We got tons of tweets, messages, and emails with often super random questions, so we decided to take a crack at some of these, while giving some insight into the weird minds of our followers. If you would like to get our thoughts on the upcoming season or basically any of those thoughts dancing in your old noggin, send us a tweet @promathletics or email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Today, we have PART 1, check back tomorrow for PART 2.
What will be the impact of the recent Tannehill / Cutler switcheroo? - Anthony P. Rochester, NY
I still have trouble remembering that the Dolphins won 10 games last year, including a 7-1 stretch with Tannehill at the helm. Maybe that’s because the previous 7 years, they won between 6-8 games every year. The curse of the Patriots dynasty had seemingly relegated the Phish to perpetual mediocrity. To get to those 10 wins last year, however, they needed 2 overtime wins and 5 wins by 4 or less. Considering those facts, this is probably a 7 or 8 win team, before their starting QB gets hurt. If you read anything about the Cutler change, you’ve heard that it makes them better in the short term. Really? He is the quintessential .500 QB and hasn’t started 16 games since 2009 when he threw a league best 26 INTs. He’s been in full retirement mode, but he’s gonna come in on zero notice and (if you think he makes them better) have one of the best seasons of his career. I don’t think so. He is replacement level at best, keeping the Dolphins at 7 or 8 wins.
Every year we see some teams take a huge leap and some really fail to meet expectations. What teams do you think will fall into each of these categories this year? - Craig S. Detroit, MI
Let’s start with the positive. There are a few ways to define the “leap forward”, so we’ll discuss both. The first, and most significant is the teams that finally get over the hump and make the playoffs. We believe the Tennessee Titans are fall into that category. The Titans tied for 1st place last year and we think they improved enough in the secondary and at the receiver position to get them to double digit wins. Andrew Luck’s health and the Texan’s QB issues open the door for Tennessee to sneak into the playoffs for the 1st time since 2008 (when Kerry Collins was their QB).
The second way to attack this question is the team that most improves their win total and the LA Chargers have a great opportunity to be this team. Would you believe they only won 5 games last year? A combination of being absolutely ravaged by injuries and an uncanny knack for blowing leads will do that to you. Losing to the Browns doesn’t help either. Added depth at WR, another step forward for Gordon and Bosa, and general health could easily get them to 8-8, factor in a likely steep decline for Denver, and smaller steps back from KC and Oak and we may be looking at a 9-7 Bolts squad, a 5 game improvement.
We’ve all heard about the Super Bowl hangover from the losing team and get ready everyone, because the Atlanta Falcons are going to be feeling the pain of a 3-day Vegas twister (with a middle seat on the flight home). Even though he is the reigning MVP, you could make the argument that Matt Ryan is the worst QB in the division. Add the psychological effect of blowing the biggest lead in Super Bowl history, losing both your coordinators, and having your 2nd round pick suspended for the 1st 10 games and you may as well have had 13 Blue Raspberry St Ides Special Brews, because you are headed for Hangover City, not the playoffs.
Speaking of which…
We all saw Tommy and the boys do the unthinkable last year. With the addition of Cooks and a “healthy” Gronk, is it possible that the Pats don’t make a return trip? Bryan G. – Boston, MA
While I recognize that Brady is probably not human and they were a cover machine in 2016, the reality is they easily could have lost the AFC Championship game had Lev Bell not gotten hurt and they obviously had no business winning the Super Bowl. The point is, it’s easy to lose 1 60-minute game. Let’s be honest, the Texans playoff game was a lot closer than it should have been considering Brock Osweiler was playing. The AFC East looks pretty garbage again, so expect another 12+ win season, but don’t take anything for granted. The Steelers are lurking and a few key injuries could swing a potential rematch.
Which NFL head coach would be your top pick for: 1. A dodgeball tourney 2. Wing eating contest 3. Wonderlic test taker? – Jay S. - Philly, PA
Ok, I’ll take the Wonderlic 1st because that is the easiest. It’s Belichick. I know Bill O’Brien went to Brown, but this one isn’t close. Belichick obsesses over preparation, is a certified at least football genius, and he always finds a way to win. Now I am not insinuating he would cheat per se, but he probably would find the flaw in the test and exploit it. Once again coming out on top, but staying in the gray area between cheating and extreme preparation.
The second piece of this one is pretty easy as well. For my money, the wing eating contest champion begins and ends with Andy Reid. He’s going to be slow and methodical about the process, taking down flappers like so many 3 yard outs. Granted, there will probably be a time limit on this contest, and we all know that would be a handicap for the Walrus. If I’m thinking about other contenders, I would say Doug Marrone (6’5”/280ish) or Harbaugh (animal, milk could combat spiciness)
The dodgeball tournament is a little tougher. You need to think about agility, athleticism, and arm strength. For my money, that leaves us with a few choices. The 1st that comes to mind would be Doug Pederson. He’s got that rocket arm and as a former professional athlete, could probably do some dodging. However, his age (49) and size (6’3”/230) puts him at a distinct disadvantage. For those reasons, I’m going with Sean McVay. The youngest head coach of all time was a D-1 receiver and probably 5’9”. He’s gonna be a tough little guy to hit. Oh, by the way, he was GA High School Player of the Year at quarterback.
Check back tomorrow for PART 2. If you have some quandaries you would like addressed, send us a tweet @promathletics or an email at email@example.com.