Why Kyle Pitts can be the first TE in NFL history to win OROY

TE Kyle Pitts is a strong OROY candidate

By: Jake Rajala

The Atlanta Falcons made legendary Florida Gator Kyle Pitts the highest-drafted tight end in history when they selected him fourth overall in the 2020 draft. A decision to draft Pitts over a future quarterback like Justin Fields was seen as questionable by many analysts and avid Falcons fans. Nonetheless, Pitts is undoubtedly an elite talent and he’s out to prove he deserved to be a Top 5 draft pick at the TE position. 

Despite not playing a professional snap on the football field, Pitts has already shown that he’s a gifted player this offseason. In fact, the trait that really impressed the Falcons was not his size or speed, but rather his wingspan. His wingspan reportedly measured 83 ⅝! Pitts’s wingspan is the longest of any tight end or wide receiver in the last 20 years. 

Pitts is set to show his freakish wingspan on top of his blazing speed (4.44) and his 6’6 frame will allow him to translate well to the NFL level. Pitts, who shows similar traits to elite wide receivers, will surely be one of the top rookies in 2021. Personally, I believe there’s lots of optimism for him to be the very best offensive rookie next season. Here is why the highest-drafted TE ever can be the first TE ever to win Offensive Rookie of The Year (OROY). 

  • Nobody has passed the football more than the Falcons over the last two seasons

The Atlanta Falcons like to sling the pigskin more than any other ball club. The Falcons were fourth in passing attempts last season and first in passing attempts the season prior. 

The Falcons play in more shootout contests than nearly any NFL team. In the Falcons division, they play Tom Brady (third-ranked scoring offense in 2020) twice a year, the Saints offense (fifth-ranked scoring offense last season), and the Panthers aerial attack receiving a healthy Christian McCaffrey in the fold. A disadvantage for the Falcons winning chances, but an advantage for Pitts is that the Falcons pass defense has shown to be the worst in the league (32 out of 32 teams). The Falcons offense is forced to keep pace with the likes of their opposing divisional juggernaut offenses. 

In the wild west of the NFC South, high-scoring matchups are a recurring theme. Offensive weapons in the division have repeatedly put up stats that were above their actual quality of talent. Buccaneers WR Chris Godwin was third in the NFL in receiving yards in 2019 when his below-average QB Jameis Winston threw over 5,000 passing yards. Pitts teammate Calvin Ridley was a beneficiary of the Falcons air rampage with his 1,374 yard tally in 15 games last season, which was good for fifth in the league. It’s blatantly safe to say that Pitts will be a heavy target and he will receive a plethora of opportunities in the 2021 campaign. 

  • Absence of Julio Jones

Another big reason why Pitts is set to haunt the league is a more well-known and relevant reason. The Falcons recently lost franchise great player and WR Julio Jones.

In three of the last four seasons, Jones has collected 148+ targets for his QB Matt Ryan. Pitts and Calvin Ridley will be tasked with filling the shoes of one of the once most indispensable players in the league. Ryan will be under lots of pressure in the 2021 season and it will be the first season he is without his long-time security blanket. He knows that his rookie TE will be a great asset to feed the football to on a repeated basis.

Why the New Orleans Saints may currently not have a long term QB option

Who is the Saints QB of the future?

By: Jeremy Trottier

The New Orleans Saints are tasked with something they have not had to deal with since 2006, in that they have to figure out who their starting QB is.  With four quarterbacks on the roster currently, they have to see how training camps and preseason plays out to make that decision.  With that said, there is the chance that none of these quarterbacks are their long term starter, and they could be drafting one early on come next NFL draft season.  In this article, I will be going over why each of the Saints rostered QBs is not a long term option as of right now.

Jameis Winston

The QB most Saints fans at this point believe to be the starter for 2021, and rationally that should be the case.  The potential Jameis has is sky high, however as many have mentioned to this point, we also know the lows of Jameis as a QB too.  The most blatantly obvious being his decision making.  Throwing 30 interceptions in a season does not solely happen because you are in an Air Raid offensive scheme, nor does it just happen because your eyesight is not up to par. 

His decision making is one of the faults of his type of playing style, we saw it when he was at Florida State too.  With Sean Payton as your head coach, a coach who likes consistency and playing the short “dink and dunk” type offense where short to intermediate passing is key, interceptions kill that thinking in seconds.  If Jameis has not changed his ways and truly learned what throws NOT to make, his tenure could be short lived.

