Pro Football Blog

By Stephen Juza

May 15th, 2024

Last month, we looked at Andy Reid's chances at breaking the career wins record with his new contract extension. While the Chiefs under Reid have been the class of the NFL, his age may be the most significant barrier to achieving the record. Reid would have to coach into his 70s, an age that most coaches have long since hung up the whistle. If it’s not Reid, and assuming Bill Belichick is finished coaching, which coach stands the next chance at breaking Don Shula's record?

Enter Pittsburgh Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin.

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Tomlin is the only active coach under 60 in the Top 50 for career wins. For a coach to break the record, they have to get their start at an early age. Tomlin was hired as the Steelers head coach at the relatively young age of 35, and has been a consistent winner from Day 1. Hired to fill the large shoes left behind by retired Steelers coach Bill Cowher, he was an immediate success. In only his second season, he won his first Super Bowl, and two years later he led the team to a second appearance.

He has maintained the level of success throughout his tenure in Pennsylvania. He has never led his team to a losing record, and in his seventeen seasons, he has more double-digit wins seasons than single-digit win seasons. In fact, he has accumulated wins at a rate almost identical to Shula's during his record-setting career.

He has also won games at a higher rate than almost any other coach. His 63% win percentage is good for sixth highest among the Top-20 winningest coaches in NFL history. However, while 63% is fantastic on the career charts, it consistently falls below any point in Shula’s career.

While they have accumulated wins at a similar pace, Tomlin has benefited from the elongated NFL season to keep up with Shula. While Shula’s career win percentage peaked in the high 70s, Tomlin has consistently been in the mid-60s, which will require him to continue coaching for a very long time. Projected trends indicate he would break the record in his 32nd season based on his win percentage.

However, the team has struggled the last five seasons. Since the 2019 season, the Steelers have averaged just under ten wins a season, with zero playoff victories. A lack of offensive firepower has been a strong contributor toward that. Before 2019, the team had a bevy of offensive stars. Future hall of famers such as quarterback Ben Roethlisberger and offensive lineman Alan Faneca, first-team All-Pros such as Le’Veon Bell, Antonio Brown, and Maurkice Pouncey, and countless other Pro Bowlers.

Since 2019? They have not had a single offensive player named to the first team All-Pro and only a few offensive players have been named to the Pro Bowl. The consistent 9-10 win seasons have been powered by the defense, led by T.J Watt, Cameron Heyward and Minkah Fitzpatrick. But the defensive success hasn’t been enough. While the Steelers had top-10 defenses in four of the last five seasons, the average offensive rank during this time was 21st. While the offense has lagged in performance, the team is clearly committed to righting the ship. Four of the first five picks in last month’s NFL draft went to the offense.

Tomlin will have to reverse this trend to have any shot at the career wins record. Continuing the team record from the last five seasons would mean he needs to coach until his 33rd season. Averaging nine wins a season would push the record out to the 35th season. In short, longer than virtually any head coach ever - only three coaches have ever coached 30+ seasons as a head coach (Shula, George Halas, and Curly Lambeau).

Tomlin would have more to worry about than the wins record if his team only averaged 9 wins a season for the next fifteen years. It’s likely that he would be fired long before that. But short of the Steelers finding the next generational quarterback to lead the team the next fifteen years, it’s likely Shula will retain the record for a very, very long time.

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May 11th, 2024

As we gear up for the highly anticipated 2024 NFL season, enthusiasts eagerly await the electrifying displays promised by the stacked rookie talent pool at the wide receiver position. With a blend of budding stars poised to ascend to greatness, the stage is set for an exhilarating showcase of playmaking prowess.

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1. Marvin Harrison Jr: Arizona Cardinals

Marvin Harrison Jr., born and raised in the football-centric city of Philadelphia, has inherited his father's legacy and carved his path as a standout wide receiver in college football. With each season, Harrison Jr. has elevated his game, displaying remarkable talent and consistency on the field. His sophomore breakout season, marked by over 1,200 receiving yards and 14 touchdowns, catapulted him into the national spotlight. Despite facing increased defensive attention in his junior year, Harrison Jr. continued to shine, showcasing his exceptional speed, precise route running and ability to make game-changing plays. His knack for surpassing the 1,000-yard mark and notching double-digit touchdowns in multiple seasons cements his status as one of the most electrifying receivers in the game.

