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  • MONDAY, JANUARY 1
    GAME TIME(ET) PICK UNITS


    MICH at SOCAR 12:00 PM
    SOCAR +9.0
    U 42.0

    UCF at AUB 12:30 PM
    AUB -12.0
    O 67.0

    ND at LSU 01:00 PM
    ND +3.0
    U 51.5


    UGA at OKLA 05:00 PM
    OKLA +3.0
    U 61.0


    ALA at CLEM 08:45 PM
    ALA -3.0
    O 47.0

    Comment


    • Bowl roundup: UCF upends Auburn to cap perfect season
      January 1, 2018


      PASADENA, Calif. -- Lorenzo Carter's block of an Austin Seibert field-goal attempt in double-overtime set the stage for Sony Michel's game-winning, 27-yard touchdown run, and No. 3 Georgia outlasted No. 2 Oklahoma 54-48 in the College Football Playoff semifinal at the Rose Bowl.

      Michel -- the Offensive Player of the Game -- rushed for 181 yards, scored three touchdowns on the ground and a fourth receiving, and gained redemption for an earlier miscue in the first overtime game in Rose Bowl history.

      Georgia (13-1) will play Southeastern Conference East rival Alabama for the College Football National Championship on Jan. 8 in Atlanta.

      The Bulldogs fell behind 45-38 when Oklahoma defensive back Steven Parker scooped up a Michel fumble, walked a tightrope and ran the ball 46 yards for a touchdown.

      Running back Nick Chubb scored the second of his two rushing touchdowns for Georgia on a 2-yard direct snap to force overtime at 45-45. Chubb contributed 145 yards rushing to the Bulldogs' 502 total yards of offense. Oklahoma (12-2) got 201 rushing yards and two touchdowns from Rodney Anderson.

      No. 4 Alabama 24, No. 1 Clemson 6

      NEW ORLEANS -- Nose guard Da'Ron Payne and linebacker Mack Wilson intercepted passes on back-to-back possessions in the third quarter, keying a ferocious second-half defensive assault that produced a pair of touchdowns in a 13-second span to power No. 4 Alabama past No. 1 Clemson in the College Football Playoff semifinal in the Allstate Sugar Bowl.

      After Payne's interception, he caught a 1-yard touchdown pass in the right corner of the end zone from quarterback Jalen Hurts, putting Alabama up 17-6. On the first play after the kickoff, Wilson raced 18 yards untouched for a pick-six.

      Even though Alabama (12-1) gained just 260 yards in total offense, Clemson (12-2) finished with only 188. Alabama sacked quarterback Kelly Bryant five times and hurried him repeatedly.

      No. 10 UCF 34, No. 7 Auburn 27

      ATLANTA -- Central Florida completed an improbable unbeaten season in coach Scott Frost's farewell game, striking a blow for non-Power Five Conference schools.

      McKenzie Milton passed for two touchdowns and ran for a third as the 10th-ranked Knights finished 13-0 three seasons after going winless, holding on for a victory over the seventh-ranked Tigers in the 50th Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl.

      UCF sacked Jarrett Stidham six times and had two interceptions, including an end-zone pick by Antwan Collier in the closing seconds.

      Chequan Burkett had a 45-yard touchdown return of a Stidham interception with just under six minutes remaining to give UCF a two-touchdown lead after the Knights had gone ahead on an 8-yard touchdown pass from Milton to Dredrick Snelson early in the fourth quarter.

      No. 14 Notre Dame 21, No. 16 LSU 17

      ORLANDO, Fla. -- Miles Boykin turned a one-handed sideline catch into a 55-yard touchdown pass from Ian Book with 1:28 left, and No. 14 Notre Dame pulled out a Citrus Bowl victory over No. 16 LSU.

      Boykin caught three passes for 102 yards and was selected the game's MVP.

      Book replaced starter Brandon Wimbush late in the first half when the game was scoreless. Book completed 14 of 19 passes for 164 yards and two touchdowns.

      Notre Dame (10-3) won after being outgained and committing two turnovers, only one of which turned into LSU points. Jack Gonsoulin's 17-yard field goal gave LSU (9-4) a 17-14 lead with 2:03 left.

