Why the Bills — yes, the Bills! — are a stealth playoff contender

Overlooking the Bills is usually easy. As one of American professional sports’ smallest markets, Buffalo has struggled to receive national media attention in the post-Doug Flutie years. In 15 of the past 17 seasons, the Bills have won from six to nine games, cementing their off-the-grid status.

Even Buffalo’s flashy quarterback maneuver last year came in a season when four other teams made major investments in rookie passers. With Lamar Jackson piloting a Ravens division title, Baker Mayfield mounting an offensive rookie of the year pursuit in Cleveland, the Jets’ market producing frequent attention and Josh Rosen spending this off-season in several NFL news cycles, Josh Allen is by far the least discussed member of 2018’s five-QB first round.

A post-draft Super Bowl odds list slotted the Bills in the John Mellencamp Oscar likelihood realm – the 10,000-to-1 figure better than only two franchises’ May outlooks – and only three AFC teams have worse playoff odds entering OTAs. Given the many high-profile off-season moves elsewhere and the Bills’ 21st-century M.O., this makes sense.

But the Bills won six games with a woefully understaffed offense last season. Football Outsiders graded Buffalo’s 2018 offense as the third-worst DVOA attack of the past five years –- better than only the 2018 Cardinals and 2016 Rams.

Considering the free agency and draft capital the Bills allocated to repairing their offense, and Ed Oliver joining a defense that finished second in yards allowed and DVOA last season, the Bills look like a 2019 deep sleeper.

Skepticism is obviously appropriate. The Bills beat no playoff teams in 2018 and finished with a minus-105 point differential. But they went 5-5 in contests in which Allen played throughout.

Although Allen outperformed Rosen, Jackson and Sam Darnold in Total QBR (52.2, 24th – one spot behind Mayfield), the project passer completed just 53 percent of his throws and was inconsistent as a rookie. How could he not be? Equipped with one of the worst receiving corps in the NFL and a bottom-tier offensive line, Allen cannot be properly evaluated yet. That will be easier to do this season.

The John Brown and Cole Beasley arrivals did not move the needle like Antonio Brown and Tyrell Williams did in Oakland, but they give the Bills competence at wide receiver and bring complementary skill sets. Adding a reliable slot target and deep threat, along with mid-level tight end investments in Tyler Kroft and third-rounder Dawson Knox, will be critical to Allen’s development.

Three of Allen’s top four targets last season were either undrafted (Robert Foster and Jason Croom) or currently unemployed (Kelvin Benjamin).

John Brown is an injury risk but played 16 games last season. The Ravens’ switch to Jackson harpooned Brown’s effectiveness. On pace for more than 1,100 receiving yards after nine games, the speed merchant went from 66.8 yards per game with Joe Flacco to 16.2 with Jackson. Brown will make Allen’s deep-ball affinity more fun than it was last year.

Brown, Beasley, Foster and Zay Jones represent a more reasonable aerial crew for Allen. Buffalo’s new offensive line will help, too.

The Bills led the NFL in rushing by a substantial margin in 2016; their offensive line deteriorated into one of the league’s worst by the end of last season. After deploying Pro Football Focus’ No. 26-rated line, the Bills signed six offensive linemen and drafted Cody Ford in Round 2. Ford compiled quality marks as a run- and pass-blocking right tackle at Oklahoma last season and should be a Week 1 starter at right tackle or right guard. Placing him next to new center Mitch Morse would allow dependable ex-Washington swing tackle Ty Nsekhe into the lineup over a trending-down Spencer Long.

By: Sam Robinson

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Top takeaways from first round of 2019 NFL Draft

The first round of the 2019 NFL Draft offered us a ton of surprises. Did the New York Giants really take Daniel Jones with the sixth pick? Their division rivals in the NFC East, the Washington Redskins, seemed to hit a home run with fellow quarterback Dwayne Haskins at the midway point of Round 1.

Meanwhile, the Buffalo Bills and Oakland Raiders went in different directions along the defensive line — one getting a true stud and the other reaching big time.

It seems like Arizona Cardinals general manager Steve Keim admitted his mistake from a year ago by taking Kyler Murray at No. 1. And remaining in the NFC West, the San Francisco 49ers added the draft’s best player.

These are among the top takeaways from the first round of the 2019 NFL Draft.

Matt Patricia turning Lions into Patriots 2.0 

We’re not going to sit back and say this is a bad thing. It isn’t. After signing former Patriots defensive end Trey Flowers to a massive contract last month, Patricia and the Lions went back to the well again on Thursday. The former Patriots assistant selected Iowa tight end T.J. Hockenson with the No. 8 overall pick in the draft. Hockenson was the consensus No. 1 tight end in the draft and is seen as a freak of nature.

It’s rather clear that Detroit is trying to provide Matthew Stafford with the same type of weapons we’ve seen Tom Brady excel with in New England. In this case, it’s almost a carbon copy of Rob Gronkowksi. It should do wonders for Stafford and Co.

