13) Since 1992, Detroit Lions are 0-8 in playoff games; but from 2014-17, Lions were 36-28 in regular season, their best regular season run since a 29-19 run from 1993-95, when they went 0-3 in playoffs those years under Wayne Fontes.
But the Lions fired Jim Caldwell after going 9-7 in 2017, and went 6-10 last year, scoring 86 fewer points (5.38 ppg) than the year before, under new coach Matt Patricia. Go figure.
Just because you know Tom Brady doesn’t make you head coaching material.
12) Arizona Cardinals have a rookie QB and a rookie head coach, a coach who got fired LY by Texas Tech after going 35-40 in six seasons, 16-21 the last three years. He was 1-2 in bowls.
Kliff Kingsbury is Arizona’s third HC in three years; not sure why they canned Brice Arians, but it was a big mistake. Now they’ve gambled on Kingsbury, who threw two passes (1-2 for 17 yards) in his only NFL game as a player, for the 2005 Jets.
Kyler Murray threw 42 TD passes in his only year as Oklahoma’s QB; he turned down a baseball contract from the A’s, and now he will be in the national spotlight- his first game is at home against Matt Patricia’s Lions, who are 6-2 in last eight season openers, but lost 48-17 to the Jets in Patricia’s first season opener.
11) Not to be a pessimist, but Arizona’s backup QB’s are Brett Hundley (3-6 as a starter for the ’17 Packers), Chad Kanoff (Princeton alum who was on Arizona’s practice squad LY) and Drew Anderson, who threw 20 TD’s with 15 INT’s for I-AA Murray State last year.
Not exactly a stellar group of backups; if Murray stinks or he gets hurt, they’re staring another 3-13 season in the face.
10) Joe Flacco will be Denver’s QB this year, their 8th different #1 QB in the last 13 years.
Broncos won the Super Bowl four years ago, but haven’t been back to the playoffs; they went 11-21 the last two years, their first consecutive losing seasons since 1971-72.
9) Oakland Raiders have had one winning season the last 16 years; they went 12-4 in 2016 thanks in large part to a +16 turnover ratio, but Derek Carr got hurt at the end of the regular season, and backup Connor Cook was overmatched in 27-14 loss to Houston in the playoffs, which is Cook’s only NFL appearance.
Raiders are moving to Las Vegas next year; they’re 10-22 since that playoff loss, and Gruden has nine years left on his $10M a year deal. They open the season with divisional home games with Denver, Kansas City, then don’t play at home again until November.
8) Over last 13 years, Washington Redskins are 0-3 in playoff games; QB Alex Smith is out with a broken leg, so this year they’ll have their 11th different starting QB the last 20 years. Keep in mind that New England has had one starting QB since midway thru 2001, except for the year Brady got hurt.
Case Keenum is playing for his 4th team in four years; he went 21-18 the last three years, but now he is probably the placeholder for yet another rookie QB, Dwayne Haskins of Ohio State.
Keenum will be able to write a hell of a book someday, and after this year he’ll have made $16M the last four years, but his wife is probably sick of packing.
7) Eagles were -6 in turnovers LY after going +17 in Doug Pederson’s first two years as Philly’s coach; they still went 9-7, and upset the Bears in a playoff game, but now Nick Foles is a Jaguar and the pressure is squarely on Carson Wentz, who is 23-17 as a starter in his first three years as the Eagles’ QB, but it was Foles who orchestrated the Super Bowl run.
Under Pederson, favorites are 7-2 vs spread in Philly’s divisional road games, but 5-10 in their non-divisional games. Eagles are 4-2 as a home underdog under Pederson, after going 0-8 from 2010-15.
6) Deshaun Watson threw for 4,165 yards and 26 TD’s LY, 2nd most TD’s in Texan history (Matt Schaub threw 29 in 2009); Houston was 11-5, after starting season 0-3- they were +15 in TO’s, after going -12 the year before, when Watson got hurt.
