Where the Browns Stand Through 2 Weeks of Preseason.

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On August 9th, the Browns traveled down to East Rutherford, New Jersey to take on the New York Giants to open up their preseason.  It was a night where the two worst teams from 2017-2018 squared off to see who sucks less.  In the end it was the Browns who outlasted the Giants with a final score of 20-10.  It was nice to win a Football game, but it means next to nothing.  I thoroughly enjoyed watching the Browns throw the ball, catch it, run for yards after the catch, and score.  Sounds simple, but its true.   Everything looked much more crisp, which is all we can really ask for.

On the first play from scrimmage Saquon Barkley bounced outside the tackles to gash the Browns for 39 yards.  What a wonderful start!    Rough first play for Denzel Ward on the outside there.  Instead of setting the Edge to prevent Barkley from bouncing outside, he gets sucked in, and Barkley has free space out on the boundary.  Thankfully, Eli Manning looked absolutely woeful on this night.  There were a few  passes he threw to absolutely no one.  Now, Odell Beckham did not play, but he still looked like garbage.  After Barkley’s run the Browns held the Giants to a field goal.  3-0 Giants after their first offensive possession.

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The Browns first play from Scrimmage went almost as well as the Giants.  Showing 5 wide right off the hop, Tyrod Taylor hit Jarvis Landry for a 25 yard gain.  Problem is, jawing between Janoris Jenkins and Landry ended up with a 15 yard penalty on the Browns.  Landry must’ve said something to have warranted the flag, otherwise it was just two competitors jawing.  Keep the fucking flags in your pockets, Stripes.  The Browns were unable to move the ball any further on their opening possession, and were forced to punt.

The Giants weren’t any more successful in moving the ball, as they made the switch to Davis Webb at Quarterback.  Davis Webb is so fucking bad I was offended by the fact I was forced to watch him.  The G-Men did absolutely nothing in his time at the helm.  Webb finished 9-20 for 70 yards, no TD’s, and no INT’s.  Meanwhile, in Tyrod’s second series, the Browns started to go No-Huddle. Taylor found some chemistry with Rashard “Hollywood” Higgins hitting him on a quick 6 yard pass, and on the next very next play, he found Higgins again, this time for a solid 21 yard gain.

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That bitch Eli Apple got absolutely worked by Higgins on this one, and the Giants defense was on its heels.  Continuing with the no-huddle on the next play, Taylor hit David Njoku up the seam in stride, Chief made a few miss galloping his way to six.

This is how David Njoku needs to be used.  Straight up the seam exposing a weak match-up.  That Linebacker acting as a human turnstile stood no shot.  This created a small window between the trailing linebacker and Safety playing deep.  Taylor lofted it beautifully into Chief’s hands, who took over from there.

After that possession Tyrod Taylor’s night was done.  He finished 5 for 5, 99 yards, and a touchdown.  Taylor finished the evening with a perfect 158.3 passer rating.  Not a bad start for the bridge guy!

Enter Baker Mayfield. With the score 7-3 at the start of the second Mayfield went 3 and out on his first drive.  Two Nick Chubb runs netted a total of 0 yards, and Mayfield threw an incomplete pass.  It was Mayfield’s second drive where things got going.

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His first completed pass was a beautiful 26 yard, back shoulder completion to Hollywood Higgins.

After a crappy run, an incomplete pass, and a holding call on Spencer Drango, Mayfield hit CJ Board on 3rd and 18 to extend the drive.  Terrible video, but Baker does a fantastic job of climbing the pocket, surveying his reads, and firing it to a wide open target.  While its only preseason, that conversion was nice to see.  But, he still wasn’t done.  On 3rd and 6 from the Giants 27, Mayfield stood in the pocket, scrambled to his left to find an open target, and finally took off for the first down marker.  Mayfield got 7 yards and moved the chains again.

Three plays later, Mayfield and the Browns were looking at a 4th and 2 from the Giants 13, Mayfield got 5 yards on what looked like a designed QB keeper, and an easy first down.  Two plays later Baker fired a 10 yard strike to David Njoku for 6 points.

Exceptional pocket awareness from Baker, who had to move on from his first and second read to find Chief Njoku in the back of the endzone.  Baker put that ball where only the athletic monster that is David Njoku could get it.