Raiders’ drama seemed to be real 

Jon Gruden and Co. were apparently looking to move up for either defensive tackle Quinnen Williams or edge-rusher Nick Bosa. The target area was the San Francisco 49ers at No. 2 overall. Instead, Oakland stood pat with the fourth pick and selected Clemson edge-rusher Clelin Ferrell.

While seen as a first-round prospect, Ferrell was nowhere near projected to go within the top 10, let alone the top five. In fact, Oakland selected him over fellow pass-rusher Josh Allen. It was a major reach at an area in the draft that teams must avoid reaches. It also lends credence to the idea that predraft drama in Oakland’s war room was real. Oakland then went running back Josh Jacobs with the second of its first-round picks before adding safety Johnathan Abram to close out Day 1. All three of these picks were reaches.

Bills get a real steal in Ed Oliver 

After seeing Oakland reach with Ferrell and the New York Giants come out of left field with their selection of Daniel Jones, Buffalo was able to add an elite player at a need position. A dominant figure at Houston, Oliver came under scrutiny leading up the draft. In no way does this mean the defensive tackle isn’t an elite-level talent.

It really seems that teams analyzed Oliver’s game too much. He proved to be overwhelming for college competition. He could be an instant Pro Bowl performer. After rumors persisted that Buffalo might move into the top three for fellow defensive tackle Quinnen Williams, the team added a value pick a nine.

Washington quiets critics for now 

It was being reported in the lead-up to the draft that Washington was potentially looking to trade up for Daniel Jones. In fact, there seemed to be some disagreement between members of the front office. Had owner Daniel Snyder taken over the big board? Apparently not. Standing pat at 15 overall, Washington was able to land the consensus No. 2 quarterback in the draft in the form of Ohio State’s Dwayne Haskins.

This represents a major coup for Washington, especially given the injury issues this team is facing in the quarterback room. The Skins didn’t have to move up for Haskins. Instead, they saw him fall right on to their lap. That’s just great for a much-maligned front office.

49ers building a bully 

Most fans in Northern California were pleading for general manager John Lynch and Co. not to overthink this. Selecting No. 2 overall, San Francisco was in position to land the draft’s best overall player. Once the Cardinals picked Kyler Murray at one, this became a reality.

In the end, these 49ers nabbed Ohio State edge-rusher Nick Bosa to team up with recently acquired Pro Bowler Dee Ford on the outside. Add in another Pro Bowler in that of DeForest Buckner at defensive tackle, and this front seven is absolutely stacked. That’s a good thing with Murray, Russell Wilson and Jared Goff in the NFC West.

Panthers ignore glaring offensive tackle need

Florida State edge-rusher Brian Burns could very well be a dynamo at the next level. In no way does this mean that continuing to ignore pass protection in front of often-hobbled former NFL MVP Cam Newton is a recipe for success.

Alabama’s Jonah Williams was off the board when Carolina selected 16th overall. Even then, two other offensive tackles were selected almost immediately after the Panthers’ pick. It just make no real sense for Carolina to continue ignoring pass protection in front of Newton. It’s that simple.

We’re not sure what the Giants are doing

New York wasn’t interested in drafting a quarterback until it was. David Gettleman and Co. didn’t show much confidence in Haskins or Murray before meeting with them. In the end, these Giants made the most eye-opening move of the first round in selecting Duke’s quarterback Daniel Jones No. 6 overall.

It even led to Haskins laughing in the green room. Jones is seen as a major project and likely won’t be ready to start for two more seasons. Then with the 17th pick — acquired in the Odell Beckham Jr. trade — New York went defensive tackle in the form of Dexter Lawrence. That’s one way to get help for Jones and reigning NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year Saquon Barkley on offense. Ouch!

Some curious moves from the Packers

Former Michigan standout pass-rusher Rashan Gary didn’t seem to be need for Green Bay after the team added edge-rushers Za’Darius Smith and Preston Smith in free agency. Add in injury concerns to Gary, and it was a surprise at No. 12 overall.

With their second pick of Day 1 — acquired in a trade with the Saints last year — the Packers picked up a fast-rising safety in the form of Darnell Savage. This was also a curious move from general manager Brian Gutekunst and Co. It’s obviously too early to draw conclusions here. But the Packers went with two boom-or-bust prospects.

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The Best & Worst Quarterback in Each NFL Team’s History

Best: Arizona Cardinals – Jim Hart

The Arizona Cardinals franchise has been around for almost an entire century, at least in some capacity. But over that time, the team has had only six quarterbacks ever selected to the Pro Bowl, and only one of them who was selected to the NFL’s All-Star game more than twice.

That would be Jim Hart, who was the team’s full-time starter between 1967 through 1981. Hart threw 209 touchdowns in that span, which is over 70 touchdown passes more than any other quarterback in franchise history.

Worst: Arizona Cardinals – Ryan Lindley

Fans of the Arizona Cardinals have probably blocked out as much of the Ryan Lindley experience from their collective minds as possible. In his first season in Arizona, Lindley finished the year with a 46.7 passer rating, having thrown seven interceptions and no touchdowns.

