are expected to be back for a big clash with the undefeated Patriots in Week 9. Given how well we’ve seen this offense operate at times, the Ravens should give the Pats their best test of the year. We’ve already seen the defense starting to play better in recent weeks as well and it’s hard to think of a better secondary than one that boasts Marlon Humphrey, Marcus Peters and Smith.

Chiefs Logo

6. Kansas City Chiefs: 5-3 (Last Week: 5)
Lost 31-24 vs. Green Bay
Despite missing Patrick Mahomes, this was an incredible showing from the Kansas City offense. Andy Reid did an excellent job to keep Matt Moore doing this he felt comfortable with. Granted, this team might just have the most talent at the skill positions of anyone in the league, but the veteran played well in his first start of the year. However, the defense was exposed once again, this time it was by a running back in the passing game. The Chiefs should definitely make a move at the deadline to bolster its secondary.

Seahawks logo

7. Seattle Seahawks: 6-2 (Last Week: 7)
Won 27-20 at Atlanta
It was a tale of two halves for Seattle, who led Atlanta 24-0 at halftime. After that, the Seahawks offense seemingly lost its way while the Falcons steadily climbed back into the game. The important thing is moving to 6-2 and staying perfect this season on the road, but that was not the type of second-half performance Seattle can put up regularly. It might be time to find some secondary help as well after allowing Matt Schaub to throw for 460 yards.

Vikings logo

8. Minnesota Vikings: 6-2 (Last Week: 8)
Won 19-9 vs. Washington
Clearly, this offense needs Adam Thielen in order to be successful. With the veteran receiver out due to a hamstring injury, Minnesota managed just 19 points against what has been a weak Washington defense. Stefon Diggs and Dalvin Cook put up big numbers again, but this paltry scoring output comes on the heels of three straight weeks with at least 28 points. There is a lot to be positive about though as the Vikings move to 6-2, continuing to keep pace with the Packers in the NFC North. They face significant tests though with road games against the Chiefs and Cowboys up next.

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9. Los Angeles Rams: 5-3 (Last Week: 10)
Won 24-10 vs. Cincinnati (London)
Cooper Kupp might still be running past fallen Bengals defenders as you read this. The third-year receiver had an outrageous 220 yards receiving, including a 65-yard touchdown. Jared Goff looked very comfortable for the second straight week. While it is easy to dominate the weaker teams in the league, the Rams still have some holes to address. The ground game mustered 3.8 yards per carry against the worst rush defense in the NFL and the Los Angles defense gave up over 400 yards of offense to Cincinnati. With a bye coming up, Sean McVay needs to get this team firing on all cylinders heading into the second half.

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10. Dallas Cowboys: 4-3 (Last Week: 11)
Bye Week
While Dallas can still feel good about its dominant win over Philadelphia the Eagles won in Week 8 and the Cowboys only have a half-game lead in the division. It is important to remember that it has been a rocky first half of the year in Texas. After all, Dallas is still only one game removed from a three-game losing streak. Given how well the offense has played and what the ceiling is for the defense, Dak Prescott and company should be fine. With a tough second-half schedule, the Cowboys will need to get into a good rhythm out of the bye.

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11. Indianapolis Colts: 5-2 (Last Week: 12)
Won 15-13 vs. Denver
Indianapolis is proving that it can win close games, but it also seems incapable of winning comfortably. Adam Vinatieri made up for missing a potential game-tying extra point by kicking the game-winning field goal. Still, the Colts need to turn more drives into touchdowns the rest of the way. The defense played very well, but Denver’s offense has been among the worst in the NFL, so it is hard to get too excited about the overall performance. Indy’s slate is one of the easiest ones over the next few weeks though with Pittsburgh, Miami and Jacksonville on the docket.

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12. Houston Texans: 5-3 (Last Week: 13)
Won 27-24 vs. Oakland
Where would Houston be without Deshaun Watson? If I had to guess, it would be the dark, scary place called the AFC South basement. The former Clemson standout threw another three touchdown passes and accounted for 325 yards of total offense. He came up clutch in the fourth quarter to pull out a crucial win over another AFC playoff hopeful. It was nice to get back on track, but the Texans are still waiting on an improvement from that pass defense. They have already added one player via trade, now its time for that unit to gel and stop giving up big plays.

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13. Buffalo Bills: 5-2 (Last Week: 9)
Lost 31-13 vs. Philadelphia
This was always the concern for Buffalo. In a week where the defense did not play its best game, the Bills offense did not have enough firepower to come out on top. Josh Allen has improved drastically from last season, but without a true big play threat, this is exactly what will happen when Buffalo falls behind. There simply is not enough offensive playmaking for this team to effectively play when down big. I have already advocated for this front office to add a proven contributor at receiver, because this offense needs some help if the Bills want to continue this impressive start.

