Football. Is. Back. Just two days out from the 2020 season opener, expert Warren Sharp joined today's Pardon My Take to preview a year unlike any other, what it will be like with no preseason, betting tips, and more. But there is one thing people love, no matter what. And that is PREDICTIONS! Sharp delivered a few on today's show, so let's break up how that went down:
AFC dark horse - Indianapolis Colts
Sharp: It was actually the Indianapolis Colts [who were the No. 2 seed at the midway point of last season. Even though they were led by Jacoby Brissett, they were 6-2. They had beaten the Kansas City Chiefs in KC, went in and beat the Texans, and the Titans earlier on in that season. This is a team over their last nine games of the 2019 season, they led at half time or entering the fourth quarter in seven of those nine games, but they only won two.
NFC dark horse - Dallas Cowboys
Sharp: I think the Dallas Cowboys offense is going to be significantly better than a lot of people think. But here's the interesting thing, guys, that nobody's talking about yet. And I'm interested to see if we start to see it, Week 1, Sunday Night Football. I cannot wait for this game out in L.A. against the Rams. But the prior coach obviously influenced a lot of things, he didn't call all the plays, but he influenced a lot of that offense. And Jason Garrett had the Dallas Cowboys, Dak's been in the NFL for four years now. They were the number four most run heavy teams on early downs in the first half of games. They ran the ball a ton. We knew this a couple of years ago. They got a little bit better, but they were still top 10 in rush rate the past couple of years even with Dak Prescott there. I think that the new coach, Mike McCarthy, is going to instill a lot more aggressive nature and a lot more passing to this offense.
Bonus: NFC dark horse team that everyone's talking about that he's not going to talk about because everyone is already talking about them - Arizona Cardinals
AFC team "falling off a little bit" - Denver Broncos
I think the Denver Broncos, they're an exciting team. A lot of people are big on on Drew Lock. And so this is not a team that I think is going to necessarily regress, but I think won't live up to expectations more so. Drew Lock, everybody talks about how he went 4-1 down the stretch and won all these games late in the year, those are good things going for them. But they played some of the worst pass defenses in the NFL during that stretch. Looking at some of the advanced analytics, he was not good throwing the ball deeper down the field. Anything about 15 yards depth to target, was very inaccurate on. And he's got a bunch of wide receivers, Elway did a good job of bringing in some good stud wide receivers, he's got a lot of receiving threats there. But I just don't know if I have confidence in his new offensive coordinator and his ability to have a really good season all the way through.
NFC team "falling off a little bit" - Minnesota Vikings
Sharp: Minnesota finished top 10 in injury luck, fumble recovery luck, field goal luck. Are the teams you are going up against making or missing their field goals? Because there's a certain rate that you're supposed to make on a 45-yard field goal, and if you face a bunch of teams that just happened to hit well above that rate, then you're just getting unlucky from the field goal luck perspective. A lot of moving pieces on that defense, a lot of new players that are coming in there. And I think that's very difficult. Minnesota went out and spent a lot on draft capital this season. I think they drafted 12 players, a ton of new rookies to come in the door. Just a bad year to have to incorporate a lot of rookies and expect much out of them, given the lack of an off season. And then you lose Diggs, who's one of your biggest playmaking threats offensively. So I think this is a team that probably regresses a little bit in the NFC.
AFC Title Game - Chiefs vs. Ravens
NFC Title Game - Cowboys vs. Seahawks
Super Bowl: Ravens vs. Seahawks
Two. More. Days.