      South Carolina 26, Michigan 19

      TAMPA, Fla. -- South Carolina overcame a 16-point deficit late in the third quarter and got big plays from Jake Bentley to rally for an Outback Bowl win over Michigan.

      The Gamecocks (9-4) recovered a Michigan fumble at their 4-yard line to stop one drive, then scored three consecutive touchdowns to take the lead.

      Michigan had four second-half turnovers, the last when Steven Montac intercepted a pass with 1:12 remaining.

      Rico Dowdle ran 17 yards for a score and Bentley threw a 21-yard pass to Bryan Edwards in a span of 94 seconds late in the third quarter to pull South Carolina within three. Then Bentley threw a 53-yard score to freshman Shi Smith for a 23-19 lead with 11:33 to play.

      Michigan (8-5) lost its final three games, including two in the regular season to Top 10 opponents Wisconsin and Ohio State.

      Comment


      • National Championship Notes
        January 2, 2018


        The Alabama Crimson Tide and the Georgia Bulldogs are the last two teams standing in the quest for the 2017 National Championship. They'll meet at the brand-new Mercedes-Benz Stadium right in the heart of SEC Country, marking the second time the SEC has put two teams in the National Championship Game.

        Tide Rolling Through the Dawgs

        Nick Saban has had a history of beating the snot out of everyone in the SEC, and Georgia isn't an exception. These two teams don't play all that often anymore, meeting just three times since 2007. Heck, Georgia hasn't even visited Tuscaloosa since 2007.

        That hasn't stopped the Crimson Tide from creaming the Bulldogs. They've won each of the last three meetings, most of which have come in relatively comfortable fashion. In 2015, the last meeting of these squads, the Bulldogs were 1.5-point favorites at home. It was the last time Alabama happened to be an underdog in a game. The Crimson Tide won 38-10 and have literally never stopped to look back at the rest of the SEC since that point.

        Since the 2010 National Championship Game against Texas, Alabama has been favored in every single game it has played in save for that one against Georgia in 2015.

        Running it Up

        Georgia was never going to win a playoff game without the help of its defense and its running game. Though the Bulldogs surrendered 48 points to Oklahoma, a dominant stretch in the third quarter after a bad first half got them back into the game, and the rushing attack finished things off.

        Jake Fromm made some throws, too, but he really didn't have much in the way of pressure on his shoulders throughout the Sugar Bowl. Sony Michel and Nick Chubb became the all-time leading duo of rushers in FBS history during the Rose Bowl, and they certainly both got their money's worth in that game. The two combined to run for 326 yards and five touchdowns on just 25 carries. Michel also had four catches for 41 yards and a touchdown.

        Keep this in mind, though: Georgia's two backs ran for 326 yards. Alabama allowed 326 yards in every four games that it played this year. Not a single back ran for as many yards against the Crimson Tide as either Chubb or Michel had against Oklahoma. Good luck replicating that success in this one, UGA.

        Fromm Entering Rare Territory

        Last year, Jalen Hurts put up what was largely considered to be the best year a true freshman quarterback had in the history of college football. That said, he came up one game short of the goal of becoming the second true frosh quarterback ever to win a National Championship. Of course, that wasn't his fault; when Hurts left the field against Clemson late in the fourth quarter, he had the lead. His defense gave it back.

        Enter: Jake Fromm


        Fromm wasn't even supposed to see the field this season, and there was a decent chance he was going to be redshirted. Instead, Jacob Eason got hurt in the opener, and Fromm had his number called. He upset Notre Dame in South Bend in Week 2 and never looked back. Now, he's the only true freshman to ever win the Rose Bowl, and he can join Jamelle Holieway as the only other man to lead a team to a National Championship in his first season as a collegiate athlete.

        National Championship Opening Odds
        Georgia Bulldogs +4
        Alabama Crimson Tide -4
        Over/Under 47.5

        Current National Championship Odds (Updated 1/2)

        Georgia Bulldogs +4.5
        Alabama Crimson Tide -4.5
        Over/Under 46

        Comment


        • CFB notebook: Kansas State coach Snyder reportedly will return in 2018
          January 2, 2018


          Bill Snyder reportedly plans to return to coach Kansas State for a 27th season.

