AROUND THE NFL

Cooler heads are going to possibly prevail – and try to put some of the cat back in the bag on the Sean Payton Pass Interference Review Rule.  Mike Florio of ProFootballTalk.com:

 

The NFL went too far one way in March. It may now go too far the other way in May.

 

Only two weeks after Competition Committee member Stephen Jones expressed during an appearance on #PFTPM a high degree of confidence that the new rule that makes offensive and defensive pass interference subject to the full replay review system would not be tweaked in May, someone else from the Competition Committee has leaked to the league’s media conglomerate that the league may revise the rule.

 

Specifically, ownership possibly will authorize the Competition Committee to revise the rule as needed after the Competition Committee completes its meetings with teams. And the word “tweak” makes it all sound more innocuous than it really is.

 

The currently proposed change, if made, means that automatic review would not be available for calls and non-calls of pass interference after scoring plays, after turnovers, in the final two minutes of either half, or during overtime. Which means that the horrendous call at the end of regulation in the Rams-Saints NFC title game — the horrendous call that sparked the change in the first place — would have been subject to replay review only if Saints coach Sean Payton happened to have at least one red challenge flag remaining, and at least one timeout to lose in the event the challenge was denied.

 

It’s hardly a “tweak.” It’s more like an amputation. And the reason given for it by the Competition Committee to NFL Media (it will lead to “greater consistency” by not having “two different standards of review”) makes, with all due respect, absolutely no sense.

 

It’s still no surprise that this is happening. The Competition Committee didn’t want to change the rule in the first place, hiding behind the “unintended consequences” boogeyman for as long as possible, until the moment coaches and owners converged to demand action at the league meetings in Arizona. The Competition Committee’s attempt to do nothing resulted in the league not being properly prepared to do anything, which resulted in something being cobbled together on an emergency basis at the end of the meetings, without anyone properly thinking things through.

 

In the aftermath of the expansion of replay to include replay review, we identified several potential complications that may have been glossed over in the rush to throw a rule together. By including offensive pass interference, pick plays now become a potential basis for wiping out completed passes and touchdowns, if any eligible receivers threw a block more than one yard from the line of scrimmage before the ball was thrown. Also, by adding pass interference to the current load of reviewable plays, the people responsible for initiating and conducting replay review may not be able to handle the increased demands efficiently and effectively.

 

The proposed “tweak” leaked on Thursday to league-owned media likely flows from a potential complication that hadn’t been previously addressed. Given the trigger for conducting an automatic replay review, it won’t take much to slow down a game while the league office rules out pass interference.

 

The standard for sparking an automatic replay review mirrors the standard for overturning a ruling on the field. There must be clear and obvious evidence to scrap an on-field officiating mistake, and there must be clear and obvious evidence that the ruling on the field was correct to prevent an automatic review.

 

When it comes to pass interference, plenty of rulings (both calls and non-calls) will not be clearly and obviously correct. Which will require a closer look via the full-blown replay review function. Which will slow down the game in those specific situations where an automatic replay review is available.

 

That’s what the league (or whoever leaked the information to league-owned media) was getting at when referring to striving for “greater consistency” by not having “two different standards of review.” The standard for overturning the call won’t change; the standard for initiating a review goes from the question of whether the ruling was clearly and obviously correct to whether the coach is willing to play the chess-checkers-chicken-cornhole game of when to throw that miniature red beanbag, knowing that only so many can be thrown in a given game.

 

This “tweak” would seriously complicate the challenge that is the coach’s challenge. Will a coach tolerate a bad call in the first half in order to have the ability to challenge a worse call in the second half? And will a coach ever risk losing a red flag except when it’s abundantly clear that the challenge will prevail?

 

And therein lies the twisted wisdom of the potential change. Coaches will be very careful about when to challenge pass interference, especially in the early stages of a game. Coaches also will become even more careful about challenging anything, because the worst-case scenario would be to have a Rams-Saints call and no way to fix it.

