Four most overrated NFL teams, plus Rams unveil new uniforms and sack record unofficially changes hands

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I’m not sure who in the Rams organization is in charge of deciding when the team makes its uniform announcements, but whoever that person is, please give them a raise. A gigantic raise. Like, big enough raise that they’ll be able to afford to live next to Oprah. 

The reason for this is because the Rams unveiled new uniforms on Tuesday and let me just say, I love July uniform announcements. For the past few years, teams have announced new uniforms in April and although I understand why — they want to get the new uniforms out before the draft so all of their draft picks can model the new look — the announcement ends up getting buried under all the other news going on in April. However, when you announce a new uniform in July, you get headlines everywhere, INCLUDING IN THIS NEWSLETTER. 

With that in mind, I propose that all announcements regarding new uniforms are made in July from now on. Also, in case you haven’t figured it out, we’ll be talking about the Rams’ new uniform today. Alright, let’s get to the rundown. 

As always, here’s your weekly reminder to tell all your friends to sign up for the newsletter. To sign up, all you have to do is click here and then share the link. 

1. Today’s show: Predicting the MVP for three different AFC teams in 2021 

The NFL only hands out one MVP award every year, but that doesn’t mean we can’t hand out a few more MVPs, so that’s exactly what we did for Tuesday’s episode of the Pick Six Podcast. This show featured Will Brinson, Ryan Wilson AND ME and the premise was simple: We each picked out one player who we think will be the MVP for their team this year. There was only one rule: We had to pick a player from an AFC team (We’ll be covering the NFC tomorrow). 

Here’s what we came up with and if you do not agree with Brinson’s, please let him know on Twitter

  • Wilson: Baker Mayfield (Browns). Mayfield proved last year that he can be a good quarterback and if he can make the jump to great this year, the Browns could be a Super Bowl contender. To give you an idea of how much Mayfield means to the team, just consider this: The Browns went 2-5 last season when he completed under 60% of his passes, but 9-0 when he completed 60% or more. 
  • Breech: Julio Jones (Titans). I don’t think Julio will necessarily be the best offensive player on this team, but I think he could be the most valuable player. The Titans offense dealt with more eight-in-the-box looks last season than any other team in the NFL, which means opposing defenses were only interested in one thing: Stopping the run. With Jones now in Tennessee, he’ll likely be facing man-to-man coverage if teams continue to do that, which means Julio could have a big year. On the other hand, if teams drop more defenders into coverage to stop Jones, that should open up some monstrous running lanes for Derrick Henry. That’s a win-win situation. 
  • Brinson: Austin Ekeler (Chargers). Brinson is on the Chargers bandwagon and a big reason he’s on it is because of Ekeler. Does it make sense? Kind of. If Justin Herbert is going to avoid a sophomore slump, Brinson believes that the Chargers quarterback is going to have to make sure to utilize Ekeler as often as possible. If Herbert has a big year, the Chargers should be a playoff team and the thought process here is that Herbert WILL have a big year as long as Ekeler is in the backfield. 

To listen to today’s entire conversation — and to follow the podcast — be sure to click here. Although we only named an MVP for three different AFC teams, you can see our list of one MVP for all 16 teams by clicking here. 

Also, in news that you might not believe, we’ve been nominated in The People’s Choice Podcast Awards for the ‘Best Sports Podcast’ and YOU CAN HELP US WIN THE AWARD by clicking here and voting for us (You have to open a podcast awards account to vote, but it’s free and easy). I’m not going to beg for votes. OK, I’m going to beg for votes: Please vote for us!

2. NFL single-season sack record just unofficially changed hands

The most controversial single-season record in the NFL is probably the sack record, which is held by Michael Strahan (22.5). For one, many people feel that Brett Favre took a dive back in 2001 to help Strahan set the record by just 0.5 sacks over former record-holder Mark Gastineau. Also, the NFL has only been recording sacks as an official statistic since 1982, so players before that year haven’t been considered for the sack record. 

The guys over at Pro Football Reference decided to fix that second problem and by doing so, they also fixed the first problem. For the past few years, PFR has been meticulously going through old game footage and newspaper accounts to get an accurate count of the number of sacks that players had before 1982. 

