Conference Championship Weekend Predictions 

NFC Championship Game: 49ers at Eagles

I’m pretty convinced the Eagles are going to win this game. My opinion of San Fran went down quite a bit after watching them play the Cowboys. Yes, they won the game obviously, but they showed some serious offensive limitations. And for most of that game, the Cowboys looked like the better team. Dallas lost because Tony Pollard got hurt, and because Dak had a bad game and turned the ball over twice.

Dallas beat themselves in that game more than San Fran beat them.

I acknowledge that San Fran has stud players everywhere. CMC, Trent Williams, Deebo, Aiyuk, Kittle, Nick Bosa, Fred Warner, Hufanga–they basically have an All Pro-level player in every position group.

Except for quarterback. And that’s why I’m not sold on them.

Purdy’s limitations really showed in that Dallas game. San Fran was very fortunate to win. There were several passes of Purdy’s that should’ve been picked off, the big Kittle catch in the third quarter was kind of lucky/fluky, Dak played awful.

Right after that divisional round game, I said I thought the Cowboys looked like the better team. They did for about 3 quarters, at least 2.5 quarters. It looked like it was easier for Dallas to move the ball for most of that game, at least until Pollard went down.

Philly is a better team than Dallas, and Philly is playing at home.

Dallas had a very good pass rush. Dan Quinn defenses usually do. They ranked tied for 3rd in the league with 54 sacks on the year. The Chiefs were in second place with 55 sacks.

Guess how many the Eagles had? Just take a guess. I’ll give you a hint: they had the most in the league this year, so it was obviously more than 55. But how much more than 55?

Answers in…

Pencils down…

The answer is…


The Eagles had 70 sacks this year.

That’s over 4 a game, and almost one per game more than the next-best team.

70 sacks in a season is ridiculous. I know it’s a 17 game season, but even on a 16 game season it would be on pace for 65.9.

Last year, in 2021, the team with the most sacks was the Steelers at 55. The Steelers had 56 in 2020 to lead the league as well, 54 to lead the league in 2019–no team in recent years has gotten after the quarterback like this Eagles team. The 2015 Broncos, one of the best defenses ever, only compiled 52 sacks in the regular season. Again, the Eagles this year would have had 66 over a 16 game schedule.

The last time a team even had 60 sacks in a season was the 2013 Carolina Panthers.

I know the NFL is more of a passing league than ever, but this Eagles squad has sacked the quarterback more than any team dating back to 1984, when the Bears registered 72 sacks in one season, which I believe is the NFL record, and done over a 16 game season as well.

This is a historically great pass rush the Eagles have. They have 4 players with double-digit sacks: Haason Reddick with 16, and then Javon Hargrave, Josh Sweat and Brandon Graham have 11 apiece. That is ridiculous. Most teams in the league don’t even have one player with double-digit sacks, Philly has 4 guys. There were only 19 players this year to post double-digit sacks.

And here’s another thing: the Eagles do it without blitzing. They consistently get heavy pressure with their front four. The Eagles are just 18th in the league in blitz rate.

The Niners have a solid offensive line, but Dallas was getting good pressure for a lot of that game. They were making Purdy uncomfortable in the pocket. Philly will bring even more pressure on Brock Purdy, and I predict he won’t be able to handle it.

Now people are talking about how the Eagles really haven’t played any elite teams this year, and it’s true. The best team they played this year is Dallas, but in the first game against Dallas, Dak was out, and in the second game, Jalen Hurts was out. So really the best team the Eagles played this year, legitimately, was the Vikings.

It’s fair to point out that San Fran is a level above anybody the Eagles have played this year. If Philly ends up losing this game, we will point to the fact that they played an easy schedule and say this is why we overrated them.

But Philly has also been pretty dominant this year. I mean, they beat the Giants 38-7 in the Divisional round. You can say the Giants weren’t a great team, but Philly absolutely destroyed them. That’s the result we’d expect when a not so great team goes up against a great team.

