cnotes Posts:24202 Followers:32
06/14/2013 05:50 PM

NFL Top 3: Pass-happy teams looking to run more

The NFL is rapidly becoming a pass-happy league, with scores and totals reaching an all-time high. But no matter how far your quarterback can throw the ball, there is still two sides to the offensive playbook.

Running the football isn’t just about setting up big plays and eating the clock and these three teams are trying to prove it by adding a steady dose of ground to their air-it-out attacks this season. With that in mind, over/under bettors should keep close tabs on their totals, as a potent injection of the rushing game can keep scores low and under the number.

Green Bay Packers (2012: 11-5 SU, 8-8 O/U)

Pass offense: Ninth (253.1 ypg)
Run offense: 20th (106.4 ypg)

The Packers rushed for just over 106 yards per game last season, good for 20th in the league. Green Bay’s RB depth chart was a game of musical chairs, moving in guys like Ryan Grant, Cedric Benson, James Starks and Alex Green. Aaron Rodgers had to do some of the tough sledding himself, finishing second on the team in rushing.

The Cheeseheads feel much better about their ground game this season. They drafted Eddie Lacy and Johnathan Franklin and head coach Mike McCarthy told NFL.com there will be vast improvements to Green Bay’s running game. Don’t expect the Packers to air it out as much, at least not in the early going.

Dallas Cowboys (2012: 8-8 SU, 8-8 O/U)

Pass offense: Third (295.6 ypg)
Run offense: 31st (79.1 ypg)

The Cowboys ran the ball just 355 times in 2012. That ranked as the second fewest handoffs in the NFL and was a franchise low in rushing attempts. Part of the problem was an injury to RB DeMarco Murray, who missed six games in the middle of the schedule. The other issue was trigger-happy head coach Jason Garrett, who couldn’t help but let Tony Romo sling the ball on every snap.

The playbook has been plucked from Garrett’s clutches – we think – and turned over to new offensive coordinator Bill Callahan, who is a fan of the West Coast offense. While Callahan says he’s not straying too far from Garrett’s playbook, you can expect more touches for Murray and less long bombs in 2013.

Atlanta Falcons (2012: 13-3 SU, 5-11 O/U)

Pass offense: Sixth (281.8 ypg)
Run offense: 29th (87.3 ypg)

The Falcons have replaced one battering-ram RB with another, dumping Michael Turner for former Rams rusher Steven Jackson. However, it will be interesting to see how well Jackson does with defenses not stacking the box. Having a QB like Matt Ryan and a dangerous WR corps should keep opponents honest and give Jackson plenty of room, something he didn’t have in St. Louis.

According to Jeanna Thomas of The Falconholic, if you swapped out Jackson’s 2012 statistics with Turner’s, Atlanta’s run game would jump from 29th to 22nd overall. And that’s not considering Jackson’s ability to make gains on the screen pass. Early chatter out of camp is that the 30-year-old dreadlocked downhill runner looks like a 22 year old. If that’s the case, the Falcons could continue to play under the total with new life in the ground game.

Always remember the 3 G's Girls,Golf, Gambling not in any particular order......:2thumbs:
cnotes Posts:24202 Followers:32
06/18/2013 11:44 AM

NFL Games of the Year: Don't forget about Saints in New England

Odds are out for the biggest and best games of the upcoming NFL season. Covers Expert Steve Merril gives you his insight into some of these marquee matchups and predicts where the odds could move before kickoff.

NFL Week 6: New Orleans Saints at New England Patriots (-7)

Early look at the Saints: New Orleans was without head coach Sean Payton last season and his return in 2013 will rejuvenate this Saints team. New Orleans is a forgotten team but it will be extremely dangerous, especially if its defense reverts back to its previous form. The Saints were underdogs seven times last season, going 3-4 ATS.

Early look at the Patriots: New England is the same team year in and year out. The Patriots simply win double-digit games while their potent offense scores a ton of points. Expect more of the same this season from QB Tom Brady & Co. as their season win total is currently 11.5 at most shops.

Where this line will move: The Saints will be playing on a back-to-back road set in New England, so they are in a small scheduling disadvantage. However, the public likes to back high-scoring underdogs, so this line may dip below a touchdown.

