Gridiron Digest: NFL Teams with the Most to Prove in the 2019 Preseason

Mike Tanier@@miketanierNFL National Lead WriterAugust 5, 2019

Gridiron Digest: NFL Teams with the Most to Prove in the 2019 Preseason

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    Keith Srakocic/Associated Press

    There's a lot more to preseason games than Pop Warner playbooks and starters roaming the sidelines in baseball caps.

    Sure, preseason football isn't the most scintillating entertainment. But August exhibitions are a chance for rookies to shine, camp battles to crystalize, new contributors to rise and for teams and coaches to prove that they've moved past last year's dramas and are ready to start fresh.

    This edition of Gridiron Digest previews the preseason with a rundown of the teams with the most to prove, including the soapy Steelers and the snakebitten 49ers. But there's much more, including:

    • News and notes from Ravens and Eagles camp visits

    • A deep dive into Michael Thomas' historic contract and stats

    • Smart-money wagers on this year's passing, rushing and receiving leaders

    • A Point-Counterpoint that's full of mustaches and bare feet but isn't the least bit creepy

    Let's kick things off with some teams who have their work cut out for them over the next few weeks. 

          

Something to Prove in the Preseason, Part 1: The Steelers Soap Opera Has Ended

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    Keith Srakocic/Associated Press

    Something to prove

    In a world that struggles to solve basic order-of-operations arithmetic equations, the only problem that the Steelers are trying to solve involves the mystery of addition by subtraction:

    Team chemistry - (Antonio Brown + Le'Veon Bell) > 9.5 Wins

         

    What the perfect Steelers preseason looks like

    Secondary weapons emerge: JuJu Smith-Schuster and James Conner have proved they have the chops to replace AB and Bell. But who replaces them? James Washington, Donte Moncrief, rookie speedster Diontae Johnson or someone else must use the preseason to step into the No. 2 receiver role, while Jaylen Samuels or rookie thumper Benny Snell Jr. must prove worthy of a full-time changeup role in the backfield.

    Weapons emerge in the secondary: There are lots of new faces in the Steelers defensive backfield, including free-agent acquisition Steven Nelson and rookie Justin Layne. New defensive backs coach Teryl Austin is focused on getting more turnovers out of a defense that intercepted just eight passes last year; per Ray Fittipaldo of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Austin even orders players to scoop up balls that bounce 10 feet out of bounds. A few preseason takeaways by the first unit would be a sign that the new faces and coaching are having an impact. 

    Sticks and stones: At some point in the preseason, AB is sure to take a break from creepy foot photography to throw shade on Ben Roethlisberger, JuJu, Mike Tomlin or a Steelers ball boy, whether on Hard Knocks, Instagram or elsewhere. When that happens, Steelers players must shrug it off and keep the focus on the field, not the feelings.

            

    Bottom line

    The Steelers have a Hall of Fame quarterback, a 111-catch receiver, a solid running back, a veteran offensive line, a defense full of young talent and a Super Bowl-tested head coach, yet no one is talking about them.

    Football Outsiders Almanac gives the Steelers a 36 percent chance of winning 11 or more games. The first step to a stealth Super Bowl run will be proving that they are not just drama-free but also reloaded on both sides of the ball.

Something to Prove in the Preseason, Part 2: The Packers Are with the Program

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    Mike Roemer/Associated Press

    Something to prove

    All the Packers have needed to get back on top in recent years is a jolt of new energy and some fresh offensive ideas! And new head coach Matt LaFleur has provided both of them!! Now Aaron Rodgers is happy, dialed in and ready to return to MVP form!!! And if we keep shouting these things with as many exclamation points as possible, we may start to convince ourselves that they are all true!!!!!

         

    The perfect Packers preseason

    The happiest camper: In 2014, Rodgers played several series in two preseason games, throwing 33 passes and three touchdowns. It's probably a coincidence that he went on to win the MVP award that year, but Rodgers (whose preseason workload dipped significantly in recent years) could use a similar preseason workload as he adjusts to LaFleur's system. A few scoring drives with minimal audibles or freelancing, followed by a smiling Rodgers in a baseball cap on the sideline, and Packers fans will be breathing heavy sighs of relief.