Philly is one of the few teams in the league with a roster that can compete with the 49ers’ star-studded group. Philly has offensive weapons all over the place, an incredible offensive line, a highly efficient run game, and a monster defense.

The difference is going to be that Jalen Hurts is better than Brock Purdy. That’s really why I like Philly in this game. Both teams have amazing rosters, but Philly has a dangerous and dynamic, play-making quarterback. Purdy is more of a game manager whose job is to just not screw it up.

It’s true that Purdy went up against the Dallas defense and won, but so has Jalen Hurts.

Imagine if the quarterbacks were switched in this game. If Philly had Purdy and San Fran had Hurts. Wouldn’t everyone be taking San Fran to win in that case? I think so.

And so because Philly’s roster is about on par with San Fran’s, I don’t see how I could pick the 49ers in this game. Philly and San Fran each had 6 All Pro players this year. The rosters are about equal. To me the difference is Jalen Hurts.

I just don’t see Brock Purdy as a Super Bowl quarterback this year. I like him, he’s been an incredible story and he’ll have a nice career in the NFL. But he is a rookie quarterback who was the last pick in the draft. One day a rookie will lead a team to the Super Bowl, but it is not this year.

The level of competition in the playoffs increases in every round, and I just think this is about as far as Brock Purdy can take you. He was good enough to beat the Seahawks, was pretty fortunate to beat the Cowboys at home, but I don’t think he will be able to lead them into Philly and win this game. It exceeds his capabilities.

Philly will take some shots down the sideline in this game to AJ Brown and Devonta Smith. If there is anywhere that this 49ers defense can be exploited (a relative term with them), it’s at the cornerback position, simply because it’s the one unit on their defense that isn’t loaded up with top-end talent. Charvarious Ward and Lenoir are decent cornerbacks, but they’ve been beat in the past. I remember DK Metcalf had a big day against them in the opening round of the playoffs. AJ Brown is a similar type receiver to Metcalf, so he could be in line for a big day.

Really, I just keep going back to Brock Purdy vs. Jalen Hurts. Purdy is starting to put some stuff on film that opposing defensive coordinators are noticing now. He is, after all, a rookie 7th rounder. I simply can’t pick him to beat Jalen Hurts, especially when both teams have just stupid amounts of talent on their rosters.

Give me the Eagles to win 30-20.

I do have a feeling that the Eagles win this game kind of comfortably, and this coming from someone who just four weeks ago thought the Niners would more or less breeze to the Super Bowl, easily winning the NFC. Back then, the Eagles were kind of a mess, wracked by injuries and playing uninspired football. The 49ers looked like the clear-cut best team in the NFC.

But I’ve just seem some shakiness out of Brock Purdy the past two weeks that I can’t overlook. I don’t trust him to go on the road and win this game. Meanwhile the Eagles have been firing on all cylinders, so I do think this will be the game where Purdy finally meets his match, and thus I have the Eagles winning by 10.

AFC Championship Game: Bengals at Chiefs

I still find myself leaning Bengals. I don’t want to overthink this one. Even though Cincy is on the road, it’s the injury to Mahomes that seals it for me. The Chiefs were very fortunate to beat the Jaguars with a one-legged Mahomes. 

They had to bank on Jacksonville making some serious boneheaded plays and beating themselves. That’s why Kansas City won that game. They had to hold on for dear life. If Agnew doesn’t fumble that ball inside the 10 towards the end there, the Jags would’ve had it 27-24 with 5:00 or so to play.

In fairness the Chiefs were able to move the ball and score even with one legged Mahomes, but the Bengals have a better defense than the Jags do, and they are going to be playing against one-legged Mahomes all game long, as opposed to like half the game.

