Tag Archives: Colts

Beating Vegas: Vikings of the North

Minnesota Vikings -8.5 at Green Bay Packers

The Minnesota Vikings are positioning themselves for a deep and serious playoff run, while the division rival Packers , have pretty much packed it in for the season.  After last week’s jolt from reality that Aaron Rodgers returning from injury was not going to propel the Packers into a magical playoff run, they have now shut down Aaron Rodgers for the rest of the season.  The Vikings are the most balanced team in the NFL on offense and defense it seems that both units are cohesive and working in harmony.  Quarterback Case Keenum has been quite the story for the Vikings though.  If people aren’t talking about him being mentioned in the MVP race, they are talking about how he could be the next “big contract quarterback” – because that’s just the climate of today’s game when speaking of starting QB’s.  A lot of his success is due to the underrated receiving duo of Adam Thielen and Stefon Diggs who are averaging 14.3 and 13.7 yards per reception respectively.   That doesn’t bode well for a Green Bay secondary that is already allowing 11.4 yards per reception which puts them in the bottom half of the league.    Green Bay back up quarterback Brett Hundley will be facing one of the NFL’s best defensive units while not having the services of Davonte Adams the team’s reception leader.  With the Packers fans and players all knowing this season is a wrap, it’s going to be hard for them to get up for this game on the holiday weekend.

The Pick: Vikings -8.5

Los Angeles Rams -6.5 at Tennessee Titans

The Los Angeles Rams are tied for most points per game in the NFL with 31.3.  They bring that ridiculous average over to Tennessee against a Titans defense holding opponents to 22 points per game.  That’s not too shabby, but when you’re only averaging 21 points a game – things shouldn’t line up in your favor.  For reasons that go far beyond anyone’s comprehension though, the Titans have an 8-6 record and are in the playoff hunt.  The good news for the Titans is that they are playing at home this week.  That’s generally good news for anybody, but more so in the case of the Titan’s who’s starting quarterback Marcus Mariota, is pound-for-pound the worst road QB in football today.  The bad news for the Titans is that. . .Mariota hasn’t been that great across the board.  The former Heisman winner has 12 touchdowns against his 14 interceptions and has been sacked 23 times so far this year.  This Ram’s defense has been impressive against the pass this year holding the opposition to a completion percentage of 58% but against the run, they have shown at times to get worn down.  This is the type of game where Tennessee will have to rely on running back Derrick Henry to move the chains.  This Tennessee defense is pretty good, but this offense isn’t the type to be bottled up for four quarters – especially when considering the Titans offensive attack will be pretty predictable in the early going.

The Pick: Rams -6.5

Indianapolis Colts +14 at Baltimore Ravens (over/under 42)

Whenever the Colts are on television – I pass.  Whenever the Ravens are on television – I pass.  When the Colts play the Ravens, let’s be clear – nobody wins.  According to ESPN’s Total QBR Rankings, the Raven’s Joe Flacco stands at 26 with a QBR of 40.9; and the Colts’ Jacoby Brissett is 29th with a QBR of 38.9.   To make things a little more interesting – Joe Flacco is dead last in the NFL when it comes to yards-per-pass (5.8) and Jacoby Brissett is 30th in league completion percentage with 59.6.  Both teams rely on the running attack, where Baltimore’s Alex Collins is having a great year and averaging 4.9 yards a carry and Indy’s Frank Gore is averaging a sad 3.6.  Much like the previously mentioned Titans, one look at the Ravens’ record will make you scratch your head as they too have an 8-6 record.  This will be one of the worse games of the week – nay – the year.

The Pick: The Under at 42

Good Luck and Wager Wisely!

G.W. Gras

Twitter @GeeSteelio

Beating Vegas: Will The Pats Start 0-2?

New England Patriots -6 at New Orleans Saints

Last week’s 42-27 loss to the Kansas City Chiefs left Patriots fans feeling empty and it gave Vegas fat(ter) pockets.  Last week’s season opener was one of the biggest wins the wise-guys had on an opening day game.  The Patriots made losers out of anybody who took them straight up, second half, teasers, parlays etc. . . More so, the Patriots defense could not get their pass rush going and the offense seemed lack-luster.  Could this be the end of Tom Brady?  Most likely not.  Super Heroes go out as winners, usually.  Now, the public has to decide if the Pats reign over the NFL is coming to an end, or if the Pats will rectify this embarrassing loss.  The Saints on the other hand,  weren’t embarrassed by the Vikings last week, but they were definitely kept in check for all four quarters.  The Saints showed that their defense is still “bleh” and they also showed that the signing of running back Adrian Peterson is going to be a headache for most of the year.  Peterson is the least valuable back out of the three-man-rotation in the Saints backfield and that isn’t going to sit well with the future hall of famer.  Aside from that drama though, Drew Brees still completed 73% of his passes against a good pass rush, so just imagine what he’ll accomplish against this Patriots defense.  The Patriots are still winning the division, they can probably even win this game – but the Saints have the upper hand playing at home to avoid the 0-2 start.

The Pick: Saints +6

Minnesota Vikings +4.5 at Pittsburgh Steelers

Weren’t we just discussing the Vikings?  Yes, we were.  Quarterback Sam Bradford looked amazing carving up the Saints defense, and rookie running back Dalvin Cook, proved to be worth the first round pick running for 127 yards in his first game.  The Steelers opened as a 10 point favorite last week against AFC North doormat, the Cleveland Browns, but had to hold on tight for the entire ride to come out on top 21-18.  Really wasn’t an impressive win for the Steelers who people expect to have an almost unstoppable offense this year. Pats Pulpit on SB Nation wrote up a piece going in detail about how Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger is a completely different player at home than he is on the road.  In the last three years he’s thrown 62 touchdowns at home compared to 24 on the road and has a quarterback rating of 109.5 compared to a traveling QB rate of 85.3.  This is another case of the public seeing Minnesota look great on national television and getting the points against a veteran team who struggled against the lowly Browns.  Don’t fall for the trap.