    The receiving corps grows up: There are lots of young receivers vying for complementary roles opposite Davante Adams, and the ones who play well in preseason action could see a lot of targets this year. Trevor Davis and Jake Kumerow put on a show at Friday's Family Night scrimmage, per Zach Kruse of Packers Wire. Equanimeous St. Brown is indubitably in the mix. But Aaron Rodgers had high praise—or at least a loaded compliment, which is often as good as it gets from Rodgers—for Marquez Valdes-Scantling. "A guy like Marquez, went through some spells last season when he wasn't practicing the right way all the time, has totally changed," Rodgers said. "And now he's a leader when it comes to practicing the right way. I think he's done a great job."

    No Daniels, no worries: The Packers plan to play mix 'n' match along the defensive front after the release of Mike Daniels. LaFleur mentioned last week that newcomers Za'Darius Smith and Rashan Gary can play inside in some sets, and Dean Lowry signed a three-year extension. It looks fine on paper. But let's see how it looks on the field.

          

    Bottom line

    LaFleur's offense will benefit from a preseason road test. That should mean more series for the starters, which means more watchable football for fans and a chance to ensure that Packers storyline is about touchdowns and playoff expectations, not eye rolls and simmering tension. Temporarily, anyway.

Something to Prove in the Preseason, Part 3: This Is the 49ers' Year (Take 2)

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    Jeff Chiu/Associated Press

    Something to prove

    The 49ers are getting a do-over after their 2018 breakout season fizzled on the launchpad. But few teams or coaching regimes get multiple mulligans. It's the third year of the Kyle Shanahan-John Lynch era: time to reassure both ownership and fans as quickly as possible that they picked the right quarterback and are building a championship-caliber roster.

           

    The perfect 49ers preseason

    Garoppomania returns: Lynch told KNBR radio that quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo hasn't suffered any flareups from last season's ACL injury and is making "some throws that very few people in the world can make." That's encouraging, because we didn't see many of those throws when Garoppolo was healthy last year. Veteran quarterbacks can munch sunflower seeds in preseason games, and youngsters can shrug off flat games as part of the development process. Garoppolo, however, must demonstrate that he's both healthy and the guy the 49ers thought he would be when they invested so heavily in him at the end of 2017.

    Rookies looking ready: Nick Bosa is expected to immediately upgrade the pass rush. Deebo Samuel and Jalen Hurd are penciled in to significant offensive roles. Some preseason flashes will offer hope that the 49ers will get much-needed fast starts from their top draft picks. And don't forget punter Mitch Wishnowsky: You might as well scout the punter while nodding off in the fourth quarter of a preseason game.

    The return of Jason Vaporware: Jason Verrett is the greatest cornerback that no one has ever seen. He made the Pro Bowl for the Chargers in 2015 but has played just five games in three years due to various ACL and Achilles injuries. Verrett has practiced with the starters at camp. Something close to the 2015 version of Verrett and Richard Sherman would give the 49ers one of the league's best cornerback tandems. Verrett just needs to get some game reps to prove he's legit and then get to September in one piece.

             

    Bottom line

    A front four led by Bosa and DeForest Buckner, a secondary led by Sherman and Verrett, an offense loaded with intriguing weapons for Shanahan to deploy: The 49ers would be generating a lot of buzz if we weren't all buzzed out from last offseason. As Tyler Dunne reported for Bleacher Report recently, the potential is sky high, as are the stakes. Some smooth preseason performances would put a lot of minds at ease.

Other Teams with Something to Prove in the Preseason

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    Chuck Burton/Associated Press

    We could list all 29 remaining teams here, but let's just focus on a few more teams that have a lot to gain or lose over the next few weeks.

    Houston Texans: Right now, they're the team with 99 general managers and no solutions. The Texans need to get Jadeveon Clowney back in the fold, find an offensive tackle tandem that won't get Deshaun Watson pulverized and develop an offensive identity besides "feed DeAndre Hopkins as many targets as possible." Head coach Bill O'Brien will get around to all of it as soon as he's done making spaghetti out of the org chart.

    Indianapolis Colts: The Colts made few free-agent moves in the offseason despite a big bankroll, trusting instead to stick to the draft-and-develop philosophy that got them back to the playoffs last year. Rookies like receiver Parris Campbell and defensive back Rock Ya-Sin are earning positive camp reviews; they don't have to be as great as rookie standouts Quenton Nelson and Darius Leonard were last year to keep the Colts in the postseason picture, but it sure would help. Also, Andrew Luck is nursing a calf injury that will keep him out of practice for part of this week, which is probably no big deal but could also turn into a temporal vortex that swallows an entire year.

