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ProfessorMJ

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ProfessorMJ last won the day on September 5 2019

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  1. 1. Introduction Matt LaFleur’s first season as Green Bay’s head coach has to be considered a success. He led the team to a 13-3 record, which secured the NFC North title. The Packers held off the Seahawks to a 28-23 home win in the first round of the playoffs, but were ousted by the Niners in a brutal 37-20 thumping (a game in which the Packers dugged themselves into an early 27-0 hole). 2. Offensive Position-by-Position Breakdown 2.1 Quarterbacks (QBs) Aaron Rodgers will be entering his 16th NFL season. He had another excellent year with a 26-to-4 TD-to-INT ratio and over 4,000 passing yards. He finished as the 7th-best QB in the league according to PFF ratings. At 36 years old, he is likely to have a few good years left. After all, Drew Brees and Tom Brady posted nice statistics in their late thirties. Rodgers has been very durable throughout his career, but he’s not invincible either. Tim Boyle was the backup plan last year, and the team needed to upgrade the position while starting to think about the post-Rodgers era. Still, drafting Jordan Love was the most questionable and talked-about pick in this year’s draft. People expected the Packers to go with a veteran backup QB. Rodgers has mentioned several times he wants to play in his forties; he can still offer a good five years of solid play in the frozen tundra. Love has possesses great size, throws with velocity and he’s very mobile. The main knock on him is the decision-making and inconsistency. As a sophomore, he threw 32 TD passes versus 6 interceptions. He regressed a lot last year by posting a mediocre 20:17 TD:INT mark. Granted, his surrounding cast was very weak and he had to go through a coaching change. Love can throw from many different arm angles; he reminds people of Patrick Mahomes in this regard. He can throw a fastball or a soft touch pass. Quick note: he almost quit football when he was 14 years old after his dad committed suicide. However, he knew his dad would want him to keep playing, so he did just that. 2.2 Running Backs (RBs) Aaron Jones is a top running back in this league. Along with Jamaal Williams, they form a lethal duo. Including the playoffs, Jones ended up scoring 23 touchdowns in 18 games. His 19 regular season scores were the second most in Packers history. His numbers have increased in each of his first three years as a pro. He is also excellent as a pass catcher. Despite playing in the shadow of Aaron Jones, Jamaal Williams still finished as the 17th-best RB based on PFF rankings. He does not seem like a lead back, but he’s a perfect change-of-pace guy. Much like Jones, he can do some damage as a receiver as well. Williams has been a steady performer thus far in his career. He has rushed for 450-550 yards in each of his three seasons, while catching a minimum of 25 balls. He has 15 total TDs over this three-year span. If you thought GM Brian Gutekunst made a strange move by drafting QB Jordan Love in the first round, he doubled down with another head scratcher in the 2nd round when he took A.J. Dillon. Message to Mr. Gutekunst: Aaron Rodgers needed pass catchers, not a third running back! I really don’t get this pick either. I’m not saying Dillon won’t be good in the NFL; only time will tell. However, it clearly wasn’t a position of need for the Packers. Dillon is a power back who rarely breaks off huge runs. He racked up big numbers in three seasons in Boston College. He’s unlikely to become a three-down starter, especially since he’s not a good pass catcher. He will likely be used sporadically as a rookie. 2.3 Wide Receivers (WRs) Davante Adams is one of the best at his position. He had a streak of three straight seasons with at least 10 TD receptions snapped last year, but he still caught 83 passes for 997 yards in 12 games (he missed four games because of a toe injury). Outside of Adams, all pass catchers appeared lost on the field. None of them developed a good chemistry with Rodgers. Marquez Valdes-Scantling was a huge disappointment last year. He showed promise as a rookie with over 500 receiving yards. Here’s a jaw-dropping statistic: after Week #7, MVS did not get more than 19 receiving yards in any meeting. That’s awful. One of the guys benefiting from Valdes-Scantling’s poor play was Jake Kumerow. He got more playing time than expected, but still only caught 12 passes. He is closing in on 30 years of age and is limited as an athlete, so he’s not a long-term answer for sure. Allen Lazard was also thrown into action far more than expected. He finished second in terms of receiving yards for Green Bay, but let’s face the reality: the undrafted guy remains more of a #3 or #4 WR for any team. Geronimo Allison was another bust last year. His top performance over the last 12 games (including the playoffs) was a meager 33 receiving yards. He left for another NFC North team, the Detroit Lions. In other words, the #2 role is wide open. The team hopes newly acquired Devin Funchess can step into that role. The former second rounder had his best season in 2017 with the Panthers with a 63-840-8 stat line. He signed with the Colts last year, but played just one game before breaking a collarbone. He will be 26 years old this season and provides an interesting prospect for the Packers. 2.4 Tight Ends (TEs) We’re not done talking about 2019 busts. Jimmy Graham was one of them. He clearly looks washed. He received the lowest grades of his 10-year career, and deservedly so. The Packers released him and he signed a few days later with the Bears (a horrible mind-boggling two-year, $16 million contract). Marcedes Lewis received surprisingly good marks from PFF. If you look into the numbers, the good grade occurred mainly because of efficient run and pass blocking. He’s not much of a pass catcher and he will be 36 years old when the season begins. Robert Tonyan will also be in the mix, but the guy that has the best chance to break out as a receiver in 2020 only caught three passes last year (all in the playoffs): Jace Sternberger. Taken in the third round of the 2019 draft, Sternberger was a threat at Texas A&M in college. He missed most of the regular season because of injuries, but the door is wide open with Graham’s departure. We might also see third-round rookie Josiah Deguara. He has a great motor and plays extremely hard. He’s undersized as a tight end, though. 2.5 Offensive Line (OL) The Packers had a pretty solid offensive line in 2019. All five starters managed to play at least 84% of the offensive snaps. And they all finished above-average according to PFF ratings! The bad news, however, is the Bryan Bulaga left for the Chargers. Despite turning over 30 years old, he still played at a high level. The Packers decided to replace him by signing Rick Wagner, formerly of the Lions. Wagner’s PFF grades from 2016 to 2018 were as follows: 74.0, 75.2 and 71.4. Last year, his play deteriorated a lot and he was tagged with a 59.0 grade. He finished as the #61 tackle among 81 guys. I like the fact that the team is returning four out of five guys, but replacing Bulaga with Wagner has to be viewed as a downgrade. 2020 VS 2019 OFFENSE The Packers offense finished in the middle of the pack in points scored per game. Barring major injuries, I expect about the same production in 2020. The QB and RB situations remain the same. Adding Funchess is not a huge move, but it won’t hurt. The team clearly needs someone to step up opposite of Davante Adams. At tight end, losing Jimmy Graham means close to nothing since he was so ineffective. Sternberger might bring a nice contribution, but we can hardly expect him to be a game-breaker. Finally, the OL will take a dip with the loss of Bulaga. I don’t believe Rick Wagner can do better than him. All in all, I view the additions/departures as a slight negative for Green Bay, but having so many starters returning to the lineup for a second straight season is always a good thing in the NFL. For these reasons, I expect a similar output as 2019 from this unit. Final call (2020 vs 2019): Stable 3. Defensive Position-by-Position Breakdown 3.1 Defensive Linemen (DLs) Kenny Clark had a fantastic season! He is one of the best interior rushers in the NFL. He recorded six sacks for the second straight year, and PFF ranked him as the 13th-best interior linemen out of 114 qualifiers. The same nice comments cannot be made about Dean Lowry. He had the worst season of his four-year career as a pro. He did not post a single sack and wasn’t great against the run either. Reserve Tyler Lancaster is only there to provide some depth. He isn’t particularly good in any aspect of the game. The team did not make any move regarding this position during the offseason. 3.2 Defensive Ends (DEs) / Edge Rushers (ED) During the last offseason, the Packers acquired two Smiths: Za’Darius and Preston. They burst onto the scene and got 13.5 and 12 sacks, respectively. Obviously, both received high marks for their pass rushing abilities, but Preston finished as an average linebacker overall because of mediocre run defense and poor coverage. Kyler Fackrell was a huge disappointment in 2019. After racking up 10.5 sacks in 2018, he only got one in 2019! He signed a one-year deal with the Giants. First-round pick Rashan Gary wasn’t necessarily impressive during his rookie season. He played 23% of the snaps, while obtaining two sacks but very pedestrian marks from PFF (an overall 55.8 grade, which is near the bottom among edge defenders). 3.3 Linebackers (LBs) Green Bay lost its leader in tackles from the past three years, Blake Martinez. After starting 61 of the last 64 Packers games, Martinez decided to join the New York Giants. He had the second-most tackles in the league last year, but don’t be misled by that number. Martinez still finished slight below-average (52nd out of 89 LBs) because of poor play against the run. The Packers also lost some depth at the position when B.J. Goodson left for Cleveland. Green Bay picked up a linebacker from the Browns roster: Christian Kirksey. He was picked in the 3rd round of the 2014 before being involved in all 16 games from his first four seasons in the NFL. However, he has been plagued with injuries over the most recent two years; he played 7 games in 2018 and only 2 games in 2019. He is also capable of racking up tackles, as shown by his 2016 and 2017 seasons where he obtained 146 and 138. His PFF grades during his first four seasons varied between 61.9 and 69.3. Just to give you a rough idea, a 65.0 rating would have been good for 29th place out of 89 LBs. 3.4 Cornerbacks (CBs) Jaire Alexander has done the job as the #1 corner. He has obtained 72.4 and 71.2 marks from PFF during his first two seasons, which is well-above average. He’s so-so defending the run, but his coverage skills are very good. The number two corner, Kevin King had five interceptions last year after getting just one over his first two years as a pro. He did show some improvement after two rocky years. He finished 2019 as a middle-of-the-pack corner. Tramon Williams played 74% of the snaps and had a surprisingly good season despite his age. He will be 37 when the 2020 season begins. He is currently a free agent and it remains to be seen if the Packers bring him back or not. In summary, Alexander and King are both pretty young and could still be improving, but Tramon Williams provided quality play and it’s uncertain if someone else can pick up the slack. 3.5 Safeties (S) Adrian Amos and Darnell Savage were the top two guys here. Along with Za’Darius and Preston Smith, the Adrian Amos was another excellent signing by the Packers during the 2019 offseason. Amos had been a reliable guy in Chicago for four seasons, and he continued to excel in the frozen tundra. After being selected as the #21 overall pick in the 2019 draft, Darnell Savage did show some flashes as a rookie last year. He finished as the #47 safety among 87 qualifiers, which is very satisfying for a rookie. He earned nice marks in coverage (77.4), but horrible ones against the run (37.7). Will Redmond will be back as the number three safety. He’s not starter material for sure. 2020 VS 2019 DEFENSE Most of the starters are returning in 2020. That’s the good news. The team lost their leader in tackles, Blake Martinez, as well as pass rusher Kyler Fackrell and CB Tramon Williams. The only acquisition worth of note is Christian Kirksey. Him not having played very much during the last two seasons brings some question marks. The Packers defense struggled against the run last year, and there’s no reason to believe that will change in 2020. Green Bay still finished 9th in points allowed, which was a very acceptable result. Unfortunately, a decrease in effectiveness is expected and I predict this unit will end 2020 as a middle-of-pack defense (12th – 19th in points allowed). Final call (2020 vs 2019): Small downgrade 4. Regular Season Wins According to sportsbooks, the Green Bay Packers are expected to win 9 games this season. Should we bet the “over” or the “under”? Here is the methodology I used in order to answer this vital question: Use BetOnline.ag’s point spreads on all 256 regular season games. Convert those point spreads into win probabilities. Simulate each of the 256 games, according to those win probabilities, via the R statistical software. Repeat the previous step one million times (you get 1M simulated seasons). Count the proportion of seasons where the Packers won more or less than 9 games. Here are the results (excluding the simulated years where the Pack won exactly 9 games, since in those cases your bet would have tied): OVER 9 WINS Estimated Probability: 51.4% Best Odds: +115 (bwin) ROI: +10.5% UNDER 9 WINS Estimated Probability: 48.6% Best Odds: +100 (Heritage Sports) ROI: -2.8% Tip: Bet OVER 9 wins Return On Investment (ROI): +10.5% Rank: 25th-highest ROI out of 32 teams Minimum odds required to bet (i.e. ROI = 0%): -106 Here are BetOnline’s point spreads for the Bears’ 16 regular season games: HOME: -6 vs ATL, -10 vs CAR, -4.5 vs CHI, -6.5 vs DET, -11.5 vs JAX, -3 vs MIN, -2.5 vs PHI, -3.5 vs TEN. ROAD: 0 @ CHI, -2 @ DET, 0 @ HOU, +2.5 @ IND, +3 @ MIN, +5.5 @ NO, +6.5 @ SF, +2.5 @ TB. Note: The “Best odds” from the table above were obtained after looking at 13 well-known online sportsbooks on May 18th, 2020. TOMORROW: I'll talk about the team whose ROI is the 24th-highest in the league, the Pittsburgh Steelers! Did you like this write-up? If so, comment below! I'd like to know YOUR opinion on what to expect from the Packers' 2020 season! Professor MJ
