Cincinnati vs. Arkansas was one of the more exciting matchups in an otherwise bland 3:30 slate of games. Relive the excitement and learn about some of the NFL Draft prospects for each team who stood out in this Cincinnati vs Arkansas review.
Cincinnati vs. Arkansas Game Recap
The number 23 ranked Bearcats took on the 19th ranked Razorbacks in a game between 2021’s most exciting squads. Both teams lost significant talent to the NFL Draft last year but still kept a large portion of their nucleus.
The first half was a tightly contested match in which defenses reigned supreme. Much of the first quarter was marred by strong defenses, with the only score coming from Arkansas by way of a quarterback touchdown run. Cincinnati almost shortened the score to just four points, however kicker Ryan Coe missed a 25-yard field goal with 0:13 seconds left in the quarter.
The second quarter was much the same as both teams traded punts until the Razorbacks were able to break the stalemate late in the half, putting the score at 14-0. Additionally, Cincinnati would attempt another field goal during the previous possession but missed again, this time from 48 yards out.
The Bearcats finally scored at the beginning third quarter with a Corey Kiner rushing touchdown from the Arkansas five-yard line. Arkansas would then respond with a nice back-shoulder touchdown to Jadon Haselwood. Cincinnati would also return the favor with another touchdown pass to Nick Mardner and would force a fumble on the next Razorbacks possession. This would only lead to a field goal, and Arkansas would extend their lead afterward with a field goal of their own.
With the score 24-17 heading into the fourth quarter, Arkansas continued to extend their lead with another deep touchdown. Cincinnati would bring the score closer with a Leonard Taylor touchdown reception. Despite the efforts of the Bearcats, Arkansas would take possession and drain the clock, finishing the game with a 31-24 victory.
Cincinnati vs. Arkansas Offensive Prospects Review
KJ Jefferson was the best prospect on the field Saturday, showing off his speed and playmaking ability. He finished the day going 18/26 for 223 yards and three passing touchdowns with one on the ground as well. Jefferson was stellar on the ground yesterday as well, displaying excellent agility to create yards after the play breaks down.
Additionally, Jefferson looks more comfortable navigating the pocket and working through his progressions. It was a great first game for the redshirt junior, and has certainly helped his draft stock.
Tight end Trey Knox was part of Jefferson’s success on Saturday, catching six passes for 75 yards and two touchdowns. Knox is a converted wide receiver who is now the starting tight end for Sam Pittman’s offense. He showed great ball tracking ability and speed, which was on full display during Arkansas’s final touchdown. Knox is certainly a player to keep an eye on from here on out.
The aforementioned Haselwood was also a consistent target, showing off his body control and hand-eye coordination on his touchdown grab. The Oklahoma transfer picked up where he left off with the Sooners, and could be a big contributor in 2022.
Cincinnati looked noticeably weaker after losing a majority of their defensive talent and some key starters on offense. Despite this, there were still a couple of standout performances worth noting here. Tight end Josh Whyle started off with an incredible one-handed grab from an awkward throw by quarterback Ben Bryant. Although he finished without a touchdown, Whyle was a safety blanket underneath and was able to create some nice yards after the catch.
Wide receiver Tyler Scott also had a nice game against Arkansas. Scott is one of the Bearcats’ speedy deep threats that had plenty of opportunities to score, however Cincinnati could not get him the ball. The same could be said for Tre Tucker, who had a solid game but wasn’t able to show off his big play ability.
Cincinnati vs. Arkansas Defensive Prospects Review
Arkansas’s defensive transfers also flashed a ton during this Week 1 matchup. Defensive ends Jordan Domineck and Drew Sanders both had quarterback sacks while showing off their impressive athleticism.
The last Arkansas prospect to shine was fan-favorite safety Jalen Catalon. Coming off of a season-ending shoulder injury, Catalon had a solid game Saturday, but left due to another injury to his shoulder. He would not return, but still managed to show off his physicality and instincts in his limited reps.
On defense, the star of the show was transfer linebacker Ivan Pace Jr, who took charge in place of the departed Darrian Beavers. Pace had a few nice plays in the box but really shined as a blitzer. His brother Deshawn also flashed a little due to his athleticism, but had an otherwise rough outing Saturday.
Saturday was also a disappointing game from veteran defensive back Arquan Bush. As the most tenured player on the Bearcats’ back end, Bush struggled to stay in phase with his targets and let up some big plays.
The lead-up to the 2022 NFL Draft has been a very weird and unfamiliar experience for Bengals fans. In recent years, we’ve started looking deeply at the draft by mid-November or earlier. What’s the point in waiting when they have virtually no chance to make the playoffs? Back in the day we usually got to wait until at least December or early January, but having to wait until February this year left a lot of us playing catch up. The Bengals’ scouting department has had to play catch-up too due to a short offseason.
Now, we’ve all had roughly two months to play catch-up to this draft class. The Bengals did an excellent job addressing most of their needs in free agency, so they can have the luxury of focusing on quality prospects rather than needs. They’re still hoping to address minor holes like CB2, TE2, offensive line depth, wide receiver depth, and defensive line depth. But, the nice thing is there are no glaringly obvious holes like they’ve had to address the last few years. You can thank their success in free agency and the draft over the last few years for that.