The Pick: Steelers -4.5

Arizona Cardinals -7 at the Indianapolis Colts

I’ve got issues with both of these teams.  First, the Colts. . . Chuck Pagano is the worst coach in the NFL.  And has been for years.  Why is he still the coach of the Colts?  Oh, because the Colts are one of the more poorly run franchises in the NFL.  They have failed to give Andrew Luck a competent coach or a decent team; and now it seems their medical staff may have failed Andrew Luck who is still sidelined.  Colts quarterback Scott Tolzien looked awful against the Rams last week and even if newly acquired Jacoby Brissett doesn’t know the playbook yet, he’s the better option.  Jacoby Brissett is a “Beating Vegas” favorite because he was the reason money was put on N.C. State when he was the one under center.  With that being said, the Colts are awful. . . And that leaves us with the Cardinals.  The most disappointing, under achieving team in the NFL.  Unlike the Colts’ Pagano, Cardinals coach Bruce Arians is actually a great coach – but something just isn’t clicking on this team.  Where it needs to click the most is the quarterback position but folks, remember you heard it hear first (said it last year too) – Carson Palmer is done.  He has nothing behind his throws and reminds me of the Cap Rooney character Dennis Quaid played in the movie “Any Given Sunday.”  This will be one of the most toughest games to watch this year.

The Pick: The Under at 44

Good Luck and Wager Wisely!

G.W. Gras

Twitter @GeeSteelio

Beating Vegas: Outsmart the Wise

Last week, the hot-shots at Vegas had some tricky lines but over here at Beating Vegas, we netted another winning week.  The NFL has left many scratching their heads as last year’s powerhouses like the Cardinals and the Panthers are struggling left and right, while teams like the Rams and the Vikings are proving to be the cream of the crop.  The hard-work will be accomplished here as we continue to give you winners against the spread though so keep checking for this column weekly and visit mybookie.ag so you can beat the NCAA and NFL odds. . .

Washington Redskins +3.5 at Baltimore Ravens


The Baltimore Ravens finally played an above average team and lost their first game this season and the Washington Redskins became a .500 team with a “little” help from the referees.  In the NFL it doesn’t matter how you get your wins, but for our purposes, how you win is just as/and sometimes more important than the actual win. The Ravens have been fluttering around the league looking a notch below mediocre and coming out with victories.  Credit that to coach Harbaugh (no, the other Harbaugh. . .the one who’s actually won something in his career. . .) but as stated last week, the Ravens best weapon on offense is their kicker Justin Tucker.  Sure they should something last week with running back Terrence West, but that was more of a fault to the Raiders who couldn’t stop anything that was attacking the left side of their defense.  Joe Flacco has been inconsistent this season and the Ravens best option at wideout is the seventy-five year old veteran Steve Smith, who this week will be matched up against the Redskins’ Josh Norman (popcorn, anyone?).  The Redskins go as far as Kirk Cousins’ own mediocrity will take them.  Offensively they seemed to put it together last week – albeit it was against the Browns, but this might be the kind of game that gets Cousins back on track.  The Redskins have speed and talent at the skill positions and should easily spread the Ravens thin.  The Ravens win or lose games by single digits and the Skins always have the “talent” on both sides of the ball – it’s their execution that comes into question.  Take the talent.

The Pick: Redskins +3.5

Chicago Bears +5 at Indianapolis Colts


This is quite possibly the most disgusting game of the week. . . eh, maybe even the year.  The Bears have been showing no signs of turning fortunes around this season and getting their first win against a Detroit team that’s been a perennial loser for two decades is nothing to celebrate.  The Colts just lost to a Jaguars team that is one of the hardest to figure out – and it seems now that Andrew Luck’s frustrations are coming to a boil.  The Colts have the worst roster in the NFL today but Andrew Luck and Frank Gore are doing all they can to keep it together – by themselves.  The Bears are so bad as a franchise they’re actually considering leaving Brian Hoyer in at quarterback even if Jay Cutler is cleared to play.  I guess the Bears haven’t seen the story of Brian Hoyer being a starting quarterback in the NFL yet. . . most of us have seen it twice, two thumbs – wayyyy down.  So why would we bother watching this trash on a Sunday?  Easy.  Gore can run through the Bears front line and Luck can air it out against one of the most trash-bag secondaries in the league.  The Colts will struggle against Bears rookie running back Jordan Howard, and the Chuck Pagano coached defense of the Colts stinks.

The Pick: The Over 47.5

Syracuse +3 at Wake Forest


Each of these teams will struggle trying to get to six wins this season and that’s mostly because there is a gauntlet of talented teams in the ACC.  Unfortunately for Wake Forest and Syracuse they are not included in that gauntlet.  Defensively Wake Forest crushes Syracuse – if you look at the numbers, that is.  Wake allows 20 ppg compared to Syracuse’s 37 – but Syracuse has played the likes of Louisville, South Florida and Notre Dame; Wake has played Delaware, Tulane and Indiana. . . Wake’s rush defense is impressive only allowing 3.3 yards a run.  That’s nice and all, and would mean something – but Syracuse doesn’t run the ball.  Syracuse has a spread offense that averages 370 passing yards a game and completes 31 passes a game – this is tops in the ACC, a conference that has Clemson, Louisville and UNC.  This is bad news for Wake Forest who’s pass defense has allowed the fourth most passing yards in the conference and allows opponents to complete passes at about a 57% rate.  One of college football’s best kept secrets is quarterback Eric Dungey of Syracuse – he’ll have his way against Wake.

