Week 3 AFC West Predicktions

Balls filling in for JMC this week. We are still thinking of he and the War Department, praying she returns to full health soo. Take care, bud.

Short and sweet this week.

Chiefs over Colts 31-20, Mahomes and company is too much.

Chargers over Jaguars 24-20, expecting Herbert to play, albeit in a safe, cautious manner by and the Staley/Lombardi’s game planning.

Titans over Raiders 23-20, Raiders offense still reeling.

49ers over Broncos 26-23, back and forth affair. Russell/Hackett’s offense still struggling at times vs a 49ers team that is ready to rally behind Garappolo.

fuck your teams

AFC West Offseason Review: Las Vegas Raiders

Three down, one to go in our series of AFC West Offseason Reviews. The grand finale is that of the Las Vegas Raiders.

The Raiders had a very busy offseason. They started by relieving general manager Mike Mayock of his duties, and choosing not to retain interim head coach, Rich Bissaccia. That began the search of a new front office and coaching staff. A search that led them to former New England Patriots front office/coaching staff members, nabbing Dave Ziegler as general manager and Josh McDaniels as head coach. They rounded out the coaching staff with several former Patriots staff members highlight by offensive line coach Carmen Bricillo, but the most notable addition would probably be adding Patrick Graham as defensive coordinator.

From there, the Raiders got busy reloading a roster that had just taken an injury/off the field depleted team to the playoffs, where they would lose to the eventual AFC Champions in the final seconds of the game.

Free Agents Lost:
CB Casey Hayward, WR Zay Jones, QB Marcus Mariota, DT Quinton Jefferson, FB Alec Ingold, LB Nicholas Morrow, DT Solomon Thomas and a few others.

Free Agents Retained:
OT Brandon Parker, DT Johnathan Hankins, OL Jermaine Eluemunor.

Free Agents Added:
EDGE Chandler Jones, DL Bilal Nichols, RB Brandon Bolden, CB Anthony Averett, WR Mack Hollinsm OG Alex Bars, FB Jakob Johnson, CB Darius Phillips, S Duron Harom, WR Keelan Cole, LB Kenny Young, LB Jayon Brown, DT Vernon Butler, WR Demarcus Robinson, RB Ameer Abdullah, EDGE Kyler Fackrell, LB Micah Kiser.

Traded For:
WR Davante Adams, CB Rock Ya-Sin

Traded Away:
EDGE Yannick Ngakoue

Draft Selections Added:
OL Dylan Parham, RB Zamir White, DT Neil Farrell, DT Matthew Butler, OT Thayer Munford Jr, RB Brittain Brown

Notable Undrafted Free Agents Added:
LB Darien Butler, WR Justin Hall, CB Sam Webb

With the overhaul of the front office and coaching staff, it was inevitable that the Raiders would see quite a bit of turnover among the roster, which is evidenced above. The Raiders addressed a few areas in particular. Pass rush by adding Jones, getting younger and more skilled in man coverage by adding Ya-Sin/Averrett, and also replenishing Carr’s WR corps, by trading for the best receiver in football in Davante Adams after Carr’s offense was cut off at the knees last year after the loss of Henry Ruggs III in 2021.

On paper, the Raiders seems to have addressed some concerns on the roster, and re-tooling for the new regime quite well but a few question marks linger. How quickly can the coaching staff implement their scheme, and will wins come sooner or later? Will the young offensive line gel quickly and with the diversity evidenced by other Patriots’ offensive lines over the years? Will the younger Raiders’ secondary be up for the task?

The Raiders’ offseason gives plenty of reason to be confident in the path moving forward, re-tooling an already talented team around a solid QB on offense w/ strong weapons as well as a few notable standout players on defense. It also gives plenty of reason for skepticism including an entirely new front office/coaching staff trying to implement their scheme, an OL that is unproven at best/completely doomed at worst, and an entire team centered around a QB whose career accomplishments include a 0-1 career playoff record over his 9 years.