Taysom Hill

To start, he is going to be 31 by the time the 2021-2022 season starts up, which automatically puts him out of the “long term” category.  Taysom also has issues with turnovers, however in the opposite way Jameis does.  That being fumbles.  Last season Taysom had a horrible time trying to hold onto the ball, fumbling 10 times (Tied for 3rd among NFL players in 2020 behind Derek Carr and Daniel Jones both at 11).  The other thing to note is he only started four games at QB for New Orleans, and still ended up with more fumbles than passing TDs.  

Taysom also does not really have the consistency as a passer to perform as a starting QB full time.  He has accuracy on short passing, which is good for the scheme, however his intermediate to long range passing is extremely inconsistent.

Ian Book 

To be fair, as a Saints fan, I am intrigued by Ian Book to say the least.  He has traits to make it at the NFL level, potentially as a starter someday.  With that said, he is not nearly ready to take on a starting role yet at this level, and likely will not be for another two to three seasons.  He is an extremely raw prospect, with the traits to make it but he needs to learn more regarding the NFL landscape and how to play at the next level.  

He will need a few seasons to learn from Sean Payton and the rest of the coaching staff on how to build up some arm strength, as that is his heaviest weakness at the moment.  

Trevor Siemian

Trevor Siemian is somewhat relegated to career backup at this point.  When you start in 25 games over three seasons and throw a 30 touchdown to 24 interception ratio and have issues getting your completion percentage above 60% each season, you really need to take a step back and learn from someone.  Odds are Siemian is a camp arm and will stick around on the roster as a backup, provided Ian Book does not take that spot away. 

Why the Panthers need to sign Todd Gurley

Free Agent Todd Gurley should join Panthers RB group

By: Jake Rajala

The Carolina Panthers entered the 2021 offseason desperate for change. Matt Rhule and the Panthers knew that they were getting All-Pro Christian McCaffrey back and healthy. Still, the fourth-place NFC South team from a year ago was widely aware that they needed a boost in their arsenal if they wanted to head in a winning direction.

The Panthers made a smart move by acquiring the young, cheaper Sam Darnold at the QB position. On defense, the organization drafted Jaycee Horn with the eighth overall pick. Numerous other valuable moves were made like the signing of Dan Arnold at tight end, inking Haason Reddick at defensive end, and the addition of Denzel Perryman to the linebacker unit. The Panthers undoubtedly boast a new look, sharper squad as training camp approaches. 

Indeed, training camp approaches, but it’s still the offseason and there’s still time to focus on improving the roster before the pads come on for the Panthers and the 31 other ball clubs. When looking at the Panthers, they are a team that could use more talent at a few spots. In particular, CAR could use more firepower at the RB position. 

Free-agent RB Todd Gurley would be the perfect fit for coach Rhule’s offensive attack. The Panthers boast CMAC, but there’s hardly an ounce of proven ability behind McCaffrey. Behind the number one RB spot, lies fourth-round rookie Chubba Hubbard and second-year UDFA Rodney Smith. 

Gurley is a mere 26 years old, he’s an ironman RB (played 14+ games in each of the last six seasons), and he brings value in the rushing and passing game. He recorded roughly 5,000 combined yards and 54 total touchdowns across a three-season span (2017-2019). In his most previous season, he wasn’t an electric force behind the dreadful Falcons OL, but he had several long runs and bruising TD runs, which helped show that his knees still have juice and he can be relied on with even a heavy load.

Gurley may not be the same player that he was as an All-Pro in 2018, but he could be involved and provide noticeable production in various ways. In a division where the Panthers play the Saints elite run defense twice a year, the Bucs dominant front seven twice a season, a slight boost from Gurley’s all-around ability could go a long way. His presence could especially be valued in short-yardage situations, where his strength could be utilized and CMAC could sit out and stay fresher.


Gurley signed a one-year – 5.5 million dollar deal with the Atlanta Falcons last season. He will likely garner around four million per season on his next team. The Panthers sit 11th in the league in cap space, so they have the ammunition to ink the former stud RB. If Gurley and the Panthers have a mutual interest in the near future, or if the Panthers feel the need to get more stability at halfback during training camp, it would be wise to reel in Gurley’s services. If Gurley does come to Charlotte and proves to be a quality player, the Panthers could have a superb tandem for years to come.

