PFR Polls

Poll: Will Case Keenum Be A Starter In 2019?

Case Keenum inked a two-year, $36MM deal with the Broncos just this past offseason, but he’s already been made redundant in Denver after general manager John Elway & Co. sent a fourth-round pick to the Ravens in exchange for quarterback Joe Flacco. Denver will now attempt to trade Keenum, but if the club can’t find a willing partner, it will either ask Keenum to accept a hefty pay cut or release him outright.

The Broncos will likely struggle to find a rival team willing to trade for Keenum, not only because of his lackluster 2018 campaign, but because of his contract. Keenum is due an $18MM base salary in 2019, and $7MM of that total is fully guaranteed. It seems incredibly unlikely that another club would be willing to lock itself into those figures, so unless Denver first restructures Keenum’s contact (potentially by converting some of his base salary guarantees into a bonus that the Broncos would pay), he’s likely to hit the free agent market.

If he does end up leaving the Broncos, would Keenum offer appeal as a starter? He’s only one season removed from leading the Vikings to the NFC Championship Game during a 2017 season in which he ranked second in Total QBR, seventh in adjusted net yards per attempt (the passing metric most correlated with winning), fifth in interception percentage, and seventh in sack percentage.

But Keenum’s 2018 ranks in those same statistics tell a different story. Among 33 qualifying quarterbacks, Keenum finished 30th in Total QBR, 28th in ANY/A, 21st in interception percentage, and 11th in sack percentage. A year after ranking first in Football Outsiders‘ DVOA (meaning he was extremely effective on a per-play basis), Keenum fell all the way to 29th in 2018.

So, do you think Keenum will open the season as a starter next season? Vote below (link for app users), and then keep reading — and voting — as we examine a few potential destinations for the 30-year-old signal-caller:

For the sake of argument, let’s assume that Keenum will be a starting quarterback in 2019 — nearly every club would be interested in signing Keeum as a backup passer, so let’s only look at landing spots where Keenum could become a starter. Where are his most likely havens?

Jacksonville Jaguars: Although the Jaguars have Blake Bortles under contract for the next two seasons and will incur a massive dead money hit if they release him, it’s almost unfathomable to imagine Jacksonville entering the 2019 campaign with Bortles still on its roster (let alone as the team’s starting quarterback). Nick Foles could be the Jags’ preferred choice under center, especially now that they’ve hired former Eagles QBs coach John DeFilippo as offensive coordinator, but Keenum would present a cheaper option.

Miami Dolphins: Miami isn’t expected to retain Ryan Tannehill, and — like Denver with Keenum — will explore a trade of Tannehill before cutting him. Under new head coach Brian Flores, the Dolphins aren’t expecting to be competitive any time soon, and are loosely embracing a “tanking” strategy, at least in 2019. Still, Miami needs to put someone under center, and Keenum could offer the club competency at a reasonable rate.

New York Giants: Giants general manager Dave Gettleman earlier this year refused to commit to Eli Manning as his team’s 2019 starter, so there’s no guarantee the franchise icon will return next season. New York is expected to draft a signal-caller within the first two rounds of the upcoming draft, and Keenum could represent a reasonable solution as a bridge quarterback. And perhaps most notably, Keenum experienced his 2017 success under then-Vikings OC Pat Shurmur, who has since taken over the Giants’ head coach.

Washington Redskins: If, as recent reports have indicated, Alex Smith is going to miss the entire 2019 season while recovering from a gruesome leg injury, Washington will need a new quarterback. The only problem? Smith will count for $20.4MM on the Redskins’ salary cap next year, and there’s no way for the club to reduce that figure save for a restructure that would only tie Smith to Washington’s roster for a longer period. Therefore, Keenum might be enticing given that he is only likely to command a modest salary on a short-term contract.

What do you think? Does one of these destinations make sense? Or could an unlisted team have interest in Keenum? Vote below (link for app users), and your thoughts in the comment section:

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Poll: Will You Watch The Alliance Of American Football?

Back in December, a slight majority of our readership voted that the newly-formed Alliance of American Football (AAF) would be the most successful of the new spring football leagues. Its primary competitor, the XFL, is not scheduled to kick off until 2020, so by getting underway last night, the AAF got a sizable head start.