 

This proposed “tweak,” if it happens, should spark others. For example, coaches should have three challenges regardless of whether their first two are successful. Also, if a coach has no time outs, he should still be able to use a challenge with the price being 15 yards of field position, if the ruling isn’t overturned.

 

Whatever the outcome of this effort to “tweak” the rule, the fact that it’s even an issue underscores the failure of the Competition Committee to realize that change was coming, and to adequately plan for it. This issue should have been handled in March; it wasn’t because the Competition Committee believed it would be able to shout down any and all advocates for changing the rules.

 

Meanwhile, it would be a hell of a lot easier to just have an extra official who monitors the TV broadcast and fixes all blatant errors in real time, with the benefit of the viewpoint that the rest of us have at home.

 

While they are at it, the DB feels the only PI plays that should be subject to review are at the immediate point of the receptions.  We think adjudicating every pick and incidental contact on the way to the moment of decision is too time consuming.

 

NFC EAST

 

NEW YORK GIANTS

T NATE SOLDER has a bum ankle.  A tweet from Ian Rapoport:

 

@RapSheet

The #Giants rebuilt offensive is set to go through the spring without starting LT Nate Solder. Sources tell me and @MikeGarafolo that Solder had arthroscopic surgery to clean out his ankle after dealing with bone spurs and that’ll be back by training camp. Not considered major.

 

NFC SOUTH

 

ATLANTA

There is one less former NFL GM on the Falcons staff.  Vaughn McClure of ESPN.com:

 

Atlanta Falcons assistant general manager Scott Pioli has resigned, the team announced Thursday.

 

“After careful consideration and ongoing dialogue with Thomas [Dimitroff, the Falcons’ GM] over the past year, I have decided to step away from my position as the assistant general manager of the Atlanta Falcons to pursue other potential opportunities,” Pioli said in a statement. “I want to thank both Arthur [Blank, the Falcons’ owner] and Thomas for bringing my family and I here in 2014.”

 

Pioli did not specify which opportunities he plans to pursue and later told ESPN via text message that “my decision has nothing to do with anything else.” He was the general manager of the Kansas City Chiefs and vice president of player personnel with the New England Patriots before working for the Falcons.

 

“We understand and respect the decision Scott, [his wife] Dallas and their family have come to today and wish them nothing but the best,” Dimitroff said. “Over the last five years Scott has not only provided tremendous value to me, but to the entire Falcons organization. He is a dear friend and will be missed within our organization. We are continuing to assess the structure within our organization and move forward with our next steps.”

 

Pioli was instrumental in overseeing the scouting department and free-agent acquisitions. He played a big role in the Falcons’ scouting of 14th overall draft pick Chris Lindstrom, an offensive guard from Boston College. Some pointed to the offensive and defensive lines as Pioli’s areas of expertise. He also played a key role in the acquisition of Pro Bowl center Alex Mack.

 

“When I accepted this position more than five years ago, we all believed this would likely be a two- or three-year working relationship,” Pioli said in his statement. “I came in to work closely with Thomas on personnel structure, processes and decisions. I loved the concept, was confident I could provide value and have enjoyed the challenge.

 

“Now, after more than five years with the Falcons, I am ready for a change. I want to thank all of my co-workers at Flowery Branch as it has truly been an honor to be a part of this organization and I am thankful to have been a part of this football team and the Falcons family.”

 

There is no immediate word on who will replace Pioli. The Falcons recently promoted longtime scout Shepley Heard to director of pro personnel while moving Joel Collier to the role of national scout.

 

Blank, the team’s owner, recently expressed support for both Dimitroff and coach Dan Quinn after a report that he was growing “restless” with the state of the Falcons.

 

 

NEW ORLEANS

34-year-old WR TED GINN, Jr. will take on all comers in a money race at 100 yards.  Jason Owens of YahooSports.com:

 

Ted Ginn has made a career out of burning up the field as a long-ball threat in the NFL.

 

After 12 seasons in the league, the 34-year-old New Orleans Saints wide receiver still believes he’s in prime form — enough so to on take all comers in a foot race with cash on the line.