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The Browns would go into halftime with a solid 13-3 lead.  Much of the second half was garbage time, but a few key players for both teams continued to see time.  Mayfield played early into the fourth quarter:

After the Giants scored to cut the Browns lead to 3, Mayfield and Antonio Callaway connected on a big 3rd and 7 completion for 24 yards.  Again, Mayfield uses his legs to buy some time outside the pocket.  He threw an absolute rocket on the run putting it low and toward the sideline, and  Antonio Callaway laid out beautifully to haul in the pass along the sideline.  While the Browns did not score on this drive, it was nice to see them pick up a few 3rd and long conversions on this night.

Finally, two drives later Baker hit Antonio Callaway on a short 5 yard slant, Callaway broke a tackle, and he was off to the races.

The game was over at this point with the Browns holding on to their 10 point lead for the rest of the fourth quarter.  Mayfield was done  for the evening with quite an impressive stat line:

It was nice to see the Browns win a game, even though its only Preseason.  Sadly this is no indicator of how the regular season will play out.  They went 4-0 last year in the preseason as we all are well aware.  BUT, these guys need to learn how to win somehow, so if they’re keeping score; win the fucking game.

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The following Friday saw the Buffalo Bills come into FirstEnergy Stadium for the Browns second Preseason tilt.  We saw the Browns sling it all over the joint against the Giants, both Tyrod and Baker.  This past week saw Todd Haley mix up the game-plan to incorporate a heavy dose of Carlos Hyde and Nick Chubb.  Week 1 the Browns Offensive Line was absolutely manhandled in the running game.  They amassed only 50 yards on 1.8 yards a rush attempt.  This week went much different.

The Browns flexed their muscle early going on a 9 play Touchdown on their first possession.  Carlos Hyde broke free for a 26 yard rush, and 9 yard rush on consecutive plays.  Haley mixed in some Duke Johnson, and intermediate Tyrod Taylor passing.  Finally the drive ended with a Carlos Hyde touchdown, his first in the Preseason.

The rest of the first half was a defensive stand still.  Neither team could move the ball a lick, and Buffalo even lost a Quarterback in the Process:

Myles Garrett was a force all night knocking out AJ McCarron on this pass rush, and using his speed off the ball to cause another sack:

With McCarron coming out of the game, Rookie Josh Allen came into the game.  He promptly lead a 15 play, 80 yard touchdown drive, culminating in a Rod Streater Touchdown catch.

Allen would lead another Field Goal Drive to end the half, making 10-7 Bills.  Up until this point the Browns were dominating, however stupid penalties along with missed opportunities on defense allowed Buffalo to surge ahead.

The second half continued to be a defensive stalemate.  Baker Mayfield was leading the offense, and unlike his first game, he was stuck with all 2nd and 3rd stringers.  No Callaway’s or Njoku’s.  While, he didn’t light it up as he had against the Giants, he still played well.  He had his moments within the pocket that make you say wow.  His footwork in there is pure wizardy.

Probably Mayfield’s highlight of the night.  3rd and 6, facing a heavy pass rush, moving around the pocket, and firing a pass back across his body to convert on 3rd down.  It was a fantastic display of Mayfield’s best traits as a Quarterback.

The Browns managed a touchdown in the second half, but Buffalo was too much on this night.  The Browns dropped to 1-1 on the Preseason losing 19-17 at home.

 

Decent start so far from this new look Browns team.  They managed to win a game, and each unit has shown flashes of its potential.  In game 1 we saw the passing attack go off for multiple touchdowns, and big yardage.  In game 2 we saw an effort to run the football heavily.  This generated a few big runs, and 2 rushing Touchdowns.  In both games we saw flashes of a young, fast, athletic, physical defense.  In the early stages of the Buffalo game, the Browns had allowed 9 yards on 9 plays.  Hopefully this is a glimpse as to what is to come.

Finally with the most important news of the Preseason:

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Josh Gordon announced a mere hour or two prior to the Buffalo game via Twitter and Instagram he would be rejoining the Browns.  What. A. Relief.  All systems go.  Josh Gordon stepping away from the team for any length of time is never a good thing, but he actually fucking came back.

