Week 2 delivers some underrated matchups: here is what’s happening

Bengals QB Joe Burrow will shine this season

By: Thomas Cunningham

Alrighty, football fans, after an exciting Week 1 showing of the 2021 season is officially in the books, we all need to start looking forward to Week 2. Some obvious over-hyped teams were coming in and out of the first week of the NFL season, but some teams flew underneath the radar.

Of course, most of the major teams viewed as contenders going into the start of the season remained in the same light (except for the Green Bay Packers), but some teams definitely had their stock risen to post their performance.

However, through the major players, big plays, and blowout wins, some team’s victories fell to the wayside of consideration of being competitive for the remainder of the season. The next few teams were not necessarily considered bottom feeders but have been looked down on or overlooked by more prominent rosters in the league. Who are they, you’re asking yourself? Well, let’s dive in. 

1.       Joe Burrow is back in action.

After an exciting start to the 2020 season, Cincinnati Bengals rookie quarterback, Joe Burrow, left the field and ended his season with a knee injury. The thought surrounding Burrow was that it was pretty much the end of the line, and the Bengals will be who they have always been.

Fast forward to Week 1 of the 2021 season, and Mr. Burrow had himself a day against the Minnesota Vikings. He threw for 261 yards, 2 touchdowns, no interceptions, and a 74.1% completion rate in his sophomore debut. Say what you want about the Vikings offense, but their defense has added a lot of firepower this offseason and was a true test of what Burrow could do.

Let’s also not forget to mention running back Joe Mixon rushing for over 100 yards and wide receiver Jamar Chase having 5 catches for over 100 yards. The only real concern for the Bengals is their defense; if they can work on buttoning that aspect of their game up, they’re going to upset many teams.

2.       The other Los Angeles team should be the one you are watching.

That’s right, football fans, I am not talking about the L.A Rams, It is the Chargers that should be a team to look out for. As a first-year quarterback, Justin Herbert threw for over 4000 yards, 31 touchdowns, and 11 interceptions in his rookie year. He was imposing in his ability to show his immediate command of the offense. The downfall of the Chargers last season had to do with protecting their new quarterback.

During this past offseason, the Chargers addressed this issue and bolstered their offensive line with free-agent signings and drafts. So far, it seems to have paid off. L.A was able to go up moderately and down the field on a Washington Football Team’s defense that is extremely stout.

Surviving against a defensive line like the Football Team’s is an impressive first start, let alone moving the ball efficiently. Obviously, the Chargers have high division competition, but I will not bet against them being in the hunt for a wild card spot if you are a betting person.

3.       Another AFC West challenger emerges

Last but not least, on this list of teams in the Denver Broncos. The Broncos, over the course of the past few seasons, have been, well, mostly a mess. Since their Super Bowl win back in 2015, Denver has only had one winning season. It seemed for a while that they were starting to vastly slip down the power rankings further and further each season.

There was some debut on the Broncos not selecting a quarterback in this year’s draft, but I am here to tell all Broncos’ fans, Partick Surtain will be just fine. In fact, adding a player like Surtain to your secondary has really increased the fact that Denver’s defense will be one of the better ones in this league, if not at least in the top 10.

They walked into Met-Life stadium and beat up the Giants for 4 quarters. It was a shaky start, but once they got rolling, with the help of a Daniel Jones fumble, they never looked back until the clock struck triple zeroes. They may not be as high power on offense, but their Von Miller-led defense will for sure keep them in the game.

Why Patrick Surtain II is the very early DROY favorite

Patrick Surtain may be the Broncos key to beating Patrick Mahomes

By: Jordan Anders

Rookie Patrick Surtain II has been putting the NFL on notice the last two weeks in his first two preseason games with the Denver Broncos. We all knew Surtain was going to be good, but how good and NFL-ready he already was came faster than anyone expected. From training camp to his first NFL debut Week 1 against the Minnesota Vikings, Patrick Surtain had been turning heads from the very beginning.

During the Denver Broncos training camp, Surtain not only made an impression on his fellow teammates but head coach Vic Fangio as well. Fangio stated that Patrick was fitting right into the Broncos secondary, which is one of the best in the league. Patrick Surtain got his first pick on day five of practice which would then lead to a real interception during the Vikings game later that week.

The Broncos headed to their first preseason game against the Vikings where Surtain would play 11 coverage snaps. During those coverage snaps, Surtain allowed 0 catches and had a 30-yard pick followed by a touchdown. After the game, Surtain received a 94.5 PFF Grade, the highest of all cornerbacks in Week one. After week two, Patrick Surtain was the second-highest graded defensive rookie so far with a 91.3 Grade overall. Patrick Surtain is the top-graded rookie cornerback vs single coverage.

In the two weeks of preseason, Patrick Surtain was the “highest-graded defensive rookie in the NFL”. There’s already talk about Surtain being a favorite for the Defensive Rookie of the Year and the sports bets can back that up. With the odds changing nearly every day, Patrick Surtain has been a top-five favorite the last two weeks. Over the last week, Patrick Surtain has become one of the most-bet on players for the award this year.

Patrick Surtain will be competing against Cowboys’ rookie Micah Parsons, who is the number one favorite for the award. He will also be competing against other rookies including Kwity Paye, Jaelan Phillips, Jamin Davis, Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah, and Jaycee Horn. Based on his performances and ratings in the past two weeks, Surtain is already ahead of the pack. It may be late August, but there is no question he will be a stud for the Broncos secondary this season and be a serious candidate for the DROY award.

If Patrick Surtain wins the award, he will join Von Miller and Mike Croel as the only Broncos players to win the award in the 54 years the award has been around. He will also be the first Broncos cornerback to win the award and the third cornerback ever to win the award. Yet, the NFL passing game evolves and CBs truly have had more opportunities to stand out among other defensive positions in recent memory. Two CBs have won the award since 2015: Marcus Peters and Marshon Lattimore. Surtain will have countless chances to prove he’s a talented CB as he faces passing offenses like Kansas City, Las Vegas, and Los Angeles twice each in the season.

It’s clear that Surtain is gifted and up to prove he’s ready to take 2021 by storm. Even the great Broncos CB Champ Bailey has acknowledged an early positive impression of Surtain. When asked about Patrick Surtain, Bailey stated “People are like ‘Oh, he reminds me of Champ!’ I’m like ‘hell, he reminds me of me, too!’”

Could the AFC West have four Playoff Teams?

Could AFC West feature four playoff teams?

By: Adam Hulse (@AdamHulseSports)

With the NFL Playoffs expanding its field of Wild Card teams to three per conference instead of two, it is now possible for an entire division to make the postseason. That is what the AFC West division will be looking to accomplish this season, as all four teams have aspirations of making the playoffs. It would be the first time NFL history for that to happen, but the question is whether or not that is a realistic scenario. Let’s first take a quick look at each of the four teams’ outlooks for the upcoming 2021 NFL season.