Always remember the 3 G's Girls,Golf, Gambling not in any particular order......:2thumbs:
cnotes Posts:24202 Followers:32
06/20/2013 11:01 AM

NFL Games of the Year: Broncos big faves with RG3 in town

Odds are out for the biggest and best games of the upcoming NFL season. Covers Expert Matt Fargo gives you his insight into some of these marquee matchups and predicts where the odds could move before kickoff.

NFL Week 8: Washington Redskins at Denver Broncos (-9)

Past History: Washington 2-1 SU, 3-0 ATS, 2-1 O/U since 2001

Early look at the Redskins: All eyes will be on the return of Robert Griffin III and how his knee will hold up after injuring it in last year's playoffs. Washington was the surprise team out of the NFC, closing the regular season with seven straight wins before blowing a 14-0 lead against Seattle in the wildcard round. The NFC East will be tough again but a healthy defense could keep the Redskins in the postseason.

Early look at the Broncos: While not many expected the Broncos to contend last season, Peyton Manning made sure that wasn't the case. After a 2-3 start, Denver went on to win its last 11 regular season games but was upset in the divisional round of the playoffs against Baltimore as a 9.5-point home favorite. The Broncos are one of the favorites again in the AFC and overwhelming favorites to win the AFC West.

Where this line will move: This game does not take place until Week 8 so a lot of the line movement will be dictated by what each team does coming into this game. The Broncos will again be the public darling which could force an even higher line.

Always remember the 3 G's Girls,Golf, Gambling not in any particular order......:2thumbs:
cnotes Posts:24202 Followers:32
06/21/2013 10:09 AM

NFL Games of the Year: Packers getting points in Week 11

Odds are out for the biggest and best games of the upcoming NFL season. Covers Expert Matt Fargo gives you his insight into some of these marquee matchups and predicts where the odds could move before kickoff.

NFL Week 11: Green Bay Packers at New York Giants (-1.5)

Past History: New York 3-2 SU, 4-1 ATS, 4-1 O/U since 2008

Early look at the Packers: Green Bay started slow but finished strong to win its second straight NFC North title last year. The Packers are sizable favorites to repeat as division champions but even after winning 11 games, their preseason win total is set at 10 (-120). That may be considered a lack of respect for some but one look at the brutal schedule will tell the story why.

Early look at the Giants: After winning the Super Bowl two years ago, expectations were high for the Giants going into last season. And after a 6-2 start, things were looking good until a 3-5 finish left them home for the playoffs. They are slight favorites to win the NFC East but it will once again be a wide-open division. Still, we should see an improvement from their 9-7 record from lat year, albeit not a huge one.

Where this line will move: This game takes place late in the season, so the line could go either way based on the records of each team coming in. This is a Sunday night game, though, and the home team usually gets the betting love.

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Prop betting value behind Peterson to win NFL rushing title

Believe it or not, Adrian Peterson was a +1,200 long shot to win the NFL’s rushing title in 2012. The Minnesota Vikings RB was coming off surgery to repair a torn ACL and MCL in his knee and was a question mark heading into Week 1.

Peterson proved there was plenty of tread on the tires, rushing for 2,097 yards – coming nine yards short of breaking Eric Dickerson’s single-season rushing record – and earned MVP honors, which is why oddsmakers have “All Day” tabbed as a +350 favorite to lead the league in rushing again in 2013.

But with such one-sided odds in favor of Peterson, value opens up behind him on the NFL prop board. Here are three running backs providing solid betting value to lead the league in rushing this season.

C.J. Spiller, Buffalo Bills (+2,000)

Spiller had only 207 carries in 2012 –22nd in the NFL – but finished eighth in total rushing yards. He split the load with Fred Jackson and had to watch Ryan Fitzpatrick bring drives to a screeching halt with a passing attack ranked 29th in the league. With the Bills settling between Kevin Kolb and rookie E.J. Manuel at QB, Spiller should finally be utilized as Buffalo’s No. 1 – and perhaps only – option on offense.

Alfred Morris, Washington Redskins (+1,000)

Morris had one hell of a rookie season, exploding on to the scene to finish second behind Peterson in rushing yards (1,613). He had just four games in which he failed to crack the 80-yard plateau, with Washington going 2-3 SU and ATS in those outings. They were 6-1 ATS when he topped the century mark on the ground. With Robert Griffin III taking it easy on his wonky knee, Morris could see even more touches in the backfield.