And the early returns were promising. Although neither of the league’s first two games were particularly competitive — the Orlando Apollos defeated the Atlanta Legends 40-6 and the San Antonio Commanders defeated the San Diego Fleet 15-6 — most observers agree that the contests were largely entertaining and that the quality of play was good enough to be watchable.

That alone is a win for the fledgling league, as most other challengers to the mighty NFL proved pretty quickly that they would not be able to sustain success. But the AAF, which was founded by Charlie Ebersol and long-time NFL executive Bill Polian, and whose leadership board features well-respected former NFL stars, never seemed like a fly-by-night operation. Several head coaches of the league’s eight teams are also quite recognizable to even casual fans — Mike Singletary and Steve Spurrier, for example — and as Matt Miller of Bleacher Report tweets, almost all of the AAF’s players were good enough to be considered by NFL clubs at some point or another, even if they never suited up at the game’s highest level. And the fact that many such players see the AAF as a springboard to the NFL means that the games should be intensely-contested affairs.

In that vein, last night’s opening matchups featured a few hard (but clean) hits that were not flagged, although similar plays in the NFL generate plenty of penalties these days. That will certainly make purists happy, and even though observers like Michael David Smith of Pro Football Talk likened the overall quality of play to the second half of a preseason NFL game, that might be good enough for fans who just enjoy watching competitive football at a reasonably high level.

The very nature of the league means that there will be plenty of intriguing storylines to follow, and Michael Rothstein of ESPN.com details a few of the early ones. And the fact that every AAF player is on a non-guaranteed three-year contract worth $250K lends credence to the league’s belief that it represents football in its purest form.

Still, a common refrain in recent years is that there is simply too much football and that interest in the game has waned because the NFL has created a year-round news cycle and has otherwise oversaturated its fans. But if last night’s ratings are any indication, there are plenty of people willing to give the AAF a chance. The first game of the AAF on CBS beat the NBA on ABC in overnight ratings, and the generally positive reviews suggest that those who missed last night’s contests will want to see what they missed. Two more games will be televised today, one on the CBS Sports Network at 4pm ET and one on the NFL Network at 8pm ET, and the CBS Sports Network will televise one AAF game each week going forward (the season is 10 weeks long).

So, what do you think? Will you give the AAF a shot, or are you planning to taking a break from football games for a little while? Let us know in the poll and in the comments section.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Poll: Will Rob Gronkowski Return In 2019?

Rob Gronkowski‘s decision on playing a 10th season is expected to come as soon as this week. On the heels of his third Super Bowl ring, Gronk exited the Patriots’ victory healthy after another injury-plagued season.

A report linked Gronkowski to having a better outlook on playing in 2019 if he was healthy at season’s end and if Tom Brady was committed to another season. Both of these came to fruition, adding intrigue to this decision. In January, Gronk was leaning toward retiring. Is he now?

The best tight end of his generation and perhaps the most dominant tight end in NFL history, Gronk has yet to turn 30. But his body has betrayed him many times over. Ankle and back injuries limited him to 13 games this season, and he missed a game because of injury in 2017. Gronkowski missed major chunks of the 2012, ’13 and ’16 slates as well. He has not played a 16-game season since 2011, and it would be unreasonable to expect 16 Gronk games again.

While Gronk and Bill Belichick were understandably giddy after the Patriots’ Super Bowl LIII conquest, the former has long been unhappy about his contract.

Agreed to in 2012, Gronk’s deal paid him well below market value for a player with his gifts. At his best, no tight end was on the same level. Yet some out-earned him. Elite wide receivers were earning millions more than Gronk, who arguably impacted games more than any skill-position player for a while. This led to frequent acrimony, two incentive packages — one of which he attained — along with 2018 retirement talk and a general disenchantment toward the Patriot Way.

Will the Patriots want Gronk back? Although he has been underpaid, his contract jumps to a career-high $11.859MM cap figure in 2019. His 2018 numbers — 52.5 receiving yards per game, three touchdowns — were well south of almost anything he posted in his previous eight seasons. Considering Gronkowski’s attitude about his deal in the past, it would be incredibly unlikely he would take a pay cut to stay with the Patriots. The Pats nearly traded him to the Lions last year, prompting a retirement threat.