Projecting Tom Brady’s ceiling and floor for 2021

Will Buccaneers QB Tom Brady be an MVP candidate in 2021?

By: Reese Nasser

Tom Brady is entering the 2021 season coming off of one of the greatest years of his storied  career. The soon-to-be 44 year old quarterback won his seventh Super Bowl, his first with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. He has somehow managed to find a resurgence with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, with no sign of slowing down anytime soon. 

The all-pro quarterback found success in his first year with Tampa Bay. In both the regular season and playoffs, Brady saw near career highs across the stat sheet. Over 16 regular season games, he threw for 40 touchdowns and 4633 yards, finishing in the top-5 of both categories. With the good also came the occasional bad. He threw 12 interceptions, his most since 2011. 

The playoff run that Brady led was just as good as his regular season, if not better. In his four postseason games, he passed for 10 touchdowns and just over 1000 yards. 

His finished stat line from both the regular and postseason was arguably his best since his 2007 season where he threw 50 touchdowns. By the end of 2020, Brady compiled 56 total touchdowns and nearly 5700 yards. He proved to still be one of the top quarterbacks in the NFL. 

Entering his 22nd season, all eyes will be on Brady. After coming off yet another Super Bowl victory and the Bucs returning all 22 starters, the expectations will be high for both the team and their QB1. 

A decline has been expected for years now for Brady, but it is yet to come. It is almost as if every season, people believe that father time will catch up to Brady. Could 2021 be the season for it to happen? Potentially.

Brady could find himself having yet another great season. Or, he could find himself in the situation of many past superstars that have stuck around too long and have a season that goes very poorly. Let’s take a look at both the potential floor and ceiling for Brady in 2021. 

The Floor

It is hard to imagine a Tom Brady performance that is anything less than average. The floor for Brady is still seemingly better than what many quarterbacks would have to offer. Throughout his career, even when he hasn’t had the greatest weapons around him, Brady has still been able to be an above average quarterback. His understanding of the game and just all around football IQ has kept him at a high level, even as he has gotten older and began to slow down from a physical standpoint.  

 
When looking at his most recent seasons, Brady’s worst performance was arguably the 2019 season. He threw 24 touchdowns, the least he’s had in a full 16-game season since 2003, which was his third year as a starting quarterback. His 24 passing touchdowns still ranked him within the top-15 of all quarterbacks. He also threw for just over 4000 yards, his least since 2016, when he played in just 12 games. 

Even at his most mediocre points, Brady has managed to consistently still be an above average quarterback. His floor should reflect that. Even at his worst, Brady should be good for at least an above-average season in 2021. A “down” seasons statline could potentially look like this. 26 touchdowns, 12 interceptions, and 3800 passing yards. 

A 2021 stat line looking something like that would be considered poor for Brady. But, it would still be enough to put his team into a position to win. This should be the bare minimum for the longtime quarterback.

The Ceiling 

The best that can be expected from Brady should be a performance similar to what he did in 2020. He has proven time and time again that he can still lead a team and perform at a high level while doing it.

The team surrounding Brady will also play a role in how well he performs. He will go as far as they can take him, and vice versa. Brady is clearly a catalyst in how well this Tampa Bay team can play. 

With the offense that the Buccaneers have, Brady’s ceiling will be that of a top level quarterback. Tampa Bay is bringing back all eleven starters from last season. The group was good at every level on offense. An elite offensive line, a talented wide receiving group, a hall of fame tight end, and two above average running backs, will help Brady maintain his ability to be elite. 

The skills group alone would make any quarterback have good numbers. With wide receivers Mike Evans, Chris Godwin, Antonio Brown, and Scotty Miller, Brady can’t go wrong with who he is throwing the ball to. He also has arguably his most consistent target of his career still with him in Robert Gronkowski. There is also still potential in tight end OJ Howard. If he can perform as he is expected and come back from his achilles injury, this receiving group could be the best in the NFL. 

The ceiling for Brady is high, as it should be. A regular season with around 40 touchdowns and single digit turnovers would be a top performance from him. If he performs at that level, another  Super Bowl run could be in the cards for Tampa Bay.

Why Joe Tryon is the Buccaneers X Factor

Joe Tryon can be a star in Tampa Bay

By: Reese Nasser

With the 32nd and final pick of the first round in the 2021 draft, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers selected University of Washington linebacker Joe Tryon. 