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It will take some time for the Browns to assimilate Josh back into the offense, but fucking A, we might get Josh Gordon Week 1 against Pittsburgh.  T’s and P’s Joe Haden.    Things keep on rolling closer and closer towards regular season football.  I cannot freaking wait any longer. Tonight the Browns take on the Philadelphia Eagles at FirstEnergy Stadium.

The game will be a National Fox Broadcast at 8pm tonight.  Expect Tyrod Taylor and the rest of the starters to play for a good chunk of the game.  I would estimate 2 and a half quarters.  What am I expecting from the Browns?

  1. Balance.  I’d like to see Todd Haley mix it up with a nice balance of Run and Pass this week.  Week 1 they struggled to run the ball, so they aired it out for the majority of the game.  Week 2 the Offense made a concerned effort to run the football.  Lets see them combine the two in the so called, “Dress Rehersal” game.
  2. Defense.  I want to see the Defense continue to terrorize opposing Quarterbacks.  So far, the first teamers have not generated a turnover.  That was a huge issue last year, in terms of yardage and points the Browns fared well defensively, they just could not generate turnovers.  I’d like to see a few take-ways from the defense.  Show some hunger.
  3. Baker.  I am not yearning for Baker Mayfield just yet, I like Tyrod Taylor, and understand the teams decision to start him over the kid.  That being said, Browns fans aren’t going to have many more opportunities to watch Baker play.  I’d like to see him continue to play turnover free Football, and demonstrate that clear command he has of the offense.
  4. Win the fucking game.  You can only learn how to win by winning.

 

Tune in live on Fox to watch defending Super Bowl Champion, Philadelphia Eagles invade Cleveland.   Hopefully this will be yet another building block for good things in the regular season.  Go Browns!

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2018 Browns Training Camp Week 1 Recap.

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Thursday afternoon marked the 7th completed practice for the Browns so far in Training Camp.  A lot has gone down in those 7 days, so lets just take a look back at some of the highlights.

Baker Mayfield:

All in all it has been a good start for the 1st overall pick in April’s draft.  Tyrod is firmly the starter, but Mayfield has been opening some eyes this past week.  Accuracy, velocity, and leadership are all on display.  Funny, haven’t heard much about his height the last 7 days? Funny how that works.

Holy shit.  A lot of Baker Mayfield action these past 10 or so days.  Through that time, he has been everything the Browns could hope for.  It is early, but he is flashing the traits that lead the Browns to draft him first overall.  Unfortunately, with it only being camp we are limited to short social media highlight clips, so its hard to truly see how he is doing.

What I am seeing is a guy who is going to stand in the pocket and pick Defense’s apart.  He’s got the quickness and mobility to move about the pocket, and create his own throwing lanes.  His touch on deep balls appears to be a major strength.  Those deep balls float into his receivers hands with great touch.  Helps that he has some versatile weapons in the likes of Rashard Higgins, Seth Devalve, David Njoku, and countless runningbacks to mix-match.

By all accounts, he’s been working extremely hard on the field, off the field, and creating bonds with his teammates.  According to those covering the team, Mayfield hadn’t thrown a recorded Interception in camp until Friday’s Orange and Browns Scrimmage.  Tyrod is still firmly the starter, but Mayfield is doing his very best to challenge Tyrod.  Baker has stated numerous times he never wants to have a backup mentality, so it is expected to see him go balls to the wall.  It is a bit surprising to hear how well he is doing however.

Rashard Higgins:

A bit of a forgotten man coming into camp, Rashard has come in and flashed as a potential sleeper option on the Browns offense during the first week.  Last season saw some mild production from Higgins.  Nothing special, but he did have himself a few big games.  When the rest of our bum receivers were dropping passes, Higgins stepped up to contribute.   Also worthy to note his growth.  He more than tripled his yardage output, doubled his touchdown total, and caught nearly four times as many passes in 2017 as he did in 2016.

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Early in camp, Rashard has developed a strong connection with Baker Mayfield, as the two have hooked up on numerous highlight reel plays.  Higgins was going to have to fight for a job this season, especially with the new crop of Wide Receiver talent the Browns brought in last season.  He is on the fringe of the depth chart, but has developed into Mayfield’s favorite target so far in camp.

A couple of nice highlight clips there from Hollywood Higgins!  Hopefully this will parlay into Preseason.  I see the makings of a decent slot receiver.  I am rooting for Rashard Hollywood Higgins to make the team.

