NFL Wild Card Round Preview

NFL Wild Card Round Preview

It’s NFL Wild Card Weekend. Is your team playing, waiting, or sitting at home? Either way, let us know your thoughts at Contact@Quartermastersports.com.

Saturday, January 6th 4:20 PM – ESPN

Tennessee Titans (9-7) @ Kansas City Chiefs (10-6)

To kick off NFL Wild Card weekend, the Kansas City Chiefs host the Tennessee Titans Saturday afternoon. Marcus Mariota makes his playoff debut for the Titans who barely squeaked into the playoffs. Andy Reid’s Chiefs enter the playoffs riding a four-game win streak. 

TyGuy’s Verdict

KC Pass Offense 7th TEN Pass Offense 23rd
TEN Pass Defense 25th KC Pass Defense 29th

TyGuy’s Passing Edge: Kansas City

KC Run Offense 9th TEN Run Offense 15th
TEN Run Defense 4th KC Run Defense 25th

TyGuy’s Rushing Edge: Tennessee

TyGuy’s Quarterback Edge: Push

Rongy’s Take: Though DeMarco Murray has already been ruled out, the Titan’s run game shouldn’t suffer without him. Derrick Henry is more than capable of filling Murray’s absence. Regardless, the Chiefs are solid all around and have more explosive weapons on the offensive side of the ball. 

Rongy’s Prediction: Kansas City 31-20

Rongy’s X-Factor: Tyrek Hill


Saturday, January 6th 8:15 – NBC

Atlanta Falcons (10-6) @ Los Angeles Rams (11-5)

In Saturday’s second game, the defending NFC champion Falcons travel to LA to take on Todd Gurley and the worst-to-first Rams. The Rams haven’t been in the playoffs since 2004, but Sean McVay and Wade Phillips have the Rams as competitive as anyone in the wide-open NFC. Matty Ice and the Dirty Bird had to claw their way into the playoffs by defeating Carolina in Week 17. 

TyGuy’s Verdict

LAR Pass Offense 10th ATL Pass Offense 8th
ATL Pass Defense 12th LAR Pass Defense 13th

TyGuy’s Passing Edge: Atlanta

LAR Run Offense 8th ATL Run Offense 13th
ATL Run Defense 9th LAR Run Defense 28th

TyGuy’s Rushing Edge: Los Angeles (Todd Gurley’s recent play)

TyGuy’s Quarterback Edge: Matt Ryan (Playoff Experience)

Rongy’s Take: The defending NFC Champs versus the upstart feel-good story Rams. 95 out of 100 times, I’d be rolling with the team with playoff experience in Atlanta. On the other hand, Todd Gurley’s dominance over the last quarter of the season is too impressive to ignore. Also, the Falcons are the same team that blew a 28-3 lead. Nothing is safe around those guys.

Rongy’s Prediction: Los Angeles 34-31

Rongy’s X-Factor: Todd Gurley


Sunday, January 7th 1:05 – CBS

Buffalo Bills (9-7) @ Jacksonville Jaguars (10-6)

For the first time in 18 seasons, Bills Mafia is back in the playoffs. Thanks to Andy Dalton and Tyler Boyd, of course. Unfortunately, Buffalo is facing the best defense in football this season, the Sacksonville Jaguars. Further damning the Bills chances is the health of LeSean McCoy, who is currently listed as Questionable. The Jags ended a playoff drought as well. 2007 was the last time they’ve been in the playoffs.

TyGuy’s Verdict

JAX Pass Offense 17th BUF Pass Offense 31st
BUF Pass Defense 20th JAX Pass Defense 1st

TyGuy’s Passing Edge: Jacksonville

JAX Run Offense 1st BUF Run Offense 6th
BUF Run Defense 29th JAX Run Defense 21st

TyGuy’s Rushing Edge: Jacksonville

TyGuy’s Quarterback Edge: Blake Bortles

Rongy’s Take: I want more of Bills Mafia, but Jacksonville’s defense is loaded. Tyrod doesn’t stand a chance, especially if Shady can’t go. Only Blake Bortles can ruin this for the Jags.

Rongy’s Prediction: Jacksonville 28-17

Rongy’s X-Factor: Calais Campbell


Sunday, January 7th 4:40 – FOX

Carolina Panthers (11-5) @ New Orleans Saints (11-5)

In the Big Easy, Cam Newton and Drew Brees meet up in the highest-profile QB matchup of the Wild Card round. The two NFC South foes have already met twice this season with the Saints prevailing in both games. Alvin Kamara and Mark Ingram have been the best backfield tandem in the league this season and Carolina features one of the best run defenses creating an intriguing matchup.