  2. 1. Introduction It was a roller-coaster ride for the Bears last year. They started with a 3-1 record before losing five of their next six meetings. They concluded the season by winning four of the last six games, but it wasn’t enough to qualify for the playoffs. After a NFC North title in 2018, Da Bears ended with a disappointing 8-8 record last season. The offense was often criticized (deservedly so), and changes needed to be made. 2. Offensive Position-by-Position Breakdown 2.1 Quarterbacks (QBs) Mitchell Trubisky has had an uncharacteristic journey in the NFL thus far. After being selected as the number two overall pick, he had a rookie season where he threw 7 TD passes versus 7 picks. He took a nice leap in his sophomore year with 24 TDs and 12 interceptions, while leading the team to its first division title since 2010. QBs showing such a nice growth from year 1 to year 2 rarely crash down the following season, but that pretty much describes Trubisky’s third year in the league. He graded as the 30th-best QB in the NFL out of 37 qualifiers based on PFF rankings. This situation was inexplicable. It’s not like the team had lost many key pieces on offense. What happened to Trubisky? GM Ryan Pace has set up nicely a good QB battle in camp between Trubisky and newly acquired Nick Foles. What’s interesting is Foles himself has had ups-and-downs in his career. He was outstanding in 2013 by throwing 27 TDs versus just 2 interceptions! He also led the Eagles to a Super Bowl in the 2017 season, after Carson Wentz went down to an injury. Foles also performed well in 2018. However, he wasn’t so good in 2014, 2015 and more recently 2019. What type of quarterback will he be in the windy city? Who’s going to get the starting nod? My own guess is Foles win the job early on. He is already familiar with the head coach, the QB coach and the offensive coordinator. Learning the playbook won’t be as difficult as if these guys had never worked together in the past. Backup QB Chase Daniel left for a division rival: the Detroit Lions. Overall, adding Foles over Daniel is clearly an upgrade over 2019, while also keeping in mind the fact that Trubisky may return to his previous form (which is not impossible for a young guy like him). 2.2 Running Backs (RBs) What the heck happened to Tarik Cohen? I have always liked small and fast guys. For this reason, he had become one of my favorite guys to watch. Watching him last year (and the entire offense) was sad. His yards per rush average went from 4.5 to 3.3. His yards per catch average went from 10.2 to 5.8. He couldn’t get going all season long. In 2017 and 2018, Jordan Howard and Tarik Cohen were a great version of the thunder-and-lightning combo. Despite losing Howard, the production wasn’t supposed to drop significantly because of the acquisition of David Montgomery through the draft. That’s not how things played out. The team went from 11th to 27th place in terms of rushing yards per game (from 2018 to 2019). Montgomery finished the year with a disappointing 3.7 yards per carry average. Both Montgomery and Cohen will be back in 2020. Perhaps they’ll do better this year, but I don’t expect a huge upgrade either. 2.3 Wide Receivers (WRs) Finally a guy that has produced consistent results in this offense: Allen Robinson! Catching 98 balls for 1,147 yards and 7 TDs despite such bad QB play was phenomenal! You can count on him to generate good numbers again, especially in a contract year. A former second-round pick, Anthony Miller caught 52 passes last season after catching 33 the year before. The only blemish was the number of TD receptions, which went from 7 to 2. Miller started the year slowly following an offseason injury that made him miss some time in camp. His role could be increased after the departure of Taylor Gabriel. The Bears pulled the plug on the Taylor Gabriel experiment. After showing some flashes with the Falcons, he never lived up to expectations in Chicago. Again, the production from this group may be steady in 2020. 2.4 Tight Ends (TEs) I’m sorry Bears fans, but one of the worst free agent acquisitions, in my humble opinion, was Jimmy Graham for two years and $16 million. The price paid versus the production doesn’t make sense at all. If you look at his numbers, you can see a clear decline. His first seven seasons were a success; his lowest mark according to PFF during that time span was 74.7. Then, he received a 66.0 grade in 2017. And then 59.6 in 2018, followed by 58.0 last year. To make matters worse, remember that the last two years were with the Packers, who happen to have a quarterback named Aaron Rodgers (have you heard of him?). Trey Burton was another huge disappointment last year. After catching 54 passes a couple of years ago, he only caught 14 in eight games. He was released and picked up by the Colts. The team drafted Cole Kmet in the second round in this year’s draft. He’s a classic tight end who can do a little bit of everything. He provides good run blocking, albeit sometimes a bit inconsistent. He doesn’t have that much experience as a pass catcher since he only started racking up decent stats last year, but he has a big catch radius. He will likely need time to develop into a solid starter. The Bears also have Adam Shaheen in their roster, a 2nd round pick from the 2017 draft. He has bust written all over him. As if they didn’t have enough tight ends, Chicago went on to sign Demetrius Harris, formerly of the Browns. He graded as the 66th-best tight end out of 66 qualifiers. Enough said. This group did very little last year. A bunch of six guys combined for 46 catches. Despite the questionable moves, I expect a small upgrade. Perhaps Graham can magically rejuvenate his career? 2.5 Offensive Line (OL) Four out of five starters are returning: Cody Whitehair, James Daniels, Charles Leno and Bobby Massie. Only Daniels graded as above-average; the others finished in the middle of the pack (or even lower). Kyle Long announced his retirement, while semi-starter Cornelius Lucas left for Washington. The new starter on the OL will be Germain Ifedi, who made at least 13 starts in each of his first four seasons in the league (all with the Seahawks). In summary, we have a not-so great starter being replace by a not-so great player. Therefore, we can expect similar results to 2019, which was average play. 2020 VS 2019 OFFENSE Inconsistency is a recurring theme for many players from this unit: Trubisky, Foles and Cohen. My final conclusion is a small upgrade over 2019, mainly because of the QB position. The chances are fairly good that either Foles provides a spark, or Trubisky regains his 2018 form. However, don’t expect a MVP-type of season for any one of them. The rest of the offense should expect similar output. Acquiring Jimmy Graham and Germain Ifedi is nothing to write home about, just as losing Taylor Gabriel isn’t a big loss either. Final call (2020 vs 2019): Small upgrade 3. Defensive Position-by-Position Breakdown 3.1 Defensive Linemen (DLs) The interior defenders did a fairly good job. Roy Robertson-Harris, Nick Williams and Eddie Goldman all graded as above-average DLs in 2019. Only Bilal Nichols received poor grades, but he played less often. Nick Williams left for Detroit, but the Bears expect to get Akiem Hicks in 2020. He suited up for just five games last year. He’s been a dominating force for them the previous three years. His return on the field will make a big difference. So, despite Williams’ departure, this group should do better in 2020 than the year before, mainly because of Hicks’ return. 3.2 Defensive Ends (DEs) / Edge Rushers (ED) Khalil Mack’s sack production went down in 2019 with “only” 8.5. He had recorded 12.5, 10.5, 11 and 15 in its previous four campaigns. Still, Mack finished as the #14 edge defender out of 107 guys. He is constantly disrupting plays from opposing offenses. The Bears lost Leonard Floyd who went to the Rams, but they quick found a replacement with Robert Quinn, coming over from Dallas. Floyd is two years younger and averaged 4.6 sacks per season, while Quinn has gotten 8.9 sacks per year over his nine-year career. Quinn is a better pass rusher, while Floyd plays the run better. All in all, I expect similar results as 2019 from this unit. 3.3 Linebackers (LBs) One more guy who saw a dip in productivity was Roquan Smith. After receiving a 67.0 grade in his rookie season, he only got 52.4 last year. He played the run well, but his coverage and pass rushing weren’t nearly as good in 2019. I do believe the former #8 pick overall can come back very strong in 2020. Danny Trevathan missed six games because of an injury, but he played pretty well when he was on the field. I am not worried about him. Backups Nick Kwiatkoski and Kevin Pierre-Louis both left in free agency. Both played very well while filling in for injured starters. Their losses take a blow to Chicago’s linebacker depth. 3.4 Cornerbacks (CBs) Kyle Fuller and Prince Amukamara were the clear starters in 2019. Despite finishing as PFF’s number 41 CB out of 112 qualifiers, Amukamara was released by the Bears for cap reasons. Still, the team needs to replace him. Can Buster Skrine or Kevin Toliver assume that #2 role? I’m not so sure about that… Chicago hopes to fill the void via the selection of Jaylon Johnson in the 2nd round last April. The number one concern about him is health; he has undergone through three shoulder surgeries over the years. Johnson’s speed and explosiveness are below average, but he makes up for it with great competitiveness and smart-play. 3.5 Safeties (S) We are rounding the defensive side of the ball with the safeties. Things were pretty simple in 2019, as both Ha Ha Clinton-Dix and Eddie Jackson played 99% of the defensive snaps. They ranked 19th and 46th out of 87 safeties, respectively, according to PFF. The problem is Clinton-Dix is gone to Dallas. Last year the Bears vacated the vacancy created at the safety position when Adrian Amos left for Green Bay by acquiring Clinton-Dix, but now that he’s also gone they have a glaring hole at the position. 2020 VS 2019 DEFENSE The Bears allowed the fourth-fewest points in the league last season. Can we expect a similary good 2020 season? I doubt it. First, the good news. Akiem Hicks is back from an injury that made him miss 11 games and the team acquired steady sack producer Robert Quinn from Dallas. The bad news? Losing DL Nick Williams, DE Leonard Floyd, LBs Nick Kwiatkoski and Kevin Pierre-Louis, CB Prince Amukamara and S Ha-Ha Clinton-Dix. That’s a lot of bodies that need to be replaced. We’re talking about at least 4 new starters and some key depth. Overall, my guess is it takes a moderate blow to the Bears’ defense. Their front seven is likely to remain very good, but the secondaries worry me. I wouldn’t fall off my chair if the team went from 4th-best in points allowed to the 10th-12th range. Final call (2020 vs 2019): Moderate downgrade 4. Regular Season Wins According to sportsbooks, the Chicago Bears are expected to win 8.5 games this season. Should we bet the “over” or the “under”? Here is the methodology I used in order to answer this vital question: Use BetOnline.ag’s point spreads on all 256 regular season games. Convert those point spreads into win probabilities. Simulate each of the 256 games, according to those win probabilities, via the R statistical software. Repeat the previous step one million times (you get 1M simulated seasons). Count the proportion of seasons where the Bears won more or less than 8.5 games. Here are the results: OVER 8.5 WINS Estimated Probability: 38% Best Odds: +148 (Pinnacle) ROI: -5.8% UNDER 8.5 WINS Estimated Probability: 62% Best Odds: -130 (MyBookie.ag) ROI: +9.7% Tip: Bet UNDER 8.5 wins Return On Investment (ROI): +9.7% Rank: 26th-highest ROI out of 32 teams Minimum odds required to bet (i.e. ROI = 0%): -163 Here are BetOnline’s point spreads for the Bears’ 16 regular season games: HOME: -5 vs DET, 0 vs GB, -3.5 vs HOU, -1.5 vs IND, 0 vs MIN, +2.5 vs NO, -5 vs NYG, -1 vs TB. ROAD: +2 @ ATL, -2.5 @ CAR, +1.5 @ DET, +4.5 @ GB, +1 @ JAX, +3.5 @ LAR, +4 @ MIN, +3 @ TEN. Note: The “Best odds” from the table above were obtained after looking at 13 well-known online sportsbooks on May 18th, 2020. TOMORROW: I'll talk about the team whose ROI is the 25th-highest in the league, the Green Bay Packers! I hope you found this article insightful, thanks for reading! Professor MJ