What they found is rather amazing: 

  • Al Baker is your new unofficial single-season sack champion. According to PFR’s numbers, the former Lions defensive end set an NFL record with 23 sacks during his ROOKIE season in 1978. 
  • Deacon Jones now has three of the top nine single-season sack performances of all-time. Jones racked up 21.5 or more sacks a total of three times in his career, making him the only player in NFL history who has done that multiple times (no one has even done it twice). The crazy part is that all three of Jones’ big sacks seasons came when the NFL was playing just 14 games. According to the new numbers, Jones registered 173.5 sacks in his career, which would be the third most of all-time if the NFL recognized it. Jones played for the Rams, Chargers and Washington during a 14-year career. 
  • Two Hall of Famers crack the top 10 list for most career sacks. Thanks to the new numbers, former Rams star Jack Youngblood has now been credited with 151.5 sacks while Alan Page — who played on the famed Purple People Eater’s defense in Minnesota — has been credited with 148.5 sacks. According to the PFR numbers, Youngblood has the sixth-most sacks of all-time while Page has the eighth-most. 

To find out how PFR pulled this off and which players benefitted the most, you’re going to want to click here. 

3. Most overrated teams in the NFL

 

Last week, we covered some of the most underrated teams in the NFL heading into the 2021 season, so this week, it only makes sense that we cover some of the most overrated teams. 

If you’re wondering what makes a team overrated, that’s a fantastic question and I’m going to let our Tyler Sullivan answer that since he put this list together. Basically, Sullivan looked at the over/under totals for the season along with each team’s Super Bowl odds to find out which teams are being overrated. 

After crunching all the numbers, Sullivan came up with four teams: 

  • Broncos: “They are tied for the sixth-best odds to win the title this year and that’s solely dependent upon whether they are able to acquire reigning NFL MVP Aaron Rodgers as he continues to squabble with the Packers. While it does appear that Rodgers is firm in his desire to be traded out of Green Bay and Denver has continued to be looked at as the favorite to land him, that’s a pretty big if and not something I’d be willing to throw some cash at when looking at a future bet to win the Super Bowl.”
  • Patriots: “New England made a ton of headlines this offseason thanks largely in part due to its free agent spending spree. That has some projecting that the Patriots will be able to bounce back quite nicely from their under-.500 campaign in 2020. While all of those players are talented and much-needed additions for a Patriots squad that was lacking top-tier talent a season ago, when is the last time the team that broke the bank in free agency turned around and actually won the Super Bowl or even came close?”
  • 49ers: If everything goes right for the 49ers in 2021, they could easily win the Super Bowl. That said, when does every piece perfectly falling into place happen for any NFL team? The Niners are currently tied for the fourth-best odds to win Super Bowl LVI and are tied for the second-best odds to win the NFC. While there is plenty of talent to like on this roster, there are some rather large questions, you know, like who’s going to play quarterback.”
  • Rams: “The Rams are one of the sexy picks to win the Super Bowl this year and for good reason. They upgraded at quarterback after making the blockbuster trade for Matthew Stafford that sent Jared Goff back to Detroit. This change creates a much higher ceiling for Los Angeles, albeit possibly shortening its championship window. While I do love that trade and overall like what the team did this offseason, I do have some pause about how highly they’re being talked about. I think Tom Brady’s immediate success in his first year with the Buccaneers has clouded fans’ minds about how difficult it can be to switch teams and instantly contend.”

Sullivan is clearly mocking me by including the Rams on this list, because right now, I’m 73% sure that I’m going to pick them to win the Super Bowl. 

Anyway, if you want a more detailed explanation for why each of team ended up on the overrated list, then you’re going to want to click here so you can read Sullivan’s entire story. 

4. Rams unveil new throwback uniform

Although the Rams made our overrated list, these uniforms definitely aren’t overrated. The team released a white “modern throwback” uniform that they’ll be wearing for three games this year (The Rams were the only team in the NFL that didn’t have a white uniform last year and that’s because they wore a “bone” colored uniform instead. You can see the difference between the two jerseys by clicking here). 

As for the new whites, here’s the description of the uniform from the Rams’ website: The new uniforms are “Inspired by one of the classic Rams uniforms beloved by generations of fans, the new look pays homage to the jersey worn by Hall of Famers Jack Youngblood and Jackie Slater when they led the Rams to a Super Bowl appearance at the Rose Bowl in 1980, by Hall of Fame RB Eric Dickerson during his historic 1984 season, and by the record-setting offense known as the “Greatest Show on Turf” in 1999 when the Rams won Super Bowl XXXIV.”

Basically, the Rams have always been successful in these uniforms so I think I’m not 76% sure I’m picking them to win the Super Bowl instead of 73%. 

The Rams will wear these uniforms in three different primetime games: 

Week 1: vs. Bears (Sunday night)
Week 9: vs. Titans (Sunday night)
Week 10: at 49ers (Monday night)

To check out a full picture of the new uniforms, be sure to click here. When the Rams unveiled their new uniforms last year, they also announced that they would be releasing a new uniform in both 2021 and 2022, so it looks like they’ll be releasing at least one more new jersey at some point next year.

5. Top defensive players under the age of 25

Once you hit age 25 in the NFL, you’re basically over the hill, which is why we decided to rank the top players in the league under the age of 25. OK, so you’re probably not over the hill quite yet, but it is interesting to see all the up-and-coming stars in the NFL who haven’t hit 25 yet. 

This ranking, which was put together by Tyler Sullivan, only has two rules: Rookies aren’t on the list and to qualify, a player can’t turn 25 before the start of the 2021 season (Any player who is 24 or younger on Sept. 9 qualifies). 

Top defensive players under the age of 25

EDGE: Chase Young, Washington
EDGE: Nick Bosa, 49ers
IDL: Quinnen Williams, Jets
IDL: Jeffrey Simmons, Titans
LB: Fred Warner, 49ers
LB: Devin White, Buccaneers
LB: Roquan Smith, Bears
CB: Jaire Alexander, Packers
CB: Denzel Ward, Browns
S: Minkah Fitzpatrick, Steelers
S: Jessie Bates, Bengals

The 49ers were the only team that had multiple players on the list. Sullivan also made a second team which featured two players from the Buccaneers. You can check out the entire list by clicking here.  

6. Rapid-fire roundup

It’s been a busy 24 hours in the NFL and since it’s nearly impossible to keep track of everything that happened, I went ahead and put together a roundup for you. 

  • NFL suffers setback in court. The NFL is currently being sued by the city of St. Louis over the Rams’ decision to move to Los Angeles and things aren’t going so well for the NFL right now. During a court session on Monday, the judge ordered a discovery of finances for Roger Goodell and four NFL owners (Stan Kroenke, Cowboys owner Jerry Jones, Patriots owner Robert Kraft, Giants owner John Mara). This basically means St. Louis will presumably have full access to each of their financial records, which is kind of crazy, because NFL owners are notoriously secretive about their financials. The best way to prevent this from happening would be a settlement, which is something the NFL is probably seriously considering at this point. 
  • Peyton Manning gives his take on the Aaron Rodgers situation. Manning is still dialed into the front office in Denver and after watching how things have played out with Aaron Rodgers over the past couple of months, the former Broncos QB doesn’t think Rodgers is going to end up in the Mile High City: “My gut is he’s not coming to Denver. My gut is Denver’s gonna have Drew Lock or Teddy Bridgewater be their quarterback. At this point, you gotta kinda know what your plan is. You can’t be having a new quarterback three weeks before the season.”
  • Long-time NFL assistant coach Alex Gibbs passes away. The 80-year-old Gibbs passed away on Monday due to complications from a stroke. Gibbs spent 27 years as an NFL assistant with his best work coming in Denver (1995 thru 2003), where he won two Super Bowls for the Broncos as their offensive line coach. He also coached for the Raiders, Chargers, Colts, Chiefs, Falcons, Texans and Seahawks during his nearly three decades in the league. 
  • Anthony Barr thinks Vikings can win a Super Bowl. No one is more optimistic this year about the Vikings than Anthony Barr. The veteran linebacker thinks this could be the year that the Vikings win their first Super Bowl ever. “I really do believe that we have a Super Bowl-winning team this year,” Barr said on KMSP. “Obviously there’s a lot of steps to get to that point, and I’ve been through good seasons and bad seasons with this team. But every time we’ve had a tough year, we’ve always bounced back. I really feel like this year is going to be special.” The only person besides Barr who thinks the Vikings might win the Super Bowl is our NFL editor here, Joel Magaraci. I think the Vikings could be good this year, but not “win the Super Bowl” good.



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