I just don’t think the Chiefs will be able to keep up with the Bengals in this game. Mahomes can overcome a lot but this Cincy team is a different animal. A lot of it will be out of Mahomes hands. Cincy is going to put up points on this Chiefs defense, and I just don’t see one legged Mahomes being able to keep pace. The Bengals have a scarier pass rush than the Jags do and I expect them to be playing with a lead most of the game, which will enable them to really dial up the aggression and blitzes.

The Chiefs can’t have this game turn into a shootout. They need it to be low scoring—like 24-20 or 21-17 or something like that. If its gets to a pace where Mahomes has to somehow put up 30+, that will become a serious problem. I don’t think the Chiefs are capable of scoring 30+ in this game.

But I also don’t think the Chiefs defense is good enough to hold the Bengals under 30 points either. They ranked 16th in scoring defense, 18th in rushing yards per carry allowed (because they’re built to play with a lead and rush the passer; they’re assuming most teams will have to abandon the run against them). If the Bengals get a lead in this game and Joe Mixon starts running downhill, it’s over.

The Chiefs are very good at pressuring the quarterback for sure, and Chris Jones is a bona fide game wrecker. I have a feeling they will get more pressure on Burrow than Buffalo got, one because they have a better pass rush, and two, because there won’t be a snowstorm going on during this game. I really think that snowstorm worked to neutralize the Buffalo pass-rushers and helped out the Cincy offensive line, because pass rushers rely on speed and explosiveness, and they were bogged down by the snow.

However, Joe Burrow is great at handling pressure. If there’s any quarterback that can overcome bad protection, it’s him.

Cincy won’t run the Chiefs off the field or anything like that. I’m just saying if Cincy ends up with 31 points, 34 points, 35 points–which is very much possible–I don’t think a one-legged Mahomes is going to be able to win that game in a shootout.

Throughout this week, the media narratives surrounding the Chiefs and Mahomes ankle have been absolutely ludicrous. People are acting like he’s not even hurt at all just because he said he feels good and there was a video of him walking 5 steps from a podium where he wasn’t limping.

People, are we serious here? The line swung from Bengals -2.5 to now Chiefs -1, so there goes that whole, “NOBODY BELIEVES IN US!” nonsense the Chiefs and their fans have been peddling all week.

Mahomes has a high ankle sprain. This is a 4-6 week injury. Just because he’s able to walk five steps from a podium to the locker room without a visible limp does not mean the injury is magically healed in 4 days. And of course Mahomes is going to say he feels fine. What else is he going to say? “Yeah ngl guys my ankle is cooked, we have no chance this weekend.” He’s got to make it seem like he’s fine, or else Cincy is just going to blitz him all day. They probably will anyway but you have to at least make them second guess themselves.

This is a 4-6 week injury. Mahomes will not be the same quarterback. His mobility will be limited. He will not be eluding tacklers and extending plays left and right. It’s going to be quick, short passes from the pocket, lots of running the ball–the gameplan will be different with his mobility limited.

I am sure the Bengals, like every team that plays Kansas City, will completely neglect to cover Travis Kelce, and he will have 25 catches in this game just running 5-7 yard curls totally untouched.

But then again, the last time the Bengals played the Chiefs they held Kelce to 4 catches for 56 yards and 0 TDs. So they might just be one of the few teams out there in the NFL that has the good sense to say, “Hey, maybe we should cover Travis Kelce.”

Overall, I just like the Bengals’ roster more than I like the Chiefs’ roster. The Chiefs have the edge at offensive line, for sure, but at almost every other position, the Bengals are better. Quarterback is probably a slight Cincy edge given that Mahomes isn’t 100%; the Bengals have better weapons, and a better run game.

Defensively, the Chiefs have the best individual player between the two teams, Chris Jones, but Cincy has a really good defensive line overall. Cincy has three stud players on their D-line: Reader, Hendrickson and Hubbard, so this is at least a wash if not a slight edge to Cincy. Linebackers I’ll give the edge to KC, but in the secondary, I’m going to lean Cincinnati. I know everyone likes to clown Eli Apple, and he might get cooked once or twice in this game, but beyond him Cincy has got Vonn Bell, Mike Hilton, Jessie Bates, Cam Taylor-Britt–it’s a good secondary overall.