After entering the NFL in 2012, Lindley didn’t throw his first official touchdown pass until 2014, when he rejoined the Cardinals after a one-year stint on the practice squad of the San Diego Chargers. In four seasons of professional football, including one season in the Canadian Football League, Lindley threw 4 touchdowns and 14 interceptions.

Best: Atlanta Falcons – Matt Ryan

The Atlanta Falcons have had a few good-to-very good quarterbacks since the start of the 1990’s, ranging from guys like Chris Miller (a former Pro Bowl selection) to Michael Vick (once the most exciting player in the NFL). But none of those guys could hold a candle to what Matt Ryan has done for the Falcons’ franchise.

Worst: Atlanta Falcons – Randy Johnson

Long before a near-7-foot baseball pitcher made the name famous, Randy Johnson was a starting quarterback for the Atlanta Falcons back in the late 1960’s…. And he was a terrible one to boot.

After winning only three games in his rookie year in 1966 (out of 11 starts), he actually managed to win even less games the following four years in Atlanta, winning a grand total of 5 times in 26 starts in the ensuing four years he was the starter.

Best: Baltimore Ravens – Joe Flacco

Even though the Baltimore Ravens were really the reincarnation of the relocated Cleveland Browns, since the Browns were awarded a new franchise with the same name, we’re treating the Ravens as a separate franchise in and of its own.

Given that the Ravens haven’t really had an illustrious history at the quarterback position, it’s hard to give this designation to anyone other than Joe Flacco.

Flacco is the only quarterback in team history to play in more than 53 games for the franchise, and no other quarterback in team history has come close to his total career touchdown passes, passing yards, and total wins as a starter.

Worst: Baltimore Ravens – Elvis Grbac

A year after the Baltimore Ravens dumped quarterback Trent Dilfer after taking the team to the Super Bowl, they qualified for the postseason once again with Elvis Grbac under center. Prior to that, Grbac had spent four season nas the starter for the Kansas City Chiefs, where he never won more than nine games as a starter.

Grback and the Ravens defeated the Miami Dolphins by a 20-3 score in the Wild Card roung of the playoffs, before losing to the Pittsburgh Steelers the following week. The Ravens released Grbac in a salary cap move after he refused to renegotiate his contract, and Grbac retired after being released.

Best: Buffalo Bills – Jim Kelly

Jim Kelly might be tied for third place in most Super Bowl appearances by an NFL quarterback, and he might be one of only seven quarterbacks in NFL history to make it to the Super Bowl four times, but no quarterback in the history of the game has led his team to the Super Bowl four straight years. None, that is, except Jim Kelly.

The maestro of the Buffalo Bills’ “K-Gun” offense terrorized opposing defenses from 1989 and 1992, perennially leading the Bills to the highest offensive ranks each year. He finished his career with over 35,000 passing yards, currently sitting in 25th place all time. But for all those Super Bowl appearances and all those passing yards, Kelly will never have a ring to show for them.

Worst: Buffalo Bills – Alex Van Pelt

Despite the fact that Alex Van Pelt left the University of Pittsburgh having broken many records established by some guy named Dan Marino, Alex Van Pelt started his career as a backup quarterback, but took over as the starter of the Buffalo Bills in 1994 after Jim Kelly would suffer a major knee injury.

But that would be one of the only times that Van Pelt actually started; in nine years in Buffalo, Van Pelt started 11 games, finishing with a career 3-8 record in those starts.

Best: Carolina Panthers – Cam Newton

Unless you happen to be relative of Kerry Collins or Jake Delhomme, it’s hard to believe anyone could think this designation would belong to anyone other than Cam Newton. The #1 overall pick of the 2011 NFL Draft, Newton is the only quarterback in franchise history to be named to an All-Pro team (2015) and be selected to the Pro Bowl multiple times.

In 2015, Newton ran roughshod through the NFL, throwing 35 touchdowns and running for 10 more, leading the Panthers to Super Bowl 50, and being named the NFL’s Most Valuable Player.

Worst: Carolina Panthers – Jimmy Clausen

Never in history has there been a player for with the combination of breathtaking hype and incredible failure like Jimmy Clausen. The most over-recruited player in NCAA history to date, Clausen’s lackluster career at Notre Dame led him to fall to the 2nd round of the 2010 NFL Draft.

The Carolina Panthers, who selected him, decided to throw him to the proverbial wolves in his rookie year, and Clausen got eaten alive: three touchdowns and nine interceptions in 10 games as a starter. He had a huge hand in the Panthers finishing with a 2-14 record, and Carolina saw enough of him in that one year to decide to draft his replacement — Cam Newton — just one year after taking Clausen.