    Carolina Panthers: As usual, all eyes are on Cam Newton: his shoulder, his new delivery, his place on the good-to-great spectrum, his wardrobe, etc. Cam usually throws 30 to 40 passes across two or three appearances in the preseason, which should allow ample opportunities for micro-scrutiny if he gets that kind of playing time this year. Look past Cam and you'll find a rebuilt offensive line anchored by newcomer Matt Paradis, a deep receiving corps bolstered by acquisitions Jarius Wright and Chris Hogan and the best defensive front in the NFL. If Cam can throw, the Panthers can make a run.

    Cleveland Browns: There's an awful lot of buzz based solely on a late-season hot streak, a young head coach who may have had more help than advertised and some splashy offseason moves, and...eh, never mind. Your mind is probably already made up no matter what the Browns do in the preseason. 

Player Spotlight: Michael Thomas, WR, Saints

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    Gerald Herbert/Associated Press

    Thomas signed a five-year, $96.25 million contract this week. Let's break down both the contract and Thomas' stats to see just what the new deal means for the 2019 Saints.

    All of the statistical splits listed below come from Andrew Potter's work in Football Outsiders Almanac. The contract details come from OverTheCap.com and the figures reported by Pro Football Talk.

    • Thomas was a second-round pick in 2016. Four wide receivers were selected in the first round that year: Corey Coleman, Will Fuller V, Josh Doctson and Laquon Treadwell. Counting the playoffs, Thomas has more catches (352 to 312) and yards (4,210 to 4,020) than the four of them combined.

    • Only three players have recorded more receiving yards than Thomas in the first three years of their careers: Randy Moss, Odell Beckham Jr. and A.J. Green.

    • Thomas caught 85 percent of the 147 passes thrown to him last year, the highest rate of any receiver targeted for more than 40 passes in the era for which Football Outsiders has target data (more than 30 years). Wes Welker's 2007 season is the only one that comes close to what Thomas did last year, and Welker caught just 77.2 percent of 145 targets—and also had a lower yards-per-catch rate (10.5 to 11.2). 

    • The Saints used Thomas as a slot receiver for 59 percent of his snaps. He caught 86 percent of his targets from the slot and 83 percent of his passes as an outside receiver, which is…uncanny. Thomas' versatility adds to his value; with him sliding around the formation and Alvin Kamara moving from the backfield to the slot, Sean Payton could create mismatches last year despite the Saints' lack of ancillary weapons.

    • On the other hand, Thomas and Alvin Kamara accounted for almost exactly half of the Saints' pass targets last year: 252 of 511 attempts, or 49.3 percent. As great as Thomas is, the Saints have to diversify their basketball-style triangle offense, especially if that historic 85 percent catch rate proves unsustainable.

    • Thomas' reported five-year, $96.25 million contract, which contains $35.64 million in full guarantees, really amounts to a three-year deal in the $45 million range. As of 2022, the Saints could cut him and only eat $8 million in cap space, and if Thomas is still playing at a high level by 2023, he'll probably be itching for a raise. Of course, by then there will be a new collective bargaining agreement and Drew Brees will be Gandalf.

    • The Saints only have $23 million in cap space on the ledger for 2020, and Brees' official salary for next year is $0.00; they will need more voodoo economics to keep their core intact next year. Some folks like to claim that the salary cap is "fake," but there's always a reckoning, no matter how slick the accountants get. The Saints are trying to forestall that reckoning until the day after Brees wins a Super Bowl and then floats up to heaven on a rainbow. The Thomas extension makes that plan feasible.

Gridiron Digest's Transaction Spin Zone

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    Adam Hunger/Associated Press

    If this week's spin is a little salty, well, it's because many of these moves smack of poor planning or crisis management. Don't say we didn't warn you.

    Redskins sign offensive tackle Donald Penn: "Haha, take that, holdout Trent Williams! We'll be just fine with…a 36-year-old who played poorly for four games before getting hurt last season."

    Cowboys sign running back Alfred Morris: "Haha, take that, holdout Ezekiel Elliott! We'll be just fine with…your 30-year-old former backup, whose role with the 49ers evaporated last year."

    Jets sign center Ryan Kalil: The Kalil brothers offer brand recognition but little else these days. Ryan Kalil allowed too much pressure up the middle last year, though he should help Sam Darnold make protection calls and such. Matt Kalil, you may recall, is now in Houston, where he'll try to lower the Texans' sack total from 62 to a sane and reasonable 58 or so. 

    Raiders claim wide receiver Jordan Lasley off waivers from the Ravens: Lasley essentially rage-quit the Ravens, getting into a fight in practice and throwing a football into a nearby pond. Jon Gruden likes feisty guys, and his new infatuation with Nathan Peterman suggests that he also likes players who are just accurate enough to throw a football into a pond.

    Eagles sign safety Johnathan Cyprien and cornerback Orlando Scandrick: The Eagles are worried about running out of dudes in the secondary after last year, when they ran out of dudes in the secondary.

    Panthers sign Tre Boston to a one-year contract: Boston is back in Charlotte after one-year stints with the Cardinals and Chargers. Cyprien was on his third team in three years. Starting safeties now roam from team to team looking for work like the NFL is a Steinbeck novel or something.

    Broncos sign Theo Riddick: Riddick + Joe Flacco + an offense that encourages Flacco to be even more conservative than usual = the opportunity for some seven-catch, 21-yard receiving lines.

    Saints sign Jacquizz Rodgers: The 29-year-old Rodgers was Dirk Koetter's answer to Theo Riddick: the guy who catches checkdowns on 3rd-and-15 and in the fourth quarters of losses for Koetter's Falcons and Buccaneers. Drew Brees and Sean Payton could somehow turn him into a guy who catches 90 passes.

    Patriots sign Cameron Meredith and place him on the PUP list: The Patriots get more efficient every year. Now they move straight from signing the veteran rando receiver to deactivating him, skipping the middle part where we all explain what a genius-level signing it was.

    Josh Gordon files for reinstatement: Gordon is due for a great year so long as NFL discipline procedures are swift and reasonable and he doesn't then suffer another unfortunate setback. Sigh. Hope for the best, prepare for the worst.

Training Camp Spotlight: Baltimore Ravens

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    Gail Burton/Associated Press

    Throughout the preseason, Gridiron Digest will highlight a pair of teams per week with news, notes, observations and predictions. This week, we logged a few miles on I-95, starting with the Ravens.

            

    Heading into 2019

    The Ravens have rebuilt their offense from the ground up to better suit the talents of Lamar Jackson. And Jackson has polished his game to the point where he now looks more like a traditional quarterback than simply the fastest kid on the playground. The changes will make the Ravens much more fun to watch than they are in most years (a low bar), but they may not be enough to offset the team's usual woes at wide receiver and a veteran defection along the front seven.

             

    News from camp

    • Jackson looks much smoother mechanically and sounds more confident than he did this time last year. But don't take my word for it. "You guys saw me last year," Jackson told reporters last week. "You guys know. A lot of ducks. It's been decreasing, and it has been getting better. A lot of tight spirals." Jackson also admitted that he needed his coaches to repeat plays "over and over again" as he struggled with the verbiage. Experience and a streamlined play-calling system (plus starter's reps) have made Jackson look far smoother in camp. Though he still throws a duck now and then. 

    • While Jackson's passing has improved, he didn't have many receivers to throw to at the start of camp. First-round pick Marquise Brown was finally on the field last week after missing all of OTAs and the start of camp with a foot injury. Brown's absence had left veteran slot guys Willie Snead IV and Seth Roberts as the top two receivers in camp. The stellar Ravens secondary has had little trouble clamping down on the receivers in camp, leaving Jackson to toss lots of short stuff to Mark Andrews and his other tight ends—or run for his life.

    • Speaking of the secondary, newcomer Earl Thomas didn't bristle when asked if the Ravens unit (featuring Jimmy Smith, Brandon Carr, Tavon Young and Tony Jefferson) stacks up to the Legion of Boom. "We definitely have the potential to be the best," Thomas said. "It all starts with attitude, which we already have." Thomas also called playing with a new team "refreshing" and said he "needed a fresh start" after nine seasons in Seattle.

    • The Ravens need outside edge-rushers to replace offseason departures Terrell Suggs and Za'Darius Smith. One player to keep an eye on is Pernell McPhee, who recorded 7.5 sacks for the Ravens in 2014 and then left for stints in Chicago and Washington. McPhee was held sackless last season in Washington, but he has impressed in camp and should still have value as a situational edge-rusher. 

               

    Player to watch: Miles Boykin, wide receiver

    Boykin, a third-round pick and draftnik favorite, has the best size-speed combination of any Ravens receiver, has flashed contested-catch potential in camp and could earn significant playing time if Brown is slow to catch up. Boykin is still a work in progress, but Jackson will break down the defensive structure often with his mobility, creating a lot of big-play opportunities for someone who can win jump balls.

          

    Bottom line

    The Ravens would be stealth Super Bowl contenders if they had a pass rush to match their secondary or better perimeter playmakers to take pressure off Jackson. As it stands, they lack the defensive-dominance potential of a vintage Ravens powerhouse and may still be a year away from being more than a fun experiment on offense. The Ravens will be a tough out, but they remain a notch below the top AFC contenders.

Training Camp Spotlight: Philadelphia Eagles

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    Matt Rourke/Associated Press

    Throughout the preseason, Gridiron Digest will highlight a pair of teams per week with news, notes, observations and predictions. Our I-95 cruise this week stops off in South Philly to visit the Eagles.

          

    Heading into camp

    The Eagles are stacked. Stacked at the skill positions. Stacked on the offensive line. Stacked on defense—if everyone gets healthy. So stacked that I wrote two weeks ago that they enter camp as a team with no flaws. But having spent a few days at practice, I may have uncovered a flaw or two, in the form of lots and lots of uncovered receivers.

                  

    Notes from camp

    • Carson Wentz looks great. There are no signs of injury issues. There's plenty of talk about Wentz looking leaner (maybe by a few pounds) and changing his pre- and post-practice routines to stay healthy. But there's no reason to think that Wentz will continue to cope with the injuries that have kept him from playing a full 16-game season. Remember that Matthew Stafford was considered a chronic injury case early in his career. Now, you can't get rid of the guy.

    • There may be a "not enough footballs to go around" situation on offense if everyone stays healthy. Look for the Eagles to use lots of three-receiver sets: Alshon Jeffery remains a top possession target, while both DeSean Jackson and Nelson Agholor looked excellent during a recent camp visit. Zach Ertz can count on eight to 10 targets per game at tight end. That will leave some talented role players—including second-year tight end Dallas Goedert and rookie receiver J.J. Arcega-Whiteside—battling for a limited number of snaps and targets.

    • One reason D-Jax and Agholor were unstoppable is that the Eagles secondary looked a little thin in early-week practices. Ronald Darby has been limited to individual drills because of a knee injury, while fellow cornerback Jalen Mills is still recovering from foot surgery and may be out a while. That leaves Sidney Jones and Rasul Douglas as the starters, and both have taken some lumps in training camp coverage. Safety Rodney McLeod was practicing with a brace on his knee and didn't look comfortable moving laterally. Veterans Orlando Scandrick and Johnathan Cyprien have been signed to prevent a repeat of last year, when the Eagles were grabbing guys from the Pat's and Geno's cheesesteak lines midseason and starting them at cornerback. 

          

    Player to watch: Miles Sanders, running back

    Jordan Howard has taken most of the first-team reps and looked fine, but Sanders has flashed as a rusher and receiver in practice and looks like the quicker, shiftier back. Doug Pederson loves committee backfields; if Sanders can contribute in the passing game and provides more big-play potential, he'll eat heavily into Howard's workload.

          

    Bottom line

    If the secondary rounds into shape, the Eagles should win the NFC this year. Even if it doesn't, they are better built to win shootouts and, yes, absorb injuries than just about any other team in the league. Everything doesn't have to break just right for them; they'll be fine as long as everything doesn't break.

Gridiron Digest Sportsbook: League-Leader Futures

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    Charlie Riedel/Associated Press

    We're at least a week away from preseason games that are maybe-kinda-sorta worth wagering on: games in which the entire second half isn't undrafted rookie pachinko, in other words. Until then, let's break down a few league-leader futures bets that are worth your time, attention and dollars (all odds and moneylines courtesy of Caesars Palace Sportsbook as of August 4).

             

    Passing yardage leaders

    The favorite: Patrick Mahomes +400

    The smart play: Mahomes +400

    Worth a few bucks: Matthew Stafford +5000

    Mahomes registered the eighth-highest passing total in NFL history last year, has a loaded offense, an iffy defense that will force him into some shootouts, has talent on loan from Asgard and doesn't turn 24 for another month, meaning he's likely to get significantly better. Take that +400 moneyline now before the casual money flows in and the house starts to adjust. (It slid down from +500 to +400 between the rough draft and the final draft of this paragraph.)

    Matt Ryan has finished in the top five in passing yards six times in his career, making him an inviting play at +700 if you are the sort of masochist who wants to spend a whole year waiting for the Falcons to narrowly disappoint you.

    Drew Brees and Tom Brady have combined to lead the NFL in passing yards 10 times, including four of the past five years. Brees at +700 and Brady at a yummy-looking +2500 are tempting, but both are likely to throw fewer passes this year because the Saints defense has improved in recent years and the Patriots have switched to a more balanced offense. Also, they're both old.

    Stafford has finished third or higher in passing yards four times in his career, appears to be healthier this year than last and is in a situation where he might have to throw six billion passes—not a bad combination if you like taking a flier on a 50-to-1 payout.

             

    Rushing yardage leaders

    The Favorite: Ezekiel Elliott +150

    The smart play: Le'Veon Bell +1500

    Worth a few bucks: Todd Gurley +2500

    That Elliott moneyline got a little carried away in Cabo; leave it alone until it sobers up.

    Saquon Barkley looks like free money at +600 until you realize he'll have a lot of 20-carry, 70-yard stat lines (with plenty of 19-yard screens on 3rd-and-20 that won't help you) in the Giants' dysfunctional offense. By contrast, Bell is in a less desperate situation, his coaches will be eager to work him into the ground, and heaven knows he's well-rested.

    Gurley's moneyline is higher than those of Joe Mixon (+1400), James Conner (+2000), Dalvin Cook (+2000), Marlon Mack (+1500) and Kerryon Johnson (+2200). Yes, Gurley's health is a serious issue. No, you're not going to find a 25-to-1 payout with a better, more accomplished player in a better situation.

            

    Receiving yardage leaders

    The favorite: Julio Jones +500

    The smart play: Antonio Brown +1500

    Worth a few bucks: T.Y. Hilton +2000

    Brown has led the league in receiving yards twice and finished second once in the last five years. He's done it despite annual midseason injury absences from Ben Roethlisberger, so the drop-off to Derek Carr at quarterback isn't a major concern, and the Raiders are likely to force-feed AB targets to keep him a happy camper.

    Brown's absence from practice and foray into foot photography are keeping the moneyline high. Those appear to be blisters, folks. Blisters heal.

    Julio is a safe choice with little meat on the bone. True believers in the new Packers mentality might consider a flier on Davante Adams at +1400. But the last five NFL receiving leaders have been AB, Julio, Hilton, AB and Julio. That's a pattern, Team Umizoomi! And while real life is rarely that simple, a 20-to-1 payout for a great player in a great situation is at least worth a second look.

Point-Counterpoint

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    Ron Schwane/Associated Press

    It looks like our dueling debaters are in midseason form. One of them is, anyway. 

    Louisiana judge orders that Roger Goodell can be questioned under oath about last year's Saints-Rams playoff "no-call."

    Point: What did Goodell ever do to deserve such an overreaching and arbitrary exercise of justice? Oh, yeah. Pretty much everything.

    Counterpoint: While Goodell is in court, Sheriff Rosco will place a fake fire hydrant next to his car and force him to provide the Boar's Nest with free NFL Sunday Ticket for a year.

           

    Steven Jackson ordered to take random drug test after signing a one-day retirement contract.

    Point: Jackson's mail must have gotten mixed up with Eric Reid's mail.

    Counterpoint: Goodell better not try anything like that in Louisiana.

          

    The Pro Football Hall of Fame announces a one-time 20-person class of enshrinees to celebrate the NFL's 100th anniversary in 2020.

    Point: The commemorative class will include five modern candidates, 10 senior candidates, three contributors and two coaches and is expected to snub at least 10 former Broncos.

    Counterpoint: Bah. There are too many Hall of Famers as it is. I say we vote 20 guys out. Hey Walt Kiesling: How many Super Bowls did your Pottsville Maroons win? Tuffy Leemans wasn't all that tuffy in my book. And then there are the guys who have stood me up in interviews over the years... 

          

    Antonio Brown posts photos of the torn-up bottoms of his feet on Instagram.

    Point: He should also show us what the insides of those Versace loafers he was working out in during the offseason look like.

    Counterpoint: Ugh. Those pics were nasty. But then, the bottoms of most feet are nasty. Let's try to get through the rest of this segment without any more creepy fascination with a football players' physical attributes. Please?

          

    Baker Mayfield now has a mustache.

    Point: The thing looks like Joe Flacco's unibrow migrated to Mayfield's upper lip.

    Counterpoint: I don't think I am overreacting or just generating controversy for its own sake when I point out that great quarterbacks simply DON'T GROW MUSTACHES. Ever seen Tom Brady, Peyton Manning or Drew Brees with one? John Elway? Troy Aikman? I rest my case. Do the right thing and shave the 'stache. OK, Captain Morgan?

    (Tune in next week when Counterpoint is either fired or promoted to a prime-time television gig.)

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