In a division full of playoff contenders, featuring a perennial AFC favorite like the Kansas City Chiefs, the Raiders are as difficult as the rest of their division foes to predict how they will fare in 2022. I believe certain pieces of their coaching staff has improved, certain pieces of their roster has improved, but it will all depend on how it all comes together this season as to whether they will find themselves in the thick of AFC Playoff contention or trying to keep themselves out of the AFC West basement, like they had finally gotten themselves out of in recent years.

In other words, it’s on you, Josh McDaniels, Derek Carr and company!

AFC West Offseason Review: Denver Broncos

We are nearly July, which means we are getting closer to the NFL Training camp, and football. Let’s look back at the offseason moves by a third AFC West team in this mini-series, the Denver Broncos.

A lot of change this offseason for the Broncos, but what’s new? This offseason featured the sale of the franchise for (Oh-Em-Gee!!) $4.65 Billion. The 2nd year general manager fired Vic Fangio, and replaced him with rookie NFL head coach, Nathaniel Hackett who proceeded to bring in his own staff. They also made a big addition at the most important position in sports, adding Russell Wilson at quarterback in exchange for a few early draft picks.

Let’s look at the rest of the moves up and down the roster.

Free Agents Lost:
QB Teddy Bridgewater, CB Kyle Fuller, CB Bryce Callahan, LB Kenny Young, LB Micah Kiser among others.

Free Agents Retained:
RB Melvin Gordon, S Kareem Jackson, TE Eric Saubert and DT DeShawn Williams

Free Agents Signed:
DE Randy Gregory, DT DJ Jones, CB K’Waun Williams, OL Billy Turner and OL Tom Compton.

Traded For:
QB Russell Wilson

Draft Selections Added:
OLB Nik Bonitto, TE Greg Dulcich, CB Damarri Mathis, DT Eyioma Uwazurike, S Delarrin Turner-Yell, S, WR Montrell Washington, C Luke Wattenberg, DT Matt Henningsen, CB Faion Hicks.

Notable Undrafted Free Agents Added:
OLB Christopher Allen, CB Ja’Quan McMillian, RB Tyreik McCallister

Broncos front office and rookie head coach Nathaniel Hackett went to work rebuilding a defense that had been tailored to former head coach Vic Fangio. They moved on from players on all levels and brought in guys they felt were more suitable for DC Ejiro Evero.

The offensive side of the ball featured the addition of pro bowl quarterback Russell Wilson, and fortifying the offensive line to better protect the QB than Denver has done in recent years.

It is a very interesting time in Denver for the Broncos, a lot of change, a new era, and a lot of new shiny players/coaches. Ultimately, I believe there are simply too many moving parts to expect the Broncos to take the crown in a loaded AFC West, but if they can find a way to gel early and the coaching staff is as good as some believe they are I would not rule them out. There is a fair amount of talent on this roster in nearly every unit.

Fuck the Broncos.

AFC West Offseason Review: Los Angeles Chargers

Happy 1st Day of June! Happy LGBTQ+ Pride Month! Especially our very own, Lord. Let’s celebrate by reviewing the offseason for his beloved 2nd favorite NFL team, the Los Angeles Chargers.

Free Agents Lost:
EDGE Uchenna Nwosu, DL Justin Jones, LB Kyzir White, LB/EDGE Kyler Fackrell, OT Bryan Bulaga, DL Linval Joseph, CB Chris Harris Jr, OG Oday Aboushi and a couple other less notables.

Free Agents Retained:
QB Chase Daniel, DL Christian Covington and a couple other less notables.

Free Agents Signed:
CB JC Jackson, DL Sebasatian Joseph-Day, DL Austin Johnson, LC Kyle Van Noy, TE Gerald Everett, CB Bryce Callahan and a couple other less notables.