During his two seasons at Washington, Tryon developed into one of the best outside linebackers in the country. In his sophomore season, he recorded 12.5 tackles for loss and eight sacks. In his first year starting, he led the team in both categories and was becoming a star on the defensive side of the ball. 

After opting out of the 2020 season due to covid, Tryon re-emerged as a different player. He has improved from a physical standpoint and that was highlighted in how he looked at his pro day. Coming in at 6’5” and 259 pounds, Tryon impressed people across the NFL when he ran a 4.65 40-yard dash.

Tyron tested highly across the board. This performance at his pro day, added on to a strong sophomore season, led to Tyron making his way into the first round. Tampa Bay saw an opportunity to improve their Super Bowl winning defense through the addition of Tryon.

The Bucs are returning all 11 defensive starters and Tryon will have to work to make his way into this defense.

Veteran Linebacker Group

Tampa Bay has crafted an established linebacker group, consisting of Devin White, Lavontae David, Shaq Barret, and Jason Pierre-Paul. The talent of these four linebackers is evident and Tryon will have to earn his spot in this rotiation. 

When looking at where Tryon lined up during his time in college, he played a majority of his snaps either at outside linebacker or coming off of the edge. His quick speed and ability to get around lineman allowed for him to be effective in this role while at Washington.  He is expected to play a similar role in Tampa. 

When looking at the defensive talent collected at both the edge and outside linebacker positions, the Bucs may be looking at more of a slow approach for Tryon. 

Veteran outside linebacker Jason Pierre-Paul, even while being 32 years old, still proved that he can play at a high level. Pierre-Paul may prove to be the perfect mentor for Tryon considering he has played and succeeded at both the end position and at outside linebacker. They are also nearly identical in size with Pierre-Paul coming in at 6’5” and 275 pounds. 

Throughout Pierre-Paul’s 11-year career, he has consistently performed at a high level. His career totals in the regular season are among some of the best since he entered the league in 2010. He has recorded 89 career sacks, 572 tackles, and 119 tackles for loss. He has also racked up 159 quarterback hits. 

After a somewhat down season in 2019, Pierre-Paul returned in 2020 and played a large role in the success of Tampa Bay’s defense. He recorded 9.5 sacks and 14 quarterback hits. Tryon could step into a role much similar to that of Pierre-Paul. A player that is able to both impact the passing game and rushing game. 

Tryon will also benefit greatly from playing alongside veteran outside linebacker Shaq Barrett, who plays opposite of Pierre-Paul. Barrett has proven to be one of the best defenders in the NFL. During the 2019 season, the first year that he spent in Tampa Bay, Barrett was able to finally break out. His 19.5 sacks ranked first in the NFL and along with this, he added 19 tackles for loss. 

Barrett’s 2020 season was much more subdued than the performance that he had in 2019, but he still proved to be an effective player. He still managed eight sacks and 19 tackles for loss. Barrett has quickly made a career out of getting to the quarterback and is one of the best pass rushers in the NFL. 

Tryon will benefit immediately from having both Shaq Barrett and Jason Pierre-Paul to help him along during his first season in the NFL. But what exactly can Tryon accomplish during year one with the Buccaneers? What are fair expectations for the rookie? Let’s take a look. 

Ability to Play Fast

Tryon is a fast player with even faster hands. He can beat offensive lineman off of the snap and uses his speed to get into the backfield. He has proven that he can also effectively see a play before it develops and has found success in both run defense and pass defense.

Tryon’s eight sacks and 12.5 tackles for loss in 2019 were no mistake. Tryon should be expected to do the same thing for the Buccaneers. Both Pierre-Paul and Barrett consistently made their way to the backfield and the Bucs should expect the same out of Tryon. The rookie should be able to rack up at least a couple sacks and will make an immediate impact on this star-studded defense.

Rookie Success in Tampa Bay

It’s rare that a player is put into the perfect situation to succeed in their rookie year. Much of a player’s success comes from the unit that they have around them, especially when they are younger. Nick Bosa with the 49ers and Bradley Chubb with the Broncos are just a couple of recent selections that achieved near immediate success in the league and benefited from being drafted by teams that already had strong veteran players at their positions. 

The Buccaneers have been notoriously great at drafting in recent years. Each top pick has made an impact on this team, with many of them making strong impacts last season that eventually ended in a Super Bowl victory.

Vita Vea, Devin White, Sean Murphy-Bunting, Tristan Wirfs, and Antoine Winfield Jr. All players selected in the last four seasons have proven to be key components of this team with four of them being defensive starters.