Chris Johnson, Tennessee Titans (+1,200)

The man known as “CJ2K” has been a far cry from his 2,000-yard ‘10 campaign. Last year, Johnson limped out to just 45 yards in his first three games but still managed to finish with 1,243 yards on the season. If you drop Week 1-3, he rushed for an average of over 92 yards per game, which would be good enough for fifth last season. Word out of Titans camp is that Johnson is looking good and the addition of some new run-blockers on the line will help pave the road for another big year.

Here is the full list of prop odds for the NFL rushing leader in 2013 (Courtesy of 5Dimes.eu):

Adrian Peterson +350
Marshawn Lynch +650
Arian Foster +800
Alfred Morris +1000
Doug Martin +1000
Trent Richardson +1000
Chris Johnson +1200
Jamaal Charles +1200
Steven Jackson +1200
DeMarco Murray +1500
Lamar Miller +1500
Maurice Jones-Drew +1500
Matt Forte +1500
LeSean McCoy +1800
Ray Rice +1800
C.J. Spiller +2000
Darren McFadden +2000
Eddie Lacy +2000
Frank Gore +2000
David Wilson +2200
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Always remember the 3 G's Girls,Golf, Gambling not in any particular order......:2thumbs:
cnotes Posts:24202 Followers:32
06/26/2013 11:56 AM

NFL Games of the Year: G-Men Week 6 dogs in Chitown

Odds are out for the biggest and best games of the upcoming NFL season. Covers Expert Bruce Marshall gives you his insight into some of these marquee matchups and predicts where the odds could move before kickoff.

NFL Week 6, Thursday, October 10: New York Giants (+2.5) at Chicago

Past history: NYG 2-1 SU and ATS, 1-2 O/U in three meetings since 2006.

Early look at the Giants: New York’s stop unit fell apart down the stretch last season (especially vulnerable vs. the run) and cost Tom Coughlin's team a chance to defend its Super Bowl crown in the playoffs. Defensive coordinator Perry Fewell is thus desperately seeking some upgrades, and a playmaker to emerge in the front seven after DE Osi Umenyiora departed for the Falcons in free agency. QB Eli Manning remains a force on the attack end, but Coughlin is anxiously seeking some offensive balance, compounded by the fact the roster lacks a proven, heavy-duty RB heading into training camp.

Early look at the Bears: By this point in the season we should have a pretty good idea if the Chicago “O” has been upgraded by the presence of new HC Marc Trestman. Remember, the Bears targeted Trestman specifically for his offensive expertise and history as a QB tutor, with hopes that will translate into more consistency for Jay Cutler. Protecting “Midway Jay” was also a problem in the last meeting vs. the G-Men in 2010. Note that Chicago was only 3-7 vs. the line its last ten games at Soldier Field during the Lovie Smith regime.

Where this line will move: At the moment, Chicago appears to be the greater variable among these two, depending upon the impact Trestman has with the offense. If the Bears are winning and Cutler is putting up big numbers in the early weeks, rest assured the public will force the oddsmakers’ hands.

Always remember the 3 G's Girls,Golf, Gambling not in any particular order......:2thumbs:
cnotes Posts:24202 Followers:32
07/01/2013 06:04 PM

NFL Games of the Year: Books have different opinions on Ravens, Lions

Odds are out for the biggest and best games of the upcoming NFL season. Covers Expert Bruce Marshall gives you his insight into some of these marquee matchups and predicts where the odds could move before kickoff.

NFL Week 15: Baltimore Ravens at Detroit Lions (+1)

Past history: The teams split SU and ATS results in their last two meetings, played in 2005 and 2009. Both of those games went over the total as well. Both coaches (Baltimore’s John Harbaugh and Detroit’s Jim Schwartz) were on the job when the Ravens won the last meeting by a 48-3 score at M&T Bank Stadium in 2009.

Early look at the Ravens: We’ll see if the subtle adjustment made by offensive coordinator Jim Caldwell, allowing QB Joe Flacco more audible freedom after Cam Cameron’s December dismissal, keeps Flacco soaring as he was late last season when tossing 15 touchdowns and only one pick in the last seven games during the Ravens’ Super Bowl run. The gnarly defense has lost some familiar names (Ray Lewis, Ed Reed, Paul Kruger), but respected tactician Dean Pees should still be able to scheme effectively with a more versatile group of playmakers augmented by free-agent addition LB/DE Elvis Dumervil and a collection of well-regarded rookies featuring hard-hitting S Matt Elam (Florida) and LB Arthur Brown (Kansas State).