  3. 1. Introduction The Ravens finished as the top team in the NFL with a 14-2 record. However, the season ended on a sour note as they lost 28-to-12 at home against the Titans in the divisional round. Baltimore finished 1st in points scored and 3rd in points allowed. It doesn’t get any better than this! Their running game was historically great! They racked up 206 rushing yards per game on average, while the second-best in the NFL was San Francisco at “just” 144… Can they replicate last year’s success? 2. Offensive Position-by-Position Breakdown 2.1 Quarterbacks (QBs) Lamar Jackson was nothing short of spectacular. He was a lot of fun to watch. He was only the second unanimous MVP winner ever. He ran for 1,206 yards, but he surprised many with his arm. He threw 36 TD passes versus just 6 picks. While those numbers are jaw-dropping, I find it hard to believe he can be as good in 2020. Maybe teams will figure him out better and find ways to contain him. You cannot ask Baltimore’s quarterback position to do better in 2020 than they did in 2019. Note that Robert Griffin III remains the Ravens’ backup QB this year. 2.2 Running Backs (RBs) Mark Ingram and Gus Edwards were a very good one-two punch (on top of having Lamar Jackson running like crazy). They will be 30 and 25 years old, respectively, so there shouldn’t be too much of a dropoff. At first, it was believed that Justice Hill might push Gus Edwards for the number two role in 2020. The fourth-round pick out of Oklahoma State had a good rookie season. However, Baltimore’s backfield is pretty stacked with the addition of rookie J.K. Dobbins. He is very likely to pass Edwards and Hill on the depth chart. It won’t be easy to unseat Ingram, though. Dobbins rushed for over 2,000 yards last year, while also punching the ball in the end zone 21 times! He can also catch the ball well out of the backfield. He has the tools to become a three-down back in the NFL. 2.3 Wide Receivers (WRs) Not much change at this position either, except for the loss of Seth Roberts who caught 21 passes for 271 yards and 2 TDs. Not a big deal. The top two targets will be back in 2020: Marquise Brown and Willie Snead. Brown’ rookie season was a success as he caught 46 passes for 584 yards. He finished third among rookies with 7 receiving TDs. However, his college career ended with a foot injury and he says it hampered him at times during the 2019 season. He faded down the stretch, despite nice numbers in the lone playoff game. Indeed, he scored just one touchdown over the last six meetings. Snead wasn’t particularly good. He ranked 101st out of 122 wide receivers by PFF. During the regular season, he cleared 50 receiving yards just two times. He caught 4 passes in one game, and hauled in 3 passes or less in the remaining 15 matchups. Overall, this is a bit of a shaky group. Given his history, Marquise Brown is a likely candidate for injuries and if that happens, they will be in trouble at the wideout position. As mentioned above, Snead isn’t very strong. Seth Roberts is gone. And Miles Boykin isn’t scaring anyone either. Depth was clearly an issue here. Most observers believed the Ravens would address the position in the draft. However, Baltimore waited until late in the 3rd round to pick a WR: Devin Duvernay out of Texas. He’s a slot weapon who caught 106 passes for 1,386 yards and 9 TDs last year. Obviously, the 106 receptions are impressive, but keep in mind that he benefited from 42 screen plays going his way. 2.4 Tight Ends (TEs) The team was loaded at this position with Mark Andrews, Nick Boyle and Hayden Hurst. These guys finished 2nd, 12th, and 14th out of 66 tight ends! Having three of the top 14 TEs in the league within the same team is unbelievable! Unfortunately, Hurst left for Atlanta. As good as he was, it won’t be a huge blow to the Ravens considering the depth they had. 2.5 Offensive Line (OL) All guys on the offensive line finished above-average according to PFF. Unreal! The bad news is Marshal Yanda announced his retirement, which leaves a glaring hole at right guard. Yanda played 88% of the offensive snaps and finished as the 4th-best guard in the league (out of 81 guys). His replacement will have big shoes to fill. One of the main candidates to replace him is free agent D.J. Fluker, who is coming over from Seattle. The 29-year-old’s play has fairly dipped over the past three seasons after four promising years with the Chargers. Fluker graded out as the number 48 guard out of 81 players in 2019. Still, this is a very strong group, but expect a dropoff compared to last year. 2020 VS 2019 OFFENSE How can you not expect this unit to decrease its production? They were unbelievably effective last year. They are probably going to regress towards the mean. They didn’t add any key players on offense (except maybe rookie J.K. Dobbins?), while losing Hayden Hurst, Marshal Yanda and Seth Roberts. Teams have had several months to find ways to slow down Lamar Jackson and company. It’s highly unlikely that his numbers improve over the 2019 campaign. Also notice how the Ravens’ offense didn’t suffer any big injury all season long to key players. It may not be the case once again in 2020. Injuries occur on a regular basis in the NFL. Final call (2020 vs 2019): Moderate downgrade 3. Defensive Position-by-Position Breakdown 3.1 Defensive Linemen (DLs) The Ravens had three guys on the interior of the defensive line: Brandon Williams, Michael Pierce and Chris Wormley. Each of them received “ok” ratings from PFF, as they finished 67th, 45th and 63rd respectively (out of 114 inside defenders). Pierce and Wormley are gone. However, the team acquired Derek Wolfe from the Broncos. He recorded 7 sacks in 12 games last year and he ranked as the 46th-best inside defender. Justin Madubuike was taken early in the 3rd round of this year’s draft. He seems like a boom-or-bust player. He’s athletic, but he is a bit short and light. He’s more likely to become a backup in the NFL. 3.2 Defensive Ends (DEs) / Edge Rushers (ED) Matthew Judon led the way with 9.5 sacks and Tyus Bowser got a career-high 5 sacks in 2019. Both are above-average rushers. As for Jaylon Ferguson and Jihad Ward, they received fairly bad marks from PFF. The Ravens made a big splash by acquiring Calais Campbell from the Jaguars. The 33-year old may slow down in 2020, but his numbers have been impressive. He has averaged 8 sacks per season over an 11-year period! He’s also been extremely durable; he has not missed a game since 2014. As a matter of fact, he’s played at least 13 games in each of his 12 years in the NFL! He finished the 2019 season as the #2 edge defender according to PFF (only behind T.J. Watt from the Steelers). 3.3 Linebackers (LBs) Patrick Onwuasor and Josh Bynes received a good share of playing time. However, both are gone. Onwuasor was the #73 linebacker while Bynes got a surprisingly high 6th spot out of 89 linebackers. The only inside LB left with playing experience is L.J. Fort. He’s a 30-year old veteran who has played for five teams. He doesn’t look to be the long-term answer. The good news is the Ravens selected Patrick Queen from LSU with the 28th overall pick last April. The main knock on him is clearly is lack of experience since he’s was a one-year starter in college. However, his game film is impressive. He is very fast and he diagnoses plays quickly. He may be the only NFL-caliber linebacker the team has on their roster. It’s not as bad as it looks since Baltimore often plays with six DBs and one LB. Malik Harrison, who was picked late in the third round out of Ohio State, might get some limited playing time. 3.4 Cornerbacks (CBs) The Ravens have a strong group here, even though Brandon Carr was let go. The team still has Marlon Humphrey (37th-best CB), Marcus Peters (4th-best CB) and Jimmy Smith (42nd-best CB). Baltimore has a lot of ammunition and don’t need to worry about this position. 3.5 Safeties (S) Earl Thomas is a safe value. He’s been consistently good throughout his career and at 31 years old he still has a few good years left. Chuck Clark just signed a three-year contract and he deserved it. He really flourished in 2019 and finished 36th out of 87 safeties according to PFF. He is the main reason the team let Tony Jefferson go. 2020 VS 2019 DEFENSE Baltimore’s defense allowed the third fewest points in the league in 2019. They are still going to be difficult to score against. Calais Campbell was a great free agent acquisition. To a lesser degree, Derek Wolfe too. However, losing Michael Pierce, Chris Wormley, Patrick Onwuasor, Josh Bynes, Brandon Carr and Tony Jefferson will hurt. Most of these guys played about 50% of the snaps and will need to be replaced. The team has little to no depth at linebacker. Patrick Queen has a lot of pressure on his shoulders to step in and perform right away in his rookie season. Overall, I believe the Ravens defense will see a slight decrease in its effectiveness to stop opposing offenses. Final call (2020 vs 2019): Small downgrade 4. Regular Season Wins According to sportsbooks, the Baltimore Ravens are expected to win 11.5 games this season. Should we bet the “over” or the “under”? Here is the methodology I used in order to answer this vital question: Use BetOnline.ag’s point spreads on all 256 regular season games. Convert those point spreads into win probabilities. Simulate each of the 256 games, according to those win probabilities, via the R statistical software. Repeat the previous step one million times (you get 1M simulated seasons). Count the proportion of seasons where the Ravens won more or less than 11.5 games. Here are the results: OVER 11.5 WINS Estimated Probability: 52.3% Best Odds: +105 (at FanDuel) ROI: +7.2% UNDER 11.5 WINS Estimated Probability: 47.7% Best Odds: +100 (at bwin) ROI: -4.6% Tip: Bet OVER 11.5 wins Return On Investment (ROI): +7.2% Rank: 27th-highest ROI out of 32 teams Minimum odds required to bet (i.e. ROI = 0%): -110 Here are BetOnline’s point spreads for the Ravens’ 16 regular season games: HOME: -14 vs CIN, -8.5 vs CLE, -7 vs DAL, -16.5 vs JAX, -2 vs KC, -12.5 vs NYG, -7 vs PIT, -8.5 vs TEN. ROAD: -9 @ CIN, -3.5 @ CLE, -5 @ HOU, -2.5 @ IND, -2.5 @ NE, -2 @ PHI, 0 @ PIT, -10 @ WAS Note: The “Best odds” from the table above were obtained after looking at 13 well-known online sportsbooks on May 18th, 2020. Thanks for reading, I hope you appreciated this write-up! Professor MJ
  4. 1. Introduction The Rams looked almost unstoppable in 2018 when they finished with a 13-3 record and the second-highest scoring offense in the league. They made it to the Super Bowl, and that’s when things started to unravel for them. New England won Super Bowl LIII by a 13-3 score. The Rams offense was limited to just 260 total yards; they were totally unrecognizable. Their two biggest stars, Jared Goff and Todd Gurley, have not looked the same since that game. Their level of play took a big hit last year, and it led to a 9-7 season and missing the playoffs. What will 2020 bring? 2. Offensive Position-by-Position Breakdown 2.1 Quarterbacks (QBs) Jared Goff was a huge disappointment for fantasy owners. He did rack up 4,638 passing yards, but if you omit his rookie season, he had a career-low in TD passes with 22 and a career-high in interceptions with 16. Goff graded as the 20th overall QB out of 37 by PFF. A much better production was expected of him, especially with some playmakers around him. Its offensive line wasn’t as good as it was in the past. When your quarterback is as mobile as a statue, the results are bad. He struggles a lot when pressured; he doesn’t seem to be able to scramble or avoid the rush. The team would love to upgrade the OL, but it’s an almost impossible task considering the team’s lack of cap space. For this reason, Goff is unlikely to match his 2017 and 2018 numbers, but the team hopes he can fare better than last year. 2.2 Running Backs (RBs) Todd Gurley had four magnificent seasons with the Rams from 2015 to 2018. He was widely viewed as one of the best non-QB player in the league. He was racking up rushing yards, receiving yards and also a boatload of touchdowns. Then, his play started to decline towards the end of the 2018 season because of knee and ankle injuries. His 2019 play wasn’t so good, including a pedestrian 3.8 yard-per-rush average. The team got rid of him even though he’s only 25 years old. His knee issues appear to be chronic, which scared the team. His enormous contract also became a big problem. Who is set to replace him? The team pulled the trigger on Cam Akers in the 2nd round of this year’s draft. He was the #1 ranked RB coming out of high school. He had a tough time at Florida State running behind a putrid offensive line. Akers has a very thick lower body. He has the skillset to become a three-down NFL runner since he showed promise as a pass catcher (albeit not spectacular in that part of the game). He has shown a great understanding at reading defensive fronts. The Rams invested a 3rd round pick in 2019 on Darrell Henderson, so they are likely to give him all the opportunities to prove his worth. He only rushed 39 times for 147 yards (an ordinary 3.8 yards-per-carry average), while catching just four balls last year. And that was despite Gurley not playing very well, so I don’t recommend holding your breath hoping he can suddenly break out in 2020. As for Malcolm Brown, he had more rushes and yards than Henderson, but his yards-per-rush average was no better. Brown did get into the end zone on five occasions, though. The undrafted runner from Texas seems unlikely to be a lead back in the NFL. 2.3 Wide Receivers (WRs) Cooper Kupp and Robert Woods led the team with 94 and 90 receptions, respectively. Both surpassed the 1,100 receiving yard mark. Kupp hauled in 10 TD passes versus just two for Woods. Both are very reliable and well above-average receivers. A very nice duo to have for Goff. The 2019 season was one to forget for Brandin Cooks. He had career-lows in receptions (42) and TDs (2), and pretty close to a career-low as well in terms of receiving yards with just 583. His five concussions as a pro and his bad contract enticed the team to trade him to Houston. That opens the door for Josh Reynolds, who is clearly a huge downgrade compared to Cooks. That being said, second round pick Van Jefferson might push Reynolds for the number three role. Jefferson is known for his route running prowess, which is something Sean McVay values. However, he doesn’t have extraordinary size, nor speed. His production in college wasn’t very impressive, as he never topped the 700 receiving-yard mark in any college season. 2.4 Tight Ends (TEs) The Rams have a nice TE duo with Tyler Higbee and Gerald Everett. They graded as the 3rd and 10th-best tight ends in the league last year, according to PFF ratings. Gerald Everett entered 2019 as the #1 tight end for the Rams and he was on his way for a breakout season. In Week #11, he sustained a knee injury and he ended up missing a few games. During that time, Tyler Higbee did an astounding job and the team had no choice but to put Everett in the backseat. Both of these guys will be back in 2020 and are entering their prime years. The future is bright at this position. 