Kansas City Chiefs

The two-time defending AFC Conference Champion Kansas City Chiefs are pretty much a lock to make it to the playoffs as long as superstar quarterback Patrick Mahomes is healthy. They were the best offense in the NFL last year by a wide margin, with their 415.8 yards per game leading the second-best offense, the Buffalo Bills, by almost 20 yards per game. As an example of how big of a gap that is, the 12th ranked New Orleans Saints offense were 20 yards behind the second-ranked Bills. The Chiefs are returning both of their key offensive weapons in Travis Kelce and Tyreek Hill so there is no reason at all to believe that their offense won’t once again be a dominating force. Pair their elite offense with one of the greatest offensive minds of all time in head coach Andy Reid, and even an underrated defense to go with it too, and the Chiefs are without a doubt one of the best teams in the NFL.

Los Angeles Chargers

The Los Angeles Chargers are a team that has the potential to take the next step this season. The main reason being that it looks like they found a star quarterback in Justin Herbert. He put together a very impressive rookie campaign by completing 66.6 percent of his passes for 4336 yards and 31 touchdowns on his way to leading the Chargers to a solid seven-win season. If he can continue to improve in his second season, he can already be a top ten quarterback in the league, which always gives any team a chance to make a run into playoffs. They have a solid defense that ranked 10th in the NFL last year at 343.4 yards allowed per game and will get a huge boost this coming season with the return of superstar Derwin James. He is not only one of the most dynamic players in the entire NFL but also one of the absolute best all-around defenders. With the rise of Herbert and the return of James, the Chargers have a shot to make some noise this year.

Denver Broncos

On paper, the Denver Broncos are stacked on both sides of the ball. Their offense has a ton of dangerous skill position players including Courtland Sutton, Jerry Jeudy, Noah Fant, Melvin Gordon, and Javonte Williams while their defense is loaded with talented and productive players like Von Miller, Bradley Chubb, Kyle Fuller, and Justin Simmons. The only real problem with their team, and it’s a huge one, is the question mark at the quarterback position. There’s an old saying that “if you have two QBs, you have no QB” and that applies to the situation in Denver with Teddy Bridgewater and Drew Lock. Neither of them are necessarily bad, but they are definitely not impressive either., If one of the two QBs can emerge as a reliable option, or if they trade for an upgrade, then they can surely be a contender because the rest of the team is fully built and ready to win now.

Las Vegas Raiders

The Las Vegas Raiders, who finished in second place in the AFC West last year with eight wins, are the type of team that has a low floor but also a high ceiling heading into the 2021 NFL season. They were the 8th ranked offense last season at 383.3 yards per game, mostly due to their two stars in tight end Darren Waller and running back Josh Jacobs. They did add another back in Kenyan Drake, which adds another dimension to their offense because of his pass catching abilities out of the backfield. The Raiders biggest loss by far this offseason is to the offensive line, which used to be a major strength of the team. They very strangely traded away three of their starters in Trent Brown, Gabe Jackson, and Rodney Hudson to rebuild a unit that didn’t appear to need it. Regardless, they will enter this year with hopes of competing for a postseason appearance, which is something they fell just short of last year.

AFC Playoff Picture

Anything can happen in the NFL, but realistically it appears that 12 of the 16 teams in the AFC have a shot to make the playoffs, excluding the Jaguars, Texans, Jets, and Bengals. Of those 12 teams, four of them will get in automatically for winning their division, so that guarantees one team from the AFC West. Along with the remaining three teams from the AFC West competing for the three remaining wild card spots there will also be five other solid teams that were not division winners fighting for those same spots. That field of teams joining the race will likely be some combination of five of the following teams including the Bills, Patriots, Dolphins, Ravens, Steelers, Browns, Colts, and Titans.

All things considered, it is very likely that the AFC West will get at least two teams and there is a real shot that they will get three teams in the playoffs, but because of the competition that they are facing, it is unlikely that all four will find their way into the NFL Playoffs this year.

Three potential trade destinations for Las Vegas Raiders QB Derek Carr

Where will Raiders QB Derek Carr be traded?

By: Reese Nasser

Las Vegas Raiders quarterback Derek Carr could soon find himself on a new team. With his contract currently set to end after the 2022 season, he could be a name to watch between now and the trade deadline. 

After seven seasons with the Raiders, Carr has never appeared in a playoff game and has won double-digit games just once. He also has a career record of 47-63, but that does not tell the whole story. In his time since entering the league, Carr has been very efficient with the ball. He has 170 passing touchdowns to just 71 interceptions throughout his career. 

Even without ever having a prolific receiving room, Carr has been a consistent playmaker. He had been a reliable QB1. He has also been one of the clutchest players in the league. He has 24 game winning drives in his career. 

When looking at all of this, it is clear to see why teams would be intrigued by adding Carr to their roster. He is still a solid quarterback who would be an upgrade at the position for most teams. Many teams believe that they have the roster in place for a super bowl run and are just missing a quarterback to get them over the hump. Other teams are just trying to find a piece to build around, and at just 30 years old, Carr could be just that. There would be no developing Carr, unlike what you would have to do with a younger quarterback. He is also coming off arguably the best season of his career. 

There are a few different teams that could be in a position to go after Carr. It could end up taking a large draft package to land the veteran quarterback. Some teams may be more willing to give the Raiders what they would like as opposed to others. Here are three  teams that could prove to be top destinations for Derek Carr. 

Pittsburgh Steelers

The Pittsburgh Steelers future at the quarterback position is unclear, to say the least. Longtime quarterback Ben Roethlisberger is entering the final year of his restructured contract. He will also be entering his 18th season as the Steelers starting quarterback and is 39-years old. 

Outside of Roethlisberger, the Steelers have not seemed to create a concrete plan as to who will be their next quarterback. Backup quarterback Mason Rudolph has been subpar in his nine career starts. He could be who the Steelers look to for their future, but he hasn’t yet shown that he can be a number one quarterback on a team. 

The Steelers also recently signed former first-round pick Dwayne Haskins this off-season. Haskins underperformed in his two years in Washington, recording a record of 3-10 and throwing just 12 touchdowns. He has struggled since entering the NFL, and much like Rudolph, hasn’t lived up to expectations up to this point. 

With no proven options past Roethlisberger, if there is a struggle at the quarterback position, the Steelers could look to go after a quarterback such as Carr. The Steelers have a team that is built to win now and can’t afford to have an offense being held back by poor QB play. Carr could play out his final two years of his contract in Pittsburgh and then sign a long-term deal to remain the QB1. 

Washington Football Team 

Washington currently has a surplus of quarters back on their roster, yet there is still no clear QB1. Ryan Fitzpatrick. Taylor Heinicke, and Kyle Allen will all have an opportunity to win the starting job. 

But Washngton may feel like none of these three quarterbacks meet their standards and this could cause them to go after someone such as Carr. 

Washington has assembled a potential top-10 defense and they have young and talented offensive pieces. With Terry McLaurin and Curtis Samuel preparing to become a top receiving duo and running back Antonio Gibson on the verge of stardom, this offense has all the making of a powerhouse. 

Carr could be what this team needs to take them over the top, and Washington is one team that could create a package that is good enough to land the quarterback. 

Miami Dolphins 

The Miami Dolphons coild prove to be an intriguing landing spot for Derek Carr. The decision to trade for him would also be baeed entirely on second-year quarterback Tua Tagovailoa’s performance in the first half of the season. 

