2014 AFC Quick Hits — Bet on, bet against, avoid.


I wouldn’t be writing off the Gus Bradley and the Jags this year.

Let’s wrap up our previews with the AFC today.  We’ll use the same format as used for the NFC and all the CFB teams:  grouping the teams into buckets of ‘bet on,’ ‘bet against,’ and ‘avoid.’  We aren’t too too concerned with predicting records or playoff slots; we are very concerned with profitable performances against spreads.

Steve Sarkisian era has begun at USC.  Take notice.

Steve Sarkisian era has begun at USC. Take notice.

I’ll use a lot of the same sources for reference (the Kanick Reader previews, PFF, Ourlads) but am tending to discount the Vegas Insider pieces.  I see them parroting the same old “Manziel will start game four” jive.  I like my analysts to be watching games, not Skip Bayless.

Along those lines, it’s important to remember that these are baseline ‘buckets’ subject to alteration.  Or in other words, my CFB buckets were a disaster in week one:

  • “Bet against” was 27-17 ATS;
  • “Avoid,” 10-10;
  • “Bet on,” 22-28-2.

Oh yes, I see you Oklahoma State and USC and even you UTEP; we’re moving you into new buckets.  On the other hand, BYU and MissySt and Illinois… you look reliable.  More on that — and a whole re-bucketing post — in a week or so.

For today, let’s establish a baseline for the AFC.

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AFC East

We'll see if the Bills get anything out of Kouandijo.

We’ll see if the Bills get anything out of Kouandijo.

Bills — While I’m not an EJ Manuel fan, he’s been better than I expected.  He was a turnover machine at FSU and I thought he was a big reach as a first round pick… but in the games I saw him play last year, his poise was better.  I like Marrone as a coach.  Seantrel Henderson looked good in the pre-season games I saw (two), I might need to re-think the long standing bias against him going back to his idiotic recruiting saga — I think he committed to four schools (USC, OSU, Minny and finally Miami).  On the other hand, Cyrus Kwonjo is playing to form.  Sammy Watkins will make a catch and I will loathe Browns twitter.  The Bills always play hard.  Their record won’t be great but they’ll cover and they do play in a rubbish division.
Bet on.

Dolphins — As iffy as the Barky Mingo is,,, Dion Jordan.  Suspended for four games for using performance enhancers (stimulants).  Given that year’s third overall pick couldn’t unseat Olivier Vernon with PEDs… seems unlikely that he’ll do so after he returns and is without PEDs.  Good news is that this year’s first round pick — Juwan James — is moving right in at starting RT and seems to be doing well.  Miami wasn’t supposed to be much of a team last year either and there they are 8-8 (9-7 ATS).
Bet on.

One super-genius move too many, Professor Belichick.

One super-genius move too many, Professor Belichick.

Pats — Count me with Sam Monson from PFF who loosed a shitstorm of Boston-accented hate with the simple, straightforward — and to my eye, correct — observation that Tom Brady is no longer a top five QB.  Brady has always been a liitle prone to happy feet but a decent line and quick reads/releases made it a non-issue.  But since the knee injury, he REALLY doesn’t like the pocket collapsing and it’s figure to do so more often this year without Logan Mankins.  Talk about a ‘smartest guy in the room’ trade.  How else to explain shipping out the Pats’ best lineman and still a top 10 OG last year?  Layer on that Brady is pissed about it and this year a year removed from his being pissed about the Welker jettison and you’ve got a minor shit show happening.  A possible unravelling.  They wanted Mankins to take a pay cut so they can sign Darrell Revis?  That’s the same sort of esprit-de-corps sucking move that the Jets did when they dumped Thomas Jones for Thomlinson.
Bet against.

Jets — Geno Smith is the worst QB in the league and it is not close.  What a pathetic joke.  I hope Sanchez winds up starting for Eagles and takes them to the Super Bowl.  As gross as their offense is, the defense is that excellent.  Best defense in the league and it’s a little closer (with Seahawks) but if you consider the Jets defense does what they do for an offense so dreadful, it makes them the best.


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AFC North


I loved Ricky Wagner (#58) from way back.