 

He told Adam Lefkoe on “The Lefkoe Show” Thursday that he’s willing to race anyone for $10,000 or more “pole to pole.”

 

 “Where your check at?” Ginn said he would tell challengers that approached him on the street. “I’m always down to do it. I’ve been running from light pole to light pole my whole life.”

 

Ginn then told Lefkoe he’d take anyone on for “$10,000 or better.”

 

Ginn has been one of the game’s fastest players his entire career. He ran a 4.37 40-yard dash at the 2007 NFL combine while recovering from a sprained foot. He reportedly clocked a 4.28 40 at Ohio State.

 

In 2015 while a member of the Carolina Panthers, Ginn was clocked at 22.44 mph on a touchdown catch against the Atlanta Falcons, the fastest speed recorded that season in the NFL.

 

Does Ginn still have it?

But at 34 years old, is his confidence misplaced? Kansas City Chiefs receiver Tyreek Hill and San Francisco 49ers receiver Marquise Goodwin might have something to say about that.

 

Ginn acknowledged to Lefkoe that both would be worth challengers in a foot race.

 

But even if Ginn would likely lose a race to his younger NFL counterparts, his offer to take anybody on sounds like a profitable venture. There are a lot of people with a lot of ego who would relish the chance to take on a pro athlete in a physical challenge.

 

And Ginn is here to take their money.

 

NFC WEST

 

ARIZONA

CB PATRICK PETERSON is caught cheating with PEDs, which further tangles his web with the Cardinals.  Grant Gordon of NFL.com:

 

It was a career-altering day for Cardinals standout cornerback Patrick Peterson on Thursday when news of his impending suspension was announced.

 

Hours later he made a statement and faced questions.

 

“Definitely, definitely sorry [for] what broke out today, but for the most part, I think you guys understand my character and also understand my commitment on and off the field, and also to my teammates, and also to the Arizona Cardinals organization,” Peterson said in a statement to the local media at the 2019 Patrick Peterson Celebrity Golf Tournament. “That’s why this is apparently very, very hard for me because I’ve obviously never been in this situation before and never wanted to have my name attached to anything like this. But I’m looking to move forward and put this behind me.”

 

It was announced by the NFL on Thursday that Peterson would be suspended for six games to start the upcoming season due to a violation of the league’s performance-enhancing drug policy.

 

The six-game suspension on a player’s first violation stems from a positive test plus an attempt to manipulate or mask the result, NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport reported.

 

Peterson, 28, took questions after his statement and said he knew about the failed test for quite some time.

 

“I knew about it for months,” Peterson said via ABC15 Arizona’s Shane Dale. “I’m not happy, but relieved that it’s out.”

 

Peterson told the press he expected the announcement of his suspension to come out next week and was disappointed it came out on the day of his golf tournament.

 

He also said his relationship with the Cardinals franchise is “great.”

 

Though it seems to pale in comparison now, before news of the suspension, Peterson was looking for an extension and had missed voluntary mini-camp in April. Peterson has two seasons left on his current contract, of which he’s set to be paid $11 million in 2019 and $12.05 million in 2020.

 

Now Peterson, who has made the Pro Bowl in all eight of his seasons but will not be eligible next season, will miss his team’s first half-dozen games — against the Detroit Lions, Baltimore Ravens, Carolina Panthers, Cincinnati Bengals and Atlanta Falcons.

 

He will be eligible to return in Week 7 against the Giants.

 

“I want to thank my family, my teammates, the coaching staff, the Arizona Cardinals community, and also the organization,” Peterson said in the close of his statement. “I’m looking forward to getting back Week 7. I’m going to continue to try to keep that smile on my face, and get back to being the best DB in the league.”

 

 

SAN FRANCISCO

The 49ers are planning on a three-head monster at running back.  Eric Branch of the San Francisco Chronicle:

 

Last season, Matt Breida was in select company.

 

This offseason, there was some question about whether the 49ers’ running back would be on the 53-man roster.

 

Yes, Breida was the subject of a bizarre question: Would he be on the team after he was on NFL leaderboards last year?