The Pick: Syracuse +3

Michigan -27.5 at Rutgers


Michigan has hit the “finally” mark this season.  Last week they “finally” played a worthy opponent and this week they “finally” play an away game.  Lucky for Michigan their first away game is against one of the worst teams in division one football, the Scarlet Knights of Rutgers.  Rutgers ranks 268th in passing offense and 225th in total yards per game. Defensively they are dead last in the Big Ten Conference allowing 32 points a game.  Pretty impressive to be dead last in that category considering it means you have to play worse defense than Illinois, Purdue and Penn State.  Michigan has already won by more than 30 points on three separate occasions this season against teams that are bottom feeders like Rutgers.  Add to the fact that Michigan’s rival Ohio State just lit up Rutgers 58-0 last week – coach Jim Harbaugh and his boys will look to outdo their rivals by giving Rutgers a beat down for the ages.

The Pick: Michigan -27.5

Washington -8.5 at Oregon

The fact that Oregon is apparently going to sport some cool “Webbed Feet” jerseys this week, should be enough to make anyone watch this game.  From a football stand-point though, Washington, after stomping out Stanford last week, is looking to put a stranglehold on the Pac-12.  Washington hasn’t beating Oregon in over a decade and the cards should line up for them this year.  They have the number one offense (45 PPG) and defense (12 PPG) in the Pac-12 but let us look at this in depth. . . three of the offenses they’ve played were Idaho, Rutgers and Portland State – not exactly the kind of heavyweights selection committees faun over. . . Last week’s huge win over Stamford had the Cardinal missing three offensive linemen, and two starters in their secondary – add to the fact that the Stanford Cardinal have no real answer at quarterback – safe to say it was a good time to catch them.  The only time Washington faced a real offense was against Arizona, where they came away with the win, 35-28.  . . College football pundits have been talking about the decline of Oregon, but one thing you cannot deny is that they can still score points (40ppg) and rack up over 500 yards a game.  Oregon lost last week to a Washington State team that will give anyone fits, and before that lost by three points in back to back weeks to Nebraska and Colorado.  Not saying Washington will lose this match up, but Oregon is going to come out with something to prove in what could be a “let-down” type of game for Washington.

The Pick: Oregon +8.5

Four Game Teaser of the Week: Colorado/USC Over 48.5; Michigan -15.5; Notre Dame +13 and Toledo -5.


Good Luck and Wager Wisely!

G.W. Gras

twitter @GeeSteelio

Beating Vegas: Entry Five

Every week during the football season, “The Heartthrob” G.W. Gras will be giving out his college and professional football “best bets” against the spread.  The wise guys in Vegas live comfortably – it’s time we all get on their level.

Judging Last Week: After two failed weeks in a row, it’s safe to say we’re jumping off of the N.C. State bandwagon.  Baylor and Ole Miss cleaned up easily against their 40 plus point spreads, proving to not be scared of those big numbers when you’re Goliath, and the opposition is David.  .  .

Eastern Michigan (+29) at Toledo


The Toledo Rockets are everyone’s “Cinderella” team this year.  The small school from the MAC Conference who finds themselves undefeated and in the Top 25.  Toledo stands at 5-0, and in all truth could be 6-0 if their season opener against Stony Brook wasn’t postponed.  Toledo’s rushing attack is first in the MAC with 197 yards per game and second in the MAC with 5.0 yards a carry.  The backfield carries are split evenly between Terry Swanson and Damion Jones-Moore who average 6.5 and 5.5 yards a rush, respectively. Toledo’s defense has also been stout this year allowing only 11.8 points per game, which is spearheaded by a rush defense allowing less than three yards a carry.  Toledo was the team that exposed an over-rated Arkansas, early in the season with a 16-12 victory and is proving to be ahead of the class in the MAC.   Eastern Michigan hasn’t had quite the fortunes of Toledo, and are holding a 1-5 record and will definitely lose this match up.  Of course, if you’re here it’s not about if you lose the game, it’s by how much.   Eastern Michigan’s run defense is prime pickings for this Toledo attack, but the Eagles have their own star-back.  Darius Jackson is averaging 5.7 yards a carry and has amassed 585 rushing yards so far this season.  His backup Shaq Vann is averaging one more yard per carry.   Eastern Michigan is actually right there with Toledo in average points and yards in a game and as an offense are actually more balanced than Toledo.

The Pick: Eastern Michigan +29

Texas Tech (-31) at Kansas


Sophomore quarterback Patrick Mahommes has been leading the nations number one pass offense and has given the Texas Tech Red Raiders the offense that coach Kliff Kingsbury has been wanting to see.  Mahomme has thrown 19 touchdown passes and over 2200 yards so far this year.  Their defense makes the offense play “catch-up” on the scoreboard week to week, but when your opposition is Kansas. . . there is not much to be worried about.  Kansas was the whipping boy in last week’s column and that trend may very well continue as they are proving to be one of the worse programs in the nation.  The Kansas Jayhawks rank at the bottom of the Big 12 in total defense and total offense and are showing no improvements on either side of the ball.  This is a team that will go win-less this year and they’ll look terribly doing so.

