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Week 7 Matchup Strategy Guide (Part 1) - DFA

Part 2 right here: https://www.designatedforassessment.com/nfl/week-7-matchup-strategy-guide-part-2

Keep an eye out for Part 2 coming at your tomorrow around 3 EST. As always check out our stuff here - including our newest guide for fantasy basketball!
https://www.designatedforassessment.com/nfl/week-7-waiver-report
https://www.designatedforassessment.com/nba/strategy-the-midseason-shift

Arizona Cardinals at New York Giants (-3)

Cardinals ATS: 4-2-0 Giants ATS: 2-4-0
Projected Team Totals: Cardinals 23.75 Giants 26.75

Cardinals

Opp (NYG) Pass DVOA: #28 '
Opp (NYG) Run DVOA: #13
Injuries to Watch DEF (NYG): DL Olsen Pierre (Q, expected to play) CB Corey Ballentine (D)
Injuries to Watch OFF (ARI): RB David Johnson (expected to play) WR Christian Kirk (Q, GTD it seems like) WR Larry Fitzgerald (expected to play) TE Maxx Williams (Q)
Key WCB matchups: None
Relevant Target Share %’s (season): Larry Fitzgerald (22%) Christian Kirk (22%) David Johnson (17%) KeeSean Johnson (13%) Damiere Byrd (11%)
RB Snap %/Touches/Targets Week 6: David Johnson (72%, 18, 8) Chase Edmonds (28%, 7, 2)
QB/WTE Breakdown
As expected, Kyler Murray (upgrade) is in the driver's seat for Offensive Rookie of the Year, and will look to keep the good times rolling in another great matchup - The Giants are vulnerable to quarterbacks, giving up 21.6 FPPG to the position. Look for Murray to again be vying for a top-3 finish at QB. Larry Fitzgerald and Christian Kirk (upgrade if active) have both been limited in practice this week, Fitz is expected to play, but Kirk is looking like a true GTD. If Kirk is unable to go, Damiere Byrd is a bargain-bin DFS dart throw. Outside of Kirk, Fitz and possibly Byrd (assuming he resumes playing the snap rate he saw in weeks 1-3), Cardinals wideouts should be left on the wire. The Giants have actually been decent against the slot so far this season, so it’s not exactly a smash spot for Fitz, but he can be considered a volume based WR2 regardless of matchup. Kirk, if he can make it back, is in a great spot to produce (NYG give up 29.3 FPPG to wideouts). Consider him a WR3 with upside if he goes. Regardless of matchup, there isn’t a tight end to start in the Air Raid.
RB Breakdown
Limited last week in practice with a back injury, David Johnson not only played against the Falcons, but finished as the RB3 for Week 6 with 28.20 fantasy points in .5 PPR. Even with a bad matchup on the ground this week, he remains an RB1 due to his volume and passing game involvement. He is fully expected to play this week even after picking up a new injury (ankle). Chase Edmonds (stash) needs to be rostered in all formats and is a top-3 handcuff moving forward.

Giants

Opp (ARI) Pass DVOA: #29
Opp (ARI) Run DVOA: #25
Injuries to Watch DEF (ARI): DL Zach Allen (D) DL Zach Kerr (Q) LB Ezekiel Turner (D)
Injuries to Watch OFF (NYG): RB Saquon Barkley (Q, expected to play) TE Evan Engram (Q, expected to play) RB Wayne Gallman (expected to play) WR Sterling Shepard (Q)
Key WCB matchups: None
Relevant Target Share %’s (season): Evan Engram (24%) Sterling Shepard (22%) Golden Tate (22%) Darius Slayton (15%) Saquon Barkley (14%)
RB Snap %/Touches/Targets Week 6: Jonathan Hilliman (60%, 13, 2) Elijhaa Penny (40%, 4, 2)
QB/WTE Breakdown
The final score of TNF last week finished as an expected blowout, but the Giants surprisingly managed to stay in the game for a three quarters without most of their offensive weapons. Daniel Jones (upgrade) managed to throw the first passing touchdown against the Patriots this year, although he did toss the ball to Patriots defenders on three different occasions. Jones should evolve into his alter ego, ‘Danny Dimes’ this week in a smash spot against a defense that is allowing the 3rd most FPPG to quarterbacks (24.5). Sterling Shepard is questionable to return as he remains in the concussion protocol, but if active he’s an upside WR3 against a defense that can’t guard anyone. The return of stud CB Patrick Peterson for the Cardinals might rain on the Giants parade, but he isn’t expected to shadow anyone. Golden Tate (upgrade PPR) returned value and then some for owners brave enough to start him last week, producing an extremely solid 6-102-1. Consider him an upside WR2 in the expected shootout, this game carries the 3rd highest projected point total of Week 7. If Shepard is unable to go, Darius Slayton makes for an interesting bye week fill-in or DFS bargain play, you could do worse and the matchup couldn’t be much better. Evan Engram (upgrade) has been practicing this week and is expected to play. At this point, you start any tight end playing the Cards, and I mean any - they literally cannot guard the position, giving up a league worst 17 FPPG to tight ends.
RB Breakdown
Fantasy owners who invested a top pick in Saquon Barkley can breathe a sigh of relief. The stud running back is expected to return this week, beating his injury timeline by a couple weeks. He’s immediately back in the mix for the overall RB1 this week against a Cardinals team hemorrhaging fantasy points to every position. Wayne Gallman is expected to return as well, but is no more than a handcuff to Barkley owners and can be safely dropped in most formats.
Score Prediction: Giants 30, Cardinals 27

Houston Texans at Indianapolis Colts (-1)

Texans ATS: 4-2-0 Colts ATS: 3-1-1
Projected Team Totals: Texans 23.5 Colts 24.5

Texans

Opp (IND) Pass DVOA: #22
Opp (IND) Run DVOA: #28
Injuries to Watch DEF (IND): CB Pierre Desir (Q) CB Kenny Moore (Q) S Malik Hooker (Q) DT/DE Tyquan Lewis (Q)
Injuries to Watch OFF (HOU): OT Tytus Howard (OUT) C/G Greg Mancz (Q)
Key WCB matchups: None
Relevant Target Share %’s (season): DeAndre Hopkins (28%) Will Fuller (24%) Keke Coutee (12%) Kenny Stills (11%) Darren Fells (10%)
RB Snap %/Touches/Targets Week 6: Carlos Hyde (62%, 27, 1) Duke Johnson (38%, 7, 4)
QB/WTE Breakdown
Unexpectedly, the Colts haven’t been great on defense this year and sit in the bottom 10 in both Run and Pass DVOA through five games. Deshaun Watson willed his team to victory last week against KC and is becoming a top-5 QB in the league, not just fantasy. He should be considered the QB1 in fantasy moving forward with Patrick Mahomes being injured on TNF. Speaking of No. 1’s, DeAndre Hopkins (upgrade) has been disappointing this year for fantasy managers that burned a first round pick on him. However, in 2018, against the Colts zone-heavy defense, Hopkins put up 10-169-1, 4-36-1 and 5-37-0 (Rotoworld). He’s simply too talented to be benched and this week seems like a get right spot for ‘Nuk’. Will Fuller (downgrade) showed last week why he’s as boom-or-bust as they come in fantasy, dropping three touchdown passes after catching three the previous week. Consider him a WR3, but keep expectations in check as the Colts defensive scheme is built to limit deep plays. Keke Coutee and Kenny Stills (expected to return) aren’t fantasy options as they aren’t seeing the snap volume needed to produce consistently. Darren Fells and Jordan Akins are both streamer options for tight end desperate owners as IND is giving up the 3rd worst FPPG to the position (10.3), but both players carry an extremely low floor.
RB Breakdown
Continuing his renaissance year, Carlos Hyde (upgrade standard) broke out in a big way against KC, gashing them for 116-yards on 26 carries while also finding the end zone. Hyde is low-end RB2 in standard, but his lack of passing game involvement severely limits his upside in PPR formats. IND isn’t an imposing matchup and he should find his way into most standard lineups this week. Duke Johnson (stash) was finally utilized last week, getting into the end zone for the first time this year. The bad news, he only got 7 touches and was only targeted 4 times. Until the volume spikes, he’s no more than a bottom barrel stash option for a team that doesn’t throw to its running backs.

Colts

Opp (HOU) Pass DVOA: #14
Opp (HOU) Run DVOA: #11
Injuries to Watch DEF (HOU): CB Johnathan Joseph (Q) CB Bradley Roby (OUT)
Injuries to Watch OFF (IND): WR Parris Campbell (Q)
Key WCB matchups: None
Relevant Target Share %’s (season): T.Y. Hilton (24%) Devin Funchess (19%-INJ out for season) Nyheim Hines (13%) Eric Ebron (12%) Jack Doyle (12%)
RB Snap %/Touches/Targets Week 5: Marlon Mack (65%, 32, 3) Nyheim Hines (20%, 6, 5) Jordan Wilkins (15%, 7, 0)
QB/WTE Breakdown
Indy went into their bye week with a surprising road upset against the Chiefs in their back pocket. Jacoby Brissett should have a fully healthy T.Y. Hilton (upgrade) at his disposal this week, improving the outlook of the entire offense which was struggling sans their talented wideout. The Texans are expected to be without their top CB’s this week, providing a smash spot for Hilton and Brissett. Consider Brissett a back-end QB1 and Hilton a WR1. All other pass catchers can be avoided for IND. Eric Ebron and Jack Doyle continue to drain each others value and remain touchdown dependent. Most owners don’t have any other choice has the position has been completely devoid of production this year.
RB Breakdown
Marlon Mack continues to thrive in a workhorse role, handling a career-high 32 touches in Week 5. He currently has the 12th most touches for running back this year, and that’s with the bye-week. If we add in his now usual allotment of 25 touches in replacement of the bye-week, he’s ranked 5th. Clearly the only issue stopping him from obtaining RB1 status this year is health, something he’s struggled with at times. Jordan Wilkins is the clear handcuff and should be rostered by Mack owners. Nyheim Hines shouldn’t be on fantasy rosters.
Score Prediction: Colts 27, Texans 21

Miami Dolphins at Buffalo Bills (-17)

Dolphins ATS: 1-4-0 Bills ATS: 4-1-0
Projected Team Totals: Dolphins 12 Bills 29

Dolphins

Opp (BUF) Pass DVOA: #4
Opp (BUF) Run DVOA: #24
Injuries to Watch DEF (BUF): LB Matt Milano (Q)
Injuries to Watch OFF (MIA): WR Jakeem Grant (Q), Albert Wilson (Q), OL DAniel Kilgore (Q)
Key WCB matchups: None
Relevant Target Share %’s (season): Preston Williams (20%) Kenyan Drake (16%) Devante Parker (16%) Mike Gesicki (12%)
RB Snap %/Touches/Targets Week 6: Kenyan Drake (61%, 16, 9) Mark Walton (42%, 11, 6)
QB/WTE Breakdown
The Dolphins continue to present one of the least productive offenses in the entire league. It appears that Josh Rosen (poor kid) will get his starting job back, but may be on a short leash against a good defense. It wouldn’t be a surprise to see Ryan Fitzpatrick (2020 Titans’ starter) by halftime. Preston Williams (downgrade) saw a solid target share in Week 6 against the Redskins but was unable to make much of it. The talent is there for a solid NFL player down the road, but he’s not a guy to start this week, especially against the Bills. Devante Parker salvaged his line last week with a last second TD catch, but continues to be third or fourth in the pecking order and doesn’t have appealing CB matchups on the outside this week. Both players make for a desperation WR4 hail mary option at best, although Parker seems to be capable of making a big play or getting into the end zone almost every week. Mike Gesicki (downgrade) hasn’t produced much of anything this year and faces a Bills defense that has given up the second fewest FPPG to TEs, avoid at all costs.
RB Breakdown
At running back, Miami appears to have moved Mark Walton (stash) above Kalen Ballage (plz drop), while Kenyan Drake (PPR play) has maintained his 1A status and solid pass catching role. Drake’s nine targets last week were encouraging for owners in PPR leagues, so he makes for a last ditch RB3 there, but the Bills have given up the seventh fewest receptions to RBs, so if you have other options now is the time to use them. Walton remains only a stash in hopes that Drake is traded or the Dolphins commit even further to the rebuild and just trot him out there to see if they can set the record for largest average margin of loss. No Dolphins player of any position is an intriguing start this week.