TyGuy’s Verdict

NO Pass Offense 5th CAR Pass Offense 28th
CAR Pass Defense 18th NO Pass Defense 15th

TyGuy’s Passing Edge: New Orleans

NO Run Offense 5th CAR Run Offense 4th
CAR Run Defense 3rd NO Run Defense 16th

TyGuy’s Rushing Edge: Carolina (Cam Newton & Co.)

TyGuy’s Quarterback Edge: Drew Brees (In the Dome)

Rongy’s Take: As a Panthers fan, I’m obviously biased towards Carolina in this one. However, out of the QBs in the NFC playoffs Drew Brees in the Super Dome is the only one that scares me. Cam is capable of anything, we’ve seen it before, maybe we’ll see it again.

Rongy’s Prediction: Carolina 24-21

Rongy’s X-Factor: Cam Newton

Cannon: Trade Deadline Frenzy

NFL Trade Deadline

Recap

The trade deadline has come and gone yet again. Let’s look into all the transactions that occurred this year. To quickly recap, Jimmy Garappolo, the most prized quarterback asset available, goes to the Bay. Jay Ajayi, see ya later. He’s heading to one of the best teams in the league. Another move for a Panthers player to the Buffalo or as we call it Carolina North. Finally, don’t forget the deals of Duane Brown to the Seahawks for Jeremy Lane and a complimentary pick and Marcell Dareus to the Jaguars.

While all of these teams made moves to improve their rosters, one team fail miserably. You guessed it, the Browns. Cleveland had a deal in place and found a way to mess it up. The trade sent AJ McCarron to Cleveland for a 2nd and 3rd round pick. Both sides had agreed to the deal and all the Browns had to do was notify the league office. They didn’t by the time the deadline passed, no deal. Should we be surprised at this point? While the other winless team in the NFL secured their future at Quarterback, the Browns failed to pull the trigger, yet again.

Golden Boy to the Golden Gate

Let’s start with the Jimmy G deal. Out of all of these deals, the Patriots got the most value out of their player. A 2nd-round pick for a backup quarterback with only 600 yards passing to his name. The Patriots essentially always seem to come out on top of these trades, especially when it comes to Brady’s backups.

Begin by taking a look at Matt Cassell. Cassell was in a deal for a second-round pick in 2009. Sound familiar? Since then, Cassell has a career starting record of 28-40 and is back to being a backup again. Next, Brian Hoyer, who ironically enough now seems to be in line to regain his spot as Tom Brady’s back up. Teams highly coveted Hoyer when he left New England for free agency in 2009. However, injuries and inconsistent play have seen Hoyer become a journeyman and nothing more than a place-holder for a team’s next young QB. After Hoyer came Ryan Mallet. Mallet was traded to Houston for a seventh-round pick, but the troubled QB essentially did nothing in the league after, boasting a 3-5 record since the trade.

Yet to be determined: the fate of Jacoby Brissett. Sadly, Brissett may already have the best outlook of any former Brady backups. He was traded earlier this season for a 3rd round pick. The former NC State QB has yet to prove anything for a sustainable career in the league, but he also plays on one of the worst teams in the league. So if the future looks anything like the past, sorry Niner’s fans but you’re in for a bad go of it. At least you’re looking better than the Browns.

Breaking: Jimmy G to the 49ers for a 2nd Rounder

Ajayi Flys to Philly

The Dolphins have not been short for headlines this year. The latest, Jay Ajayi to the Eagle for a fourth-round pick. Let’s be serious, they essentially got the equivalent of a no-name, backup corner who will not see the field unless hell freezes over. Rumors have determined that Ajayi may have been a bit of a nuisance in the Dolphin’s locker room. To get rid of the 24-year-old running back for scraps, Ajayi must have hit Gase in the mouth after being called out by his head coach for being part of the issue with the offense. The Dolphins situation just seems to be a peculiar one this season. Tannehill gets hurt, they sign a rental QB for 10 million, coaches getting busted doing cocaine, trading away the running back of the next ten years for nothing. It makes you wonder what’s going on down there in Miami.

BREAKING: Jay Ajayi To The Eagles

Carolina North Bills or Buffalo Panthers?

Another trade of particular curiosity is that of Kelvin Benjamin to the Bills. It almost seems the Panthers have become some kind of a farm system for the Bills to funnel in talent. The Panthers got modest value for the top wideout gaining a third and seventh-round selection in next years draft. Yet this still doesn’t seem to sit quite right seeing how the Panthers are right in the middle of a playoff hunt. On the other hand, this deal makes the Bills look like a serious contender with a now solid number one wideout at the helm to run wild with Tyrod and the boys.