Under Bill O’Brien, Texans are 42-38 in regular season, 1-3 in playoff games; they’re 18-11-1 as a home favorite, 12-5 outside their division, 6-6-1 vs AFC South rivals.
In O’Brien’s first four years, he had a different QB every year (Fitzpatrick, Hoyer, Osweiler, Watson), so at least now they’re settled at QB, which is no small thing.
5) New Orleans Saints went 24-8 the last two years, with dramatic playoff losses to Vikings, Rams; Drew Brees will be 41 in January- he threw 184 fewer passes LY than he did in 2016, as Sean Payton takes heat off him by running ball more.
Last year, New Orleans held six of its last eight regular season opponents to 17 or fewer points, as they became less free-wheeling while going 13-3. Last three years, Saints are 17-7 vs spread on road; since 2014, they’re 12-20-1 vs spread as a home favorite.
Last five years, over is 26-14 in regular season games in the Superdome.
4) Miami Dolphins are on their 7th head coach since 2004; they’ve played in one playoff game since 2002- their last playoff win was in 2000, when Dave Wannstedt was their coach. Now the Dolphins’ coach is Brian Flores, another guy who became a head coach because he knows Tom Brady.
Who will be the QB, much-travelled Ryan Fitzpatrick, or 2nd-year guy Josh Rosen, who went 3-10 LY with 11 TD’s, 14 INT’s for a dysfunctional Cardinal offense. Fitzpatrick will be the first NFL QB to throw a pass for eight different teams- he is 50-75-1 as an NFL starter, wth his only winning season a 10-6 mark for the ’15 Jets.
Miami plays the Jets in Weeks 9,14; their old coach Adam Gase was hired by Gang Green after the Dolphins fired him. Gase went 23-25 in three years with Miami.
3) Baltimore Ravens won the Super Bowl seven years ago, are 49-47 since then, 1-2 in playoff games; Joe Flacco is in Denver after 11 years as a Raven, and mobile Lamar Jackson is in charge of running the Baltimore offense. Jackson was 6-1 as a starter LY (Flacco was 4-5); he completed only 58.2% of his passes but ran the ball for 695 yards, five TD’s.
Ravens were -3 in turnovers LY after going +22 the previous two years; last three years, they’re 2-8-1 vs spread as a non-divisional road underdog.
With a young QB like Jackson, should the Ravens’ QB coach be a guy who played QB in the NFL and can be a mentor? Baltimore’s QB coach is a guy who was a D-3 receiver in college, not sure how much that helps Jackson, and Jackson’s development is essential for the Ravens- this backup Robert Griffin III has a broken thumb.
2) In four years under Dan Quinn, underdogs are 21-11 vs spread in Falcon home games; Atlanta is 3-0 as a home underdog, 11-18 as a favorite. Falcons slipped to 7-9 LY after going 21-11 the previous two years (3-2 in playoff games). Home teams covered 10 of their last 12 divisional games.
Falcons don’t play a game outdoors this season until November 17 in Charlotte; their first five road games are all in domes. Last two years, Atlanta is 4-12 vs spread on the road.
Mike Smith was 56-24 in his first five years as Falcons’ coach, but after 4-12/6-10 years, he was told to take a hike after the ’14 season. Does Quinn need a winning season to keep his job? He went 7-9 LY, after a 29-19 run succeeding Smith.
1) Minnesota will have same QB starting in consecutive years for the first time since 2014-15, but Kirk Cousins has a 34-37-2 career record with only one playoff game, a 35-18 loss to Green Bay in 2015. Cousins makes $28M a year, now he needs to play like it.
Last year’s offensive line coach passed away just before training camp, which was a tragedy with lasting effects. Now Gary Kubiak is in Minnesota and the OL coach was in Denver for 15 years. Zimmer is a defensive coach; Vikings are going to run the ball to protect their defense.
In five years under Zimmer, Minnesota is 22-10-1 as a home favorite, 10-6 as a road favorite, 20-16 as an underdog. He’s been a profitable coach to back.