The Pick: Texas Tech -31

Boston College (+16.5) at Clemson


The spread seems to be just where it needs to be because the Clemson Tigers average 35 points a game while the B.C. Eagles average 20.  Boston College has the best defense in the ACC, letting opponents only average 7.2 points per game.  Is that stat smoke and mirrors?  Yes and no.  See, the Eagles opened up the season with wins against the likes of Maine and Howard at a combined score of 100-3.  They held  Florida’s offense to 14 points in a shut out loss and held Duke to 9 points in a 9-7 loss.  Even those losses are somewhat statements for the defense, but losing 3-0 to Wake Forest last week – that just confuses things.  Boston College is a team that can’t throw the ball at all  and seemingly can’t help themselves from losing.  Clemson has their eyes set week to week on getting closer to a playoff birth.  Their offense has looked prolific against lesser opponents but in wins against Louisville and Notre Dame, their defense looked “steady” at least.  Quarterback Deshaun Watson has been more of a game manager than a gunslinger, which is his best option with this offense.  There is so much speed and talent around him, Watson defers to take what the defense gives him and lets his play-makers do the work.  Clemson has a steady defense itself and put the clamps down on a good rushing attack in Georgia Tech last week.  Boston College’s rush game is more straight up the gut, then Georgia Tech’s but it’s hard to believe a team that struggled against Duke and Wake Forest defensive fronts will do much better against Clemson.  The Boston defense is good, but Clemson is a team that is ‘feeling themselves’ right now and they capitalize well off of other team’s mistakes.  The home crowd will be unbearable.

The Pick: Clemson -16.5

Cincinnati Bengals (-3.5) at Buffalo Bills


While writing this, it is currently Tuesday, October 13th and the spread is in favor of the visiting Bengals at three and half points, but you better believe this line will jump up at least, one and half more points.  The reason being,  Bills quarterback Tyrod Taylor has a reported MCL sprain and will “miss some time.”  This means a worse possible scenario for the Bills who are now forced to start former first-round pick E.J. Manuel.  In 2014 Pro Football Focus graded Manuel simply as a “poor” starting quarterback.  His completion percentage hovers at around 58% and has the reaction time of a dead-man in the pocket.   This week Manuel will be going against a Cincinnati Bengals team that might be one of the best in the NFL today.  The Bengals defense gives up, on average, twenty points a game and this Buffalo Bills offense is one that is one-dimensional and currently, terrible at that one dimension – running the ball.  It is very unlikely neither Lesean McCoy or Karlos Williams will be active for this game, leaving the likes of Anthony “Boobie” Dixon who had a disgusting seven carries for nineteen yards against the Titans on Sunday. . . Sure this Bills defense is tough, but they have shown as of late that their secondary needs a lot of help from it’s front seven.  Andy Dalton has looked the best he’s ever looked, and having a huge comeback win against Seattle last week, has certainly boosted the Red Rocket’s confidence.  The Bills defense will be gassed because this offense will not sustain long drives, let alone put up points against this Bengals team.

The Pick: Bengals -3.5

If You Must: The New England Patriots seem almost unbeatable.  This “chip on their shoulder” is legit and they are looking to embarrass teams they face.  The Patriots have always had their way with the Colts and that will not change this time around.  The Colts are 3-2 and riding a three game winning streak in which they struggled to get by three of the leagues worst teams.  Patriots as a -8 favorite is a slam-dunk.

Teaser of the Week: (Four Gamer) – Bengals +8.5, Patriots: +4, Panthers/Seahawks Under 53 and Michigan +3.5

Good Luck and Wager Wisely

G.W. Gras

Twitter @GeeSteelio


Indianapolis Colts 2015 Preview

The Indianapolis Colts and their fans are thinking “Super Bowl or bust” for every single season in which Andrew Luck is the starting quarterback.  Although one can’t blame them for taking that simplistic route to elevate their expectations, there has to be a dose of reality sprinkled in here and there, just to “level the playing field” – so to speak.   The Colts play in a division that they win by default (in a worse case scenario, they split games with the Texans and sweep the Jaguars and Titans) and they have one of the best quarterbacks in the NFL in Andrew Luck.


Luck has been money for the Colts since day one.  Last season he lit up the scoreboard with forty touchdown passes and threw for over 4,700 yards.  His sixteen interceptions may look like a high amount but if you look at his work as a whole, it’s amazing it’s only sixteen.  The Colts defense usually lets down Luck enough times that he has to throw from behind and the run attack has never complimented Luck well.  Add to the fact he threw 616 times last season – to only come out of that with sixteen interceptions is impressive.

The Colts hope to have balance this year in their offense with the additional help coming from veteran Frank Gore in the backfield.  The former 49er is working with easily the best quarterback he’s ever been on the field with and brings with him a workhorse work ethic.  Gore has kept himself healthy the last few years and it’s key that he does that again before the likes of Boom Herron and Zurlon Tipton start getting carries.  If that happens, this offense is back to square one.


The Colts found a strong offensive linemen in the second-round of last year’s draft in Jack Mewhort.  He was impressive enough at left guard that he is being promoted to right tackle this season.  That gives the Colts a nice combo at the tackle spots where left tackle Anthony Castonzo protects Luck’s blindside.  The Colts scout team took things to new levels by signing the number-one-overall pick in the 2012 Draft. . . the 2012 Canadian Football Draft, but it’s a number-one-overall pick regardless. Ben Heenan left the CFL to join the Colts and is expected to pick things up quickly and help fill a much needed void at their guard position.

TY Hilton has proven he was steal in the third-round of the 2012 NFL Draft and was rewarded for his efforts this off-season with a five-year, $65 million deal.  TY is one of those non-prototypical number-one wide receivers, similar to a DeSean Jackson – both small in stature but speedy and aggressive.  Hilton is a competitor and along with Andrew Luck, has helped to form one of the better quarterback/receiver threats in the league.  The Colts signed veteran Andre Johnson in the off-season, which gives Johnson his opportunity to take his greatness to another level now playing with Luck.  Unfortunate thing for Johnson is that he is more on the downside than the upside of his career – but don’t tell him that.  The Texans were a mess at the quarterback position and he still had eighty-five receptions.  Donte Moncrief has the potential to be a good receiver in this league but he’ll be fighting off first-round pick Phillip Dorset to be number-three on the depth chart.