Tua struggled on multiple occasions last season, being replaced by Ryan Fitzpatrick on more than one occasion. But, it is still too early to move on from the young quarterback, at least for now. He scored 14 touchdowns in his rookie season and showed flashes of potential.
The Dolphins have a team that can win games, proving this last season by securing 10 wins for the first time since 2016. They also added quality playmakers on the offensive side of the ball through both the draft and free agency. 

Alabama wide receiver Jaylen Waddle will look to be a centerpiece for this team, and eventually Miami’s main target. Wide receiver Will Fuller will also receive a heavy workload for the Dolphins in his first season with the team. 

With a potential top receiving unit, the Dolphins may believe that they can’t afford to wait for Tua to develop. If he does struggle in the start of the season, they could center a package around him and send him to Las Vegas in exchange for Carr. 

Carr is Miami’s offense could be lethal and this team could be positioned to make a legitimate playoff run. 

3 reasons why Clyde Edwards Helaire will really be a Pro Bowler in 2021

Chiefs RB Clyde Edwards Helaire will be a star in 2021

Clyde Edwards-Helaire, the all purpose running back out of LSU, has high expectations entering year two of his career. The Kansas City Chiefs elected not to bring back veteran RB Le’Veon Bell, nor draft a RB early with hopes of CEH proclaiming the draft stature he was given. 

There is a lot of controversy surrounding the RB that Patrick Mahomes personally wanted to be drafted. Many fanatics are harsh on the Chiefs halfback for not quite living up to his first round bill in 2020. However, it’s well seen that Helaire is a very talented player, amid a well oiled machine offense, and will be given the opportunities to oust high success in 2021. 

It’s apparent that Helaire showed potential last season with his rushing yard tally that was knocking on the door of a 1,000 yard season (803 yds). I fully expect CEH to crack the 1,000 yard mark and likely oust around 1500+ all purpose yards. Here is why CEH will take the next step, which ultimately should earn him a Pro Bowl nod.

  • Improved OL 

The KC Chiefs offensive line was a musical chairs performance throughout the 2020-2021 season. The stud Mitchell Schwartz played in a mere six games, while Kelechi Osmele played in only five matchups. When CEH found rushing success early on, it was largely due to Osmele’s ability to maul defenders in his path. Osmele and Schwartz are no longer on the roster.

The Chiefs decided to not let their wounds heal on the OL, but rather acquire upgrades upfront. The reigning AFC champion signed OG Joe Thuney and made a blockbuster trade by acquiring LT Orlando Brown from the Ravens. The Chiefs undoubtedly improved their offensive line from a weak link into possessing one of the top AFC offensive line units. There is still a chance Mitchell Schwartz opts to return to the club. 

  • Absence of Le’Veon Bell 

Le’Veon Bell wasn’t his All Pro self in KC, but he was an effective, involved weapon. He eked out 350 total yards and had 63 carries in the running game. CEH should see a noticeable increase in carries behind a titan like offensive line with Bell out of the building, which should result in an improved running effort from the second year RB. It’s also been reported by ESPN that Mahomes and Helaire have discussed with the Chiefs about a stronger passing game to the RBs. The team’s No. two wideout is currently Mecole Hardman, who recorded a mere 560 yards last season. CEH should get significantly more involved in the run and pass game and it helps he’s the lead back with no true 1B in the offense.

  • Travis Kelce playing like a HOF TE

It’s no surprise that Travis Kelce was one of the best TEs in the league entering the 2020 season. At the eclipse of the 2020 campaign, it’s well documented that Kelce isn’t just elite, but the best TE in the NFL. His 105-1,416-11 mark was one of the best seasons from the TE spot of all time. Defenses now know that the TE can take over games with his superb connection to Mahomes. There will be extra precaution taken from the AFC West defenses and the rest of the NFL next season. CEH should see more dump passes, play action plays, and overall production with extra attention being demanded to Kelce.

Why the Chargers have a bright future with Justin Herbert

Brandon Staley will help Chargers QB Justin Herbert

By: Andy Davies

When the Los Angeles Chargers drafted Justin Herbert sixth overall in the 2020 NFL draft, there was plenty of mixed opinions.

Some felt he was one of the best quarterback prospects in the draft, notably Colin Cowherd.

However, others had him as a ‘boom or bust’ option. Others felt that they should try to trade up to get Alabama quarterback Tua Tagovailoa, who went fifth overall to the Miami Dolphins.

With Herbert going on to win Rookie of the Year and Tua having a questionable first season in the NFL where he was benched twice, here is why the Chargers have a bright future with Herbert as their QB of the future as we also take a look back at the Chargers’ quarterback history over the past 30-40 years.

Failing To Make Super Bowl With Fouts And Rivers

The Chargers made their first Super Bowl during the 1994 season but have failed to make the big game since. They have made the postseason in eight out of the following twenty-six seasons. Out of those eight seasons ending in postseason football, they reached the AFC Championship once. This saw them lose 21-12 to the New England Patriots.

Quarterback for the Chargers was Phillip Rivers. It is arguably a couple of former Chargers players that are deemed two of the three best QB’s to never play in a Super Bowl, despite 106,480 passing yards and 675 touchdowns between them. These are the recently retired Rivers and Hall of Famer Dan Fouts.

Fouts was the starting quarterback before the 1994 season, playing for the franchise from 1973 to 1987. He never made the big game, losing in two Conference Championship games in successive years. Despite being an excellent quarterback in the regular season that set passing yards records, Fouts never seemed to replicate this success in the postseason, throwing 5 interceptions in a Divisional Round loss to the Houston Oilers and doing the same against the Dolphins three years later. 

Rivers was also a quarterback known for throwing interceptions, with 209 across the course of his career. These two quarterbacks had excellent careers but for a reason unknown to many, they could not reach the game they both desired so much.

Quarterback Struggles

Despite having Fouts and Rivers, the Chargers have had many years of quarterback struggles. Since the departure of Fouts, in 1987, they have only had two quarterbacks play more than 75 games. Rivers is one and the other is Stan Humphries, who was the starter when the Chargers lose to the San Francisco 49ers in Super Bowl 29. Despite being in the Chargers Hall of Fame, he was never the best in the league. He had the 7th most passing yards in 1992 but was 21st in 1993, 12th in 1994, 13th in 1995 and 14th in 1996. Even in the 1994 season that saw them reach the Super Bowl, he only threw for 17 touchdowns and 12 interceptions. Despite the NFL being less of a pass-orientated league than it is nowadays, Humphries threw for just the tenth most touchdowns that season.

Bears Super Bowl-winning quarterback Jim McMahon joined the organization less than five years after winning the Super Bowl with the 1985 Chicago Bears, arguably the best ever NFL team. He only played in 12 games, throwing for 10  touchdowns and 10 interceptions.

During the 1998 NFL Draft, the Chargers had the second overall pick and the organization were looking to take a quarterback. It was seen as a decision between Peyton Manning and Ryan Leaf who were seen as the top two quarterback prospects. Some felt Leaf was the best option for the Indianapolis Colts who had the number one pick, with some feeling Peyton was the best choice.

Peyton was seen as the safest option but Leaf was seen as someone with a higher ceiling. However, as things would unravel, it was clear that the Colts made the correct decision in taking Manning number one overall. The Chargers took Leaf with the second pick.