Bills

Opp (MIA) Pass DVOA: #32
Opp (MIA) Run DVOA: #30
Injuries to Watch DEF (MIA): S Reshaud Jones (Q), CB Xavier Howard (Q), S Bobby McCain
Injuries to Watch OFF (BUF): WR John Brown (Q)
Key WCB matchups: John Brown vs. Xavier Howard
Relevant Target Share %’s (season): John Brown (22%) Cole Beasley (22%) Dawson Knox (10%) Devin Singletary (9%)
RB Snap %/Touches/Targets Week 5: Frank Gore (51%, 16, 2) Devin Singletary Week 2 (33%, 6, 0)
QB/WTE Breakdown
For those who wisely stashed Josh Allen (upgrade) coming out of his bye week, the payoff is likely to come right away in Week 7. The Dolphins have given up the most FPPG to opposing QBs, and Allen’s rushing upside against a bottom-tier defense gives him a high floor and ceiling this week. Consider him a QB that is just on the edge of a top-10 rankings. John Brown (upgrade) was limited this week with a groin issue, but early signs are that he will be good to go, and there really isn’t a better matchup out there for WRs than Miami. Brown makes for a solid WR2, that will likely be a staple in DFS lineups. Cole Beasley (upgrade PPR) could get in on the fantasy goodness this week as well, but his upside is capped by his role as the safety valve for Allen. Outside of deeper PPR leagues, Beasley is only a bye week fill in, but could easily end up with a 8-80-1 line. Dawson Knox made some noise early in the season, but has been quiet recently, so unless you are in a deep league or have to start 2 TEs, you can likely do better.
RB Breakdown
Coming out of last week’s bye, it appears that Devin Singletary (upgrade) is ready to return at close to full health. How much work he cedes to Frank Gore remains to be seen, and this coaching staff has shown they have no interest in riding the rookie into the ground. Singlecarry… I mean Singletary, may only get a handful of touches, so he’s a risky start. He could easily pay off with a big play or two, and a potential fourth quarter of a garbage time could be a good spot for the Bills to get him back to full speed with some additional work. Or it could provide them a chance to rest him for more challenging upcoming games, we simply don’t know. Consider Singletary an RB2/3 in this dream matchup, and Gore can be viewed as an RB3 with a high floor but a relatively low ceiling, especially in PPR leagues.
Score Prediction: Bills 24, Dolphins 10

Minnesota Vikings (-1.5) at Detroit Lions

Vikings ATS: 4-2-0 Lions ATS: 4-1-0
Projected Team Totals: Vikings 22.75 Lions 21.25

Vikings

Opp (DET) Pass DVOA: #10
Opp (DET) Run DVOA: #17
Injuries to Watch DEF (DET): S Quandre Diggs (Q) DL Da’Shawn Hand (Q) CB Darius Slay (Q)
Injuries to Watch OFF (MIN): OL Riley Reiff (Q)
Key WCB Matchups: Stefon Diggs vs. Darius Slay (Rotoworld)
Relevant Target Share %’s (season): Adam Thielen (25%) Stefon Diggs (22%) Dalvin Cook (17%) Kyle Rudolph (7%)
RB Snap %/Touches/Targets Week 6: Dalvin Cook (63%, 18, 2) Alexander Mattison (30%, 14, 0)
QB/WTE Breakdown
You like that? Kirk Cousins (stash) threw for 333 yards and four TDs, dispelled concerns about an effective passing game, and managed to get an Eagles linebacker released all in one fell swoop. Detroit is around the league average in FPPG allowed to QBs, and Cousins has the weapons for another QB1 week, but based on the stats, the path to beating the Lions goes through the run game. Cousins’ volume is unlikely to be as high as last week, so he is more of a high-end QB2 this week. But his upcoming matchups and potential upside make him a solid stash. Stefon Diggs (downgrade) faces a tough matchup with Darius Slay (assuming health) so he may come crashing down to earth this week, but can’t be on benches after last week’s explosion. Adam Thielen (upgrade PPR) would potentially benefit from the additional attention of Slay on Diggs, and his volume has been larger and more consistent throughout the year. Both make for WR2s in this run heavy offense, and would benefit from Detroit showing success on offense. The fact that Kyle Rudolph has a lower target share than his starting running back, a fullback, and the backup TE, tells you all you need to know about his value. He’s a TD dependent TE2… that hasn’t scored a TD yet this year.
RB Breakdown
Owners of Dalvin Cook (upgrade) were likely pulling their hair out watching Diggs and Cousins put on a show last week and being left with only scraps, but the reality is that Cook did well to salvage his line with a late TD. The Eagles rush defense is legit, and he will face a much easier matchup this week against Detroit. They give up the third most FPPG to RBs, and another run heavy approach will be on the menu this week. Cook is a top 3 option as always. Alexander Mattison (stash) is the premier backup in fantasy, and actually has some low-end RB4 value. Make sure he isn’t available in your league.

Lions

Opp (MIN) Pass DVOA: #8
Opp (MIN) Run DVOA: #4
Injuries to Watch DEF (MIN): LB Ben Gedeon
Injuries to Watch OFF (DET): OL Rick Wagner
Key WCB matchups: None
Relevant Target Share %’s (season): Kenny Golladay (26%) Marvin Jones (17%) TJ Hockenson (14%) Danny Amendola (14%) Kerryon Johnson (8%)
RB Snap %/Touches/Targets Week 6: Kerryon Johnson (73%, 15, 4) J.D. McKissic (24%, 5, 3)
QB/WTE Breakdown
Detroit fans collectively lost their minds last week during the loss to Green Bay, but the phantom hands to the face calls were only part of the problem. Matthew Stafford (downgrade) completed some excellent downfield passes, but the Lions settling for five field goals likely cost them the game. Stafford needs to be better in the red zone, and will face a difficult test against the Vikings pass defense. The Vikings give up about league average FPPG to QBs, but their pass defense DVOA paints a clearer picture of their stout defense. View Stafford as a mid level QB2 based on lack of TDs and the fact this may be a low scoring game. Kenny Golladay continues to produce solid lines every week, and has moved into auto start territory as a high-end WR2 on yardage alone. Marvin Jones (downgrade) has been inconsistent this year with a lower target share, and can’t be trusted as more than a WR3/4 in a tough matchup. He can break big plays, but can also lose you your week with a two catch for 17 yard performance like last week. TJ Hockenson (upgrade) is a name to watch this week. He has missed out on countless potential TDs due to drops, penalties, or bad luck, and could be an option for Stafford if he faces pressure from the Vikings front. Hock is a TE2 due to his rollercoaster production, but he has a good him to get into the end zone this week with Stafford making a concerted effort to improve in the red zone. The Lions need him to be productive to get a win.
RB Breakdown
Somewhat of a disappointment so far in this young season, Kerryon Johnson (downgrade) has put up solid production at times but just can’t seem to fully break through. Despite an exploitable matchup on paper last week, KJ finished with just 61 yards, although he did punch in a TD. The Vikings have given up the fifth fewest FPPG to RBs this year, although they did get gashed by Aaron Jones early in the season. Ultimately, Johnson cannot be benched due to the volume and talent alone, but it is frustrating to watch this coaching staff struggle to find ways to get him going consistently. If the Lions are to pull off the upset, that will need to change. J.D. McKissic (stash) has emerged as the handcuff to own for owners of KJ that like to invest in Cliff Paul like insurance, but he offers zero standalone value.
Score Prediction: Vikings 17, Lions 14

Oakland Raiders at Green Bay Packers (-5)

Raiders ATS: 3-2-0 Packers ATS: 4-2-0
Projected Team Totals: Raiders 21 Packers 26

Raiders

Opp (GB) Pass DVOA: #5
Opp (GB) Run DVOA: #26
Injuries to Watch DEF (GB): S Darnell Savage (Q) CB Tony Brown (Q)
Injuries to Watch OFF (OAK): WR Tyrell Williams (Q) RT Trent Brown (Q)
Key WCB matchups: Tyrell Williams (Q) vs. Kevin King (Rotoworld)
Relevant Target Share %’s (season): Darren Waller (26%) Tyrell Williams (19%) Hunter Renfrow (14%) Ryan Grant (14%)
RB Snap %/Touches/Targets Week 5: Josh Jacobs (68%, 29, 3) DeAndre Washington (18%, 9, 3) Jalen Richard (14%, 4, 2)
QB/WTE Breakdown
Coming off possibly the upset of the year in London against the Bears, Gruden’s Raiders now sit at a surprising 3-2, good for second in the AFC West. It seems like there are two different versions of this team, the bad one and the good one. The bad one reared its ugly head in London on a truly comical toss-sweep fumble, no matter, the Raiders somehow still managed to pull through and win the game on one of the most boring 13 play, 97-yard drives ever put together. Traveling to Lambeau, it’s fully expected the team that’s been blown out twice shows up, not the one that has won three games. Derek Carr (downgrade) isn’t an option in 1QB leagues most weeks, and certainly isn’t this week against the impressive Pack secondary. Tyrell Williams is shaping up to be a GTD, and even if he goes, he draws a tough matchup against emerging CB Kevin King. Consider him a TD dependent WR3 if active. Hunter Renfrow and newly acquired Zay Jones shouldn’t be in lineups and probably shouldn’t even be on rosters in most formats. Darren Waller is really the only other pass catcher that should be considered for OAK, and he just got paid, signing a multi-year extension with the club. He was added to the injury report Thursday with a foot injury, but there is little indication that his status for Sunday is in doubt. He’s a mid-range volume based TE1 - GB is only giving up a paltry 4.2 FPPG to the position.
RB Breakdown
The weakness for the GB defense so far has been on the ground - giving up 23.4 FPPG to running backs, 4th worst. Consider Josh Jacobs (upgrade) a back-end volume based RB1 this week in a great matchup, but be wary, if the game does get out of hand he will be game-scripted out. Jalen Richard and Deandre Washington have been heavily involved in the passing game in negative game-scripts, but can’t be counted on in any format.

Packers

Opp (OAK) Pass DVOA: #26
Opp (OAK) Run DVOA: #6
Injuries to Watch DEF (OAK): DE Arden Key (OUT) S Lamarcus Joyner (Q)
Injuries to Watch OFF (GB): WR Devante Adams (Q) WR Marquez Valdes-Scantling (Q) WR Geronimo Allison (D) TE Jimmy Graham (expected to play) WR Marques Valdes-Scantling (expected to play)
Key WCB matchups: None
Relevant Target Share %’s (season): Devante Adams (25%) Marquez Valdes-Scantling (16%) Aaron Jones (14%) Geronimo Allison (13%) Jimmy Graham (11%) Jamaal Williams (8%)
RB Snap %/Touches/Targets Week 6: Aaron Jones (48%, 15, 7) Jamaal Williams (52%, 18, 5)
QB/WTE Breakdown
The Pack have a legit defense this year, which is great for GB fans, but not so great for fantasy managers. Aaron Rodgers hasn’t needed to sling the ball like years past, which has lead to some mediocre fantasy weeks. A-Rodge is the QB13 through six weeks, and likely will be a back-end QB1 moving forward as Matt LaFleur opts to rely on his defense and run game. This week, however, that shouldn’t be the case. The Raiders have a top 6 Run defense along with a bottom 6 pass defense, the matchup should set up nicely for Rodgers to produce - OAK is giving up 19.5 FPPG to QBs. The only problem is that the GB pass catchers are all sorts of banged up. Devante Adams and Geronimo Allison are truly questionable for Sunday, and at the time of writing this, it’s unclear if they’ll be playing. Marquez Valdes-Scantling from a fantasy standpoint has been a major disappointment, but after seeing Mahomes slice-and-dice this defense in Week 2, he’s probably a good bet to come down with a deep ball - if he plays. Right now it looks like MVS is likely to go, while Adams and Allison sit. If all three sit, GB would have Jake Kumerow, Allen Lazard and rookie Darrius Shepherd. Not great for Rodgers and good luck figuring out which one to play. Ryan Grant was signed this week to provide depth for the depleted receiving corps, but he isn’t a fantasy option for the time being. Jimmy Graham (upgrade) hasn’t found his way into the end zone the last few weeks and should be considered a great bet to bounce back this week due to the lack of receiving options and the matchup - OAK gives up 9.7 FPPG to tight ends, sixth most in the league.
RB Breakdown
The hashtag-freeAaronJones movement suffered a major setback last with the return of Jamaal Williams, who had a big day in the win against the Lions on MNF. Aaron Jones (downgrade) was still heavily involved, but was responsible for a couple costly mistakes (fumble, dropped TD). Moving forward, Jones still figures to be the lead back, but more shenanigans like last week and Williams could creep his way into the lead role. Consider Jones an RB2 this week, and Williams an RB3. The matchup isn’t great for the Packers run game, but whoever gets the goalline work retains a high floor; so far that’s been Jones.
Score Prediction: Packers 24, Raiders 13

Jacksonville Jaguars (-4) at Cincinnati Bengals

Jaguars ATS: 3-3-0 Bengals ATS: 3-3-0
Projected Team Totals: Jaguars 23.75 Bengals 19.75

Jaguars

Opp (CIN) Pass DVOA: #30
Opp (CIN) Run DVOA: #27
Injuries to Watch DEF (CIN): CB Dre Kirkpatrick (OUT) CB William Jackson (OUT) DE Carlos Dunlap (OUT) DE Carl Lawson (OUT)
Injuries to Watch OFF (JAX): TE Geoff Swaim (D) WR Dede Westbrook (Q, late week addition to injury report) WR Marquise Lee (D)
Key WCB matchups: None
Relevant Target Share %’s (season): D.J. Chark (22%) Dede Westbrook (22%) Leonard Fournette (18%) Chris Conley (12%) Geoff Swaim (8%)
RB Snap %/Touches/Targets Week 6: Leonard Fournette (96%, 26, 6) Ryquell Armstead (4%, 1, 0)
QB/WTE Breakdown
Minshew Mania came to a grinding halt last week as the mustache was wilted by the now vaunted Saints defense (who knew?). Luckily, the ‘Jock Strap King’ has a dream get right spot on deck against the league's worst team (is Miami an NFL team?). Adding injury to insult, CIN will be devoid of their two best CBs. The matchup puts the entire Jaguar offense into play for fantasy rosters and DFS. Gardner Minshew (upgrade) can be approached as a back-end QB1 with upside. D.J. Chark (upgrade) is a sure-fire WR1. Dede Westbrook is also in play this week but keep an eye on his injury, it’s never a good sign being added to the injury report late-week. Even Chris Conley is in play this week, but he should be treated as a DFS dart throw. Another tight end went down for the Jaguars last week as Geoff Swaim was concussed. Seth DeValve is set to take over and is a 91st-percentile SPARQ-x athlete (Rotoworld), but fantasy managers should take a wait and see approach, or use him as a DFS punt play.
RB Breakdown
Leonard Fournette (upgrade) continues to produce in the way that owners imagined he would last year when drafting him in the first round. If you still doubt Fournette’s RB1 status, take a look at his juicy target share (18%), he continues to be heavily involved in the passing game shoring up his floor. He’s starting to look like the steal of fantasy drafts (actually, it’s probably Chris Godwin) and is an every week RB1, and is this week’s overall RB1 play. Cincy has been gashed on the ground so far this season, giving up an abhorrent 28.8 FPPG to running backs. Ryquell Armstead is no more than a handcuff that is barely used to spell Fournette. Fournette owners should stash him while they can.