Early look at the Lions: By this point in the season, we should have a good idea if the under-fire Schwartz is going to be able to save his job. Or, if things have already gone pear-shaped at Ford Field, as they did a year ago when mental mistakes were rampant and morale was low, Schwartz could have walked the plank by this point. Detroit thinks it has enough offense to get back into the playoff mix, especially after the offseason addition of RB Reggie Bush. How defensive coordinator. Gunther Cunningham successfully juggles his stop unit personnel mix will be key. Top draft picks DE Ziggy Ansah and CB Darius Slay, plus free-agent addition FS Glover Quin, need to make immediate contributions.

Where this line will move: The oddsmakers have built in a slight downgrade for the Ravens, while anticipating a recovery from last year’s collapse by the Lions. Both notions could be flawed. Almost the entire regular season will have been played by this point and remember that each of Harbaugh’s first five Baltimore teams have not only made the playoffs but also won a game in the postseason. If the Ravens don’t dip as much as some believe, and the Lions continue on their self-destructive path, it’s easy to see this number moving considerably in Baltimore’s direction. At the moment, the tenuous situation involving Schwartz would seem to make Detroit a very risky future proposition as the season progresses.

Always remember the 3 G's Girls,Golf, Gambling not in any particular order......:2thumbs:
cnotes Posts:24202 Followers:32
07/03/2013 10:00 AM

NFL Games of the Year: Seahawks big faves with Vikes in town

Odds are out for the biggest and best games of the upcoming NFL season. Covers Expert Will Rogers gives you his insight into some of these marquee matchups and predicts where the odds could move before kickoff.

NFL Week 11: Minnesota Vikings at Seattle Seahawks (-8.5)

Past history: Minnesota is 3-2 SU, 3-2 ATS, Under is 3-2 since 2003.

Early look at the Vikings: After a somewhat surprising 10-6 season in 2012, the Vikings are expected to regress in 2013. Cantor Gaming opened with the Vikes season wins total listed at 7 over -120. They bring back Christian Ponder as their starting quarterback, but Percy Harvin has moved on to Seattle. They will replace Harvin with veteran Greg Jennings, but things don't look too promising for an offense that ranked 31st in the NFL in passing yards in 2012.

An Early look at the Seahawks: Seattle has a young and talented team that should only be better this year, with Russell Wilson having a year's experience under his belt, and Percy Harvin giving him a dangerous target. The Seahawks opening wins total was listed at 10 over -120 at Cantor and since then, money has come in on the over.

Where this line will move: A lot can happen in 11 weeks during the NFL season, and injuries could play a big role in where the line shifts. If the Vikings exceed expectations as they did last year, we could well see this line drop closer to 7.
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Always remember the 3 G's Girls,Golf, Gambling not in any particular order......:2thumbs:
cnotes Posts:24202 Followers:32
07/12/2013 01:14 AM

Agent's Take: Matt Ryan and other unfinished NFL business

July 11, 2013 10:50 am ET

NFL business comes to a standstill when mandatory mini-camps end in the middle of June. Things typically pick back up the week following the Fourth of July.

Two lucrative deals have been completed since business resumed. Restricted free agent Victor Cruz signed a six-year, $45.879 million contract (including $15.625 million in guarantees) with the New York Giants. Matthew Stafford received a three-year, $53 million contract extension (with $41.5 million in guarantees) from the Detroit Lions.

Here's a look at some key outstanding offseason business matters, most of which should be completed before training camps opening this month.


Matt Ryan's Contract Extension

Matt Ryan could be the next quarterback to benefit from the changing quarterback salary landscape. In addition to Stafford, Aaron Rodgers (five-year extension, $110 million, $54 million in guarantees), Joe Flacco (six years, $120.6 million, $52 million in guarantees) and Tony Romo (six-year extension, $108 million, $55 million in guarantees) have gotten new deals during the offseason. Ryan, who is scheduled to make $10 million in 2013, is entering the final year of the six-year rookie contract (worth up to $72 million with $34.75 million guaranteed) that he signed in 2008.

The Atlanta Falcons should have more of a sense of urgency for a new deal than Ryan. If Ryan plays out his contract, the Falcons will be required to use an exclusive franchise tag on him next year in order to prevent him from negotiating with other teams. It would be a huge risk to place a non-exclusive franchise tag on Ryan because a team potentially in dire need of a quarterback and expected to have an abundance of salary cap room in 2014, such as the Jacksonville Jaguars or Oakland Raiders, would be willing to give up two first-round picks by signing him to an offer sheet that the Falcons could have a hard time matching.