2. Malik Nabers: New York Giants

Hailing from the football-rich region of Lafayette, Louisiana, Malik Nabers has emerged as a dynamic playmaker and a rising star in college football. Nabers' journey from a promising recruit to a standout wide receiver has been nothing short of impressive. Blessed with exceptional speed, agility and route-running prowess, Nabers has consistently torched defenses, amassing impressive statistics and earning accolades for his on-field achievements. His ability to thrive in critical moments, particularly in the red zone, underscores his value as a reliable target and a game-changer for his team.

3. Rome Odunze: Chicago Bears

Rome Odunze, a towering presence at 6 feet 3 inches, has become a dominant force on the football field, commanding attention with his size, speed and playmaking ability. Hailing from the vibrant city of Las Vegas, Odunze has established himself as a go-to target for the Washington offense. With consecutive seasons leading the conference in receiving yards, Odunze has proven to be a matchup nightmare for opposing defenses. His strong hands, precise route running and knack for making contested catches have consistently propelled his team's offensive success, making him a cornerstone of their passing game.

4. Brian Thomas Jr.: Jacksonville Jaguars

Brian Thomas Jr., a product of the football-rich state of Texas, has emerged as a standout wide receiver, drawing praise for his athleticism, skill set and impact on the field. From his early days as a high school standout to his collegiate success, Thomas Jr. has continuously showcased his ability to make plays and elevate his team's offense. With a proven track record of over 900 receiving yards and multiple touchdowns in a single season, Thomas Jr. has become a reliable target known for his precise route running, sure hands and ability to deliver in clutch moments.

5. Ladd McConkey: Los Angeles Chargers

Ladd McConkey, who comes from the small town of Chatsworth, Georgia, has defied expectations to emerge as a dynamic college football player. Known for his exceptional speed, agility and versatility, McConkey has become a key contributor on both offense and special teams. As a receiver, he possesses superb route-running skills and the ability to create separation from defenders, making him a reliable target in the passing game. Additionally, McConkey's impact extends to special teams, where his return skills and knack for making big plays have earned him recognition as a game-changer. With his diverse skill set and relentless work ethic, McConkey is poised to continue making a significant impact on the game, both on the field and beyond.

Final Thoughts

As the 2024 NFL season approaches, the wide receiver position is especially hotly anticipated. With an impressive roster of players ranging from seasoned veterans to budding stars, fans can expect to see dazzling displays of agility and ability on the field. The strategic brilliance of coaches like Andy Reid adds another layer of excitement, as they deploy innovative offensive schemes designed to maximize the talents of their wide receivers. From game-changing catches to thrilling touchdown runs, these wide receivers will leave an unforgettable imprint on the season, enthralling audiences and raising the bar for excellence in their position. As we wait for kickoff, one thing is certain: the wide receivers of the 2024 NFL season are ready to demonstrate their abilities, entertain fans and make this season one to remember for years to come.

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May 10th, 2024

With 53 players on each NFL roster, it can be hard to recognize every great talent the league offers. Inevitably, some players aren’t going to get the recognition they deserve each season. However, their stellar performances have helped their teams succeed by changing the odds, to the joy of fans and sports betting sites alike. For those interested in following these underrated NFL players and wanting to easily place bets online, many sports betting sites offer different online payment methods, ensuring a secure and responsible betting experience.

Let’s take a look at four of the most underrated NFL players last season and why they should be on your radar next season.

Matthew Stafford - Los Angeles Rams QB

Coming off an injury-riddled 2022 season at the age of 34, it would be fair to think that Matthew Stafford's time as one of the better-starting quarterbacks in the league was coming to a close. Instead, he led a stunning revival in LA that, like most things he does, went under the radar.

The Rams bounced back from a woeful 5-12 campaign to make the playoffs, in large part thanks to Staffords' effort as signal caller. He made the Pro Bowl for only the second time in his career while finishing top ten in MVP voting.