Bengals

Opp (JAX) Pass DVOA: #16
Opp (JAX) Run DVOA: #32
Injuries to Watch DEF (JAX): S Cody Davis (Q)
Injuries to Watch OFF (CIN): WR A.J. Green (D) T Andre Smith (OUT) G John Miller (OUT)
Key WCB matchups: None
Relevant Target Share %’s (season): Tyler Boyd (25%) John Ross (19%-INJ on IR) Auden Tate (18%) Tyler Eifert (9%) Joe Mixon (8%) Giovani Bernard (8%)
RB Snap %/Touches/Targets Week 6: Joe Mixon (48%, 10, 3) Giovani Bernard (52%, 6, 3)
QB/WTE Breakdown
Bill Simmons said it in a recent podcast, there’s always one game in an NFL season that you look back on and go, “wow, that was weird”. This year, it’s probably the Bengals Week 1 almost road win in Seattle, where they took it to the Seahawks and actually looked like a team that was capable of moving the ball. That game has turned out to be an anomaly, and it’s getting harder and harder to recommend starting any Bengals players in fantasy, let alone having them on your roster. Andy Dalton (drop) can be dropped in fantasy and probably should be dropped by the Bengals. Tyler Boyd continues to be a target monster, but has failed to capitalize on it most of the season. Consider him a back-end volume based WR2 as long as A.J. Green remains sidelined. Boyd may see a heavy dose of A.J. Bouye this week with Jalen Ramsey out of the picture, but it’s unclear if Bouye will actually shadow him. Auden Tate is the one Bengal that is recommended, check out his grabs from last week on twitteyoutube, they WERE DOPE. Tate is seeing the target share to produce and is a WR3 for this one, if Bouye does matchup with Boyd for most of the game, that should leave Tate more room to operate. Tyler Eifert and C.J. Uzomah aren’t fantasy options.
RB Breakdown
Giovani Bernard saw a higher snap percentage than Joe Mixon last week, and this may become the new norm as the team faces negative game-script the rest of the year (except against MIA). What’s interesting is that Mixon is definitely a talented pass catcher, but here we are. This week is a great spot for Mixon to produce, JAX is giving up 21.7 FPPG to running backs. Owners should sell if/while they still can, this team is heading for a full rebuild and an injury to the talented running back could lead to a shutdown. At this point, it’s time to either abandon ship or risk going down with it.
Score Prediction: Jaguars 24, Bengals 16
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32 Teams/32 Days: Day 5: The Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Division: NFC South
2017 Record: 5-11 (4th in the NFC South)
Subreddit: Buccaneers

Intro: in which TheFencingCoach Finds That his Expectations Did Not Meet Reality at All

In previous seasons, I tended to have a relatively accurate pulse on the strength (or lack thereof) of the Bucs. In now my fourth season of doing these offseason writeups, I was only off by one win each year in my predictions. Along came the 2017 season.
This year, I was hoodwinked, bamboozled, and so wildly optimistic to the point I couldn’t recognize that my own ugly baby was in fact, very ugly. Besides the fact I predicted a 10-6 record and a division win, here are just a few of the many highlights of my Mr. Magoo levels of shortsightedness:
Expectation: Mike Smith re-signing in Tampa was a good thing: “Smitty re-signing in Tampa allows for the Bucs to continue building a foundation on both sides of the ball that hopefully will restore the team to prominence.”
Reality: It wasn’t a good thing at all. The Buccaneers finished 32nd overall in DVOA Defense Rankings, and 32nd overall in Total Defense. There was no restoration of the defense to prominence. In fact—an already mediocre defense regressed to a porous nightmare that couldn’t stop the run, couldn’t tackle, and allowed an average of 2.8 touchdowns per game. Against Arizona, we managed to make a 32 year-old Adrian Peterson look like prime Adrian Peterson (134 yards rushing). And if Alvin Kamara wants to send a thank-you card for helping him win a (well-deserved) OROY, he can send it to 1 Buccaneer Place—Four of his touchdowns came against us this year, including his magnificent 106 Kickoff return.
Expectation: Chris Baker was a critical signing: “For a starter who's pretty much in his prime, the Bucs got Baker at a bargain price and should be the run stuffing complement to McCoy we've needed for a long time.”
Reality: Chris Baker did a wonderful Albert Haynesworth impersonation this year: Against the Panthers in perhaps the most devastating loss of the 2017 season, an undisciplined Chris Baker cost us the game by jumping offsides on a 4th and 3 situation that could have won us the game. Baker had been warned of the hard count by both Kwon Alexander and Gerald McCoy, but got the penalty anyway, which put the Panthers in position to win. Following the game, Baker was smiling and nonchalant about his critical error, which caused a subsequent fight in the locker room thereafter. Beginning with Baker’s lazy attitude displayed on Hard Knocks, red flags should have gone off for us. He’s looking like Jason Licht’s latest free agent blunder in a laundry list.
Expectation: Signing Ryan Fitzpatrick was cursed. But he’d be good to go if Jameis went down: “He’s a good insurance policy at the right price if Winston goes down.”
Reality: Signing Ryan Fitzpatrick was cursed. But he was good to go when Jameis went down: After Jameis sustained a sprained AC Joint in his shoulder, Fitzpatrick was forced to start three games (he played in a total of six). He completed 58.9% of his passes for 1,103 yards, 7 TD’s, and 3 INT’s. Some people on Buccaneers even suggested that Fitzpatrick was our future, and not Jameis. Some people on Buccaneers were wrong.
Expectation: Jeremy McNichols was a waste of a draft pick “I’ll be honest—but McNichols was probably the pick I’ve been least excited about… his strength is primarily as a receiver (so is Charles Sims’). He’s got extremely slow burst out of the backfield, his vision is suspect, and I noticed a tendency to make multiple cuts before turning upfield.”
Reality: McNichols didn’t even make the final roster. McNichols’ struggles were well documented on Hard Knocks. He was slow to pick up the playbook, he couldn’t block if his life depended on it, and he seemed to have a lackadaisical attitude about correcting his errors. McNichols was offered a practice squad spot, but he spurned the Bucs to go to the San Francisco 49ers instead. The plus side of drafting McNichols, is that we got to watch him FaceTime with Snoop Dogg on Hard Knocks.
Expectation: Aguayo will win the starting job. “I think Aguayo will win the job after a solid preseason and subsequently regress to rookie form.”
Reality: Aguayo did not win the starting job at all. In fact, he was cut after an abysmal preseason, only to be replaced by an abysmal Kicker in Nick Folk. Patrick Murray played serviceably to close out the season. What did we learn from this whole debacle, Jason Licht? We learned that we don’t use premium draft picks on Kickers.

2017: Key Statistics

Category 2016 Ranking 2017 Ranking Δ
DVOA Offense 19th 11th +8
Total Offense 5,542 Yards 5,816 Yards +274
Total Passing Yards 3,926 Yards 4,366 Yards +440
Total Rushing Yards 1,616 Yards 1,450 Yards -166
DVOA Defense 13th 32nd -19
Total Defense Allowed 5,887 Yards 6,049 Yards -174
Total Passing Yards Allowed 4,012 Yards 4,169 Yards -157
Total Rushing Yards Allowed 1,875 Yards 1,880 Yards -5
Total Sacks 38.0 22.0 -16.0
TurnoveTakeaway Differential +2 -1 -3
Penalty Flags 102 104 +2
Player Arrests 1 1 0
Player Fines $1.6M $110K -$1.49M

The Top Stories of the 2017 Season

The Muscle Hamster Finishes His Four Game Suspension. Proceeds to Play Poorly. Is Suspended by Team for Violating Team Rules: When Doug Martin’s career ends, he’ll be another tale of “what could have been.” One of the most commonly recited facts only next to “did you know Antonio Gates and Jimmy Graham played basketball in college?” and “Mike Glennon is the greatest QB to ever play professional football” is the fact that in two seasons of play, Doug Martin ran for 1,400+ yards, then didn’t hit 500 yards in any other season. And that’s the frustration with Martin. When he’s on, he’s one of the most electric backs in the NFL. But time and time again, Martin’s proven he lacks motivation. Once he got his payday after a 1st Team All-Pro performance in 2015, he regressed to 500 yard Doug, was suspended for PED’s, and then shockingly, was suspended in-house for violating team rules. With Martin’s PED suspension, he forfeit his signing bonus, making him expendable in the coming offseason. It simply isn’t worth paying the man $7.1M/year when he can’t perform on the field and can’t stay out of trouble off of it. I’m afraid his jersey will join my Buccaneer Paraphernalia Pit of Misery that includes Josh Freeman, Gaines Adams, and Darrelle Revis. So long, farewell, Muscle Hamster. I have a feeling you’ll do well elsewhere, at least for one season.
Mike Evans Fails to Control his Emotions: Mike Evans had a series of temper tantrums this last year that reflected poorly on him. There was first his sideline meltdown where he won the ice bucket challenge and cured ALS. Then, there was his bush league blindside hit of Marshon Lattimore after Jameis acted like a toddler that resulted in a well-deserved one-game suspension. After reaching All-Pro status in 2016, Evans regressed this year, and his temperamental antics didn’t help. He’s got to be smarter and more in control. Period.
Jameis Becomes a Bad Meme. Jameis’s Turnover Problem Gets Worse. Jameis is Accused of Sexual Asssault…Again: 2017 was Jameis’s roughest year in the NFL, both on and off the field. Let’s start off with that whole “eating W’s” thing. In case you couldn’t tell from Desean Jackson’s face, he didn’t buy into the motivational, and NFL went to town making fun of it. It just didn’t work. The turnover issues that existed at FSU and continued into Jameis’s rookie and sophomore NFL seasons was exacerbated this year, particularly when it came to fumbles. In 13 games, Jameis turned the ball over an average of 1.7 times per game, and his fumbles against the Panthers that caused an emotional sideline outburst were just bad.
Worse than any memes or on field performances was the surfacing of a new sexual assault allegation against Winston. BuzzFeed News published an explosive report that Winston was accused of grabbing a female Uber driver’s crotch in March of 2016. The driver immediately filed a report, resulting in Winston’s subsequent ban from the ridesharing service. Many details on the allegations remain murky, including who was in the vehicle, where each passenger sat, and who got dropped off and when. I’m withholding judgment until more is known, and hope the NFL will conduct an investigation. Nevertheless, it’s another sign that trouble seems to find Jameis.
Mike Smith Forgets How to Coach: After rumors of Mike Smith’s courtship for a head coaching position last year, he re-signed with the Bucs following a promising 2016 season. Everything went to hell in 2017. The blame doesn’t fall solely on Mike Smith. He was handed a very incomplete defensive unit that was then plagued by a bevy of injuries. Our pass rush generated an NFL worst 22.0 sacks—16.0 less than last year, leading to the firing of DL Coach Jay Hayes. The Bucs finished last in the league in defending third down conversions, with 48% of our opponents converting. The problem with Smith’s scheme is that it felt like chaos and disorder, and it failed to form an identity. The defensive play calls were too conservative. Four man rushes were the norm, and Smith rarely sent in a LB (like the speedy Lavonte David or the punishing Kwon) to pressure the QB when his line failed to deliver. Corners were rarely playing press coverage and allowed devastating gains off slant routes and short reads. We even made Mohamed Sanu look like one of the best QB’s in the NFC South (he’s a WR). The impatient fan in me believed he should be fired. The objectivist in me is saying “give him one more chance.” The excuses are running out, but the problems with this team are deeper than Smith and Koetter (more on that later).