          The 78-year-old Snyder told his coaching staff of his decision to return, according to K-State Online, which cited multiple sources.

          Snyder, in his second stint with the Wildcats, led the team to an 8-5 record this season, which was capped by a 35-17 victory over UCLA in the Cactus Bowl.

          It was the eighth consecutive bowl appearance for Kansas State under Snyder, who is 210-110-1 at the school.

          Snyder was diagnosed with throat cancer in February 2016, prompting speculation that he would retire a second time as the program's head coach.

          --Northwestern quarterback Clayton Thorson suffered a torn ACL in his right knee during the Music City Bowl on Friday night.

          Thorson, who was injured early in the second quarter of the Wildcats' 24-23 victory over Kentucky, is scheduled to undergo surgery in mid-January. No timetable was offered for Thorson's return.

          Three days before sustaining his injury, Thorson, a redshirt junior, announced he would return for his final season of eligibility at Northwestern rather than enter the 2018 NFL draft.

          --Gary Andersen, who parted ways with Oregon State in the middle of last season, is rejoining the Utah coaching staff as an associate head coach and defensive assistant.

          Andersen has been a head coach at three FBS schools -- Utah State (2009-12), Wisconsin (2013-14) and Oregon State (2015-17) -- since last being with the Utes.

          He was 1-5 with the Beavers before stepping away in October and leaving behind about $12.6 million in guaranteed money.

          --Texas A&M junior receiver
          Christian Kirk, a potential first-rounder who adds value as a return man, announced he would enter the 2018 NFL draft.

          NFLDraftScout.com senior analyst Rob Rang had Kirk going 16th overall in a first-round mock draft this week.

          Other underclassmen declaring for the draft were Nebraska offensive lineman Nick Gates, Southern Miss wide receiver Korey Robertson, Stanford tight end Dalton Schultz and Oregon State running back Ryan Nall.

          Wisconsin linebacker T.J. Edwards announced he would return for his senior season.

          --Georgia linebacker Davin Bellamy
          had two words of wisdom for Oklahoma quarterback Baker Mayfield following the teams' College Football Playoff semifinal on Monday.

          Then, Bellamy repeated those words again and again.

          "Humble yourself," Bellamy shouted as Mayfield congratulated the opposition following the Bulldogs' 54-48 win in double overtime in the Rose Bowl.

          "All I'm saying is humble yourself," Bellamy told ESPN after the game. "All the flamboyancy ... I carry myself the same way, but humble yourself, man."

          Comment


          • CFP title game: 5 storylines
            January 2, 2018


            The national championship game is set: Alabama vs. Georgia. Here are five things everyone will be talking about before the big game on Monday night in Atlanta:

            1. SEC! SEC! SEC!

            The Southeastern Conference likes to promote itself with the advertising tag line, "It Just Means More," but no slogan is needed for Monday night, which will be a 3 1/2-hour infomercial for the conference.

            For the first time in the four years of the College Football Playoff -- and the first time since Alabama played LSU in the 2012 BCS title game -- the final game of the season will match two teams from the same conference.

            The postseason is a generally lousy way to determine conference strength -- so, too, are non-conference regular-season matchups -- but it's all we have to go on. Based on the results, SEC fans will be crowing (even louder) while the rest of the nation grumbles, having grown weary of a conference that will win its ninth national championship in the past dozen seasons.

            The SEC might not have been the nation's best conference, top to bottom, this season. But it still wins the debate because Alabama and Georgia are the final two standing.

            "I don't think the league is ever down," Alabama quarterback Jalen Hurts said.

            2. Saban vs. Smart

            Georgia coach Kirby Smart spent nine seasons at Alabama under Nick Saban, including eight as the defensive coordinator. Saban initially hired Smart in 2004 when he was at LSU, and Smart followed Saban to the Miami Dolphins a year later.

            "I was very impressed with him from day one," Saban said on a media teleconference Tuesday.

            "He was very bright. He learned quickly. I would hire him anytime, anywhere, on any staff, based on the body of work that he did over the nine or 10 years that he was with us. He did a fabulous job."