It might make sense for the Falcons to approach negotiations from how much it will cost to utilize exclusive franchise tags on Ryan if they haven't already. The exclusive franchise tag is preliminarily projected to be $19.266 million in 2014. It will be based on the average of the top-five quarterback salaries (i.e. salary cap numbers) in 2014 once the restricted free-agent signing period has ended May 2. The figure could be lower if quarterbacks (Romo, Eli Manning, Ben Roethlisberger, etc.) with the highest 2014 cap numbers restructure their 2014 contracts to create cap room for their clubs before the end of the franchise-player designation period (March 3). Based on the projected number, a second franchise tag for Ryan in 2015 would be $23,119,200, a 20-percent increase over his 2014 franchise number. Under this approach, the Falcons should be comfortable giving Ryan a five- or six-year contract extension averaging in the $20-million-per-year neighborhood with guarantees comparable to the ones contained in the other top quarterback deals recently signed.

Fortunately for Ryan, Falcons owner Arthur Blank has a history of paying quarterbacks toward the top of the market. Michael Vick signed a nine-year, $120.6 million (with a then-record $37 million in guarantees) contract extension near the end of the 2004 regular season. Vick only had one career playoff victory, just like Ryan, at his contract's signing. However, Vick hadn't led the Falcons to the NFC Championship Game as Ryan did last year.


Offsets In First-Round Contracts

Only three of the top 10 picks in the first round of the NFL Draft -- Luke Joeckel (second pick), Ziggy Ansah (fifth) and Tavon Austin (eighth) -- are under contract even though there are very few negotiable items with rookie deals after the 2011 collective bargaining agreement (CBA) created a rookie-wage scale. The four-year contracts mandated by the CBA for draft picks are fully guaranteed at the top of the first round (teams have an option for a fifth year with first-round picks that must be exercised after the third year of the deal).
More on offsets

The sticking point is whether the guarantees will have offsets. An offset clause reduces the guaranteed money that a team owes a player when he is released by the amount of his new deal with another team. Without an offset, the player receives his salary from the team that released him as well as the full salary from his new contract with another club. An offset should only come into play in the latter years of a rookie deal if the player hasn't lived up to expectations.

The first seven picks in the 2012 draft didn't have offsets with their guarantees. The ninth, 14th and 23rd picks also signed deals without offsets. The Miami Dolphins signing Ryan Tannehill, the eighth pick in 2012, to a contract containing offsets in each year was surprising considering quarterbacks are usually given favorable treatment in rookie contracts, particularly in the first round. Joeckel, Ansah and Austin do not have offsets in the fully-guaranteed, four-year contracts that they received from the Jaguars, Lions and St. Louis Rams respectively.

Dion Jordan and Lane Johnson, the third and fourth picks this year, might have the most difficult time of the remaining unsigned top 10 picks in avoiding offsets. The Dolphins have been adamant about offsets with Jordan because they don't want to set an unfavorable precedent in contract negotiations. The guarantees in the contracts signed during Miami's free agency spending spree -- including Mike Wallace's five-year, $60 million deal -- contained offsets. The Dolphins will try to convince Jordan to take a similar tradeoff as Tannehill in order to preserve their precedent. Tannehill received a better payment schedule on his signing bonus (first-round picks usually have some portion of their signing bonus deferred) and minimum base salaries in 2013 through 2015, with the rest of his annual compensation in sixth-day-of-training-camp roster bonuses.

Johnson has stated he only wants the same treatment as last year's fourth pick but doesn't want to hold out. The Philadelphia Eagles are sensitive to offsets because of Nnamdi Asomugha's 2011 deal, which made him the NFL's highest-paid cornerback. Four million of Asomugha's 2013 base salary was fully guaranteed without an offset. The Eagles released him in March after he refused to a take a substantial pay cut. Asomugha will receive $4 million from the Eagles and $1.35 million from the one-year contract that he subsequently signed with San Francisco 49ers this year because of the lack of an offset.

The rookie wage scale essentially eliminated rookie holdouts. The dispute over offset language could produce a couple of them.


The Franchise Player Negotiating Deadline

The eight players with franchise tags have until 4 p.m. ET next Monday to sign multi-year contracts. They must wait until the 2013 regular season ends to sign long-term deals once the deadline passes.