Traded For:
EDGE Khalil Mack

Draft Selections Added:
G Zion Johnson, S JT Woods, RB Isaiah Spiller, DT Otito Ogbonnia, OL Jamaree Salyer, DB Ja’Sir Taylor, DB Deane Leonard, RB Zander Horvath

Notable Undrafted Free Agents Added:
RB Kevin Marks Jr, EDGE Ty Shelby, TE Erik Kroemmenhoek

There was quite a bit of turnover on the roster for the Chargers, which isn’t out of the ordinary for teams in year 2 of a new coaching regime. Staley seems determined to rid the team of any remaining “Anthony Lynn” players that he believes may be holding them back. The biggest takeaway from all of the moves is that GM Tom Telesco and HC Brandon Staley know that they are in “win now” mode. I mean, most teams are in this mode in some capacity, but I believe everyone is aware of the urgency of trying to capitalize on championship aspirations while one of the game’s top franchise QB’s is still playing on his rookie contract.

So the Chargers made a few notable moves in particular this offseason. They traded for an aging, yet still effective and at times dominant defensive end in Khalil Mack. They paired that move with adding arguably the best cornerback available in JC Jackson, though one can only wonder why New England was so willing to let him walk. They also know giving Herbert time to throw is a priority, so they added OL Zion Johnson in round 1 of the 2022 NFL Draft.

They addressed a weak interior defensive front 7 by replacing Linval Joseph and Justin Jones, with Joseph-Day and Johnson. They added one of the better TE’s on the market to a weak TE room, and a couple depth players in the secondary.

The Chargers’ 2022 Draft Class features a number of guys with pretty significant upside (Johnson, Woods, Spiller, Salyer, Ogbonnia), but plenty of reason to be cautiously optimistic due to the circumstances they were taken in. #17 overall is a bit rich for an OG, and overall the only picks they had in the top 150 were used on G, S, and RB. For a team that is devoid of talent and depth in a few areas, drafting positions that I would consider to be less positional value than others seems like a luxury the Chargers weren’t really in a position to afford.

Overall, the Chargers did a solid job getting younger and faster at a few positions. They added a couple potential game-changing players to the defensive side of the ball and bolstered the run defense which was badly needed.

They will be in the mix in the AFC West, but it’ll be hard to predict a division championship is in the cards given the competition.

Fuck the Chargers.

AFC West OffSeason Review: Kansas City Chiefs

The offseason is upon us. Let’s take a look back and see how each AFC West team fared this season, beginning with the defending division champions, Kansas City Chiefs.

Free Agents Lost:
CB Charvarious Ward, CB Mike Hughes, S Tyrann Matheiu, WR Byron Pringle, WR Demarcus Robinson, S Dan Sorenson, S Armani Watts, G Austin Blythe and a couple other less notables.

Free Agents Retained:
DT Derek Nnadi, TE Blake Bell, OT Andrew Wylie.

Free Agents Signed:
S Justin Reid, WR JuJu Smith-Schuster, WR Marquez Valdes-Scantling, RB Ronald Jones II, LB Jermaine Carter and a couple other less notables.

Traded:
WR Tyreek Hill

Draft Selections Added:
CB Trent McDuffie, DE George Karlaftis, WR Skyy Moore, S Bryan Cook, LB Leo Chenal, CB Joshua Williams, OT Darian Kinnard, DB Jaylen Watson, RB Isaiah Pacheco, S Nazeeh Johnson

Undrafted Free Agents Added:
WR Justyn Ross, RB Jerrion Ealy, LB Jack Cochrane (Former USD Coyote)

Reviewing all of the roster moves made this offseason, it’s obvious that the Chiefs differ greatly in terms of where their roster is at compared to their peers in the AFC West. They are talented, seasoned and have a lot of players that are valuable in this league. That means they have to either find a way to pay them in order to keep them, trade them, or let them walk when they hit free agency.

The Chiefs lost a lot of talent this offseason, highlighted by 3 of their top 4 wide receivers including All-Pro and bona fide game changer, Tyreek Hill. They were able to get some high draft picks back in that trade, but it will be hard to replace a player of that caliber. They also lost starters and other contributors on multiple levels of the defense, most notably the overhaul in the secondary.