            Whether the familiarity with Saban and much of the Tide's personnel will have any effect on the outcome of the title game remains to be seen, but here is one stat that will be heard often: Saban is 11-0 against his former assistants.

            Saban put that in perspective.

            "I don't think the game is about the coaches. I think it's about the players," Saban said. "And I think in most of those games if the other guy had the players that we had, they might have beat us."

            3. Georgia's running game

            Bulldogs senior running backs Nick Chubb and Sony Michel combined for 25 carries for 326 yards and five touchdowns in the double-overtime victory over Oklahoma in the Rose Bowl.

            In doing so, they become the most prolific running back duo in college football history, surpassing SMU's Eric Dickerson and Craig James, who ran for a combined 8,193 yards in the early 1980s.

            Chubb has rushed for 4,744 yards; Michel 3,540. That's 8,284 yards.

            Michel had a 75-yard scoring burst in the second quarter against the Sooners and won the game with a 27-yard touchdown off a direct snap in the second overtime.

            "We're a downhill team, so we run the ball," Michel said.

            It won't be as easy against Alabama, which is first in the nation in rushing defense, allowing 91.8 yards per game, making this a big-boy matchup of strength-on-strength.

            4. Quarterback play


            Georgia's Jake Fromm is where Alabama's Jalen Hurts was last season -- a true freshman in the national title game. Hurts and the Tide fell just short last season, losing to Clemson on a touchdown with one second to go, so now it's Fromm's turn to try to become the second true freshman quarterback to win it all;

            Jamelle Holieway took Oklahoma to the 1985 title.

            No doubt, each defense wants to stop the run and force the quarterback into taking downfield shots, taking him out of game-manager mode.

            Fromm, with calmness and defense-reading skills beyond his years, is fourth nationally in passing efficiency with a rating of 166.4. Hurts is 11th at 153.7 and has been intercepted only once in 246 passes.

            The twist here: Fromm was committed to Alabama before flipping to Georgia shortly after Smart became the head coach after the 2015 season.

            "When he first got here, prior to him even being the starter, the way he carried himself was like a senior or something like that," Georgia linebacker Roquan Smith said. "Just seeing what the guy has done hasn't surprised me one bit."

            5. Chasing history


            Saban is going for his sixth national title, which would tie him for the most ever with a certain houndstooth-hat wearing Alabama gentleman named Paul William Bryant.

            Saban won his first title with LSU in 2003 and added four more in the past eight seasons -- 2009, 2011, 2012 and 2015.

            If Saban hoists another trophy, it would be hard to deny that he's the greatest coach in college history, especially given the modern challenges of navigating multiple postseason games to win the title.

            Back in some of Bear Bryant's days, the "mythical" national champion in the polls was determined before the bowl games.

            On Monday, Georgia -- and one of his former assistants -- stands in his Saban's way.

            Comment


            • NFL notebook: Lewis signs contract to remain Bengals' coach
              January 2, 2018


              Marvin Lewis is staying with the Cincinnati Bengals after all.

              Ending weeks of speculation that his lengthy tenure as the Bengals' head coach was over, Lewis was signed to a two-year contract that runs through the 2019 season, the team announced Tuesday.

              Although Lewis is the winningest coach in franchise history, posting a 125-112-3 record in his 15 seasons, Cincinnati has had back-to-back losing seasons following a run of four consecutive seasons with double-digit victories.

              The Bengals finished 7-9 but won their final two games.

              --Arizona Cardinals quarterback Carson Palmer announced his retirement after 15 seasons in the NFL.

              The 38-year-old Palmer was named to the Pro Bowl three times, but his 2017 season was cut short by a broken arm that limited him to seven games.

              Palmer was a Heisman Trophy winner at USC in 2002, and was the first overall pick in the 2003 NFL Draft.

              Palmer spent his first eight seasons with the Bengals before being traded to the Oakland Raiders. He played in Oakland for two years before playing five seasons with Arizona.

              --Minnesota Vikings quarterback Sam Bradford practiced with the team, marking his first participation in practice in nearly three months.

              The Vikings held the first of two practices Tuesday during their first-round bye, and Bradford went through drills with the other quarterbacks for the first time since early October. Bradford underwent knee surgery on Nov. 7 and was placed on injured reserve.