Ryan Clady has made the most progress of the franchise players on a long-term deal. According to Mike Klis of the Denver Post, Clady received a new offer from the Denver Broncos greater than the five-year, $50 million deal that he rejected before last season once negotiations resumed this week. Clady has been seeking a contract similar to the seven-year contract extension averaging $11.5 million per year (with $37 million in guarantees and an additional $3.5 million in Pro Bowl escalators) that now six-time Pro Bowl left tackle Joe Thomas signed with the Cleveland Browns in 2011.

Clady and Jairus Byrd (Buffalo Bills) have more options than the other six franchise players (Branden Albert, Michael Johnson, Pat McAfee, Henry Melton, Anthony Spencer and Randy Starks) because they haven't signed their respective $9.828 million and $6.916 million franchise tenders. The six signed players are subject to fines up to $30,000 for each day of training camp missed while Clady and Byrd can't be fined if they are still unsigned when camps open.

Clady and Byrd can only play for their own teams on one-year deals after the deadline but can still negotiate their salaries and other conditions regarding their franchise player status. They could insist on a clause that would prohibit their clubs from using a franchise or transition tag on them in 2014.

Giving prohibition clauses to Clady and Byrd wouldn't establish a new precedent for the Broncos or the Bills. Jason Elam received a prohibition clause from Denver in 2002 when he signed his franchise tender. Nate Clements also got one from Buffalo in 2006 as their franchise player.

Broncos contract negotiator Mike Sullivan should be able to appreciate why a franchise player would want a prohibition clause since he is a former agent. Chicago Bears negotiator Cliff Stein, who is also a former agent, gave Lance Briggs a conditional prohibition clause when he was franchised in 2007. Briggs' clause was triggered by him having at least 75 percent playtime on defense. Without the clauses, Clady and Byrd could be franchised in 2014 for $11,793,600 and $8,299,200 respectively.


Older Veteran Players

There are usually several veteran player signings right before training camps open and during the preseason. Most of those deals are one-year minimum salary benefit contracts. A player receives the league minimum base salary and a maximum of $65,000 as a signing bonus with these deals. The player's base salary counts on the cap at the $555,000 minimum salary for players with two years of service instead of at his actual base salary.

Jeff Faine got the most lucrative veteran free-agent contract during this timeframe last year. The Cincinnati Bengals gave Faine a one-year, $2 million deal (with an additional $250,000 in playtime incentives) late in preseason after starting center Kyle Cook suffered a severely sprained ankle.

Several notable veterans -- including John Abraham, Brandon Lloyd, Richard Seymour, Michael Turner and Eric Winston -- are still unsigned. Seymour has drawn interest from the Falcons but is ready to retire if his asking price isn't met. He reportedly wants $6 million to play this year. Abraham's $5 million per year price tag and demand of extensive playtime have turned off several teams including the Broncos, New England Patriots and Tennessee Titans. Justin Smith, who is 33 years old and has been named All-Pro the last two years, didn't help their cause when he signed a two-year, $9.1 million contract extension with the 49ers last month. Unless they drastically adjust their salary expectations, it might take a severe injury to a key defensive lineman in the preseason before a team is willing to seriously consider their salary demands.

Always remember the 3 G's Girls,Golf, Gambling not in any particular order......:2thumbs:
cnotes Posts:24202 Followers:32
07/12/2013 01:18 AM

2013 NFL training camp preview: Cleveland Browns

July 5, 2013 3:29 PM ET


With Norv Turner running the offense, could the Browns finally break into contention? With Norv Turner running the offense, could the Browns finally break into contention?

It's been a long time since the Browns entered a training camp free of concern or distractions and this one is no different. As the weeks go on, more troubling reports have surfaced about the conduct of executives at Pilot Flying J, the company run by new Browns owner Jimmy Haslam, and the financial state of affairs at that company. Haslam's non-football doings, his liquidity and any wrongdoing on his part in regard to Pilot Flying J will trump, say, embattled quarterback Brandon Weeden having a good day at camp.

2013 NFL TRAINING CAMP
Team previews, dates, locations

Browns fans always have something to fret over, and as the investigation unfolds and more findings and eventual charges and penalties come out, more questions will be asked of Haslam, and the NFL for that matter. What seemed like the dawn of a bright new era in Cleveland is now much more murky during Haslam's first full training camp in charge.