Manning went on to become one of the best quarterbacks of all time, with two Super Bowl rings and 5 MVP awards. He also threw for 71,940 career passing yards, 539 touchdowns and holds many NFL records. He has the most passing yards in a season (5,477), most touchdown passes in a season (55) and has the joint-most touchdown passes in any single game (7). His number 18 jersey is retired from both the Indianapolis Colts and Denver Broncos, the two teams he won Super Bowls with and he will be one of the 2021 Hall of Fame inductees.

Leaf is highly considered the biggest draft bust in NFL history, spending just three years with the Chargers and recording 13 touchdowns along with 33 interceptions. He spent one season with the Dallas Cowboys but only started three games, throwing for 1 touchdown and 3 interceptions. He would retire in 2004 before going on to be sentenced to seven years in prison in 2012. Legal troubles would continue to follow Leaf’s personal life, as recently as May 2020 where he was arrested for misdemeanour domestic battery.

It was hard to imagine how both careers would pan out, but the pre-draft process should have steered the Chargers away from Leaf. The Colts certainly did this with Leaf failing to turn up for a meeting with Indianapolis. The organisation’s general manager at the time Bill Polian did not feel Leaf was mature or professional, lacking that “football junkie” mindset that Peyton had.

Manning also asked several questions to the Colts, whereas Leaf failed to ask any of the same questions. Leaf partied in Las Vegas on the night after the draft and yawned during his first news conference. Red flags would have surely been surrounding the Chargers front office.

Chargers had the perfect replacement for Leaf in Drew Brees, who was drafted in the second round by the franchise. However, he would only last five seasons before the Chargers failed to match his contract demands due to injury concerns. The New Orleans Saints would sign Brees instead of the Dolphins and the rest is history.  He currently holds the record for most career passing yards and pass completions, the highest single-season completion percentage, most consecutive games with a touchdown pass, most pass completions in a season, highest completion percentage in a game as well as being the player tied with Manning for most touchdown passes in a game.

Rivers was drafted in 2004 and whilst he never made a Super Bowl, he enjoyed a good NFL career despite many years of lacking a great offensive line ahead of him. He fixed a problem position for the Chargers that was around for a while but it is hard to ignore the issues they have had at the position, with the Leaf debacle and the injury problems for a QB such as Brees that had such a successful career after leaving the franchise.

The Move To San Diego

The Chargers decided to relocate from San Diego to Los Angeles in 2016, a decision that angered many. The Bolt’s fanbase have failed to truly support the move, with the franchise being repeatedly mocked for its lack of fans. The team on the road against the Chargers has often been cited as having more fans than the Chargers in Los Angeles. They now play in the new SoFI stadium, which is shared with the Los Angeles Rams, the stadium feels more of a Rams stadium than a Chargers stadium.

Despite this, the Chargers have reason to change that thanks to a new head coach and Herbert’s impressive 2020 season. 

The Hiring of Brandon Staley

Head coach Anthony Lynn was fired after four seasons in charge. Brandon Staley was hired as Lynn’s replacement. He spent one season as the Rams’ defensive coordinator and impressed despite just a single season.

The Rams finished the 2020 season 1st in total points allowed and yards allowed.

Using two high safeties in 2020 was seemingly a large contributor to the success of the Rams defense. With Derwin James looking to spend next season on the field rather than the sidelines, he will be welcomed back with open arms. Staley has also talked about making life difficult for the opposition running back.

“It will be messy in the run game. You want those runs to have to slow down. It allows the second or third guy to get there. It starts upfront with the way we teach our defensive line and edge guys”.

Diante Lee from PFF talked about Staley in an article back in February and how Staley’s coaching system allows the team to both stop the run and pass. His 3-3-5 scheme will neutralise the run but also deals excellently with both play action and RPO plays.

Lee also showed the difference in the performance of the cornerbacks for the Rams and Chargers in 2020.

The best PFF coverage for any Chargers corner went to Michael Davis, who had a 62.9 rating. Meanwhile, under Staley as the defensive coordinator, Rams corners Jalen Ramsey, Troy Hill and Darious Williams all had a rating of 75.7 or more.

Staley has a tough challenge on his hands to help improve the fortunes of an organisation that has struggled for many years. He is a defensive-minded coach, which adds intrigue to how he will manage Herbert, who won the aforementioned Rookie of the Year award in 2020.

The Promise of Herbert

When the Chargers beat the Cincinnati Bengals in week one last season with Tyrod Taylor as their starting quarterback, no one expected Herbert to start in week two. Fans certainly didn’t expect their rookie quarterback to impress the way he did and for Taylor never to start another game in a Chargers uniform.

When the Chargers faced off against the Kansas City Chiefs in week two, Taylor was still expected to start. This was until Taylor accidentally suffered a punctured lung before kick-off, caused by the team doctor attempting to issue a painkiller injection for a rib injury during the warmups. Herbert was told he was starting just minutes before the game started.

Despite the lack of preparation, Herbert and the Chargers took the Chiefs to overtime before eventually losing 23-20. Herbert threw for 1 touchdown and 1 interception whilst also throwing for 311 yards.

Herbert would continue to excel, only recording one game without a touchdown pass, in the Chargers’ 45-0 defeat to the New England Patriots. The most interceptions recorded in a single game by Herbert was 2 as he finished the season with 31 touchdown passes, 10 interceptions, 5 rushing touchdowns, 4,336 passing yards and a 66.6 completion percentage. 

Only Andrew Luck (4,374) has thrown for more passing yards by a rookie quarterback than Herbert and no rookie has thrown for more passing touchdowns than Herbert did in the 2020 season. He has been helped by a great offseason by the franchise.

Impressive 2021 Offseason

The Chargers gave made some impressive additions during this current offseason in both Free Agency and the NFL Draft.

The Chargers did say goodbye to tight end Hunter Henry who joined the Patriots in Free Agency but replaced him with former New Orleans Saints tight end Jared Cook. Green Bay Packers allowed centre Corey Linsley to be available, someone who the Chargers acquired after the retirement of fellow centre Mike Pouncey.

Highly rated offensive tackle Rashawn Slater was taken thirteenth overall by the Chargers, one of two players in the position taken in the draft. The fifth round saw fellow offensive tackle Brenden Jaimes drafted.

Cornerback Asante Samuel Jr was taken in the second round, an indication of Staley’s desire to use the 3-3-5 scheme as Chargers head coach in 2021.  Herbert also acquired help in the draft, with wide receiver Josh Palmer and tight end Tre’ McKitty.

It is clear that the Chargers want to give Herbert the best opportunity possible to succeed in the addition of offensive weapons and offensive lineman.

The Chargers front office, coaching staff and fanbase have a lot to be excited about in 2021. Sharing a division with the Chiefs means that winning the AFC West is a very tough challenge and will be for some time. However, the wildcard spot is a very achievable target as they look to make progress and utilise Herbert’s potential.

Each Divisional Favorite in the NFL

By: Ladarius Brown

Which teams are the favorites to win their respective divisions? Glad you asked because I will go division by division and give my favorites. Using the compass, we will start north with the AFC North.  

AFC North: Baltimore Ravens  

This division is about two teams (Ravens & Browns) with an outside chance for the Steelers. There’s always next year, the year after that for you Bengals fans. The Ravens get the edge because it’s the one team that I have the most confidence in. Head coach John Harbaugh has three consecutive double-digit winning seasons. (Steelers & Browns each have one). Their run game and that defense are still formidable.  