              Bradford's return to practice doesn't mean he will return to game action soon. He first would need to be activated off the injured list to be eligible to play, and the Vikings have two healthy quarterbacks in Case Keenum and backup Teddy Bridgewater.

              --Green Bay Packer coach Mike McCarthy received a one-year contract extension during this past season, multiple outlets reported.

              McCarthy is under contract through the 2019 season. He would have been entering the final year of his contract in 2018 without an extension.

              The Packers fired defensive coordinator Dom Capers, inside linebackers coach Scott McCurley and defensive line coach Mike Trgovac.

              --Ted Thompson will remain as senior advisor to football operations with the Packers, the team announced.

              The move comes after the Packers announced that Thompson was out as the team's general manager. The Packers also said they will begin an "immediate search" for their next general manager.

              --Jon Gruden
              now admits that he is a candidate for the Oakland Raiders' head coaching job.

              Several news outlets, including ESPN, have reported that Gruden will be the Raiders' next coach after Jack Del Rio was fired following Sunday's game.

              However, there was not any solid evidence that Gruden, now an NFL analyst for ESPN, would be interested in the position until a report by Jerry McDonald from the Bay Area News Group confirmed it.

              "My understanding is they're interviewing candidates this week and they're going to let everybody know sometime early next week or whenever they make their decision," Gruden said, per the Bay Area News Group. "Well, I think I am being considered, yes. I hope I'm a candidate."

              --Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Antonio Brown is making progress as he recovers from a partially torn calf muscle, coach Mike Tomlin said.

              In fact, Tomlin said that Brown would be listed as questionable if the team was playing in the wild-card round this weekend. It suggests Brown has a good chance to play in the Steelers' first playoff game on Jan. 14.

              --The Steelers announced that offensive coordinator Todd Haley suffered an injury in a fall but will be able to coach in the playoffs.

              The team did not say how Haley was injured, but NFL Network reported he injured hip in an altercation at a bar.

              According to the report, Haley was pushed outside a bar near Heinz Field on Sunday night following the Steelers' victory over the Browns.

              Because of the injury, Haley may coach Pittsburgh's Jan. 14 game from the booth instead of the sidelines as he usually does.

              --The Atlanta Falcons
              placed Andy Levitre on injured reserve after the left guard aggravated a left triceps injury, the team announced.

              Ben Garland will get the start for the Falcons in Saturday's wild-card game against the Los Angeles Rams at Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum.

              --Philadelphia Eagles coach Doug Pederson underscored his support of quarterback Nick Foles.

              "My guy is Nick Foles, end of story," Pederson texted to NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport.

              The 28-year-old Foles completed 4 of 11 passes for 39 yards with an interception in limited action during Sunday's 6-0 loss to the Dallas Cowboys.

              Earlier in the day, Pederson was asked whether he'd consider replacing Foles for Nate Sudfeld if the former struggles in next week's playoff game.

              "It's hard to say right now until I'm in that situation quite honestly," Pederson told reporters. "Listen, it's a one-game season. It's hard to be in desperation mode, but if you are in that mode, you know, who knows? I do know this -- it's not about one guy. ... A lot of contributing factors go into winning a game."

              --Kansas City Chiefs running back Kareem Hunt was intent on winning the rushing title, so much so that the rookie smooth-talked his coach into letting him vie for the honor.

              "He came to me and he wanted to play and he wanted to do this thing," coach Andy Reid said of Hunt, per ESPN. "I fought him a little bit on it, and he won that fight. He told me he'd get it taken care of quick, and he did that. My hat goes off to him."

              Hunt didn't take long in accomplishing the feat on Sunday, rushing for a 35-yard touchdown on his lone carry against the Denver Broncos. Hunt (1,327 rushing yards) needed just 14 yards to pass Los Angeles Rams running back Todd Gurley, who sat out his team's regular-season finale.

              --Houston Texans quarterback
              Deshaun Watson is ahead of schedule as he recovers from a torn right anterior cruciate ligament, coach Bill O'Brien told reporters.