Tryon will be expected to be the next great rookie in Tampa Bay. Given the situation that he will be in, the linebacker should be able to live up to this. All eyes will be on him and he could prove to be an integral part of this already solidified defense. 

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.   

Projecting the prominent Buccaneers WRs stat lines in 2021

By: Jeremy Trottier

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have had arguably one of the best receiving cores in the NFL as of late.  They have also added to it this offseason during the draft, taking Jaelon Darden with the 129th pick.  They also re-signed Antonio Brown, and franchise tagged Chris Godwin, bringing their four top receivers back for another season.  

In this article, I will be predicting the stats of the Bucs top three receivers who should all get touches, those being:

  • Mike Evans
  • Chris Godwin
  • Antonio Brown

Each of these receivers brings a different skillset to the team, and should each have pretty varying levels of different receiving stats.  With that said, here are my predictions…

Mike Evans

Statline: 123 receptions on 76 targets (61.8% catch rate), 1208 receiving yards, 10 TDs

Mike Evans had a relatively down year in 2020 by his standards, likely because of all the new weapons brought in.  However, with Tom Brady continuing to age, it is apparent that his arm fell off a little bit last year in terms of the deep ball.  With this in mind, Evans should have a “comeback” year of sorts in 2021, continuing his streak of 1000 yard seasons through his whole career.

The reason Brady factors into this is because Evans tends to run the short-intermediate routes, while Antonio Brown will run the deep slot routes most of the time.  This precise route running from Evans should allow him to be Brady’s favorite target this season, as it will make his job exceptionally easy.

Chris Godwin

Statline: 68 receptions on 89 targets (76.4% catch rate), 895 receiving yards, 8 TDs

Chris Godwin has mostly had the lesser of the two stat lines out of this duo, and I do not think that will change unless Evans has a severe drop off in production.  With that said, he still sees a slight increase from 2020 as he likely will play one more game than last year at the least (played in 12 last season).  

This increase likely will not cut into the other receivers on the team, as like I mentioned this is purely due to an increase in games played not number of targets per game.  At only 25 years old this season though, he should be looking to make an entry for the WR1 conversation on the team.

Since he would be going against the 2nd best CBs in the teams he plays, his coverage would be slightly sparse compared to Evans.  If they can draw coverage off of eachother and try to “pick and roll” per-say, that would give them a huge advantage on the field for sure.  

Antonio Brown

Statline: 60 receptions on 82 targets (73.2% catch rate), 795 receiving yards, 8 TDs

Another player who will benefit from more games played is the addition from last season, Antonio Brown.  My guess is he will likely start 10-12 games of the 17 this season, which is why he has such a drastic improvement in this statline compared to last season.  His primary focus as a receiver is turning YAC and getting to the endzone if he can rip a gap open.

The low-ish receiving yards compared to the other two receivers is due to just lack of volume, sharing between three primary receivers is absolutely difficult to do, even for someone like Tom Brady.  There is only so many receptions that can be given out per game, and the focus of the offense is heavily reliant upon Godwin and Evans, so this deteriorates the touches of everyone else.  

With that said, since he would likely be going up against the CB3 of each team he plays, this would still allow him to produce no doubt.  When the duo ahead of him is getting a lot of the focus, he can get to the seam and rip off long plays.  

Three reasons why the Buccaneers wouldn’t return to the Super Bowl

44 year old Tom Brady faces obstacles in 2021

By: Reese Nasser

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers 2020 season was historic, to say the least. Led by 43-year old Tom Brady, the Bucs pulled off the improbable. An 11-5 season came to an end with the Lombardi trophy making its way to Tampa Bay. Everything went right for this team. A near-perfect draft, a solid free-agent class, and everything else that needed to happen happened for this squad.

But a super bowl run is no easy thing to accomplish. Even with the Bucs returning much of their roster, and all 22 starters, another trophy may not be in their future. A team hasn’t won back-to-back super bowls since 2003 and 2004. Which team was that you ask? The 2003 and 2004 New England Patriots, led by Tom Brady himself.

Would it be impossible for the Bucs to repeat? No, it wouldn’t. But that doesn’t make it any more likely. Here are three reasons why the Bucs won’t be back to the super bowl next season. 

More Talent in the NFC

Many other teams have made strides to be better this upcoming season. Either through free agency, the draft, or players returning from injury, the conference will undoubtedly be better than it was in 2020. 