My original plan for doing a 7-round mock for the Bengals ahead of tonight’s draft was to do it on my YouTube channel. Unfortunately, a particularly noisy fridge is destroying any hope of great audio quality, so we’re going to break down my selections as I imagine myself in the position of Bengals’ general manager. The following picks are made in the spirit of the Bengals’ particular need vs BPA ratio that they tend to follow. But, the final say is entirely what I think would be the best for the team. Think of it as an educated wish list.
I also plan on releasing a full first-round mock of what I think all 32 teams will do later today. You might want to check that out too because it’s quite possible I will have a different selection for the Bengals in that article than in this one. But, without rambling any further, lets jump into these selections.
Using Pro Football Focus’s 7-round mock draft simulator as a basis for these selections, here is what we’re looking at initially.
Unfortunately, it doesn’t look like PFF’s simulation was terribly kind to me as Tyler Linderbaum went two picks ahead of us at 29 to the Chiefs. They, of course, received that pick from the Dolphins for Tyreek Hill. I was also hoping to get guys like Florida cornerback Kaiir Elam and Zion Johnson, who are also gone. According to PFF, the best prospects available are wide receiver Skyy Moore, safety Lewis Cine and nose tackle Travis Jones. This would be a classic situation where trading down would be in the Bengals best interest. But, will they? I doubt it. I kind of like guys like Arnold Ebiketie, Nik Bonitto, and David Ojabo here. But, I can’t lie. I already know who I’m going with.
I know he didn’t test particularly well at the combine, and I’m sure most of you reading can figure out who I’m talking about based on that alone. Personally, I’m enamored with Washington cornerback Kyler Gordon. PFF has him ranked as the 58th best prospect in this draft. But, the way I see it, he has shown everything you need to succeed at the cornerback position.
Sure, he might need a bit of time to adjust to NFL speed. Luckily, the Bengals have a great No. 1 corner in Chidobe Awuzie and a serviceable No. 2 option in Eli Apple. Don’t get me wrong, picking Gordon at No. 31 comes with the intention of him taking Apple’s spot this season. However, it doesn’t HAVE to be Week 1. For that reason, I’m cool with betting on the upside. He won’t be available when we pick again at 63. So, ideally, we’d trade down. But, in this scenario I’m just going to take him.
Moving along to pick 63 in the second round, I’m still having pretty terrible luck with who is available.
I was definitely hoping to see someone like EDGE Nik Bonitto, tight end Trey McBride, or defensive lineman Logan Hall. Nope. They’re all gone. Yikes. The two remaining players I’m interested in are Kingsley Enagbare, the pass rusher from South Carolina and Dylan Parham, the interior lineman from Memphis. I’m really of a split mind on this one but I think I’m going to go with the guy who can bolster the Bengals’ pass rush.
I’m really confident in Joseph Ossai going forward. But, you can never have enough pass rushers, and Enagbare was one of the best in the country at that particular role. My issue with Parham is I feel he’s a bit of a project and after taking Jackson Carman last year I’d rather not risk Joe Burrow third season to more speculation on the offensive line. Not to mention, I like the depth that exists at interior OL more than I do the depth at edge. So, I’m taking Enagbare with pick 63.
Now we’re moving along to pick 96 and, would you look at that! There wasn’t a massive run on players I’m looking for!
Kentucky’s Wan’Dale Robinson did go to the Titans at 90. But, to be honest there’s another Kentucky prospect I’m eyeballing with this pick. I’m tempted to go with Virginia tight end Jelani Woods here because he has so much upside. At some point, I’m hoping to find a tight end to compliment Hayden Hurst because I REALLY don’t want to rely on Drew Sample, if possible. But, I think finishing the rebuild of this offensive line is imperative… especially going into Joe Burrow’s third season.
I’m picking up Luke Fortner here because, quite frankly, I’ve heard him described as a poor man’s Tyler Linderbaum. As a Kentucky fan, I can vouch for his consistency at the position. Personally, I’m 100 percent into the idea of taking a chance on him. If he’s ready to start right away, great! If not, Ted Karras can hold down the center position for now and Quinton Spain is still available to come back and solidify that left guard spot.
We’re moving along to the depths of the fourth round now and, once again, we’re back to slim pickings.
After losing Auden Tate to the Falcons, I think the Bengals could really use a really good fourth option at wide receiver. Perhaps I’m weird in thinking that Stanley Morgan Jr might actually be able to step into that role quite nicely. But, it might also be worth adding some talent. That’s why I’m looking at Velus Jones Jr from Tennessee.
He’s likely a developmental slot receiver at the NFL level, but that’s ok for me. Tyler Boyd only has two years left on his contract and this wide receiver room is about to get EXPENSIVE with Ja’Marr Chase and Tee Higgins needing re-upped around that time. Jones could be a limited contributor for now and, perhaps, when the time is right, provide an insurance policy in case Boyd decides to move on in a few years.
All that said, the biggest reason I’m excited for Velus is his prowess as a kick returner. Y’all remember relying on Darius Phillips and Stanley Morgan to return kicks last season? Yeah. Muffs cost us a win against the 49ers. Darius Phillips is gone. Brandon Wilson, while reliable as a returner, doesn’t really add much value to the team at his natural position of safety. Picking Velus in the fourth round might be seen as a bit of a reach but I really don’t feel like he’ll still be there at 174. I’m making an executive decision. Let’s go.