2.5 Offensive Line (OL) L.A.’s offensive line struggled last year. The only guy who seems to be locked into a spot is left guard Andrew Whitworth. His play dipped last year, but he was still one of the best from this group. The Rams have signed some bad deals recently, and they might have done another one this offseason. Why sign Whitworth for three years at an average of $10 million, knowing he’s 38 years old? He’s been very durable, but a 38-year-old body is more likely to get hurt. Also, his play might deteriorate even more this year. Austin Blythe started the second half of the season at center following Brian Allen’s injury. Both had a subpar season and it remains to be seen who get the starting nod when the season opens. Rob Havenstein was considered as a strong up-and-coming right tackle in the NFL until the wheels came off last year. He eventually got benched in favor of Bobby Evans. Both received marks around 50 from PFF, which is horrible. David Edwards seems to have a shot to become the starting right guard. He was taken in the 5th round of the 2019 draft and he ended up starting 10 games last year. He finished as the 44th-best guard in the NFL among 81 guards. That’s not great, but it turns out to be a higher rank than most of his teammates. Joseph Noteboom is another guy whose PFF grade cratered in 2019. It went from 70.7 in 2018 to 39.7 last year. He was overmatched and looked nothing like the promising third-round pick. Austin Corbett might still be in play as well. He’s been nothing short of bad with the Browns and the Rams. He couldn’t make it into the starting lineup with the OL-desperate Browns. 2020 VS 2019 OFFENSE The Rams didn’t add any offensive player worth of note via free agency. However, they lost Todd Gurley and Brandin Cooks. Both disappointed a lot last year, but they still had talent and contributed to some level last year. I’m also worried about the team’s depth, except at the tight end position. First, the backup WR position is questionable. If either Kupp or Woods get hurt, who will step in at WR? Reynolds isn’t ready to be a #2 receiver. Rookie Van Jefferson isn’t up to the task either. Next, we don’t even know if the Rams have a #1 running back, let alone a viable backup. They have to hope for Cam Akers to be pro ready. Finally, the offensive line is a mess. Therefore, it’s hard to envision an upgrade from this offense. They scored the 11th highest number of points in 2019 and I can hardly see them finishing above spot 11. Perhaps 14th-19th is more realistic. Final call (2020 vs 2019): Moderate downgrade 3. Defensive Position-by-Position Breakdown 3.1 Defensive Linemen (DLs) The interior of the defensive line is the strength of this defense. Having what may be the best defensive player in the league, Aaron Donald, clearly helps the cause. Donald has obtained a PFF grade above 90 in each of his first six seasons in the league, which is unbelievable. For clarity purposes, note that just three DLs obtained a mark above 90 last year. His numbers are staggering. He has averaged 12 sacks and 2.5 forced fumbles per year. He has also missed just two games during this 6-year period. It doesn’t get any better than this! Michael Brockers agreed to terms with the Ravens, but the deal fell through because he failed a physical exam. Baltimore was too worried about a high-ankle sprain he suffered last year. A few days later, he signed a three-year contract with the Rams. The team is glad to have him back. He was the 23rd-best DL out of 114 qualifiers, according to PFF. He will soon turn 30, but still has some gas left in the tank. Los Angeles added some nice depth by acquiring A’Shawn Robinson, formerly of the Lions. He never lived up to his round 2 status and he struggled more last year, but his presence might help. 3.2 Defensive Ends (DEs) / Edge Rushers (ED) Dante Fowler and Clay Matthews are gone. There goes 11.5 and 8 sacks. Out of the two, Fowler’s departure hurts the most by far. He’ll be 26 years old when the season begins and he was coming off career highs in tackles, sacks and forced fumbles. As for Matthews, his eight sacks were deceiving. He still received the lowest PFF grades of his 11-year career; his tackling was particularly horrible. In order to alleviate those losses, the Rams signed Leonard Floyd. After being selected as the #9 overall pick in the 2016 draft, he posted seven sacks in 12 games during his rookie season. Things were looking up. However, he picked up just 4.5, 4.0 and 3.0 sacks from 2017 to 2019. At least he defends the run well, which allowed him to finish above-average among all edge defenders in the NFL (based on PFF ratings). Samson Ebukam has enjoyed three similarly “okay” seasons in the NFL thus far. He’ll be 25 years old so he could improve a little bit. He’s nice depth to have on your team. 3.3 Linebackers (LBs) Cory Littleton leaving to Las Vegas is a huge blow to this defense. A very big loss. He led the team in tackles both in 2018 and 2019. He was a three-down player and it’s unclear how the team plans to replace him. Troy Reeder is an undrafted guy who played 27% of the snaps. According to PFF, he finished as the second-worst LB in the league out of 88 guys. Enough said. 3.4 Cornerbacks (CBs) Last October, the Rams made a lot of big moves. First, they traded Marcus Peters to the Ravens, whose level of play increased dramatically after the trade. A few hours later, the Rams acquired Jalen Ramsey from the Jaguars, in return of a couple of first-rounders and a 4th round selection. Finally, the Rams shipped Aqib Talib to Miami for cap reasons. Ramsey played pretty well in his nine games with the Rams. He’s been very good in each of his first four years in the league. After the trade shuffling, Troy Hill became the starter opposite of Ramsey. He received good marks from PFF, but he seems likely to regress in 2020. He’s an undrafted guy who was used as a fill-in during his first four years in the NFL. Nickell Robey-Coleman was a slot man for the Rams, and he was good at it. His 74.5 grade from PFF put him in the #16 spot out of 112 CBs. Unfortunately, he left for Philly and he leaves a hole in L.A.’s defense. 3.5 Safeties (S) Eric Weddle was the most used safety in the team, but he decided to retire after an illustrious 13-year career. Hats off to him for missing just seven games during this time frame! Last year the team drafted Taylor Rapp out of Washington in the second round. He had a satisfying season with 100 tackles, two interceptions and one TD. Despite such very respectable numbers, he graded as the 57th-best safety out of 87. Who will fill the void left by Weddle? As of now, the most probable answer is John Johnson. The former Boston College player enjoyed two very good seasons after being drafted in the third round. Indeed, 81.5 and 83.6 grades from PFF during those years was exceptional. However, he crashed down to a 53.5 mark last year, while also missing 10 games due to a shoulder injury. He really struggled early in the 2019 season. 2020 VS 2019 DEFENSE The only defensive position where the Rams improved during the offseason is DL via the acquisition of A’Shawn Robinson. And to be honest, that’s not a huge improvement. On the other hand, the team will be hurt big time from the loss of LB Cory Littleton. At edge, replacing Fowler and Matthews with Leonard Floyd won’t cut it. More bad news in the secondary. Effective slot corner Nickell Robey-Coleman is gone, while starting safety Eric Weddle decided to hang his cleats. The Rams will be hard-pressed to find suitable replacements. Thank God they have big-name players like Aaron Donald and Jalen Ramsey (and perhaps to a lesser level Michael Brockers) because the rest of the roster is pretty weak. If either player gets hurt, it could be catastrophic for this unit. Last year, Los Angeles ranked 17th in terms of points allowed. I expect a severe downfall into the 24-30 range. Final call (2020 vs 2019): Big downgrade 4. Regular Season Wins According to sportsbooks, the Los Angeles Rams are expected to win 8.5 games this season. Should we bet the “over” or the “under”? Here is the methodology I used in order to answer this vital question: Use BetOnline.ag’s point spreads on all 256 regular season games. Convert those point spreads into win probabilities. Simulate each of the 256 games, according to those win probabilities, via the R statistical software. Repeat the previous step one million times (you get 1M simulated seasons). Count the proportion of seasons where the Rams won more or less than 8.5 games. Here are the results: Estimated Probability Sportsbook Odds ROI OVER 8.5 wins 49.3% Bookmaker.eu +116 +6.5% UNDER 8.5 wins 50.7% William Hill -110 -3.2% Tip: Bet OVER 8.5 wins Return On Investment (ROI): +6.5% Rank: 28th-highest ROI out of 32 teams Minimum odds required to bet (i.e. ROI = 0%): +103 Here are BetOnline’s point spreads for the Rams’ 16 regular season games: HOME: -6 vs ARI, -3.5 vs CHI, +2.5 vs DAL, -4 vs NE, -7.5 vs NYG, -7 vs NYJ, -1.5 vs SEA, +2.5 vs SF. ROAD: 0 @ ARI, +3 @ BUF, -3 @ MIA, +4 @ PHI, +3.5 @ SEA, +7 @ SF, +3.5 @ TB, -5 @ WAS. Note: The “Best odds” from the table above were obtained after looking at 13 well-known online sportsbooks on May 18th, 2020. I hope you found this article and in-depth statistical study insightful! Professor MJ
  5. 1. Introduction The Texans won the AFC South title for the fourth time in five years. They pulled off a great playoff comeback win over the Bills after being down 16-0 in the third quarter. However, they were the victim of a huge comeback themselves in the following contest by squandering a 24-0 lead in Kansas City. They were completely overwhelmed in the last 40 minutes of the game at Arrowhead Stadium and ended up losing 51-31. 2. Regular Season Wins According to sportsbooks, the Houston Texans are expected to win 7.5 games this season. Should we bet the “over” or the “under”? Here is the methodology I used in order to answer this vital question: Use BetOnline.ag’s point spreads on all 256 regular season games. Convert those point spreads into win probabilities. Simulate each of the 256 games, according to those win probabilities, via the R statistical software. Repeat the previous step one million times (you get 1M simulated seasons). Count the proportion of seasons where the Texans won more or less than 7.5 games. Here are the results: Estimated Probability Sportsbook Odds ROI OVER 7.5 wins 50.8% Jazz Sports +105 +4.1% UNDER 7.5 wins 49.2% MyBookie.ag -105 -3.9% Tip: Bet OVER 7.5 wins Return On Investment (ROI): +4.1% Rank: 29th-highest ROI out of 32 teams Minimum odds required to bet (i.e. ROI = 0%): -103 Here are BetOnline’s point spreads for the Texans’ 16 regular season games: HOME: +5 vs BAL, -6.5 vs CIN, 0 vs GB, -2 vs IND, -9 vs JAX, 0 vs MIN, -3 vs NE, -1 vs TEN. ROAD: +3.5 @ CHI, +2.5 @ CLE, +1 @ DET, +4.5 @ IND, -3 @ JAX, +9.5 @ KC, +5 @ PIT, +4.5 @ TEN. Note: The “Best odds” from the table above were obtained after looking at 13 well-known online sportsbooks on May 18th, 2020. 3. Offensive Position-by-Position Breakdown QUARTERBACKS (QB) DeShaun Watson entrenched his status as a top 10 QB in the league by posting good numbers for a third straight year. He came close from the 4,000-yard mark, while throwing 26 TDs and 12 interceptions. He also added a career-high 7 rushing touchdowns. There is no doubt he is one of the top signal callers in the league. He now has a good mix of youth and experience. He has a bright future ahead of him. A.J. McCarron will back up Watson, but the team crosses its fingers they won’t need him on the field. He’s clearly not starter material; he has 6 TDs and 3 interceptions over a five-year period. RUNNING BACKS (RB) The Texans had a very nice duo in 2019 with Carlos Hyde and Duke Johnson. Still, Houston decided to shuffle things up a little bit. David Johnson was acquired via a trade, even though the 28-year old has shown signs of declining. After racking up more than 2,000 rushing+receiving yards and 20 TDs in 2016, Johnson played just one game in 2017 after dislocating his left wrist in the season opener. He simply hasn’t been the same since. His yards per rush average has gone from 4.6 in 2015 to 4.2 in 2016, 3.6 in 2018 and 3.7 last year. David Johnson will be the lead back since Hyde has not been re-signed. Hyde rushed for more than 1,000 yards for the first time of his career and will need to find work elsewhere. I really like Duke Johnson. He seems to have enough talent to take a heavier workload, but he’s been stuck behind guys like Isaiah Crowell, Nick Chubb and Carlos Hyde. He hasn’t missed a single game in five years! He has caught at least 44 balls in each of those seasons, which shows how dangerous he is as a pass catcher. I would love to see what he could do as the workhorse back, but it’s not going to happen this year, unless David Johnson gets hurt. WIDE RECEIVERS (WR) I’ll do my best to stay polite: the DeAndre Hopkins trade was bad. That’s the nicest I can be when talking about this trade. Hopkins is a rare talent. David Johnson isn’t. It’s as simple as that. Losing Hopkins is a big blow. He is a game changer and often draws double coverage, which leaves more room for his teammates. Will Fuller is a difference-maker when healthy, but the problem has been just that: health. He has missed between 2 and 7 games in each of his first four years as a pro. And when he’s on the field, he tends to play at less than 100%. He graded as the 25th-best WR last year (out of 122 guys). Kenny Stills is not a #1 WR in this league, but he can be a competent #2, or a very good #3 wideout. He’s been pretty durable during his first seven years in the NFL, averaging 43 catches, 671 receiving yards and 5.1 TDs. The team acquired a couple of WRs during the offseason: Randall Cobb and Brandin Cooks. Both graded as a middle-of-the-pack wideout last year, per PFF. Cobb will be 30 when the 2020 season begins. He had a very respectable season in Dallas last year by posting a 55-828-3 stat line. Brandin Cooks topped the 1,000-yard mark in each of the 2015, 2016, 2017 and 2018 seasons. His play took a huge dip last year; he caught 42 passes for 583 yards and just 2 TDs with the