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14. Philadelphia Eagles: 4-4 (Last Week: 16)
Won 31-13 at Buffalo
Welcome back to the win circle Philadelphia. It was a really solid week for the Eagles, who bounced back in a big way after the drubbing they took from the Cowboys. The offense played extremely well against what has been a great defense this year. Philly rumbled for 218 yards rushing and Carson Wentz took care of the football. It wasn’t a huge day through the air, but with DeSean Jackson finally coming back, things are looking up.

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15. Detroit Lions: 3-3-1 (Last Week: 15)
Won 31-26 vs. New York
It wasn’t always pretty, but Detroit got back to .500. Matt Stafford played extremely well to lead a banged offense to a big day. Defensively, this team has completely fallen apart. After getting torched by Kirk Cousins a week ago, Daniel Jones had a field day against this Lions secondary. Give them some credit for mostly bottling up Saquon Barkley, who only managed 3.4 yards per carry, but it is time for Matt Patricia get this defense back to where it was at the start of the season. With hopes of a playoff run still on the table, Detroit will need to play more complete games going forward.

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16. Carolina Panthers: 4-3 (Last Week: 14)
Lost 51-13 at San Francisco
Wow. That was bad. I understand that may be an oversimplification, but any time you give up 50-plus points in a game, that’s pretty awful. Carolina had no answer for the San Fran ground attack, or Nick Bosa for that matter. The Panthers offensive line hung Kyle Allen out to dry, allowing him to be sacked seven times. He didn’t do much to help himself either though, tossing three interceptions. Allen has already been announced as the starter for next week’s game against the Titans so he will need to find a way to settle down and avoid mistakes against another good defense.

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17. Jacksonville Jaguars: 4-4 (Last Week: 18)
Won 29-15 vs. New York
Jacksonville’s defense came to play and so did Gardner Minshew. The rookie out of Washington State tossed three touchdowns and racked up 279 yards through the air. The defense registered eight sacks and intercepted a trio of passes. One major issue that unexpectedly showed up was an inability to run the ball. Leonard Fournette ripped off a 66-yard run, but only managed 10 more yards on his other 18 carries. That is horribly inefficient and will need to pick up for the Jaguars to beat better teams.

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18. Tennessee Titans: 4-4 (Last Week: 20)
Won 27-23 vs. Tampa Bay
Suddenly the Titans are .500 and look like they belong in the playoff conversation. There is still a long way to go for this defensive-minded outfit to really deserve serious consideration, but Ryan Tannehill has righted the ship. On the season, Tannehill has completed 73.1 percent of his passes at an average of 8.3 yards per attempt for five touchdowns and just two interceptions. He has actually elevated his play each week. If the defense can keep generating turnovers, it had four in this game, Tennessee is more than capable of picking up some gritty victories.

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19. Chicago Bears: 3-4 (Last Week 17)
Lost 17-16 vs. Los Angeles
Kicker woes cropped up again, but honestly that should be the least of Chicago’s worries. The Bears managed just one touchdown despite several drives in their opponent’s territory. Mitch Trubisky had another game to forget despite a huge game from David Montgomery. The rookie back amassed 135 yards on the ground, but that resulted in just 16 points. Matt Nagy had some questionable playcalling leading into the missed field goal as well. This team is a mess right now.

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20. Pittsburgh Steelers: 3-4 (Last Week: 19)
Won 27-14 vs. Miami
There were boos raining down at Heinz Field, and it had nothing to do with Halloween. Pittsburgh eventually got back on track and handled Miami, but that first quarter is cause for concern. Credit is due for in-game adjustments by the coaching staff and a stellar night from James Conner. He finished with 145 yards on the ground, but left the game late with a shoulder injury. The Steelers cannot afford to start this slow again with games against the Colts and Rams coming up.

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21. Oakland Raiders: 3-4 (Last Week: 21)
Lost 27-24 at Houston
Oakland played three great quarters of football, but could not see the job through to the finish. The Raiders defense gave up 14 fourth-quarter points to drop a heartbreaker to the Texans. It was a massive opportunity for Oakland to secure a solid position in the AFC playoff picture. Instead, the defense wasted a great performance from Derek Carr to fall below .500 again. Don’t be surprised if the Raiders are working to acquire a defensive back at the trade deadline.

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22. Cleveland Browns: 2-5 (Last Week: 22)
Lost 27-13 at New England
If you missed the first 10 minutes of this game, you probably thought the Browns played a decent game. In those first 10 minutes though, Cleveland managed to turn the ball over on three straight offensive plays. Spotting any team a free 17 points is a recipe for disaster. Doing so against a team that is already one of the most dominant in the league removes any chance of winning the game. Baker Mayfield had another rough outing and the five sacks he took really underlines how badly this team needs offensive line help if it has any hope of making a playoff push.