Ravens — How the hell did Ricky Wagner last until the fifth round in 2012 for Ravens to take him?  How?  Welp he’s starting at RT.  They got Eugene Monroe to stick around.  Keleche Osemele is looking like a good guard for years to come and they already have Yanda.  I mean they’ve lost Brik, Grubbs, McKinnie, Oher and are pretty much rebuilt.  I can do the same on defense.. how do they get Daryl Smith and Chris Canty.  CJ Mosely is rated third most likely DPOY by Bovada.  He’s looking good in camp and will start at weak side LB and no one in Maryland will remember who Paul Kruger was until they boo him in game three.  Jernigan will wind up being a contributor early, Steve Smith will have gas left in the tank, Pierce/Rice will be very good these are the god damn Ravens and life is not fair and Campanero will beat us.
Bet on.

Titans Camp Football

As good as Ray Farmer’s draft was… he let Gomer here be a factor in a first round draft pick.

Bengals — It’s still Dalton.  We have gushed over the excellent Bengals roster many times.  As long as they have Dalton
Bet against.

Browns — Lookit when your hick owner is talking with your hick QB coach about taking a 5-11 QB in the first round in a league where there is only one other 6-0 QB… and then they do it… you’re going to get the dysfunction of a QB competition.  But now that nonsense is done we’ll see Hoyer revert to the form he was in last year before the injury.  Gordon wins his injunction.  Gilbert sits behind Skrine at start of season.  Bitonio >>>> Lauvao.  Tate >>>>>>>> McGahee.  Good value on the Browns all year.
Bet on.

Steelers — Jarvis Jones has not been very good.  I don’t think Shazier is going to be really that good:  He don’t tackle in the traditional sense, ie, bringing opponents to the ground.  These are problems.  The o-line figures to be much improved with Pouncey and DeCastro playing but when Kelvin Beachum is your LT I’m not buying into to your o-line.1 Ike Taylor and Troy Polomalu are both 50 this year.  But they had the best value pick in the draft with Dri Archer and Roethlisberger will always kill you.


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AFC South

The prince of the Sloan Conference.

The prince of the Sloan Conference.

Colts — That Barnwell is actually tripling down on his anti Andrew Luck lunacy figures to help keep the lines down and the ATS wins up.  Thanks Barnwell.  You can tell he’s really smart because he wears a zippered hoodie and is that a comb-over or a comb-down?  He wants you to know he doesn’t shower and let’s you make the call on whether or not he’s still in pajamas.  (Of course he is.)  He is:  The Least Interesting Man in the World.  Yall can read his shit if you want, as for me I’ll ignore the archetype blogger and watch Andrew Luck continue to win and Chuck Pagano continue to cover (55% ATS).  Reggie Wayne at 35 is still better than your WR.  Jack Mewhort looks to be starting; he was the top OSU player drafted this year.  So even after giving up their first round pick this year for failed RB they have a starter and several players on the roster out of this draft class.  That’s a hell of a lot better than Joe Banner’s 2013 draft so again, please, STFU Joe Banner.2  Did you know Zurlon Tipton made the team?
Bet on.

Titans — Remember when the Browns had the NFL’s slowest LB corps?  Well at that time I was all hot for Zach Brown because he was listed as a linebacker and he ran like a 4.45 40.  So I looked into him and the guy tackles like Usama Young.  He’s now the starting ILB for the Titans.  I want to like their o-line but Taylor Lewan did not win a starting spot… that’s a disappointment.  Their #1 receiver is slowish, shortish Kendall Wright.  On the plus side, Ken Whisenhunt.  Can you imagine his second interview in twelve months with Banner?  Now THAT is what our hacking community should work on procuring.  I saw some buzz about Mettenberger having a very good camp and maybe starting this year.  That wouldn’t be a bad thing in the long run as I like Mettenberger.  But that this is even up for discussion means..
Bet against.


Hopkins (#6) was always the Clemson WR I noticed.

Jags — Jags are a 4-12 team with a first round QB who was beat out by the “journeyman” veteran.  So why doesn’t every jack-ass on ESPN, NFLN, SBNation, SI and/or hundreds of wanna-be experts with internet access rake Gus Bradley over the coals for botching the QB competition?3 Anyway… I love Gus Bradley.  I can’t remember if he turned down an interview with Banner or passed on the Browns after meeting with them but whatever, Joe Banner didn’t hire him.  On the plus side, Joe Banner also didn’t fire him in less than a year.  Over achieving team here.
Bet on.