This 3-4 defense will need all the help from their linebackers while the front three get it together during the season.  Josh Chapman returns to play mediocre nose tackle and he’ll be joined by new defensive end Kendall Langford who the Colts are hoping will bring some of the intensity from the St. Louis Rams’ attack with him.

Adding Trent Cole in the off-season was a “big-get” and will help their pass rushing immediately.  Some thought the Colts paid too much for veteran D’Qwell Jackson last season, but he continued to be a tackling machine, racking up 138 last year.  Robert Mathis is expected back by mid-season which means the youngster Bjoern Werner and Johathan Newsome will get their chances to show what they got.  Werner was a former first-round selection in 2013 and Newsome was a fifth-round pick out of Ball State who surprised many and found himself out on the field a lot.


Safety Mike Adams is more of a ball-hawking safety than an aggressor but did the job well enough to earn a trip to the Pro Bowl last season.  The star of the secondary though is Vontae Davis who had four interception and nineteen passes deflected last year.  Greg Toler hasn’t stood out as anything more than “another guy in the secondary” but he is in a contract year, so if he is ever going to make any noise, now would be the time.

The Colts added some veteran help in the two former Miami Hurricanes Frank Gore and Andre Johnson but did not do much to shore up this defense.  Head coach Chuck Pagano has to show that he is a good head coach that can rely on more than his quarterback bailing him out, week to week.  Getting into the playoffs should be relatively easy, but the playoffs will be another story.

Predicted Record: 10-6

Predicted Pro Bowlers: Andrew Luck, TY Hilton, Jack Mewhort, D’Qwell Jackson

G.W. Gras

twitter @GeeSteelio


6 Destinations For Adrian Peterson

With Vikings running back Adrian Peterson now reinstated to play in the league, it’s obvious there will be many teams interested in gaining his services.  Only issue is, Peterson is still under contract with the Minnesota Vikings, a team that he feels did him wrong when he was going through his child abuse issues last season.   Whatever verdict the jury of public opinion holds on Peterson, in football terms – he has served for his crime and is now ready to play.   Peterson is thirty years old and plays a position in which 30 is considered “done.”   Peterson of course is a different kind of athlete, super-human in strength and recovery ability – he’s like the Hulk and Wolverine combined.  Here is a list of six teams that could and should be in play for Peterson’s services.


6.  Dallas Cowboys – Jerry Jones’ crew goes here just because it’s the team linked to Peterson for some time now.  Peterson is from the state of Texas and played his college ball at Oklahoma, the alma-mater of owner Jerry Jones.   The Cowboys lost their star running back Demarco Murray to free agency and have enough money under the cap to make something happen if this is truly Peterson’s desired destination.  The problem with Dallas is that – they have other needs that need a lot more attention – mainly on defense.  Dallas has the best offensive line in football and a nice running back stable under contract as is.   To put more money into this offense really doesn’t make much sense when they have tools to make it happen on that side of the ball already.

5.  Cincinnati Bengals – Before people speak of their admiration for the dual running back threat of Giovanni Bernard and Jeremy Hill, let’s be real.  They are both nice backs but Adrian Peterson is great – even at 30.  If Adrian really plays hard ball with the Vikings, the Bengals should be willing to part with a draft pick and one of these backs (presumably Hill) – the Bengals are a team that just make the playoffs and can’t do much else.  It’s becoming a common and annoying trend in the NFL and the fact that Marvin Lewis still has a head coaching job is beyond rational thought.  Andy Dalton usually takes the blame for the team’s losses but he played pretty well in the first round loss last season with about half of his offense actually able to play.  The Bengals really need to shake up things and they have the money and tools to make a game changer like this happen for their franchise.


4. New England Patriots –  Why wouldn’t the sneakiest team in the league give this a shot?  They are limited with cap room, but with the possibility of Peterson maybe restructuring (or the Patriots cutting ties with folks abruptly like they always do. . .) there could be a deadly deal waiting in the near future.  The Patriots have a very limited window to win another championship with Tom Brady and having a running back like Peterson, helps protect Brady for another grueling NFL season.   A player at the end of his career, like Peterson, would most likely be elated at the idea of playing for a team with a championship pedigree.   The Pats have the last pick in the first round and if the Vikings really want to hold out for a first round pick for Peterson, this might be the most realistic chance they have for that.

3.  Indianapolis Colts – The Colts are another team, much like the Cowboys that can use help on the defensive side, but his is a team that might want to make up for their past mistakes.  Remember the Colts were the ones that traded a first round pick to the Browns for Trent Richardson – yeah, that’s called “a swing and a miss.”   The Colts have been depending on Andrew Luck for every and anything that is offensively related, Peterson could ease the young man’s load by a bunch and probably help elevate Luck to his best year yet.  Pagano wants to run the ball at heart anyhow and Peterson would be in a position with an elite quarterback and a team with playoff aspirations.

2.  Oakland Raiders – When the Raiders name came up for the Peterson sweepstakes it seemed like a joke, because for the most part that’s what Raiders rumors are – terrible, terrible jokes.  The Raiders, financially are in in a position where they could “over-pay” Peterson if they wanted to.  For Peterson, this takes him to a team in the midst of rebuilding and working up a second year quarterback in Derek Carr.  If anybody knows anything about football though, it’s that historically, Oakland is where players go to die.  Big name players at the ends of their careers end up here and they usually fizzle out fast.  For the Raiders it would sell  jerseys, but they still wouldn’t be a playoff team, so this move makes little sense  –  which is the Raider way. . .


1.  Minnesota Vikings – Although Peterson and the Vikings have a shaky relationship as of now, the easiest things for both sides would be to apologize and move on.   Peterson is quite frankly the best player in Vikings history and it would mean something for the franchise to keep him there till his career is over.  The Vikings are a team that are not in a bad spot to make a playoff run this upcoming season and from a public relations standpoint – Peterson can really do something for his image by staying with this team when they need him most.  The Vikings won 7 games last season and with Peterson in the backfield, they could very well be a team who can win 9 games this season.   Second year quarterback Teddy Bridgewater seemed to get better as the year went along and that was without elite help around him.

G.W. Gras

twitter @GeeSteelio

Is Andrew Luck the Most “Important” QB in the NFL?

There are many fine lines in the english language.   In the NFL, nearly every word gets twisted and bent to mean two different things. For some it’s a compliment to be called a “game manager,” meanwhile to others, it’s a slap in the face.  The word “elite” is thrown around so much that the word has lost it’s meaning. . . and “being a leader” has been tied in to one’s body language, demeanor, work ethic and even “command of the huddle.”   In the NFL, no position is more talked about, celebrated and scrutinized than that of quarterback.  Some have the silly belief that you need a top flight or elite quarterback in order to succeed – dismissing all other positions of equal importance on the football field.  Not saying that the quarterback position is futile or that it doesn’t help to have a top notch quarterback on a football team to  pave a way to success, but most times the conversation gets out of control.


Ever since Andrew Luck was drafted out of Stanford and handed the reigns of the Indianapolis Colts franchise, he has been touted as “the next big thing.”  He very well may be and in today’s NFL world where many believe the quarterback is the do all end all to a team’s success, Luck is under a huge microscope, with every snap and read of his being examined by so-called “experts.”

So many people want to talk analytics to defend their position but to make the statement of Andrew Luck being the most important quarterback in the NFL, all it takes is common sense.

Andrew Luck has earned the right to be mentioned with the future hall of famers and “elite” class of today’s quarterbacks, which includes: Aaron Rodgers, Peyton Manning, Tom Brady and Drew Brees.  When it comes to those who are his peers : Russell Wilson, Cam Newton and Matt Ryan fill out the “comparison tree.”

There is no denying what the first four do for their teams.  They have all made their name in the history books, one way or another and contain all the traits needed to be “elite.”  Let’s not forget though  in the case of Brady and Rodgers – their teams carried the weight when these two went down in previous seasons.  In 2008, the Patriots lost Brady to injury in the first quarter against the Chiefs in their season opener.  What happened the rest of the season was back up quarterback Matt Cassell came in and threw for over 3600 yards and 21 touchdowns and led the Patriots to a 10-6 record.  The Pats missed out on the division crown, but a 10 win season generally keeps folks employed and happy.  In 2013, Aaron Rodgers suffered a broken collarbone in a week nine hit against Chicago, which sidelined him until the final week of the season.  Coach Mike McCarthy used a “musical chairs carousel” of quarterbacks that were able to check down to wideouts and keep the chains moving in Rodgers’ absence.  Thanks to a strong running game and conservative play calling, McCarthy was able to keep the Packers alive for a do or die division winning game in week 17, which they won.  In other words, these teams made due without their stud QBs.


One can make the argument that last season, Peyton Manning and Drew Brees held their teams back rather than help them get better.  Both quarterbacks were playing as if father time caught up with them as they both seemed to lack their recognizable arm talents and their instincts seemed a bit off.   Nobody is knocking what “getting older” can do to one’s abilities, but it’s more of the fact that Peyton Manning was struggling late last season – everyone saw it, but it was the running game that helped keep the Broncos alive all year.  Things didn’t turn out so well for Brees though, as he could not help get his team out of self dug holes to win an atrocious NFC South division.

This isn’t being written to bash these men.  It’s to prove an obvious point.   The point being, if Andrew Luck quarterbacked New Orleans or Denver, those teams would’ve been better off and if Chuck Pagano had to coach a full or even half a season without Luck – the Colts seasons is as good as done.

Andrew Luck stood in the pocket for the Indianapolis Colts last year and was the only reason why the Colts racked up 11 wins this year.  Yes, the only   reason.  The running game was non-existent all season and the defense was a struggle to watch week-to-week.  The Colts offense became pretty predictable late in games, and every game was won and lost on Luck’s arm.  Colts head coach, Chuck Pagano seemed out-coached for the most part on a weekly basis, and the team seemed to do it’s best when Luck was handed over play calling responsibilities on drives.   Luck had a version of Reggie Wayne that was out-dated and moldy, while he was breaking in a youngster like Donte Moncrief.  Sure, TY Hilton is an explosive player and has become somewhat of a break out star, but he doesn’t have the ideal size to be a true number one option.

Luck doesn’t have a running game and defense to depend on like Russell Wilson does in Seattle;  he doesn’t have a Julio Jones and Roddy White combination like Matt Ryan in Atlanta and although Luck is the better pure passer and has better weapons than Cam Newton – Newton usually finds himself in close games because of Ron Rivera’s tough nosed defenses.

The word important is not to be confused or tied into the word best.  Although the NFL pundits love to spin double meanings on words.  This isn’t to say that Luck could be, will be or in some circles is considered to be “the best” quarterback in the league but the fact here is that he is definitely the most important quarterback in the league.   Without him, the Colts are easily a two win team who will be looking to draft a quarterback in the off-season.  Andrew Luck on the Seattle Seahawks could probably go undefeated.  And given the scenario where Luck is the quarterback for Green Bay, Denver or New England those teams either get better or worse case scenario, still win their respectable divisions with double digits in the win column.