              Watson, who sustained the injury during a non-contact play in practice, could return in some capacity for the Texans' organized team activities that span from mid-April until mid-June.

              --The Andy & Jordan Dalton
              Foundation received a significant boost in donations from an unlikely group of fans.

              Fans in Buffalo showed their appreciation to Andy Dalton by donating to the charitable foundation. The gesture comes on the heels of the Cincinnati Bengals quarterback tossing a 49-yard touchdown pass on Sunday that eliminated the Baltimore Ravens from postseason contention and sent the Bills into the playoffs for the first time since 1999.

              Comment


              • Non-Playoff ATS Rankings
                January 2, 2018


                Fixing the Non-Playoff Teams

                Instead of the ATS Power Rankings, itís probably more pertinent to throw some attention to the teams that didnít make the playoffs instead of the ones that did. We have plenty of time to vomit up hyperbole about whatís going to happen in a Wild Card Weekend that looks ominously bad. For now, Iím sure there are plenty of you that are interested to see how your favorite (or least favorite) team can improve heading in to the 2018 campaign.

                Weíre starting from top and gutting down to the bottom of the barrel where the second franchise in history to go winless will be waiting. Obviously, I canít hit every single point here so Iím just covering the most important.

                Seattle Seahawks (9-7 SU and 6-9-1 ATS)
                The Legion of Boom is dead. Kam Chancellor and Cliff Avril may never play football again due to neck injuries sustained earlier this year. Sherman and Thomas are on the last legs of their contracts, and basically cost nothing to cut. The Seahawks are in the best position to rebuild out of anyone so it will be a fascinating study to see Carroll work his magic. One of the elements that Pete has been exceptional at is targeting players who respond to him. Thatís an unappreciated talent for coaching staffs. The Seahawks will always be a devastating force of nature with Wilson healthy.

                Spending more than fifty bucks on their offensive line while reimagining a new defensive roster remain the top two priorities for the Seahawks. Finding better fans would also probably help. Yes, you guys abandoned this team when they needed you the most. Youíre the 12th Man when theyíre winning and the first people out the door when they lose. Donít act like youíre the best fans in the world. Youíre amongst the worst.

                Baltimore Ravens (9-7 SU and 8-7-1 ATS)
                Something has to be said about a Baltimore team always seems to be knocking on the doorstep. The explosion of the running game in Baltimore was absolutely necessary and due in large part to Alex Collins emerging as a tour de force. He absolutely covered the shortcoming of Joe Flacco, who pivoted one of the worst passing attacks in the league. Baltimore ranked 29th in passing and 27th in total offence, while banking on Justin Tucker to help score 24.7 points per game (9th overall).

                Baltimore desperately needs help in the wide-receiver department where their best pass catcher was Mike Wallace. This team seems to whiff on draft picks in this area with guys like Chris Moore (4th Round Ė 2016) and Breshad Perriman (1st Round -2015) failing to impress. In free agency, things get even worse for Baltimore as theyíve targeted over-the-hill talents like Mike Wallace and Jeremy Maclin. Flacco is not a great quarterback, but any passer gets better with improved receivers.

                Los Angeles Chargers (9-7 SU and 8-7-1 ATS)

                We can all agree that the Chargers are a better team than their record indicates, and thatís pretty much where it all begins. They lost to Denver by three points and Miami by two points in the first two weeks of the season to help go 0-4 SU and 0-3-1 ATS in the first month of the season. After that, it was a ridiculous 9-3 SU and ATS the rest of the way. All they really need to do is get off to a better start. It might help if Los Angeles fans appreciated Phil Rivers and this talented team a bit more and came out to home games.

                Dallas Cowboys (9-7 SU and 8-7-1 ATS)

                It was alluded to two weeks ago, but the best thing that Dallas could do is go out an get Earl Thomas for whatever Seattle wants. Thomas is a Texas native and former Longhorn who made it known in Week 15 that he wants to go home. Thomas and Sean Lee would be a devastating combination. In the meantime, just send Zeke back to Cabo and keep him out of the spotlight. Dallas will undoubtedly be a threat in 2018. They wouldíve made the playoffs had Zeke not been unjustifiably expelled for six games.