When looking ahead, a team such as the Los Angeles Rams, at least on paper, has become much more of a threat than they were last year. The addition of longtime Detroit Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford could make this team the true #1 group in the NFC. This squad was 10-6 last season and the addition of Stafford should attribute at least two to three more wins. 

The teams that the Bucs face in their own division may prove to be a true problem. While the Carolina Panthers and Atlanta Falcons both had down years in 2020, they have proven to be valiant opponents of the Bucs. Both of these teams will also be much improved from last season.

The Panthers will have star running back Christian McCaffrey back in their backfield. McCaffrey, who played in only three games last season, will give this Carolina team at least a chance in every game that they play in. 

The Atlanta Falcons have added tight end Kyle Pitts, the fourth-overall pick in the 2020 draft who will look to make an instant impact. He will be put into an offense that has star wide receiver Julio Jones (at least for now) and wide receiver Calvin Ridley. This offense, led by veteran quarterback Matt Ryan, should be explosive and could give this Bucs defense real problems. 

And then there is the New Orleans Saints. This Saints team finished first in the division with a record of 12-4. Longtime quarterback Drew Brees has finally stepped away from the game of football and retired. Brees appeared in 12 games last season and had a record of 9-3. In the four games played by the other rostered quarterbacks, the Saints went 3-1. Led by whoever the Saints choose to play at quarterback, most likely being Jameis Winston, this team will still have a valid shot at beating out the Bucs. Star wide receiver Michael Thomas will also make his return. Thomas played in just seven games last season due to a lingering ankle injury. And Alvin Kamara will still be on the team, and that alone makes this offense a problem. 

Age

This team will not be getting any younger and at times last season, injuries were an issue. Tight End Rob Gronkowski is 32 years old. Antonio Brown will be 33 come to the start of the season. And Tom Brady will be 44. Brady has lasted this long and looked incredible at points last season. His age has not stopped him yet and it might not next season, but there is always a chance.

While a majority of this team is young and has plenty of football in front of them, it can be difficult to dictate how a season will go when some prominent players are getting older. There is no guarantee that injuries won’t derail their 2021 season. 

The Likelihood of Making it Back

Simply put, nobody makes it back to the super bowl. Just seven teams in NFL history have gone back to back. As previously noted, Tom Brady did happen to lead a team on back-to-back trips in 2003 and 2004 but it is something that simply does not happen. 

With other teams improving and the Bucs getting another year older, there is no guarantee that this team will play near the level that they did in 2020. As the saying goes, the Bucs may have found “lightning in a bottle” last season. Their improbable run could also have been a thing of luck. 

All signs point to this team still being a legitimate threat in 2021 and they will certainly make another run. But it is incredibly hard to win the Super Bowl twice. It’s hard to even return twice. The Bucs will have a target on their back next season and the road to another Lombardi Trophy will be no easy one to go down. 

Why the Saints still hold the head to head edge over Tampa Bay

The New Orleans Saints match the Tampa Bay Buccaneers well

By: Jeremy Trottier

The NFC South has undergone some major changes this offseason, one of the biggest being the retirement of Drew Brees.  However, there is the potential that the Saints will still hold the head-to-head edge over Tampa Bay, at the very least in the regular season again.  With the right amount of development this offseason and returning other key players from injury, the Saints could be primed to be ahead of Tampa again in the standings.

In this article, I will be going over three reasons as to why the Saints could end up beating out Tampa Bay twice again in the regular season.

Potential For Development

One of the big upper hands the Saints have over the Buccaneers right now would be their age gap, as the Saints are getting significantly younger by the year.  With the large majority of the Saints older depth pieces being removed from the roster due to cap constraints, they have brought in a fresh wave of youth now to replace it.  

Does this make the Saints have a higher potential to not be good this year?  In the wrong scenarios yes.  However, if the rookies from last year and this year can take these training camps/preseason and develop to where they should be rough, this roster could be similar to that of last year.  With an influx of youth all over the defense from the front seven to the secondary, this could hugely improve their defense if they can tap into the potential of these players.

Deep Ball Quarterbacking Has Returned

We all saw it, we all know it.  Drew Brees at the end of his career struggled to push the ball down the field, and in the instances that he did, it seemed very forced.  His confidence in himself seemed to plummet after the 2019 season with his injury and it just kind of went down from there.  With either Jameis Winston or Taysom Hill starting this season, both of them have the capability to bring their own new dimension to the offense.