With Gronk having slowed down, it is fair to wonder if the Patriots ($16.1MM in projected cap space, prior to an expected Brady extension) would want to carry his contract-year cap number on their payroll. That said, Gronkowski remains one of the league’s best tight ends. He came through with big playoff catches en route to the franchise’s latest championship. Brady’s late-career renaissance can be closely tied to Gronkowski’s incomparable presence, and although the four-time first-team All-Pro was out during the bulk of the Pats’ 2016 title run, Martellus Bennett was there to help. The Patriots do not have a comparable alternative on their current roster.

So, will the future Hall of Fame tight end call it quits? Or were these productive playoff games a springboard to at least one more season? Vote in PFR’s latest poll and weigh in with your thoughts in the comments section.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Poll: Will Antonio Brown Stay With Steelers?

The Antonio Brown seems to get messier by the week. Throughout the year, Brown squabbled with coach Mike Tomlin and franchise quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, resulting in a Week 17 meltdown and a trade demand

Obviously, from a talent perspective, there are 31 teams that would love to deal for Brown. However, his hefty contract complicates matters and the Steelers are not eager to trade one of the best wide receivers of all-time while taking on an astronomical cap hit. If the Steelers cut or trade Brown before June 1, the Steelers will incur more than $21MM in dead money on their salary cap and gain just over $1MM in new space. If he’s designated as a post-June 1 cut or traded after that date, Pittsburgh will take on roughly $7MM in dead money in 2019 and ~$14MM in 2020, which isn’t very palatable either.

Other teams may have reservations about Brown’s character as well. His well-publicized friction with Pittsburgh may be a red flag and, earlier this week, we learned that Brown was involved in a domestic dispute in January. The league is planning to investigate the incident and a suspension seems possible – that event will likely be taken into account along with other allegations, including an incident in Florida in which Brown was accused of throwing furniture off of a balcony.

Brown due a $2.5MM roster bonus on March 17, so the Steelers could look to deal him before that date. However, there are serious complications all around and the Steelers’ best bet may be to mend fences with the perennial Pro Bowler.

How do you see things playing out? Will Brown be a member of the Steelers in Week 1 of the 2019 season? Click below to cast your vote and let us know your thoughts in the comment section (link for app users):

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Poll: Will The Top Pass Rushers Actually Hit Free Agency?

Among the dozens of NFL edge rushers scheduled to hit free agency in the middle of March, five stand out as candidates to earn more than $20MM annually. Frank Clark (Seahawks), Jadeveon Clowney (Texans), Trey Flowers (Patriots), Dee Ford (Chiefs), and DeMarcus Lawrence (Cowboys) have each registered enough production during their respective careers to vault themselves into the realm of the league’s highest-paid players, but will any of the quintet actually hit the open market?

Historically, NFL clubs have been reticent to allow their pass rushers to reach free agency. In 2018, both the Cowboys (Lawrence) and Lions (Ezekiel Ansah) deployed franchise tags to keep their best defenders in tow, leaving age-resistant Julius Peppers as the best edge defender still available when free agency began. The year prior, the Chargers, Cardinals, and Giants respectively kept Melvin Ingram, Chandler Jones, and Jason Pierre-Paul off the open market by using franchise tenders. And in 2016, the Broncos went ultra-conservative, utilizing the more expensive exclusive franchise tag — which doesn’t allow the player to negotiate with any other teams — on Von Miller.

Things don’t figure to change in 2019, thanks to the ongoing importance of edge rushers and the NFL’s soaring salary cap. Additionally, the five teams with the most projected 2019 cap space — the Colts, Jets, Browns, Bills, and Raiders — could all use help at defensive end/outside linebacker. Any pass rusher that gets to free agency is going to enter a market full of teams that a) have a clear need along their front four and b) have ample cash to spend.