To be clear, you cannot ignore the Browns after their 1st winning season since 2007 and winning their 1st playoff game since 1994. The question mark here is can they duplicate, or even improve, from last year? They shored up some gaps in their secondary via both free agency and the draft. If Baker Mayfield can keep up his steady improvement, this division will be fun to watch.  

For the Steelers, it certainly looked as though Big Ben’s best days were behind him. Is the defense good enough after losing DE Bud Dupree to the Titans? As for the Bengals, Joe Burrow was a ROTY frontrunner before being injured and they drafted his LSU teammate, WR Ja’Marr Chase, as his new target. Overall, this division will come down to QB play and which defense is the best.   

AFC East: Buffalo Bills  

Josh Allen is a top 5 QB in this league. He was a huge part of their success last season, winning the AFC East for the 1st time since 1995. They return all five of their starting offensive line and if they are a strong tenacious unit this year, this is a Super Bowl contender. There is not a lot of gaps on this roster.   

The Miami Dolphins and their franchise is hinging on what QB Tua Tagovailoa can do in year two. Despite going 6-3 in his nine starts, there was still clamor that they should have pursued a starting QB. However, I have faith in Tua because of his accuracy (64.1%) and the ability to win down the stretch (two 4th quarter comebacks). Adding WR Will Fuller in free agency and drafting WR Jaylen Waddle along with WR DeVante Parker gives Tua a nice WR core to throw to. Plus, head coach Brian Flores and his defense drafted LB Jaelan Phillips out of Miami (FL) to replace LB Kyle Van Noy, who signed with the Patriots. They will be in the mix.  

Speaking of the Patriots, head coach Bill Belichick opened up the checkbook, especially on the tight end position. Hunter Henry got a three-year, $37.5 million deal, including $25 million guaranteed, and Jonnu Smith a four-year, $50 million deal with $31.25 million guaranteed. They also signed WRs Nelson Agholor & Kendrick Bourne, LBs Kyle Van Noy and Matthew Judon, and C Ted Karras. It is abundantly clear the Patriots are not rebuilding, given the Belichick is 69 years old. Even though they re-signed QB Cam Newton, they drafted Mac Jones of Alabama. Jones will play this season but when is uncertain.   

The Jets cleaned house by firing Adam Gase and hiring former 49ers defensive coordinator Robert Saleh as their head coach. They drafted a franchise QB in Zach Wilson of BYU and OT Alijah Vera-Tucker to protect his blindside. They also went out and signed WR Corey Davis from the Titans, DE Carl Lawson from the Bengals, and S Lamarcus Joyner from the Raiders. The Jets are far from a contender but I love their upside because I like Zach Wilson and what he can do in this offense ran by OC Mike LaFleur.   

AFC South: Indianapolis Colts  

I am confident that this is a two-team for the division. The Colts went out and traded for QB Carson Wentz. They did not make a huge splash in free agency, but they did sign CB Xavier Rhodes from the Vikings to help in the secondary. If Wentz can stay healthy, the Colts. could sneak into the AFC Championship game. By the way, the Matt Eberflus-led defense with DT DeForest Buckner and LB Darius Leonard was great last year.  

Here is what I know about the Titans: Derrick Henry is a beast and traded for a future HOF WR in Julio Jones. I know the offense is great but can we talk about the defense for a second? They signed DE Bud Dupree and drafted CB Caleb Farley of Virginia Tech but is it enough to improve their defense? They were 28th in the NFL in total defense. Having an explosive offense is cool but can you stop anybody?   

The Jaguars have their QB of the future in Trevor Lawrence and 1st-year head coach Urban Meyer is looking to get the Jags back on track. As for the Texans, I feel bad for only two people: the diehard Texans fan and head coach David Culley. 0-17 is not out of the realm of possibility here.  

AFC West: Kansas City Chiefs  

Everyone feels this division is a lock because of the Chiefs’ success over the last three years (2 Super Bowl appearances and 3 AFC Championship game appearances). Also, having the QB Patrick Mahomes and head coach Andy Reid helps too. However, they might have some competition because the Chiefs can play down to their opponents. Nonetheless, they vastly improved their offensive line by signing Joe Thuney and Kyle Long, which was their Achilles heel last year. They are the favorite but do not sleep on the Chargers.  

The Chargers were plagued with injuries and losing close games, which cost Anthony Lynn his job. Hiring former Rams defensive coordinator Brandon Staley as their new head coach gives me a sense that they make a move in this division. Starting with their offense, QB Justin Herbert played outstanding, garnering the ROTY award. Throw in WRs Keenan Allen and Mike Williams along with signing C Corey Linsley from the Packers solidifies their offensive line. RB Austin Ekler could have a breakout year also. The Rams had the No. 1 defense in the league under Staley last season. He inherits DE Joey Bosa, S Derwin James, and drafted CB Asante Samuel Jr.   

The Denver Broncos passed on QB Justin Fields in the NFL Draft for CB Patrick Surtain II of Alabama. They traded for QB Teddy Bridgewater, making it a QB competition between him and QB Drew Lock. They signed CB Kyle Fuller from the Bears to play on the other side of Surtain II. The question is this: Do the Broncos have a Lock or a Bridge at QB?   

As for the Raiders, their turnover differential was –11, which was 30th in the league. Derek Carr is not the problem because this was a top 10 offense last season (8th) with a defense ranked 25th. I will contend that the head coach Jon Gruden is a great offensive mind but my concern will always be the defense with this team.   

NFC North: Minnesota Vikings  

My favorite here is based on one player: Aaron Rodgers. I believe that he might not play a down for them again. With Jordan Love under center for the Packers, they will not win this division. Rodgers moves the needle for me. Plus, they lost their C Corey Linsley to the Chargers and made no other free agency signings but did re-sign RB Aaron Jones and CB Kevin King. However, if no. 12 is not there, this team is going nowhere.  

Shifting to the Vikings, their drafts over the last two years have great, yielding WR Justin Jefferson, CB Jeff Gladney, OT Ezra Cleveland, and CB Cameron Dantzler in 2020. This year, they drafted OT Christian Darrisaw, QB Kellen Mond, and OT Wyatt Davis. Throw in that they still have RB Dalvin Cook in the backfield and a still productive QB in Kirk Cousins (still overpaid though). Plus, they still have Harrison Smith, Anthony Barr, and Eric Kendricks on defense.   

The Bears finally got their franchise QB in Justin Fields. Their defense is still good but not elite, especially after losing CB Kyle Fuller in free agency to the Broncos. They have a good chance to improve if the Packers don’t get Rodgers back. As for the Lions, QB Jared Goff needed a change of scenery and the Lions needed to restart their franchise after trading QB Matthew Stafford. The Lions have RB D’Andre Swift and TE T.J. Hockenson on offense and their defense has promise with CB Jeff Okudah, DE Trey Flowers, and DT Michael Brockers.  

NFC East: Dallas Cowboys  

On paper, the Dallas Cowboys have a talented roster. With a now healthy Dak Prescott as the signal-caller, they have the best QB in the division. The biggest issue I have is if the defense, now under new defensive coordinator Dan Quinn, will improve. Last season, the defensive scheme of Mike Nolan was pretty bad and it showed. Plus, the injury bug hit them hard. If this defense takes some major strides, this division is theirs to lose.  