Key changes

The Browns cleaned out much of the building this offseason, overhauling the business operations, front office and coaching staff, with Joe Banner now running the show. And the clean-up job is quickly extending to the roster as well. It will take more than one offseason, but expect a continued influx of talent as the squad is remade.

Banner and GM Mike Lombardi knew that with this program so bad for so long, they would have to dig deep financially to get free agents to come to Cleveland and they did just that, looking within the division to nab young pass rusher Paul Kruger from Baltimore for $8 million a season. He will be counted on to provide immediate impact and work with guys like D'Qwell Jackson to keep quarterbacks under duress.

Of course it all starts at quarterback and this regime came in with low expectations for incumbent starter Brandon Weeden. To that end, they signed free agent quarterbacks Jason Campbell and Brian Hoyer, and I would not be surprised at all to see either, or both, of them to end up with more starts that Weeden by the end of the season.

The Browns traded for possession receiver Davone Bess. Still in need of weapons, acquired back Dion Lewis for linebacker Emmanuel Acho, and also added free agent tight end Kellen Davis, linebacker Quentin Groves, and receiver David Nelson. They're hoping for big things from defensive lineman Desmond Bryant as well and believe they have a monster pass rusher on the way in first-round pick Barkevious Mingo.

As for key departures, Josh Cribbs was a record-setting return man for the team but has slowed in recent years and was battling injuries as well. Veteran linebacker Scott Fujita, a team leader, was forced to retire due to a neck condition, and linebacker Chris Gocong was released. Backup Colt McCoy, who lacked arm strength and never seemed like a good fit given the geographic realities of Cleveland, was dealt to the 49ers. Former top kicker Phil Dawson is gone, as are defensive linemen Frostee Rucker and tight end Ben Watson.

The biggest changes though are at head coach, with Rob Chudzinski in place, and new coordinators in Norv Turner and Ray Horton, giving the team very strong men with ample experience running both sides of the ball. And with a completely new set of eyes evaluating talent, including personnel man Ray Farmer, there is as much sel- scouting going on, sorting out this perennially last-place roster, as there is piecing through every other roster in the league looking for new parts.


Position battles

Position battles don't come any bigger than a quarterback competition, but we'll have one here as the preseason plays out. Weeden will need to show a quick grasp of this system and avoid the kind of mistakes that plagued him as 2012 rolled on. Lombardi has long had a feeling that Hoyer could be a diamond in the rough. He has many of the attributes he looks for in a quarterback. Campbell has a big arm and has been plagued by bad luck as much as anything else.

Does anyone emerge as anything close to a No. 1 receiver from this bunch? Josh Gordon and Greg Little have shown flashes, but neither is polished or seemingly ready to be a consistent go-to guy. The guard positions are up in the air a bit as well. Shawn Lauvao and Jason Pinkston will battle at left guard, while John Greco and Jarrod Shaw are part of the group vying for the right guard spot.

With Trent Richardson's health already an issue, as he enters just his second year, the battle between running backs like Montario Hardesty and Lewis will be interesting as well, with plenty of snaps up for grabs early in camp to see who gets the jump on being the backup/occasional starter, given Richardson's status.


New schemes

The Browns are totally changing their identity on both sides of the ball.

Turner may be the best playcaller in the NFL. He is a quarterback guru, and his entire focus is on the offense now without having to coach the entire team. That will free Chudzinski up to handle macro issues. The Browns offense has nowhere to go but up. Campbell throws a helluva a deep ball, which Turner loves, and could lead to him grabbing this job. The Browns have to find ways to stretch teams out, and I suspect Richardson's touches will be monitored more closely by Turner as well.

This team, while still lacking playmakers, won't be as predictable offensively any longer.

On defense, Horton's 3-4 hybrid scheme is much more aggressive than what the Browns ran under Dick Jauron. Expect much more pre-snap movement and varied looks. He will bring pressure from all over, and that should only aid a secondary with question marks outside of stud corner Joe Haden.


Bubble watch

Weeden was a first-round pick just a year ago, but he might not be long for Cleveland. If Campbell and Hoyer take off quickly, perhaps Weeden could be trade bait. He will be the most talked about Brown during camp, by far. He certainly is fighting for his job. The Browns did most of their purging already early in the offseason, trying to bring in younger bodies to fight for depth spots.
Unheard-of-guy to watch

Mitchell Schwartz enters his second year as a starting right tackle in Cleveland, but like many recent picks of the former regime, he will be watched very closely. The Browns couldn't upgrade at every spot in the offseason, but nailing down bookend tackles will be imperative when you look at the edge rushers division foes Baltimore, Pittsburgh and Cincinnati have to offer, And Schwartz had his share of difficulty in his rookie campaign.