Denzel Ward:

There is a defense on the Browns as well, might as well show them some love.  Denzel Ward came into Training Camp higher up the depth chart than originally expected, as the kid tore up Mini-Camp.  So far Denzel has had a strong camp, by all accounts.

Denzel is impressing coaches, and teammates alike so far in 2018.   The kid has the quickness to cover guys one on one, and he is reeking havoc at Browns camp.  It’s great to see him getting reps with the first team.  Right now, looks like Terrance Mitchell and Denzel have been the starting corners.  Mitchell has made a whole bunch of plays, leading him to get that number 1 spot opposite Ward.  Still, with T.J. Carrie, E.J. Gaines, and Brean Boddy-Calhoun available, we’ll likely see a combination of all of these DB’s.

Jarvis Landry:

Jarvis Landry.  The dude has been a fucking highlight reel every single day of Browns practice thus far.  When the Browns first acquired Landry my very first reaction was: “Oh no, he’ll hate it in Cleveland.”  I was way wrong, the dude is quickly becoming the most vocal leader on the team.  Yeah he runs his mouth about playoffs, but the dude puts in the work on the field.  He’s a fantastic football player, who looks to be energized in a new situation.  I can’t wait to see how Todd Haley utilizes Landry in the offense.  You can send him deep up the sideline on go routes, he’s sure-handed enough to go across the middle, and he’s got the quickness to beat anyone with the ball in his hands.  Hell, you can use Jarvis in the backfield.  In the open field this dude makes DB’s miss.

Joel Bitonio:

Sigh.  Late last week Hue Jackson made the announcement that Joel Bitonio would be moving from his Left Guard position to Left Tackle.  It is a brand new position for Joel, and he stated that he preferred not to move just a few days earlier.  In addition to that, the Browns stated he would be the last option.  Sure enough, Friday saw Joel against Myles Garrett in practice.

It will be interesting to see how this plays out, but it is discouraging.  I was looking to see if Austin Corbett could assume the role, but the Coaching Staff prefers he play Guard.  I just don’t like having to place someone with no experience at a position like Left Tackle.  If he doesn’t feel comfortable, than hit the waiver wire.  The upcoming games will give the fans more of an idea of how he will do, its hard to gauge how well he did when you can barely contact your opponent in practice these days.

Corey Coleman:

TRADE ALERT! Late last night, the Browns shipped Corey Coleman off to Buffalo for a 7th round pick in 2020.  Weird that they are moving on so fast from Corey.  While injuries, drops, and off-field have plagued Coleman, I thought for sure they’d give him a full training camp to earn a role.  Nope.  He’s gone.  Traded for essentially nothing.  A first round pick from two years ago.  I am not sad about them losing Corey Coleman.  He’s a small-ish receiver with blazing speed and suspect hands.  Dime a dozen.  The problem with Coleman is his worth ethic, and Football IQ.

Anyway, best of luck to Corey Coleman in Buffalo.  I feel like the train has already left the station with this guy.  No matter what he does in the future, he will always be remembered for this:

fuck you dude.

Big week ahead for the Browns.  Tomorrow we will have the much anticipated premier of Hard Knocks.  HBO’s documentary, chronicling the Browns 2018 Training Camp.  With a cast of characters like the Browns, this season is bound to be pretty good.  We may even get a juicy little nugget regarding the Coleman trade.  He missed practice yesterday with a bum hammy, and then BAM.  9 PM hits and your traded.  I am curious to see if something happened that lead to the Browns just throwing him at Buffalo.

Even better, we have ourselves a football game this week.  Tune in on Thursday 8/8 to catch the Browns take on the New York Giants from MetLife Stadium.  Baker Mayfield vs. Saquon Barkley.  Can’t fucking wait.

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Lets go Browns.

Browns Sign Ex-Bills Cornerback, E.J. Gaines.

The Browns continued to add to their Roster yet again, as Free-Agency is slowly coming to a halt.  Friday, they reached an agreement with former Bills and Rams Cornerback, E.J. Gaines.  Gaines was originally drafted in the Sixth round of the 2014 NFL Draft by the Los Angeles Rams.  Gaines was traded to Buffalo this past season for Wide Receiver, Sammy Watkins.  When healthy, this dude has been a solid contributor to both the Rams and Bills.