Let’s take a look at each of the five premier pass rushers bearing down on free agency, with a specific focus on each player’s team’s salary cap situation:

Frank Clark (Seahawks): Seattle shouldn’t have any trouble retaining Clark, as it currently ranks eighth in the NFL with roughly $55MM in projected 2019 cap space. Additionally, the Seahawks don’t have any other first-rate free agents that will require new deals (assuming, as I am, that Earl Thomas has no interest in returning to Seattle next season). Guards J.R. Sweezy and D.J. Fluker each played at least 55% of the Seahawks’ snaps last year, but middling interior offensive linemen aren’t going to break the bank, and neither are defensive tackle Shamar Stephen or running back Mike Davis. Clark, meanwhile, is discussing a new deal with the Seahawks, but he’s also open to the franchise tag.

Jadeveon Clowney (Texans): Like the Seahawks, the Texans have plenty of cap space to go around in 2019, as they rank sixth with $65MM in available funds. However, Houston does several non-Clowney players that will need new contracts. Defensive back Tyrann Mathieu is a candidate for extension after inking a one-year, $7MM pact with the Texans last offseason, while cornerback Kareem Jackson could also be back on a short contract. Houston may also need to shell out to improve an offensive line that allowed an NFL-worst 11.5% adjusted sack rate. If the Texans do tag Clowney, the two sides may have a dispute over whether he’s a defensive end ($17.143MM franchise tag) or an outside linebacker ($14.961MM).

Trey Flowers (Patriots): As Rich Hill of Pats Pulpit wrote last May, New England hasn’t used the franchise tag frequently in recent seasons. After deploying the tag in eight times from 2002-12, the Patriots have only used the tender once over the past six years (kicker Stephen Gostkowski in 2015). Instead of signing or retaining high-end players or relying on productive rookie classes, New England leads the NFL in “mid-level veteran” contracts, according to Justis Mosqueda of Optimum Scouting, who defines that term as a veteran with a cap charge between $1MM and $6MM. Flowers may be the perfect Patriot, but it’s unclear if New England is willing to pay him as such, or instead wait for the market to dictate his price.

Dee Ford (Chiefs): His AFC Championship Game blunder aside, the 27-year-old Ford posted the best season of his career in 2019. He earned the NFL’s top pass-rushing grade from Pro Football Focus, and finished second only to Aaron Donald in total pressures generated. While we’ve seen conflicting reports as to whether the Chiefs are open to using the franchise tag on Ford, he seems like the optimal candidate for the tender. Ford has been up-and-down throughout his career, as he’s managed fewer than four sacks in three of his five professional campaigns, so a one-year deal could protect Kansas City if Ford’s performance dovetails again.

DeMarcus Lawrence (Cowboys): The Cowboys have finally removed themselves from salary cap hell, but don’t let their $55MM in space fool you. Dallas has multiple stars — including Dak Prescott, Amari Cooper, Byron Jones, and Jaylon Smith — up for extension over the next year-plus, so the club can’t simply run through its cash this offseason. Lawrence, if tagged, would be on his second consecutive franchise tender, meaning his salary would increase by 20% to $20.572MM.

So what do you think? Will any of these pass rushers reach actually reach free agency? Choose as many edge defenders as you like in the multiple choice poll below (link for app users):

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Poll: Will The Ravens Trade Joe Flacco?

The Ravens have their quarterback of the present and future in Lamar Jackson, but questions remain about their franchise QB of the past. The Ravens want to trade Joe Flacco in order to recoup something for the one-time Super Bowl champion, and they’re confident they can get a solid return, but not everyone in the football world is convinced.

At the end of the day, if I was picking what would happen, I would say that he will be released,” said former NFL GM Charley Casserly told Jeff Zrebiec of The Athletic. “I have a hard time believing somebody is going to trade for that contract with the uncertainty of Joe this late in his career.

Even with the dearth of quality QBs out there, there’s no doubt about it – Flacco’s contract is an issue. He has three years and $63MM to go on a deal that has no guaranteed money remaining, but still calls for a substantial cap number in 2019.

You have to take on the $18.5MM to make the trade, unless the Ravens are willing to eat more salary to facilitate a trade,” former agent Joel Corry told Zrebiec. “You’re going to have to really want to get rid of the guy and get a draft pick to start eating salary.”