Jadeveon Clowney - Baltimore Ravens DE

Jadeveon Clowney is one of those players who hovers in between the liminal space of bust and good NFL player. Yes, coming out of college he was supposed to be a game-breaking defensive force and he never quite lived up to that expectation at the professional level but the former South Carolina Gamecock is still a multi-time Pro Bowler who played important roles on some pretty good defenses.

2023 was more of the same for Clowney, who joined the Baltimore Ravens and made an immediate impact, tying his career-high with 9.5 sacks while posting the highest PFF pass-rushing grade of his career.

James Conner - Arizona Cardinals RB

A former cancer survivor and Pittsburgh area legend, it feels like people just sort of stopped talking about James Conner outside of the fantasy football space once he left for Arizona. So, it’s no wonder that very few seemed to notice just how good he was on a pretty bad Cardinals team that was missing Kyler Murray for most of the year.

While he wasn’t able to crack his 2018 season in terms of yards from scrimmage, Conner set career-highs in yards per carry (5.0) and rushing yards per game (80) while breaking the 1000-yard mark for the first time. Now with Murray back and incoming phenom Marvin Harrison Jr, Conner should have even more space to operate.

Rashid Shaheed - New Orleans Saints WR/PR

Young wide receivers seem to be getting a ton of attention around the league these days, and yet somehow Rashid Shaheed seems to have slipped through the cracks. Maybe it's because he plays for a mediocre Saints team without an elite QB to catch passes from, but either way, Shaheed deserves your attention.

An undrafted free agent out of Weber State in 2022, Shaheed impressed as a rookie before breaking out in his second year with an incredible campaign. Not only did he integrate himself into the Saints passing game with 46 catches and 719 yards, but he also staked his claim as the league's best punt returner, averaging nearly 14 yards per return and taking one to the house.

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May, 8th, 2024

As the Queen of England said, "recollections may vary", and that too applies to the best and most unforgettable moments in NFL history. While people may have different opinions and takes on what went down, let's sum up the most memorable times that an NFL play had viewers not on the edge of their seats, but falling off completely.

The Catch

What makes a play or pass special is not only the execution and outcome, but the foundation that it lays for the game of football for the future. Nicknamed 'the catch' because of the unbelievable ability of Dwight Clark to actually catch the ball thrown by Joe Montana in 1982, the result was a touchdown and a victory by the San Francisco 49ers over the Dallas Cowboys. If you had gone to a bookkeeper and bet on that happening, the odds would have been slim to none, and today one could even wager online, for example via

The Music City Miracle

American football is enjoyed by millions because of its appeal and the fortitude of the team. However, what makes it fantastic, is the absolute unpredictability of it all. This was the case in 2000 when a last-minute lateral play by the Tennessee Titans against the Buffalo Bills had Kevin Dyson score a touchdown for his time. The play was a combination of strategy, foresight and sheer luck—the trifecta.

The Helmet Catch

One of those moments that football fans will never ever forget: in 2008, David Tyree made a leaping grab by pressing the ball that he had caught against his helmet while New England's Rodney Harrison aggressively tried knocking it loose. Regardless of what Harrison did and how much effort he put in to get the ball away from Tyree's helmet and into his own hands or onto the ground, Tyree didn't budge an inch, showcasing the determination and tenacity of NFL players.

The Miracle in Miami

When the end of the game is nearing and a team is behind in points, they sometimes attempt and opt for a lateral pass out of desperation. However, in the history of the NFL, only once in the 21st century has a team successfully converted a lateral pass for a touchdown at the end of a game; that was in 2003. That's why people refer to the play that happened in 2018 as the Miami Miracle. The Miami Dolphins managed not one, but a series of laterals to score a last-second touchdown against the New England Patriots. It was the first and only walk-off game-winning touchdown in NFL history that involved multiple lateral passes.

The NFL is extraordinary, both in terms of the players' strength and will, and also because of the unpredictable and nail-biting nature of the game. There's only thing that could make it even more exciting: betting on a game and having your own personal stake in it.

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By Stephen Juza

April 29th, 2024

Last week, Kansas City Chiefs coach Andy Reid signed a new contract extension, which ranks among the wealthiest in US sports history. The new contract will keep him tied to the Chiefs through the 2029 season, along with general manager Brett Veach. Having been paired together for many years, spanning both the Philadelphia Eagles and the Chiefs, they will continue their efforts to lead the Chiefs in a historic fashion.