Rams. The big source of concern about Cooks is his injury history: he has suffered at least five concussions in the NFL. Will he bounce back with Watson as his quarterback? It’s hard to tell. If he goes down, at least the team has nice depth with Fuller, Stills and Cobb. TIGHT ENDS (TE) Darren Fells used to be viewed as a run blocker throughout his career. He had never caught more than 21 passes in a season. In 2019, he broke out with 34 receptions, but most importantly 7 TDs! Watson made good use of his big 6’7’’ frame. Jordan Akins went from 17 to 36 receptions in his second year as a pro. Both Akins and Fells aren’t game breakers. They ranked 50th and 48th out of 66 tight ends based on PFF ratings in 2019. OFFENSIVE LINE (OL) This has to be the offense’s weakest link. Other than Laremy Tunsil, all starters are either average, or below-average. Tunsil did finish as the #21 tackle out of 81 qualifiers (he wasn’t as good in run blocking). The Texans gave up a lot of draft capital in order to acquire him and Stills, so they need Tunsil to produce. The other guys on the line, along with their PFF rankings, are as follows: Nick Martin (18th out of 37 centers), Tytus Howard (60th out of 81 tackles), Zach Fulton (61st out of 81 guards) and Max Scharping (48th out of 81 guards). As for backup Roderick Johnson, who was re-signed to a one-year deal, he finished as the #42 tackle. Last year, the Texans attempted the 20th-most passes in the league, and yet allowed the 8th-most sacks. And that’s despite having a pretty mobile quarterback. Those numbers are not re-assuring. Since the same guys will be protecting Watson in 2020, you could be concerned about his health. The only good news is continuity is important on the offensive line. Having played a full year together might help improve their play. 2020 VS 2019 OFFENSE It’s difficult not to downgrade this unit after losing such an impactful player like DeAndre Hopkins. At least they picked up adequate receivers like Brandin Cooks and Randall Cobb. Along with Fuller and Stills, that will still provide nice weapons for Watson. Switching Carlos Hyde for David Johnson isn’t necessarily an upgrade, in my humble opinion. Hyde did well in 2019 by finishing as the 18th-best RB (versus 22nd for Johnson). The starting tight ends are the same as last year. The OL remains intact. Overall, I’ll go with a small downgrade. Hopkins not only consistently racked up big numbers, but his presence alone opened things up for his teammates. It won’t be the case anymore. Final call (2020 vs 2019): Small downgrade 4. Defensive Position-by-Position Breakdown DEFENSIVE LINEMEN (DL) The Texans had four guys rotating on the interior of the defensive line. None dominated nearly as much as D.J. Reader. He left for Cincinnati, which is a huge loss for the Texans. Reader was not much of a quarterback chaser, but he was an animal as a run stuffer. Despite posting just 2.5 sacks, Reader ranked as the 7th-best interior defender out of 114 qualifiers. The Texans were 25th in rushing yards allowed per game, and things are about to get worse following Reader’s departure. Bill O’Brien tried to compensate for that loss by signing Tim Jernigan away from the Eagles. He is an “okay” player, but not nearly as good as Reader was. The other three guys obtaining playing time at the position were Charles Omenihu, Angelo Blackson and Brandon Dunn. They all played between 37% and 41% of the snaps last year. Here were their PFF rankings out of 114 interior defenders: 84th, 113th and 97th. Ouch. The organization hopes second-round rookie Ross Blacklock can provide a spark right away. He played pretty well as a freshman with TCU, then missed the entire 2018 season due to an Achilles injury and came back leaner and faster as a junior. He’s an agile pass rusher who isn’t super strong. Therefore, we’re talking about a pretty weak and worsened group. DEFENSIVE ENDS (DE) / EDGE (ED) J.J. Watt is the heart and soul of this defense. In his first five seasons in the NFL, he hadn’t missed a single game. Since then, he has played 32-of-64 games (i.e. 50% of them). Now 31 years old, Texans fans have to be concerned by the situation. He did get 16 sacks in 2018, though. The big question revolves around his health because the abilities are still there for sure. Whitney Mercilus isn’t getting any younger either. He will be 30 years old when the next season begins. He led the team with 7.5 sacks last year. As a whole, Houston’s defense posted the sixth-fewest sacks, so thank God Mercilus was there. Unlike Watt, Mercilus has not missed many games throughout his career. He’s been involved in 15 games or more in seven of his eight seasons in the NFL. During those seven years, he has averaged 7 sacks per season. We do observe a worrisome tendency when watching his PFF grades, though. His marks have gone down quite a bit over the most recent two years. Coupled with his age, I am wary of his 2020 outlook. LINEBACKERS (LB) Zach Cunningham did a very fine job at linebacker last season. He had the 6th-most tackles in the league with 142, improving upon his 105 the year before. The former second rounder from the 2017 draft out of Vanderbilt has shown some nice steady progress thus far. He graded as the 21st-best LB out of 89 players. Benardrick McKinney is another guy that does a good job, despite not receiving much recognition around the league. He’s missed only two games over the past four seasons, while racking up at least 95 tackles in each of them. McKinney had his worst PFF grade of his career, and yet finished in spot #30 out of 89 linebackers. Not bad! He’s still young at 27 years old, so a bounce back year is likely. CORNERBACKS (CB) Bradley Roby was one of the starting corners for the Texans last year, but he missed six games due to a hamstring injury. Prior to this, he had been very durable in five seasons with the Broncos. As a former first-round pick, he’s had ups-and-downs in his career. Houston just locked him up with a lucrative three-year contract, so they believe he’s one of the building blocks towards a Super Bowl run. He ranked as an average CB last season based on PFF ratings. Johnathan Joseph is done in Houston. Both sides agreed to part ways. He played almost all games last season, and just like Roby he was marked as an average cornerback. After getting traded at midseason from the Raiders to the Texans, Gareon Conley significantly improved his play. The former 2017 first-rounder showed some promise and could be Joseph’s replacement. Another candidate is Lonnie Johnson. Bill O’Brien took him in the second round of the 2019 draft, but he struggled big time in his rookie season. His 29.0 grade in coverage by PFF was abysmal. He finished as the worst of all 112 qualified cornerbacks in the NFL. SAFETIES (S) Justin Reid has been a nice pickup so far. In his first two seasons in the NFL, he has received very good marks from PFF. He has intercepted five passes, forced one fumble and recovered three. Tashaun Gipson secured the number 71 spot out of 87 safeties in PFF rankings last season. His play tailed off significantly compared to his previous two years in Jacksonville. Entering his age-30 campaign, the team released him this offseason. The #3 safety was Jahleel Addae, but he won’t be re-signed. The guy who is most likely to take Gipson’s job is Eric Murray. His three-year, $20.25 million contract is a bit of a head-scratcher (what else can you expect from Bill O’Brien), but the dollar amount indicates he has a good shot to be a starter. Murray played his first three seasons with the Chiefs before joining the Browns last year. His PFF grades have been all over the place. As a rookie, his 74.0 mark was awesome! However, he crashed down to an atrocious 49.8 grade in his sophomore year before obtaining 67.5 and 62.5 the most recent two seasons. To me, he looks like a middle-of-the-pack guy (if not below-average). 2020 VS 2019 DEFENSE In the secondary, the Texans let CB Johnathan Joseph and their #2 and #3 safeties Tashaun Gipson and Jahleel Addae go, but picked up Eric Murray. That’s pretty much a wash. For a team that allowed the fourth-most passing yards in 2019, it does not bode very well for 2020. Replacing stud DL D.J. Reader with Tim Jernigan is clearly a downgrade. As for the edge rushers and the linebackers, no changes have been made. J.J. Watt missed eight games last year and will be back this year, but his age (and Mercilus’ age) worry me a little bit. For these reasons, I expect this already fairly weak unit to decrease even more in terms of production. Final call (2020 vs 2019): Small downgrade MOST LIKELY RECORD: 8-8 (based on the one-million simulated seasons using BetOnline’s 2020 point spreads) Thanks for reading, savvy sports bettor!!! Professor MJ
  6. 30th of out 32. NEW ORLEANS SAINTS 1. Introduction The Saints secured the #2 seed in last year’s playoffs following a great 13-3 season, despite Drew Brees missing five games. Unfortunately, for the third straight season, the Saints were eliminated in dramatic fashion. After suffering through the “Minneapolis Miracle” in 2018 and the non-call on a critical blatant interference penalty against the Rams in 2019, the Saints lost a 26-20 overtime thriller at home against the Vikings. Once again, officials were questioned when the replay showed Kyle Rudolph possibly pushed P.J. Williams on the game-winning touchdown. Bad luck just continues to stick to this franchise. Will it be THE year where they shake it all off? 2. Regular Season Wins According to sportsbooks, the New Orleans Saints are expected to win 10.5 games this season. Should we bet the “over” or the “under”? Here is the methodology I used in order to answer this vital question: - Use BetOnline.ag’s point spreads on all 256 regular season games. - Convert those point spreads into win probabilities. - Simulate each of the 256 games, according to those win probabilities, via the R statistical software. - Repeat the previous step one million times (you get 1M simulated seasons). - Count the proportion of seasons where the Saints won more or less than 10.5 games. Here are the results Estimated Probability Sportsbook Odds ROI OVER 10.5 Wins 52% Fan Duel +100 +4.0% UNDER 10.5 Wins 48% William Hill -110 -8.4% Tip: Bet OVER 10.5 wins Return On Investment (ROI): +4.0% Rank: 30th-highest ROI out of 32 teams Minimum odds required to bet (i.e. ROI = 0%): -108 Note: The “Best odds” from the table above were obtained after looking at 13 well-known online sportsbooks on May 18th, 2020. 3. Offensive Position-by-Position Breakdown QUARTERBACKS (QB) Drew Brees is simply unbelievable on the field, and a wonderful human being. He donated $5 million to deliver meals to needy people in the Louisiana state. A great gesture from him and his wife. Will he ever slow down or what? He is now 41 years old, but his numbers have kept impressing. He has completed at least 70% of his passes in each of his past four seasons, which is jaw-dropping! He led the league in that category last year. His TD-to-INT ratio has also improved of late. Over the past two years, he has thrown 59 TD passes versus just 9 picks. Backup QB Teddy Bridgewater left for Carolina during the offseason. Who can blame him? He deserved a chance to be a starter in this league once again. He’s joining a much weaker team, though. He did a very good job when Brees went down to a thumb injury. For a moment, the backup QB became Taysom Hill, who has been the jack-of-all-trades in this offense. He can throw, he can run, he can catch. However, it’s unclear who gets the #2 role following the signing of Jameis Winston, also known as “The Turnover Machine.” Winston threw for 5,109 yards last year, which turned out to be the 8th-most in league history. However, the 30 interceptions (!!!) and five lost fumbles put a big blemish on his 2019 season. A 60.7% completion rate wasn’t all that great, either. He has great weapons to work with, including stud receivers Mike Evans and Chris Godwin. Playing for the Saints could end up being the best thing that has ever happened to Winston. He will get great tips from Drew Brees who, unlike Winston, doesn’t turn the ball over often. The former Buc has a great arm and he is in his mid-twenties; not all hope is lost for the former #1 overall pick out of Florida State. RUNNING BACKS (RB) Alvin Kamara’s numbers have been incredibly steady since entering the league in 2017. He has rushed for 728, 883 and 797 yards during that time frame, while catching exactly 81 balls (!!!) in each of these three seasons. His TD output was his lowest of his career though, as he only scored six total touchdowns in 2019. It is worth noting, though, that he battled through injuries last year. He had more trouble breaking tackles down the stretch. He will be back at 100% when the 2020 season begins. Latavius Murray is nice luxury as a backup running back. He picked up almost as many rushing yards as Kamara, while posting a nice 4.4 yards-per-carry average. This figure has never been lower than 3.9 in any of his six years in the NFL, which is remarkable. Kamara missed two games last year; in those games, Murray racked up 150 and 157 total yards with a couple of touchdowns in each of those contests. The Saints will be in good hands if Kamara gets hurt. WIDE RECEIVERS (WR) Michael Thomas broke Marvin Harrison’s single-season record for receptions by catching 149 balls. He caught a minimum of four passes in all games and cleared the 100-receiving yard mark on 10 occasions. Thomas was truly dominant. What’s even more incredible is he caught 149-of-185, which amounts to a mind-boggling 80.5% catch rate (an unbelievable percentage given the high volume) .With Thomas and Kamara catching so many passes, that didn’t leave many targets to the other receivers. Ted Ginn’s play seemed to drop off quite a bit, as he caught 30-of-56 balls thrown his way. He has his second-worst PFF grade over his 13-year career. At 35 years old, you have to wonder whether he has some gas left in the tank or not. I don’t believe he can rebound in 2020. Meanwhile, Tre’Quan Smith was a disappointment last year. He did catch 5 TD passes