The Washington Football Team (WFT) won this division with a 7-9 record in 2020. This offseason, they signed WR Curtis Samuel from the Panthers, CB William Jackson of the Bengals, and QB Ryan Fitzpatrick from the Dolphins. This was the second-best defense in the league last year with defensive ROTY Chase Young leading the way. Offensively, the only concern is the offensive line. They were tied for 2nd, allowing 50 sacks. Can FitzMagic stay upright to get this offense going?  

The Giants were all about building around their QB Daniel Jones, signing WR Kenny Golladay, WR John Ross III, and TE Kyle Rudolph in free agency. For GM Dave Gettleman, his job is tied to Danny Dimes. He drafted WR Kadarius Toney of Florida as well. With a healthy Saquon Barkley, this offense has to improve or it could over for Gettleman. As for the Eagles, it’s life after Carson Wentz with the Jalen Hurts era set to commence. New head coach Nick Sirianni has his cut for him as a rookie head coach trying to navigate a roster with talent but needs improvement big time.   

NFC South: Tampa Bay Buccaneers   

When you re-sign every starter in the offseason and you won the Super Bowl, you are the favorite. If key players remain healthy, the Bucs could be in Los Angeles playing for another Super Bowl.   

The Saints lost QB Drew Brees to retirement and players like DE Trey Hendrickson, CB Janoris Jenkins, LB Alex Anzalone, and DT Sheldon Rankins to free agency. However, they still DEs Cam Jordan & Marcus Davenport, CB Marshon Lattimore, and WR Michael Thomas. To me, if Taysom Hill is the starting QB, I do have reservations because he has been a gadget player ever since he’s been in the league. He was a QB at BYU but maybe with a full offseason as a QB, he could adjust.   

The Falcons hired Titans OC Arthur Smith to be the head coach after firing Dan Quinn five games into last season. They traded away one of the best players to ever don a Falcons uniform, Julio Jones. They still have QB Matt Ryan, WR Calvin Ridley, and drafting TE Kyle Pitts of Florida, they are in a transition phase. On top of Pitts, GM Terry Fontenot has a great draft and is building for the future. This defense has to be better and new defensive coordinator Dean Pees has to maximize this talent to show gradual improvement.   

The Panthers, like the Broncos, passed on QB Justin Fields for a CB. This time, it was Jaycee Horn of South Carolina. It does help their secondary and they traded for QB Sam Darnold. It was clear that head coach Matt Rhule wanted to move on from Teddy Bridgewater and did so. The biggest question coming out of Carolina is if Darnold is the guy. If so, Carolina will pay him. If not, they look to the 2022 draft for their guy.   

NFC West: Arizona Cardinals  

I am high on the Cardinals. Every team in this division can win this division. I went out on a limb with the Cardinals is because they went out and got better on defense, signing DE J.J. Watt and CB Malcolm Butler. Last year, the Cardinals’ defense was 4th in sacks and a top-15 defense. Plus, signing WR A.J. Green to pair with DeAndre Hopkins gives QB Kyler Murray weapons at the skill position. The x-factor is head coach Kliff Kingsbury. If he can elevate this offense, this team could be dangerous come playoff time.   

The Rams upgraded at QB by trading for Matthew Stafford of the Lions. It seems GM Les Snead does not believe in the draft whatsoever, giving up a lot to get him. Their defense lost S John Johnson to the Browns but they still CB Jalen Ramsey and DT Aaron Donald. The concern is if new defensive coordinator Raheem Morris can keep this defense elite to compete for a Super Bowl.   

I am a huge Russell Wilson fan but the Seahawks have been leaning on him for some time now. That offensive line allowed 48 sacks, which was tied for 3rd in 2020. Defensively, head coach Pete Carroll and defensive coordinator Ken Norton Jr. need to shore up that secondary. They allowed 285 passing yards/game (2nd worse in the league last year). If they want any chance to win this division, this defense has to be better.  

Many people like the 49ers to win this division and I get it. Their defense is great and healthier and TE George Kittle is healthy. The biggest question mark I have is under center. Jimmy Garoppolo is not the answer and I feel Trey Lance is not the answer. I love their front office in GM John Lynch and head coach Kyle Shanahan. However, losing defensive coordinator Robert Saleh concerns me and uncertainty under center.   

3 underrated moves by Denver Broncos this offseason

By: Chandler Hyler

Heading into the 2021 NFL Season, the Denver Broncos were in search of their next general manager. In efforts to be removed from the day to day activity, John Elway went out searching for his new eventual replacement.

While Elway actually was actually promoted in a way, he hired a General Manager. Still the President of Football Operations, Elway is still understood to have the ability to step in on a call. That being said, he ultimately has instilled a strong trust in the Broncos’ rookie general manager.

First-year general manager George Paton has been a warranted man across front offices in the NFL. Beginning his profound jersey, Paton took on a scouting role with the Chicago Bears. As a scout of the Bears, Paton excelled and resulted in a quick promotion to assistant director of pro personnel in the year 2000.

During his brief tenure with the Chicago Bears, Paton then met an individual who would play a major factor in his development, Rick Spielman. Once Spielman departed from the Windy City, Paton would follow. After a stint in Miami, the duo then headed to become members of the Skol community.

Where Paton developed and learned how to operate an NFL franchise, to an extent, Minnesota has been the backbone of his career. In a strong 14 seasons with the Vikings, Paton played a predominant role in a draft and development process.

Growing within the organization, Paton worked himself all the way up to eventually becoming the Assistant General Manager and vice president of personnel. Paton had been a hot commodity dating back to 2012 when his interviews had begun.

Passing up interviews, turning down offers, and even removing his name from potential General Manager opportunities, Paton was waiting for a prime opportunity. What stands out about George Paton is the fact he had enough confidence in himself and the expected desire for his abilities, that he passed that many chances up.

Not all potential hires have the moxie to roll the dice in such a consistent manner. Some potential hirees take the first opportunity they get, but Paton believed in himself so strongly that he waited 8 years before accepting his preferred destination.

With the Minnesota Vikings, Paton was a part of a team that selected 17 pro bowlers in their respective drafts or undrafted free agency periods. From building some elite defenses, drafting Dalvin Cook, acquiring Brett Favre and Kirk Cousins, Paton was involved in some impressive transactions.

It certainly isn’t a guarantee that Paton’s upward trajectory continues to rise as he begins his next chapter with the Denver Broncos. As promising as Paton may look, the future remains unknown. All of that said, I have faith not only in George Paton, but the entire Denver Broncos also.

Bringing George Paton in to become the next General Manager of the Denver Broncos has been the overwhelming favorite as the best transaction in 2021, in my opinion.

This was the best decision for one very simple, cut and dry reason, Paton will be making all of the day-to-day decisions. As stated previously, John Elway can block a potentially egregious error, I don’t forsee that being an issue. Not only does this bring relief to Elway, but it also puts the Denver Broncos in a position to succeed in the future.

George Paton has come into the 2021 season with a strategy and he stuck to it. His motto for the entity of the 2021 offseason, Paton reiterated that the Denver Broncos would be aggressive, just not reckless.