                Detroit Lions (9-7 SU and 8-7-1 ATS)

                Itís safe to say that Matthew Stafford played his part extremely well this season after signing the biggest contract in NFL history. And with Jim Caldwell gone, the sky is literally the limit for this team. Caldwell has been the ideal candidate to coach a team to a 9-7 SU record.

                Arizona Cardinals (8-8 SU and 6-9-1 ATS)

                The departure of two-time Coach of the Year Bruce Arians is a little sad, but probably needed in order to help replace some core players in the system. Namely Carson Palmer. Thereís no doubt in my mind that Palmer can still play, but I donít know if he can stay healthy. Having David Johnson for longer than the half-hour they did in 2017 will go a helluva long way, but finding a quarterback of the future is priority one for me.

                Cincinnati Bengals (7-9 SU and 9-7 ATS)
                The Bengals already addressed the biggest need for the team by having Marvin Lewis step aside. Something has to be said for consistency, but that consistency has to lead to spikes in performance every now and then. Seven playoff losses and exactly zero playoff wins isnít going to cut it, especially when this team hit peaks of 12-4 SU in 2015 and 11-5 SU in 2013.

                A new play calling staff as well as a new voice in the locker room is bound to go a long way, but this franchise might be due for an overhaul from top to bottom. Who they hire to lead this club in to the franchise will determine everything, so right now the Bengals have gone from ďwell here comes another frustrating year of MarvinĒ to ďwho the hell knowsĒ. Iím not sure which is better. Oh wait, yes I do!

                Green Bay Packers (7-9 SU and ATS)

                The team has seemingly found a running-back after churning through about a dozen over the past five years. That part is great, and whatever they can get out of an aging Jordy Nelson will be pivotal to their success next season. With Aaron Rodgers, the Packers are a playoff team and everyone knows this. Thatís how important he is.

                But as the one-year extension of Mike McCarthy and the firing of their general manger shows, the Green Bay Packers as a whole are getting frustrated by the lack of title banners hanging in Lambeau. Rodgersí injury helped justify the 2017 shortcomings. The patience will not be there if this team doesnít make it to the NFC Championship next season.

                Washington Redskins (7-9 SU and ATS)

                The bridge has to be burned with Kirk Cousins, who has been franchised two years in a row and played like one of the best quarterbacks in the league. The crazy thing is that he didnít take a huge drop off even when he lost guys like Jordan Reed and rookie standout Chris Thompson. The craziest part about Washington refusing to extend Cousins is that they drafted him as an insurance policy for RG3, who is now out of the league. You got it right, Washington! What are you waiting for?

                Every single fan in the nationís capital should be pissed this offseason when Cousins cashes in elsewhere. If the 2017 NFL season showed us anything, itís how hard it is for teams to find a quarterback. Washington didnít just find one, they treated him like a bag of smashed crabs and now theyíre going to lose him.

                San Francisco 49ers (6-10 SU and 9-7 ATS)
                Pay Jimmy. Sit back. Enjoy.

                Denver Broncos (5-11 SU and 4-11-1 ATS)

                Would you be surprised if I said that they just need a franchise quarterback? You shouldnít be. Thatís literally the only thing thatís been missing, and Elway can no longer be arrogant enough to believe that the defense to float a bad pilot. Kirk Cousins makes the Broncos an instant Super Bowl contender.

                Tampa Bay Buccaneers (5-11 SU and 8-7-1 ATS)

                The Bucs curiously clung on to Dirk Koetter when Jon Gruden expressed interest and that has to be the dumbest thing Iíve ever heard. The franchise has gone all-in on Jameis Winston, who finally got to munch on a W in Week 17, but itís obvious that Koetter lacks the personality to put Winston in line. Iíve made my feelings about the former first overall pick well known, but the fact that the Bucs value Koetterís services at all is baffling. What exactly has he done to make this team any better than when Lovie Smith was at the helm? Forget maintaining the tradition of being the off-seasonís most hyped team, Tampa. Unless Gruden takes back the headsets, Tampa is due for an 8-8 SU season at best. Discipline starts at the top and Koetter lacks the authority to instill it.