The Chiefs have a pretty good secondary, but they’ve lost the Honey Badger, who is now playing for New Orleans. Plus, Cincy’s excellent pass-catchers will have the edge over that Chiefs secondary, while I don’t really see the Chiefs’ pedestrian receiver corps having a big advantage over that Bengals secondary. I know the Chiefs’ passing game relies heavily on clever scheming rather than talent to get guys open, so that’s why this isn’t a complete landslide in Cincy’s favor. But in the regular season matchup between these two teams, Joe Burrow completed 80% of his passes. Cincy knows how to attack this KC secondary.

Joe Burrow is still on his rookie contract. His cap hit is only like $11 million a year. Mahomes, on the other hand, is a $47 million cap hit. The Bengals are just able to afford a better roster because they aren’t yet paying their quarterback an eye-popping sum of money. So there’s really no question that the Bengals have the stronger roster.

The only way the Chiefs were going to have the edge in this game would’ve been a healthy Mahomes, but he’s not healthy. An immobile Mahomes is a significantly less dangerous Mahomes, pure and simple.

Given that Joe Burrow is almost as good a quarterback as Mahomes is even when Mahomes is 100% healthy, I just don’t see where the Chiefs have a significant edge here. People are kidding themselves if they think they’re going to see a 100% healthy Mahomes here. He’s dealing with a 4-6 week injury. He is not going to be running around like his normal self out there in this game, and even if Kansas City wins, he won’t even be fully healthy for the Super Bowl.

I’m not buying into the mystique that the Chiefs are the better team because they’re the Chiefs. People are talking about them like they’re the ’07 Patriots or something.

This is not some Death Star of a team Kansas City has. 11 of their 18 games this year including playoffs have been one-possession games. They needed overtime to beat teams like the Texans and the Titans. They beat the Chargers by three points in each matchup. Both their games against the Broncos were one possession wins. They beat the Raiders by a single point early in the year.

And again, they very well could’ve lost to the Jags last week.

This is the least-scary Chiefs team since Mahomes became the starter in 2018. They are not winning games with speed and pure talent and just having better players than you have; they’re winning games with clever Andy Reid schemes and taking you by surprise. It’s working, obviously, but because it’s scheme-based and not based on having dominant players, it can be figured out by a shrewd defensive coordinator, and the Bengals have one. In the past few years, other teams knew exactly what the Chiefs were going to do: either throw it deep to Tyreek Hill, who nobody could cover, or go underneath to Kelce. You basically had to pick your poison. You couldn’t run two-high safeties because Kelce would eat you alive underneath, but if you tried to take away the underneath stuff, Tyreek would be catching 70 yard bombs all game long.

Now the Chiefs don’t really have that deep element. It’s a lot of nickel-and-diming, dinking-and-dunking their way down the field: short curl routes, find the guy in the gap in the zone, hit him for a 6 yard gain, rinse and repeat. The Chiefs now have to out-scheme you, because they are no longer able to just line up and beat you with superior pass-catching talent.

As you get deeper into the playoffs and the level of competition increases, it makes it more and more difficult to win on scheme alone, because you’re going up against teams that are both well-coached/clever and loaded with talent.

Here’s another thing: the Chiefs run defense can get got. Cincy ran for 154 yards in the regular season matchup. I expect the Bengals to be running the ball quite a bit in this game, and they should be able to do so with some success. If they are able to run the ball on the Chiefs defense again, that makes it even more of an uphill battle for the Chiefs.

Right now, I’m seeing a lot of delusion in the Chiefs Kingdom. They’re pretending that everyone is disrespecting them, and they’re pretending that Patrick Mahomes has fully recovered from a high ankle sprain in under 72 hours.