As we move to the fifth round, it’s still looking pretty slim. I wouldn’t call this my ideal mock for the Bengals at all, but it is quite possible the real draft this weekend could play out like this.
Based on the list of available players I’m seeing here, I think most Bengals fans would want me to pick up nose tackle Curtis Brooks from UC. Personally, I don’t really get that. Definitely not in the fifth round. Yeah, sure, he’s athletic and tested very well. But, if the Bengals are going to pick up a defensive tackle I think they would probably be better off targeting a 3-tech rather than nose tackle. They’re pretty set with DJ Reader and Josh Tupou right now. Not to mention, it’s really hard to project what Brooks’ role would be in the NFL. Maybe if we see him again in the sixth round I’ll consider it but I think I’ll pass in the fifth.
I’m actually going to throw a bit of a curve ball here. I’m going to take Brian Robinson Jr, the running back from Alabama. Why? Quite frankly I’m not a fan of Samaje Perine. I love Chris Evans, but Robinson provides a completely different set of skills than Evans. Notably, PFF calls him the best short-yardage bruiser in the draft class. Y’all remember when the Bengals couldn’t pick up one yard on three tries on the last drive of the Super Bowl? Pepperidge farm remembers. And Pepperidge farm ain’t gonna let that happen again. So sue me, I’m taking a running back.
Wouldn’t you know it, the sixth round is actually shaping up the way we want! If only the earlier rounds were like that.
Curtis Brooks is still here! I’m not going to lie though I’m still wondering about the value of taking a nose tackle, especially when the Bengals still need to shore up their offensive line depth. I’ve got my eye on offensive lineman Zachary Thomas here. He can play all five positions as a rotational backup if need be. Is that enough promise to betray all the UC fans who are probably screaming at me to take Curtis Brooks? Yes, I think it is. Sorry guys, I just think nose tackle is the one position we’re set at on the defensive line. Why take the chance with poor offensive line depth again when it literally cost us the Super Bowl? I’m going with Zachary Thomas here.
The Bengals actually have two picks in the seventh round this year and I think a lot of Bengals fans are wanting to use one of those picks on PUNT GOD Matt Ariaza. Unfortunately, it looks like he’s no longer on the board.
Honestly, that’s fine with me. Ariaza might be really good. But, it seems like the Bengals’ coaching staff really likes Drue Christman. We can probably find some solid competition for him in UDFA. Also, Curtis Brooks is gone too. Sorry, UC fans.
Perhaps this is another curveball but I’m actually going to take Iowa State quarterback Brock Purdy here. I was also thinking about Miami safety Bubba Bolden here but the Jags took him at the top of the round. The reason I’m thinking Purdy here is because.. let’s face it… Brandon Allen is a limited quarterback. He’s probably the best backup we’ve had since AJ McCarron, but that’s not saying much. He’s solid with his legs but he has accuracy issues and, for that reason, I don’t see any reason he shouldn’t have some real camp competition this year.
Years ago I thought Purdy was going to be a stud of a future NFL Draft prospect. He never quite hit that level, but I still think he’s really talented. I think he’ll adjust to the NFL extremely well and should be the kind of guy who can give you 70 percent of what Joe Burrow gives you in case Burrow has to miss time for any reason.
Finally, we’re moving to the Bengals’ final pick at 252 overall in the seventh round. Essentially, you’re just getting a head start on undrafted free agency here, so let’s see who is left.
I wanted to bring in a piece to compete with Drew Sample earlier in the draft. Unfortunately, the way things shook out, there were other great options available when I had the opportunity to take guys I really wanted like Colorado State’s Trey McBride, Virginia’s Jelani Woods, or Coastal Carolina’s Isaiah Likely. So, how about we go get Iowa State’s Chase Allen? He’s not going to wow you in any particular category but he’s a decent blocker and a decent underneath receiving option. At the very least, as I said, he can give Sample a run for his money. Plus, we can pair him back up with Brock Purdy.
So, there you have it. A full seven-round mock draft for the Bengals. I have no idea what they’re actually going to do for most of the draft. So, maybe it will be fun to go back and compare my mock to the actual results after the draft is completed.
Hopefully I have a less noisy fridge by then and we can take the party back to YouTube. But, for now, this is what we’re working with and these are some of the players I think would make sense for the Bengals in 2022.
The Week 18 NFL Power Rankings are a lot less chaotic than in previous weeks. But, we still saw some massive results this week changing everything we thought about the power structure in the NFL. We’re going to get that into all the risers and fallers this week as we start to really separate the playoff teams from the teams that will be sitting on the couch in a couple of weeks.
32. Jacksonville Jaguars (2-14)
Last week: 32
Ever heard of that boost that happens for a football team when an interim coach the players like takes control? Doesn’t seem to be the case for Darrell Bevell. Trevor Lawrence imploded in the second quarter to essentially hand the Patriots a red carpet straight to the endzone. The Jaguars are one loss away from clinching the No. 1 seed for the second straight year. It would be the eight time in NFL history a team has “earned” the No. 1 pick two years in a row. Can they go for an NFL record three next year?