Breaking: Panthers Deal Kelvin to Carolina North (Buffalo)

Other Moves Around the League

Let’s not forget about the seemingly silent acquisitions that happened before the fire sale at the deadline. Marcell Darius will be a difference maker joining an already stout Jaguars defense. The corners are already elite. If there was a weakness, it was run defense. Now the Jags are in a good position to make a push to the playoffs. If Jacksonville can get anything going on offense, watch out for the Jacksonville the remainder of the season.

Lastly, the Seahawks finally get the offensive line help they need in Duane Brown. Another bold move for the Seahawks in letting Jeremey Lane go to the Texans. This seemingly is a quality trade value wise helping both teams without necessarily giving away too much. Look for both of these teams to be strong contenders in trying to secure an appearance in the postseason.

This has been one of the more aggressive trade deadlines in recent memory. Some of the trades were logical from a cap space or a needs standpoint. Others seem to leave their fans scratching their heads wondering what in the hell just happened here. All I know is the rest of the year shapes out to be a good one with so many teams battling for the playoffs. We at Quartermaster cannot wait to see how it unfolds.

 

*THE CANNON*

Breaking: Panthers Deal Kelvin to Carolina North (Buffalo)

Kelvin Benjamin Traded to the Bills

Buffalo Carolina North Bills

The great Panther migration north is in full effect. In a rather shocking move, the Carolina Panthers have dealt their former first-round wideout, Kelvin Benjamin, to Buffalo for a third and a seventh-round pick. Benjamin’s trade continues a trend that has seen several Panthers players become part of the program in Buffalo under new General Manager Brandon Beane. Beane began his NFL career in the Panthers front-office in 1998. Over 18 years, Beane ascended through the Panthers front-office and reached the title of Assistant GM under Dave Gettleman. This offseason, Beane was presented a tough career choice: wait in the wings until Gettelman retires or is fired or accept the Bills’ GM job and begin building his own empire in Buffalo.

Beane took the latter. In May, Beane was named the new General Manager of the Buffalo Bills. He didn’t have to look for a head coach. Carolina’s former defensive coordinator Sean McDermott was a hot commodity in head coaching searches, but ultimately landed in Buffalo. Buffalo hired McDermott in January under previous GM Doug Whaley. After Whaley was fired the day after the 2017 draft, Beane was a natural fit to pair with McDermott. The duo’s first task would be to begin assembling a winning roster. During free agency, the Bills scooped up several former Panthers including Mike Tolbert, Leonard Johnson, Philly Brown, and Joe Webb after he was cut.

Buffalo’s vision is clear under Beane and McDermott. They are obviously trying to instill the culture and brand of football the Panthers used to make their Super Bowl run in 2015. So far they are off to a great start. Currently, the Bills are 5-2 and sit a half a game back of New England for first in the AFC East. Now they have a massive red zone threat in Benjamin to replace Sammy Watkins.

Implications in Carolina

What does the Benjamin trade mean for Carolina? Though they have Devin Funchess, who is of similar size but costs much less, Kelvin was one of Cam Newton’s favorite and most reliable targets. In the red zone, it has been no secret that Cam is looking for Benjamin. That aside, it’s possible that Christian McCaffery along with the emergence of Funchess made Benjamin expendable. There is no denying it. Kelvin Benjamin made an impact in this offense. When he’s on the field, Kelvin has been outstanding. However, in Carolina’s most successful season over that span, 2015, Benjamin missed the entire season with a knee injury. With Greg Olsen set to return from injury in the coming weeks, the Carolina front office must’ve felt this deal is an addition by subtraction.

When Olsen heals, the Panthers offense should be okay, if not more spacious at least. They certainly can’t be worse than they’ve performed this season. Now, Devin Funchess is the primary outside target. Greg Olsen will man the inside with Ed Dickson sneaking around from a second tight end position at times. Across the middle, Curtis Samuel will be the shifty speed threat; similar to the role Philly Brown played on the 2015 team. In the slot, Russell Shepard, Damiere Byrd, and Christian McCaffery. Shepard has speed and big-playmaking ability. So does Byrd. McCaffery is most intriguing out of the slot. The rookie ranks third in the league in receptions. Unfortunately, the speedy back hasn’t seen requisite space to make special things happen. Perhaps removing Benjamin’s big body from the equation will open things up.

Though trading away a first-round pick and top receiving target may look like the Panther’s front-office is crazy. In time, the move could be more beneficial to Carolina than anticipated.

Trade Deadline Coverage

Breaking: Jimmy G to the 49ers for a 2nd Rounder

BREAKING: Jay Ajayi To The Eagles

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