On the plus side, there are potential suitors for 34-year-old. The Jaguars are reportedly mulling a Flacco trade, the Redskins probably need a QB to fill in for Alex Smith this year, and clubs like the Dolphins, Panthers, Broncos may or may not be in the QB market depending on how things break. And, this year’s free agent crop is no hot shakes outside of Nick Foles and Teddy Bridgewater. In theory, these teams and others could wait to see whether Flacco is released outright, but that might not be a gamble worth taking.

Ultimately, do you think the Ravens will find a trade for Flacco? Cast your vote here and back up your choice in the comment section below (poll link for app users):

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Poll: Where Will Nick Foles Land?

The Eagles’ loss to the Saints in the divisional round started a countdown clock to what appears to be an inevitable divorce between the team and Nick Foles. The team still views Carson Wentz as its quarterback of the future, which means Foles will very likely be suiting up somewhere other than Philadelphia next season. Foles can pay a $2MM fee to essentially buy his free agency, but the team could then still franchise tag him and attempt to trade him. Whether it’s through free agency or in a trade, today we’ll be taking a look at his most likely destinations:

The Jaguars are widely seen as being a competent quarterback away from being a contender, and might be the most likely team to pursue a veteran quarterback this offseason. The team made it all the way to the AFC Championship Game last year, but regressed heavily in 2018 and finished the season 5-11. Jacksonville is looking to make the most out of the window that it has with their elite defense, and is a natural contender for Foles.

The team appears set to move on from Blake Bortles and Cody Kessler, and could have an entirely new quarterback room in 2019. If Foles were to be traded the Eagles would likely see the Jaguars as an appealing option, as they’re in a different conference and won’t play each other for another four years. On the other hand, the Jags’ cap situation isn’t the best, and they’d need to shed some salary to be able to offer what Foles is likely to be seeking. The Jaguars have the seventh overall pick in this year’s draft, and could use that to select a quarterback like Dwayne Haskins instead of pursuing a veteran.

Another AFC team that could be interested is the Dolphins. The team isn’t going to be bringing back Ryan Tannehill, and Foles could be a nice option as a bridge quarterback. Tannehill hasn’t been able to stay healthy the past few seasons, and this year wasn’t any exception as he missed five games with a shoulder injury. The team is looking to get younger, and they might want a capable veteran signal caller to help them transition.

With Tannehill’s salary off the books they’ll have plenty of money to offer him a deal, and Miami doesn’t have many other options for a starter next year. On the other hand, the Dolphins have signaled that they plan on going all in on tanking 2019, so they might not be interested in winning too many games with Foles. If the plan is to lose as many games as possible, it wouldn’t make much sense for them to give up draft assets for Foles if the Eagles do end up tagging him.

The Broncos already have a Foles-esque placeholder in Case Keenum, but there’s been some chatter that they might want to move on from Keenum this offseason. Denver could get out of Keenum’s contract fairly easily, and he has no ties to the new coaching staff led by Vic Fangio. If Fangio and his new offensive coordinator Rich Scangarello decide they don’t love Keenum, they could ask Broncos GM John Elway to look elsewhere.

Elway has aggressively pursued veteran quarterbacks in free agency in the past, most notably Peyton Manning a handful of years ago and Keenum last offseason, so it wouldn’t be surprising if he’s interested in Foles. Denver doesn’t appear to be rebuilding and thinks it has the pieces to win with the right quarterback, and Foles could be what they’re looking for.

A slightly more out of the box possibility is the Redskins. The Eagles would surely prefer he didn’t go to their division rival, but if they don’t tag him they might not have any say. It was reported earlier today that Washington was expecting Alex Smith to miss the entire 2019 season, so the Redskins will very likely be in the market for a quarterback.

The Redskins know him well, and Foles beat them easily in Week 17 this year. While the Eagles might do all they can to prevent it, this would certainly be the most entertaining scenario of all. Foles playing Wentz twice a year would be great, and it would be surprising if the Redskins don’t at least look into it.

So, what do you think? Where will Foles end up next season as he looks to continue his magic? Vote in PFR’s latest poll (link for app users) and weigh in with your thoughts in the comments section!

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Poll: Which Team Made Best HC Hire?

With the NFL now in the two-week waiting period until its final meaningful game, 30 of the 32 teams are going through offseason motions. And some of those teams are still deciding on coordinators.