They approached free agency with some money to spend, focusing on adding quality players in the wide receiver room and on defense. The Chiefs entered the draft needing to pick up some help at CB and EDGE, but otherwise had a pretty quality roster in place allowing them to be nimble throughout the draft. The Chiefs hit all the right notes throughout the draft. I am not nearly as high on CB McDuffie and WR Moore as many, but I am no draft expert and will defer to the more qualifed experts that widely liked these additions for the Chiefs.

The Chiefs also picked up a few rookies post draft that have a real shot to make this team in WR Ross, RB Ealy, and LB Cochrane as a special teamer.

In review, it’s hard to argue the Chiefs got better this offseason considering all that they lost, but they did about as good of job as one could expect given the circumstances. If they hit on a good number of the many new players they brought in this offseason, they not only very well could have gotten better but given the amount of youth they added on affordable deals, they could have set themselves up for another strong multi-year run in this division/conference.

Fuck the Chiefs.

Super Bowl Prediction

The time has come. Super Bowl LVI is set to kick off in just a few hours. Lets take a minute to appreciate the moment, that the big game will not feature the likes Tom Brady, the Patriots, the Chiefs, the 49ers, etc.

This game should be a good one, the Bengals will have to find a way to move the ball in the run and short passing game as their OL simply can not protect Joe Burrow, especially in this matchup. Can the Bengals defense answer the bell like they have done so many times this season vs a very balanced Rams offense.

Ultimately, I believe Rams are a more balanced football team and playmakers on defense will get enough stops to win Super Bowl LVI, 27-23 over the Bengals.

Enjoy the game!

AFC Championship Game Preview

The Cincinatti Bengals travel to Kansas City to take on the Chiefs at Arrowhead Stadium on Sunday.

This is a rematch of a game that took place a few weeks ago, in which Joe Burrow and Jamarr Chase powered the Bengals to an upset victory over the Chiefs in Cincinatti.

I believe revenge will be on the mind of the Chiefs, as well as prior playoff experience which will prove to be too much for the Bengals, resulting in a 30-23 victory and a 3rd straight AFC Championship for the Chiefs.

side note, will the Raiders ever hire a GM/HC?

AFC West 2019 Draft Classes

JMC, Godfather, Joseph my Broseph…. Thank you. Thank you for submitting content here in MuddledState like only a few of us do showing the willingness to set aside personal shit to add a little something to this joint. My MS Appreciation posts ran short on time this preseason, but know yours and Nori’s contributions the last year have been much appreciated with us parting ways with a few writers. Just kidding, we didn’t part ways, but Robb/Dude/my bitchass have been either busy or just haven’t made it a priority.

I apologize for cutting your week 2 grades/predictions posts a little short, but this topic needed to be addressed.

Clelin Ferrell has not lived up to his draft position, #4 overall of the 2019 NFL draft as far as his tangible production. As far as his intangible production, that’s a little difficult to measure because its intangible (let me know if any of you drizzledicks need a definition). The Raiders draft strategy from 2019-2021 has been well documented, they valued the intangibles moreso than any other team in the league, to establish a winning culture. They took a few reaches drafting high character guys out of high class programs. This should not be news to anyone in this blog, but here we are 2+ years later still talking about the same shit. “Ermuhgerd, Clelin Ferrell was such a turrible pick.”

There has been so much Raiders slander regarding Mike Mayock, Clelin Ferrell and the #4 overall pick of the 2019 NFL draft, that I thought it was worth looking back on that draft at our respective teams’ draft classes to set the record straight. Seriously, look at this shit.