Jameis first off would be able to throw the deep ball much more often and let the receivers do the work.  If he has been able to cut the turnovers out of his system, which is a big if, this could be a massive improvement to the Saints’ offense, as they could finally heave the ball downfield.  If Taysom were to start, he has the mobility Brees did not bring to the team, and can occasionally throw the deep ball.  So regardless of who starts, this offense will be wildly different.

Returning Veterans

The Buccaneers notoriously brought back all 22 of their Super Bowl starters, as most know by now.  On that note, the Saints have also managed to retain the large majority of their big playmakers and keep them around for another season.  They lost a lot of players, that much is true.  But the biggest members of both sides of the ball have been retained, and the ones who were lost were either aging or injury-prone for the most part.

With players like Cam Jordan, Terron Armstead, Demario Davis, Malcolm Jenkins, and Michael Thomas all still around for veteran leadership, the rookies that were previously mentioned should be trained well under this experience.  Which will help with point one, developing the rookies quickly.

Why the NFC South is the most likely division to have four teams in the playoffs

Four playoffs teams in NFC South?

By: Eli Grabanski

When the NFL decided to expand the NFL playoffs for the 2020 season from six playoff teams in each conference to seven playoff teams per conference, it opened up an interesting possibility – having a division sending every team in it to the playoffs. It didn’t happen in 2020, but it very well could in 2021 with the way some divisions and matchups are shaping up. One division that has a great shot at being the first to send all four teams to the playoffs is the NFC South, consisting of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, New Orleans Saints, Atlanta Falcons, and Carolina Panthers. Let’s dive into why this division may be the most likely to accomplish this feat.

NFL Schedule

While the NFL schedule has yet to be officially released, we do know that the NFC South teams will play 6 divisional games, four games against all the teams in the AFC East (Buffalo Bills, Miami Dolphins, New York Jets, and the New England Patriots), and four games against all the teams in the NFC East (Washington Football Team, New York Giants, Philadelphia Eagles, and Dallas Cowboys).

NFL Schedule Division Matchups
DivisionNFC OpponentAFC Opponent
NFC SouthNFC EastAFC East
NFC NorthNFC WestAFC North
NFC EastNFC SouthAFC West
NFC WestNFC NorthAFC South
AFC SouthNFC WestAFC East
AFC NorthNFC NorthAFC West
AFC EastNFC SouthAFC South
AFC WestNFC EastAFC North
2021 NFL Schedule Matchups
NFL Schedule 17th Game Opponents
TeamOpponent
New Orleans SaintsTennessee Titans
Tampa Bay BuccaneersIndianapolis Colts
Carolina PanthersHouston Texans
Atlanta FalconsJacksonville Jaguars
NFL Schedule 17th Game Opponents

Each of these teams getting four games against the worst division in the league last year in the NFC East provides a major boost in chances for the NFC South sending four teams to the playoffs. The NFC South has a more favorable schedule in 2021 than other top candidates to send four teams to the playoffs, the NFC West and the AFC North, and that gives them a significant boost in potentially sending four teams to the playoffs.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are the defending Super Bowl champions and managed to retain all 22 of their starters from the championship-winning team last year. This was an incredible feat to accomplish considering that guys like Chris Godwin, Leonard Fournette, Shaquil Barrett, Lavonte David, Rob Gronkowski, Ndamukong Suh, and Antonio Brown were all free agents after the season. In addition, there were no major coaching staff shakeups with Bruce Arians, Byron Leftwich, and Todd Bowles all coming back for the 2021 NFL season as well. Having all this talent still in place for the 2021 season makes it difficult to see the Buccaneers missing the playoffs and once again a threat to win the Super Bowl.

New Orleans Saints

The New Orleans Saints will not have their future Hall of Fame quarterback Drew Brees for the 2021 season…but the team has actually done remarkably well without him the past couple of years. The Saints went 5-0 in Brees’s absence with Teddy Bridgewater during the 2019 season, and they went 3-1 with Taysom Hill in Brees’s absence during this past season. They still have skill-position talent on the offensive side of the ball, with Alvin Kamara (RB) and Michael Thomas (WR) being two of the top players at their respective positions. They still have one of the better offensive lines in the league, ranking as the 8th best offensive line in 2020 according to PFF and keeping many of the line’s key members. And while they no longer have Drew Brees, they have a couple of competent quarterback options in Taysom Hill and Jameis Winston to keep the offense performing at an above-average level. Their defense ranked as a top-five unit last year and should be a solid unit once again under defensive coordinator Dennis Allen. Overall, the Saints may not be quite as good as the 12-4 team last year, but they maintained enough talent to be a good playoff team in 2021.