 

The subject was raised in March after the 49ers signed running back Tevin Coleman to a two-year, $8.5 million contract. He joined a backfield that included Breida and Jerick McKinnon, who missed 2018 with a torn ACL after signing a four-year, $30 million deal.

 

Amid speculation that a running back would be released or traded, head coach Kyle Shanahan told reporters in March that having three capable ballcarriers is a luxury, not a problem. And Breida echoed that sentiment Wednesday after an offseason practice at the team facility.

 

“They’ve talked to us about it. They’ve said, ‘Hey, we’re going to use all you guys,’” Breida said. “… All three of us are going to be used a lot. I don’t want to give away any secrets, but we’re all going to be used in the offense.”

 

If so, it’s unclear how the snaps will be divided. But this is obvious: Breida, a 2017 undrafted free agent, made a strong case to maintain a prominent role with his strong second season.

 

Last year, Breida rushed for 814 yards, ranked fourth in the NFL in yards per attempt (5.3) and was sixth in runs of 20-plus yards (10). Breida’s yards-per-attempt average was the third-highest in franchise history for a running back with at least 150 attempts. He ranks behind Hall of Famer Joe Perry (6.1, 1954) and Frank Gore (5.4, 2006), who ranks fourth in NFL history in rushing yards (14,748).

 

“I know what I did last year,” Breida said. “Everyone thinks I did a good job, but I know I can do better.”

 

There’s evidence he could be correct.

 

Consider Breida dealt with a knee injury and shoulder issue last year before he sustained a sprained ankle in Week 5 that did not fully heal. He missed just two games; he was listed as questionable for six others.

 

Breida acknowledged his ankle often felt like “crap” the day after games.

 

“It’s just one of those things — are you going to play or not?” Brieda said. “Depending on the player, some guys would sit out. It’s totally up to you. But I felt like I wanted to be out there. I wanted to win. I wanted to be with my teammates.”

 

Breida said his injury didn’t have much impact on his straight-ahead speed. In fact, he was clocked at 22.09 mph in November on a 33-yard run against the Buccaneers, which was the fastest of any ballcarrier over the past two seasons, according to Next Gen Stats.

 

“I still had my burst,” Breida said, “but I wasn’t able to make every cut. There were cuts I could make and then it was, ‘OK, it’s time to try to run somebody over. Try to do this a little differently.’ You just compensate and do the best you can with what you’ve got.”

 

Breida will scrap for snaps after McKinnon’s injury thrust Breida into a lead-back role last year.

 

Coleman, 26, will earn $3.25 million guaranteed this season and was signed partly based on his relationship with Shanahan, who coached Coleman when he was the Falcons’ offensive coordinator (2015-2016). Coleman has averaged 981 yards from scrimmage, 4.4 yards a carry, 11.1 yards per catch and scored 28 touchdowns over his past three seasons.

 

Meanwhile, McKinnon earned $11.7 million last year, and his 2019 base salary of $3.7 million became guaranteed April 1. In 2018, Shanahan said McKinnon’s injury was particularly significant because much of the 49ers’ offense was designed to take advantage of his dual-threat talent.

 

In addition, the 49ers have another running back, Raheem Mostert, who could be active on their 46-man game-day roster because of his strong special-teams ability. Mostert signed a three-year deal in March that included $2.4 million guaranteed at signing.

 

Shanahan has acknowledged he hasn’t had four running backs active for a game, but said in March that “it could make a lot of sense this year.”

 

Whatever the case, Breida, who will earn a base salary of $555,000, will be the least compensated of the four in 2019. But his performance last year suggests he could be capable of outrunning his more prominent competition.

 

For his part, Breida smiled when asked if he could reach 23 mph this season.

 

“I believe so,” he said. “I think I can go even faster than that.”

 

AFC WEST

 

DENVER

NT SHELBY HARRIS believes he has earned a new deal.  Ryan O’Halloran of the Denver Post:

 

Step 1 for Broncos nose tackle Shelby Harris — prove he can be a reliable player – became a success last year.