Unless another Patriots assistant reneges on an agreement post-Super Bowl, or Zac Taylor makes an 11th-hour decision to remain in Los Angeles rather than taking over in Cincinnati, the eight NFL teams in need of head coaches made their choices.

So, which franchise best positioned itself for long-term success?

The trend being offensive innovation to keep up with some of the ahead-of-the-curve offenses, six of the eight teams hired offensively oriented coaches.

By a substantial margin, the Cardinals won the outside-the-box trophy. After washing out as an NFL quarterback in the mid-2000s, Kliff Kingsbury spent more than a decade as a college coach. The 39-year-old groomed some sought-after NFL talent in Patrick Mahomes, Case Keenum and Davis Webb, while also bringing Baker Mayfield to Texas Tech for a short stay. But he finished his stay in Lubbock, Texas, with a sub-.500 record. The Cards added Vance Joseph and Tom Clements to be his top assistants. Because of their unconventional hire, the Cardinals will be one of the most interesting teams in 2019.

Bruce Arians‘ CBS stay lasting one year will bring one of the more interesting coaches in modern NFL history back to the sideline. Tampa Bay’s new coach is the oldest ever hired, at 66 years old. Arians will be tethered to Jameis Winston, and it does not sound like he has issues with that. Arians hired several former Cardinals assistants to help him attempt to snap the NFC’s longest active playoff drought. Arians led the Cardinals to their best season, record-wise (13-3 in 2015), since the franchise has been in Arizona but is also barely a year removed from retiring.

The Packers and Browns opted for OCs, the former seeing a major difference in Matt LaFleur‘s vision than those of the other coaches that interviewed. Cleveland made the biggest continuity move of this year’s HC-seeking octet,promoting Freddie Kitchens over candidates with more experience.

LaFleur’s Titans offense regressed from Mike Mularkey‘s final unit, with Tennessee ranking 27th in points scored last season. But the 39-year-old coach, who will be working with ex-Jaguars assistant Nathaniel Hackett in overseeing the back end of Aaron Rodgers‘ prime, trained under Sean McVay and Kyle Shanahan. Kitchens rose from position coach to head coach in less than three months, but Mayfield’s performance in the second half of the season was obviously different from his play under Hue Jackson and Todd Haley.

Taylor and Adam Gase round out the offensively geared hires, the former being perhaps the highest-variance candidate among the non-Kingsbury wing.

Although Taylor was the Dolphins’ interim OC in 2015 and McVay’s quarterbacks coach this season, he spent 2016 running a Cincinnati Bearcats offense that ranked 123rd (out of 128 Division I-FBS teams) with 19.3 points per game for a 4-8 team and was the Rams’ assistant wideouts coach as recently as 2017. Gase led the Dolphins to the playoffs in 2016, but Ryan Tannehill‘s issues staying healthy and living up to his draft slot limited the former Broncos and Bears OC. The Jets saw enough to add the formerly in-demand assistant, who may be ready to bring longtime coworker Dowell Loggains with him to the Big Apple.

Denver and Miami went with defense, with the Broncos having no competition for 2018’s assistant coach of the year and, arguably, this decade’s top DC.

The Dolphins cancelled their Vic Fangio summit, and he will be in charge of elevating a Broncos team that finished with back-to-back losing seasons for the first time since the early 1970s. John Elway‘s plan to reinstall Gary Kubiak as OC also hit a snag, with the longtime friends’ disagreement on staffing leading to the Broncos hiring 49ers QBs coach Rich Scangarello. The Dolphins will become the fifth franchise to hire a Bill Belichick-era Patriots defensive coordinator (or de facto DC, in Brian Flores‘ case), following the Browns (Romeo Crennel and Eric Mangini), Jets (Mangini), Chiefs (Crennel) and Lions (Matt Patricia). Flores helped the Patriots to yet another top-10 ranking in points allowed — their 15th in the past 18 seasons — and another Super Bowl berth.

Vote in PFR’s latest poll and weigh in with your thoughts in the comments section!

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

POLL: Most Important Game Of Week 15?

Only three weeks are left in the 2018 NFL regular season, and Week 15 offers a number of intriguing matchups that could impact the playoff race. With so much on the line, which game is the most important?