Atlanta Falcons

The Atlanta Falcons may have finished 4-12 last year, but things are looking up for the 2021 season. The Falcons hired Arthur Smith to be the team’s new head coach and Smith has directed one of the best offenses in the league the past couple of years.

YearGamesTeam Passing Att.Team Passing Yds.Team Passing TDsTeam Rush Att.Team Rush Yds.Team Rush TDs
2019 Tennessee Titans1628247.251.8127.81138.941.31
2020 Tennessee Titans1630.31239.132.0632.56168.131.63
Arthur Smith Career Averages (OC)3229.16243.191.9430.19153.531.47
Arthur Smith Per-Game Stats As An Offensive Coordinator

Arthur Smith will make the Falcons a more balanced team between passing and running, and will utilize a ton of play-action to maximize the team’s efficiency. The Falcons offense will have the opportunity to go from a ‘very good’ offense to an ‘unstoppable’ offense in 2021 under Smith’s direction.

Besides Arthur Smith, the Falcons did a phenomenal job on filling out the rest of the team’s coaching staff. Perhaps the biggest member of the coaching staff that Smith hired was defensive coordinator Dean Pees, who has been an above-average defensive coordinator over the course of his career.

YearGamesPoints AllowedTotal Yds Given UpPlaysYards/PlayTurnovers Forced
2006 New England Patriots1614.81294.3859.384.962.19
2007 New England Patriots1617.13288.3158.314.941.94
2008 New England Patriots1619.3130957.55.371.38
2009 New England Patriots1617.81320.1958.815.441.75
2012 Baltimore Ravens1621.5350.9467.885.171.56
2013 Baltimore Ravens1622335.564.55.201.5
2014 Baltimore Ravens1618.88336.9464.635.211.38
2015 Baltimore Ravens1625.06337.3862.55.400.88
2016 Baltimore Ravens1620.06322.1362.065.191.75
2017 Baltimore Ravens1618.94325.0665.314.982.13
2018 Tennessee Titans1618.94333.3862.565.331.06
2019 Tennessee Titans1620.69359.5665.451.44
Dean Pees’ Career Averages (DC)19219.59326.0662.455.221.58
Dean Pees Per Game Stats As A Defensive Coordinator

Besides adding talent on the coaching side, the Falcons added some very talented players in the 2021 NFL Draft such as Kyle Pitts (TE), Richie Grant (S), Jalen Mayfield (OT), Darren Hall (CB), and Drew Dalman (C). All of these offseason moves by the Atlanta Falcons give the team a legitimate chance to compete for a playoff spot in 2021.

Carolina Panthers

The Carolina Panthers are the biggest stretch to make the playoffs from this division, but they have a couple of things working for them. Last year, the Panthers had 11 games within eight points…and they went 3-8 in those games. The team was certainly better than they appeared last year and they have made some changes to the roster that may give them a much-needed boost to take the next step. They made a change at quarterback by moving on from Teddy Bridgewater and bringing in Sam Darnold to be the team’s new starting quarterback. Darnold has more upside than Bridgewater does at this stage of his career and raises the ceiling of the Panthers team – especially with two strong offensive minds in Matt Rhule & Joe Brady working with him. They made a flurry of moves in free agency, picking up guys like Haason Reddick (LB), A.J. Bouye (CB), Denzel Perryman (LB), and Da’Quan Jones (DT). They also added some great talent through the NFL Draft drafting Jaycee Horn (CB), Terrace Marshall Jr. (WR), Tommy Tremble (TE), and Chuba Hubbard (RB) among others. Given how many close games the Panthers played in during 2020 and the team’s upgrades in talent, they could make a run for one of the final playoff spots in the NFC for 2021.

Conclusion

Some divisions have the talent to potentially send four teams to the playoffs – like the NFC West or the AFC North. Other divisions have a schedule that makes it easier to send four teams to the playoffs but lacks the talent. But the NFC South is the division that has the best of both worlds for the 2021 season. Because of this, if any division is going to send all four teams to the playoffs for 2021, it will be the NFC South.

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