Raiders 2019 Draft Class
1st round pick, #4 overall – Clelin Ferrell – Bust. He’s man against the run, but you don’t draft those guys with a top 20 pick.
1st round pick, #24 overall – Josh Jacobs – Quality starter/Borderline stud. He looked like a stud in his rookie year, struggled with injury and playing behind a lackluster OL his 2nd year.
1st round pick, #27 overall – Jonathan Abram – Looking busty. Year 1 injured, year 2 garbage. Year 3 in the new defensive scheme will be big for his development.
2nd round pick, #40 overall – Trayvon Mullen – Up and down CB through 2 years, pretty high upside but has had some struggles too. The Raiders young secondary hard to judge given the poor defensive scheme and talent surrounding them.
4th round pick, #106 overall – Maxx Crosby – Stud. Not bonafide stud, but stud. 2020 he was coming off of rehab and injury, but his 2019 rookie campaign was huge, and he appears to be poised for a Pro Bowl season in 2021.
4th round pick, #129 overall Isaiah Johnson – Garbage.
4th round pick, #137 overall – Foster Moreau – Solid #2 TE, would start for a dozen teams in the league.
5th round pick, #149 overall – Hunter Renfrow – GOAT. Beast. Absolute stud. 3rd and Renfrow. Fight me if you disagree with a goddamm 5th round pick.
Other Picks – Quinton Bell – Garbage.

End Results – 3 starters ranging from mid-all pro upside, 1 starter by default with… uhhh…. upside (Abram), 1 backup but starter potential TE, a stud slot WR and whatever the fuck Clelin Ferrell is for a potential middle of the road to possibly potential AFC playoff team.

Chiefs 2019 Draft Class
2nd round pick, #56 overall – Mecole Hardman – He’s fast, he makes some big plays, but has the luxury of playing alongside guys like Travis Kelce, Tyreek Hill, Sammy Watkins and Pat Mahomes throwing him the ball. Would he do the same in Detroit?
2nd round pick, #63 overall – Juan Thornhill – Quality starter potential, mid-high upside.
3rd round pick, #82 overall – Khalen Saunders – Some upside as a rotational interior DL but a rather low ceiling.
6th round pick, #201 overall – Rashad Fenton – #4/5 CB, has had a few good moments, but otherwise meh.
Other picks – Darwin Thompson, Nick Allegretti – Garbage, not worth noting.

End Results – 1 starter, 2 mid-high upside potential future starters, and a depth guy or two. They’re one of the most talented rosters in the league though, so they’re a bit of an anomaly in the AFCW.

Chargers 2019 Draft Class
1st round pick, #28 overall – Jerry Tillery – Lol. Had a marginal bounce back year in 2020 after an abysmal 2019. Pretty bust worthy at this point.
2nd round pick, #60 overall – Nasir Adderley – See Tillery description.
3rd round pick, #91 overall – Trey Pipkins – Complete bust from the moment it was announced.
4th round pick, #130 overall – Drue Tranquill – He’s a rotational LB. He’s not good.
Other picks – Easton Stick, Emeke Ebule, Broughton – Garbage, actually Stick could be the little engine that could as a backup QB, but you’re fucked if he’s ever called to real action.

End Results – 2 starters (neither of which you’re overly excited about), a rotational LB and a bunch a garbage.

Broncos 2019 Draft Class
1st round pick, #20 overall – Noah Fant – Quality TE, with good upside. Might break into the top tier of TE’s, might not due to injuries/drops/etc.
2nd round pick, #41 overall – Dalton Risner – Looked every bit the part of a potential Pro Bowl LG coming out of college, hasn’t quite lived up to it. Still plenty of potential.
2nd round pick, #42 overall – Drew Lock – Looking busty, unless the starting QB shits the bed (which is a possibility) and Lock comes in and redeems himself. Otherwise, another big Elway QB miss.
3rd round pick, #71 overall – Dre’Mont Jones – Was a steal at the time. It’s still probably a steal. Looks every bit the part of a potential Pro Bowl DL.
Other picks – Justin Hollins, Juwann Winfree – Not steals, they suck.

End Results – 3 mid-high upside starters, and Drew Lock whatever he is. The rest is trash.