Free Agency – Analysis of Who’s on the Docket and how to Handle Them

Player Status Analysis
Brent Grimes (CB) UFA Brent Grimes exceeded expectations in the two years he spent in Tampa. Originally a pickup after he was cut from Miami, Grimes signed a reasonably cheap 2 year, $13.5M deal. In a secondary that had been chockfull of incompetence and knuckleheads, Grimes came in, outplayed his contract, and quickly became one of the most reliable cogs on our defense. As much praise as one can heap on Grimes, the fact remains that he will be 35 years old when the 2017-2018 season begins. Grimes reportedly mulled the concept of retirement last offseason. The question is—how much physical ability does a 35 year old have left in the tank? How much motivation? And if he did continue his NFL career, wouldn’t he want it to be with a playoff contender? *Verdict: It’s time to let Grimes walk. I look forward to seeing Miko’s tweets after he leaves. Just kidding, no I don’t.
T.J. Ward (SS) UFA If Chris Baker was the Tweedle Dee of our 2017 Free Agent signings, T.J. Ward was Tweedle Dumbass. After being waived by Denver, the Bucs picked up T.J. Ward late in training camp for a 1 year, $5M deal. What we got on the field from Ward on the field was mostly forgettable. He broke up some screen plays with ease, but that’s about it. What we got off the field? A felony drug charge and publicly calling out our coaches for his lack of playing time. Verdict: No-brainer. Let him walk.
Ryan Fitzpatrick (QB) UFA Having a reliable backup QB is not a luxury. It’s a necessity (see Case Keenum and Big Dick Nick). Fitzpatrick is another illustration of a good backup’s importance, and he’s a more proven commodity than the unknown Ryan Griffin. You know who I really want to be our backup QB? Better yet, I would prefer him as our starter for life. You know damn well who I’m talking about, and if you don’t, drop down and kneel until you do. Verdict: Re-sign Fitzpatrick. Consider drafting a developmental QB with a late round pick to compete with Griffin’s roster spot.
Robert McClain (CB) UFA Robert McClain was intended to be a depth guy, but after multiple injuries to our secondary, he was thrust into the starting lineup for 9 games. For the most part, he played serviceably. McClain has been a journeyman thus far in his career and shouldn’t command much on the open market. Verdict: A one year deal for cheap value would be a good depth signing. If he signs elsewhere, it wouldn’t be the end of the world.
Evan Smith (C) UFA Evan Smith is the sole survivor of “The Great Licht Spending Binge of 2014” which included winners like Anthony Collins and Michael Johnson. When we initially relied on Smith as a starter, the results weren’t pretty, and I have memories of Josh McCown getting blasted through the A-Gap many-a-time. But when we leaned on Smith as a reservist, his ability to bounce between Center and Guard was of great value. When the Bucs signed Smith to a $14.25M deal, we paid him like an intended starter, but Smith hasn’t been a full time starter since 2014 (had 13 total starts between 2015 and 2017). In the unlikely event the Bucs can find a way to pay Smith like a reservist and not a starter, he’d be worth keeping. At this point in his career, he’s more likely to find a bigger payday and/or go to a playoff contender. Verdict: Let him walk.
Charles Sims (RB) UFA Charles Sims became a symbol of the predictability of a Dirk Koetter offense, by no fault of his own. Brought onto the field only on obvious passing downs, Sims wound up averaging about one carry per game, but was targeted on passes out of the backfield 48 times this year. In other words, when the man stepped on the field, there was a 70% chance he would be thrown the ball—just one of many elements that made our third down offense both predictable and lacking innovation. Sims’ career in Tampa has been a mixed bag. After spending the beginning of his career battling various injuries, he quietly gained 1,000+ yards from scrimmage in 2015, but has only gained 683 yards from scrimmage in the two seasons since. Sims has the potential to excel in an offense that utilizes its RB’s in a balance of rushing and pass plays. That offense is unlikely to be the Bucs’. Verdict: Let him walk. I have an odd feeling he’ll wind up in Baltimore.
Kevin Pamphile (G) UFA In his second year starting for the Bucs at LG, the results weren’t always pretty. His two starts against New Orleans this year came to mind as facepalmers, and even on a line that included the slothful and concrete footed Donovan Smith, Pamphile stood out as the weakest link on a terribly weak unit. There’s an old Russian proverb that reads: “don’t kill the Tsar until you know who his replacement is.” And as bad as our OG’s have been between Pamphile and Sweezy, there may not yet be a viable Plan B. Bucs should take a look at Andrew Norwell and Justin Pugh’s price tags. If either could be signed, both would do a better job of keeping Jameis from getting murdered. Verdict: Make a strong attempt to sign an upgrade. If the Bucs can’t find one, keep Pamphile in house as a frugal deal.
Keith Tandy (FS) UFA I don’t really know what to make of Keith Tandy. He’s one of the few remnants of the atrocious Mark Dominik era, who rarely got used as a starter but showed he was capable of making clutch, flash plays in the few moments he saw the field. His last second heroics in 2016 were the main reason the Bucs finished with an unexpected winning record, yet he found himself limited to just over 200 snaps in 2017. Re-signing Tandy would be a low-risk move that would provide us with reliable Safety depth with familiarity in our defense. Verdict: Re-sign the guy, and for the love of God, if you’re deciding to start Tandy or Conte, pick the former.
Cameron Brate (TE) RFA Cameron Brate attended Harvard. Now that we’ve established that, I want to discuss my hottest take in this entire post: Cameron Brate is one of the best players on our offense, and we should do everything in our power to trade him. What do I mean by this? In 2017, the Bucs selected O.J. Howard in Round 1, who played with great promise as a rookie (more on that in the next section). The needs of the Buccaneers run deep, and as a skill position player, Brate is expendable for the right price. We have three options with Brate: let him play one final season in Tampa before he hits the open market, trade him while he’s hot, or spend what will be a lot of money re-signing him. Verdict: Put a 2nd round tender on him and see if anyone will bite.
Nick Folk (K) UFA Nope. Niet. Hell naw. Verdict: Nope.

2017 Rookie Review

I always subscribe to the philosophy that you don’t truly know who a player is until three years (or even more) into his NFL career. A rookie can enter the league and take it by storm (see RGIII), or he may need time to adjust to the nuances of the pros (see Eric Fisher). I’m still holding out hope that Vernon Hargreaves III will become the player we thought he could be… So take this rookie review with a grain of salt. It’s intended to talk about the trajectory, where these players can improve, and who to watch in the coming season.
Round/Pick Player Analysis
Round 1, #19 Overall O.J. Howard (TE – Alabama) O.J. Howard had a very promising rookie season in which he caught 26 passes for 432 yards with 6 TD’s. He proved to be as valuable as advertised while being used as an extra blocker in the run game. Unfortunately, the KoetteMonken offense failed to call many 2-TE sets, which would have caused some mismatch nightmares and perhaps bolstered Howard’s statistical production even more. Howard has one large Achilles heel to his game that must be addressed. As a 6’6 target, Howard was often seen running upright after catching the ball. Exposing him to big hits (including the one that put him on IR) and making him easy to bring down. Howard can improve heading into year two by getting his pad level down and better protecting himself from potentially devastating hits. Outlook: Positive
Round 2, #50 Overall Justin Evans (S – Texas A&M) Justin Evans may not be the best player on our defense. Not by a longshot. But after watching his rookie season, he’s certainly the player I’d flag to have the most potential on defense. In many ways, Evans reminds me of a young Troy Polamalu in his ability to seemingly teleport all over the field, come into the box as an eighth man, deliver big hits, and provide safety help over the top when needed. In his final two seasons at Texas A&M, Evans had an alarming 38 missed tackles. That didn’t seem to be a problem during his rookie season, and hopefully that will continue. Evans has a long way to go, but he’s a guy to keep your eye out for coming into next year. Outlook: Positive
Round 3, #84 Overall Chris Godwin (WR – Penn State) I made a bet with a friend that Chris Godwin wouldn’t have more than 15 catches as a rookie. He doubled that and then some, while also adding 534 yards through the air. Godwin’s highlight of the season was his brilliant 39 yard TD to beat the Saints as time expired in week 17. He also pooped his pants against the Vikings. Initially undermined by packages that put Desean Jackson out on the field in favor of him, Godwin began to establish himself as a viable WR who Jameis began to favor as the season progressed. Godwin is a player to watch during training camp. He could surprise and overtake Desean Jackson as the starting WR2. Outlook: Positive
Round 3, #107 Overall Kendell Beckwith (LB - LSU) Beckwith was a huge gamble. When drafted out of LSU as a Mike, Beckwith was coming off a torn ACL and tasked with bouncing outside to SAM, learning an entirely new position. Not only did he recover from the ACL for sooner than expected, but he started day one, even bouncing back inside during Kwon Alexander’s hamstring injury. Beckwith looks to continue a trend of LSU defender success in the NFL. Outlook: Positive
Round 5, #162 Overall Jeremy McNichols (RB – Boise State) He ded. Outlook: Dead.
Round 7, #223 Overall Stevie Tu’ikolovatu (NT – USC) Tu’ikolovatu was placed on IR before the season began. Already a longshot to make the final roster, Tu’ikolavatu will have even more of a challenge in year two. Outlook: Negative

Top Needs Entering Free Agency and the Draft (in no Particular Order Because We’re Kind of Screwed in Each Category)

LT: There is no player I played closer attention to in the 2016 than Donovan Smith, especially in my All-22 reviews following games. You can read one of those right here, if you’re interested. My conclusion at the end of this season, is that Donovan Smith is one of the worst LT’s in the NFL and one of the principal roadblocks to Jameis’s progression. Andrew Luck is a sign from Jameis’s future that shows when you fail to protect your franchise QB, you may never know his true potential. Donovan Smith allowed 7 sacks this season, 9 hits, and 26 hurries. In the run game, he had the mean streak of a tranquilized pygmy shrew. Potential Solutions: Connor Williams (OT – Texas)
LG: Neither Kevin Pamphile nor J.R. Sweezy proved adequate playing on the interior line. Does Jameis deserve blame for his 7 INT’s and 7 lost fumbles during the 2017 season? Absolutely. Would he have made such erratic decisions if he had more time to throw the ball? I’m actually not entirely sure…? Point remains that the entire left side of our line is in dire need of an upgrade. Potential Solutions: Justin Pugh (UFA – Giants), Andrew Norwell (UFA – Panthers), Question Nelson (OG – Notre Dame)
DL: The Bucs had a league-worst 22.0 sacks, and that number barely paints the full picture. Watch our pass rush on game tape, and you might as well photoshop a pina colada or a strawberry daquiri into an opposing QB’s hands, because most of them had enough time in the pocket to leisurely sip on one. The problem remains that the Buccaneers have not had a 10+ sack rusher since Simeon Rice, and that problem is further compounded over Jason Licht’s aversion to investing picks on DL. Gerald McCoy has spent his entire career since 2010 as the sole source of our team’s run defense and pass rush. This is a problem that has now extended through three coaching regimes and two front office changes that hasn’t been addressed. Potential Solutions: Ziggy Ansah (UFA – Lions), Demarcus Lawrence (UFA – Cowboys), Bradley Chubb (DE – NC State), Dontari Poe (UFA – Falcons), Da’Quan “Not Bowers” Jones (UFA – Titans), Justin Ellis (UFA – Raiders), Throwing Chris Baker into a Wood Cutter Feet First (The Right Thing to Do).
CB: Another unknown with razor thin depth. With a 34 year old Brent Grimes scheduled to become a UFA and Vernon Hargreaves III still getting his sea legs, CB remains a huge area of need. The NFC South has arguably the deepest QB group in Brees/Newton/Ryan, and WR’s like Julio Jones who continue to make our secondary look like a JV squad (307 yards against the Bucs in 2017). The current secondary is simply unequipped to stop the aerial assaults in the division, and if not addressed in the draft and/or free agency, the Buccaneers stand to remain stagnant in the coming season. Potential Solutions: Trumaine Johnson (UFA – Rams), Kyle Fuller (UFA – Bears), E.J. Gaines (UFA – Bills), Josh Jackson (CB – Iowa), Denzel Ward (CB – OSU)