For some context, we’ll use Brian Burke of ESPN’s Playoff Probability Leverage, which Burke tweets out weekly. In short, playoff probability leverage indicates the change in chance of making the playoffs based on the results of the selected game. For example, teams like the Rams, Patriots, and Saints are so assured of earning a postseason appearance that this week’s contests have limited meaning for them (less than 1% playoff leverage). Teams like the Lions, Giants, 49ers, Cardinals, Bills, and Raiders etc. will also face low playoff leverages because they have virtually no chance of making the postseason.

But for some clubs, Week 15 means everything. And by combining the playoff probability leverages of the two teams involved in a selected game, we can determine which contests will most determine the postseason entrants:

  • Miami Dolphins (19%) @ Minnesota Vikings (42%)
  • New England Patriots (1%) @ Pittsburgh Steelers (42%)
  • Tampa Bay Buccaneers (1%) @ Baltimore Ravens (40%)
  • Tennessee Titans (29%) @ New York Giants (1%)
  • Dallas Cowboys (2%) @ Indianapolis Colts (24%)

Of course, there are other factors at play here as well. It’s not just playoff bids that are on the line here, many coaches are coaching for their jobs as well. Ron Rivera, John Harbaugh, and Dirk Koetter are all in grave danger of being fired if their respective teams miss the playoffs, so each of their games this week have some added meaning.. There’s also a bunch of games with seeding relevance, as the number one seed in the AFC and home-field advantage throughout the playoffs is still wide open with four teams in contention.

This week is massive for the AFC North, as both the Steelers and Ravens will see their playoff chances dramatically decrease if they can’t win. The Patriots are still battling for seeding in the AFC, and could clinch the AFC East with a win and Dolphins loss.

So, what do you think? Are the numbers right — is Dolphins/Vikings the most critical game of the weekend because it’ll go a long way toward determining wild card spots? Or does a contest farther down the playoff probability leverage spectrum, such as Buccaneers/Ravens mean more because of the coaching implications? Vote below (link for app users), and add your thoughts in the comments section!

 

POLL: Most Important Game Of Week 14?

Only four weeks are left in the 2018 NFL regular season, and Week 14 offers a number of intriguing matchups that could impact the playoff race. With so much on the line, which game is the most important?

For some context, we’ll use Brian Burke of ESPN’s Playoff Probability Leverage, which Burke tweets out weekly. In short, playoff probability leverage indicates the change in chance of making the playoffs based on the results of the selected game. For example, the Rams, Patriots, Saints, and Chiefs are so assured of earning a postseason appearance that this week’s contests have limited meaning for them (less than 1% playoff leverage). Teams like the Lions, Giants, 49ers, Cardinals, Bills, Jets, and Raiders etc. will also face low playoff leverages because they have virtually no chance of making the postseason.

But for some clubs, Week 14 means everything. And by combining the playoff probability leverages of the two teams involved in a selected game, we can determine which contests will most determine the postseason entrants:

  • Philadelphia Eagles (47%) @ Dallas Cowboys (42%) = 89%
  • Minnesota Vikings (33%) @ Seattle Seahawks (16%) = 49%
  • Baltimore Ravens (34%) @ Kansas City Chiefs (0%) = 34%
  • Indianapolis Colts (28%) @ Houston Texans (2%) = 30%
  • Denver Broncos (20%) @ San Francisco 49ers (0%) = 20%
  • Carolina Panthers (17%) @ Cleveland Browns (1%) = 18%

Of course, there are other factors at play here as well. It’s not just playoff bids that are on the line here, many coaches are coaching for their jobs as well. Ron Rivera, John Harbaugh, and Vance Joseph are all in grave danger of being fired if their respective teams miss the playoffs, so perhaps those games have a little added meaning. There’s also a bunch of games with seeding relevance, as the number one seed in the AFC and home-field advantage throughout the playoffs is still wide open with four teams in contention.

So So, what do you think? Are the numbers right — is Eagles/Cowboys the most critical game of the weekend because it’ll go a long way toward determining the winner of the NFC East? Or does a contest farther down the playoff probability leverage spectrum, such as Panthers/Browns mean more because of the coaching implications? Vote below (link for app users), and add your thoughts in the comments section!