So while you all keep talking about the #4 overall pick (I get it, he sucks), I’m looking at the big picture, and feeling juuuust fine.

Balls 2021 AFCW Predicktion

That’s a WRAP on the 2021 NFL Preseason for the AFCW, which means its time for my final AFCW Predicktions. The teams got through the preseason relatively healthy, with only a few small injuries. The Raiders did end up a little thin at LB, so they elected to trade for Denzel Perryman one of PFF’s top 3 rated LB’s in 2020 to play for his old defensive coordinator Gus Bradley. They appeared to shore up that position prior to the start of the season.

The Chiefs enter the season as large favorites to win the AFCW, and I see no reason to disagree with that. They have been significantly better and more consistent the last couple years than the other teams, with only the Raiders providing them a bit of a challenge in 2020, splitting the series and looking very evenly matched throughout 8 quarters of football. The Raiders lacked the consistency and overall quality of defensive play to make a strong push down the stretch.

The Chargers and Broncos have numerous areas to improve in order to be contenders in the AFCW. The Chargers elected to revamp the coaching staff around their star young QB Justin Herbert. They brought in some quality offensive lineman to give the QB time, but many question marks remain, particularly on the defensive side of the ball and the lack of experience in the new coaching staff. Meanwhile, the Broncos elected to bring in QB Teddy Bridgewater in the hopes to gain more consistency and improve on their -16 turnover differential, which was last in the league. They addressed the offensive line and brought in some new corners to hopefully improve the pass defense in 2021.

My predicktions are as follows:

Chiefs – 13-4 – Barring injury, the Chiefs are still the class of the division by at least two or 3 games. Their season begins in January. Fuck them.

Raiders – 10-7 – The Raiders continue to steadily improve under Gruden and Mayock, with the offense leading the way. The defense finally shows signs of life after several years of disappointment under Paul Guenther. They finally get back to the playoffs, and Derek Carr gets his 1st playoff start in his 9th season. GOAT.

Chargers – 8-9 – Too many holes to fill in one offseason, too much uncertainty around the coaching staff and getting everyone on the same page. They will flash at times, but will lack consistency to make the playoffs in 2021. Justin Herbert shines, Keenan Allen has another strong campaign, but the rest of the pieces on O and all 3 levels on defense leave a bit to be desired.

Broncos – 6-11 – Another year, another new QB starting in Denver makes for another year of up and down offensive output, mostly down. Denver does have some weapons to throw to, I’m just not sure they have the QB situation to fully utilize them.

AFCW MVP – Patrick Mahomes, easily.

AFCW Offense POY – Travis Kelce, easily.

AFCW Defensive POY – Justin Simmons edges out Derwin James.

AFCW Offensive ROY – Not many to choose from here, but Javonte Williams should be in for a nice season only sharing carries with MGIII and Mike Boone out for the season. A few quality rookie OL throughout the division, but don’t typically get the shiny hardware.

AFCW Defensive ROY – Trevon Moehrig gets the INT’s necessary to edge out Surtain and Samuel, Jr.

Just a casual reminder that my Predicktions for the AFCW have been pretty spot on for a number of years. I do tend to miss on one team but only one, and outside of 2017, it is never the Raiders. So think of that as you proceed to tell me how wrong I am.

Enjoy the season. Fuck your teams.

Muddled State Contributor Appreciation Post…. per Balls

In the 2nd edition of Balls’ sappy MS Appreciation posts, I want to recognize to more OG’s. Two that were crucial in the process of migrating from ESPN to Facebook, to Shootgap, and finally to MuddledState. They might not be here much anymore, or even at all, but that doesn’t mean we can’t be grateful for them getting us here. They’re Broncos fans, but for a week or two maybe we can look past that.

TheDudeAbides and McNutty… thanks for all your past, present, and future contributions to MuddledState. You are good dudes and without your efforts, we might never made it away from the dreadful AFC West Facebook Fan Page (Yikes!).

Thanks again. FO!