The Aaron It Out Mock Draft 2.0

The Jags just had to go and completely invalidate my pick, didn’t they?

(They did it for everyone else, too.)

Everyone’s going OL or DL for their Jaguars draft predictions now but I’m going to stick to my gut. The last few years have been slightly unorthodox, including last year, and while the defense is important unless one of the top two or three pass rushers make it down to the Jags, I see them improving their offensive weaponry.

The rest of it’s kind of a crapshoot to be honest. You’ve seen other, better thinkpieces and I’m not trying to offer that here. If you want a deep dive, go to the Athletic or something. Let’s dive in.

2-1

Kyler Murray is going to the Cardinals, probably. That pick will set the tone for this draft. I’m also going with what has been widely predicted: the Cards will then trade Josh Rosen to the Redskins. Let’s say that’s for a 2nd-rounder which doesn’t come into play here; here are the results. Nick Bosa goes as expected, but I see the Jets swinging for a solid OT to give them line continuity, allowing Josh Allen to go to the Raiders. The Giants need to replace Odell Beckham, and DK Metcalf gives instant-impact play to Eli Manning.

2-2

The Jaguars go tight end here, which may be a risk but last year’s Taven Bryan pick showed the Jags are willing to do the unexpected. Drew Lock is the next QB to go, this time to the Broncos, and then we close out this section with the Packers trying to add pieces to their line and keep Aaron Rodgers upright.

2-3

A lot of people see Miami wanting to go QB, but I think that Brian Burns, if he falls this far, is a good choice for them to build around. The Giants use their other pick on a solid OT from Alabama, to give them consistency up front.

2-4

Four of these six picks are DBs, which I think is important for each team. Pittsburgh fills the hole left by Antonio Brown, and Baltimore adds another speedy option back to complement and assist new QB Lamar Jackson.

2-6

No surprises here, as the Eagles and Colts add defensive help, the Raiders pick up a solid tight end, the Chargers add another receiver for Rivers to throw to, the Chiefs get some much-needed pass rush help, and the Packers bolster their backfield.

2-7

With contracts coming up or expiring at DB, the Rams make a future move, and then the Patriots may finally take their QB of the future with the last pick of the first round.

But they might trade back.

Who knows?

Nobody.

Let’s all meet back here in a couple of weeks so you can see how wrong I was, okay?

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The Aaron It Out Mock Draft 1.0

Oh, it’s been an interesting off-season! Where will Bell go, what team will AB be traded to, who is gonna get tagged, who will be franchise tagged? Questions abound.

In a little over a week from the posting of this article, the new NFL year will begin and free agency will get started. Despite the “Foles will go to Jacksonville!” narrative that popped up over this past weekend we’re operating under the assumption that it won’t happen. A lot of things will change over the next few weeks especially with free agency starting, so of course we’ll post a mock draft version 2 as we get closer to the real thing.

Let’s go!

draft1

The first six picks seem to be pretty self-explanatory. I totally think that the Cardinals are all-in on Kyler Murray and will move away from Josh Rosen here in a few days. I also think that picks 2-5 make sense; sure it’s not pretty but each of these teams has a need for these players. The biggest wrinkle I can think of right now is the Giants wanting to find someone who can truly take pressure off of OBJ and create matchup problems as they continue to retool their offense, whether Eli or whoever is at quarterback. Metcalf seems to be the top WR in this class, and makes sense.

draft2

The Jaguars are drafting Haskins, and I’ll believe it until they don’t. I think they might even do that despite potentially signing Nick Foles. Denver picks Drew Lock WAY too high, and I think that Cincy moves for a QB to push Andy Dalton (I think Cincy is a dark horse in the Foles competition as well). Finally, new Packers coach Matt LaFleur might have Aaron Rodgers, but he saw great success in Tennessee feeding the ball to a punishing, big running back from Alabama – all things that Joshua Jacobs is.

draft3

In my opinion the Dolphins will have already made a move at QB by the draft. They will probably cut Tannehill, sign Keenum or Bridgewater, and either sign or trade for Bortles to back him up. The new coach there is defensive-minded and would likely love to get a nice edge rusher to mess up Tom Brady. I thought about the Redskins taking a QB here but they will probably trade for Rosen, and they need a solid WR that comes in the form of Harry. Cleveland could pair Greedy with last year’s first-round pick Denzel Ward and have a cheap, nasty cornerback duo on cheap contracts for a few years.

draft4

A little less interesting here – I think Pittsburgh continues to search for their next Polamalu by adding Bush, Seattle enhances that run game with another solid tackle, and the Ravens add another weapon for Lamar Jackson. Houston let Tyrann Mathieu walk and grab his replacement, and Oakland beefs up their secondary.

draft5

Two WRs in a row as the Colts and Raiders both add new weapons, including one of Clemson’s top ball-catchers from the past few years. I like DeAndre Baker for the Chiefs because their secondary got burned more than once last year, and for the Packers’ other first-round pick I see them going tight end as they moved away from Marcedes Lewis and have a definite need at the position.

You’re gonna find this interesting…

draft6

Does Bill Belichick draft either the successor to TAHMMY or another player to flip for more picks down the road? I think so, and don’t worry about Will Grier. I think that the Raiders will probably grab him to give Derek Carr some competition at the top of the next round, and the Jaguars have the ammo if they want to move up in the second round here to pick up TJ Hockensen and give Haskins another offensive weapon to throw to.

Love it? Hate it? Feel like it should have come out several weeks ago and is now lost in a sea of anonymity with other drafts written by guys with larger followings? Let me know! Leave a comment or shoot me a tweet! See you next time!

Aaron It Out: Pre-Super-Bowl Meh & Jaguars Talk

Have you ever been any more uninterested in a Super Bowl?

The team that everyone hates, the Patriots, vs. the team that lied to and messed over an entire city, the Rams. Oh, what compelling football.

Naturally, I am rooting for the Rams here – the players can’t help the fact that the owner moved the team, and also they can’t help that they were coached by eternal bad coach Jeff Fisher, which made St. Louis apathetic to them and drove down ticket sales so the team could move in the first place. The great part is that L.A. just kind of doesn’t care – you have to win a championship for them to turn off their Lakers games, I guess.

The more intriguing items I think are the teams planning for next year already. Some teams are welcoming new coaches to town, others are rebuilding in other areas. I want to look at how one player is going to impact several teams, and then move along to some Jaguars items that have been percolating.

NICK FOLES IS STAYING IN THE NFC EAST

That’s right, Nick Foles, the Philly Hero, will not be playing for the Eagles next season. The Eagles are way too close to the cap to have the luxury of re-signing him, especially when they can build around Carson Wentz, still on his first contract. Nick Foles is probably the biggest potential free agent QB this offseason, even though he does not do as well outside of Philly. Other teams aren’t going to care about that – they’re going to care about his potential and his confidence, and his ability to lead. Several media personalities in Jacksonville believe that, because the Jaguars hired John DeFilippo, who was once Foles’ QB coach, as their offensive coordinator, the Jags have the best chance to sign him.

They’re wrong.

Foles was willing to step out of football and retire before the Eagles convinced him to come back. He wants to go to a situation where he can win again, and pad his legacy. He probably wants to play for another year or two, before leaving the game for good. Enter the Washington Redskins.

Alex Smith, who was the Redskins’ starting QB last year, had his season ended horribly with a leg injury that has taken much to overcome. He has battled infections and multiple surgeries. The team is operating right now under the assumption that Smith will not be ready to start the 2019 season. Backup QBs are all fine and good, but in order to win, Washington needs to secure the QB spot with a player that can carry the team while possibly waiting for Smith to come back. With apologies to Colt McCoy and Josh Johnson, it is not them.

I am predicting that the Washington Redskins will sign Nick Foles.

It makes a lot of sense – he won’t have to totally uproot his family, he’s familiar with the team, and they have the money to sign him. There you go. Also Washington was, until the end of the season, in the hunt for the division, so there’s also that.

What will the Jaguars do? For the sake of being a retread of an earlier article, now that the season is over, I’d like to take a look at some acquisitions and draft picks I’d like to see the team make.

JAGUARS CUTS AND RESTRUCTURES

It’s no secret the Jags are up against the cap. They are locked into their coaching staff now, making an OC change and some other assistant changes, but their staff is basically the same as far as the big positions go. They have decided to stay the course and hope that they can fix their offense, make some changes, and get back into contention. Is it possible? Of course it is – the Colts got a Wild Card berth after sucking out loud last year. New Offensive Coordinator John DeFilippo helped Kirk Cousins to his best statistical year in Minnesota last year. It’s kind of exciting.

The team has to make some difficult choices and let some talent go. Not only do they need to bring in a couple of free agents, they also are going to need to sign Yannick Ngakoue and Jalen Ramsey to extensions before much longer. Of the players that I see leaving, probably the most notable is Malik Jackson. Unless they can restructure him to a very team-friendly deal and push some of his cap hit back, he is out. He is a nice dude but he was outplayed by some other players on the roster at the end of last season. Additional players that I expect to be cut or not resign with the team include: FS Tashaun Gipson, OT Jermey Parnell, RB Carlos Hyde, TE Austin Sefarian-Jenkins, and quite possibly WR Marqise Lee. Oh, and let’s not forget QB Blake Bortles.

They may want to create a little more cap room by moving someone else, which I’ll get to in a couple of segments.

Additionally, they’ll want to restructure some guys and I would expect them to do a restructure/extension of Calais Campbell’s contract. I would give him a huge signing bonus that can then be prorated across multiple years and make sure he retires a Jaguar. That guy is quite possibly the best free agent signing in the team’s history. Additionally, I would ask Marcell Dareus to restructure his deal as well, as he is one of the most expensive DLs the team has.

JAGUARS FREE AGENCY MOVES

I don’t think the Jags will be huge players in the market for free agents this year but they need to make a couple of moves to shore up their roster. First, after moving on from Gipson, if I’m the Jaguars I want to shore up the free safety position, as Ronnie Harrison likely has the SS position on lockdown. I want to do this by adding Ha-Ha Clinton Dix, formerly of Green Bay and Washington, to the roster. He would come in and make an immediate impact, and also be an upgrade at the position.

I would also want to bring in a reliable wide receiver as well, who has experience in multiple offenses including the type that DeFilippo is going to run, and would fit in well with the locker room culture. Golden Tate is that wide receiver to me. He has a family connection (his sister is Jalen Ramsey’s significant other) and also would be a safety valve for whoever is playing QB, and he still has the speed and agility to gain separation. Also, if the team doesn’t draft an additional wide receiver, I would expect them to take a long, hard look at Cole Beasley, who has been a solid target in Dallas for a long time.

Finally, I would want to bring in a quarterback to be a more capable backup than Tanner Lee. This person should know they may start a couple of games but will come in to play backup. Much has been made of DeFilippo’s connection to Josh McCown, who has always been a team player and made a positive difference in the locker room. He would be my pick, over someone like Bridgewater or Taylor even (both of whom I really like), due to his being willing to mentor a young QB.

JAGUARS DRAFT MOVES

Hey, I’ve got some news for you: the Jaguars need a starting, franchise-caliber quarterback. What a surprise, right? I bet you’re flabbergasted. They’re going to obtain this player in the draft. Not in free agency; the team doesn’t need another band-aid free agency player anywhere (their band-aid TE experiment failed miserably; their band-aid LG experiment is still being evaluated). If Dave Caldwell and Tom Coughlin are going to be taken seriously, they need to swing big for a quarterback.

That means that they also need to move up in the draft. They cannot risk waiting on a player to fall to them. The Senior Bowl has come and gone and the consensus is “the quarterbacks are not first-rounders” (even though you can count on a team to reach for one, cough Denver cough). The Jaguars must target either Dwayne Haskins or Kyler Murray and pick one, and they must do it with pick number one. For the first time in Jacksonville Jaguars history, they need to have the number one pick.

The Jaguars should trade their number 7 pick this year, their first round pick next year, and cornerback A.J. Bouye to the Cardinals for the 2019 first overall pick.

Personally, I believe the Jaguars should pick Dwayne Haskins. He is The Guy. He has the intangibles, he has the skill, and he just plain looks like a franchise QB. I really, really like him. I hope Dave and Tom do, too. The Jags need to trade up ASAP, because someone else who likes him is going to move up and grab him instead.