Last year, the Chiefs lost to the Bengals at home even with Tyreek Hill and the Honey Badger. This year, they have neither–plus Mahomes will not be 100%.

Kansas City is not a better team this year than they were last year. I don’t care what anybody says: you do not lose Tyreek Hill and the Honey Badger and get better. Meanwhile, Cincinnati is probably slightly better this year than they were last year.

I don’t see Kansas City pulling this one out. Give me Bengals 31, Chiefs 24.

However, I am starting to doubt my pick because Bengals Nation is talking a lot of shit. From the Mayor of Cincinnati demanding Joe Burrow take a paternity test over Patrick Mahomes, to the “Burrowhead” comments, and all the stuff Eli Apple has been saying on Twitter, I feel like the Bengals are setting themselves up for a comeuppance. I don’t like it. You’ve gotta put your head down and go about your business, not pop off and act like you’re going to breeze to victory.

The more trash talking I hear out of Cincinnati, the less confident I am in them winning. I’m going to stick with them for now but if any more dumb shit comes out of a Bengals player’s mouth this weekend, I’m going to switch it up.

Is Burrow Better than Mahomes?

This is a conversation that has started up a bit this week. Probably a bit contrived and clickbaity, but there’s no doubt at this point that Burrow is the second best QB in the league. We have to give him that, given how much Tom Brady and Aaron Rodgers have fallen off.

I would personally rank the top QBs in the league as follows:

  1. Patrick Mahomes
  2. Joe Burrow
  3. Josh Allen
  4. Justin Herbert
  5. Jalen Hurts
  6. Trevor Lawrence

Past 6, I really don’t know. But I do know that’s my order for the top 6.

If the Bengals win on Sunday and beat the Chiefs in Arrowhead a second-straight time, then I think it only proves the Bengals are the kings of the AFC, not that Burrow is better than Mahomes. Especially with Mahomes on one leg.

Comparing quarterbacks is pretty dumb, in my book. We judge them on winning, but it’s a team game. There’s so many other variables in play, like weapons, offensive line, coaching, play-calling, and even defense.

I think Justin Fields is an awesome quarterback, but he’s in such a horrible situation that his team wound up having the first pick in the draft. His pass-catchers are subpar, his offensive line is subpar, he’s got one of the worst defenses in the league, and he has a defensive head coach.

But if we just isolate talent, I think Mahomes is the best quarterback in the league, in terms of arm strength, accuracy, creativity, mobility, leadership. Burrow is close, and might even surpass Mahomes in some categories. But I don’t think anyone can say he is a more talented football player than Mahomes.

This is not to take anything away from Joe Burrow. Mahomes might be the most talented passer the league has ever seen.

Will Aaron Rodgers be Traded to the Jets?

I have been hesitant to comment on this subject—I’m not even going to call it a storyline yet—because we go through it every year. Aaron Rodgers, pretty much every offseason for the past 2-3 years now, publicly waffles on whether or not he wants to go back to Green Bay, whether he wants to retire, etc.

And I’m just sick of it. He’s such a drama queen about it. “Ohhh it’s such a hard decision!!!” Gimme a break.

Ever since the 2020 Draft, when Adam Schefter dropped that report that basically Aaron Rodgers was demanding a trade out of Green Bay, this story has been out there. But then Rodgers went back to Green Bay, and he won MVP that 2020 season. His future with Green Bay was up in the air the following offseason as well, yet he wound up back there and won a second straight MVP.

Last offseason, he agreed to a long-term contract with the Packers, and it seemed to put the whole story to bed and ensured that he would retire a Packer. But now it’s looking like that might not be the case.

Though Rodgers is signed through 2026, and though the Packers will have to eat $59 million in dead cap in 2023 if they move off of him this offseason, it seems like there might be some motivation to make a move on both sides. The Packers can kind of afford to eat some dead money given that they’d be moving to Jordan Love, who is dirt cheap. And Aaron himself has said he’d be willing to restructure his deal, presumably either to free up cap space to for the Packers or to facilitate a trade.