                New York Jets (5-11 SU and 9-6-1 ATS)

                The Jets are taking a very curious pathway to rebuilding, and I kind of enjoy it. Todd Bowles is a great coach and the team was smart to not only retain him, but extend his contract. Thereís no easy fix here. The Jets are leaking everywhere, but re-signing Josh McCown for one more season and giving him some young weapons to tutor will point this team in the right direction. Thereís no beating around the bush Ė the Jets are a long way from being competitive, but Bowles is one of the best in the game right now. The rebound to playoff form will happen sooner than most think, but not in 2018.

                Miami Dolphins (6-10 SU and 5-9-2 ATS)

                The Dolphins can be one of the most gun shy franchises in the league and the constant question of Cutler or Tannehill will plague how this team moves forward. Tannehill has done nothing to show that heís really the kind of quarterback that teammates will lay out for, while Cutler completely vanishes for obscene stretches throughout the season. The problem for Miami is this incessant desire to be competitive every year without realizing that they donít have the identity the Bills do, the coach that the Jets do or the everything that the Patriots do. No simple plug-n-plays will improve Miami next year. This team is fractured at the very top with an ownership group and a coaching staff that has plainly seemed out of its depth from Week 1. I just donít see Miami as a team that can competently build a true contender.

                Chicago Bears (5-11 SU and 8-7-1 ATS)

                Firing John Fox, who never seemed to be all-in this season, is a start. Finding a quarterback whisperer to get Mitchell Trubisky looking more poised and less like a guy whoís about to lose his virginity would probably help too. The Bears are well built. They just need a coach that can bring it together. Carolinaís defensive coordinator Steve Wilks is probably my favorite quick-fix candidate to re-build the Bears in to the franchise we all know and love.

                Houston Texans (4-12 SU and 7-9 ATS)

                Along with the San Francisco 49ers, the Houston Texans will be the ďitĒ team in the lead-up to the 2018 NFL season. DeShaun Watson and J.J. Watt are everything to this team, and the drop-off when both were injured for the season was obvious. The defence just needs to improve slightly, and Watson converts this offence in to a ďwhat the hell are they even trying to doĒ in to a ďholy crap how fun is thisĒ type of group. DeAndre Hopkins is in for a banner year in 2018, even if Bill OíBrienís dimpled chin will be filling up my big screen TV too many times on Sundays. Iím so sick of that guyís face.

                Indianapolis Colts (4-12 SU and 8-8 ATS)

                A healthy Andrew Luck is essentially the difference between the Colts being somewhat playoff ready, and picking top-5 in the draft. If they have bring in a well regarded offensive guru to reshape how this team scores points, as well as a general manager who doesnít burn draft picks on bums, itíll help too. But this entire franchise rests on the surgically repaired shoulders of Andrew Luck. Heís good enough to be the difference between 10-6 SU and 4-12 SU.

                New York Giants (3-13 SU and 7-9 ATS)

                As Iíve said multiple times throughout the year, moving on from Eli Manning is a dumb decision. Not just because he won two Super Bowls for the city, but because heís a good quarterback who lost Odell Beckham extremely early in the season. I think the fix for the Giants is coach-centric. Manning, the return of Beckham and the potential arrival of a mercurial talent like Saquon Barkley could have a seismic impact on this franchise. McAdoo was a cancer that needed to go, and it will take some scrubbing to undo all the damage he created but the Giants are mystifyingly heading in to a murky future with Manningís status unknown.

                Cleveland Browns (0-16 SU and 4-12 ATS)

                The Browns probably need to retain Hue Jackson, but they also really need to think about what the hell theyíre going to do at quarterback. DeShone Kizer either didnít respond to coaching, or is just so bad that it never mattered. Kizer doesnít show any of the intangibles that quarterbacks need to succeed in the NFL. He holds on to the ball forever and tries to make hero throws. His entire career might be exemplified forever by the winless season he helped create.

                A rookie leading the league in interceptions isnít the most ridiculous thing thatís ever happened, but Kizer also didnít do enough besides that to justify retaining him in to 2018. Iím all for young people having careers, but Kizer is like a lot of prospective quarterbacks who have flamed out in the league. The draft will be fascinating with the Browns notching two top-5 picks overall.

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