Free Agency: The 2018 Wish List

  1. Andrew Norwell (G – Panthers): In the history of the Bucs, we have time and time failed to ever build an offensive line (Carl Nicks still gives me nightmares to this day. Thanks MRSA). For the first time since Josh Freeman, the Bucs look like they have someone who maybe possibly but I’m not really sure what to think of him could be a franchise QB in Jameis Winston. And just as the Colts failed to protect Andrew Luck, we’re walking down a similar road with Jameis now, and protecting him must be a top priority. Norwell is a player worth opening the checkbook for. He allowed 0 sacks in the previous season, 0 QB hits, and only 13 total pressures. At 26, he’s exactly the kind of building block we could use and would be a significant upgrade over Pamphile or Sweezy. He’s my top target.
  2. Justin Pugh (OG/OT – Giants): Pugh is at the top of this list for the same reason as Norwell: he’s an established veteran who also has the versatility to bounce outside to Tackle. That kind of flexibility makes for an upgrade over UFA Evan Smith, who played neither Guard nor Center particularly well. I wouldn’t mind signing both Pugh and Norwell to upgrade our interior line, but that’s an unrealistic pipe dream
  3. Ezekiel Ansah (DE – Lions) I have loved following Ansah’s career thus far, and he had a fan in me the moment he got drafted and came on stage to shake Roger Goodell’s hand in 2013 wearing 3D glasses. He’s got a cool story behind him. Coming out of college, he was a case study in your so-called “boom or bust” prospects. In college, he had only 4.5 sacks, but he didn’t play any high school football whatsoever, walked onto the BYU team, and only saw action four games into his senior season. Five years into his NFL career, he’s shown he can be a top 4-3 DE when healthy. He’s only played 16 games in 2/5 seasons, but he’s made the most of it when he’s on the field (44.0 sacks). This is a player in his prime with good football ahead of him. He’s worth pursuing.
  4. Trumaine Johnson (CB – Rams) I’ve touched upon our severe issues in the secondary already, but it’s a need that can’t be addressed in free agency or the draft alone. Grimes is in need of a replacement, and VH3 just isn’t ready to shadow the WR1’s of the league yet. After Janoris Jenkins’ departure for the Giants, the Rams placed faith in Johnson to be an integral cog of an already impressive defense. He’s proven himself as a solid CB, and should be on Jason Licht’s speed dial when the non-tampering period opens up.
  5. Eric Reid (S – 49ers) Though he’s struggled with injuries recently, Reid is the kind of tone-setter and ballhawk that would be a better option than T.J. Ward or Chris Conte (then again, so would my Bob Ross Chia Pet). Reid’s the kind of free agent who teams will pay a premium price for despite the recent injuries, but it’s worth the gamble. He’s been a solid player when healthy. I’d hope he plays better than our last 49er Safety signing Dashon Goldson.
  6. Dontari Poe (DT – Falcons) One of the funniest combine clips I’ve seen to this day is when Mike Mayock was absolutely obsessing over the size of Dontari Poe’s butt. I mean, Mayock really loved his butt to the point he was drooling over it on live television like Sir Mix-A-Lot playing at a Bar Mitzvah. Poe’s best suited as a 0-Tech, but with our continued failures on DL, I’d try him out as a 1-Tech. You know how people sometimes shitpost on NFL and say “should the Browns draft a QB with every single pick in the draft?” Part of me feels that way, but with DL…but also signing every single one of them in free agency.
  7. Teddy Bridgewater (QB – Vikings) Adding Bridgewater to this list with the assumption the Bucs move on from Fitzpatrick or fail to bring back the Ginger Adonai. Bridgewater was poised for a breakout season in 2016 before being inflicted with a gruesome knee injury that nearly ended his career. At this point, he’s cleared for contact, and miraculously recovered. The Vikings are likely to let Bridgewater walk, and yet I can’t imagine a team will open up the wallet for starter money for Bridgewater with the unknowns around his health. Bridgewater was my top draft target in 2014 for the Bucs. Bring him in as a backup now and see what he’s got.
  8. Demarcus Lawrence (DE – Cowboys) Lawrence would be higher on my list if I felt like he could hit the open market. I suspect the Cowboys will franchise him or sign him to a long-term deal. This last season was his breakout year, where he racked up 14.5 sacks and was a constant QB terrorizer. I’d peg the Bucs chances of landing Lawrence close to 0, but one can dream, right?
  9. Malcolm Butler (CB – Patriots) After we handed the Patriots Darrelle Revis and Aqib Talib on a silver platter, I suppose it’s our turn to get one of their CB’s. Butler’s low on my list for a few reasons: his price tag will be high, Patriots players have typically fared poorly outside of New England, and there’s something weird about Belichick benching him before Super Bowl LII for reasons still unknown. All these concerns mean Jason Licht will likely sign him to a massive deal. Perhaps Butler will become the player Asante Samuel was able to be for a brief time in Philadelphia. Perhaps not.
  10. Sheldon Richardson (DT – Seahawks) Richardson is an undeniable talent, and playing with the “Sons of Anarchy” with the Jets was a beautiful sight to behold. There’s also that unresolved feeling I have in knowing the pick we traded to the Jets for Revis wound up being Sheldon Richardson. Richardson is the kind of guy you sign to an incentive-laden deal. To give him guaranteed money would mean putting your faith in a player who turns on the “elite switch” as he chooses.

2017 Game by Game Review by TheHoodTheBadTheUgly

Closing Thoughts: Jason Licht a Horrible General Manager and I Can’t be Convinced Otherwise at this Point. Brace Yourselves for the Coming Offseason

After 2015, many called for Lovie Smith’s head and got what they wanted. After 2017, many echoed the same sentiments for Dirk Koetter. But the recurring issues with the Bucs start with our front office. I've been a long-time critic of Jason Licht. The crux of my criticism of Licht boils down to my opinion that he is good at finding individual talent, but not very good at building a complete roster. It's easiest to explain this year by year. 2014, Licht went all-in on offense. Given how abysmal our offense was in 2013, this may have seemed like a logical approach, but the lack of balance in that draft continues to plague us until this day given how narrow our depth is there. From that draft, we're left with only two players: Mike Evans and Kevin Pamphile. This was the infamous year of Michael Johnson and Anthony Collins as well, two of the most disastrous free agent signings in franchise history. Alteraun Verner, viewed as a cheaper and more scheme-friendly version of Revis was also brought in at a high price tag and never properly utilized.
We move onto 2015, and once again, continue to focus on offense, offense, offense. Picking Jameis #1 overall is a decision Licht deserves credit for, and trading up to take a D3 guard in Marpet is another slamdunk move he made here. Taking Kwon in the 4th round was another Licht steal, and this draft probably represented his high point. When Kwon was taken in the 4th round, it was the first time the Bucs had selected a defender in the Licht era. It took us 11 picks into his tenure to select a defender, and as the 2014-2015 classes begin to hit their stride, we’re left with a huge void on defense. While we needed a franchise LT, Donovan Smith has been hot garbage, and if the last season didn't suck out whatever faith people still had in him, I don't know what will. Oh, and in terms of Licht’s 2nd round picks, has anyone seen Austin Sefarian-Jenkins around?
We move onto 2016, and he finally says let's invest in our terrible defense. VH3 gets picked #11 overall after we trade down from #7, and no matter what people say, this was the right move. Licht takes a gamble on Noah Spence in Round 2, and he's been good when healthy. Then, there was the Roberto frickin’ Aguayo pick. Here we have a still incomplete roster that hasn't made a playoff since three head coaches ago, and what does he do? He trades up to take a kicker when we had an 82.1% accurate kicker in Barth.
The Licht era has emphasized heavy selection of offensive picks, and that investment has not translated into on field performance. Our late round picks (rounds 5-7) rarely make the opening day roster and are essentially wasted picks. Is this a scouting problem? I don't know, but I'd expect more roster retention than what we've had.
The Buccaneers will pick #7 overall in the upcoming draft. Licht’s past behavior suggests a RB like Saquon Barkley will be on the table—perhaps to even trade up for. He shouldn’t be (despite him being my #1 player in this draft). We can keep going offense-heavy every year, and that will mean averaging 20.0 sacks a season and a porous secondary. This is Jason Licht’s modus operandi. This is why this last season, we weren’t who we thought we were, and we Licht us off the hook. I’ll show myself out now. Brace yourselves for an infuriating offseason led by an emperor in the front office with no clothes.

Shoutouts

Shoutouts to Buccaneers. It has been a pleasure being a mod over there for the last year. Our sub continues to have one of the more special identities with our dank memes and weirdness that we let fly. Thank you to TheHoodTheBadTheUgly who will be posting a game-by-game review later this morning. Lastly, I highly recommend following LansdowneStreet who is a local Tampa Journalist for Sports Talk Florida. Long-form journalism is both an art and a dying breed, and he is a phenomenal writer who's keeping legitimate sports writing alive. Shoutout to fellow Buccaneers mods kris919 and luckyink, who are the real glue that keeps the sub going (everyone knows if I touch the CSS the sub will die). Shoutout to NapoleonBonerparts for the beautiful new 32 Teams website, and to Skepticismissurvival who is always great to work with on these series. Finally, shoutout to the NFL mods. Your job ain't easy and it's thankless but you're damn good at it.
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132+ Teams in 132+ Days: Texas A&M Aggies

