NFL games, Storylines around the NFL

Three statements for each week one NFL game:

Football is back, baby! After an awesome first week of NFL action, which I watched every full game of, I wanted to kind of recap all 16 matchups and come up with three statements for each one. Some of them may be more hyperbolic or could be labelled as hot takes, while others state for obvious facts. You can also listen to my Youtube breakdown of week one, where I just give more of my general thoughts on all these games, while also bringing up some of the points I make in this article.

So here’s what I took away from week one:

 

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NFL Power Rankings

Ranking all 32 NFL teams in tiers pre-2020 season:

Now that we have passed the opt-out deadline and are only about three weeks away from the Chiefs and Texans kicking off the 2020 NFL season, I wanted to put together my pre-season power rankings and put all 32 teams in separate tiers, to give you an idea of where I see them at this point.

When putting together this list, I considered the talent on the roster, coaching staff and what will be a more important factor coming into this season than it has been in previous – the continuity as a franchise, since the COVID situation has limited the amount of preparation and ability to build chemistry as a team. That will be especially tough for new head coaches and inexperienced teams.

With that being said, this is how I would group them:

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NFL Top 100

NFL Top 100 Players of 2020:

Every year NFL Network puts out a list of the Top 100 Players for the upcoming season, as voted by their peers. I have talked about the flaws of that whole process a few times already – the players only write down their top 20 players, which is understandable, but also doesn’t result in the proper results, since everybody is somewhat to put their guys on; not all players actually get to watch a lot of games, if they don’t include teams they actually face or are limited to watching highlights; and the voting concludes before the playoff are even here, which can be the only somewhat logical reason, Patrick Mahomes was only number four on the official list – even though that would still be wrong.

For the purpose of this list, I first put together my rankings of the top players at every single position, but then somewhat went off script by just writing down names in the order that they shot into my head, before comparing it with the positional rankings and trying to weigh guys against each other. And just to make this clear – these rankings are based on players regardless of their position, since otherwise would have almost half the starting quarterbacks in the league within the top 20 or so. And of course this is a bit of a projection and not solely built on what these players did this previous season, but also not about where they will be at the end of 2020.

Here is my list:

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NFL Offseason

Key position battles at 2020 NFL training camp:

We have finally reached NFL training camp and with the agreement between the league and the players association, there is a little more clarity about how the preparation for the 2020 season will look. With such a long time off, the early stages of this will involve a lot of lifting and running, before the players actually go out on the field and compete, but like I have done for several years, I want to look at some of the more interesting battles for starting positions.

Now that preseason has been cancelled, it will only enhance the importance of these competitions and even though I usually have a little bias towards rookies, since I studied them a lot since the Super Bowl ended, this whole situation should actually favor the more seasoned veterans. For this exercise, I tried to avoid a few of the really obvious ones, such as the Bears QB competition that has and will be talked to death by all the major networks, or the Dolphins entire offensive line pretty much, where you can’t point to one specific spot.

With that being said, here at the ten that I will follow the closest:

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NFL Offseason

NFL players in a 2020 make-or-break season:

We have talked a lot about breakout NFL players, most improved position groups and all that kind of stuff. Now I want to shift the focus more towards players, who aren’t in a position where they are locked in as long-time contributors for their respective teams and will be entering a crucial season in their careers.

Those can be young players not living up to their draft status, guys in a contract year wanting to earn another lucrative deal or long-time veterans trying to stick around. I called this a make-or-break season for these players because they aren’t at a point, where people recognize them as some of the best players at their position. So you won’t see necessarily see players on the franchise tag, trying to earn that long-term contract for big money, but rather guys who could also be labelled as draft busts or washed up veterans.

Here is the list:

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Power Rankings

Top 10 offensive lines in the NFL heading into 2020:

Talking about the most improved position groups in the NFL last week inspired me to look at one of those in particular and list my top ten units. For this exercise I tried to look at all these offensive lines in a vacuum – how well they execute certain run schemes, how diverse they can be or how great they are with their bread-and-butter and of course how well they protect the quarterback. While I support my case with certain statistics and advanced numbers in particular, solely going by the stats would be a huge mistake, since that would mean the Rams allowing the fewest amount of sacks qualifies them as the top pass-blocking line or the Giants almost had a top five run-blocking unit, even though Saquon Barkley routinely had to make people miss in the backfield and Daniel Jones averaging over six yards a carry certainly helped.

Instead, I’m trying to go through the starting five individually, then talk about their strengths and weaknesses and just some of the plays they run routinely. I have to project the starting lineups a little here and there will be some battles for specific spots during whatever we will have from training camp. That’s why I mention the key backups as well, which could feature guys who will be in the starting lineup week one. Under the new CBA, teams are now allowed to dress at least two more players on gamedays and another one if the active roster includes at least offensive linemen. So the strategy teams are going to choose will be interesting to me and I would expect a lot more groups carrying eight linemen on Sundays.

And just to make this clear – this is a projection of what I think will be the top ten O-lines in 2020, even though I will often reference to what they did last season and beyond.

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NFL Predictions, Power Rankings

NFL teams most likely to go from worst to first in 2020:

We have talked a lot about the draft, biggest remaining needs for every NFL team, some breakout candidates and other stuff, so let’s now get back to more of a big picture and look at some teams from an angle of where could they go next season. In this article, I am analyzing those teams that finished fourth in their division this past year and why they could win it in 2020 or land at the bottom once again, plus an outlook where I actually see them.

Of course much of this is about these eight teams and how much better or worse I feel about them than the general public, but it was heavily dependent on their three division rivals as well. The top half I could certainly see earn a playoff spot and surprise some people if everything goes right. After that a lot of my faith is more built around the lack of great competition and giving some hope to these respective fan bases. As the cliché goes – everybody is 0-0 right now.

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