In the midst of an incredible run of four Super Bowl appearances, and three wins, in five seasons, the Chiefs are poised to make a run for the first-ever three-peat in the modern era of the NFL. While competition is always steep in the NFL, coming out of the draft, the NFL betting lines favor a repeat of the Chiefs vs. 49ers Super Bowl at the end of the upcoming season.

While the Chiefs are working for one type of history in 2024, the contract extension lines Reid up for another type of history -- the career wins record. Sitting at 258 regular season wins, he is 70 wins behind Don Shula's record. Although the record is within reach, it will take a continuation of the historic run to reach the record. In today’s article, let’s examine how Reid got within striking distance of history, and what the Chiefs need to go their way in the several years.

Reid's Career

One potential roadblock that will prevent Reid from achieving the wins record is his age. He is already 66 years old, and will need to be coaching into his 70s to top Shula. However, many of his fellow coaches in the Top-10 on the career wins chart stopped coaching long before their 70th birthday.

Only two coaches in the top ten coached into their 70s, George Halas and Bill Belichick. If Reid maintains his current pace, he would break the record when he’s 71. Does he want to coach that long? He’s clearly enjoying life at the top of the NFL mountain, but even so much as one underperforming season would mean that he needs to coach another season, until he’s 72.

What’s unusual about Reid’s career trajectory is that he got his start much later than his coaching rivals. His first head coaching job was at the age of 41, later in life than all but one other top coach (Marty Schottenheimer, who was also 41). During a very different NFL era, Curly Lambeau got his start at the young age of 23, shortly followed by Halas at 25. While Reid benefits from more games a season, many others benefited from having more seasons to rack up wins.

Chiefs Front Office

At the same time as the franchise extended Reid, they also extended two other key members of the franchise: general manager Brett Veach and team president Mark Donovan. While Reid has had the team excelling on the field, Veach has been key at constructing the roster that has enabled them to successfully replace top players like Tyreek Hill.

The team traded Hill to the Dolphins following the 2021 season when he wanted a new contract. Since the trade, Hill has been arguably the top wide receiver in the league, but the Dolphins have not been able to achieve much team success. Contrast this with the Chiefs, that while they may have struggled to replace Hill’s production, they won back-to-back Super Bowls.

The Chiefs also hope to have found the replacement to the speedy Hill in this month’s NFL draft, taking Texas wide receiver Xavier Worthy in the first round. He will be paired with new free agent wide receiver, and fellow speedster, Marquise “Hollywood” Brown. Both new players will hopefully help take the stress off of Travis Kelce in the passing game, and hopefully limit any loss from a potential suspension for wide receiver Rashee Rice.

Chiefs Immediate Future

While Reid has had remarkable consistency as the Chiefs’ coach, the team will have some big shoes to replace in the very near future if Reid is to maintain the necessary pace of twelve or more wins a season. One of the biggest challenges will be replacing tight end Kelce. At 34, Kelce’s days as a top weapon in the NFL are numbered.

While he is still the safety blanket for quarterback Patrick Mahomes, his days as a number one receiving option may be behind him. 2023 saw his fewest receiving yards since 2015 and his fewest touchdowns since 2019. However, he’s still Mr. Reliable in the postseason where he averaged eight catches a game in the latest Super Bowl run.

The Chiefs addressed one of the top concerns of the offseason last month when they signed defensive tackle Chris Jones to a new five year contract. Jones has been a vital part of the Chiefs defense for many years, and last year the defense finished second overall in both yards and points allowed. The stout defense allowed the offense to work through various issues throughout the season without losing ground in the AFC West, and having Jones for many more years will give opponents headaches for years to come.

Likelihood of the Record

Ultimately, I think it comes down to if Reid wants to coach into his 70s. There’s no sure thing in the NFL, and two or three years ago, it looked like Belichick had the record within his grasp. However, the inability to replace Tom Brady at quarterback led to the team sputtering, and ultimately led to his firing. With Mahomes at quarterback for likely the remainder of Reid’s career, the team will likely always be in line for ten or more wins a season.

If the Veach can continue to find successful players in the draft, look for Reid to break the wins record toward the end of the 2029 season.

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