The Fighting Texas Aggies of Texas A&M
SEC
"Howdy. I've got a little story for ya, Ags!" Traditional start to Midnight Yell.
Year Founded: 1876, the first public institution of higher education in Texas.
Location: College Station, Texas
Total Attendance: 53,337, with roughtly 40,000 being undergrads.
Live Mascot: The first Reveille came to Texas A&M in January 1931.
A group of cadets hit a small black and white dog on their way back from Navasota. They picked up the dog and brought her back to school so they could care for her. The next morning, when the bugler woke the students with the song "Reveille", the dog started barking. She was named after this morning wakeup call.
The following football season she was named the official mascot when she led the band onto the field during their half-time performance. When Reveille I died on January 18, 1944, she was given a formal military funeral on the gridiron of Kyle Field. She was then buried at the north entrance to the field, as all Reveilles are, facing the scoreboard so that she can always watch the Aggies outscore their opponent.
Reveille I, mut.
Rev II, a Shetland Sheepdog.
Rev VII, a Rough Collie, was aparently quite the player
Rev VIII, the current Rev, hanging out with Obama
When she dies, there is a special cemetery located outside the north endzone of Kyle Field that features it's own scoreboard so the Rev's can always keep up with the team.
Cheerleaders:
Why put the prettiest girls in school out on the track?
We choose to hang out with them in the stands.
In exchange we have Yell Leaders. (See Traditions for more info)
Stadium: Kyle Field and get ready, we're about to spend half a billion making Kyle much bigger.
Kyle Field is named after Edwin Kyle, an 1899 graduate of the school and a professor of Horticulture. At the time, the school didn't want to give money for a football field, so Prof Kyle fenced a part of his fields used for agriculture.
Using $650 of his own money, he purchased a covered grandstand and built wooden bleachers. The seating capacity was 500 people.
Kyle Field is currently the 13th largest football-only stadium in the NCAA, and next year the stadium should hold 109,000 and then we'll come back down to 102,500 to settle as the largest stadium in the SEC.
Football games have been played at the same location since 1904, and it was designated a football field in 1905. Permanent stadium construction began in 1927.
Stadium Location: Construction began last Monday on campus across from the Memorial Student Center.
• Texas A&M is the 18th all-time winningest program in Division 1 with 691 wins.
Georgia Tech and Virginia Tech are both within 4 wins, so moving up on the list might happen in the near future.
Conference Champions (18): 1917, '19, '21, '25, '27, '39, '40, '41, '56, '67, '75, '85, 86, '87, '91, '92, '93, '98. Second most conference championships of the SWC.
Number of Bowl Games: (34) 15-19.
National Titles (3ish): 1939 AP National Champs; 1919 - undefeated, unscored on, 275-0 for the season; 1927 - Sagarin gave us a retroactive MNC on this one. We don't really claim it, either.
Rivals
Texas - While currently inactive, this is still the 3rd most played rivalry in CFB at 118 games played. Texas leads the series, but here is a little history to help keep perspective.
Until the late 1960's, A&M faced the most difficult recruiting impediment in CFB. We were all-male and all-military. The service academies were seen as being 'more legitimate' than A&M, and Texas, being co-ed without restrictions pulled in a lot more talent over the years, as you can imagine. It's quite amazing that A&M won at all, much less having come in 2nd in conference championships during that time.
In 1975, the Aggies finished the season in the Top 25 for the first time since opening up the campus, and in an epic win over Texas made the series dramatically more even. Since 1975, the Aggies lead the series 19-18 over the Longhorns.
Texas Tech - Mostly ignored by the Aggies during the SWC, it became heated when Mike Leach set his sights on A&M. Aggies lead the series 37-32-1.
Baylor - This rivalry was over-heated during the early days. Play was suspended for years after an A&M student was killed at a game in Waco, and other Aggies threatened to load up military gear and invade Waco.
Under Coach Fran, the Aggies gave Baylor their first conference win in the Big12. Aggies lead the series 68-31-9.
LSU - The Aggies have played the Tigers off-and-on since 1899, and with bordering states, shared recruiting territories, and starting next year, a Thanksgiving game, this series looks to be heating up quite nicely.
The Aggies are 7-2-1 at Kyle Field and 10-22-1 in Baton Rouge. Overall, the Tigers lead 28-20-3.
2013 Season
The Aggie faithful are excited. We've got a lot of returning talent, and coaches that proved their worth last season in the SEC. Plus our schedule is very nice ... you know, as far as SEC schedules featuring Alabama can be nice.
8/31 - Rice
9/7 - Sam Houston State
9/14 - Alabama
9/21 - SMU
9-28 - at Arkansas
10-12 - at Ole Miss
10-19 - Auburn
10-26 - Vanderbilt
11-2 - UTEP
11-9 - Mississippi State
11-23 - at LSU
11-30 - at Mizzou
The Greats
Greatest Games:
2012 Cotton Bowl. What? Not the Alabama game? After a turbulent transition from the Big12 to the SEC, beating the Big12 co-champion was the greatest way (outside of playing beating Texas) to cap off our move to the SEC. Beating Alabama in their house was nice, but Oklahoma was retribution for the Fran and Sherman years.
• 2002 - Aggies knock off #1 Oklahoma with new offensive coordinator Kevin Sumlin calling the shots.
• 1998 – A&M hands #3 Nebraska their first loss in almost 2 full years, then knocks off #2 Kansas State in the CCG.
• 1990 – - BYU's Heisman Trophy winner, Ty Detmer, has both shoulders separated against the Aggies in the Holiday Bowl. Warning, the first half of the footage is brutal.
Bo knows the Aggies. - - Auburn faced the Aggies in '86 in the Cotton Bowl after Bo Jackson won the Heisman. Watch at 3:20 when Bo gets three shots in a row at scoring from inside the 5 and walks off the field with a big bag of nothing.
• 1975 - You didn't think we'd go without a UT game here, did you? The 1975 season was the first season that A&M ended the year with a top 25 ranking, after going co-ed and ROTC-optional.
It also featured the highest ranked A&M and UT teams to ever play. The #2 Aggies knocked off Earl Campbell and the #5 Horns ushering in a new era of Aggie football.
• Honorable Mention: The '99 "Bonfire Game" against Texas. That was the last year A&M held bonfire on campus, as tragedy struck. 11 students and one former former student lost their lives in the accident leading up to the game against Texas.
In all my years at A&M, and in all the years following the team, I've only seen two visiting bands receive standing ovations from the Aggie fans. One was Rice's MOB back in the Southwest Conference days, and the other was the Longhorn band on that afternoon.
We were all Texans and friends that day, and not rivals.
• In case you want a solid history of our program, here are two fantastic videos of A&M football history, each about 12 minutes long:
Texas A&M history from 1894 to 1971
1971 through the end of the Big12.
Greatest Plays:
Aggies beat Texas in '88. Texas QB Brett Stafford tries to quiet the Aggie crowd, and it ends poorly.
• Quentin Coryatt lays down The Hit against . The recever's jaw is broken in three places.
Sirr Parker wraps up double OT and drives a nail into the heart of #2 Kansas State and ends Bill Snyder's best chance to get into a National Championship game.
Greatest Players:
College Hall of Fame players: Ray Childress, DT; Dave Elmendorf, S; Joel Hunt, QB; John Kimbrough, FB; Charlie Krueger, T; Jack Pardee, FB; Joe Routt, G; Gene Stallings, DB; Joe Utay, HB.
Heisman Winners: John David Crow and Johnny Manziel.
Honorable mention:
Bucky Richardson, local hero and QB.
Dat Nguyen, LB, Lombardi Award, Chuck Bednarik Award.
Shane Lechler, starter at punter and kicker, on the depth chart for linebacker and was the backup QB in '98, and currently has a Hall of Fame worthy NFL career is still going.
Luke Joeckel, Outland Award.
Randy Bullock, Lou Groza winner.
Von Miller, Butkus Award.
• A&M has had 22 Consessus All-Americans:
Sam Adams, DE; Marcus Buckley, LB; Randy Bullock, PK; Ray Childress, DT; John David Crow, RB; Dave Elmendorf, FS; Tony Franklin, PK; Aaron Glenn, DB; Johnny Holland, LB; Robert Jackson, LB; Luke Joeckel, OT; Darren Lewis, RB; Johnny Manziel, QB; Von Miller, DE/LB; Damontre Moore, DE; Dat Nguyen, LB; Marshall Robnett, OG; Joe Routt, OG; Ed Simonini, LB; Pat Thomas, CB, and John Kimbrough, RB was named consensus All-American in both '39 and '40.
Aggies in the NFL as of July 25:
Ben Bass, DE, Dallas Cowboys
Martellus Bennett, TE, Chicago Bears
Michael Bennett, DT, Seattle Seahawks
Red Bryant, DT, Seattle Seahawks
Randy Bullock, K, Houston Texans
Terrence Frederick, DB, New York Giants
Jeff Fuller, WR, Miami Dolphins
Cyrus Gray, RB, Kansas City Chiefs
Mike Goodson, RB, New York Jets
Danny Gorrer, CB, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Geoff Hangartner, C, Carolina Panthers
Tony Jerod-Eddie, DE, San Francisco 49ers
Luke Joeckel, T, Jacksonville Jaguars
Johnny Jolly, DT, Green Bay Packers
Jorvorskie Lane, RB, Miami Dolphins
Shane Lechler, P, Houston Texans
Kevin Matthews, C, Washington Redskins
Jamie McCoy, TE, Pittsburgh Steelers
Stephen McGee, QB, Houston Texans
Christine Michael, RB, Seattle Seahawks
Von Miller, OLB, Denver Broncos
Damontre Moore, DL, New York Giants
Don Muhlbach, LS, Detroit Lions
Spencer Nealy, DL, Minnesota Vikings
Uzoma Nwachukwu, WR, Houston Texans
Sean Porter, OLB, Cincinnati Bengals
Jordan Pugh, S, Washington Redskins
Lionel Smith, DB, Jacksonville Jaguars
Jonathan Stewart, LB, St. Louis Rams
Ryan Tannehill, QB, Miami Dolphins
Steven Terrell, DB, Jacksonville Jaguars
Brian Thomas, OL, Miami Dolphins
Cody Wallace, C, Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Greatest Coaches:
'Uncle Charlie' Moran ('09-'14) - coached Jim Thorpe in high school. Went 38-8-4 at A&M, and left to go to Centre College. He racked up a 42-6-1 record and a MNC there. He was also coaching Centre against A&M when the Aggie 12th Man tradition began.
Also was a National League umpire in 4 world series.
Dana X. Bible - Inducted into the College Hall of Fame in '51. Invented the T-formation. Led A&M to two undefeated, unscored on seasons.
Took a year off coaching to be a pilot during WWI.
Came back and coached the Aggies to a SWC conference championship in football, basketball and baseball in the same season. Left to go to Texas where he won 3 SWC championships and finished in the AP Poll 5 times in 10 years.
• Other coaches deserving credit: Hall of Fame coaches and their year of induction that were head coach at A&M include - Matty Bell, '55; Bear Bryant, '86; Homer Norton, '71; Gene Stallings, 2010; R.C. Slocum, 2012.
Former Aggie players who are current coaches:
Dennis Allen, head coach, Oakland Raiders
Gary Kubiak, head coach, Houston Texans
Dan Campbell, tight ends, Miami Dolphins
Kyle Caskey, offensive QC Cincinnati Bengals
Jerry Fontenot, assistant offensive line coach, Green Bay Packers
Kirk Parrirsh, college scouting coordinator, Seattle Seahawks
Shawn Slocum, special teams coordinator, Green Bay Packers.
Traditions
I've included both a short version and a link to some of our most interesting traditions. I know I've skipped more than a few, but this is a good start.
Yell Leaders – A&M was an all-male school, but often times girls from a local women's college would get bussed in. Some seniors thought it would be funny to haze the freshmen in front of the women.
So they made a group of freshmen put on janitor's clothing and stand out on the track and be stupid.
But after the game something amazing happened. Those freshmen all had no problems getting dates.
The next week it was Seniors out there with the overalls on.
100 years later, and it's two juniors and three seniors. Each year there is a campus-wide election, and Yell Leader vote is dramatically more important to the average student than class president or any of the other boring votes.
Why do we keep the Yell Leaders instead of switching to cheerleaders? When a 'cheer leader' does a cheer of more than 4 sylables, guys gawk at them and girls ignore them. When a Yell Leader leads a yell, any yell, 30,000+ fans raise their voices to chant along.
The Yells - There are a bunch of them, and if you go to any Aggie Yell Practice or game, you'll most likely hear all of 'em. In order to do a yell correctly, you have to 'hump it.' See below.
• [The Spirit and the War Hymn] - Other schools have a school song and a fight song. The Aggies have The Spirit of Aggie Land and The War Hymn
There has been much controversy at ESPN and newspapers outside of Texas A&M over the lyrics of both songs.
The ending of the Spirit has been officially changed from "We are the Aggies / the Aggies are we / We're from Texas AMC" to "We are the Aggies / the Aggies so true / We're from Texas AMU" to designate that we are no longer Texas A&M college.
The media has also called for A&M to change the War Hymn as Texas is no longer playing us in any sport.
Lyrics feature, "'the eyes of Texas are upon you' / That is the song they sing so well / Sounds Like Hell / So good bye to Texas University / We're gonna beat you all to ...
After which is the most striking part of the Hymn, when fans put their arms around the people next to them and 'saw' while singing "Saw Varsity's horns off" and "Varsity's horns are sawed off."
This is, of course, in reference to the Texas mascot that was known simply as Varsity before they changed it to Bevo.
As for the "controversy", all Aggies have completely ignored it and we are unanamous in sticking with our traditional songs.
Gig 'em - Rather than end a conversation with "goodbye", many conversations between Aggies end with "gig 'em", usually accompanied by a thumbs up. This tradition began at a 1930 Midnight Yell Practice held before the football game against .
In an attempt to excite the crowd, Pinky Downs, a 1906 Texas A&M graduate and member of the school's Board of Regents, asked "What are we going to do to those Horned Frogs?" Using a term for frog hunting, he answered his own question, "Gig 'em, Aggies!"
For emphasis, he made a fist with the thumb extended. The phrase and hand signal proved popular, and it became the first hand sign of the Southwest Conference. All 12 schools evenutally adopted hand signs of their own.
The 12th Manhttp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/12th_Man_(football) - A&M is playing Centre College, one of the most dominant programs of the era. So many Aggies are injured that a former player, E. King Gill, is called out of the stands.
Gill jumped into an injured player's jersey and stood ready to help the team if they needed him. Now all 30,000 plus students stand ready through every game to go help the Aggies if the coach calls.
Midnight Yell - Where else would you want to be at midnight on Friday before a game but with 30,000 fans hanging out at the stadium. For road games we normally find a bar to crash with the travelling fans.
Aggies go through all the yells, and listen to very well thought out stories and anectdotes by the Yell Leaders decipher the somewhat humerous jokes made by the (we're almost positive) not drunk Yell Leaders.
This is open to any one, including fans of opposing schools and curious onlookers ... unless you force us to block you out.
Hump it - Look again at the picture for Midnight Yell. Those fans are all leaning over with their hands on their knees in the middle of a yell. Why? Because you can yell louder when you lean over.
Aggies Hump it for all Yells, and during crunch time, you'll see plenty of Aggies in the stands humping it while screaming.
Howdy - The traditional way to start every speech to Aggies. If you say Howdy, normally the crowd will respond with "Howdy" back to you. You will also hear the word Howdy more times per day on our campus than anywhere else in the world. It's our greeting and we use it. A lot.
Parson's Mounted Calvalry and the Spirit of '02 - a 1902 Howitzer that we fire off on kickoffs and scores at football games. We found it in a ravine while chopping wood for Bonfire. You never let good military hardware go to waste.
Corps of Cadets - Once mandatory at A&M, the Corps is much smaller than it was back in the 60s. During WWII, A&M put more servicemen into the armed forces than any other school, including West Point.
A&M still produces more officers than any university, except for the service academies. 42% of Corps members receive a commission in the US Armed Forces.
The Fighting Texas Aggie Band. - Texas A&M features a military style marching band. They are fantastic. Especially if you are used to the standard 'show bands' that everyone has. Click the link and see some of their performances.
The FTAB is part of the the Corps. I doubt there is an Aggie who graduated in the last 40 years that doesn't get a chill when they hear, "Now forming at the North end of Kyle Field ... "