Best: Chicago Bears – Sid Luckman

Though the Chicago Bears franchise has had some of the most iconic names in NFL history on its roster, including Walter Payton, Dick Butkus, and Mike Singletary, they haven’t had anything close to that at the quarterback position. The franchise forever known for its “Monsters of the Midway” defense haven’t boasted a truly elite NFL quarterback since Sid Luckman played under center for them in the 1940’s, under legendary coach George Halas.

Though Luckman’s passing yardage and touchdown pass totals were eventually surpassed by Jay Cutler, the latter is not — and will never be — a five-time All-Pro selection and Hall of Fame inductee like Luckman.

Worst: Chicago Bears – Bob Avellini

For all the glory the Chicago Bears have had on the defensive side of the football (and at the running back position), that hasn’t been shared at the quarterback spot. The history of the Bears franchise is filled with guys like Bob Avellini, who had one winning season during his first four years in the NFL.

Avellini finished his nine-year career in Chicago with more than a 2:1 ratio of interceptions to touchdowns (throwing 69 interceptions to only 33 touchdowns).

Best: Cincinnati Bengals – Ken Anderson

Most people might associate Boomer Esiason or Carson Palmer when thinking of the best quarterback in Cincinnati Bengals history, but that honor quite certainly belongs to Ken Anderson, the team’s starting quarterback from 1972 through 1984. Anderson has thrown for more yards and passing touchdowns than any quarterback in team history, and has 24 more wins than any other quarterback as well.

During the 1981 season, Anderson had a career-best 3,754 passing yards and 29 touchdowns, leading the Bengals to a 12-4 record and their first-ever Super Bowl appearance (when they’d lose to the San Francisco 49ers).

Worst: Cincinnati Bengals – Akili Smith

A one-year wonder who parlayed that brief success into the #3 overall pick in the 1999 NFL Draft, Smith’s NFL career was an unmitigated disaster. First, the Bengals turned down the “Godfather” offer from the New Orleans Saints; Mike Ditka was selling the farm to move up to grab Ricky Williams, allegedly offering the Bengals a whopping nine draft picks (Cincinnati turned down the offer). He started off his tenure in Cincinnati completely on the wrong foot, missing a substantial portion of the team’s training camp, which many believed irreparably stunted his development in the NFL.

Of course, once he did sign, his off-the-field habits didn’t help either. Smith was later quoted as having given in to the temptations of his high draft selection, flying back and forth between Cincinnati and San Diego to party with his friends and multiple women regularly; he’s called himself “a complete embarrassment off the field.” Smith played in 22 NFL games and posted a career passer rating of 52.8. In one year at Oregon, he threw for 30 touchdown passes; in four seasons in the NFL, he threw for a total of five.

Full List

By: Raj nanavati

NFL mock draft, post Super Bowl edition

1. Arizona Cardinals: Nick Bosa, DE, Ohio State
Still the consensus top player on the board, Bosa would make quite the bookend opposite Chandler Jones in Arizona. More likely, the Cardinals will trade down to a quarterback-needy team, and Bosa’s draft spot will fall as a result.

2. San Francisco 49ers: Quinnen Williams, DT, Alabama

The 49ers are hoping to finish developing a dominant defensive line with former first-round picks DeForest Buckner and Solomon Thomas, and Williams could be the final piece. The youthful defensive tackle has jumped up draft boards after finishing with eight sacks and 71 tackles in his sophomore season at Alabama.

3. New York Jets: Josh Allen, OLB, Kentucky
The Jets are encouraged by Sam Darnold’s rookie development, but the value in this spot is on defense. Allen put himself in the conversation as the top pick in the draft after recording 17 sacks in his final season with the Wildcats.
4. Oakland Raiders: Ed Oliver, DT, Houston

The Raiders are in a position to take the best player available, and that very well could be Oliver. His stock has dropped slightly after missing time last season with a knee injury, but he still has dominant pass-rushing potential after recording 13.5 sacks and 53 tackles for loss in three seasons for the Cougars.

5. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Devin White, LB, LSU

Bruce Arians has been hired to fix Jameis Winston, and wide receiver could be a path if DeSean Jackson isn’t back for 2019. However, the value here is better on defense, and White could potentially replace Kwon Alexander, who suffered a torn ACL last season and is set for free agency.

6. New York Giants: Dwayne Haskins, QB, Ohio State

Haskins still looks like the top quarterback on the board, but he probably won’t fall this far if recent history of teams trading up for signal-callers in the draft is any indication. If the Giants see Haskins as Eli Manning’s replacement, there are plenty of trade-up possibilities.

7. Jacksonville Jaguars: Jonah Williams, OT, Alabama

Jaguars could be in the market for a quarterback, but more likely they’ll be looking at the available veterans (Nick Foles, Joe Flacco) with a roster just one year removed from an AFC championship appearance. If that does happen, protecting the investment will be the priority, and Williams could join former Alabama teammate Cam Robinson to give Jacksonville two solid, young tackles in Jacksonville.

8. Detroit Lions: Rashan Gary, DE, Michigan

It looks like the Lions could be a full rebuild with the way they’ve been trending under head coach Matt Patricia over the last year. Detroit acquired Damon Harrison last year, and Gary would further shore up Patricia’s defense after recording 9.5 sacks in 22 games over the last two seasons.

9. Buffalo Bills: Jeffery Simmons, DT, Mississippi State

The retirement of Kyle Williams leaves big shoes to fill in Buffalo. Simmons has the skills to fit well next to run-stuffer Star Lotulelei in the 4-3, with seven sacks and 30 tackles for loss over the last two seasons.

10. Denver Broncos: Drew Lock, QB, Missouri

Denver has been connected so much to Lock that it’s almost creepy, and at this point they could be required to use significant draft capital to trade up for him, with the possibility that another team could trade up in the top 10 to get him. Lock made nice progress at Mizzou last season, but his accuracy on short throws is still a question mark.

Full Mock Draft List

By: Seth Trachtman

 

The Greatest NFL Quarterbacks Of All Time

30. Phil Simms

Sports Illustrated once called Phil Simms the most underrated NFL quarterback of all time, and it’s a fair argument. Even with the career of Eli Manning, who has broken nearly all of Simms’ team records, many still consider him the greatest passer in New York Giants history.

Simms led the Giants to two Super Bowl wins but only went to two Pro Bowls and was an All-Pro selection just once. Even if his yearly stats weren’t too astounding — he only topped 4,000 passing yards once and never surpassed 22 touchdowns — his performance in 1987’s Super Bowl XXI is the stuff of legend. He completed 88 percent of his passes (22 of 25) and had a passer rating of 150.9, arguably the best performance by any QB in Super Bowl history.

11 NOV 1989: NEW YORK GIANTS QUARTERBACK PHIL SIMMS LOOKS TO THE SIDELINES DURING THEIR 31-7 WIN OVER THE LOS ANGELES RAMS AT ANAHEIM STADIUM IN ANAHEIM, CALIFORNIA. Mandatory Credit: Mike Powell/ALLSPORT

29. Randall Cunningham

A true revolutionary at the quarterback position, Randall Cunningham could basically do it all.

In terms of passing, his career numbers are right there with some Hall of Famers from the same era in the ’80s and ’90s but it was with his legs that Cunningham separated himself from the pack. He broke virtually every record for rushing at the quarterback position and averaged 30.6 rushing yards per game, which is still second all-time among QBs.

His postseason record is suspect but he also didn’t have the luxury of getting much protection up front, as only two other NFL players were ever sacked more times than Cunningham.

10 Jan 1999: Quarterback Randall Cunningham #7 of the Minnesota Vikings in action during the NFC Play Offs Game against the Arizona Cardinals at the Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The Vikings defeated the Cardinals 41-21.

28. Troy Aikman

If winning big games was everything, Troy Aikman would be much higher on this list. He won three Super Bowls with the Dallas Cowboys, never losing once in the title game. Aikman was also a six-time Pro Bowler, but was an All-Pro only once, which is the higher honor. Aikman was arguably the quarterback of the ’90s, playing from 1989 to 2000 and racking up 90 wins in that decade, which was more than any other QB.

Aikman earned his spot in the Pro Football Hall of Fame because of his ability to lead a great team but his individual statistics were never too impressive, as he never topped 3,445 yards and only threw for more than 20 touchdowns one time.

15 Oct 1995: Quarterback Troy Aikman #8 of the Dallas Cowboys throws a pass during their game against the San Diego Chargers at Jack Murphy Stadium in San Diego, California. The Cowboys defeated the Chargers 23-9. Mandatory Credit: Al Bello/Allsport

27. Sid Luckman

One of the first great quarterbacks in pro football history, Luckman led the Chicago Bears to four NFL championships from 1939 to 1950.

He also led the league in passing yards, passing touchdowns and passer rating three times, being named a first team All-Pro five times. Luckman revolutionized the throwing game, passing for seven touchdowns in a game once, a record that still hasn’t been topped even in today’s pass-heavy league — and he was the first guy to ever throw for 400 yards in a game.

Nearly 70 years after he played his final NFL snap, Luckman still ranks second all-time in yards per pass attempt.

Bear Flipper Sid Luckman, former Columbia star and now with Chicago Bears, does some practice passing at Polo Grounds for Sunday’s tussle with Jints. (Photo By: /NY Daily News via Getty Images)

26. Ken Anderson

Before legendary coach Bill Walsh went on to make Joe Montana into an icon with his West Coast Offense in San Francisco, Walsh ran it with quarterback Ken Anderson in Cincinnati.

Anderson spent 16 seasons in the NFL, all with the Bengals, and put up some spectacular numbers along the way, including four seasons where he led the league in passer rating. His accuracy was also never questioned, as he posted a career 59.3 completion percentage and retired in 1986 with the records for single-season completion percentage and single-game completion percentage.

Anderson has largely been overlooked in these discussions because he played in a small market and never won a Super Bowl but he was a successful guinea pig for a system that would launch several star QBs.

2 Sep 1984: Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Ken Anderson throws a pass during game against the Denver Bronos at Mile High Stadium in Denver, Colorado. The Broncos won the game 20-17. Mandatory Credit: Allsport /Allsport

25. Terry Bradshaw

Pittsburgh Steelers lifer Terry Bradshaw benefited greatly from being surrounded by Hall-of-Fame offensive skill players and one of the greatest defenses in history. He never led the league in passing yards or passer rating — and his career total for both of those stats won’t blow you away — but he never lost in the big games. He guided the Steelers to four Super Bowls and won every one of them.

You can knock Bradshaw for throwing nearly as many interceptions as touchdowns in his career, but with that defense backing him up, who can blame him for taking some risks?

Pittsburgh Steelers’ quarterback Terry Bradshaw prepares to throw a pass to one of his fellow teammates.

24. Tony Romo

It might shock you to know that, among all retired NFL quarterbacks, Tony Romo has the highest career passer rating. It’s also the highest career passer rating for any QB who never played in a Super Bowl, which is the part of Romo’s legacy that may keep him out of the Hall of Fame.

He never had much luck in the playoffs but his career numbers in statistics like yards per pass attempt and completion percentage — he ties Peyton Manning in the latter category — are among the best ever. In roughly the same number of seasons, Romo’s numbers are better than fellow Cowboys great Troy Aikman, but he had the misfortune of playing without the Hall of Famers his predecessor did.

ARLINGTON, TX – JANUARY 04: Tony Romo #9 of the Dallas Cowboys gestures against the Detroit Lions during the second half of their NFC Wild Card Playoff game at AT&T Stadium on January 4, 2015 in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images)

23. Jim Kelly

For eight out of 11 of his NFL seasons, Jim Kelly passed for at least 3,000 yards and averaged about 3,200 yards per season for his career. He also led the Buffalo Bills to the Super Bowl four times, which means he made it to the big game in more than one-third of all the seasons he played. Of course, the Bills lost all four times and Kelly didn’t play at his best in them, but he clearly had a gift for winning in the regular season and playoffs.

12 Nov 1995: Jim Kelly #12 of the Buffalo Bills gets ready to pass the ball during the game against the Atlanta Falcons at the Rich Stadium in Orchard Park, New York. The Bills defeated the Falcons 23-17.

22. Warren Moon

After unequaled success in the Canadian Football League, where he won five championships, Warren Moon went on to have a great career in the NFL despite having virtually no playoff success.

Moon threw for more than 3,000 yards every time he played a 16-game season and topped the 4,000-yard mark four times. Moon’s gun-slinging style led to a fair share of interceptions and an average career passer rating but he was extremely popular, being named to nine Pro Bowls. Moon currently sits at 10th all-time in NFL career passing yards and 10th all-time in game-winning drives led.

If he hadn’t spent six years playing in the CFL, it’s scary to think what his final NFL totals would’ve been.

ATLANTA, GA – CIRCA 1980’s: Quarterback Warren Moon #1 of the Houston Oilers throws a pass against the Atlanta Falcons during a mid circa 1980’s NFL football game at Atlanta Stadium in Atlanta, Georgia. Moon played for the Oilers from 1984-93. (Photo by Focus on Sport/Getty Images)

21. Sonny Jurgensen

Arguably the league’s earliest long-ball passer, Jurgensen was a legend with the Eagles and Redskins who posted a career losing record as a starter but was still a marvel. He led the league in passing yardage five times, topping 3,000 yards in all those seasons, and was a touchdown machine. His 255 career passing touchdowns total still put him at 19th all-time, despite playing during the so-called “dead-ball era,” when running backs ruled the league.

While with the Eagles in 1960, he won his lone NFL championship, handing Vince Lombardi’s Packers their only playoff loss ever.

Hall of Fame quarterback Sonny Jurgensen (9) of the Washington Redskins looks for an open receiver during the Redskins 14-3 victory over the Detroit Lions on December 15, 1968 at D.C. Stadium in Washington, D.C. (Photo by Nate Fine/NFL) *** Local Caption ***

20. Donovan McNabb

Severely overlooked because he never won the big game, Eagles legend Donovan McNabb is one of only four quarterbacks in NFL history to collect 30,000 passing yards, 200 passing touchdowns, 3,000 rushing yards and 20 rushing touchdowns — and all of them are on this list.

He’s tied with Jim Kelly as the QB with the most playoff wins with no ring and finished his career with more passing yards and a better passer rating than that Hall of Famer. In 2004, McNabb had one of the greatest seasons a quarterback has ever had, becoming the first ever to throw for more than 30 touchdowns and less than 10 interceptions. For some reason, he’s still not in the Hall.

ARLINGTON, TX – JANUARY 03: Quarterback Donovan McNabb #5 of the Philadelphia Eagles throws against the Dallas Cowboys at Cowboys Stadium on January 3, 2010 in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)

Full List

Winners and losers from NFL Week 15

There was a ton of really weird stuff going on around the league during NFL Week 15, both positive and negative, as teams battled for a playoff berth.

One of the hottest teams in the NFL was shut out in stunning style. With a convincing win over the Green Bay Packers, the Chicago Bears won the NFC North. The Cleveland Browns — of all teams — are still alive for postseason play, for crying out loud.

Heck, one player forgot which team he played for and facilitated a touchdown for the opposing team.

These are the biggest winners and losers from NFL Week 15.

Winner: Philip Rivers has ice water running through his veins

Dec 13, 2018; Kansas City, MO, USA; Los Angeles Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers (17) throws a pass against the Kansas City Chiefs in the first half at Arrowhead Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports

Thursday night’s game in Kansas City seemed to portend doom for Rivers and the Los Angeles Chargers. He threw an interception on his first pass attempt of the game, severely under throwing Tyrell Williams.

It didn’t take long for the Chiefs to build up a 14-0 lead. Then in the second half, they went up by two touchdowns once more midway through the fourth quarter. It appeared Patrick Mahomes and Co. were on their way to an easy win. Then, Rivers woke up.

The veteran quarterback led two consecutive touchdown-scoring drives in the final eight minutes of the game, capping it all off with a gutty two-point conversion to Mike Williams (watch here), who had a monster game while Keenan Allen watched due to an injury.

Now at 11-3, the Chargers have a chance to claim the AFC’s No. 1 seed in the final weeks.

Loser: Vance Joseph has got to go

Situational awareness is a critical element to being a good head coach in the NFL — or really any level of play. Vance Joseph does not have a healthy dose of that. He proved it once more on Saturday at home against the Cleveland Browns.

Down by four points, with just over four minutes left in the game, his offense on Cleveland’s six-yard line on a 4th-and-1, Joseph called for a field goal. He was booed heartily by the home crowd in Denver, and social media was brutal in its assessment of his awful decision.

Not surprisingly, the move backfired. Cleveland won the game by one point. In a must-win situation, Joseph retreated into his shell and cost his team the victory. There’s no way John Elway can keep him now. He’s got to go.

Winner: Josh Allen came up big 

The Buffalo Bills were down their two top running backs before Sunday’s game against Detroit even began. Both LeSean McCoy and Chris Ivory were ruled out, leading many to wonder just where any offense was going to come from.

Rookie quarterback Josh Allen — whose play is always an adventure — answered the call. His shockingly nifty touchdown run in the first half (watch here) put the Bills up by a point. Then, in the fourth quarter, his 42-yard laser strike to Robert Foster proved to be the game-winner.

Loser: Oakland managed to make Cincinnati look good

We’ve been harping on how bad the Oakland Raiders are all year. One lucky win against an unmotivated Pittsburgh Steelers team in Week 14 did nothing to change that, as everyone found out just one week later in Cincinnati.

The Bengals dominated Sunday’s game. Oakland’s defense had no answer for Joe Mixon, and, despite a poor outing from backup Jeff Driskel, the Raiders just couldn’t make key stops when they needed it.

Derek Carr had a rough outing throwing the ball, and both he and Jalen Richard lost fumbles — the second of which led to the first score of the game for Cincinnati.

The bottom line is this: When you’re making the Bengals look good, you’ve hit rock bottom.

Winner: Tremendous team effort nets Pittsburgh a huge win

Dec 16, 2018; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady (12) and Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger (7) meet at mid-field after playing at Heinz Field. Pittsburgh won 17-10. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

From the moment Tom Brady stepped onto the field for warm-ups in Pittsburgh, he faced adversity. When the game tipped off, it was clear that the Steelers were not going to let him connect with Rob Gronkowski or Josh Gordon. They did just that, as the two top New England playmakers combined for just three catches for 40 yards.

The coup de grace for Pittsburgh’s defense came in the fourth quarter when Joe Haden made a tremendous leaping interception with two Patriots draped over him for what proved to be the win-sealing play (watch here).

Big Ben Roethlisberger had a rough night with two bad interceptions but was buoyed by the rest of his offense. Jaylen Samuels did his best Le’Veon Bell and James Conner impersonation by racking up 172 yards on 21 touches, and the Steelers walked out with a 17-10 win over the mighty Patriots to remain atop the AFC North.

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By: Jesse Reed

The 10 craziest things about Week 10, the craziest Sunday of the 2018 NFL season

Week 10 of the 2018 NFL season was the wildest of the year, with stunning upsets, unbelievable records and the Bills scoring 41 points. Here are the 10 craziest facts from a wild football Sunday. 

1. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers became the first team in NFL history to gain more than 425 yards from scrimmage while scoring three points or less. And the Bucs went WAY over 425, netting 501 yards in an ugly 16-3 loss to the Redskins. How does that happen? Tampa had the ball in Washington’s red zone five times, missed two field goals and turned over the ball four times.

Prior to Sunday, there had only been one game ever in which a team gained over 400 yards and scored so few points and that team – the 2011 Rams – had 424. (It’s rare enough to find a team netting 300 yards and failing to get more than three points. It’s only happened 99 times in history.) This year, teams gaining 500 yards from scrimmage average 35 points per game.

2. The Bills scored more points on Sunday (41) than they did in the entire month of October (37). This next stat is even more amazing but lacks the punchy conciseness of the former: Since Sept. 24, the Bills had scored 46 points in total. That was over six games too, without any byes wrecking the curve. Forty-six in six and 41 in one. Amazing. And here’s one more, because we can’t get enough stats indirectly indicting the historic awfulness of ex-Bills starter Nathan Peterman: In a span of just over 16 minutes on Sunday, Buffalo scored more points (24) than it had in the previous three games combined.

3. Since avenging their AFC championship game loss to the Patriots in Week 2, moving to 2-0 on the season, the mega-hyped Jacksonville Jaguars have lost six of seven, with their only win coming against the team that just lost to the Bills by 31 points.

4. With a second-quarter touchdown pass in Sunday’s win over the Cardinals, Patrick Mahomes broke a 54-year-old Kansas City Chiefs record for touchdown passes in a season. (Hall of Famer Len Dawson held the mark with 30 TDs in 1964.) It should go without saying, but we’ll do it anyway, that this was only the Chiefs 10th game of the season. Somehow, the electric, MVP shoo-in is six touchdowns behind Peyton Manning’s record 55-touchdown pace of 2013, which only further proves how amazing that season was.

5. It took some missed field goals by Tampa’s Chandler Catanzaro to keep it alive, but on Sunday the Redskins extended one of the more unbelievable streaks in NFL history. In Washington’s six wins, the team has never trailed. In their three losses, they’ve never had a lead. The team that scores first has never relinquished their lead. How rare is it for a team to make it nine games without a single lead change? It’s been 64 years since the odd feat was accomplished, coincidentally by the same Redskins franchise. The difference that year was that the ‘Skins went 2-7 and usually got down so quickly that a lead change was never on the table. This year, Washington has outscored opponents by a single point, making the lack of flip-flop games all the more surprising.

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By: Chris Chase

Projecting the first loss of every NFL team

Browns Trade for Jarvis Landry and Tyrod Taylor

Written by Bill Barnwell at ESPN.com

The stockpiling-draft-picks era of the Cleveland Browns has come to a close. With Sashi Brown fired and replaced by traditionalist general manager John Dorsey, it’s no surprise that the Browns put some of their record-setting draft capital to work by trading for a trio of veterans on Friday afternoon. In three separate deals, the Browns sent out midround selections in the 2018 and 2019 drafts along with former starting quarterback DeShone Kizer for three veterans who should help the team win in the short term. It’s not difficult to understand why the Browns made these trades, but it’s a sign that they’re stuck paying what amounts to a competitiveness tax.

In the case of their trades for Bills quarterback Tyrod Taylor and Dolphins wideout Jarvis Landry, the Browns sent out draft picks to acquire a veteran they likely would not have been able to woo in free agency unless their markets totally failed to materialize. Buffalo and Miami had little leverage in making these deals, given that the Bills had no realistic intentions of paying Taylor the $6 million roster bonus he was due on March 16. Buffalo might have publicly suggested it was willing to pay Taylor to keep its options open, but outside of Nick Foles with the Rams in 2016, there’s virtually no track record of a team paying this sort of optional roster bonus for a player it didn’t plan to keep in a meaningful role.

Meanwhile, the Dolphins might not have been able to afford the $16 million franchise tag Landry signed earlier this week. Landry reportedly had interest from the Ravens, but given that Baltimore would have needed to totally restructure his deal, it’s unlikely the Dolphins would have been able to make a similar swap to the one they made here. And if there weren’t any other trade suitors for Landry, he probably wouldn’t have signed the franchise tag. The most likely outcome for both Landry and Taylor this offseason was that they were both going to hit free agency. Instead, they’re both Browns.

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Bill Name Tyrod Taylor Starting QB As Nathan Peterman Era Ends In Buffalo

Written by Mike Rodak at ESPN.com

The Buffalo Bills will start Tyrod Taylor on Sunday against the Kansas City Chiefs, coach Sean McDermott announced Wednesday.

“It’s the right thing for our team,” McDermott said.

Taylor regained the starting job from rookie Nathan Peterman, who threw five first-half interceptions in his first career start Sunday against the Los Angeles Chargers.

The Bills moved Taylor to the backup role against the Chargers despite the team entering the week with a 5-4 record. He had been replaced the previous week after going 9-for-18 for 56 yards in three-plus quarters of a loss to the New Orleans Saints.

Three straight losses have knocked Buffalo out of the final wild-card spot in the AFC standings.

Taylor has thrown for 1,842 yards with 11 touchdowns and three interceptions this season. He was 15-for-25 for 158 yards and a touchdown after entering Sunday’s game against the Chargers in the second half.

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