Considering how the Indianapolis Colts were only able to supply a legend like Peyton Manning two Super Bowl appearance (one victory) – one must wonder if they’ll leave Luck in that same kind of scenario.  Remember, in his hay-day – Manning was the most important quarterback in the league, without him they literally turned into a two win team.  The Colts have to help Luck out with better players around him.  He has already proven his worth to the franchise with what they’ve given him.  Now imagine if the team drafted well and put the right pieces in place.

Don’t blow this one Indy.  You’ve got the most important quarterback in the NFL.

G.W. Gras

twitter @GeeSteelio

Grading Free Agency, Pt. 2

*You can find Part 1, here: http://geesteelio.com/?p=369 – detailing the free agent signings of Ndamukong Suh, Frank Gore and Byron Maxwell, Rodney Hudson, Stephen Paea and Jeremy Maclin.


Ryan Matthews – Philadelphia Eagles

Naturally, we start with Chip Kelly’s Philadelphia Eagles.  It seemed as if the Eagles were locked in with Frank Gore at running back until Frank Gore backed out to sign with the Colts.  Ryan Matthews seems to be the guy who will replace the void left by Lesean McCoy.  Matthews’ history shows that he doesn’t fair well when replacing a fan favorite – as he was supposed to be the one to carry the load in San Diego after Ladanian Tomilson.  Matthews has shown flares of being a capable back, but injuries have derailed his career for the most part.  Questionable signing here by Chip Kelly considering the rigorous practices and uptempo play-style of this Eagles offense.  It will be a miracle if Matthews lasts 10 games this year.

Grade: C-

Torrey Smith – San Francisco 49ers


While most are looking to leave San Fran, Torrey Smith has decided to sign a 5 year, $40 million contract to play for the Niners.  Smith has incredible speed and good size at 6’0″, 200 pounds.  While in Baltimore, Smith totaled over 1000 yards once in four seasons which was also his highest reception total in his career at 65.  He makes the most with every catch and is able to average about 16 yards per catch each season – which is the stat that makes him attractive to the 49ers.  Nobody really knows if Colin Kaepernick will take another step in the positive direction, but Smith can only help.  This move also reunites Smith to play alongside Anquan Boldin (Ravens teammates in 2011).

Grade: B

Julius Thomas – Jacksonville Jaguars

Jacksonville, for as bad of a football team as they are, somehow they pulled off a free agent surprise by netting a deal with Thomas.  This is a risky move on both parts.  Thomas is entering a situation with an unproven quarterback entering his second year in Blake Bortles and the Jacksonville Jaguars are paying a guy who’s toughness has been questioned and who’s stats can be mostly attributed to playing in a great offense with one of the best ever throwing him the ball. . .  Playing with Peyton Manning makes any wideout / tight end, more in tune to route running and communication but is Jacksonville really the place where that can be exhibited?  Denver also wasn’t too happy with Thomas only wanting to play at 100% and never wanting to “give it a try” when coming back from injury.   Jacksonville could’ve spent the money they spent here on an offensive linemen.

Grade: C

Jeremy Parnell – Jacksonville Jaguars

Oh, excuse me Jacksonville – you are putting money to the offensive line.  Nice to see.  Jacksonville has money and they probably over-paid for a guy who split time in Dallas on the offensive line, but considering the success of the that O-Line, Jacksonville figured they had to make a move at some point to bolster this unit. Five years and for $32 million might seem a bit high for a guy nearly 30 years old who’s been a part-time starter but hey – guess you gotta start somewhere. . .

Grade: C-

Derrelle Revis AND Buster Skrine – New York Jets

The Jets were an absolute joke in the secondary last year as every young corner on the roster never panned out and every signing appeared to be the wrong one.  Buster Skrine was signed to a 4 year $25 million dollar contract and there is no doubt he is elated to leave the mess that is the Cleveland Browns.  Skrine is a heavily penalized corner, but the Jets like his aggressiveness and figure him to be a perfect nickel man for this defense.  Although the Skrine signing is okay , the crown-jewel is the Jets getting back their guy in Darrelle Revis.  When the Jets traded Revis in 2013, the fan-base couldn’t comprehend how it could trade away it’s best player in years.  It was business. . . and nobody conducts business better than Revis, who signed back to the Jets for a five year, $70 million contract with nearly $40 million guaranteed.  The Jets front line is still a force in the league and having bolstered their corner position will only help.  Safety is still a question-mark and there is still a possibility of them signing  Antonio Cromartie as the number two corner.  Sure they over-paid for Revis, but Revis makes sure that everybody does. 

Grade: A

Andre Johnson – Indianapolis Colts


In Part One, the Colts were given an “A” for bringing Frank Gore on board and now the Colts have gone out and acquired former Texans wideout Andre Johnson.  Johnson is the Texans all time receiving leader but now leaving on bad terms with the team, the veteran has decided to pony-up with the division rival Colts.  On paper this looks like a massive upgrade to the Colts receiving core and although Reggie Wayne showed last year he wasn’t the Wayne of yesterday, Johnson is almost in the same boat.  Wayne had to make way for T.Y. Hilton, while Johnson had to make way for Deandre Hopkins.  Three years and $21 million seems a bit too steep for a team that has an intriguing young wideout in Donte Moncrief to go along with T.Y. Hilton.  This team has a stud in Andrew Luck, the running game help should’ve been enough.  They need to focus on defense or it will be the same story as last year.

Grade: D

Orlando Franklin – San Diego Chargers

The Chargers are now acting like a shark smelling blood in the water.  Maybe the Chargers see that the Broncos are vulnerable and they can still make enough moves to be better than the Chiefs and Raiders.  If Peyton Manning’s late season performance was a preview to how he’ll play this up-coming season, that would make Rivers the best quarterback in the division.  The Chargers decided to protect one of the least mobile QB’s in the league by acquiring former Bronco, Orlando Franklin.  Franklin plays guard but is versatile all through the line of scrimmage and in his four seasons with Denver he has only missed one game.  The Chargers also re-signed King Dunlap so it seems that protecting Rivers for this year and beyond is (and should be) a team priority.