Texans —  And finally Bill OBrien also didn’t want to talk with Banner.   Twice.  Texans probably should’ve taken Bortles as the Kanick Reader Mock recommended.  They’re in bad shape at QB as evidenced by the Ryan Mallett trade.  Mallett really looked not good in pre-season.  The Texans have Fitzpatrick-Mallett-Savage at QB.  Seems a shame to waste Andre Johnson and DeAndre Hopkins on them, too bad the Browns can’t borrow them.
Bet against.

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AFC West


Nope, this didn’t happen. Might be wishing it did in the next month.

Raiders — Derek Carr is starting for dead arm Matt Schaub.4 That’s Mack, Carr, and Gabe Jackson in the first three rounds of what is shaping up to be an uncharacteristically productive draft for the Raiders.  Bluedog’s analysis was on mark for dinging the Veldheer and Houston losses.  Dennis Allen is 40% ATS.  But I really like them and I find the Raiders always surprise.  How bout we keep a close eye on this team and until then,

Broncos — Wow what an off-season.  Signed or re-signed – Fox, Elway, ESanders, Talib, Ward, Ware, Austin.  And Von Miller is healthy.  The question in front of us:  are they a bet-on team when they’ll be laying two TDs every game?  They averaged 38 points/game last year, that’s more than ten points more the the #2 team (Philly).
Bet on.

Chiefs — Hey I like Alex Smith.  You know.. notable front office genius Joe Banner could have signed Smith last year with the cap space Heckert left him and still overpaid for an underproducing redundant rush linebacker.  This team does not wow me.  No notable FA acquisitions.  Last year’s #1 overall looks shaky.  I love Auburn but never thought Dee Ford was special or a first rounder.  And the capper was drafting notable layer-downer-in-biggest-game-when-things-got-tough DeAnthony Thomas.5 The defense is great but they’re starting Junior Hemingway (#96 of 111 WRs in PFF gradings) and Donnie Avery (#105 of 111).   I just don’t see it here.
Bet against.

KC's WRs are not great.

KC’s WRs are not great.

Chargers — The team nobody knows or sees.  They’re the AFC’s Cardinals.  Philip Rivers really turned it around last year.  I wonder if he was really on the outs and whether he might’ve listened to a recruiting pitch from Norv last year.  Thanks to Heckert, the cash was a available if the interest was there.  We’ll never know this but, damn, Rivers would’ve been nice.  I digress.  Really didn’t do much I liked in the off-season:  no real help for a pretty weak pass blocking o-line.  Got a short CB in the first round (not starting) and followed with an OLB in the second who is buried behind Ingram and Freeney.  I hate stuff like that.  But another Joe Banner non-hire, Mike McCoy, got his team to the playoffs in his first year.  The trajectory is nothing but up for the Chargers.
Bet on.

Alright, you can find the buckets here and we’ll keep an eye on how this exercise works out. Back tomorrow with the Cheddar Bay thread. If you haven’t signed up it is not even close to too late and you probably should.

  1. This is also an indictment of 2nd round pick Mike Adams. [back]
  3. A:  Because national experts are generally not that smart and/or click bait drives the hot-take generation machine. [back]
  4. Oh yes, you can bank on Derek Carr being a better QB than Manziel.  Ditto Garropolo. [back]
  5. How’s the Black Mamba branding going, DAT?  lol. [back]
  • nj0

    I’m surprised you’re so up on the Bills. They’re sort of my second team and this year has disaster written all over it.

    I agree that EJ has been better than expected, but I don’t think that’s saying much considering where most of us placed the bar. Put his 2013 numbers up next to Jason Campbell… they’re nearly identical. He needs to make some major leaps. And even if he does, he has to stay healthy. Never a good sign when you’re signing Kyle Orton as your #2 at the end of camp and your number one is a QB with bum knees.

    On offense – added Watkins, but lost Johnson
    On defense – lost Byrd, lost Kiko, lost Pettine

    More than any of that, the trade for Watkins just reeks of a desperate front office. Wilson dies, new ownership moving in, need a winner now, so do something ANYTHING to make us a winner… We’ve seen that mentality here before. Even when it backs you into a good decision (Josh Gordon and possibly Watkins), it most likely means the other decisions you’re making aren’t that well thought out (Trent Richardson, Brandon Weeden). Lame duck front office and coach = bad times. Hope I’m wrong.

  • Petefranklin

    Footnote #2 , pure awesomeness!!

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