for the second straight year after being selected in the 2nd round of the 2018 draft, but catching 18 passes for 234 yards won’t be anyone very excited. As if the team needed more playmakers, they went on to get Emmanuel Sanders who started the year in Denver before getting traded to San Francisco. Sanders suffered a brutal Achilles injury in 2018, but that did not prevent him from having a very nice 2019 season. He totaled 66 receptions for 869 yards and 5 TDs. He’s a nice get considering Ginn is getting older and Smith has yet to pan out. TIGHT ENDS (TE) Jared Cook is another aging player who has done surprisingly well. He hauled in 43 passes for 705 yards, which was not that close from being career-highs. However, his 9 TD receptions and his 16.4 yards-per-catch average were his career best. He started the season slowly, but seemed to develop a great chemistry with Drew Brees down the stretch. Josh Hill is not much of a receiver, but he does the job as a blocker. He’s been with the team for seven years and 2019 was his best season in terms of receptions (25) and receiving yards (226). He is not a threat to take away Cook’s number one role. The team traded four picks in order to select Adam Trautman out of Dayton in the third round of this year’s draft. His receiving production increased in each of his four years in college; it culminated with a 70-916-14 receiving line in 11 starts. Wow, 14 TDs in 11 games?!? The only question surrounding Trautman is: can he handle a much higher level of competition than what he faced with Dayton? He could become a starter in 2021, considering Jared Cook’s age. OFFENSIVE LINE (OL) This is an exceptional group and all players are returning for the 2020 season, which does not bode well for opposing defenses. Center Erik McCoy was picked in the second round of the draft last year and he competed with Nick Easton and Cameron Tom during training camp. McCoy won the job and finished as the number 4 center out of 37 guys, based on PFF ratings. I think it’s fair to say it was a great season for him. Left tackle Terron Armstead made it to the Pro Bowl for the second consecutive year. He has received good marks in each of his seven seasons with the Saints. Drew Brees can rest easy with his blindside being protected by Armstead. At right tackle the Saints have Ryan Ramczyk. PFF made him the #1 tackle in the entire league with a 90.9 grade last year. He has improved in each of his three seasons and has started all games but one. At guard, New Orleans has Larry Warford and Andrus Peat. Warford was the 8th-best guard in the NFL according to ProFootballFocus ratings, while Peat was the only guy to struggle on this offensive line. Indeed, he finished at spot #70. We observe a weird tendency regarding Peat. His PFF grades in his first three seasons were 68.0, 71.5 and 68.3, which is decent. Then, his marks took a huge dip in 2018: an abysmal 39.8. He followed it up with a 48.5 grade last year. The team doesn’t seem too concern about his level of play since they re-signed him to a lucrative five-year, $57.5 million contract. Taking center Cesar Ruiz in the first round last April was a bit surprising. New Orleans already has a great center with McCoy. Head coach Sean Payton already claimed that right guard Larry Warford will have to compete for his job with either Ruiz or McCoy. Even though Warford played well last year, he is entering the final year of his contract.For your information, Ruiz did not allow a single sack as a junior with Michigan last year. He also does a good job run blocking. 2020 VS 2019 OFFENSE My opinion won’t be popular, but I do see a downgrade here. Sure, returning pretty much the entire 2019 lineup is great, but I’m wary of a few things. First, the age factor. Brees is 41 years old and your body gets hurt more easily when you reach your forties. You can’t deny he has a higher likelihood of getting injured this season. If that happens, losing Teddy Bridgewater is going to hurt the offense, although Winston might pick up the slack if he can cut down on the turnovers. Jared Cook, Emmanuel Sanders and Ted Ginn are also getting up there in age. Also, how in the world could you expect Michael Thomas to play at a higher level than last year? He is much more likely to regress than to improve upon his 2019 performance. Finally, the offensive line did not suffer many injuries last season, except Andrus Peat who missed six games, but he was the weakest link on the line anyway. I don’t wish them bad luck, but one of their top four guys could easily get hurt, due to the physical nature of the game. The Saints scored the third-highest number of points last year, and I’ll cautiously put them in the #5 to #8 spot. Final call (2020 vs 2019): Small Downgrade 4. Defensive Position-by-Position Breakdown DEFENSIVE LINEMEN (DL) Signing a contract extension with David Onyemata was a priority for the organization. They did just that during the offseason. The team clearly likes him, despite a mediocre 55.3 PFF grade last year (he finished as the number 97 DL out of 114 qualifiers). Sheldon Rankins is a former first-round pick who had a breakout 2018 campaign, which included a career-high 8 sacks. He was much quieter last year.Rankins tore his Achilles’ in early 2019, and landed on injured reserve in December 2019 after coming close to tearing the other one. That’s a major question mark since such injuries are always tricky for football players.Malcom Brown played close to 50% of the snaps last year. After spending four years in New England as a former first-rounder, he had a decent first year in New Orleans. He’s more effective defending the run than he is rushing the passer (he has recorded just two sacks in the past two years).Shy Tuttle is more of a rotational player. His rookie season as an undrafted free agent exceeded expectations and he clearly deserves a shot to be back this year. DEFENSIVE ENDS (DE) / EDGE (ED) The Saints have a fantastic duo with Cameron Jordan and Marcus Davenport, two former 1st round picks. Jordan set a career-high with 15.5 sacks last year, after posting 12 and 13 sacks the previous two seasons. He’s an incredibly tough guy; can you believe he hasn’t missed a single game throughout his nine-year professional career? That’s phenomenal! Davenport took a nice forward leap in his sophomore year. His PFF grade went up from 69.7 to 84.1. According to this grading system, Davenport was the 18th-best edge defender out of 107 guys. Trey Hendrickson provides good depth for the Saints. He has shown improvement in each of his first three years in the league. He sacked opposing QBs on 4.5 occasions last year, after racking up just two in his first two years. The 25-year old is primed for another leap in 2020. After a promising rookie season, Mario Edwards has been released a couple of times. He works as a rotational pass-rusher; he played 28% of the snaps last year. He’s been bothered by neck and hip injuries throughout his first five years in the league. LINEBACKERS (LB) Demario Davis was exceptional in all facets of the game last year. He played so well that he earned the #1 spot out of 89 LBs based on the PFF grading system. He seems unlikely to repeat his 2019 performance, though. His PFF marks never exceeded 63 during his first five years. They went up to 73.7 and 75.1 in 2017 and 2018 before exploding to an astounding 90.4 last year. Entering his age-31 campaign, I find it hard to believe he could duplicate his success. A.J. Klein’s career has been a roller-coaster ride. He’s had up-and-down years. Most recently, he had horrible 2016, 2017 and 2019 seasons, but above-average years in 2015 and 2018. He signed with Buffalo, so the Saints won’t need to deal with his inconsistencies anymore. Is Kiko Alonso ready to embrace a bigger role in this defense? The answer is unclear. He played fairly well last year after two straight dreadful seasons in Miami, but his health is an issue. He tore his ACL during the playoff loss to the Vikings. That required the third ACL surgery of his career, which leaves some doubt about whether his quickness will be affected or not. Considering the lack of depth at the position, drafting Zack Baun in the third round made sense. The former Badger has a high chance of starting right away. He collected 19.5 tackles for loss and 12.5 sacks as a senior. He’s a bit undersized for the position, which means he could potentially struggle against the run but he’s a fierce pass rusher. Many mock drafts had him going in Round 2, so it seems like a good value pick that also fits a need. CORNERBACKS (CB) Eli Apple was let go during the offseason. He’s been nothing short of a disappointment since being selected as the No. 10 overall pick in 2016. He’s fine against the run, but his covering skills have been below standard. Strangely enough, Marshon Lattimore’s PFF grades have decreased every year: 86.1 as a rookie first-round pick in 2017, 78.5 in his sophomore season and 65.6 last year. Granted, a hamstring injury limited him in 2019. Lattimore picked off 5 passes in his rookie season, then just three over the past two years. He does have the potential to make it back among the best corners in the league. P.J. Williams was primarily used as a slot corner last year, and things didn’t go so well. Just like Lattimore, his PFF grades have dipped every year. He finished as the 100th-bets CB out of 112 players. SAFETIES (S) Marcus Williams enjoyed a very successful rookie season before being the victim of the sophomore slump. However, he came back super strong last year. PFF ranked him as the third-best safety in the league, only behind Minnesota’s Anthony Harris and Denver’s Justin Simmons. He has a knack for big plays, as shown by his 10 career interceptions, one TD and two forced fumbles. New Orleans lost its other starting safety, Vonn Bell, in the free agency market. His coverage skills were below-average, but he was one of the best in the business defending the run. The team figures to replace him with Malcolm Jenkins, formerly of the Philadelphia Eagles. He is seven years older than Bell, but he’s a proven veteran. After five rocky seasons with the Saints during the 2009-2013 period, Jenkins had six consecutive good seasons in Philly. Now back with the team that drafted him 11 years ago, Saints fans are crossing their fingers he can keep up his nice level of play. Last year, Jenkins was the 32nd-best safety in the NFL based on PFF rankings. I just don’t understand the length of Jenkins’ deal: a four-year deal with a 32-year old guy? Really? The Saints traded up during the 2019 draft to secure the rights to Chauncey Gardner-Johnson in the 4th round. He showed promise in his rookie season with very decent grades, especially against the run. He played 51% of the snaps and picked up his first interception and forced fumble of his career. 2020 VS 2019 DEFENSE The Saints allowed the fourth-fewest rushing yards in the league last year. That seems unlikely to happen again in 2020. Rankins’ health concerns me. I don’t believe Onyemata is that good. And Demario Davis’ play is extremely likely to regress after an unexpected phenomenal 2019 season. As for the pass defense, I expect similar production as last year. Plugging Malcolm Jenkins instead of Vonn Bell at safety seems like an upgrade to me. However, losing Eli Apple is hardly good news. He was “okay” last season, but he had potential and he still needs to be replaced. Hopefully, plan B is not P.J. Williams because he does not appear to be the answer. New Orleans finished 13th in points allowed last year. I expect a small drop, perhaps to a spot ranging between 15 and 19. Final call (2020 vs 2019) : Small downgrade
  7. 1. Introduction After firing Jim Caldwell following a 9-7 record in 2017, the Lions posted a 6-10 in Matt Patricia’s first year as a head coach. Things got even worse last season with a 3-12-1 record. This is a critical year for Patricia. The team has talent for sure. If he does not right the ship, he may be gone sooner rather than later. 2. Regular Season Wins According to sportsbooks, the Detroit Lions are expected to win 6.5 games this season. Should we bet the “over” or the “under”? Here is the methodology I used in order to answer this vital question: Use BetOnline.ag’s point spreads on all 256 regular season games. Convert those point spreads into win probabilities. Simulate each of the 256 games, according to those win probabilities, via the R statistical software. Repeat the previous step one million times (you get 1M simulated seasons). Count the proportion of seasons where the Lions won more or less than 6.5 games. Here are the results: Estimated probability Sportsbook Odds ROI OVER 6.5 wins 55.9% Sports Interaction -125 +0.6% UNDER 6.5 wins 44.1% Heritage Sports +130 +1.4% Tip: Bet UNDER 6.5 wins Return On Investment (ROI): +1.4% Rank: 31st-highest ROI out of 32 teams Minimum odds required to bet (i.e. ROI = 0%): +127 Here are BetOnline’s point spreads for the Lions’ 16 regular season games: HOME: -1.5 vs CHI, +2 vs GB, -1 vs HOU, +1.5 vs IND, +2 vs MIN, +5.5 vs NO, +2.5 vs TB, -6 vs WAS. ROAD: +3 @ ARI, +4 @ ATL, +1 @ CAR, +5 @ CHI, +6.5 @ GB, -1.5 @ JAX, +7 @ MIN, +6 @ TEN. Note: The “Best odds” from the table above were obtained after looking at 13 well-known online sportsbooks on May 18th, 2020. 3. Offensive Position-by-Position Breakdown 3.1 QUARTERBACKS (QB) I feel bad for Matthew Stafford. He has to be one of the best quarterbacks to have never won a playoff game. He’s 0-3 in the postseason and has played for many terrible teams in Detroit during his 11-year career. He had yet another good season in 2019. He finished as the 8th-best QB in the league based on PFF rankings. He missed half the season because of injuries, but still threw 19 TD passes versus 5 picks. Prior to last year, he had not missed a single start over eight seasons, which is unbelievable! He’s a durable and tough guy. David Blough and Jeff Driskel didn’t do very well in Stafford’s absence. That’s a big reason why the team led Driskel go, while acquiring backup Chase Daniel from the Bears. I was stunned to realize that after spending 10 years in the NFL, Daniel has only thrown 7 TDs and 5 interceptions (most of them in 2018 and 2019 with Chicago). He received decent grades from PFF and he looks to be a definitive improvement over Blough and Driskel. 