Grade: B+

G.W. Gras

twitter @GeeSteelio

Luck or Newton?

Andrew Luck or Cam Newton?
If this question was to be asked, most wouldn’t think twice and pick Andrew Luck.  Why? The word “prototypical” comes to mind.  Luck has the size, accuracy, arm strength and athleticism most people prefer in a pro system.  Andrew Luck came into the NFL after a stellar college career at Stamford University.  It was there under coach Jim Harbaugh that Luck was able to go toe to toe with powerhouses like USC and Oregon.  Luck entered the NFL as the most “sure thing quarterback prospect” since Peyton Manning, who he ultimately replaced in Indianapolis when he was drafted #1 overall. Luck had a squeaky clean image accompanied with a degree in architectural design as he entered the draft in 2012.  Cam Newton may not have the accuracy of Andrew Luck, but his over-all athleticism puts him in a very limited class of people in the NFL.
 While attending Auburn University, Cam Newton accomplished two things Luck didn’t in college: he won a National Championship AND a Heisman Trophy – and he did it in his one year as a starting quarterback. Cam Newton played in the SEC which is known for having the most pro-ready defensive athletes in a college conference and absolutely scorched everyone he played totaling over 4200 total yards and 50 touchdowns. Cam Newton was also taken with the number one overall pick but he didn’t come into it without some criticism.  Nobody denied his talent, but questioned his character.  Newton started his college career at Florida but was arrested for being in the possession of a stolen laptop which subsequently left him to transfer to a junior college, Binn, the following season (where he dominated as well and won the NJCAA Championship).  Also, while being recruited by Auburn, Cam’s father, Cecil Newton, was accused by Mississippi State University of trying to get “more than just a scholarship” for his son to transfer there.
Aside from the “baggage” Cam brought with him, he immediately became “must watch” football in the NFL and even set the record for most passing yards by an NFL rookie in a season with 4051.  It was an amazing feat until it was broken the following season by Andrew Luck who threw for 4374 yards. . . And while Luck was riding that impressive rookie season, questions about Cam Newton arose.  In Cam’s rookie season, he was all smiles and energy week in and week out – but he suffered that “sophomore jinx” – you know, the same one many face after defensive coordinators have a season’s worth of tape on you, so they break down your mechanics and tendencies. . .
Cam appeared less like the jubilant kid with the big smile, and instead exemplified the characteristics of a spoiled brat.  His body language was terrible, his effort seemed questionable in losses and word around the league was that he was a hardcore “diva.” All of this was going on while Andrew Luck was being anointed as “the next big thing.”
Cam Newton
Luck found himself in a better situation than Cam Newton.  Add to the fact that Luck did bring all the tools to be star from day one – it was a smooth transition. Consider that while Andrew Luck was being coached in his rookie season by a great offensive mind in Bruce Arians and was helped along the way by having future hall of famer, Reggie Wayne to throw to – it was in Luck’s favor not  to fail.  Cam Newton on the other hand had a defensive minded coach in Ron Rivera and although he had a future hall of famer in Steve Smith to throw to – Steve Smith is not the prototypical build or personality as Reggie Wayne is.  There was also something Cam needed to learn that Andrew Luck already understood.  Cam had to realize, he doesn’t have to try to do it all.
While in college, Cam literally was Mr. Do-It-All.  Due to his amazing abilities he was able to manipulate his talents to his advantage and take it to anybody he faced. . . at the college level.  In his rookie season, he pretty much played the same way but as previously mentioned, he found himself struggling by year two.  While people questioned his maturity and actual ability, Cam Newton himself realized he needed to be a better leader and study the game more because all he knows is to win, and that’s what he needs to do.  By his third season Cam polished his mechanics a bit more, was more in tuned with reading defenses and most importantly showed patience in the pocket.  He had his lowest totals in passing and rushing yards but that’s because he understood he didn’t have to rush things or try win the game on every throw.  Carolina had one of the best defenses in the league – when you have that on your side, as a quarterback the best thing to do is keep drives alive and limit the turnovers, which is what he did and helped lead Carolina to a 12-4 record, bringing Cam to the playoffs for the first time.  Cam had to restrain his instincts and sacrifice personal stats for the betterment of his team – which is what a leader does.
Andrew Luck has found himself in the playoffs in the two years he’s played, and under two different head coaches. Most thought Andrew Luck’s numbers would’ve been higher by his second season but they actually lessened from 4374 passing yards to 3822.  He did cut his interception numbers in half from 18 to 9 but alot of these stats are due to the fact that he threw the ball less under coach Chuck Pagano . . . which seemed to make no sense.  In a league where it benefits you to throw the ball, especially with a talent under center like Luck – many were left scratching their heads as to why Luck was being held back.
Keep in mind that while Cam Newton is in a division where he has to win in shootouts against the Falcons’ Matt Ryan and the Saints’ Drew Brees – Andrew Luck has had the luxury of playing the Titans and the Jaguars twice a year – add to the fact that Houston was terrible last year, which made that division a cake walk.
Is there a clear cut advantage of picking either Andrew Luck or Cam Newton?  To some there might be.  It all depends on the type of quarterback you’d rather have under center.  Andrew Luck brings what every team wishes they had in terms of character, intellect and ability to the position. Cam Newton brings a package we’ve never seen at this position and has showed that when he applies himself he has the smarts to break down defenses and make the intelligent decisions come game time.  Both are still young in their careers and it should be a fun ride for us, the fans to enjoy for a long time.
G.W. Gras
twitter @GeeSteelio