Lovely!  The Browns have added a young corner with the potential of being a number 1.  At times he’s showed the ability to play up to that level.  Injuries, and Tre’Davious White have prevented him from blossoming into a number 1.  The money and term on the deal is just perfect too.  Gaines missed all of 2015 with Lisfranc, and missed 5 games in 2016 with a Thigh Injury.  1 year at $4 million seems like a reasonable amount to pay.  If he gets injured, or sucks they will move on, and it will be fairly easy.  If he performs at a high level, then they’d probably look to an extension.  Lets take a look at what Gaines brings on the field:

The nerds had E.J. scoring an average of 86.6 in 2017.  That’s good for the 13th best average score among corners.  But what does any of that really mean?

Well that certainly means more to me.  This guy appears to be one of the better cover corners in the league.  He’s good at keeping guys quiet while going somewhat unnoticed, as E.J. only has 1 interception in his entire career.   The Gaines signing makes it look like the three corners the Browns will go with next year are as follows: 1. Gaines 2. Carrie 3. Boddy-Calhoun.  That seems like an upgrade from 2017.  The Cornerback crew the Browns rocked with in 2017: 1. McCourty 2. Taylor 3. Boddy-Calhoun.  Boddy-Calhoun has developed into a very good slot corner, and at times McCourty played like a true number one corner.  Despite all this, the Browns clearly wanted to get younger and faster.  Bringing in Carrie and Gaines likely means the end of Jamar Taylor in Cleveland.  Taylor struggled last season with an increased workload.  He was bumped to the number 2 corner spot after Joe Haden was released from the team.  Taylor is most remembered for being completely emasculated by T.Y. Hilton this past season.

The Browns are continuing to add solid pieces to their roster.  In the week and half since the league New Year began the Browns have added: Tyrod Taylor, Jarvis Landry, Damarious Randall, Donald Stephenson, Chris Hubbard, Chris Smith, Carlos Hyde, T.J. Carrie, Terrance Mitchell, E.J. Gaines, and Darren Fells.  Some names are bigger than others on that list, but all have contributed to winning programs in the NFL.  These are the players the Browns needed to fill out the roster, that way they are not relying on Rookies so often.  They will use rookies to supplement the talent they already have, rather than force them to be starters right away.  The Roster is substantially better than it was just two weeks ago, and we still have the draft to go.  Go Browns.

Browns Trade for QB Tyrod Taylor.

Holy shit! Big Dick John Dorsey made another move Friday, just minutes after the Jarvis Landry trade. This time the Browns acquired Quarterback, Tyrod Taylor from the Bills. In exchange, the Bills received a third round draft selection.

This one is stunning. I fully expected AJ McArron to be the Browns starting Quarterback in 2018. Instead, Dorsey shelled out a mid-round draft pick for Tyrod. No issue with the trade, as Sashi Brown STILL shits out mid-round draft picks each morning. Not bad adding Jarvis Landry and Tyrod Taylor in the span of 45 minutes!

I don’t know what to say. I was high on Tyrod for the longest time, and then he couldn’t hit a three yard check down in his playoff game. Hey it’s a competent Quarterback under center. I’ll take it.

Go Browns…more to come

The Buffalo Bills Send 1,440 Wings To The Bengals

Oh Buffalo, never change. The Bills, obviously thankful for the Bengals knocking the Ravens out, clinched their first playoff bid since the 1999 season. The Bengals won in dramatic fashion, with Andy Dalton finding Tyler Boyd on a 48 yard TD on 4th and 12 to end the Ravens’ season. What did Buffalo do to repay them?

Classic. Who doesn’t love wings? Actually if anybody didn’t, it’d be Cincinnati residents and their weird ass Skyline Chili. Granted — who even knows who is at the Bengals’ facility by now as they have long been eliminated from the playoffs. Good on Buffalo repaying their debt for their (short) playoff trip.

 

Mediocrity Super Bowl: Jaguars vs. Bills

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NFL Wild Card Weekend will bring a match-up with two teams who haven’t had a ticket to the dance in quite some time.  We have the Buffalo Bills, who last made the Playoffs in 1999, and the Jacksonville Jaguars.  The Jaguars last Playoff appearance was in 2007-2008 in New England.  They lost 31-20 to the then undefeated Patriots.

The Bills last lost to the Tennessee Titans in the Music City Miracle game.  An event that doesn’t need much explaining:

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This game is the game I am look forward to most this weekend.   It is mediocrity at it’s absolute finest.  Two middling teams duking it out, to see who has the right to get their ass kicked in New England, or Pittsburgh.   I’m sure these two fanbases will make sure there will be plenty of debauchery in the stands as well.  Couldn’t be more excited.

Buffalo Bills:

What a year it has been up in Buffalo.  The longest Professional Sports playoff drought in America finally comes to a close.  The Bills exceeded expectations in general in 2017.  A year after cleaning house from the Rex Ryan regime, it looked as if the Bills were orchestrating a tank job.  They traded away key starters in Ronald Darby, and Sammy Watkins for lesser options in Jordan Matthews and E.J. Gaines.  This was an attempt to give young coach, Sean Mcdermott a fresh clean slate.

The Bills responded by being a playoff contender for much of the year.  They picked up key wins against the Broncos, Chiefs, Raiders, and Colts.  Needing a win in week 17, Buffalo took down Miami 22-16, and Cincinnati knocked out Baltimore with a last second Andy Dalton touchdown to  Tyler Boyd.

The Bills most explosive offensive weapon is Lesean McCoy.  Shady can beat you in every single facet of the game.  He is quick enough to beat you to the outside, he’s tough enough to run inside the tackles, and is a major weapon is the passing game.  He’s pretty much the entire Buffalo Bills offense.   Look for heavy dose of shady on Sunday, if he is healthy enough to go.  It is sounding like he should be ok to play.

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Not much else for the Bills on offense.  It’s been a rough year on that side of the ball. Tyord Taylor is currently their starting Quarterback, but Sean McDermott famously switched to Nathan Peterman against the San Diego Chargers.  Peterman threw 5 interceptions on the day, and the Bills got throttled.

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Tyrod Taylor hasn’t exactly set the world on fire as the full-time starter for Buffalo.  He did however, throw less interceptions over the course of the entire season, than Peterman did against the Chargers alone. He just doesn’t have many weapons to work with.  His three biggest weapons are Charles Clay, Kelvin Benjamin, and Jordan Matthews.  Even with those names, Shady is still the Bills best weapon in the passing game.

Defensively is where the Bills earn their stripes.  They rank 16th in points, and 19th in yards allowed.  The ’85 bears they aren’t, but they can keep themselves in games with solid defensive play.

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Jacksonville Jaguars:

The Jags finished 2017 with a 10-6 record, and a playoff birth for the first time since 2008.  They do so after entering the season amid a QB controversy.  Jags head coach, Doug Marrone had considered turning the keys of the offense over to Chad Henne in training camp.  Marrone wisely stuck with Blake Bortles.

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Bortles went on to have a solid year at the helm.  The Jags had signature wins against the Steelers, Ravens, Seattle, and Houston twice.  Most of it was lead by rookie Running Back, Leanord Fournette.

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Fournette rushed for 1,040 yards, and 9 touchdowns.  He added 302 yards, and 1 touchdown receiving.

Their calling card is their defense.  Jacksonville finished 5th in points allowed, and 4th in yards allowed.  Calais Campbell leads a very strong defensive line.  He finished the season with 14.5 sacks, and was an all-pro as both a Defensive End, and Defensive tackle.  Jalen Ramsey leads a young strong secondary.  Ramsey finished 2017 with 4 interceptions, and 14 passes defended.  There are many other strong pieces including Dante Fowler, Tashaun Gipson, Malik Jackson, and A.J. Bouye.  The Jaguars are very young, and very good on defense.  Don’t be surprised if Jacksonville goes on a little playoff run, as long as Bortles doesn’t revert back to his old self.

Final Verdict: 

Jacksonville 17- Buffalo 3

Buffalo is just not good enough offensively to compete with this Jags team. Tyrod Taylor likely won’t pick apart the Jags,  they are too strong on defense for the lowly Bills offense.  Whoever controls the line of scrimmage, and turns it over fewest will win. Going to be a snoozer, but it is Mediocrity’s Super Bowl after all!