I additionally have heard that this draft is deep with offensive linemen, which is good – the Jags should grab one to groom for the right side of the line, either at guard or tackle. Also, either Iowa TE TJ Hockenstein or LSU TE Foster Moreau should be a target for the team. Both of them fit the new-TE profile of being a big dude with really, really good hands that can make plays. Finally, one thing Caldwell has been good at is finding gold at the wide receiver position wherever he may be drafting, and Ohio State WR Terry McLaurin could be a Jaguars target. He was impressive at the Senior Bowl and the Jaguars met with him multiple times.

So there you have it. Will it happen as I’ve laid it out here? Definitely not, but still, I’m going to state that the plan that makes the most sense for the Jaguars as a team, and the most sense for the Jaguars as a business organization trying to sell tickets, is to lock in a long-term, young, franchise QB who is actually a natural thrower of the football and can win games when the situation calls for it. Sure, it may be nice to say “we got the QB that won the Super Bowl against the Pats!” but you only get him for a year or two, versus the longevity that Haskins potentially brings.

It’s a no-brainer. Make it happen, guys.

See you next week for our post-large-important-game article!

Aaron It Out: No Division Between Us

Hello! I hope you had a great holiday and are having a great start to the year. My beautiful daughter has started the year with a double ear infection and has increased the number of states she has puked in to 4 with Mississippi having the most recent honor. Other than that, all is well!

We come to a point in the year where football is unfortunately winding down. The College Championship game was this past Monday, a satisfying beatdown of Alabama by Clemson and Ronnie “Sunshine” Bass clone Trevor Lawrence. The NFL Wild Card playoffs occurred last week, and some nice wins with the TY Hilton clown mask thing pretty much owning the weekend, along with the Chargers’ “lol all the defensive backs” scheme stopping the Ravens cold. (Get it? Cold. Because it’s winter.)

But we do have so much to keep us occupied! The coaching carousel continues to spin, the draft talk has begun in earnest, and signings and potential trades are going on, even as the playoffs continue.

Let’s look at the coaching hires…

CLEVELAND – New head coach FREDDIE KITCHENS – This is a great hire. Someone from the post-Hue Jackson coaching staff deserved a chance at running things because of how the culture kind of immediately shifted once Hue and Todd Haley were gone. Kitchens showed he was capable of thinking on his feet and tailoring the offense to Baker Mayfield’s strengths. As long as he hires a solid defensive coordinator, he’ll be good. I think the Browns are going to challenge the Ravens for the AFC North next year as Cincy and Pittsburgh retool.

NEW YORK JETS – New head coach ADAM GASE – I guess he knows the division, and he does good work with QBs, but I just don’t get this one. It doesn’t make sense. But, I also don’t think he should have been fired in Miami – they had significant injury problems. We will see what happens with this one.

DENVER BRONCOS – New head coach VIC FANGIO – It’s a blow to the Bears that they lost Fangio. He will be a great head coach, and paired with Gary Kubiak as the offensive coordinator, I think they will turn things around in Denver, especially as the Chiefs and Chargers continue to make advances in the division. Fangio’s hire makes Denver relevant again – they just need either better play out of Keenum or another answer at QB.

GREEN BAY PACKERS – New head coach MATT LAFLEUR – I guess they basically traded out offensive philosophies, as GB’s current defensive coordinator is expected to be retained. This is one that doesn’t make sense, but considering the breakdown in relationship between Mike McCarthy and Aaron Rodgers, something had to happen. So we’ll see if the guy who ran it a lot in Tennessee can keep Rodgers happy.

TAMPA BAY BUCS – New head coach BRUCE ARIANS – I really like this hire, even if the dude was supposed to have been retired. Arians is an amazing offensive game planner and puts together solid coaching staffs. As long as he can keep Jameis Winston’s personality reined in and get him to focus on football, they could rise to the top of the NFC very soon. Also of note, the offensive play-caller (not coordinator, I believe) is going to be former Jaguars QB Byron Leftwich, who got his start in coaching with Arians in Arizona.

ARIZONA CARDINALS – New head coach KLIFF KINGSBURY – This is the guy I wanted the Jaguars to hire if they moved on from Marrone, but that didn’t happen. Good hire for the Cardinals, who have a lot of defensive pieces in place and some definite talent on offense. Kingsbury should know what to do with them and put together a winner, but the key for him is going to be a solid defensive coordinator. We’ll see what happens.

The BENGALS and DOLPHINS haven’t made any hires yet but I’m thinking that (and there have been reports that) Chiefs offensive coordinator Eric Bienemy (not sure I spelled that right) and Cowboys defensive assistant Kris Richard are in the mix for both jobs. Both would be solid hires, and Kris Richard has a buzz around him and he basically put together the Legion of Boom, so it would make sense to give him a shot.

PICKS AND PREVIEWS

COLTS @ CHIEFS, Saturday 4:35 – Here’s my bold prediction: the Chiefs peaked at the wrong time, and the Colts have peaked at the right time. Indy is playing their best football right now, and Kansas City is still good but may run the risk of coming into this game a little too favored, kind of like when everyone expected the Jaguars to just demolish the Chiefs because KC hadn’t faced a defense like the Jags (lol). I don’t think it will be a repeat of their last playoff appearance, and it will be a lot closer than Colts-Texans, but the Colts will win.

IND 24 KC 20

COWBOYS @ RAMS, Saturday 8:15 – The Rams aren’t as unstoppable as they used to be, and the Cowboys have everything coming together, so this will be an interesting game for both. Nobody thought the Rams could be stopped last year and they got beat pretty good. This will be more of a defensive game than anything else, in my opinion. This is the game with the murkiest outcome in my opinion.

DAL 27 LAR 30

CHARGERS @ PATRIOTS, Sunday 1:05 – Despite Bill Belichick coming up with a gameplan for everything, I think the Chargers are doing enough stuff differently that they will be able to shock the Pats and pull out the win. The Chargers have gotten a lot of talent back from injury and the Patriots lost one of their wide receivers, who weren’t that good in the first place. I’m thinking the Chargers pull it out here.

LAC 21 NE 17

EAGLES @ SAINTS, Sunday 4:40 – Philly’s miracle run ends here, with the Saints doing enough on offense to keep up with whatever scheme the Eagles come up with to slow them down defensively. However, it was a good one, if you ask me. The Saints are my current pick to make it to the Super Bowl, and I don’t see that changing. If it does, I’ll be sure to eat plenty of crow come Sunday night.

PHI 24 NO 28

Aaron It Out: Weeks 16-17: Kith and Kin

Ah, yes, the Christmas Special Aaron It Out!

I hope that you and your family have a wonderful holiday and a safe New Year, and that you enjoy some football!

Oh yeah: highly recommend “The Christmas Chronicles” on Netflix. Especially if you have kiddos. It’s a new Christmas movie starring Kurt Russell and it is a lot of fun.

On to football things…

This is being written on the Monday after the Jaguars gave up a stinker to the Redskins. Change obviously needs to happen in Jacksonville. Personally I think the entire coaching staff is in for a shakeup, as well as the front office; I think Tom Coughlin comes back just because Khan will want to give him a chance to build the team “his way” and not saddle the next coach with previous years’ assistants. What would I love to see? GM Reggie McKenzie, Head Coach Kliff Kingsbury, and Defensive Coordinator Jack Del Rio. Am I crazy? Probably.

I won’t get into the players, because every one of them is mad in some way about how this season has gone – you go in expecting Super Bowl, and end up with a losing record and see Gus Bradley flashbacks. But I think the last home game has occurred for Donte Moncrief, Austin Sefarian-Jenkins, Blake Bortles, Carlos Hyde, Malik Jackson, Tashaun Gipson, Jermey Parnell, AJ Cann, and maybe even Marcell Dareus.

Change is coming at the quarterback position and the Jags better get it right. The last time Coughlin helped draft a quarterback he fell into a situation where he could have gotten one of three future Hall of Famers, and wound up with Eli Manning who led his teams to two Super Bowl victories over the Patriots dynasty. Not too shabby; I’d certainly take that in Jacksonville. But look for the Jaguars to draft Haskins from Ohio State or Grier from West Virginia, and then employ a veteran to back him up. Who? Here’s a controversial one for you: Shad Khan, the only minority owner in the NFL, should advocate the signing of Colin Kaepernick. He will come in and compete and try to make the new QB better. Do you really think that Joe Flacco, Derek Carr, or Tyrod Taylor want to come in and let yet another young QB steal their job? Just something to think about.

Okay, let’s do this: we’ll do one final regular-season top five, then the picks for weeks 16 and 17, and then I’ll close with some horribly wrong playoff predictions.

AARON IT OUT TOP FIVE
1. Saints
2. Chiefs
3. Chargers
4. Rams
5. Colts

PICKS AND PREVIEWS
WEEK 16

REDSKINS @ TITANS – Remember how the Redskins were good against the Jags? They won’t be here.

WSH 9 TEN 20

RAVENS @ CHARGERS – The Lamar Jackson spaceship crashes back to Earth. It’s okay, he’s gonna be good for years to come.

BAL 17 LAC 25

BUCS @ COWBOYS – No chance for the Bucs. Dallas needs their groove back. Bye, Dirk.

TB 9 DAL 20

VIKINGS @ LIONS – Minnesota’s making a playoff push. Detroit just wants to get everything over with.

MIN 30 DET 17

FALCONS @ PANTHERS – Both of these teams need to readjust for next year.

ATL 12 CAR 19

TEXANS @ EAGLES – Philly’s surprising people, but I don’t think they can take down Deshawn.

HOU 15 PHI 7

GIANTS @ COLTS – Giants trying to stay in the playoff picture; Indy’s trying not to be embarassed again. The Colts will try hardest.

NYG 7 IND 24

BENGALS @ BROWNS – Can Baker Mayfield cause Hue Jackson to lose two jobs in one season? (Spoiler alert: yes.)

CIN 10 CLE 20

BILLS @ PATRIOTS – New England not quite as scary… unless you’re in their division.

BUF 12 NE 21

PACKERS @ JETS – Honestly, will anyone watch this?

GB 14 NYJ 10

JAGUARS @ DOLPHINS – One of these teams is playing to keep their playoff hopes alive. The other one is starting Cody Kessler.

JAX 9 MIA 19

BEARS @ 49ERS – Surprising San Francisco will be good next year, if Jimmy comes back healthy. This year, they’re playing that Chicago D.

CHI 21 SF 6

RAMS @ CARDINALS – Nothing soothes the ache of a loss like a gimme against the Cardinals.

LAR 30 ARI 14

STEELERS @ SAINTS – The Steelers are trying to show that they’re capable of winning it all. The problem is, their defense won’t be able to stop the Saints’ offense.

PIT 21 NO 28

CHIEFS @ SEAHAWKS – This may be a must-win for both of these teams, but only one can win it. I think the Chiefs peaked too early and I’ll do a rare pick of Seattle.

KC 19 SEA 24

BRONCOS @ RAIDERS – The AFC West has two contenders and two pretenders, and the latter two happen to play each other on Monday.

DEN 17 OAK 7
WEEK 17

RAIDERS @ CHIEFS – If you ain’t first, you’re last. The Chiefs will pick up a W but their record will relegate them to the Wild Card spot.

OAK 10 KC 21

DOLPHINS @ BILLS – Can this one be all-throwback? It would look better than the play people will see on the field. Miami squeaks by but misses the playoffs.

MIA 17 BUF 10

COLTS @ TITANS – The Titans have had a good season; the Colts have had a better one. Indianapolis wins and takes the sixth seed.

IND 17 TEN 10

BEARS @ VIKINGS – Minnesota fights this one hard, and Chicago with a playoff spot locked rests its starters. Vikes wind up in the postseason with a W.

CHI 17 MIN 20

BROWNS @ RAVENS – The Browns end their storybook season on a high note, even if they don’t make the playoffs. In my opinion, this matchup should be flexed into the last Sunday Night Football spot. Jackson vs. Mayfield is too compelling of TV to not give to a national audience.

CLE 24 BAL 17

LIONS @ PACKERS – Both of these teams are tapping out at this point.

DET 12 GB 17

JETS @ PATRIOTS – The Patriots win their division, for whatever that’s worth.

NYJ 10 NE 21

PANTHERS @ SAINTS – The Saints have me thinking they will roll to the Super Bowl. The Panthers have me thinking they need to do a lot of thinking.

CAR 17 NO 30

JAGUARS @ TEXANS – Will the Jaguars surprise the Texans? Sure, they’ll probably surprise them at how many times the sieve also known as the Jags’ o-line will allow sacks of whoever is playing QB.

JAX 10 HOU 20

COWBOYS @ GIANTS – I think the Giants will pull an upset here and plop Dallas into the 4th seed. Still, not bad if you’re Dallas.

DAL 20 NYG 24

EAGLES @ REDSKINS – The Redskins’ backup backup backup QB is not enough to beat the Eagles’ backup QB.

PHI 20 WSH 10

FALCONS @ BUCS – Nah

ATL 12 TB 12

BENGALS @ STEELERS – Good night, Marvin Lewis. Take care of yourself.

CIN 17 PIT 30

CARDINALS @ SEAHAWKS – Hopefully Fitz doesn’t retire, but would anyone blame him?

ARI 7 SEA 21

49ERS @ RAMS – Good night, Nick whatever your name is. Take care of yourself.

SF 7 LAR 40

CHARGERS @ BRONCOS – Good night, Vance Joseph. Take care of yourself.

LAC 35 DEN 21
PLAYOFF SEEDING PREDICTIONS

AFC
1. Chargers
2. Texans
3. Patriots
4. Steelers
5. Chiefs
6. Colts

NFC
1. Saints
2. Rams
3. Bears
4. Cowboys
5. Seahawks
6. Vikings

BLACK MONDAY PREDICTIONS: Vance Joseph, Todd Bowles, Doug Marrone, Steve Wilks, Marvin Lewis, Adam Gase

Merry Christmas, Merry Christmas, Merry Christmas, Merry Christmas, Kiss My Butt, Kiss His Butt, Kiss Your Butt, Happy Hanukkah.

Aaron It Out: Week 15: Oakland Rai-durrrs

While the Jaguars can blame their bad year on a multitude of events (Bortles not being as good as thought, front office mishaps, injuries, communication issues), nothing represents the active dysfunction of a team quite like the Oakland Raiders, who this week fired their GM Reggie McKenzie (a person who drafted Derek Carr, Khalil Mack, and Amari Cooper). This move of course cements the status of new coach and football czar Jon Gruden with the Raiders as the de facto authority of putting together a team. The bad thing is, he made a lot of awful decisions this past offseason that have contributed to their crappiness this year, including trading away two of those great picks, Mack and Cooper. Do they have draft capital for those trades? Yes, yes they do… but also, Gruden is notorious for making bad football decisions. We’ll see how it all works out in the end, but I’m thinking Vegas winds up with more of a stinker than a winner.

The Jaguars this week face the Redskins, who look absolutely inept… but don’t give Jacksonville a pass yet. Josh Johnson was mobile and a lot more comfortable than Mark Sanchez at the end of the Redskins’ game last week. We’ll see what happens, but I won’t be surprised if the Jaguars lose out.

PROGRAMMING NOTE: First, I apologize that this column has been published a day late; I woke up yesterday with a migraine that made me miss work (check out that incorrect Chargers/Chiefs pick below). Second, next week will be the Double-Picks-Christmas-Extravaganza, where I will post the picks for weeks 16 & 17. The week after, there will be no column – sorry. This is due to the fact I will be on vacation. We’ll pick it back up in time for Divisional Playoff Goodness.

AARON IT OUT TOP FIVE
1. Rams
2. Chiefs
3. Saints
4. Chargers
5. Cowboys

PICKS AND PREVIEWS

CHARGERS @ CHIEFS – This is the Thursday night matchup the world deserves as we move into both Thursday and Saturday games. This may be the battle for the AFC’s #1 spot. What will happen? I think it will be close but the Chiefs can do it.

LAC 30 KC 35

TEXANS @ JETS – I think I’ll use the obvious games this week to talk about Christmas movies. Die Hard’s a meme this point. One of my favorites is Elf. I just really enjoy the joy and wonder that the movie evokes, and also it handles a lot of mythology in a real-life way. Also, it’s just fun.

HOU 52 NYJ 17

BROWNS @ BRONCOS – Who can wear orange better? Seriously, though, both of these teams are realizing that they have solid defense, so it comes down to who has the better offensive attack, and who wants it more – I think that’s Cleveland.

CLE 17 DEN 14

CARDINALS @ FALCONS – Definitely the comedy classic (for adults) of Christmas is National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation. It’s a treat to watch, quotable, and you can relate to it in so many ways, from the frustrations of Christmas, to trying to force Christmas on your family, to the joy of family.

ARI 5 ATL 2

RAIDERS @ BENGALS – Home Alone is like a real-life Looney Tunes come the end of the movie, which is really the highlight. Although Kevin gets into some escapades at the beginning his ingenuity and the Wile E. Coyote style injuries of the Wet Bandits coupled with the Christmas theme really draw the movie together.

OAK 10 CIN 17

DOLPHINS @ VIKINGS – Maybe the Dolphins don’t suck? But the Vikings kinda do. The Vikings’ former offensive coordinator was trying too hard to get a head coaching job, and he drummed himself out of a job.

MIA 21 MIN 17

COWBOYS @ COLTS – Two hot teams come together and battle it out for playoff spots, believe it or not. Indianapolis has a solid chance of landing a wild card spot and Dallas is trying to keep its hold on the East and attempt a first-round bye. Here, I think the more competent offense wins.

DAL 16 IND 24

BUCS @ RAVENS – Lamar Jackson, former potential Jaguars quarterback, is a lot of fun to watch and almost led the Ravens to a win against the prolific Chiefs. Here, he’ll definitely lead them to a win.

TB 3 BAL 27

LIONS @ BILLS – Home Alone 2 is a solid sequel, ratcheting up the antics and moving the concept to a foreign place to its protagonist. I don’t enjoy it quite as much as the first one, but every time I watch it I get the Cougar song stuck in my head.

DET 3 BUF 6

PACKERS @ BEARS – Someone seriously thinks the Packers beating Atlanta means they’ve still got a shot at the postseason. This game will change that perception.

GB 9 CHI 20

REDSKINS @ JAGUARS – I don’t wanna talk about it.

WSH 7 JAX 7

TITANS @ GIANTS – Once you get past the weird motion capture, The Polar Express adaptation is a movie that’s really nice if you stick with it. It captures a lot of wonder and really endears itself to kids. I enjoy it and my 7 year old really enjoys it as well.

TEN 10 NYG 13

SEAHAWS @ NINERS – I’m supposed to say I was wrong about the Seahawks, but I still don’t know if I was or not. They look okay but they don’t look… great. We’ll see what happens, they are still trying to work under the salary cap.

SEA 30 SF 2

PATRIOTS @ STEELERS – If the Steelers lose out, Cleveland has a chance of winning the division. For that reason alone, I think the Patriots will win.

NE 15 PIT 12

EAGLES @ RAMS – Last, but certainly not least, is Ron Howard and Jim Carrey’s How the Grinch Stole Christmas. It takes the animated version and also the book and makes it a little over the top. Especially when you have kids, Christmas is supposed to be over the top. It’s a family favorite.

PHI 3 LAR 60

SAINTS @ PANTHERS – Also, the Santa Clause holds up surprisingly well. It takes the mythology in a different direction and makes you think a little about how Santa’s held up for so long (we all know the answer is Christmas magic, duh).

NO 55 CAR 17

Aaron It Out: Week 14: Feeling the Importance of the QB

Well you can SAY that “you can plan around your quarterback” as you build a team, but this year is showing us more than ever that a team needs to have its quarterback position shored up more than anything to guarantee success in the National Football League. Yes, coaching matters too, of course, and the other aspects of the game matter as well, but without a solid QB or a relatively solid backup plan in place, you’re kind of hosed.

Last month Alex Smith had his leg jacked up during a game. Washington was like, okay, we’ll go to Colt McCoy, he’s been in the system forever and should do okay. Last Monday against the Eagles, Colt McCoy got HIS leg jacked up, and so Mark Sanchez, who was last active during a game in the 2016 season, is now the Redskins’ starting quarterback. He will be backed up by Josh Johnson, who almost got drafted by some sort of thing called the Alliance of American Football.

Mitch Trubisky of the Bears is having some sort of nerve problem, which is holding him out of playing right now. Chase Daniel, who could charitably be described as “a’iight,” has started a couple of games, going .500. Not bad. Marcus Mariota of the Titans has been battling nerve injuries all season. His backup is former Jaguars washout Blaine Gabbert. (You can tell the difference.)

Right after Thanksgiving, Andy Dalton of the Bengals got his thumb messed up. Jeff Driskel (did I just hear Florida fans spit out their drinks?) is now the Bengals’ starting quarterback. Matthew Stafford of the Lions has a back injury. If he winds up having to sit out, Matt Cassel will take over.

And of course, as readers of this column know so well, Blake Bortles has been benched due to his general lack of skill throwing the football, with Cody Kessler starting and winning his first Jaguars start. Jameis Winston, formerly the starting scumbag-… er, I mean quarterback of the Bucs, has been benched again for Ryan Fitzpatrick. So it goes.

However, the Ravens traded up to the last pick of the first round of the 2018 NFL Draft this past offseason and selected Lamar Jackson. Joe Flacco went down with an injury. Jackson has come in at quarterback and led the team to three wins in three starts, stopping a three-game losing streak. He has played competently and been worthy of that draft pick.

So why don’t NFL teams spend more relatively high draft picks on quarterbacks? Granted, there are some diamonds in the rough. Tom Brady was a late-round pick. Case Keenum, who almost led the Vikings to the Super Bowl, was undrafted. But multiple teams passed on quarterbacks like Eli Manning, Ben Roethlisberger, and Aaron Rodgers. Now, with the rookie pay scale, it makes even less sense to pass on players of this caliber, especially when they fall into the second round and you have gotten that “big” first round pick you want.

It’s becoming extremely obvious, even as the league becomes more and more quarterback friendly, that you not only need a solid QB to succeed, but also a relatively decent backup as well.

In Jacksonville, I think that they won’t bring in a potential “big name free agent” to be the QB. First, I don’t think they have the money. They won’t be able to count on being able to trade Blake’s contract away at this rate. Additionally, a big name QB will be expensive, and there won’t be as many this coming offseason as there were last season. Flacco will probably be the biggest one.

Also, while some teams may indeed be tanking, I don’t agree with it. Nowadays teams can trade wherever they want in the draft, for the most part. Players aren’t thinking of tanking. They want to win as many games as possible. Josh Scobee, former Jaguars placekicker, confirmed this. If the team somehow wins out, don’t worry, fans. They’ll go where they need to go. Of the teams at the top of the draft order, I’d say that only one will be in need of a new QB, which is Oakland, because Gruden is an idiot who may try to get rid of Derek Carr. Maybe the Giants, maybe Detroit. Anyway, what I’m trying to say is if a team is locked into a player enough, they will do what it takes to get him.

I wouldn’t be mad at either Dwayne Haskins or Will Grier coming to Jacksonville. I am not picking favorites at this time, though.
AARON IT OUT TOP FIVE
1. Rams
2. Chiefs
3. Saints
4. Bears
5. Steelers

PICKS AND PREVIEWS

JAGUARS @ TITANS – Part of me thinks the Jaguars will win, but considering their previous records against the Titans on Thursday nights, including that one game where they wore their Grey Poupon jerseys and were just plain awful, I don’t necessarily expect to see a return to Sacksonville again. Maybe I’m wrong, and the Jaguars could be 5-8 and have hope returning to town, but for now, I can’t pick them. Coming soon, though: the battle of the horrible quarterbacks (Jax vs. Washington in 2 weeks).

JAX 14 TEN 17

PANTHERS @ BROWNS – The Panthers have lost four in a row, including two mystery stinkers against the Lions and the Bucs. Cleveland doesn’t have the best record, but is a team on the rise and is looking to upset a few people along the way. You know what, I’m here to pick the Browns. Why not?

CAR 17 CLE 27

RAVENS @ CHIEFS – This should be a fun game to watch, Lamar vs. Patrick. (Also, the Jaguars fan in me will cry a little, realizing that the Jaguars could have picked both of those players to be their quarterback in the last couple of years.) Will the post-Kareem Chiefs be able to stick it out, or can Lamar lead the Ravens to another improbable victory? KC will probably win, but it will be close.

BAL 24 KC 27

COLTS @ TEXANS – I like the progress of both of these teams. However, Jacksonville exposed a lot of weaknesses last week, and Houston’s got a healthy JJ Watt bouncing around behind its defensive line. If Indy’s o-line gets with it, they can hang in. I think this game will be a clone of their first matchup, with the winner being the last team with the ball.

IND 28 HOU 24

PATRIOTS @ DOLPHINS – Who do you think will win?

NE 42 MIA 0

GIANTS @ REDSKINS – Oh my goodness, who cares? The Redskins suck now. They have lost not one, but two quarterbacks.

NYG 20 WSH 5

SAINTS @ BUCS – The Saints are eager to rebound from their loss to the Cowboys. They’ll do so, and it’ll be a big one.

NO 35 TB 9

FALCONS @ PACKERS – Do yourself a favor, Green Bay and Atlanta fans. Instead of watching this game, go to the Redbox, or go on your favorite on demand video service, and rent Mission Impossible Fallout. It is a far better use of your time than watching these two teams compete for draft position.

ATL 12 GB 15

JETS @ BILLS – Or, you could watch a Christmas movie. There are many great ones. Christmas Vacation and Elf are favorites in our house. There’s also Santa Clause and Christmas With the Kranks, for those of you who can tolerate Tim Allen. Die Hard has lots of action and Professor Snape. Home Alone 1 and 2 provide great slapstick comedy.

NYJ 3 BUF 6

BENGALS @ CHARGERS – While we’re on the subject, when did Frozen become a Christmas movie? Yes, it came out during that time, but Wreck it Ralph 2 came out at Thanksgiving, and that doesn’t make it a Thanksgiving movie. Just because there’s snow and ice, doesn’t make it a Christmas movie. There is no Santa, there are no trees or ornaments or lights, and no death-defying Bruce Willis stunts.

CIN 0 LAC 30

BRONCOS @ 49ERS – One of my current guilty pleasures, as I further my experience in seasonal outdoor illumination, is the Great Christmas Light Fight on ABC. Some people are ridiculous. For example, there were people that live by Disney that have a ton of Disney things. But some people are very innovative, putting a lot of time and effort into their decorations, or doing the decorations for charity. A fun show.

DEN 21 SF 6

EAGLES @ COWBOYS – This is all kind of coming off as a clone of another Thursday NFL preview column, which I promise is not the intention, but I feel bad just doing one-sentence blurbs on games with obvious outcomes. How about the Broncos, by the way? They’re gonna be all right. And hey, the Cowboys are doing a great job of setting themselves up to flame out in the divisional round of the playoffs.

PHI 14 DAL 28

STEELERS @ RAIDERS – Speaking of playoffs, I made homemade cheese dip for the first time last week. It was different, but pretty good! I melted cheese, milk, and butter and seasoned the ever-loving crap out of it. Definitely a step in the right direction and something easier to do than throwing on “go in public” clothes so you can schlep back to Winn-Dixie at 5:45.

PIT 45 OAK 7

LIONS @ CARDINALS – I have to say, though, some of these games just make me sad. Oh, and Matt Stafford’s hurt. Are they trying to explain why he’s bad this year? Has he been hurt his whole career?

DET 9 ARI 12

RAMS @ BEARS – Oh, look, an actual game featuring teams that people might actually watch. Very nice of them to schedule one of these. If the Bears can get to Goff, look out! They have the defense where it may be possible.

LAR 28 CHI 27

VIKINGS @ SEAHAWKS – So are, like, the Seahawks good? Will they make the playoffs? I don’t know. They definitely aren’t winning the west, they have already been spanked twice by the Rams, but okay. Sure. They face two tough games out of their last four, this being one of them. Minnesota will probably win this, because I like their defense.

MIN 24 SEA 19

Aaron It Out: Week 13: Goodnight, Sweet BOAT

Goodnight, sweet BOAT.

You were fun to watch, even if you were frustrating, which couldn’t be said for the Jaguars’ previous first-round quarterback misstep. You made beautiful throws, until you didn’t. You sometimes made mistakes, but you bounced back, until you didn’t. You weren’t rattled by what the haters said. You got cursed out by your wide receiver in the preseason and then helped your team get to the AFC Championship game.

Unfortunately, my sweet, sweet BOAT, you really suck now. I know you won’t care, but your windup has gotten worse as the year went on, your throws have gotten wobblier, and the team doesn’t trust you anymore. You will begin riding the bench officially on Sunday, and you will most likely be traded to someone with the cap space to allow you to be a backup, like Oakland or Cleveland. Good luck, BOAT, in your new role as clipboard holder.

So, you know by now that the Jaguars removed Blake Bortles from the starting quarterback job and also fired offensive coordinator Nate Hackett, partially because they are both not good but mostly because the Jaguars didn’t trust Blake anymore and he was getting worse. He threw for a comically small amount and just straight-up missed his receivers in some cases against the Bills last week. As far as the Hackett firing, there needs to be a scapegoat and he was it, for now.

What’s going to be the solution moving forward? At the least, I think Todd Wash is also gone at the end of the season. I’m not sure why he hasn’t been let go now; they have someone else with DC experience on the staff in Perry Fewell but that’s just me. Will Doug Marrone stick around? Maybe, I’m not sure. General Manager Dave Caldwell NEEDS to be let go. He was responsible for drafting Bortles and has missed way more than he hit. If I were Shad Khan, I would back up the money truck to bring in Kliff Kingsbury, but he probably has been promised jobs already. We will see what happens, but at least the Jaguars will be in good position to draft a quarterback, I guess.

Quickly around the league, the Ravens are surprising everyone being 3-0 with Lamar Jackson as their starter and in position to challenge for the 7th playoff seed… the Colts are now on a 5-game winning streak, going in to play a beatable Jags team and the only hiccup I see on their schedule the rest of the season is their game against the Texans… the Saints continue to roll… look out for the Bears, who held their own against a bad Lions team but are still working with a backup quarterback.

AARON IT OUT TOP FIVE
1. Saints
2. Rams
3. Chiefs
4. Colts
5. Texans

PICKS AND PREVIEWS

SAINTS @ COWBOYS – This has quickly become a test for both teams, as Dallas looks to put themselves in position to win the NFC East and New Orleans wants to keep their hold on the number one seed and a first-round bye. Hopefully this will not devolve into a blowout. I think it will be a close game.

NO 27 DAL 21

BEARS @ GIANTS – Speaking of blowouts…

CHI 28 NYG 7

CARDINALS @ PACKERS – The Packers are Not Good this year but at least they’re not awful, which is what the Cardinals are.

ARI 10 GB 20

COLTS @ JAGUARS – You can put lipstick on a pig but it’ll still wind up as bacon. The Colts are on a streak. The Colts are the 2017 Jaguars in 2018. Frank Reich is coaching right and Andrew Luck is the comeback player of the year.

IND 21 JAX 17

BROWNS @ TEXANS – This will be a hard-fought game; the Browns seem to be tailoring things to the strengths of Baker Mayfield and are riding a wave of success even if their record doesn’t reflect it. The Texans appear to be dominating, far from their mediocrity of last year.

CLE 20 HOU 21

PANTHERS @ BUCS – This is obvious.

CAR 27 TB 7

BILLS @ DOLPHINS – Slightly less obvious, but both of these teams stink.

BUF 17 MIA 20

BRONCOS @ BENGALS – The Bengals are faltering, the Broncos are rallying.

DEN 28 CIN 17

RAVENS @ FALCONS – One of these birds is flying high, the other has crashed and has a few broken wings.

BAL 35 ATL 20

RAMS @ LIONS – There is no way the Lions will be able to stop the Rams.

LAR 28 DET 17

CHIEFS @ RAIDERS – Oakland should just forfeit this.

KC 42 OAK 9

JETS @ TITANS – Two teams in freefall; one is falling a little further.

NYJ 10 TEN 17

VIKINGS @ PATRIOTS – I think the Vikings upset the Pats.

MIN 27 NE 17

NINERS @ SEAHAWKS – The Seahawks will win big-time.

SF 6 SEA 30

CHARGERS @ STEELERS – This is a fun matchup and I think it will go all the way up to the end. I think the Chargers will take this, though.

LAC 28 PIT 24

REDSKINS @ EAGLES – The Redskins may be hurting, but the Eagles look worse.

WAS 17 PHI 10

Aaron It Out: Week 12: Let’s Eat the Jags’ Troubles Away

The Jaguars’ season is kaput, done, no more. They had a little bit of hope as they went into the Steelers game, and as I went outside to put copious amounts of Christmas lights in my front yard, I had a good feeling. However, despite grand efforts by the Jags’ defense and Leonard Fournette, Blake Bortles looked awful again (surprise!) and the team was hampered by stupid coaching decisions. The sad part is, it’s sounding more and more like this season will be blamed on injuries, not “Blake sucks,” which he does, and not on “we should actually draft a competent wide receiver,” and “we should not bring in free agent linemen that take a vacation.” As a Jaguars fan, that really stinks. Maybe changes will be made at the end of the year. Dave Caldwell should go, and take Blake with him. Anyway, I talked a little about the AFC playoff picture last week, and even though the Jaguars are not mathematically eliminated, they are pretty much out of the picture.

Jacksonville will win maybe two more games (I’m thinking the ones against Washington and Miami). But that’s besides the point – Houston and Indianapolis are both hot; the East looks like garbage other than New England; the North looks like garbage other than Pittsburgh; and Kansas City and Los Angeles are the only teams in the West with a playoff prayer. The first three seeds will be some form of KC/LA, Pittsburgh, and New England. The fourth seed will be whoever wins the division between the Texans and Colts. The fifth seed will be whoever in the West doesn’t win the division, and the sixth will be whoever in the South doesn’t win the division.

We talk a lot about the Steelers and their win streak, but the Colts are low-key looking like a hot team in the league. They are sitting on a four-game win streak and Andrew Luck hasn’t been sacked in like five weeks. They are putting up at least 24 points a game since week 4 and have put up at least 29 points a game in their last four games. They are “only 5-5” but they have four very winnable games coming up against the Dolphins, Jaguars, Cowboys, and Giants, with games against the Texans and Titans as well. I see them being a sneaky-good team in the playoffs.

AARON IT OUT TOP FIVE
1. Rams
2. Saints
3. Chiefs
4. Steelers
5. Colts

PICKS AND PREDICTIONS

BEARS @ LIONS – One of these teams looks like a fun, gritty playoff upset contender, and the other looks like the same sad old Lions. As I recover from eating copious amounts of food Thursday, I will note especially how former Jaguar Allen Robinson will be burning the Lions’ secondary multiple times.

CHI 24 DET 12

REDSKINS @ COWBOYS – It really sucks that Alex Smith is hurt, but Colt McCoy is a pretty good QB and doesn’t make them automatically awful. The Cowboys got a good win against a Falcons team that doesn’t know what it is other than bad, and should be heading into this week on a positive note. I think Washington “wins one for Smith” here.

WSH 28 DAL 24

FALCONS @ SAINTS – The Saints will demolish the Falcons. RIP Matt Ryan’s season. RIP Julio. Goodnight, sweet HAWT-lanta. The Saints are one of the best teams in football; the Falcons are the Jaguars of the NFC.

ATL 10 NO 52

GIANTS @ EAGLES – This game is less notable for being Eli vs. Carson, and more like blah vs. blah.

NYG 5 PHI 9

JAGUARS @ BILLS – The Bills are capable of being surprisingly good, except for when they’re bad. The Jaguars are just surprisingly bad. Now that the fog of optimism has cleared my brain, I don’t think the Jags can hang with the Bills.

JAX 17 BUF 21

SEAHAWKS @ PANTHERS – The Seahawks are on a bit of a comeback but the Panthers are on more of one; Carolina is looking to prove that they can still hang with the Saints and Rams in the NFC. They’ll make a statement here.

SEA 17 CAR 30

RAIDERS @ RAVENS – Lamar Jackson looks like a good starting NFL QB! Good job, Baltimore, says the Jaguars fan whose team could have drafted that player. Oakland stinks.

OAK 12 BAL 21

NINERS @ BUCS – Nah, I’m good.

SF 5 TB 9

BROWNS @ BENGALS – Yuck.

CLE 21 CIN 15

PATRIOTS @ JETS – Who’s gonna watch this? New England in a landslide.

NE 49 NYJ 3

CARDINALS @ CHARGERS – This is what we’re calling late-season NFL games now?

ARI 7 LAC 35

STEELERS @ BRONCOS – Because some of these games have the potential to be good, but only in an upset fashion.

PIT 38 DEN 21

DOLPHINS @ COLTS – And I would rather take a leftover turkey induced nap.

MIA 16 IND 24

PACKERS @ VIKINGS – The Packers are broken. Will McCarthy stick around? I don’t know. But his game management is questionable at best. The Vikings need a bounce-back win.

GB 20 MIN 24

TITANS @ TEXANS – Tennessee is regressing, and unfortunately Mariota is injured again. Houston is rolling to the division crown. The outcome of this game should be obvious, but the game should be good anyway.

TEN 18 HOU 24

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