Right out the gate, one particular former Detroit Lion became available, Matthew Stafford. Paton immediately showed us what he meant by this. Talking offers with the Lions, the price of the former number one overall pick eventually exceeded what Paton was willing to pay.

After Matthew Stafford started packing his bags for Los Angeles, the DeShaun Waston saga had begun. What potentially began as Watson wanting to be traded due to conflictual reasons with the Houston Texans brass and Jack Easterby.

Before Paton and the Denver Broncos could even breach the doors of a possible Watson trade, the storm just started raining. Shortly after being accused of just one case of sexual assault, a massive amount of baggage therapists came out with similar accusations.

While the jury is still out on the Aaron Rodgers situation, the Denver Broncos did add one quarterback during this offseason. Former Minnestoa Viking himself, Teddy Bridgewater became a member of the Denver Broncos just prior to the 2021 NFL Draft.

In a move that cost the Broncos minimal damage, salary, and draft capital-wise, adding Bridgewater was an efficient move. If Aaron Rodgers becomes available, Broncos Country Tonight’s insider, Benjamin Albright, went as far as to say that if Rodgers were to be traded, it would be to the Denver Broncos.

Trading for Aaron Rodgers could make Paton a very popular man in the Mile High City. Wondering what they may have to give up, sending a package that included two first-round picks, a second-round pick, Teddy Bridgewater, and Bradley Chubb would certainly be enticing.

Maybe the Green Bay Packers would ask for more, but it would be interesting to see how much of his poker chips Paton would be willing to push in on a disgruntled quarterback, Aaron Rodgers. An elite talent and professional, Rodgers would be all the Denver Broncos need to be a legitimate Super Bowl contender

With the overall construction of this roster, the Broncos should be in attack mode. Courtland Sutton, Jerry Jeudy, KJ Hamler, Tim Patrick, Noah Fant, and Albert Okuegbunam, would light the NFL on fire with Aaron Rodgers slinging the pigskin to them.

If Paton could add Rodgers for the aforementioned package, I would be a firm believer in the Denver Broncos winning the Lombardi at least once over the next few seasons.

When most people look at how an organization “does’ in the offseason, it always seems to be matriculated around player additions. It is often you hear people say, “I love what the Denver Broncos did the offseason, hiring George Paton gives them an A for the offseason, in my book.” Everything seems to orbit around the way the roster improved, not the front office.

Hiring George Paton has already brought the Denver Broncos Kyle Fuller and Ronald Darby, as well as retaining key contributors in previous seasons. Von Miller and Kareem Jackson will be staying in Denver for at least one more season. Justin Simmons and Shelby Harris’ contracts were also extended to ensure some long-term retention for this defense.

Built around promise young playmakers on offense, second-round draft pick Javonte Williams, will also have his moments to shine. George Paton’s first-ever draft selection, Patrick Surtain II, looks imposing. It seems taking the misused word “safe” pick in the first round will give this Broncos defense depth and upside in a division that has Patrick Mahomes and Justin Hebert in it.

All of these are decisions that have been made by George Paton. While the Aaron Rodgers thing is just hypothetical at this point, that move would be monstrous. Even if Paton doesn’t secure Rodgers, this offseason still seems like it will be a successful one.

Out of every decision Paton has signed off for to this point, Id say retaining All-Pro safety Justin Simmons has been slightly overlooked. While the members of Broncos Country certainly value Justin Simmons, he may have not been retained if the hard-ball negations tactics of John Elway were pressed.

Looking back towards the end of 2020, there was substantial doubt that Simmons may not be returning to the Mile High. This would not have resonated well with not only the locker room but fans and locals.

Justin Simmons is not just an outstanding athlete, but he is also an outstanding human being. Representing the Denver Broncos last year, in honor of Walter Payton, Simmons continues to show his dedication to his community.

Keeping Simmons in Denver also showed a potential culture shift for this organization and how their home grown talent will be treated. After seeing the negotiating debacles with Elway, having a general manager who wants player to feel truly appreciated is a breath of fresh air.

Justin Simmons was a third round draft pick in the 2016 NFL Draft. Since then he has done nothing less than establish himself as a tremendous athlete, teammate, and person. Rewarding this sort of growth and development shines to the up and comers like Courtland Sutton and Bradley Chubb, who are due for contracts soon.

There once was a toxic feeling in the Denver Broncos locker room, that no matter how well you played, locking up a long term deal would be difficult. Even looking at a superstar like Von Miller, the negotiations got a bit frustrated with John Elway being in charge of these ordeals. It went as far as Miller cropping Elway out of photos as he would post them.

Additionally, Shelby Harris was also rewarded with a contract extension. Although Harris was not a Denver Broncos draft selection, he was not who he is now when he arrived to Dove Valley. He certainly has grown since becoming a Denver Bronco, and after two back to back contract seasons, Harris was rewarded.

Harris is known for many things including an infectious laughter and personality, but his ability to swat passes at the line of scrimmage has been noticed league wide. As Harris has reiterated, he has the best hands in the league.

Dishing out these two extensions early in his tenure will do wonders for Paton. Setting the tone that he will take care of his guys will make players want to play for this organization. This team has needed a culture shift since the retirement of new Ring of Famer Peyton Manning, and ironically enough, I think Paton can right that ship.

Outside of retaining key contributors, the other underrated but important move Paton has done was not be reckless. While the Broncos could certainly use a superstar quarterback, his ability to stick to his word on not being reckless has put the Denver Broncos in a fantastic position.

You may be wondering how not trading for Matthew Stafford, or selecting a quarterback in the draft may work out in a positive direction for Paton. Well, put it this way, Aaron Rodgers is holding out of mandatory mini camp. Paton’s willingness of sticking to his guns has put the Broncos in prime position to land the future Hall of Famer.

While Paton did trade for Teddy Bridgewater, giving up merely nothing to acquire him, he could be a potential piece in a package to acquire Rodgers. If Green Bay does eventually agree to trade Rodgers, they will be in need of a veteran quarterback, ala Teddy “Two Gloves,” to help Jordan Love in his sophomore season.

Using Bridgewater in a package for Rodgers would make Paton look even more intelligent.

This Denver Broncos roster is ready to compete now, adding another young quarterback who needs time to develop could be helpful, but it isn’t what helps the Broncos win this year. That is Aaron Rodgers.

In prime position to secure Rodgers, the feeling is actually quite mutual. It is understood by many around the league that Rodgers would not only welcome a trade to the Denver Broncos, but he may even prefer it. For many who don’t follow this team may look at the previous year’s record and ask, “why would Aaron Rodgers want to play for the Denver Broncos?”

As far as the record goes, this team’s talent is not an adequate representation of that. From top to bottom, offense to defense, this team is stacked. This roster has one issue right now, could you guess what that is?

Addressing the glaring hole at quarterback could solve with Aaron Rodgers would solve every issue this team has. By simply not reaching for a quarterback that would not guarantee a shift in the success of this franchise has set Paton up to do just that.

Paton still has all of his future draft picks available, has a quarterback who would be a piece in the trade package, and a few defenders that the Broncos could survive without. It would hurt giving up a Bradley Chubb or Dre’Mont Jones, but adding Rodgers and a potential Lombardi trophy would mend that sore.

Imagine Aaron Rodgers brining the Lombardi trophy home to the Denver Broncos, instead of the franchise the profound trophy was named after. This would put the Broncos winning the Lombardi in three out of the previous four decades, the 1990’s, 2010’s, and 2020’s.

That would be quite a feat considering there are several franchises that to this day, have not to hoist the trophy a single time. Being in this position would not have happened if Paton had become eager and reached for a middling quarterback. Instead, he stuck to his guns, and although an Aaron Rodgers isn’t guaranteed, he has put the Broncos in the a great position to make it happen.

He’s also taken a talented roster to an even higher floor with the additions in free agency, like cornerbacks Ronald Darby and Kyle Fuller. In doing so, he put this team in position to draft the best player available in the draft, which he filled this roster with ten potential impact players.

Without luring Paton in as the next Denver Broncos general manager, I am not sure this team is in the position it’s in right now. That is no doubt, the best thing this team could have done after John Elway moved into a higher position. It has been one of the most underrated moves this offseason.

After the hiring of Paton, he immediately stayed true to the backbone of this team and retained the current pillars of this franchise. Also, not reaching for Mitchell Trubisky or any of the other available quarterbacks, has been wildly underrated and its put the Broncos in the driver seat for Aaron Rodgers.

If Paton lures Rodgers in, he may also find himself in the Broncos Ring of Fame someday.

Broncos win/loss ceiling and floor for the 2021 season

By: Jordan Anders

The Denver Broncos have not had a winning record since they won Super Bowl 50 back in the 2015-2016 season. Since then, they have only tied for second in the AFC West standings with a 7-9 record in 2019. In the last five seasons, the Broncos have gone through nine starting quarterbacks, ten if you include last season where running back Phillip Lindsay started at quarterback against the Saints. Needless to say, the Broncos have struggled to find that missing piece to get the team back into a winning record.

With the Broncos putting faith in quarterback Drew Lock this season, in only his third year, it’s hard to say where Drew can take this team. The hope is he can lead the Broncos to the post-season for the first time in 5 years. This year would be the year to do that, the Broncos this next season have one of the easiest schedules, with only four teams ahead of them. Although the Broncos have one of the easiest schedules, they’ll be playing 20 games in total this regular season, three in pre-season, and 17 in regular-season games.

On top of that, their division rivals, the Kansas City Chiefs have won the division the last five seasons and will likely win it again, and the Chargers and quarterback Justin Herbert aren’t looking too bad after last season and will only continue to get better. We went 1-1 with the Raiders and Chargers last season and the Broncos are definitely looking for a season sweep on both. If the Broncos want to accomplish this, a winning record, and have a chance to make it to the playoffs, they’ll have to put in the work.

Broncos’ ceiling

With a load of weapons in the Broncos offense and a defense similar to the 2015 “No Fly Zone” defense, the Broncos could most definitely go 12-5. The Baltimore Ravens, Pittsburgh Steelers, Cleveland Browns, and Kansas City Chiefs will be the Broncos’ biggest threats going into this next season.

The Broncos’ first three games are against the New York Giants, Jacksonville Jaguars, and New York Jets, these first three games will set the tone for the remainder of the season. The Broncos could easily go 3-0, but with Drew Lock throwing only 16 touchdowns last season with 15 interceptions, it’s hard to pinpoint where the Broncos will fall.

Drew Lock has been putting in lots of work this offseason so far, there’s the question that we can make the jump to lead the team, it’s when.

Broncos’ floor

The Broncos have a well-rounded team and without a doubt one of the best secondaries in the league. If the offensive side of the ball falls short, the defense will have to carry. Yet the defense side of the ball can only take you so far.

The floor for the Broncos this season would be 4-13. The Detroit Lions, Philadelphia Eagles, Jets, and Jaguars, are the easiest wins on the schedule this season, and if the Broncos can’t make it past these teams it’s gonna be a rough season. The Chargers took massive strides

This is a worst-case scenario besides losing every game but the team is too talented and skilled to lose 17 games. As stated earlier the pre-season games and the first three games into the regular season will set show us how the rest of the season will likely go.

Why do the Chargers pose a threat to the Chiefs?

Chiefs biggest challenge in 2021 is Chargers

By: Dylan Streibig

With five straight division titles and consecutive trips to the Super Bowl, the Kansas City Chiefs are the undisputed kings of the AFC West. They will be tough to knock off their perch as long as Patrick Mahomes is around.

However, they will face their stiffest competition from a division rival in a long time from the 2021 Los Angeles Chargers for two reasons.

They were really close last year.

The Chargers 7-9 campaign last year is a bit misleading. You can throw out their Week 17 win against Kansas City. The Chiefs were resting starters for the playoffs. Even so, Los Angeles was a lot closer to causing major problems for the winners of their divison and the rest of the league than you might think.

Eight of their nine losses in 2020 were by single digits, including a Week 2 overtime loss to Andy Reid’s Chiefs. The Chargers losing close games isn’t a new thing. Anthony Lynn isn’t the first Bolts coach to fall on his sword because of it either.

Close losses are usually a matter of coaching though. So, former Rams defensive coordinator Brandon Staley becomes head coach of the other team in Los Angeles. If he can clean up little things, like the team averaging over five penalties per game last year ever so slightly, that alone can turn a seven win team into a ten win team. Now, for the other part of the equation.

They solved their biggest issue.

With Justin Herbert wowing as a rookie and throwing 31 touchdown passes in 15 games, the Chargers have a special quarterback in place for the next decade plus. That is the largest piece of the puzzle for any NFL team.

Protecting Herbert was an issue in 2020 though. Los Angeles ranked dead last in the Pro Football Focus end of season offensive line rankings last year. Unlike the Bengals who also must better protect a special talent in Joe Burrow, the Chargers didn’t just bring in veterans on stopgap deals and mid round draft talents that they hope will work out.

General manager Tom Telesco brought in former Packers All-Pro center Corey Linsley on a five year deal that made him the highest paid center in football. Then, Rayshawn Slater fell into Telesco’s lap on night one of the NFL Draft. Slater was arguably the top offensive tackle prospect in the draft. Thanks to these moves, injuries are the only thing that could keep the Chargers offensive line from vast improvement in 2021. The roster also has a diverse group of running backs led by Austin Ekeler who has career averages of over four yards per carry and nine yards per catch.

There are some really nice pieces on defense too. Joey Bosa entered the league prior to the 2016 season and has never had fewer than 5.5 sacks in a season. Adding a talented rookie like Asante Samuel Jr. to a secondary that already has a savvy veteran in four time Pro-Bowler Chris Harris Jr. and a still emerging talent like Derwin James makes for a fine defensive backfield, provided James can stay healthy.

Concerns

On paper, the Chargers don’t have many. Obviously, any time a rookie head coach like Staley is in the picture, it is a bit of an unknown. Other than that and the need for a third pass catcher to emerge behind the productive but brittle duo of Keenan Allen and Mike Williams, the sky is the limit for the Chargers in 2021. With Denver still having issues at quarterback and the Raiders roster lacking talent beyond a few capable offensive weapons, Los Angeles is the only division rival that can make the mighty Chiefs sweat this year.

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