31. New York Giants (4-12)
Last Week: 30
The New York Giants may not have the second worst record in the NFL. But, for the purposes of the Week 18 NFL Power Rankings, they absolutely are the second worst team in the NFL. They put up 161 yards of rushing against the Bears and STILL had virtually no offense. Mike Glennon is clearly not the answer. Neither is Daniel Jones. Neither is Joe Judge. I don’t even know what to do at this point.
30. Detroit Lions (2-13-1)
Last Week: 29
Someone go console the football fans in Jersey. The Jets are… the Jets, and the Giants appear totally rudderless. It was kind of cool to see Jake Fromm get his first NFL start. But, he turned out to be just as much of a disaster as Mike Glennon as he finnished with a 19.5 passer rating. Yikes. Mike Glennon ended up playing the savior role and, honestly, didn’t look much better. As bad as Daniel Jones was, this is a new level of Hell.
29. New York Jets (4-12)
Last Week: 31
I’m not trying to act like the Jets almost beating a good team is as good as actually winning a game. But, when the franchise is in the state it currently is… I think you have to take what you can get. The Jets have shown some progress in Robert Salah’s first season and Zach Wilson even had a decent game this week. Maybe a glimmer of light in Jersey B?
28. Carolina Panthers (5-11)
Last Week: 28
Is there any relief for Panthers fans watching their team play a division rival, who is currently fighting for their playoff lives, close? Probably not when the quarterback they banked their hopes on this year threw the game away in the redzone only down by a touchdown and a 2pt conversion with 54 seconds left in the game. Ouch. I don’t think firing Matt Rhule is the right move. But, I understand why people are starting to feel that way.
27. Washington Football Team (6-10)
Last Week: 25
It’s been over for Washington for a while now. It’s really a shame the season is going to end with a whimper for a team we briefly thought might be able to take down Dallas for the NFC East title. But, to have the first half they had against a division rival only to be shut out and lose in the second half is rough.
26. Houston Texans (4-12)
Last Week: 23
It was a nice little run the Texans went on there for a minute. But, that shouldn’t distract from the fact that this is a bad football team. And, it won’t distract me in their placement in the Week 18 NFL Power Rankings. Defensively, they had no answer for Trey Lance this week. Davis Mills was highly ineffective. They avoided disaster a few times. But, Mills’ interception on their first drive of the second half gave the 49ers a lead and momentum. It wasn’t even really a contest after that.
25. Seattle Seahawks (6-10)
Last Week: 27
The playoffs have been out of the question for the Seahawks for a while now. But, Seahawks fans still have to enjoy seeing Russell Wilson go absolutely ham on an opponent for the first time this season. It might be the last time he ever does it in front of the home crowd in Seattle. But, if it is, at least he’s going out with a bang.
24. Chicago Bears (6-10)
Last Week: 27
The Chicago Bears have now equaled their longest win streak in 2021 with back to back wins over the Seahawks and Giants. It’s kind of a shame they’re going to have to hit the reset button at the end of this season. A win over the Vikings next week would have them finish 7-10 and with some momentum going into next year. Unfortunately, it’s clearly broken. You have to blow it up.
23. Pittsburgh Steelers (8-7-1)
Last Week: 24
Welp, they did it. The Pittsburgh Steelers somehow overcame being a bad football team to somehow clinch yet another non-losing season for Mike Tomlin. Gotta give credit where credit is due. I didn’t think they had it in them. That’s not to say I think this is a good, or even average football team. But, they definitely deserve some separation from the Houstons and the Carolinas of the world.
22. Atlanta Falcons (7-9)
Last Week: 21
The Falcons’ slim playoff hopes came to an end this week. They looked like they had a chance against the Bills when they held a 15-14 lead at the half. But, they had virtually no offense in the second half. It was all right there in front of them. But, this is why no one really took the Falcons seriously as playoff contenders.
21. Minnesota Vikings (7-9)
Last Week: 20
Mike Zimmer doesn’t want to see Kellen Mond this week. I don’t blame him. I wouldn’t want to see anyone on the team right now if I was him. Despite pulling off the miraculous victory over the Packers earlier this season, the Vikings never felt like they stood a chance without Kirk Cousins in Lambeau. Had the Vikings made the playoffs, I think there’s a chance Zimmer could have earned another year. But, at this point I can’t see it. So, they stay low in the Week 18 NFL Power Rankings.
20. Cleveland Browns (7-9)
Last Week: 18
The Cleveland Browns were eliminated from the playoffs this week before they ever got to play their Monday Night contest against the Steelers.
19. Denver Broncos (7-9)
Last Week: 19
TO THE COUCH WITH YOU! Remember when we thought the Denver Broncos were the class of the NFL after three weeks? Ha! This offense is inept. Pat Schurmur might be the least popular human being in the entire state of Colorado. Now, we have to start considering the fact that Schurmur might get head coach Vic Fangio fired.
18. Miami Dolphins (8-8)
Last Week: 14
You knew it was coming. Hats off to the Miami Dolphins for clawing their way back from 1-7 to end up 8-7 and briefly in control of a playoff spot. But, those wins almost all came against awful teams. Well, that and the pre-decimated Ravens. But, they had to get through two playoff teams to actually finish the miracle off. The Titans reminded us all that the Dolphins were never serious contenders. It was nice while it lasted, but they’re moving back down in the Week 18 NFL Power Rankings.
17. Baltimore Ravens (8-8)
Last Week: 17
Technically, there’s also a chance for the Baltimore Ravens. A two percent chance, per Five Thirty Eight. BUT! And you’re really going to need to follow me on this one. If they beat the Steelers next week. All they need is for the Browns, Dolphins, Colts, and Chargers to lose. Although, considering the Colts play the Jaguars… yeah, that’s why the two percent.
16. New Orleans Saints (8-8)
Last Week: 22
So you’re saying there’s a chance? Yes. If the Saints beat the eliminated Falcons this week, which they should. And, if the Rams beat the 49ers, which they should. I would argue they should be the favorites for the No. 7 seed in the NFC. But, I get it. The 49ers hold the inside track, so technically they’d have to be the favorite. Which is kind of insane, when you think about it. The Saints are my No. 16 team in the Week 18 NFL Power Rankings and the 49ers are at No. 10. But, it seems to me like the Saints are more likely to finish things out.
15. Las Vegas Raiders (9-7)
Last Week: 16
Despite all the odds this season, the Las Vegas Raiders are right on the verge of making the playoffs. Right now, they sit on the outside looking in behind the Chargers. Luckily, they play the Chargers next week. It’s a win and you’re in scenario for both teams. Essentially a play-in game for the playoffs. Who saw that coming after all their mid-season drama?
14. Philadelphia Eagles (9-7)
Last Week: 13
I’ll be damned, but Jalen Hurts and the Philadelphia Eagles found a way to make the playoff this year. I thought they were doomed after starting the season 3-6. But, they’ve done a hell of a job turning things around. They almost let things slip out of their grasp against Washington this week. But, now they have the opportunity to walk into the playoffs on a 5-game win streak. That’s the stuff of nightmares for opposing teams.
13. Indianapolis Colts (9-7)
Last Week: 5
If Jonathan Taylor and a mistake-free Carson Wentz aren’t enough to overcome a mistake prone Raiders team, I don’t know what is. The Colts’ earned their way into the top 5 by pulling off win after win under incredible circumstances. But, the facade comes loose a little when they don’t find a way to win. The game was more important for Las Vegas than Indy. But, the Raiders might be the exact kind of team the Colts are going to need to be able to beat in the playoffs. Not a great look.
12. Arizona Cardinals (11-5)
Last Week: 15
That’s more like it, Cardinals. I was getting worried there for a minute because they weren’t overcoming injuries. I know it’s difficult, but great teams find a way to do it. I’m still a bit skeptical because they didn’t exactly win in convincing fashion down the stretch. But, they made poor clock management by the Cowboys work in their favor. Sometimes you have to grind a win out against a tough opponent.
11. Los Angeles Chargers (9-7)
Last Week: 12
Despite all their chargering, the Chargers still managed to wax the floor with an opponent they desperately needed to beat to stay relevant in the playoff discussion. They made it happen and now have the inside track to a playoff spot. Sort of. They’ll need to beat the Raiders next week or be eliminated. But, if the playoffs ended today they’d be in.
10. San Francisco 49ers (9-7)
Last Week: 10
I already mentioned how I actually expect the Saints to knock the 49ers out of the playoffs next week. But, next week isn’t here yet. This is the Week 18
NFL Power Rankings. And, as of Week 17, the 49ers are still rocking. I don’t know if they can hold on next week against the explosive Rams. But, the 31-10 drubbing of the Rams earlier this season is what kicked off this run the 49ers have been on. So, you never know! If the 49ers can pull it off, they’re as dangerous as anyone.
9. Tennessee Titans (11-5)
Last Week: 9
The Tennessee Titans are currently the AFC’s No. 1 seed. So, why are they ranked below other AFC teams you ask? Well, I’m still not sure what we’re going to see from the Titans when the competition starts roaring back up in the playoffs. If Derrick Henry comes back and gets right back to where he left off, this team will probably win the Super Bowl. But, it seems more likely that Henry might need some time to adjust back to football shape. If that’s the case, I doubt the Titans make it far in the playoffs. Regardless of how badly they beat the pretender Dolphins.
8. New England Patriots (10-6)
Last Week: 8
Wow! Talk about an absolute clinic! Bill Belichick wrote the book on how to take advantage of an inferior opponent this week! Mac Jones may not have thrown for a billion yards, but he did throw for three touchdowns and no interceptions. If this is a bounce-back game for the Patriots, the rest of the AFC should watch out over the next month. But, I’ve still got the back-to-back losses to the Bills and Colts fresh on my mind. I’ll take this Jaguars game as a sign they’re still worthy of being in the top 10.
7. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (12-4)
Last Week: 6
Normally, I don’t knock teams down after a win. But, the Bucs have looked vulnerable in recent weeks. After losing 9-0 to the Saints a few weeks ago, now almost losing to the Jets? And then that whole debacle with Antonio Brown. Everyone on the planet knew that was going to blow up in their face eventually. Then again, it’s tough to call them out for much when they’ve built such a successful team in Tampa over the last two seasons. Still, it’s not the best look. The Bucs look vulnerable heading into the playoffs.
6. Buffalo Bills (10-6)
Last Week: 7
The Bills struggled to put a vastly inferior Atlanta Falcons team away this week. I’m not going to knock them down in the Week 18 NFL Power rankings. But, I’m not going to give them a boost, either. They’re the last division leader in the AFC to not clinch their division yet. Granted, none of those other AFC teams are competing with a second place team as strong as the Patriots. I still think they’re one of the best teams in the AFC, but I also think there’s some vulnerability that concerns me.
5. Dallas Cowboys (11-5)
Last Week: 4
Dak Prescott tried his damndest this week, but Mike McCarthy’s poor clock management was too much to overcome. All in all, I think the Cowboys played a decent game. I have no hesitation to say there’s no reason they can’t beat the Cardinals in a playoff rematch. But, they’ll have to overcome the little mistakes. I still think this is a great team. But, I’m wondering if they’re quite championship caliber.
4. Los Angeles Rams (12-4)
Last Week: 3
I said I don’t normally do this earlier in this article. Yet, here I am knocking a team down in the Week 17 NFL Power Rankings yet again despite a win. Why? Matt Stafford worries me. There’s no question he’s talented enough to contend for a Super Bowl and the Lions were holding him back. But, his penchant for absolutely devastating turnovers have me worried about what happens when this team plays great teams every single week. The Ravens were up 16-7 at the beginning of the fourth quarter and it was almost entirely because Stafford kept turning the ball over.
3. Cincinnati Bengals (10-6)
Last Week: 11
Those of you who follow my ATB coverage and my YouTube Channel know it fills me with joy to have an excuse to put the Cincinnati Bengals up this high in the Week 17 NFL Power Rankings. But, you also know I strive for analytical objectivity. Objectively, the Cincinnati Bengals stamped their name in the book of Super Bowl contenders this week with a clutch victory over the top team in the AFC this week. Joe Burrow and Ja’Marr Chase are absolutely lethal together at all levels of the sport.
2. Kansas City Chiefs (11-5)
Last Week: 1
Despite losing to the Cincinnati Bengals this week, I still think the Kansas City Chiefs are a hell of a football team. I would still put my money on them if they see the Bengals again in the playoffs. I don’t want to hear the excuses about the refs, because it’s a load of crap. But, I have to admit the Chiefs were one or two properly executed plays away from winning that game. They’re still super dangerous. I would be wary of counting this team out.
1. Green Bay Packers (13-3)
Last Week: 2
The Green Bay Packers are the only team in football without a damn thing to fight for in Week 18. They took care of business against Sean Mannion’s Vikings this week and left no doubt about who the best team in the Week 18 NFL Power Rankings is. Davante Adams had another huge game. Aaron Rodgers was damn near perfect. Aaron Jones and AJ Dillon were a fearsome two-headed beast in the backfield. Show me a major weakness on this team, other than some of their long-term injuries.
This Tuesday the College Football Playoff Committee will release their first rankings of the season. Today I will release my College Football Playoff predictions, with the four teams who will be in and four teams that just missed the cut. Grab yourself your favorite beer, cocktail, or a cup of coffee and let’s get angry about rankings!
College Football Playoff Predictions: The Four Teams In
This was the easiest decision to make. Georgia has been dominating everyone they have played with their elite defense. Their offense is not very explosive, but they rarely turn the ball over and have played good enough to keep pressure off of the defense.
Stetson Bennett has kept his turnovers to a minimum (four interceptions on the year), while allowing the running game to be the engine to this offense.
2.) Ohio State
Ohio State has arguably been the second best team in College Football this season with C.J. Stroud developing into a star signal caller and TreyVon Henderson finding his stride as arguably one of the best running backs in college football.
Ohio State’s offense has been incredible. However, their defense still raises some questions and could be the reason they aren’t raising the CFP National Championship Trophy in January.
Nick Saban just turned SEVENTY YEARS OLD and is still dominating college football. Bryce Young, the Heisman favorite right now, is leading the team as a redshirt freshman at Quarterback with playmakers Brian Robinson jr., John Metchie III, and Jameson Williams.
Alabama still has enough fire power to score on anyone even after sending five offensive playmakers and two quarterbacks to the NFL in the past two drafts. With a defense that still ranks in the Top-15 among FBS teams (according to NCAA.com).
Alabama might be the most well-rounded team in college football when all is said and done. Nick Saban is the greatest of all time.
Oklahoma was looking like a team destined to get upset a few times this season. However, they’ve pulled out the win on every occasion thus far. With the change to Freshman Quarterback Caleb Williams, Oklahoma’s offense looks more dynamic than ever.
This defense is littered with talent including: Nik Bonitto, Perrion Winfrey, and Isaiah Thomas on the defensive line. If Alex Grinch can get this defense to play to their potential, they will be an elite front seven come December and January.
College Football Playoff Predictions: The First Four Out
The Cincinnati Bearcats are going to be huge Notre Dame fans for the rest of the season. They came away from South Bend with a win earlier this year and so far it’s the only loss Notre Dame has had. Although Notre Dame has had some close calls to questionable programs this season, namely Florida State and Toledo, they still stand with a (7-1) record.
Cincinnati is headed by Luke Fickell, one of the hottest up-and-coming head coaches in college football at the moment. Fickell is a defensive mind, as he was a co-defensive coordinator and linebackers coach at Ohio State before taking the Cincinnati job.
The Bearcats are also littered with talent on their roster, especially at premium positions. Headlined by Desmond Ridder at quarterback, a potential first round pick next April. Ahmad “Sauce” Gardner is a shut down cornerback, currently having an elite-level season. Myjai Sanders is another high-impact defender for the Bearcats. However, he is currently sitting with a pedestrian one sack on the season.
I believe the College Football Playoff Committee will leave Cincinnati out of the Top-4 for the time being. This committee will do anything they can to keep a non-Power Five school from being in the playoffs. The reason is money. Keeping all of the College Football Playoff money within the Power Five conferences is good business. Spreading it to another conference — is not.
I hear the arguments for Cincinnati “deserving” to be in the playoffs because they’re undefeated, they beat a blue blood program on the road, they’ve done everything they could thus far. I just do not think they’re one of the four best teams in college football.
6.) Michigan State
After a huge win against rival Michigan in East Lansing, Michigan State is the last remaining un-beaten team in the Big Ten.
Mel Tucker has crafted an incredible bend-but-don’t-break defense, allowing over 420 yards per game but only 20.5 points per game.
Kenneth Walker Jr. is having one of the best seasons a running back has had since Derrick Henry won the Heisman in 2015. Accumulating 1,194 yards and 14 touchdowns in eight games.
With a loss to Michigan State, the Wolverines chances at a College Football Playoff looks slim. However, a big win against Ohio State and Michigan State dropping two games with Ohio State and Penn State still on their schedule, still gives Michigan fans some hope of finally making a playoff.
With their win against Ohio State fading more and more into the rear view mirror, Oregon must stay focused and win-out in a bad PAC-12. The loss to Stanford has probably already sunk their chances of making a playoff. A scenario to get them in could entail Ohio State losing one more game to Michigan State or in the Big Ten title game. Alabama and Oklahoma would both have to lose their Conference Title Games as well for Oregon to have any chance at making the playoffs this season.
This College Football Playoffs prediction is hardly set in stone and completely fluid. As of right now, this is who I would have in the playoffs and who I would have on the outside.
Please make sure to comment and tell me who YOU would have in your College Football Playoff prediction. Peace!
We are back today with another big edition of Falcons Dueling Mock Draft. With the win against the Dolphins, the Falcons now have the 17th overall pick in the draft. And now we are back with the Falcons ATB Crew’s dueling mock draft. Big thanks as always to nflmockdraftdatabase.com for the simulator we use.
Hunter’s Falcons Mock Draft (@hthompsonNFL)
Round 1 Pick 17: Kinglsey Enagbare, EDGE, SC
The 6’4″ 265lb EDGE is where I go with my most first pick of the day. The pass rusher has exploded at South Carolina over his career with 6 sacks in the shortened season and already has 4.5 this season. Box stats aren’t everything but Enagbare is a steal here and looks to be another great EDGE prospect in an absolutely loaded EDGE class. The toolsy EDGE dominants with his athleticism and long arms and would be a perfect addition to the Dean Pees defense. He needs to work on his run defense, so he isn’t perfect, but he does improve a lackluster pass rush.
Round 2 Pick 50: David Bell, WR, Purdue
Adding a nice WR talent here, we take David Bell. He’s a 6’2″ 205lbs WR from Purdue who can do it all. He is a physical receiver who wins with his blend of size and speed while dominating at the point of attack. Bell would give the Falcons a nice vertical threat to play opposite of Ridley and Pitts while they rebuild the offense to fit Arthur Smith’s dream and vision.
Round 2 Pick 58: Jalen Catalon, SAF, Arkansas
I will admittedly say I have not watched a ton of Catalon yet, but in the little I have watched I have liked. He is a very old school style safety who isn’t afraid to lay the hammer. He gets moved around the Arkansas defense as a versatile chess piece, with some action in the slot, in the box, and as a free safety. I’m a little concerned about his previous injury history. But his talent is hard to question. Adding Catalon would allow Dean Pees to roll out plenty of different looks for opposing offenses.
Round 3 Pick 81: Zion Tupuola-Fetui, EDGE, Washington
Yes I went EDGE again because our team needs help. Means isn’t it and Fowler is set to become a FA at the end of the season. Here we take my classic ZTF, after coming back from his achilles tear he was back with a sack the other night against Arizona. ZTF is a physically dominant EDGE who has a decent pass rush arsenal and dominates with his physical tools. Bit raw in some aspects, but if we have an EDGE group of Ogundeji, Enagbare, ZTF, and JTM going into next season, we will be looking good.
Round 4 Pick 120: Zach Charbonnet,, RB, UCLA
Zach Charbonnet has really emerged this season at UCLA. The Michigan transfer has come alive under the Chip Kelly and helped propel UCLA back into some form of the spotlight. The 6’1″ 220lb RB has put up 732yds and 7 TD’s on the ground while maintaining a 5.9 yards per carry. Charbonnet would be a great fit in Arthur Smith’s zone blocking offense and would be able to step right into the Mike Davis role and become the main back.
Adam’s Falcons Mock Draft (@Damski32)
Round 1 Pick 17: Ahmad “Sauce” Gardner, CB, Cincinnati
Ahmad “Sauce” Gardner is a sticky CB with good hips who can carry speed downfield. He understands man really well and shows constant ability to play through WR’s hands and even beat WR’s to the catch point on balls. I was extremely impressed with his tackling ability despite having a slender frame and from time to time ducking his head and putting his neck in danger, he shows really good physicality. One thing I LOVE from my CB’s is talking that talk on routes, meaning getting into WR’s faces and letting them know they’re getting locked up. Sauce shows confidence in bunches, and I love that about him. Pairing him with AJ Terrell would give ATL the most talent they’ve had at CB in quiet some time.
Round 2 Pick 50: Thayer Munford, OG, Ohio State
Thayer Munford is a LG from THE Ohio State Buckeyes and he’s in his first season as the starting LG, prior to he was the starting LT but the Buckeyes realized his future was at LG. This season Munford has given up very little and has been physically imposing in the run game, several times when the team needs yards they go up his alley. I know people will question this with Mayfield coming along, but imo you can always use bodies on the OL and we shouldn’t let Mayfield get complacent, I think Munford is the perfect scheme versatile player we need, who also can flex a little bit at OT if need be.
Round 2 Pick 58: Zach Charbonnet, RB, UCLA
Zach Charbonnet is an extremely talented RB out of UCLA, formally of Michigan. Standing at 6’1 225 he’s got a physical downhill style to him that’s reminiscent of what Arthur Smith likes in his back, guys who can just be physically imposing on defenders for all 4 quarters. He’s got great vision and good contact balance, when he’s in open field he shows that he can take is south/west to make defenders miss, or he can go right through you, he’s my kind of back, and I think the kind of back that Smith wants here in ATL.
Round 3 Pick 81: Isaiah Foskey, EDGE, Notre Dame
I constantly talk about having these big OLB’s that can destroy gaps and create lots of havoc in the pass and run game, Foskey is that kind of guy, and pairing him with Ogundeji (former Notre Dame DE himself) would be something I’d be in on. He’s a long, powerful rusher, that doesn’t have quiet as much pass rush sense as Ogundeji did coming out, but he rushes with a plan and understands that he has to have different pitches when rushing the passer, and for the most part he does. I love his size 6’5 260, he’ll have a lot of room to put on the weight he needs to and be a physically imposing OLB for us in the future.
Round 4 Pick 120: Sam Williams, EDGE, Ole Miss
Sam Williams is another one of these long, physically imposing OLB’s, I think, at least from what ATL has done last off-season you’ll see the trend of these kind of pass rushers come to ATL. Why double dip ? Well, pass rush comes in layers and having two shots at the target (upgrading the pass rush) in a talented pass rusher class is something I’m really about in this class. I think Williams is a great late round guy that presents big time upside with the power that he has. Against Alabama you see him numerous times just fold OT’s, and even at times he lines up inside standing up and uses his strength to push the pocket.
Ok, guys, I’m going out on a limb this week since I’ve finished a distant third in the voting for two weeks straight. It’s a risky proposition, but sometimes you have to give the people what they want. I’m not above shamelessly pandering to the fan base.
Round 1 Pick 17: Jordan Davis, DT, Georgia
Y’all will get sick of seeing Davis’ name in these mocks by the time we get to the draft. I’d imagine he’ll be my pick in the first in the overwhelming majority of these, but he is a perfect fit for what Atlanta needs. So many of the defensive breakdowns for the Falcons start with their inability to control the line of scrimmage. Davis’ ability to command double teams and wreak havoc inside will elevate the play of everyone around him.
Round 2 Pick 50: Derion Kendrick, CB, UGA
Kendrick won’t set records at the combine or blow people away with freakish athletic traits. However, he’s a heady, versatile cornerback that fits what Dean Pees wants to do perfectly. A solid man coverage who truly excels in zone coverage, where his background as a receiver makes him especially dangerous. There is room to grow, and that growth may have painful moments, but Kendrick has the tools to be an excellent CB2 to pair with AJ Terrell.
Round 2 Pick 58: Nolan Smith, EDGE, UGA
A former five-star recruit, Smith, has the length, flexibility, and athleticism to excel as a pass rusher in Atlanta. He’s having a less productive season than many expected, but I suspect he will turn heads when he makes it to the combine and solidify his positioning as a Day 2 edge rusher. Sub-240lb edge defenders generally get pigeonholed into this role, so Smith will need to add some mass. Still, the traits are all there. It’s just a matter of development.
Round 3 Pick 81: Jamaree Salyer, IOL, UGA
I am committed to this all-UGA draft, no question. This, however, puts me in a position where I have to discuss a prospect I don’t know particularly well. Salyer was a five-star recruit and, at 6’4, 325lbs should immediately upgrade the physicality of the Falcons offensive line. Salyer has played all over Georgia’s D-line, and that versatility would prove invaluable on an incredibly thin Falcons roster.
Round 4 Pick 120: Zamir White, RB, UGA
I’ll round out my attempt to win votes by unabashedly appealing to UGA fans by selecting Zamir White in the fourth round. White is a bit of a limited player. He isn’t particularly shifty or much of an asset in the passing game. However, he is an excellent north-south power runner and could easily fill Mike Davis’s role with the Falcons.