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23. Arizona Cardinals: 3-4-1 (Last Week: 23)
Lost 31-9 at New Orleans
So that wasn’t a great outing for this young Cardinals team. Granted, it was against one of the best teams in the NFL, but failing to score a touchdown gave Arizona fans little to be excited about. You have to give Kliff Kingsbury some credit for staying aggressive, but as soon as Chase Edmonds went down, this offense could not find a way to string together a drive. Kyler Murray played fine, but ran just twice for 13 yards. Without the top two options at running back and a speedy quarterback, it was a bit surprising not to see Murray involved with his legs.

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24. Los Angeles Chargers: 3-5 (Last Week: 25)
Won 17-16 at Chicago
Los Angeles pulled off a big win Sunday, but the offense needs a real rework. The Chargers fired offensive coordinator Ken Whisenhunt on Monday. That should reshuffle things a bit and it was clear Philip Rivers was unhappy with the playcalling. LA is still in the mix for a playoff push, but they have a long ways to go. Running the ball 12 times for 36 yards, what the Chargers managed against the Bears, is not good enough. This team needs a jolt offensively.

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25. Denver Broncos: 2-6 (Last Week: 24)
Lost 15-13 at Indianapolis
Joe Flacco was spot on. This team is playing not to lose and that isn’t exactly going well. Denver decided to punt late in the game, allowing Indianapolis to set up a game-winning field goal. Flacco had a lot of issues with the timid playcalling down the stretch. Well now Flacco is out with a neck injury, meaning Brandon Allen is going to be the starting quarterback going forward. This feels more and more like a lost season for the Broncos and is certainly a troubling start to the Vic Fangio-era.

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26. New York Giants: 2-6 (Last Week: 26)
Lost 31-26 at Detroit
Daniel Jones had his best game of the year, but it was his one mistake that ended up being the difference. A lost fumble returned for a touchdown was extremely costly in a close contest. Defensively, this was not a great showing. Matt Stafford tore the secondary apart despite the total lack of a ground game. I also have no idea what the Giants are doing trading for Leonard Williams. Sure, he is talented, but he doesn’t really feel a need for right now for a team sitting at 2-6. Adding a corner or linebacker seems like it would’ve been a better investment of draft picks.

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27. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: 2-5 (Last Week: 27)
Lost 27-23 at Tennessee
I know Bruce Arians defended Jameis Winston, but with four more turnovers, it is hard to not blame him somewhat. There is still more to be pinned on a secondary who gave up three touchdowns to Ryan Tannehill though. While Mike Evans showed up for an amazing outing, Tampa Bay has to be frustrated after another tough loss. A struggling secondary and missing running game leaves a lot to desired.

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28. New York Jets: 1-6 (Last Week: 28)
Lost 29-15 at Jacksonville
Jacksonville had a lot of fun heckling Sam Darnold and Darnold gave them plenty of ammunition. He threw three interceptions and the offensive line failed to block once again. The hopes that Darnold would solve all of the offensive issues are long gone. Defensively, the secondary had a really rough day again, giving up tons of big plays to the Jaguars offense. There is no question the Jets are focusing on the upcoming draft at this point.

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29. Atlanta Falcons: 1-7 (Last Week: 29)
Lost 27-20 vs. Seattle
After a brutal first half, Atlanta did turn things around in the second half. Matt Schaub actually put up monster numbers, with 460 yards and a touchdown. Three turnovers made the 24-0 margin at halftime too large to overcome though as the Falcons dropped their fifth-straight game. Coach Dan Quinn’s seat is getting a little bit warmer and there is talk of making deals at the deadline. This shocking season continues for a team that entered the year with much higher hopes.

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30. Washington: 1-7 (Last Week: 30)
Lost 19-9 at Minnesota
Honestly, this was one of the better showings from Washington’s defense all year. It helped that Minnesota’s Adam Thielen could not suit up, but there is a lot to like about some of the young performers from Thursday night. Jonathan Allen played extremely well as part of a great night in the red zone defensively. Unfortunately, Dwayne Haskins struggled again in limited action, but Terry McLaurin looks like a great find. Washington is a long way from competing, but there are a couple of pieces in place to build around.

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31. Cincinnati Bengals: 0-8 (Last Week: 31)
Lost 24-10 at Los Angeles (London)
Somewhere, Marvin Lewis is probably laughing. Zac Taylor’s tenure has been a really rough go so far. The offense managed just 10 points and the defense had an embarrassing showing. For the Rams, Cooper Kupp could not be stopped and Jared Goff had one of his best games of the season. It’s par for the course for a struggling team with very little direction. Cincinnati needs a full-scale rebuild. That has to start by making moves at the trade deadline to add draft capital.

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32. Miami Dolphins: 0-7 (Last Week: 32)
Lost 27-13 at Pittsburgh
For a short while there, the Dolphins were making a lot of noise. Unfortunately, that early lead disappeared and Miami gave up 27 unanswered points to lose their seventh straight game. What compounds this loss for the Dolphins is that they own the Steelers’ first round pick, which would’ve only increased the value of that draft slot if they could have mustered their first win. Brian Flores still has a long ways to go with this group, but the start was promising and something to build on.

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