NFL Mock Draft guru Xavier Cromartie and I (RC) recently published a daily series we do about this time every year – a computer simulation of the upcoming NFL season based on our inputs on the talent levels of the rosters, the schedule challenge/interpretations, etc.
Now, we are publishing our annual post-simulation chat about each division in the NFL -- looking at our differences and asking various questions about teams in the division. Sometimes we agree, sometimes we’re far apart.
We’ll be publishing our chat, done via email, division-by-division each day and soon after we’ll be publishing our ‘Top 3’ over/under win total bets with a fictitious $1,000 to spend on the three teams and seeing how we do after the season. We’ve both been ‘over/under’ winners for a couple of years now…you could make money following our ideas. Or just sit back and enjoy the free discussion and debate of ideas.
Please note, we were emailing back and forth. There might/will be typos, grammar things, abbreviations…but they’re limited, and you’ll be able to follow just fine, but note this is the raw transcript of our discussions…
NFC South (RC)
NO …. 10 - 6 = 0.625
ATL … 8 - 8 = 0.500
CAR … 5 - 11 = 0.313
TB …. 5 - 11 = 0.313
NFC-S (XC) W L .PCT
y-NO … 11 - 5 = 0.688
ATL … 7 - 9 = 0.438
CAR … 7 - 9 = 0.438
TB … 6 - 10 = 0.375
RC: We have almost the identical records for the teams in the NFC South, and in the same order of finish. Not a ton of differences to discuss. So, a couple eclectic NFC South questions...
(1) If every team but the Saints has a losing record, do you believe Dan Quinn and Ron Rivera would be fired at season's end?
(2) If Drew Brees got hurt and gone for the season right before Week 1, who wins the NFC South?
(3) Will Bruce Arians turn Tampa in a few years or this going to end in a disaster?
XC: I think Dan Quinn is feeling a bit of heat, because people have expectations of the Falcons. They've been progressively worse over the last three seasons. Mike Smith took the Falcons to the playoffs repeatedly but then he was fired after two bad seasons. It's easy to see a potential repeat here, especially if the defense doesn't improve. I'm not sure it will improve much. It's the same guys but they're uninjured at the moment. And while Julio Jones is still good, I'd worry about the possibility that he's going to start breaking down here at age 30.
Ron Rivera could also be in trouble. David Tepper is not used to losing. His patience will run out if the Panthers keep losing, and Tepper will put his own guy in for the long-term. But he'll give Rivera a fair chance. It should be a red flag that Rivera just figured out that their ancient 4-3 defense doesn't work anymore. Now that they're utilizing more 3-4 principles and signed Gerald McCoy, there is no excuse for failure. If they don't know how to execute defense properly in today's game, then they have to clean house.
These two teams are almost even for me. I projected both teams 7-9, but they're more likely to do better than that instead of worse. I'll say that the Falcons have a slight edge with more reliability at QB and better DBs.
Bruce Arians is a decent coach. I don't know what he's supposed to do with their roster though. It's an incredible waste of receiving talent. They're stuck with a mediocre QB and a defense that never gets better. But they did draft a bunch of defenders. Maybe some of them will work out. I like Jamel Dean if he's healthy but I'm still trying to figure out what Sean Bunting offers other than speed. I wouldn't totally dismiss the Bucs. They started the 2018 season with legitimate wins over the Saints and Eagles. It showed what they could do with a real QB. Ultimately, it's Winston who is holding them back.
RC: Do you think 2019 is the end of Jameis Winston? If he bombs/is mediocre this season...he's out of excuses and a contract. And then Tampa Bay has more QB rebuilding and Arians has shown he needs a veteran QB, because he cannot find them or groom them among the youngsters. Them not taking a mid-draft QB this year is a dereliction of duty/proves they are one of the worst run teams in the league. At least, put some heat on the QB whose contract runs out/have a Plan B.
They enter 2019 with the 1-2 punch of Winston-Barber, and didn't do anything in the draft to address it -- it's all on Arians who runs the show while the GM bows down to him five-times a day. I think they're both gone at the end of 2020.
Dan Quinn caught a tough break with his whole defense going down last year. If the team is relatively healthy and they have a losing record, I'm guessing he's done.
I thought Tepper might make a move on Rivera at the end of last season's collapse. A losing season this year, and I do think he's done...and then the 'Cam question' will have to be dealt with. I could see Winston trying to find work as a backup in 2020, while the Panthers shop Cam around.
I'd probably take the Saints to win the AFC South if Brees was gone...Bridgewater could lead them, I think.
XC: The Bucs are one of the teams that likely will be looking at the top QBs in the 2020 draft. Most people are already penciling in Tua Tagovailoa to the Dolphins, unless the Raiders get the #1 pick. Since the Giants and Redskins already have their new QBs, the Raiders and Bucs are probably looking at Justin Herbert and Jake Fromm, as it stands right now. I wonder if the Titans and Bucs would be open to swapping Mariota for Winston as both of their contracts run out. Eli Manning will be the only other realistic free agent option available, but he'll probably stay a Giant or retire. I agree that the Bucs could have easily drafted Will Grier from this draft and potentially found a solution (and caused a QB problem for their division rival, the Panthers).
I think that it's disrespectful to Drew Brees to think that the Saints could do anything without him. He's so good and so valuable there. It's very easy to argue that he throws the most accurate passes in the league. If the Saints had put together just a little better team around Brees, I'd put them in the Super Bowl again. But Teddy Bridgewater is weak and scared. He doesn't generate offense. They'd be at least five games worse without Brees, maybe more. Their 10-11 projected wins would turn into 5-6.
RC: My non-Brees prediction/throwaway line...is more a comment on the state of the NFC South after the Saints/a respect for the Saints roster outside of Brees. I should say a Taysom Hill/Bridgewater combo would win the NFC South.
It's so crazy -- the Saints really should've/could've been in the last two Super Bowls and be considered one of the teams of the decade (had they gone and won) but two crazy plays makes them a 'good' team not a great one. They are running out of time...another 'blunder'/unlucky year and they may have missed the window.
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