 

Harris followed his 5 1/2 sacks in 2017 with a career-best 39 tackles a season ago, and the Broncos rewarded him with a second-round restricted free agent contract tender, which raised his salary from $705,000 to $3.095 million (a 227-percent raise).

 

“I’m just happy to be wanted for another year, especially with the way my career started,” said Harris, who was cut six times before joining the Broncos in January 2017. “I worked my butt off for this and it’s really showed me where I can go. I’m not done yet. This is a little stepping stone.”

 

Step 2 for Harris: A long-term contract.

 

“That’s every man’s dream,” Harris said after an organized team activity workout this week. “I would love a multi-year deal here, but the way that works, you have to focus on this year, go out and play.”

 

What works in Harris’ favor is that he figures to play more this year. He played 390 of 1,077 snaps in 2018, but starting nose tackle Domata Peko (522 snaps) was not re-signed. Harris worked with the first-team defense during Monday’s OTA.

 

In a reserve role, Harris posted numbers that should invite optimism. Per The Denver Post’s game charting, he had 1 1/2 sacks and 10 1/2 disruptions (pressures/knockdowns/sacks), fourth-most on the Broncos. Against the run, he had 12 1/2 “stuffs” (gain of three or fewer yards), fifth-most. And his end zone interception sealed the Week 12 win over Pittsburgh.

 

Harris said coach Vic Fangio’s defense calls for one- and two-gap responsibilities for the nose tackle, which will require equal parts patience, power and aggressiveness depending on the call.

 

“He’ll use the nose all over,” Harris said of Fangio. “You have to be able to move, hold down the middle and also pass rush a little bit.”

 

 

KANSAS CITY

WR DWAYNE BOWE wasn’t retired yet?  BJ Kissel of KCChiefs.com:

 

Veteran wide receiver Dwayne Bowe has signed a one-day contract to retire with the Kansas City Chiefs.

 

Most of us assumed that the 34-year-old Bowe retired a long time ago as he has not been on a football field since 2015.  The No.23-overall pick out of LSU in 2007, Bowe spent eight seasons in Kansas City.  He never really lived up to his lofty draft status but did find the end zone 44 times in 125 games and averaged 13.4 yards per catch and posted back-to-back 1,000-yard seasons in 2010-11.

 

Bowe’s career really soured when he signed a one-year, $9 million deal to join the Cleveland Browns in 2015.  The washed-up vet produced five catches for 53 scoreless yards in seven games, which averaged $169,000 per yard.  The Browns released him in March 2016 and he has not played since.

 

It sounds like Bowe did end his career on a high note.  According to Kissel:  “Before he signed the contract, Bowe looked at coach Reid and said ‘”you don’t know what this means to me and my family.”  Cool moment as Reid then told him they still have a route in the playbook named after him.

 

AFC NORTH

 

BALTIMORE

The Ravens have added a pair of vets, one on each side of the ball.  Kevin Patra of NFL.com:

 

The Baltimore Ravens are taking a flyer on some much-needed edge rushing help.

 

The Ravens announced Friday that they have signed Shane Ray.

 

The Denver Broncos’ former first-round pick entered the NFL in 2015 with high upside as an edge disruptor, but he disappointed and struggled through injuries in four seasons in the Mile High city. The Broncos declined his fifth-year option as a first-round pick a year ago.

 

An athletic edge rusher with bend, Ray couldn’t stay on the field in Denver and didn’t take advantage of one-on-one matchups opposite Von Miller. After a breakout 2016 campaign in which he played all 16 games for the only time in his career and generated eight sacks, it’s all been downhill for Ray. He played in just 19 total tilts over the past two seasons and generated just two sacks (one in each season).

 

Perhaps a fresh start in a new system will help unleash the potential many scouts saw in the Missouri product when he entered the league.

 

Landing in Baltimore is a good spot for Ray to earn a chance to prove he belongs. Not only are the Ravens famous for churning out edge rushing talent, they have a massive hole at the position. Ray should provide depth in Baltimore and could compete for an increased role as the season progresses. The upside is big for the Ravens if Ray can stay healthy and finally reach his peak.

 

He won’t be Baltimore’s lone reclamation project. The Ravens signed journeyman wide receiver Michael Floyd, the team announced. Per NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport, Floyd will join the squad on a one-year deal. He caught 10 passes last year for the Redskins. The former first-round pick will be playing for his fifth team since 2016.

 

AFC EAST

 

NEW ENGLAND

Should any and every NFL player, coach, official, etc. who engages in transactional sex face severe discipline from NFL Justice?  Mike Florio:

 

As Patriots owner Robert Kraft moves toward the potential dismissal of pending solicitation of prostitution charges or (if the case actually goes to trial with most if not all of the key evidence against him suppressed) an acquittal, an important question looms.

 

What will the NFL do to Kraft?

 

It will be a delicate issue, given the league’s aggressive treatment of players who were never arrested or charged and the refrain that owners are held to a higher standard than players. But an examination of the plain language of the Personal Conduct Policy makes it difficult to find the basis for a violation, absent sufficient evidence under the league’s reduced standard that solicitation of prostitution occurred.

 

Without sufficient evidence of solicitation, Kraft at most engaged in consensual sexual activity in a private place that became not private because police were conducting an overly broad “sneak and peek” surveillance operation. Thus, without sufficient evidence of solicitation, what would the violation be? Although the policy speaks broadly in terms of integrity and character and values, consensual sexual activity is not prohibited.

 

Even if there were sufficient evidence of solicitation, it would be difficult to match the behavior to one of the 13 specific examples of prohibited conduct contained in the Personal Conduct Policy. The closest bullet point from the policy would be this one: “Assault and/or battery, including sexual assault or other sex offenses.”

 

Even then, the phrase “other sex offenses” appears as an example in the category of “assault and/or battery,” which arguably indicates that the bullet point in question encompasses only those “sex offenses” that would relate to an assault and/or battery.

 

The best argument for discipline, if there is sufficient evidence of solicitation, comes from the final bullet point contained in the policy, a catch-all that prohibits “[c]onduct that undermines or puts at risk the integrity of the NFL, NFL clubs, or NFL personnel.” There, the question becomes whether solicitation of prostitution “undermines or puts at risk the integrity” of the league, its teams, and league personnel.

 

Even if solicitation of prostitution amounts to a violation of the Personal Conduct Policy, the league would have to prove that solicitation happened. How would the league do that? If Kraft denies that he solicited sexual favors (in other words, that he promised specific payment of money for sex in advance of sex being provided), how would the league show that he did it? The video — which may never be available at all to the league — proves that sexual activity happened; it doesn’t prove the sex was solicited. Absent cooperation from the person who performed the sexual favors, the league could have a very difficult time finding that solicitation happened.

 

Think of it this way. If a player were exonerated of solicitation under these same facts, he’d most likely face no discipline at all. But that important point would quickly become lost in the cacophony of players, fans, and media calling for discipline given that players have been disciplined without ever being arrested or charged. However, those players (e.g., Ezekiel Elliott and Kareem Hunt) were accused of engaging in misconduct involving violence. Kraft faces no such allegations.

 

Then again, he’s an owner and the league likes to say that owners are held to a higher standard. Still, what is the higher standard for an owner when the standard for a player in an identical situation would result in no discipline?

 

That eventually will be the biggest challenge for the Commissioner, whose past zeal when it comes to disciplining players who never faced criminal jeopardy will make it very difficult to sell to the players and to the public a literal interpretation and application of the relevant rules when it comes to an owner who technically may not have done enough to violate the policy, but who as a practical matter may not be able to escape the P.R. underpinnings of the Personal Conduct Policy.

 

And that’s typically how it works. Regardless of what the policy provides, the league does what it wants in order to accomplish that which it thinks it needs in order to advance the league’s P.R. interests. So even if Kraft could make a persuasive and compelling argument that the Personal Conduct Policy does not apply in cases of this nature, the league will try to find a way to discipline him, if the league believes that discipline is necessary to avoid an inevitable storm of bad press.

 

 

NEW YORK JETS

Christopher Johnson has been running the Jets like his own personal fiefdom while his brother serves at the Court of St. James.  But Mike Florio of ProFootballTalk.com says Woody Johnson will presumably be taking back the reins at some point.

 

As the Jets search for a new General Manager, an important dynamic hovers over the franchise.

 

Christopher Johnson has managed the team in the absence of his brother, Woody, who serves as the U.S. ambassador to the United Kingdom. At some point, Woody Johnson won’t be serving in that role. Thus, at some point, Woody will be back.

 

So what happens when Woody comes home, whenever that may be?

 

Unless he’s comfortable with assuming an Owner Emeritus role and letting Christopher continue to run the team, Woody may decide sooner or later (or sooner than later) that he’s not comfortable with the personalities who are managing the team, whoever they may be at the time. The personalities managing the team likewise may not be comfortable with him.

 

Of course, it also could work out just fine, too. But it definitely will rearrange the franchise’s furniture, and not everyone may be thrilled with the new positioning of the couch and chairs.

 

The best way to ensure that Woody won’t make wholesale changes (if he returns within the next year or two) would be for the new power structure, however it ends up, to win as many games as possible. And through all the recent dysfunction, that could happen. The hay that will become the 2019 roster essentially is in the barn, and the development of second-year quarterback Sam Darnold will be much more relevant to the team’s fortunes than the churning of the bottom of the 90-man roster through Labor Day weekend and, at that point, the refinement to 53 (35-40 of them will be obvious).

 

If coach Adam Gase can hit the ground sprinting with Darnold and Le’Veon Bell fueling the offense and a defense that will experience a major kick in the ass from coordinator Gregg Williams, the Jets could thrive quickly. And that would go a long way toward making both/either Johnson far more inclined to stay the course — even if Woody ends up being far less enamored personally with Adam Gase than Woody was with Rex Ryan.

– – –

Vegas oddsmakers expect the Patriots to be favored in 15 of their 16 games this year.  Nick Goss of NBC Sports Boston:

 

The New England Patriots are coming off their sixth Super Bowl championship, and oddsmakers in Las Vegas don’t think the team’s dominance is going to end anytime soon.

 

Oddsmakers have pegged the Patriots at 11 victories on the latest NFL win totals, the highest number of any team. New England also is tied with the Kansas City Chiefs at 6/1 odds as co-favorites to win Super Bowl LIV in Miami.

 

CG Technology in Las Vegas has released its spreads for every team’s 16 regular season games in 2019, and the Patriots are favored in nearly all of theirs. The lone game in which New England is an underdog is a Week 11 matchup on the road against the Philadelphia Eagles. The Pats are +1, although this line, as well as the others, will change as the season unfolds and teams improve/get worse.

 

@sportstalkmatt

 Here is the entire @Patriots schedule ATS for 2019 @CGTechnology_ @PushingTheOdds … they are favorites in every single game except one at Philly #nfl

 

It should be noted the Week 17 game at home against the Miami Dolphins is not listed, because as of this writing there’s no spread for it.

 

It’s not hard to figure out why the Patriots are favored in so many games, even in those matchups outside of Gillette Stadium. The Pats haven’t won fewer than 10 games since 2002 and their last season with fewer than 11 victories was 2009. New England also has the second-easiest 2019 regular season schedule based on its opponents’ 2018 win percentages.

 

The Patriots also are a good team against the spread overall. They were 12-7 against the spread last season, which includes a 3-0 ATS record in the playoffs, per TeamRankings.com. New England also was one of seven teams with a winning ATS record as a favorite at 11-7. Since 2003, the Patriots’ 171-115-7 ATS mark (playoffs included) is the best in the league.

 

So as the DB figures it, with a 10% handling fee, if you had bet $100 on the Patriots in all 293 games since 2003, or $32,230 in bets, you would be up $4,350