Remember the part of the 12th Man tradition where I said the students stand for the whole football game? They stand for the FTAB, too. Even when the temperature is well above 100 degrees, the Aggie students will stay standing for everything except the opposing team's band.
Century Tree- Want to propose on campus? We've got a tree for that. All Aggies grab a kiss under this tree at some point in their time at A&M.
Elephant Walk - Elephant Walk marks the end of the usefulness of the Aggie seniors to the student body. Like dying elephants, which wander the jungle looking for a place to die after their value to the herd is over, thousands of seniors will join hands and wander aimlessly about campus visiting landmarks for the symbolic "last time."
This happens after the last home football game becaues the other sports don't matter.
Reveille - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Reveille_(dog) - She really is the highest ranking member of the Corps of Cadets.
She goes to classes with Corps members, where if she barks, you stand a good chance of the prof cancelling the class for the day.
She has her own bed, and the right to take over the bed of any Corps member on campus.
The grass at the MSC. The Memorial Student Center building and the grounds around it is a tribute to our servicemen around the world. If you are in the MSC, you are asked to take off your hat, and if you are around the MSC, you are asked to not stand on the grass.
The MSC also features the Medals of Honor won by seven former students.
Aggie ring - Many schools have rings, but for Aggies this it the most visible way for graduates of Texas A&M to recognize each other. The Aggie Ring is worn by current and former students, and may be used to distinguish seniors from other students on campus.
The first Aggie Ring was designed by E. C. Jonas in 1894, and the design has remained relatively unchanged since; the only major change came when the school's name was changed from the Agricultural and Mechanical College of Texas to Texas A&M University in 1963.
Ring dunking - After receiving your Aggie Ring, you aren't really entitled to wear it until you've dunked it, normally in a pitcher of beer. From the time you put it in, your friends will time how long it takes to get it out, so you get to chug beer and try to catch the ring in your teeth.
As a member of the Class of '97, I had 97 seconds to get it out. Kids these days are pushing 113 seconds. Way too easy.
I've seen people 'dunk' their rings in a super sized banana splits and drink them out of non-alcoholic drinks, and I've seen them drain a pitcher in under 15 seconds. My wife ('99) and I both finished ours in under a minute and a half. It was nerve wracking, but well worth it. We still have the pitchers.
Bonfire - I was kind of hoping that someone else would write this section. I helped build three bonfire's at A&M and there is nothing like it. Thousands of students going out into the woods, doing heavy labor and realizing the rewards right before the Texas game.
It fostered huge competitions between the residents halls over the 3-4 months of work. It brought out tens of thousands of folks before the big rivalry game. It was simply epic, and I miss it a lot.
My freshman year, the BCS Eagle, the local paper, estimated the crowd at over 100,000 people. The next year when the game was held in Austin, there were still over 60,000 people at Bonfire on A&M's campus.
The tradegy that ended bonfire was impossibly awful. As a person who had climbed the stacks for years, I know how and why things went wrong, but I'll never understand it. It should not have happened, and my heart goes out to the families who lost loved ones.
Wrecking Crew – Once the name of the highly respected and feared Aggie defense, Coach Fran removed the monicar and told the team to 'win it back.' What he forgot to do was teach them to play defense. As the defense gets better the name comes out more often, and soon the Aggie D will leave the field to chants of Wrecking Crew again.
Aggie Terminology Yes, we have a glossary of terms that every Aggie knows and uses on a pretty regular basis. Except for the 'two percenters'. Have you ever heard an Aggie 'Whoop'? That's a privilege held for only the juniors, seniors and graduates. Catch a 'Fish' 'Pulling Out' and you can make them 'Push'. (for explinations, read the terms in the links)
Fish Pond - When the Aggies win a home football game, the freshmen in the Corps of Cadets chase the Yell Leaders around Kyle Field, and, once they are captured, carry them across campus and toss them into Fish Pond, a fountain full of very cold water. And yes, in '93 it snowed during the Texas game and the Yell Leaders were still given a nice bath after the win. The freshmen dunking is what gives 'Fish Pond' it's name, as no fish live in the water.
Fish Drill Team - The award winning drill team can often be found practicing in the Quad by the Corps dorms. The team was featured during the opening credits to A Few Good Men, linked here. They are pretty amazing to watch.
Fish Camp - The summer before a students' freshman year, the 'Fish' are invited to a 4 day camp in Palestine, Texas where they learn the Aggie Tradtions and Yells.
Fish Camp features over 900 counselors, if that give you an idea of how big it is.
Texas A&M has a pair of extraordinary traditions. I've tried to capture the spirit, but I'd invite each of you to join with us any time to see these live.
Silver Taps - On the first Tuesday of any month, if an undergrad or graduate student has passed away, there will be a small card with the deceased students name, class, major, and date of birth placed on the statue of Lawrence Sullivan Ross in the Academic Plaza.
That night, lights are turned off all over campus, and at 10:15, students and family members will gather silently around the statue. Shortly there after, the Ross Volunteers will march in, stand at attention, then fire three rifle volleys, breaking the silence.
Then Silver Taps, a special version of Taps, is played three times from the top of the Academic Building ... once to the north, south, and west. It is not played to the east to signify that sun will never rise on that Aggie again. After the buglers play, the students silently return to their homes.
I can not properly put into words how striking this ceremony is.
My freshman year, as Silver Taps slowely faded away, the silence was broken by a mother who had cried quietly during the ceremony. She softly said, "Thank you" in the darkness to the faceless people gathered, in a voice wracked with tears, and I doubt any of us left with dry eyes.
Muster - Muster is the tradition that forever unites the Aggies past with Aggies present. It is Texas A&M's most solemn and most visible tradition.
Muster was first held on June 26, 1883, and it's been held on San Jacinto Day, April 21st, since 1903. This is a day where former students of Texas A&M gathered together to '... live over again our college days, the victories and defeats won and lost upon drill ground and classroom. Let every alumnus answer a roll call.'
No matter where Aggies are, whether it is two or three, or the thousands who gather on the Texas A&M campus, they find other Aggies to celebrate the day. Each year there are 300-400 musters held around the world.
And it is a celebration. While the ceremony is moving and reminds you of the lives lost, the day full of activities, including a 50 year reunion spot light, Camaraderie Barbecue, and campus tours shows off the life of the students, current and past.
At each Muster ceremony a speaker will be followed by the 'Roll Call For The Absent.' Names of those from that area who have died in the past year will be read, and as each name is called, a family member or friend will answer 'Here' to show that Aggie is present in spirit, and a candle will be lit.
Following the candle-lighting ceremony in Reed Arena, a rifle volley is fired and then Silver Taps is played.
During World War II, Aggies and other servicemen held Muster at Corregidor, the last American stronghold in the Pacific before the island was overrun by the Japanese. Only 12 Aggies survived the battle, the death march and ensuing POW camps.
Campus and Surrounding Area
The campus of Texas A&M University, also known as Aggieland, is situated in College Station, Texas. Aggieland is centrally located within 200 miles of three of the 10 largest cities in the United States and 75% of the Texas and Louisiana populations.
Bryan-College Station area population: 228,660
City Skyline and other places
Iconic Campus Building:
Kyle Field dominates the 5,200 acre campus, but some other building include:
The Systems Building welcomes visitors to our campus
Rudder Tower named after James Earl Rudder who led one of the most daring raids in the Normandy Invasion during WWII scaling a 100 foot cliff under enemy fire to destroy German gun batteries. He was also the 16th President of Texas A&M.
George Bush Presidential Library - Former President George Bush, the older one, has his presidential library on campus. It features tons of history on his presidency and an apartment for him to stay in upstairs when he is visiting.
Which is good, as he makes it to many A&M football games. He even led the team onto Kyle Field once.
The Academic Building stands behind the statue of Lawrence Sullivan Ross who turned down a third term as governor of Texas to be A&M's president. He actively fought for A&M, literally and figuratively. If you need a little luck, drop a penny on his statue.
• The O&M building was once the tallest building between Houston, Dallas and Austin. Many aggies take Astronomy simply so they get to hang out on the top floor.
Sbisa Dining Hall - once the largest dining hall in the world, A&M and Air Force spent much of the last century fighting over the rights to the who's was larger. Sbisa was named after Bernard Sbisa who only missed cooking one meal in 50 years for the Aggies. That breakfast was on Nov. 11, 1911 when the campus burned down, including the mess hall, kitchens and his own home. Lunch that day was served on time.
Local Dining:
If you come to College Station, don't you dare leave before spending some time at Northgate. Since 1930 (8 years before College Station was incorporated) this has been the traditional place for students to relax across the street from campus.
Northgate is College Stations premier bar district located along the Northwest edge of campus across University St. Most places are open until 2am and are open to 18+ with some 21+ exceptions.
Many Texas Country musicians got their start in Northgate, including Aggie legends Robert Earl Keen, Lyle Lovett, Dub Miller, and Roger Creager.
Northgate
Some favorites include:
The Dixie Chicken - The Dixie Chicken, also known as The Chicken, has been "College Station's most famous watering hole since 1974," and is notable for its role in Texas A&M University tradition.
"Nationally known," the Dixie Chicken claims to serve the most beer per square foot of any bar in the United States.
The tradition of Ring Dunking started at the Chicken. If you do visit The Chicken, you should take the opportunity to learn Texas 42. It's essentially spades with dominos and a ton of fun.
Dry Bean Saloon - Shot bar next to The Chicken. Order favorites like the Angry Japanese Minnow Farmer.
The Corne Rooftop - It's been a while since I've been, but this place was always one of the favorites, mostly for the multiple floors, large bars, and rooftop atmosphere/ view.
Logan's - If you're 21+ and don't wants teens around this is one of the few options. Solid bar with giant 36 oz chuggers. Looks like $4 is what they'll cost you now, but I could swear there were nights they were $2.
O'bannon's Taphouse - If you're a beer connoisseur this is your spot. They have over 100 beers on tap, and a beer tour card. Filling with the 100+ beers takes weeks and give you mad street cred. And a drinking problem.
HOOKAH STATION!!! GATSBY'S!!! V-BAR!!! - The places Johnny famously frequents. The scooby doo shots were definitely in one of the latter two.
There are many more, but those will get you started. Watch the door for 5 minutes and you'll be able to tell exactly what kind of crowd frequents each.
Late Night Snacks
Antonio's - Incredibly diverse selection of Pizzas that are pretty perfect around 2am. The line will be out the door and down the street, so get there at 1:30 if you really want some. Worth the wait.
Fuego - Delicious alternative to Taco Cabana that popped up in the last few years. It's pricer, but the quality is head and shoulders above.
Breakfast
Hullabaloo - Diner a ways out east of town down wellborn.
Los Norteños - Downtown Bryan taco place. Tacos better described as burritos they barely fit on the already large plates.
Brunch / Lunch
Layne's - Heard of Raising Cane's? It's that, but with better sauce, actual Texas Toast, and better fries. Plus it's half the price.
Freebirds - Oh my god I wish they had these where I live. Chipotle is dogshit compared to a good bird. I've put back multiple Super Monsters in my time.
Koppe Bridge - Great Burgers. Enough Said.
La Bodega - Shakers and Queso is all you need, but the rest of their food is good too.
Dinner
Cafe Eccel - Across from La Bodega. Solid food if you want to get a little fancier.
Christopher's - Kinda out of the way, but great if you want to get real fancy.
This is in no way an all inclusive list. I have no doubt many more recently in CS Aggies will fill it out further in the comments.
Random Trivia
A&M currently has the most current students attend each game. Season tickets cost $225 for just football, or $350 for all sports. A normal football game will feature 30,000+ students in the stands.
A&M won 79.8% of their games during the 1910's, including two undefeated, unscored on seasons.
Kyle field opened in 1904, making it the SEC's oldest field. After renovations, it will be the largest stadium in the SEC at 102,500 seats. Next year, during construction, it will hold 109,000 fans for the year.
On Nov. 24, 1921 the A&M vs. Texas game was broadcast in real time by morse code. This was the first play-by-play broadcast in history.
There is also plenty of rivalry between A&M and UTx off the field as well.
The opening scene of The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas is the Aggie football team beating the Longhorns and being rewarded with a visit to the women of the night.
Students that went to A&M for one year, then transferred elsewhere: T. Boone Pickens, Tennessee's General Robert Neyland, and the LA Clippers' DeAndre Jordan.
Lots of famous folks have come from A&M but the head of the list is professor Norman Borlaug. The 'Man who saved a Billion lives' is one of seven people to have won the Nobel Peace Prize, the Presidential Medal of Freedom, and the Congressional Gold Medal.
What Is and What is to Come
Here we go with year 2 in the SEC, and the Aggie faithful have a lot to be excited about.
Our schedule has 8 home games, including Alabama at Kyle Field.
On offense, our O-Line should be just as good as last year, if not better, despite losing Outland Trophy winner Luke Joeckel.
We return outstanding tackle Jake Matthews who will move to left tackle, and Cedric Ogbuehi will take right tackle which is his natural position. We also have Mike Matthews (Jake's brother) stepping in at center.
Germain Ifedi and Jarvis Harrison will fill out the guard positions. All of them have a lot of experience from last year.
At running back, we have size, speed, power and blocking. We have hungry backs that want to play. Possibly the most talented backfield in the NCAA this year.
To catch the ball we have tall, strong, fast receivers all over the place. Mike Evans returns after a stunning freshman year. Freshman Ricky Seals-Jones (RSJ) will join Cam Clear to give us a normal receiving package including three receivers over 6'4”. All of them can run, and they might all be lining up on the same side just to screw with defenses.
In a press conference last week, Coach Sumlin said RSJ is 6'5" and 245 lbs. They did a body fat analysis and realized that he is carring the minimum amount of fat the trainers will allow. That's all muscle.
And we have Johnny Manziel. No matter what you think you know about him, the kid can play football.
On defense, we have a lot of new faces, including some true freshmen that should be playing plenty this year. Of course, last year we thought our D would be terrible and it came out plenty okay, so there is hope!
Overtime
Heisie, there isn't enough about me here! WTF?
I'm a statue, Johnny. This is all in your head.
More Information
Subreddit: /Aggies
Contributors: FarwellRob, Thrav, Theyus, laminak
And finally, my thanks to the many good Ags that have helped put this together.
There is a traditional saying at A&M: From the outside looking in, you can't understand it; and from the inside looking out, you can't explain it.
I've done my best to capture A&M and what we feel is special about Aggieland ... but I'm going to bet I've missed a few things.
For more information on the 132 Teams in 132 Days Project, click here.
submitted by FarwellRob to CFB [link] [comments]