Biggest concerns

Anytime your first-year owner has his business raided by the feds, on multiple occasions, it's never ideal. There are worries about how far the probe into Jimmy Haslam's truck stop company could go to eventually impacting the cash flow of the Browns, and whether or not his tenure at the helm could ultimately be cut short because of it.

It's not something the front office is concerning itself with -- they have enough work to do just trying to turn around the lagging franchise -- but the timing, for Haslam, could hardly be worse.

Cleveland still lacks talent on offense and, besides its center and left tackle -- both studs -- you have to wonder about the rest of the offensive line. With so much youth on that side of the ball, you'd prefer a veteran line anchoring things down, but again, this rebuild will take time. And if you have three quarterbacks, well, you know how that saying goes. It all starts and ends there, and the true quarterback of the future for the Browns likely is not on the roster that will open camp.

The Browns added bite to an already sound defense, which was huge, and loaded up on 2014 draft picks, which should be a better crop of players to add to what they are developing here. But taking immediate leaps forward playing in this loaded division won't be easy.


Something to prove

Josh Gordon was taken with a second-round supplemental pick a year ago, and while he displays moments of brilliance, he has a ways to go to become a true threat in this league. He is very raw after missing considerable time in college and while speedy, needs to learn the position and harness his ability. There were concerns about his maturity and off field habits coming out of Baylor as well. He will need to take a positive step forward in all regards, much like fellow enigmatic young receiver Little, to avoid receiver becoming a focal point of the organization come next offseason.

Always remember the 3 G's Girls,Golf, Gambling not in any particular order......:2thumbs:
cnotes Posts:24202 Followers:32
07/14/2013 11:42 AM

Three NFL teams drawing sharp action this offseason

Not one single snap has been taken in the 2013 NFL season but plenty of sharp handicappers already have their minds made up on a handful of teams.

With the release of early odds, like win totals, Games of the Year, and futures, bettors can voice their opinion well before Week 1 of the schedule. We talked to sportsbooks and pro handicappers about which NFL teams are being bet by the wiseguys this summer.

Sharps like…

New Orleans Saints

Win total: 9.5 (Over -130)
Divisional odds: +200
Super Bowl odds: +2,500

The Saints forget about 2012 and “Bounty Gate”, returning head coach Sean Peyton to the sidelines. New Orleans has one of the most lethal passing attacks in the league, headlined by QB Drew Brees, and a move to the 3-4 should wake up the defense.

Expert opinion: Teddy Covers, pro handicapper, “Last year was a wasted season for the Saints, with all of their coaching upheaval, but Sean Payton and his complete staff are poised for a return to the playoffs in 2013. Wiseguys have been betting on New Orleans all summer, driving up their pointspreads and season win total while driving down their odds to win the NFC South and/or the Super Bowl.”

Miami Dolphins

Win total: 7.5 (Over -160)
Divisional odds: +450
Super Bowl odds: +5,000

The Dolphins enter Year 2 under QB Ryan Tannehill and gave the second-year passer some new toys. Miami added WRs Mike Wallace and Brandon Gibson along with TE Dustin Keller. The AFC East is weak with even the Patriots looking shaky this offseason.

Expert opinion: Aron Black, Bet365.com, “Not surprisingly, as with other future markets, this play is also based on the perceived weakness that many feel New England will have, given the tight ends’ situations. If they get nine or more wins, then they will be right in the mix for the Super Bowl.”

Kansas City Chiefs

Win total: 7.5 (Over -115)
Divisional odds: +800
Super Bowl odds: +5,000

The Chiefs went through the ringer last year but have come out the other side looking like a different team in 2013. New QB Alex Smith and new head coach Andy Reid can breathe life into a franchise that still has a ton of talent – six Pro Bowlers last year.

Expert opinion: Michael Stewart, CarbonSports.ag, “The team we've seen the most ‘over’ money so far on are the Chiefs. After only winning two games last year, no way this team isn't going to see more success this season. New coach and new QB should bring a winning attitude. We opened (their win total at) 7 (Over -130) and are dealing 7.5 (-115) right now.”
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Always remember the 3 G's Girls,Golf, Gambling not in any particular order......:2thumbs: