Top 25 Offensive Free Agents 

By David McDonnell

With the combine last week, all of the attention was centred around the college prospects coming out this year. 

This week is all about free agency. Teams are allowed legally to approach out of contract players today and signings can become finalised from Wednesday. 

Players, agents, general managers and teams will be under pressure to get players re-signed before they hit the open market, where they usually get more money to move to a different team who have a identified a position of need to upgrade on. 

In recent seasons, we have seen both the Chiefs and Bengals pimp up their offensive lines to protect star quarterbacks Patrick Mahomes and Joe Burrow, which has helped solidify both as Super Bowl contenders. 

However, there are way more examples of teams getting it wrong in free agency and overpaying for talent. Paying premium wages is a risk, but if you really want a player in demand it is a risk that many teams will continue to make in order to put themselves in position to reach the postseason and have a tilt at winning the Superbowl. 

So, let’s have a look at the 25 offensive players that I believe most teams will be cajoling into joining their ranks this week. 

  1. Lamar Jackson (QB) 

If I was a Ravens fan I would be starting to get a little worried. 

Reading between the lines, I expected Lamar to be looking for around $50 million a year on a long term contract. However, due to his playing style he takes a lot of physical punishment as he runs the ball into contact more than every other QB in the league. As Bill Parcells used to say: “ Big men stay big, fast guys slow down,” and although a terrific player at this point in time, it is more than likely that as Lamar loses his speed heading into his 30’s. It makes paying him guaranteed money at the back end of his contract more of a risk. 

Contract negotiations between GM Eric DeCosta and the former MVP have been trying to get a deal signed for two years and if he is not signed by Wednesday, Lamar will be a free agent. That is unlikely to happen though as Baltimore will likely stick a franchise tag on him and give themselves a few more months to work out a long term deal. 

What will be interesting will be what type of franchise tag they will likely add. If it is a restricted franchise tag then no team can enter discussions with Jackson and he will make $32.4 million next season, which is low for an NFL QB. 

However, if they were to put an unrestricted tag on Lamar, any team will be able to offer him a deal and if the Ravens don’t match it, then he can leave for two first round picks or through a negotiated deal. If this were to happen, then I could see teams such as the Falcons and the Titans being interested and willing to offer acceptable terms. 

I believe Lamar will wait to see what offer Daniel Jones will get from the Giants and the Ravens will have to trump this deal to keep the superstar QB in Baltimore. 

  1. Derek Carr (QB) 

Derek Carr is a wanted commodity, and he has taken visits with the Saints, Colts and Jets over the last few weeks. 

Carr is a good QB but is coming off a poor season, where he struggled to adapt to Josh McDaniels scheme in Las Vegas. Of his suitors, New York seems like the team best primed to make the playoffs next year but reading between the lines, it seems that they along with the Raiders are waiting to see what happens with Aaron Rodgers in Green Bay. 

The talk coming out of the Carr camp is that he will be patient and take his time over his decision, which I take to mean that he will also see what Rodgers does before making his decision. 

Should Rodgers stay in Green Bay or retire, then Carr will find the Jets more welcoming in their approach. However, the team that seems to be most vying for his services right now is in New Orleans and ultimately I believe that is where Derek Carr will be playing ball next season.

Carr is heading to the Saints on a four-year deal $150 million contract with $70 million guaranteed.

  1. Saquon Barkley (Running Back) 

There is no doubt that the star of the show for the New York Giants was their running-back last season. Saquon was absolutely sensational in helping the G-men into the playoffs, so what’s the problem?

The issue is paying a 26 year old running back the money he deserves on a long term contract. It is usually not in the best interest of most teams to splash money on running backs as they are most likely to get injured during a season due to their position. Barkley should be hoping to get similar to Christian McCaffery’s $12 million a year from the 49ers and if he doesn’t then he will hit the free agency market. 

The Giants are in a tricky position as they have yet to come to a long term deal with their quarterback Daniel Jones, who is also about to hit free agency. They can only apply the franchise tag to one. The big question is would Jones have been as successful without Saquon last season? I don’t think anybody believes he would, so if Jones’ contract is not sorted by Wednesday, then it will more likely be him. 

Should Saquon hit free agency, expect a contender like the Bills, Cowboys and Bengals all to be interested in the running back. 

  1. Daniel Jones (QB)

I don’t expect Daniel Jones to hit free agency coming off his best season for the Big Blue. He has taken huge strides in quarterback play under Brian Daboll but doubts remain about whether he will ever be good enough to bring a Superbowl to NYC. 

Jones will most likely get a long term contract with an allowance for the Giants to be able to pull the plug if things are not working out in the Big Apple after two or three years.

There is a high possibility Jones will be placed on the franchise tag, where he will be given around $32.4 million to prove that his form this season wasn’t a flash in the pan. The question here is does Brian Daboll want to be tied to this QB for a handful of years? 

  1.  Orlando Brown Jr (Tackle)

The left tackle from the Super Bowl Champion Kansas City has two Lombardi trophies to his name and wants to become the best paid tackle in football. 

It is a great time for Orlando to hit free agency after the Chiefs O-line allowed zero sacks in the Superbowl against the Eagles and he proudly wore a t-shirt emblazoned with ‘0 Sacks’ during their victory parade. 

Kansas City would like to bring him back but they won’t have the money he is expecting to make as they have to pay Patrick Mahomes the highest salary in the NFL. There is a possibility that Brown will end up being franchise tagged again for another season at £20 million. 

Although he is not among the best five left tackles in the NFL in my opinion, should he hit free agency then he will likely be the best paid. The Chicago Bears certainly have the resources to pay the big man big money on a front loaded contract as they also have their QB Justin Fields on a rookie contract. 

  1. Geno Smith (QB)

Although Geno is about to hit free agency, I don’t see it happening and I will be shocked if he is not tied down with a long term contract in Seattle.  

Last season he threw for 4,282 yards and 30 touchdowns with just 11 interceptions while leading the NFL in completion percentage. More importantly he brought the Seahawks to  the playoffs. The fairytale looks to continue and he will get a long term deal somewhere around $40m a year. 

Should he hit free agency, then all the teams engaging with Carr and Jimmy Garoppolo will be interested, but I just don’t see him going anywhere. 

  1.  Mike McGlinchey (Tackle)

I have always rated McGlinchey as a good NFL tackle and although he lines up on the right side in San Francisco, he is good enough to play on the blind side. He has performed well in a zone-running scheme employed by Kyle Shanahan in San Francisco and they have one of the top O-Lines in the NFL over the past three seasons. 

With a significant increase in the cap space, McGlinchey will likely make upwards of $18 million and the two teams with the most cap space are the Bears and Falcons. The Bears are most in need of an O-Line upgrade, while the Falcons could be losing Caleb McGary at right-tackle, and the addition of the former Notre Dame tackle could make their offensive line close to elite. It is also a position the Commanders and the Titans will be looking to strengthen this offseason. 

  1. Odell Beckham Jr (Wide Receiver)

The wide receivers made big bucks in free agency last season and there is no one that has the ability of Odell available this year. 

Coming off an ACL injury that he suffered in the Superbowl win for the Rams in 2022, he will be in demand. However, it will be a financial risk for a player coming off a major injury at the age of 30. 

For me, Beckham is too big of a risk to make elite money at this stage of his career. I could see him wanting to return to the Giants, where he is still remembered as a star and I could also see Jerry Jones wanting another top receiver for Dak Prescott to put the Cowboys offence over the top. 

If I was Beckham, I would want to go to a team with an elite QB and an offensive head coach who knows how to get him the ball. If he can prove his fitness and sharpness, would the Bills be interested in teaming him up opposite Stefon Diggs? It is very difficult to know how this will play out but it will be worth watching all the same.  

  1.  Josh Jacobs (Running Back)

Jacobs will be a free agent after coming off the best season of his career and earning All-Pro honours as the best running back in football last season. 

Jacobs also has age on his side as he is only 25, which is young for a RB with four years of NFL experience in his locker. This is the optimum time for him to come out and get paid and I expect he will go to the team that will pay him the most. As I mentioned earlier, it is difficult for running backs to make significant money in the NFL. 

Jacobs would be a running threat, an excellent blocker and overall safety blanket for Justin Fields in the Windy City and immediately improve their offence. Also the teams that put their faith in rookie QBs this year as well as those on rookie contracts, will have a bit more room to manoeuvre to bring in help in free agency. 

The Panthers could be once such a team that would appreciate a talent such as Jacobs as a bell cow back next season. If Jacobs would take less money to go to a contender, then Buffalo would be a team that could do with his ability. I wouldn’t rule out him getting a franchise tag, but he might refuse to sign it in order to force a move elsewhere. 

  1.  Tony Pollard (Running Back) 

I can’t see Pollard getting a long term deal in Dallas or anywhere else while he is recovering from a broken leg suffered against the 49er in the playoffs in January. It was an untimely blow for the running back as he was about to have been offered a long term deal from Jerry Jones.  

He will end up on a franchise tag of around $10 million a year with the hope that he will come back into contention for a starting place during the season.

  1.  Jimmy Garoppolo (QB)

Jimmy G is coming off arguably his best NFL season and he will get one of the starting QB jobs once a few of the musical chairs of the QB merry-go-round start to get filled. 

Last season, there wasn’t much interest for Garoppolo in the trade market but as a free agent he will land somewhere. I can see the Jets being an option along with the Bucs who are needing a replacement for Tom Brady. He also has played under Josh McDaniels when they were at the Patriots, so the Raiders will be an option. 

Last season, Garoppolo was the last man standing as he was recovering from a shoulder injury and this season he needs to return from a broken foot. Expect him to get signed later rather than sooner and possibly after the draft in April by a team in need of a starting QB. 

12. Dalton Schultz (Tight End) 

There is a lack of quality tight ends in the NFL and Schultz has been one of the best at catching the football in the NFL over the past few seasons. He was franchised tagged last season in Dallas and is likely to become one of the best paid at his position this time around.

He would improve most teams as a day one starter and Green Bay is a place in dire need of an upgrade at the position but with a number of tight ends coming out in the draft this year, it is difficult to see where Schultz will end up. As he is only 26 with five years of NFL experience in the bag, his next team will sign a player heading into his prime. 

13. Isaac Seumalo (Guard) 

Seumalo is coming off a terrific season where he was the right guard on the dominant Eagles O-Line this season. He started all 17 games and impressed as a run blocker and in pass protection. Whichever team signs him, will get a player in the prime of his career at his position. 

There are a lot of teams looking for help at O-Line and I wouldn’t be surprised if he ended up at the Steelers, who had difficulty running the ball last season despite having an excellent RB in Najee Harris. 

Jason Kelce is another Eagles O-linemen heading towards free agency but I feel they will not let his leadership leave the locker room. That’s why he is not on this list. 

14.  Garrett Bradbury (Centre) 

Bradbury is one of the most underrated O-Linemen coming into free agency this year and is someone who will lock down the position for the team that signs him to a contract for the foreseeable future. 

With the Vikings projected to be $20 million over the cap, they won’t be able to pay him what he will earn in the open market. He would be an excellent signing, especially for a team with a young quarterback and again the Bears, Commanders, Giants and Raiders are all looking to upgrade at the position. 

Bradbury will likely have a great choice of destination and he will be one player I will be very interested to see where he ends up. From a personal point of view, I hope it’s in Washington. 

15.  Evan Engram (Tight End)

Evan Engram struck up a good partnership with Trevor Laurence especially at the end of the season. The Jags want him back and the player expressed a desire to return to Duval County. 

However, with plenty of teams looking for an upgrade at tight-end he could follow the stability of a long term contract elsewhere but not every team looking for a tight end has a Trevor Lawrence throwing the ball. 

In my opinion, a franchise tag of 11.3 million is the likeliest outcome this off season as the Jags are a projected 18 million over the cap.

16. JuJu Smith-Schuster (Wide Receiver) 

Coming off a winning Super Bowl season, the big mouthed wide receiver has certainly shut a few of his detractors up. 

Now he will feel, it is high time he got paid on a long term deal. He was Mahomes second favourite target this season behind Travis Kelce and you could see in the second half of the Super Bowl that Mahomes would go to him on key third downs when Kelce was double teamed. 

If he wants to win more Super Bowls then he should do his best to stay in Kansas City with the current MVP but he will get more money to move elsewhere in what has become an inflated market for wide receivers.

17. Jaawan Taylor (Tackle)

The Jags would like to keep tackle Jaawan Taylor, who is coming off a much improved season from a disappointing first three years in Jacksonville. Realistically the Jags won’t be able to afford him especially as they are likely to prioritise keeping Engam.

With the Chiefs likely to lose one or both their starting tackles in free agency, there might be a position open for protecting Patrick Mahomes at right tackle. Getting well paid for protecting the best player in the game and having the possibility of winning a Superbowl every year might be an offer that Taylor won’t refuse.

If such a move doesn’t work out, there will be numerous teams vying for a right tackle and he will make a lot of money in the open market. 

18. Caleb McGary (Tackle)

Another right tackle in an eerily similar position to Jaawan Taylor is Caleb McGary. He also is coming off his best season in a contract year and the Falcons have enough cap space to keep McGary should they choose to.  

I think it’s the likeliest scenario that he returns to Atlanta. There are many teams looking to upgrade their O-Line and would pay and perhaps overpay McGary to start next season so he could end up cashing in over the next few days.   

19. Miles Sanders (Running Back) 

He is coming off an outstanding season with over 1200 rushing yards and 11 touchdowns behind that dominant Eagles offensive line. 

He is a good player but do I think he would be as successful outside of Philley? Truthfully, I don’t but I could see the Raiders going for a veteran if they are not able to re-sign Jacobs at the running back position. I also expect the Bengals to upgrade at running back if they part ways with Joe Mixon. 

20. Jacobi Myers (Wide Receiver) 

Myers was the best receiver for the Patriots last season but they have a habit of letting free agents walk rather than offering them long term deals once they are off their rookie contracts. 

He lined up primarily as a slot receiver but also has speed for the outside. He is best remembered last season for throwing a last gasp touchdown pass to the Raiders Chandler Jones in a gaffe of epic proportions. A decent route runner who is able to win contested catches, it  will be interesting to see where Myers ends up and how much he will go for in this year’s market. 

21. Jacoby Brissett (QB)

Brissett showed he was a starting calibre QB for the Browns last season and he will sign with a team in need of a QB who can compete for a starting position but is unlikely to get a long term contract at the position. 

That will most likely be behind a young rookie and possibly for a team that drafts a rookie QB in this year’s draft. I could also see a team like the Commanders or Falcons signing him as a backup to QBs entering the sophomore seasons in the NFL. The Bucs are a team who made the postseason so do not have a high enough position to draft high this year and might target Brissett on a lucrative deal where they can jump ship after one or two years. 

22. Kareem Hunt (Running back)

Kareem Hunt is a starting calibre running back who has been underused in Cleveland. Last season his conditioning was poor and he seemed slower than the dynamic player he had been in the first few years in the NFL. He is a running back that seems to enjoy contact and is the type of player who can will himself to make a first down when it is most needed. Certainly an underrated player in my book with a lot of tread left on the tyres.

23. Andrew Wylie (Tackle) 

Another Super Bowl winning tackle is hitting free agency and he will improve most of the teams in the NFL

He should have a lot of teams interested in his services with possibly the 49ers a viable option if he decides to try and go to another contender. Especially as they have two QBs on rookie deals. The Jags could also be a realistic option.    

24. Allen Lazard (Wide Receiver) 

Lazard proved his worth to Aaron Rodgers last season and he was the primary target on third downs. I would guess his time at Green Bay will be influenced by what happens with Rodgers, with him possibly following the future Hall of Fame QB to a new destination. 

Should Rodgers stay at the Packers then expect Lazard to follow suit. 

25. Rashad Penny (Running Back) 

Penny was having an excellent season in Seattle until injury took away his season. It has been a familiar fate for the athletic running back who has had trouble keeping available throughout his rookie contract. 

When he is fit he is a dynamic player and I could see him coming into a team to work in tandem with an established running back. 

Averaging 5.7 yards a carry over his career in the NFL, he could be a diamond of a signing if he can stay healthy. He will also cost less due to his injury history. I could see the Giants taking a punt on a player who could spell Saquon at times during games or the Rams who need all the help they can get at the position.

The QB and Coaching Carousel 

By David McDonnell

Welcome back to the ‘Six Points for a Touchdown’ column.

This week I am going to bang on about three quarterbacks, two of which are almost certainly heading to free agency and I’ll also give my opinion on some of the more recent coaching hires in the NFL.

So lets get to it.

Hut, Hut!!


  1. Test driving Derek Carr 

Derek Carr is taking the Saints for a test drive in New Orleans today. 

It made me chortle when it broke last night that the Las Vegas Raiders gave Carr ‘permission’ to speak to the NFC South franchise, considering in seven days they have to release him as a free agent or pay him $41 million dollars.

Even though they excluded him from football duties for the last two weeks of the regular season, it was spun by both camps that him sitting on the bench would be a distraction for the team, as if benching a player or even a quarterback at that was somehow uncommon in the NFL.

The Raiders showed him the door and they they won’t be paying him next week. Carr is out because he had an average season and was evidentiary a poor fit for Josh McDaniels’ offence. He couldn’t spin gold with Josh Jacobs excelling at running back and a host of talented receivers.

H did get the ball with regularity to Devante Adams, but it was mainly off play action, and he particular missed the talent of Hunter Renfrow in the slot and tight end Darren Waller in the red zone for large chunks of the season.

Carr will have plenty of suitors. I would also add the Bucs, who need someone to step into Tom Brady sized shoes in Tampa Bay as well as the aforementioned Saints. If Carr goes to the Saints, it leaves the Bucs in a similar pickle to where New Orleans have been since Drew Brees retired.  I can also see the Commanders and the Jets being two others with a preference for a veteran under centre.

It will be interesting, which way the Raiders will approach the quarterback position in the off season.

If they stump for a rookie QB with the seventh overall pick in the draft, it will allow the franchise to build up a roster over four or five years that has a lot of holes on both sides of the ball. Or they might pluck for one of the next two veterans on this list. 

  1. Rodgers joins the Dark Side?

The Green Bay Packers have a similar decision to make regarding Aaron Rodgers. 

Will they push their chips into the middle of the table once again with the future Hall of Famer or is this when this oft rocky marriage is parked once and for all? 

When I read that Aaron Rodgers is spending a number of nights attending a darkness retreat to figure out whether to play for the Packers, retire or to play somewhere else next season, I thought it was an obvious joke. However, it seems to be true and I think all three are viable possibilities and I would guess in that order.

I am not sure if the decision will be solely his to make.

The Packers need to make a decision this offseason on whether to pick up the fifth-year option on Jordan Love, the QB they surprisingly took in the first round in 2020. He has been a forgotten man in the NFL save for a nine-minute cameo this season against the Eagles where he found Christian Watson for an impressive touchdown.

Should Green Bay not pick up his fifth year, then it will be a public admittance of wasting a first round pick on a player without really giving him much of a chance to play. This decision could also leave the Packers entering the 2024 season without a QB.

I think it’s least likely Rodgers will play for another team but should he do so I could see him picking the Raiders and pairing up again with Davante Adams. Rodgers in a Raiders jersey would be a sight to behold.  Another AFC team that would be interested in his services are the Jets, who have his former QB coach in Nathaniel Hackett installed as offensive coordinator and more importantly, a Superbowl-ready defence. 

  1. Jimmy to make a few G’s

I have never been a huge fan of Jimmy Garoppolo, but he will get a starting job in the NFL next season and he will get well paid to do so too, after coming off arguably the best season of his career.

He has previous connections to Josh McDaniels, having played under his tutelage in New England, while two former 49ers Defensive Coordinators are head coaches in Robert Salah and DeMeco Ryans in New York and Houston respectively. Especially if Carr ends up in New Orleans, I wouldn’t be surprised if Garoppolo comes in to replace Tom Brady at the Buccaneers. 

However, if I was to call it, I think Jimmy G ends up at the Jets. 


  1. DeMeco Ryans

I believe the Texans knocked it out of the park with the hiring of DeMeco Ryans as head coach. It is a great fit for both for a number of reasons.

He is young, smart and energetic, with a boatload of NFL experience and he is coming off being the defensive coordinator for the best defence in the NFL this season with the San Francisco 49ers. 

He also knows the Texans franchise intimately, as one of their former outstanding players, where he won Defensive Rookie of the Year as a linebacker in 2006 before securing All Pro honours in 2007. 

The Texans, especially in the prime JJ Watt years, were regarded as having one of the best defences in football and it has become a part of the fabric of how the club is viewed around the world. Having a defensive emphasis at the head coaching position suits how they want to play football.

It really seemed from the outside that the Texans head coaching position looked like a poison chalice after the last two head coaches were fired after only a year in the job. I thought in particular Lovie Smith being fired a few hours after the season ended was unfair considering the Texans were highly competitive in most games this year with a relatively poor and unbalanced roster. 

The GM Nick Caserio worked in building a squad in New England with Bill Billichick so working with a coach with a penchant for defensive players is something already in his wheelhouse and it’s encouraging that Ryans has signed a six-year contract, which should hinder him being shopped after a year or two.

Additionally, there is a lot of defensive talent on the Texans roster that Caserio has brought to Houston since his arrival.

Roy Lopez is a very competitive D-Tackle, who was drafted in the fifth round in 2021, while Houston added Derek Stingley Jr and the outstanding Jalen Pitre to their defensive backs in the first two rounds as well as linebacker Christian Harris in the third round during the 2022 NFL draft.  

This is a good core of excellent young players to build a defence around. 

They will need to add talent to their D line, but with the second overall pick. I would not be surprised if they go defence if and when a team leaps ahead of them to trade for Alabama quarterback Bryce Young.  

I think this is how the draft is likely to play out as the Chicago Bears already have an impressive young QB in Justin Fields and they could acquire a king’s ransom by trading down.

Should that happen, that second overall pick could go to Young’s Alabama teammate Will Anderson, who had 207 total QB pressures during his three years playing for the Crimson Tide. For a recent comparison, the second overall pick last year Aiden Hutchinson had 128 QB pressures during his four years in Michigan.

  1.  Payton’s fits the Broncos

Sean Payton certainly looks a step in the right direction for the Broncos and I think for Russell Wilson as well. 

Denver is stuck with Wilson, coming off the worst season of his NFL career, for at least another two seasons with his salary guaranteed. Payton will suit Russ because just like Wilson, he is used to working with a smaller sized QB in Drew Brees.

Let me extrapolate this point. 

Payton likes his QBs to get the ball out quickly and Russ earlier in his career used brag about playing like a point guard in basketball. This is how Payton will want him to play with the addition of being comfortable throwing the deep shot downfield, which was certainly in Wilson’s wheelhouse in Seattle. 

Payton was great at scheming lanes for Brees to throw down the centre of the field which should help a smaller QB like Wilson. Expect young tight end Greg Dulcich’s targets to go up in this scheme next season.

Another trait of Payton is to have talented pass-catching running backs who can line up as a wide receiver. Think Darren Sproles or Alvin Kamara and he also uses a varied screen game to allow the QB to dump the ball off in the backfield. 

A worry I have about Wilson is his conditioning.

In my opinion, and I have wrote this during the season, Russ is carrying too much weight for a quarterback under six feet. He is too built up and is built like a linebacker.

This knock on effect is that he is slower to move in the pocket and he can’t get away from opposing pass rushers. When he was starting his career in Seattle, he great at extending plays by his movement and was a weapon at picking up first downs with his legs. 

An improvement in his mobility could see him return as one of the top QBs in the league, but for this to happen he needs to spend less time in the gym and more time on the track.

  1. Steve Wilks and Brian Flores

I will be rooting for Steve Wilks, who has taken over as Defensive Coordinator in San Francisco. For me, he earned the shot to be the head coach in Carolina after turning the ship around last season as interim coach. He may have to wait a year to get his just desserts on that front.

Brian Flores has a good opportunity to show the NFL what a great coach he is as well after being named DC at the Vikings. Again this seems to me a great hire but it is a much more difficult challenge to get the Minnesota defence to put fear into the opposition like he did with his former Miami Dolphins.

If he can achieve this over the next year or two, then we can expect the Vikes back in the playoffs next season and hopefully Flores will get another turn as an NFL head coach.

This week I’ll kick for one.

7. Jim Harbaugh to the Colts?

I want to see Jim Harbaugh back in the NFL.

He is another excellent coach who has been missed in the National Football League.

I can see the Colts tipping their hat to Harbaugh. He has an advantage being a former player but I also think he is the type of coach, Colts owner Jim Irsay would strive to have prowling the sideline with his explosive and combative disposition.

Harbaugh was a hell of a coach during his time with the 49ers and they mirrored his super competitive nature. He is box office entertainment at times and the NFL is a more fantastic place with him in it.

If I was an owner and needed a head coach, Jim Harbaugh would be at the top of my shortlist.

Next Weekend’s NFL fixtures

Here are the NFL fixtures for Wildcard Weekend Games.

All times are GMT. 


Seahawks @ 49ers at 9.30pm 

Chargers @ Jaguars at 1.15am on Saturday Night Football


Dolphins @ Bills at 6pm 

Giants @ Vikings at 9.30 

Ravens @ Bengals at 1.15am on Sunday Night Footballl


Cowboys @ Buccaneers 1.15 on Monday Night Football

Bengals show Superbowl credentials

By David McDonnell 

Along with the Buffalo Bills, in my opinion the Chiefs and the Bengals make up the three best teams in  the NFL.

So the best place to start this week is when Kansas City visited Cincinnati for an exciting and very informative AFC matchup. 

What puts these three AFC sides on top of my board ahead of the Eagles or the 49ers is at quarterback, and I would put Joe Burrow in the MVP conversation just behind Patrick Mahomes and Josh Allen in that order as we approach the business end of the season. 

Last night Burrow led his team to a third consecutive win over Mahomes. After a poor start to the season, the Bengals are now 8-4 and only one game behind both the Bills and the Chiefs for top seeding and home advantage in the play-offs. 

The game finished 24-27 to the home side, coincidentally the same scoreline that the Bengals  beat Chiefs in the AFC Championship early this year.

This is a much better Cincinnati side from what we saw earlier in the season and I believe they are are a stronger team from when they reached the Superbowl last season. Their main upgrade during the off-season was to their offensive line and although this unit struggled early on, they are now fulfilling their potential. 

The knock on effect is that Burrow is getting a cleaner pocket and more time to pick his passes. It has also helped develop a run game in recent weeks, which could be significant. A few weeks ago Joe Mixon got five touchdowns in one game and recently Samaje Perine has been a major contributor on offence. 

Yesterday, Perine was Burrow’s safety blanket and got 27 touches to accumulate 106 yards on the ground and another 50 in receiving yards. Perine wouldn’t be in the upper echelons of running backs either in size or speed but has good hands and is a tough runner. He has been largely successful in my opinion because his offensive line is playing well and this run game is helping extend drives and taking huge pressure off Burrow’s shoulders.

Over the last few weeks, Tee Higgins had to step up as the number one receiver in Ja’Marr Chase’s absence through injury and showed himself to be a number one receiving talent in his own right. He had the speed and a massive catch radius and Burrow often went in his direction on important third downs. He also found Higgins who trucked a defender and reached successfully for the endzone for a second quarter touchdown.

Yesterday, Chase returned to the fold and was terrific. He did not miss a beat with seven catches for 97 yards. Since he was drafted no wideout in the NFL has more plays over 50 yards and more touchdowns over 20 yards. If he is not there already, he is on his way to being the best receiver in the NFL.

It is  no surprise that the Bengals are statistically the best third-down team in the league with the passing options Burrow has.

Another reason why the Bengals are up there in the Super Bowl mix is that they have an excellent defence and the highest ranked team in the NFL at not missing tackles. This is an indicator of good coaching and I believe being able to lean on the experience of getting to a Superbowl is a huge advantage for the squad, compared to a team like the Bills, who have yet to cross that Rubicon.

The Chiefs are still my favourite for the Super Bowl. Having home advantage in the playoffs could make the difference so the next few weeks continue to be important. 

Where I think the Chiefs can improve is their run game to give Mahomes what Burrow has in Cincinnati and I believe Andy Reid is trying to do this.  Yesterday Isiah Pacheco had 66 yards on 14 carries and McKinnon had another 51 on eight. 

However, just like Allen in Buffalo, when the game is in the balance Mahomes trusts himself over everyone to make a play and he did just that at the end of the third quarter when he ‘Michael Jordan’d’ himself into the endzone for a touchdown. 

However, a fourth quarter Kelce fumble was punished when Burrow found sophomore running back Chris Evans for a touchdown. It gave the Bengals a fourth quarter lead and although Mahomes did get one chance to respond, he didn’t get a second. 

The Bengals have their fate still in their own hands to finish on top of the AFC North, as they still have to meet the Ravens again and there is the possibility of getting a bye in the playoffs when they meet Buffalo in a few weeks. 

With Lamar Jackson possibly out with an ankle injury, it could make a home play-off game in Cincinnati all the more probable. 

Yesterday, Jackson limped off in the first quarter but they managed to earn a 10-9 win against the Broncos when Caleb Huntley led a 16 play 91-yard drive and ran it in for the only TD of the contest with only 30 seconds remaining.

Dolphins v 49ers

The 49ers have been getting very healthy in recent weeks, which has helped resurrect their season. However, they were hit by a body blow after quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo was ruled out of the season after breaking his foot on the opening drive against the Dolphins. It is a wicked blow for Jimmy G as he was playing the best football of his career in recent weeks. 

Top of the QB depth chart now is Brock Purdy, who was the last player picked in the NFL Draft last April, to be given the title of Mr. Irrelevant.

Purdy has certainly now become relevant to San Francisco’s title hopes and I was impressed with how comfortable he looked on his NFL debut. He was measured in the pocket throwing 25 of 37 for 210 yards and two touchdowns. He also leaned on Cristian McCaffery, who had 146 all-purpose yards.

The 49ers defence was also in top form and in the final quarter dominated proceedings with sacks, turnovers, forced fumbles and a touchdown which added a lot of gloss to the scoreboard.

The win leaves both the 49ers and the Dolphins in the play-off hunt on records of 8-4, with San Fran reeling off five wins in a row. 

The big question is whether Jimmy G’s injury will scupper San Fran’s title aspirations and it could very well be the case. But going on what I saw last night, I would be hopeful that Purdy will do better than expected. 

Dolphins QB Tua Tagovailoa had a poor game and was unusually inaccurate, completing just 54.6% of his throws. Coincidentally, he also had to leave the field before the end with an ankle injury, despite flashing with two big plays touchdowns to Tyreek Hill and Trent Sherfield,

Washington v Giants 

Terry McLaurin continues to be the Commanders’ most important weapon and he finished the game with 105 yards and an early touchdown. The Giants have needed the rushing capabilities of Sequon Barkley all season and he doubled up with Daniel Jones for 134 yards and a touchdown. 

Trailing by seven, with less than four minutes remaining Heinicke led a 90-yard drive. First he linked up with Curtis Samuel for 25 yards and then he found rookie Jahan Dotson, who turned a catch into an impressive 28-yard touchdown with a wonderful spin to bring the game to overtime. 

The Giants had a chance to break the tie with a walk-off field goal but Graham Gano’s 58-yard effort came up short.

The results leaves the Commanders a win behind the Giants on a record of 7-5-1 after 13 games. They also lost their play-off berth to the Seahawks who have a record of 7-5 after 12 games, thus giving them a better win percentage. With Washington heading to their bye week, the teams will have the same amount of games played. 

In two weeks, it’s the Commanders versus the Giants once again and this should give the victor an advantage in head-to-head should they finish the season with the same record. 

Unless of course, it ends up in another draw.

Round Up 

The Seahawks are now the seventh seed in the NFC after a late win against the Rams in an ill-tempered affair between divisional rivals. 

Most of the beef throughout came from the matchup between DK Metcalf and Jalen Ramsey. Both players were playing well and at one stage DK waved at Ramsey to come follow him to the other side of the field where he made a catch.

It didn’t go down well on the Rams sideline and Bobby Wagner, playing against his old side, made sure to let his teammates know the importance of the game to him on the sideline. 

The Seahawks responded and Pete Carroll became part of the mosh pit as the Seahawks showed they were up for the fight.  However, former Seahawk Wagner then made a play to turnover the ball.

Cam Akers gave the LA franchise a three-point lead with three minutes to go, but Geno Smith fizzed a late pass to Metcalf who caught ahead of Ramsey for the game-deciding score and the bragging rights.

Another team in the play-off hunt are the LA Chargers but they took a loss in an entertaining matchup against the Raiders. Justin Herbert had another strong showing despite being under pressure throughout as the Raiders defence dominated the Chargers O-line for most of the contest 

Derek Carr found Devontae Adams for two sensational touchdowns including this one-handed grab. 

Adams had 177 yards on eight receptions and got a second TD from a flea-flicker. This is starting to become a signature move between Derek Carr and Adams.

It leaves the Chargers one game behind the Jets, who could not improve their 7-5 record after a loss to the Vikings. The Vikings gave up over 500 yards of offence to the Jets but managed to win the turnover battle to earn a late win. 

Deshaun Watson had a poor first day back at the office with no offensive touchdowns but the Browns still beat the Texans comfortably with a pick-six interception and a forced fumble, both returned for touchdowns and Donovan Peoples-Jones also added this effort from a punt return. 

The Packers came from behind and scored 18 unanswered points in the fourth quarter at Soldier Field to continue their dominance over the Bears 

Justin Fields was back with a bang when he scored a terrific touchdown in his first game back from injury. 

However, the man of the moment in Green Bay, rookie Christian Watson continued on his scorching form of late adding two more touchdowns to make it eight in his last four games. That Watson has eight touchdowns on just 15 receptions over the last four games is just mesmerizing.  

First Rodgers found him with this pass.

And then he added his first rushing touchdown of his NFL career inside the last two minutes for the game-winning score.

The Dallas Cowboys ended up hammering the Colts 19-54 in the late game on Sunday night.

This was a close game in the first half as Dallas led by only a score at halftime. However, in the second half the Dallas defence took over and the Cowboys helped themselves to 33 fourth-quarter points as they showed no mercy to the Colts. 

In the NFC East, Philly made light work of the Titans to go 11-1 on the season. Their best score of the contest was when Jalen Hurts found AJ Brown for a touchdown against his former team.

Lastly, the Steelers beat the Falcons 19-16 in Georgia. 

It was a big day for the Hayward family as both Connor and Cameron Hayward visited their father’s grave pre-game in Atlanta. Their father played for the Falcons for three seasons and it was fitting that Connor Heyward scored the first touchdown of his career as a Steeler against his father’s old team. 

I will post our Monday Night Football preview as the Bucs visit the Saints in the NFC South soon. 

TNF: Bills v Patriots

By Conor Perrett 

The AFC East is still very much up for grabs, and the outcome of Thursday night’s matchup between the Patriots and Bills could make the divisional race even more interesting. 

After Thanksgiving last week, both teams will be playing on Thursday for the second consecutive week, with Buffalo opening as 3.5 favourites in the bookies. 

New England Patriots (6-5)

Power Rankings – 14th

DVOA Rankings: Offence – 25th, Defence – 2nd, ST – 9th: Overall – 11th 

New England currently sit at the bottom of their division but the AFC East is still very much within reach for them, if they win at home tonight. Buffalo won’t be an easy test though, with them being one of the most well rounded teams in the league. 

Bill Belichick’s defences have tended to struggle against running QBs and Josh Allen has 36 career rushing touchdowns, 12 more than any other quarterback since entering the league in 2018. With an injured elbow as well, Allen may look to take to his feet more, but this year’s Patriots defence is better than past seasons. The matchup on this side of the ball will be a heavyweight bout. 

If New England wants to win this game, they will have to do it through Mac Jones.

The offence has been stagnant all year, but last week we finally saw the Pats passing game come to life. The Bills will not have Von Miller this week which will help, as their pressure rate with and without him drops from 39.3 percent to 26.6. Buffalo still has an elite defence but if Jones can stay clean in the pocket, there might be some openings for him to exploit.

Buffalo Bills (7-3)

Power Rankings – 4th

DVOA Rankings: Offence – 6th, Defence – 3rd, ST – 3rd: Overall – 1st 

Buffalo currently sits a game behind Miami in the division, with a seat in a Wild-Card spot. It likely isn’t what anyone within the Bills organisation hopes for, so some divisional wins will be crucial to host a playoff game. Earning a victory on Thursday night would keep Josh Allen and Co. in the mix to push themselves further up the seeds and achieve them goals.

Missing Von Miller will be a big loss for this team over the next couple of weeks, meaning others will need to step up to stop New England’s rushing attack. It’s the strongest part of their game and if they can do that, they’ll be in good shape to secure their ninth win of the season.

Previous Matchups

2021 Season:

Week 13 – Patriots @ Bills, 14-10 Patriots Win

Week 16 – Bills @ Patriots, 33-21 Bills Win

These teams are meeting at the same time as last year where the Patriots took down the Bills in a low scoring affair. Since then both teams’ defences have only improved but you would say New England’s offence has regressed.. 


On a normal slate of paper the Bills have looked a far more impressive team than the Patriots this season. Despite having similar defences, with the Patriots slightly ranked higher through DVOA, the offences don’t compare with the superstars Buffalo have on that side of the ball.

Injuries have started to pile up for them though, with the trenches having some significant losses in EDGE rusher Von Miller and OT Dion Dawkins.

If the Patriots offence can show up like they did last week then this game has a chance to be real close. The problem with that, is we don’t know if such performances were a fluke or real. For that reason I can’t trust what New England has out there and will lean towards the better offence.

With a weaken O-Line, Allen may take to his feet more, something that we know this Patriots defence can struggle with. He has the far superior weapons and a blueprint on how to beat this Patriots defence might have been put out last week for them to copy. 

Bills 20, Patriots 13