Now I’m skeptical that he will actually be playing somewhere other than Green Bay next year. Again, we’ve gone through this plenty of times in the past. Because he’s making so much money and can still play, he’s got no reason to retire. So I do think he’ll be playing next year.

But now it’s starting to seem like the Packers are ready to move on. It seems like they might be ready to move on to Jordan Love, who has been sitting on the bench for the past three years, collecting dust. If they run it back with Aaron Rodgers in 2023, they are going to have to trade Jordan Love. I’m sure Love himself is at the point where he’d prefer to be traded somewhere else if the Packers aren’t planning on starting him in 2023. He doesn’t want to sit on the bench for 4 years.

So I think somebody is going to be traded here, either Rodgers or Love.

The funniest part of this all is that Aaron Rodgers is turning into Brett Favre. Brett Favre won a Super Bowl early in Green Bay, and then underachieved for more than a decade. Favre would publicly waffle on the idea of retirement towards the end there in Green Bay, and I remember him retiring and then un-retiring at least a few times. It got annoying as hell.

Eventually the Packers just shipped him off to the Jets after the 2007 season, because Aaron Rodgers had been sitting on the bench for 3 years and they were going to have to either shit or get off the pot with him. You can’t have this backup first round quarterback just sitting on the bench for 4 years.

The Packers shipped Favre off after he got them all the way to the NFC Championship game the previous year.

This year, Aaron Rodgers didn’t even get the Packers into the playoffs. Makes the decision for them a lot easier.

And now Rodgers will complete the full Brett Favre career cycle, by being sent off to the New York Jets after a long career in Green Bay. You can’t make this stuff up.

The Jets have hired Nathaniel Hackett to be their offensive coordinator, a transparent attempt to lure Aaron Rodgers. Obviously that didn’t work out for the Broncos, but I’m sure it’ll work out for the Jets!

Reminds me of that scene in Arrested Development, which has now become a meme, where Tobias and Lindsey are talking about having an open relationship. Lindsey asks Tobias if it’s ever worked for other couples, and Tobias says, “No, it never does. These people delude themselves into thinking it might… but it might work for us.”

That’s the Jets hiring Hackett. The Broncos did it to lure Aaron Rodgers over. It didn’t work for them.

But it might work for us!

The Importance of Weapons

The Eagles have made a concerted effort to obtain more offensive weapons the past few years. They traded for AJ Brown during the 2022 draft, the drafted Devonta Smith in 2021, and they’ve got a really solid tight end in Dallas Goedert to boot. Philly also has an awesome run game, and their quarterback Jalen Hurts is himself in many ways an offensive weapon given his running ability. He had 13 rushing TDs in the regular season.

The Bengals, against the advice of a lot of experts, drafted JaMarr Chase with the 5th pick in 2021, and that was after spending a high 2nd round pick on Tee Higgins in 2020 after they already had Tyler Boyd on the roster. People thought the Bengals should draft Penei Sewell in 2021, but they went with Chase (largely due to Burrow’s insistence) and wound up making it to the Super Bowl. The Bengals prioritized weapons and now they have a chance to get back to the Super Bowl.

San Fran has weapons galore: Deebo Samuel, Christian McCaffrey, George Kittle, and last but not least, the often overlooked but definitely special Brandon Aiyuk.

The Chiefs are really the one team without a plethora of offensive weapons behind Travis Kelce, who is obviously elite. They’ve got Juju, Valdes Scantling and the oft-injured Mecole Hardman, but KC’s offensive talent is not quite on the level of the other three teams remaining. However, they get the most out of all their players. Isaiah Pacheco is a 7th round rookie running back who looks like a stud, and Jerk McKinnon, now on his third team, looks like one of the best change of pace backs in the league. He had 10 TDs in the regular season and averaged 9.1 yards per catch on 56 receptions.