3.2 RUNNING BACKS (RB) I like what I’ve been from Kerryon Johnson over his first two seasons in the NFL. In each of those years, the former running back from Auburn was on pace to be close to a 1,000 rushing yard season, but his pro career has been marred by injuries thus far. Beyond the stats, I thought he passed the eye test. Upon seeing him play several games, he looked like a good back. In his third year, the main goal will be to prove he can make it through a full season. Johnson received a 66.7 grade from PFF last year, which put him in the #37 spot out of 58 RBs. I believe he can make a nice jump in 2020. Bo Scarbrough finally saw some action last season. He did “okay”, but his main limitation is in the passing game. He’s not much of a receiver. He’s still a decent weapon to have when running between the tackles because of his big frame. J.D. McKissic was the opposte of Scarbrough; he is undersized, but a good pass catcher. He still managed to post a lofty 5.4 yard per carry average, while catching 34 balls. However, he left for Washington. Considering Detroit’s backfield was already crowded, drafting D’Andre Swift in the 2nd round was a puzzling move. It probably means the Lions will go with a committee approach with Johnson and Swift being the RB 1A and 1B. Swift is a smart RB who has good vision and runs with patience; he understands and evaluates block timing very well. He is also pretty good out of the backfield; he caught many passes in college and was tagged with just three drops across 73 receptions. 3.3 WIDE RECEIVERS (WR) Can you believe Kenny Golladay’s salary was under one million last year? What an astonishing bargain for the Lions! Golladay solidified his position as one of the top wideouts in the league by posting a second consecutive 1,000-yard season. He also doubled his TD production by catching 11 last year versus 5 the year before. He has a great combination of size and athleticism, which allows him to stretch the field and make contested catches in traffic. His numbers have the potential to increase even more if Stafford can stay healthy for the whole season, and considering Golladay is only 26 years old. Marvin Jones posted a very nice 62-779-9 stat line despite missing three games. He has been a steady producer in this league, both with the Bengals and now with the Lions. A very reliable guy. Danny Amendola has never been a top wideout: his career best is 689 receiving yards back in 2010. However, having him as your #3 receiver is a nice luxury. The main concern pertains to his age, as he is now 34. His level of play has not deteriorated yet, but we should keep an eye on this situation. The team added even more depth by signing a younger guy: Geronimo Allison. The former Packer showed flashes during an injury-shortened 2018 season, but he really fell flat last year by catching just 34 balls despite a wide open #2 WR spot in Green Bay. He received poor grades from PFF and finished as the #111 receiver out of 122 qualifiers. 3.4 TIGHT ENDS (TE) Was T.J. Hockenson’s rookie season a success? The jury is still out on that one. Everyone got overly excited about his first career game, where he caught 6 passes for 131 yards and 1 TD. However, he surpassed 50 yards just once in his final 11 games (an ankle injury put him on injured reserve for the last four contests). He was the #8 overall pick in the 2019 draft, so the expectations were high for the former Hawkeye. The adaptation to the NFL-level is not always easy for rookie tight ends, so let’s cut him some slack. He is a candidate to improve his numbers greatly in his second season, especially with Stafford back under center. Both Logan Thomas and Jesse James caught 16 passes last year. Thomas left for Washington, which leaves James as the clear-cut #2 TE. He is an adequate backup for Detroit. 3.5 OFFENSIVE LINE (OL) Right tackle Rick Wagner provided respectable protection to his quarterbacks during his first six seasons, but his play tailed off dramatically last year. The team released him and signed Halapoulivaati Vaitai to replace him. Vaitai has only started 20 games in four seasons, but he played pretty well in spots with the Eagles last year and that earned him a jaw-dropping five-year, $50 million contract. That seems like a high price for a career backup, but he did grade as the 22nd-best tackle among 81 qualifiers in 2019. We’ll see if the Lions made a wise investment or not. The other four starters all received good marks from PFF: Taylor Decker (19th out of 81 tackles), Frank Ragnow (6th out of 37 centers), Graham Glasgow (12th out of 81 guards) and Joe Dahl (27th out of 81 guards). Yet, the team finished below-average in terms of sacks allowed (19th out of 32 teams). The bad news is Detroit also lost Graham Glasgow via free agency. He signed with the Denver Broncos. He has obtained grades above 70 by PFF in each of its past three seasons. His replacement is unlikely to match that performance. One potential replacement is third round selection Jonah Jackson. He needs to improve as a run blocker since he tends to struggle sustaining blocks. On the other hand, he’s more comfortable in passing situations, while also excelling at processing blitzes. 2020 VS 2019 OFFENSE The Lions scored the 18th most points in the NFL last season. That output is much more likely to go up than down. Except on the offensive line, we notice a potential upgrade over the 2019 season at all positions. At quarterback, having Stafford back is obviously a big boost. Also, Chase Daniel is a better back than the Blough-Driskel duo. At running back, Kerryon Johnson missed half the season. He also has two years of experience under his belt and is ready to explode. Rookie D’Andre Swift offers an additional potential deadly weapon. Adding Geronimo Allison to an already talent WR group won’t hurt. Golladay-Jones-Amendola will provide good targets for Stafford. Hockenson is now more familiar with the NFL speed and it was reported he played through some pain before landing on injured reserve. Again, an improvement seems a more likely scenario than a regression here. As mentioned above, the OL play will be a source of concern, though. Replacing Wagner with Vaitai could be a plus. However, Glasgow’s loss will be difficult to compensate. Still, overall I can see the Lions jumping to the 7th-12th rank on offense in 2020. You read this right; the Lions could have the number 7 offense in the NFL. They have a very talented and underrated group (with nice depth at all positions!). Final call (2020 vs 2019): Moderate upgrade 4. Defensive Position-by-Position Breakdown 4.1 DEFENSIVE LINEMEN (DL) The interior of the line has been completely revamped. That may not be a bad thing. Both Damon Harrison and A’Shawn Robinson are gone after a subpar year. They both graded as below-average last year, which was a big surprise in the case of Harrison. He obtained a grade above 90 as a run defender in each of its past four seasons, but cratered to 63.2 last year. What the heck happened? The newcomers are Danny Shelton, formerly of the Patriots, and Nick Williams, coming over from the Bears. Shelton has done very well in all five of his seasons in the league and is entering his prime. He’s a solid addition and he’s good a plugging up running lanes. I’m not so high on the Williams acquisition, though. He didn’t get good grades throughout his career until last year where he finally got some starts and posted six sacks. He could be a one-year wonder. He had been a journeyman thus far and is a former 7th-round pick. Mike Daniels is also off the team. The former didn’t do much in his lone season in Motor City. 4.2 DEFENSIVE ENDS (DE) / EDGE (ED) Both Trey Flowers and Devon Kennard recorded seven sacks last season. Kennard left for Arizona; his leadership as team captain will also be missed. Flowers is a vital piece of this defense. He will enter his age-27 campaign and he has racked up between 6.5 and 7.5 sacks every year since 2016. Who will step up in Kennard’s absence? Romeo Okwara will need to come back to his 2018 form, where he posted 7.5 sacks. Only getting 1.5 last year was a big disappointment. Another alternative may come from Romeo’s younger brother, Julian, who was taken in the 3rd round of this year’s draft. Considering Julian’s speed and strength (the bull rush remains his favorite move), you would have expected him to produce more in college. He still needs to learn good techniques to beat experienced offensive linemen. 4.3 LINEBACKERS (LB) Jarrad Davis, Christian Jones and Jahlani Tavai all played a bit above 50% of the defensive snaps last year. They ranked as the #84, #82 and #44 linebackers out of 89 guys. That’s bad. The position will get a lift with the acquisition of Jamie Collins. He led the Patriots with seven sacks last season, which was a career-high for him. I don’t mean to be disrespectful for him, but I believe he’s overrated. He enjoyed great 2014 and 2015 seasons in New England, but his played tailed off big time in his time away from the Patriots in 2016, 2017 and 2018. He came back with a pretty good season when reuniting with Belichick’s squad last year, but will he revert back to mediocre play in Detroit? Super Bowl champion Reggie Ragland also joins Matt Patricia’s team. He adds depth to the team and may play behind Jarrad Davis. 4.4 CORNERBACKS (CB) Last year, the trio made of Darius Slay, Rashaan Melvin and Justin Coleman saw the field pretty often. Slay and Melvin are gone to other teams. Slay had a very bad year as opposed to his previous five, but that may have been an outlier. He’s 29 years old and he’s likely to rebound in Philly. He asked to be traded after fights over contract negotiations. Unlike Slay, Melvin won’t be missed too much. He was an undrafted guy who is more of a rotational corner. In order to alleviate Slay’s loss, the Lions signed Desmond Trufant, formerly of the Falcons. His best days are behind him, but he has never received a grade below 69.5 by PFF over his seven-year career, which is remarkable. Last year’s 70.3 grade put him as the 32nd-best corner out of 112 qualifiers. The team’s instant #1 corner is rookie Jefffrey Okudah, who was taken with the third overall selection of this year’s draft. He’s a true lockdown corner who is likely to perform at a high level right away. Over the last two seasons at Ohio State, he held every wideout he faced to fewer than 50 receiving yards. He also surrendered just two touchdowns during that time frame. Those are outstanding numbers! Okudah is a blue chip prospect whose mental makeup and physical traits are elite. 4.5 SAFETIES (S) Safeties Tracy Walker and Tavon Wilson led the team in tackles last year. They both played close to 75% of the snaps and obtained similar marks from PFF. They finished 22nd and 26th out of 87 safeties in the league. As of now, Wilson has yet to sign with a NFL team. He is open to re-signing with Detroit, but that has yet to happen. The team decided to upgrade the position by acquiring Duron Harmon, yet another ex-Patriot. He can play safety or as a corner; he is likely to be on the field often. He may not be the best against the run, but his skills in coverage are way above average. 2020 VS 2019 DEFENSE There’s been a lot of shuffling with this unit during the offseason. The biggest acquisitions are Danny Shelton, Nick Williams, Jamie Collins, Desmond Trufant, Duron Harmon, as well as #3 overall pick Jeffrey Okudah. The biggest losses are Damon Harrison, A’Shawn Robinson, Devon Kennard, Darius Slay and Rashaan Melvin. My own assessment of those moves is a moderate upgrade. However, I value continuity as a key factor in the NFL. Knowing how your teammates are going to react in game-time situations is important in such a fast sport like the NFL. Considering the impact of COVID-19 on offseason preparation, having numerous new faces will likely penalize offenses/defenses even more. Detroit’s defense finished 26th in points allowed last year. They will remain the team’s Achilles heel, but a significant improvement is doable. Final call (2020 vs 2019): Moderate upgrade MOST LIKELY RECORD: 7-9 (based on the one-million simulated seasons using BetOnline’s 2020 point spreads) Tomorrow, I'll discuss the team whose ROI is 30th in the league; the New Orleans Saints! Thanks for reading, I hope you found it insightful! Professor MJ
  8. 1. Introduction From 2013 to 2015, the Cardinals won at least 10 games in each of those seasons. They followed up with a couple of years where they finished close to a .500 record. Things got even worse in the past two seasons, during which the franchise compiled an 8-23-1 record. Now in year #2 of head coach Kliff Kingsbury and QB Kyler Murray, it’s time for Arizona to make a leap forward. 2. Regular Season Wins According to sportsbooks, the Arizona Cardinals are expected to win 7 games this season. Should we bet the “over” or the “under”? Here is the methodology I used in order to answer this vital question: Use BetOnline.ag’s point spreads on all 256 regular season games. Convert those point spreads into win probabilities. Simulate each of the 256 games, according to those win probabilities, via the R statistical software. Repeat the previous step one million times (you get 1M simulated seasons). Count the proportion of seasons where the Cards won more or less than 7 games. Here are the results (excluding simulated seasons where they won exactly 7 games, in which case the bet ties): Estimated probability Sportsbook Odds ROI OVER 7 wins 53.1% 10Bet -110 +1.4% UNDER 7 wins 46.9% William Hill +110 -1.5% Tip: Bet OVER 7 wins Return On Investment (ROI): +1.4% Rank: 32nd-highest ROI out of 32 teams Minimum odds required to bet (i.e. ROI = 0%): -113 (i.e. 1.88 in decimal format) Note: The “Best odds” from the table above were obtained after looking at 13 well-known online sportsbooks on May 18th, 2020. 3. Offensive Position-by-Position Breakdown 3.1 Quarterbacks (QBs) Kyler Murray had a very successful rookie campaign as Arizona’s new franchise quarterback. Despite a suspect surrounding cast, he posted very respectable numbers with 3,722 passing yards, 20 TDs and 12 interceptions. He was also dangerous as a runner, as shown by his 544 rushing yards. Murray was the victim of 48 sacks, but he was hard to catch. Indeed, he finished in 2nd place in terms of average time from snap-to-sack among all QBs in the NFL. Now with one full year of experience under his belt, you can expect Murray to take a nice leap and improve his game even more in 2020. Brett Hundley will once again back up Murray this season. The Cards must hope they won’t need him because he has never shown he could lead a team to success. The former Packer is clearly no more than a #2 QB in this league. 3.2 Running Backs (RBs) The Cards got a nice bargain last year by trading a sixth-round pick in exchange for Kenyan Drake. He was nothing short of spectacular in his eight appearances in the desert by racking up 643 rushing yards over eight games. He also scored eight touchdowns during that short period. During the offseason, the Cards re-signed him to a one-year, $8.5 million contract. The team also traded David Johnson to Houston, which clearly puts Drake as the starter. Chase Edmonds will be the main backup runner. He showed some flashes with a nice 5.1 yards per rush average. The third-year pro is good insurance in case Drake gets hurt. 3.3 Wide Receivers (WRs) Kyler Murray probably popped a bottle of champagne when he heard about the acquisition of stud wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins from the Texans. Losing David Johnson in the trade isn’t that big of a deal for the Cards, who already had good depth at the running back position. However, acquiring a big-time WR like Hopkins is HUGE! Hopkins has played either 15 or 16 games in each of his first seven years in the NFL. He has averaged 1,229 receiving yards and 7.7 TDs during that time span. He consistently ranks among the top receivers year in and year out. In 2019, he finished with an 87.8 grade from PFF, which had him ranked as the 5th best WR. Unbelievable: Larry Fitzgerald is coming back for a 17th season! He did better than expected last season by catching 75 passes and finishing 53rd out of 122 qualified wide receivers in the league based on PFF. Fitzgerald claimed he loved the culture under new head coach Kliff Kingsbury and he wants to help the team both as a player and as a mentor for the younger guys. Christian Kirk, a former second-round pick in the 2018 draft, had an okay year. His 62.5 grade by PFF had him ranked as the #91 WR (out of 122). With Hopkins drawing a lot of attention from opposing defenses, Kirk must make a leap in 2020. It remains to be seen if he can do it or not. Arizona lost some depth at the position after seeing Damiere Byrd leave for New England, while Pharoh Cooper signed with Carolina. It’s not a huge blow to the team, but worth mentioning. 3.4 Tight Ends (TEs) A young QB like Kyler Murray would certainly welcome some help at the tight end position, but it doesn’t look like it’s going to happen. The top target last year was Charles Clay. He only caught 18 passes and is now a free agent. All signs point toward Maxx Williams assuming the number one role. You’ll be surprised to hear he ranked as the 7th best tight end in the league according to PFF. His nice 79.1 grade was obtained via outstanding run and pass blocking. In summary, the team is pretty thin at this position. 3.5 Offensive Line (OL) One of the team’s biggest weaknesses in 2019 was certainly its offensive line. They allowed the 5th highest number of sacks a year ago, despite Murray being a mobile quarterback. The only guy who finished above average based on PFF rankings was Justin Pugh (22nd out of 81 among guards). The other four starters were either average or quite bad. The bad news? The team has not addressed the position in free agency. They did select Josh Jones in the third round of this year’s draft, though. He has a high chance of becoming the team’s starting right guard right away, despite many experts calling him a developmental project who needs work. I can’t believe D.J. Humphries is going to be the third-highest paid left tackle in the league after signing a hefty contract this offseason. His paycheck is clearly not in line with his production on the field. In five years, he has played 43 games and missed 37 due to numerous injuries. He finally played through a full 16-game season last year, but he PFF gave him the 47th-best grade out of 81 tackles. 2020 VS 2019 OFFENSE Overall, I expect a nice progression from this unit. Kyler Murray is clearly more likely to improve than to regress based on his young age. The running back position is set. The receiving corps got a gigantic boost with the addition of DeAndre Hopkins. The tight end and offensive line positions remain problematic. However, if you compare with last year, it can’t get much worse. Building the line should be one of the top priorities for Arizona in the upcoming years. Final call (2020 vs 2019): Moderate upgrade 4. Defensive Position-by-Position Breakdown 4.1 Defensive Linemen (DLs) This was not a position of strength for Arizona last year. Out of 114 DLs, here’s the final PFF ranking of the four guys who got the most playing time: Corey Peters 65th, Rodney Gunter 61st, Zach Kerr 42nd and Jonathan Bullard 94th. Ouch. Now, Gunter and Kerr are both gone. Meanwhile, the team acquired Jordan Phillips from the Bills. He probably won’t be a savior as he finished in 104th place. 4.2 Defensive Ends (DEs) / Edge Rushers (ED) Chandler Jones had an exceptional years with 19 sacks! Only Shaquil Barrett from the Bucs recorded more sacks. Outside of Jones, Terrell Suggs played 13 games before being released by the Cards. He still managed to record 5.5 sacks. Cassius Marsh played 38% of the defensive snaps and finished 70th out of 107 edge defenders. He signed with the Jaguars during the offseason. In order to compensate for those losses, Arizona signed Devon Kennard, formerly of the Detroit Lions. He played 82% of the snaps in Detroit and finished 44th (out of 107) at the position. He obtained 7 sacks last year (7 more the year before). 4.3 Linebackers (LBs) Jordan Hicks was a tackling machine with 150; only Bobby Wagner (Seattle) and Blake Martinez (Green Bay) had more in 2019. However, Hicks didn’t grade particularly well. He finished 43rd out of 89 linebackers. Haason Reddick and Joe Walker both finished in the bottom: 86th and 79th. Walker left for San Francisco, which is not a big loss. Arizona signed De’Vondre Campbell who played 89% of the snaps with the Falcons. Can he improve the linebacker play in 2020? I doubt it. His poor 50.1 grade gave him the 70th rank. Here are his grades the previous three seasons: 57.4, 69.1 and 55.7. He is a durable guy, but far from a great player. DC Vance Joseph declared #8 overall pick Isaiah Simmons would primarily play at linebacker. Simmons was super versatile in college, playing many positions. He will provide good coverage against TEs and pass-catching RBs, while also defending the run efficiently. He clearly has Pro Bowl talent. 4.4 Cornerbacks (CBs) Patrick Peterson is clearly the leader of this group. He was having a decent season, and was brilliant in the final few games. He finished as the number 39 cornerback out of 112 guys. He missed the first six games of the season because of a suspension. There is not much depth behind Peterson, though. Byron Murphy played 98% of the snaps, but finished with an awful 48.8 grade. The 2019 second-round pick will need to elevate his game A LOT this season. 4.5 Safeties (S) Budda Baker and Jalen Thompson provide an adequate duo of safeties. These two guys are still young and we can expect some improvement in 2020. They finished last year as #28 and #57 out of 87 qualified safeties. Baker accumulated 147 tackles, 4th in the NFL. 2020 VS 2019 DEFENSE No major changes for this unit. Given they’ve allowed the 5th highest number of points last year, that’s not good news. The lone position where the Cards have improved this offseason is linebacker because of the acquisition of Isaiah Simmons via the draft and De’Vondre Campbell as a free agent from Atlanta. Or perhaps the couple of young safeties can take a leap? Maybe, maybe not. It may be wishful thinking. To summarize, the team added Jordan Phillips, Devon Kennard, Isaiah Simmons and De’Vondre Campbell. They lost Rodney Gunter, Zach Kerr, Terrell Suggs, Cassius Marsh and Joe Walker. To me, those changes offset. Perhaps it will turn out to be a small upgrade. Final call (2020 vs 2019): Stable Thanks for reading! Professor MJ
  9. NHL System Picks for Monday March 9th The BIG 5-star play hit, as the Canucks did pull off the upset over Colorado last Friday! RECORD: Bets won = 103 Bets lost = 129 Profit = +3.91 units (from RISKING 1 unit on every play) Today's picks based on my 10 NHL betting systems: 2 STARS = Avalanche (@ -147 or 1.68 odds, at Kings) 1 STAR = Panthers (@ +145 or 2.45 odds, at Blues) Good Monday! Professor MJ
  10. NHL System Picks for Friday March 6th BIG RED ALERT!!! 🚨🚨🚨 For just the 2nd time ALL SEASON, we have a play that fits 4 betting systems at a time so keep reading until the end! The month of March has been very good to us! Another winning day last night with a +1.73-unit profit. RECORD: Bets won = 102 Bets lost = 129 Profit = +2.80 units (from RISKING 1 unit on every play) Today's lone pick based on my 10 NHL betting systems: 5 STARS = Canucks (@ +111 or 2.11 odds, vs Avalanche) Vancouver meets the criteria for betting under "The Big Upset", "The Porous Defense", "The Snapped Winning Streak" and "The Cold Teams Matchup" betting angles. Here are the secrets behing "The Big Upset" betting strategy: "Suppose Team A upsets Team B with odds greater than 2.70 in decimal format (i.e. +170 in American format). If Team B's next game is against a different opponent called Team C, bet Team C if its money line is greater than 1.667 in decimal format (i.e. -150 in American format, to avoid betting big favorites which did not prove to be profitable)." This sytem led to a 27.81-unit gain over 600 bets. Colorado's last game was a 4-3 loss against the Ducks, a huge upset which happened to be one of our picks that day. For this reason (and because of the other three systems), we are going to bet AGAINST the Avalanche tonight. Have a GREAT weekend!!! Professor MJ
  11. NHL System Picks for Thursday March 5th Huge upset by the Ducks last night in Colorado! It generated a profit of 2.55 units. 🤑 Too bad the Caps lost their big showdown with the Flyers (for a 1-unit loss since we're always risking 1 unit). Overall: +1.55 unit yesterday. RECORD: Bets won = 99 Bets lost = 127 Profit = +1.07 unit (from RISKING 1 unit on every play) Today's picks based on my 10 NHL betting systems: 4 STARS = Hurricanes (@ +116 or 2.16 odds, at Flyers) 4 STARS = Wild (@ -111 or 1.90 odds, at Sharks) 2 STARS = Rangers (@ +126 or 2.26 odds, vs Capitals) 2 STARS = Kings (@ +157 or 2.57 odds, vs Maple Leafs) 1 STAR = Canadiens (@ +165 or 2.65 odds, at Lightning) Happy Thursday everyone! Professor MJ
  12. NHL System Picks for Wednesday March 4th A loss of 1.05 unit last night. Let's try to rebound right away! RECORD: Bets won = 98 Bets lost = 126 Profit = -0.48 units (from RISKING 1 unit on every play) Today's picks based on my 10 NHL betting systems: 5 STARS = Ducks (@ +255 or 3.55 odds, at Avalanche) 2 STARS = Capitals (@ -148 or 1.68 odds, vs Flyers) The betting strategies don't pick favorites very often, but we have one tonight. The Flyers-Capitals matchup should be interesting! Have a nice day! Professor MJ
  13. NHL System Picks for Tuesday March 3rd Slight gains last night with 1 win out of two (thanks to the Oilers pulling off a small upset in Nashville). RECORD: Bets won = 96 Bets lost = 122 Profit = +0.57 units (from RISKING 1 unit on every play) Today's picks based on my 10 NHL betting systems: 5 STARS = Devils (@ +240 or 3.40 odds, at Golden Knights) 4 STARS = Predators (@ +118 or 2.18 odds, at Wild) 2 STARS = Sabres (@ +140 or 2.40 odds, at Jets) 2 STARS = Sharks (@ +140 or 2.40 odds, vs Maple Leafs) 1 STAR = Rangers (@ +125 or 2.25 odds, vs Blues) 1 STAR = Oilers (@ +155 or 2.55 odds, at Stars) The Devils pick is based on "The Big Upset", "The Blowout" and "The Snapped Winning Streak" betting strategies. Here are the details about "The Blowout" system: Bet a road underdog if they beat their previous opponent by a margin of 3 goals or more ("underdog" = money line greater than 2.05, i.e. +105). This betting angle generated gains of 60.49 units over 818 bets through a 9-year span. The Devils' last game was a 3-0 win in Anaheim. Since they are indeed on the road tonight with odds above 2.05, we are backing them. Good luck with your plays! Professor MJ
  14. NHL System Picks for Monday March 2nd Finally a positive day... We made it back above 0. Let's hope for a rebound month in March! RECORD: Bets won = 95 Bets lost = 121 Profit = +0.38 units (from RISKING 1 unit on every play) Today's picks based on my 10 NHL betting systems: 2 STARS = Oilers (@ +119 or 2.19 odds, at Predators) 1 STAR = Red Wings (@ +263 or 3.63 odds, vs Avalanche) Let me be clear: I don't necessarily like the Detroit pick. They have nothing to play for, while Colorado is in the thick of the playoff race. However, since my role is to report the plays that meet the criteria for betting under my 10 betting angles, I am letting you know about it. The Oilers pick is backed by "The Snapped Winning Streak" betting strategy. Have a good Monday, fellows! Professor MJ
  15. NHL System Picks for Friday February 28 I don't recall going through such a rough streak in a long time. The systems have done extremely poorly this month. RECORD: Bets won = 93 Bets lost = 120 Profit = -1.40 units (from RISKING 1 unit on every play) Today's picks based on my 10 NHL betting systems: 1 STAR = Rangers (@ +145 or 2.45 odds, at Flyers) 1 STAR = Wild (@ +108 or 2.08 odds, at Blue Jackets) 1 STAR = Ducks (@ +170 or 2.70 odds, vs Penguins) Professor MJ