[Game Preview] Week 12 Thanksgiving Game - Philadelphia Eagles (4-6) at Detroit Lions (3-7)

Philadelphia Eagles (4-6) at Detroit Lions (3-7)
For the second-consecutive season, the Eagles will take the field on Thanksgiving Day as they travel to Detroit to take on the Lions at Ford Field. All-time, the Eagles are 6-0 on Thanksgiving Day, including a 33-10 victory over the Dallas Cowboys in 2014. Philadelphia and Detroit will square off for the 33rd time in series history and the first time since the Eagles’ memorable 34-20 victory in the snow on December 8, 2013.
Eagles Online Food Drive
Please consider joining us in donating to the Eagles Online Healthy Food Drive. Help Philadelphia Families in need get a great holiday dinner this year. You can get more information by following this link: Click Here
Plus, if we win this thing we could have the largest /Eagles Meet-Up ever?!
General Information
Posting Rules and Guidelines
Don't forget to enter the Score Prediction Contest!
Remember to join us on ChatFrog during the game!
New to the Eagles? Take a look at our Fan Page!
Game Time Game Location
12:30 PM - Eastern Ford Field
11:30 AM - Central 2000 Brush St
10:30 AM - Mountain Detroit, MI 48226
09:30 AM - Pacific Wikipedia - Map
Weather Forecast
Stadium Type: Fixed Dome
Outside Temperature: 52°F
Feels Like: 47°F
Forecast: Cloudy
Humidity: 74%
Chance of Precipitation: 25%
Chance of Dome: 100%
Cloud Coverage: 70%
Wind: S 10 MPH
Betting Odds
Oddsshark Information
Favorite/Opening Line: Eagles at -1.5
OveUnder: 47
Where to Watch on TV
FOX - Troy Aikman, Joe Buck, and Erin Andrews
TV Map - Week 12 TV Coverage Map
Internet Streams
FOX Sports Go - Provider Participation Required
NFL Streams - Look here 30 minutes before the game for Streams
Listen to Merrill Reese and Mike Quick
Location Station Frequency
Philadelphia, PA WIP-FM 94.1 FM and 610 AM
Allentown, PA WCTO-FM 96.1 FM
Levittown, PA WBCB-AM 1490 AM
Wilmington, DE WDEL-AM 1150 AM
Reading, PA WEEU-AM 830 AM
Sunbury, PA WEGH-FM 107.3 FM
Pottsville, PA WPPA-AM 1360 AM
Williamsport, PA WBZD-FM 93.3 FM
Harrisburg/York/Lancaster, PA WSOX-FM 96.1 FM
Salisbury/Ocean City, MD WAFL-FM 97.7 FM
Wilkes-Barre / Scranton, PA WEZX-FM 106.9 and 107.3
Atlantic City, NJ WENJ-AM 97.3 FM/1450 AM
Milford, DE WAFL-FM 97.7 FM
Spanish Radio
Rickie Ricardo, Gus Salazar and Macu Berral will handle the broadcast in Spanish on El Zol (1340 AM) in Philadelphia.
National Radio
Westwood One will air the game to a national audience, with Kevin Kugler, Mark Malone and Ross Tucker on the call. Scott Graham will host the pre-game and haltime shows.
Satellite Radio
Station Eagles Channel Lions Channel
Sirius Radio SIRI 83 (Internet 823) SIRI 82 (Internet 810)
XM Radio XM 225 (Internet 823) XM 226 (Internet 810)
Sirius XM Radio SXM 225 (Internet 823) SXM 226 (Internet 810)
NFC East Standings
Team W L Pct PF PA Net Pts TD Home Road Div Pct Conf Pct Non-Conf Streak Last 5
Giants 5 5 .500 273 253 20 29 3-2 2-3 2-2 .500 4-4 .500 1-1 1L 2-3
Redskins 4 6 .400 221 253 -32 24 4-1 0-5 1-1 .500 4-3 .571 0-3 1L 2-3
Eagles 4 6 .400 229 229 0 26 2-3 2-3 2-2 .500 3-5 .375 1-1 2L 2-3
Cowboys 3 7 .300 190 228 -38 19 1-4 2-3 2-2 .500 2-6 .250 1-1 1W 1-4
Series Information
Series Leader
Eagles lead the Lions: 17-13
Head to Head Box Scores
Points Leader
Eagles lead the Lions: 710-648
Coaches Record
Chip Kelly: 1-0 against Lions
Jim Caldwell: 0-1 against Eagles
Coaches Head to Head
Chip Kelly/Jim Caldwell: First Meeting
Quarterback Record
Sam Bradford: Against Lions: 0-2
Mark Sanchez: Against Lions: 1-0
Matthew Stafford: Against Eagles: 1-1
Quarterbacks Head to Head
Sam Bradford/Matt Stafford: First Meeting
Mark Sanchez/Matt Stafford: Sanchez leads 1-0
Records per Stadium
Record @ Lincoln Financial Field: Eagles Lead 2-1
Record @ Ford Field: Eagles lead 2-0
Rankings and Last Meeting Information
AP Pro 32 Ranking
Eagles No. 21 - Lions No. 27
Last Week
Eagles: L 45-17 vs. Buccaneers
Lions: W 18-13 vs. Raiders
Last Meeting
Oct 13, 2013 - Eagles beat the Lions 34-20
Last Meeting Details
Click here to view the Video Recap
Click here to view the Stats Recap
Last Game Summary
LeSean McCoy rushed for a franchise-best 217 yards, including touchdowns of 57 and 40 yards. The Philadelphia Eagles overcame two TD returns by Jeremy Ross to beat the Detroit Lions 34-20 in blizzard conditions. Ross returned a punt 58 yards for a score and ran a kickoff 98 yards. But McCoy ran 57 yards up the middle to tie it, and Nick Foles connected with Riley Cooper on the 2-point conversion. Foles sneaked in from the 1 and Chris Polk had a 38-yard TD run to cap a 28-point fourth quarter for the Eagles.
Last 10 Meetings
Date Winner Loser Score
12/08/2013 Eagles Lions 34-20
10/14/2012 Lions Eagles 26-23 OT
09/19/2010 Eagles Lions 35-32
09/23/2007 Eagles Lions 56-21
09/26/2004 Eagles Lions 30-13
11/08/1998 Eagles Lions 10-9
09/15/1996 Eagles Lions 24-17
12/30/1995 Eagles Lions 58-37 (Wildcard)
11/16/1986 Lions Eagles 13-11
11/04/1984 TIE TIE 23-23 OT
Injury Reports Depth Charts
Eagles Eagles
Lions Lions
2015 Weekly Matchup
Week 12 - Iron Rank Matchup
2015 Stats (Starters/Leaders)
Eagles Season Stats
Lions Season Stats
Passing
Name CMP ATT PCT YDS TD INT RAT
Bradford 214 335 63.9% 2297 11 10 82.4
Sanchez 40 64 62.5% 417 2 4 65.7
Stafford 239 372 64.2% 2607 15 12 84.8
Rushing
Name ATT YDS AVG TD
Murray 141 515 3.7 4
Adbulla 80 284 3.6 1
Receiving
Name REC YDS AVG TD
Matthews 55 565 10.3 2
Johnson 59 828 14.0 3
Sacks
Name Sacks Team Total
Cox 5.5 24.0
Ansah 8.0 24.0
Tackles
Name Total Solo Assist Sacks
Jenkins 67 56 11 0.0
Tulloch 70 45 25 0.0
Interceptions
Name Ints Team Total
Thurmond 3 12
Quin 2 4
Punting
Name ATT YDS LONG AVG NET IN 20 TB FC BP
Jones 53 2493 60 47.0 41.1 19 5 14 2
Martin 54 2492 66 46.1 41.3 18 2 9 0
Kicking
Name ATT MADE % LONG PAT
Sturgis 16 13 81.3% 53 16/18
Prater 13 13 100.0% 52 16/19
Kick Returns
Name ATT YDS AVG LONG TD
Huff 8 209 26.1 40 0
Abdullah 32 724 31.5 104 0
Punt Returns
Name RET YDS AVG LONG TD FC
Sproles 23 269 11.7 89 1 13
Tate 13 108 8.3 23 0 5
League Rankings
Offense Rankings
Team Overall Passing Rushing
Eagles 8 14 11
Lions 25 8 32
Defense Rankings
Team Overall Passing Rushing
Eagles 25 16 28
Lions 20 19 24
Eagles Connections
S Jerome Couplin was a UDFA signee of the Lions in 2014 out of William & Mary
Offensive Coordinator Pat Shurmur hails from Dearborn, MI, where he attended Divine Child High School. He was a four year letterman at Michigan State as a centelinebacker.
Both LB Connor Barwin and LB Brandon Graham call Detroit their hometown. Barwin attended University of Detroit High School, where he was a first-team all-state selection in football and an all-league choice in basketball. He was inducted into the school’s inaugural Hall of Fame class in 2014 and also bears a tattoo of the Detroit skyline on his biceps. Graham went to Crocket Vocational Technical HS and was a four-year starter at the University of Michigan from 2006-09.
Lions Connections
RB Joique Bell spent the first eight games of his career on the Eagles active roster in 2010 and held a brief stint on the team’s practice squad at the conclusion of his rookie campaign
DE Darryl Tapp was acquired by the Eagles from Seattle on March 16, 2010 in exchange for DE Chris Clemons and a draft pick. Tapp spent three seasons with the Eagles (2010-12), appearing in 39 games with three starts and notching six sacks.
Defensive Line Coach Jim Washburn served as the Eagles defensive line coach from 2011-12.
Running Backs Coach/Run-Game Coordinator Curtis Mookins was an NFL Minority Coaching Fellowship Intern with the Eagles in 1997.
General
The Eagles and Lions have met 32 times in the series history, including playoffs, with the Eagles holding a 17-13-2 advantage.
In Detroit, the Eagles are 7-4-2 against the Lions. At Ford Field, Philadelphia has won both of their matchups against Detroit with the last meeting taking place in 2010.
The series between the two teams began in 1933 when the Eagles lost to the then-Portsmouth Spartans, 25-0
The Eagles have won seven of their last eight games (including playoffs) against the Lions dating back to 1995, and 11 of their last 15
The Lions host their 76th annual Thanksgiving game Thursday, continuing a holiday tradition that began in 1934 and has been interrupted only for World War II. They are 35-38-2 on Thanksgiving.
The Eagles have never lost a game when playing on Thanksgiving (6-0). In those games the Eagles have produced 3 Shutouts and an Average Margin of Victory of 16.7 points.
Philadelphia and Detroit have met once on Thanksgiving with the Eagles winning 12-0 on the back of four Sam Baker field goals at Tiger Stadium on November 28, 1968
Eagles
Last week, the Eagles defense allowed Doug Martin to run for 235 yards, the highest single-game total in the NFL in the last three seasons. Additionally, they allowed Jameis Winston to tie the record for TD passes in a game by a rookie, set by Ray Buivid of the Bears in 1937 and tied only once previously, by Matt Stafford in 2009.
The Eagles defense has struggled over the past four games, allowing an average of 180 rushing yards per game during that span. They’ll look to get back on track this week against the worst rushing team in the NFL, as Detroit averages just 71.1 yards per game on the ground.
Last season, Philadelphia played the Cowboys in Dallas on Thanksgiving with QB Mark Sanchez at the helm. He was 20-of-29 for 217 yards, scoring one touchdown through the air and another with his legs. Sanchez's only other Thanksgiving game was in 2012 when the Jets lost to the Patriots (49-19) and the infamous Butt Fumble Took Place.
The Eagles are one of only three teams in the league to feature two tight ends with at least 250 yards receiving (Denver and San Diego). TE Brent Celek has totaled 18 catches for 284 yards, while TE Zach Ertz ranks second on the team in receiving yards (394) and third in receptions (38)
Over the last two games, TE Brent Celek has recorded 11 catches for 213 yards, which is the third-highest two-game yardage total of his career
Lions
Last week, the Lions defeated the Raiders, 18-13, one week after a surprising 18-16 win over the Packers. That was the first time in 15 years that Detroit won consecutive games despite scoring fewer than 20 points in each of them. Over the last 15 seasons, the Lions have a 16-99 record when they scored fewer than 20 points.
Detroit ranks last in the NFL with a minus-10 turnover differential.
The Lions defense has allowed just 29 combined points over the last two weeks in victories over Green Bay and Oakland. Largely because of their ability to stop the run.
The Lions offense has yet to produce a a player that has rushed for at least 100 yards in a game this year.
WR Calvin Johnson is the first player in franchise history to record 700 career receptions. Now with 702 receptions, he became the ninth player in NFL history to reach 700 receptions in his first nine NFL seasons. Johnson’s 828 receiving yards ranks 10th in the NFL. His 18 receptions on third down are sixth most.
RB Theo Riddick has 50 receptions for 445 yards through 10 games. He became the second Lions running back since 1960 to register 50 receptions through the season’s first 10 games (50, Kevin Jones in 2006).
The Lions’ average starting field position after a kickoff is the 22.9-yard line, which is fifth best in the NFL. RB Ameer Abdullah leads the NFL in both kickoff return yards (724) and average (31.5).
K Matt Prater connected on the 27th 50-yard field goal of his career last week vs. Oakland and tied David Akers for eighth on the NFL’s all-time career 50-yard field goals list. Detroit remains one of three teams left in the NFL (New York Giants and Cleveland) that haven’t missed a field goal this year.
QB Matthew Stafford has passed for 1,650 yards in five career Thanksgiving Day games, the third-most in NFL history.
WR Calvin Johnson is all-time leader with eight career touchdown receptions on Thanksgiving.
Matchups to Watch
Eagles CBs Nolan Carroll and Byron Maxwell vs. Lions WR Calvin Johnson
Calvin Johnson is on pace for his sixth straight 1,000-yard season as he leads the Lions with 59 receptions for 828 yards and three touchdowns. In fact, Johnson is averaging the same exact amount of yards per game (82.8) that he did a year ago.
Eagles LBs Connor Barwin and Brandon Graham vs. Lions OTs Riley Reiff and Michael Ola
The Lions' pass protection has been porous throughout the season. Quarterback Matthew Stafford has been sacked 26 times, the fourth most in the NFC. In the last four contests, Stafford has hit the deck seven times, six times, none and four times, respectively.
Eagles OT Jason Peters vs. Lions DE Ezekiel "Ziggy" Ansah
Ansah is one of the players on the rise (NFC Sack Leader), while the Eagles' All-Pro left tackle is one of the all-time greats. However, Peters has battled a back injury that sidelined him for two games and forced him to exit last Sunday's loss early. Peters has been limited in training this week, so his availability is not certain at this point.
Eagles Special Teams vs. Lions KR Ameer Abdullah
Abdullah leads the NFL in kickoff return yardage and average. His 104-yard return two weeks ago against the Packers helped set up a touchdown and lead the Lions to a historic win at Lambeau Field, the team’s first there in 24 years. Thanks to Abdullah, the Lions have the fifth best starting field position in the league after a kickoff. The Eagles rank 10th in the league in kickoff return coverage allowing 22.9 yards per return.
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