Meanwhile, look at the Bills, who face-planted in the divisional round: they’ve got Stefon Diggs, and then a bunch of average offensive weapons. It really showed.

Teams with young quarterbacks like the Bears and the Jaguars should pay close attention to the four teams remaining, and how much of a boon it is to a young quarterback to have a plethora of weapons. The Jags have already gone out and gotten Calvin Ridley, who will be suiting up for them next season, so that’s huge for T-Law. But the Bears in particular should be doing everything they can to surround Justin Fields with weapons, weapons and more weapons. That’s how you win in this league.

You’re not going to be like the Patriots, where Tom Brady was out there turning 7th round quarterbacks into Hall of Famers (Julian Edelman), or the Colts, where Peyton Manning was turning guys like Austin Collie and Pierre Garcon into Pro Bowlers.

That ain’t how it works. Peyton Manning also had Marvin Harrison Sr. and Reggie Wayne, plus Dallas Clark in Indianapolis.

You need great weapons to unlock your quarterback’s potential.

But I’m gonna go in on the Bills even more here, because their GM Brandon Beane said something this past week that I thought was pretty off base and out of touch:

It almost sounds like he’s trying to downplay his team losing to the Bengals. Like he’s saying, “Sure, we lost to them, but only because they sucked bad enough to get Jamarr Chase in the draft.”

So I guess that means you’re still somehow the better team, huh?

Kind of a weird flex here.

And yes, Andrew Brandt has a good point. How did Buffalo get Josh Allen? They drafted him 7th overall in 2018. Buffalo sucked for a long time prior to getting Josh Allen. I’m a millennial, so up until about 2019, Buffalo has been one of the worst franchises in the league to me. I know they were really good in the 90s and made it to 4 straight Super Bowls (unfortunately losing all of them), but I wasn’t around for that, so in my mind the Bills are on the same level as like the Lions and the Browns–among the very worst franchises in the league. They’ve won 3 straight division titles now, but prior to 2020, they hadn’t won a division title since 1995.

So I don’t know where Brandon Beane is coming from with this whole elitist, looking down his nose at the Bengals mentality. Bro, the Bengals have been a better franchise than the Bills for most of their histories. The Bengals at least made the playoffs consistently in the 2000s and 2010s. Buffalo had 0 playoff appearances between 2000-2016; Cincy made the playoffs 7 times over that span, although they went one and done every time. At least they made it there, though.

This whole, “Pfft, we’d never be bad enough to draft a guy like JaMarr Chase” attitude from Beane, I don’t get that. It wasn’t that long ago that the Bills were a bottom-5 franchise in the league.

But here’s where Beane is really wrong: you can acquire great talent without drafting in the top 5.

And that’s where I really have a problem with this mentality that he’s seemingly putting on display here. It’s almost like he’s saying it’s impossible for them to get high end talent because never get good draft picks.

Buffalo has had chances to acquire quality skill players in the draft, but Beane hasn’t capitalized.

In 2019, Buffalo had the 9th pick in the draft and took DT Ed Oliver. Dexter Lawrence went at pick 18 by the way. But if we’re looking at weapons on offense Buffalo could have drafted, the best one wasn’t taken until pick 36, Deebo Samuel. Buffalo had the 38th pick, and used it on an offensive tackle, Cody Ford. AJ Brown went at pick 51, DK Metcalf at pick 64.

Brandon Beane had the chance to draft some high end offensive talent back in 2019, but he didn’t, for whatever reason.

Buffalo took Devin Singletary in the third round with pick 74. Terry McLaurin was taken at pick 76. 

In round 5, at pick 147, Buffalo took a linebacker named Vosean Joseph, who is currently out of the league. He was one pick ahead of Dre Greenlaw, and two picks ahead of Hunter Renfrow. 

Buffalo took DE AJ Epenesa at pick 54 in 2020, right before the Ravens took JK Dobbins. Dobbins would be the best running back on the Bills right now, hands down. 

Buffalo had a first round pick in 2021, it was pick 30. They used it on another defensive lineman, Gregory Rousseau. Elijah Moore was picked at 34, and Javonte Williams was pick 35. 

Three straight years of their top draft selection being used on defensive line, and yet they still could only muster one sack on Joe Burrow against a Bengals offensive line that was missing 3 starters.

The Bills took safety Kaiir Elam at pick 23 in the 2022 draft. Christian Watson went at 34, and Kenneth Walker was pick 41.

It’s not as if Buffalo hasn’t tried to draft receivers over the years. It just hasn’t been a slam dunk when they’ve done it:

They haven’t drafted a receiver with a high pick since they took Zay Jones in the second round in 2017. I know there were some off the field issues (now totally resolved) he had that led to things not working out in Buffalo so I won’t hold this against anyone. 

Maybe they feel burned by taking Sammy Watkins at pick 4 overall in 2014. He only spent 3 years in Buffalo before trading him to the Rams in August 2017. 

The tough part about Buffalo taking Watkins that high in 2014 was that Mike Evans went at pick 7, Odell Beckham went at pick 12, and Brandin Cooks was pick 20. That’s got to sting if you’re Buffalo.

Of course Brandon Beane took over as GM in 2017, so he had nothing to do with drafting Watkins in 2014. 

But Beane has just not prioritized drafting wide receivers. If we look at early round draft picks, defined as rounds 1-3, Buffalo has only used 4 early round draft picks on offensive skill players since 2017. James Cook last year in round 2, Zack Moss in round 3 in 2020 (Moss has already been traded away), Devin Singletary in round 3 in 2019, and Zay Jones in round 2 in 2017.

They acquired Stefon Diggs in a trade. They didn’t draft him.

Since drafting Sammy Watkins in 2014, Buffalo has only drafted one offensive player in the first round: Josh Allen.

There are certain franchises who just always seem to have a plethora of weapons. The Browns for all their ineptitude at quarterback and revolving door of head coaches, seem to draft offensive skill players well. Same with the Bengals and the Steelers. Seattle, Dallas and San Fran do it consistently too. Atlanta also. 

I don’t think Buffalo prioritizes offensive weapons in the draft as much as they should. They’re an “Eat Your Vegetables” franchise like the Packers that pretends to be hip to the modern way of doing things. They’re much more comfortable taking a defensive lineman or a safety or an offensive lineman with a high draft pick.

My guess is because those are less high profile positions so if they bust it’s harder to notice. People notice when QBs, running backs, receivers and tight ends are busts. But you kind of have to have an eye for it if you’re going to evaluate a defensive back or an inside linebacker or a lineman. The average fan probably doesn’t pay too much attention to those positions—only really the fantasy football positions are what the typical fan pays close attention to. That’s where the average fan will notice which players are busts. 

I do think there’s an element of cowardice in not spending high draft picks on skill players, because again the failures with skill players are so much more high profile. So you take a safety or a defensive end, and you’re paying it safe. Half the time safeties aren’t even on the TV screen. Average fans don’t have the All 22 tape.

Getting burned by drafting Sammy Watkins at four overall in 2014 really set the Bills back as a franchise. Now they’re scared to spend high picks on skill players, and thus they really don’t have any other than Diggs.

I know Brandon Beane wasn’t the GM who drafted Watkins. In fact, the Pegula family, who owns the Bills now, didn’t even buy the team until October 2014. So it was a totally different ownership group that was around for the 2014 draft.

Yet somehow this franchise is still snakebitten over the Watkins pick.

The bottom line is that the Bills have no one to blame for themselves for the state of their roster. Brandon Beane seems more interested in making excuses as to why his team doesn’t have the high end skill position talent to compete at the highest level.

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