The post Meet @Berryhorse, A Compelling New Voice in Sports Betting Modeling And Information appeared first on SportsHandle.
The post Meet @Berryhorse, A Compelling New Voice in Sports Betting Modeling And Information appeared first on SportsHandle.
I first became aware of @Berryhorse when a few friends alerted me to his Twitter page. He’s gained quite a following thanks to his willingness to share his Major League Baseball betting model in an open Google spreadsheet, plus he provides insight into the model and his picks. Given his success this season, his profile on Twitter and Reddit has steadily grown.
According to his tracking, Berryhorse – whose real name is Kierian – is 166-138 (54.5%) on the season , +524.2 units and +22.45% ROI. (Note: We did not contemporaneously track or verify these MLB wagers/positions, but there is no shortage of followers who can attest to his success and are willing to make donations, which he has declined to accept and instead has referred them to charities.)
Berryhorse’s relatively new Twitter account has grown to nearly 8,500 followers. He updates his followers with his daily wagers and new information. We caught up with Berryhorse and he explained his background, his thinking and intentions with the model, and what’s to come for football season. But first, here’s a thread that he wants every follower to read.
If you are new to my page, PLEASE read this thread before taking any action.
— Berryhorse (@berryhorse29) July 1, 2018
Sports Handle (SH): To start, will you tell us a bit about your background?
Berryhorse (BH): I’ve been playing sports and watching sports for essentially my whole life. Basketball, football, golf, baseball and more. At the same time I’ve also always been a huge science and math nerd. I got into computer science my senior year of high school and majored in Computer Engineering and Computer Science in college. While at school I worked for an NBA analytics company, which was my introduction to machine learning and data science. Learning about this in the context of sports was awesome and eventually it became clear to me that it was possible to build predictive models to beat the sports betting markets.
Like most people I enjoy sports betting because of the money I earn, but by far my favorite part about it is that it quenches my thirst for competition. I love competing and winning and really enjoy that element of sports betting more than any other. I also love how it’s such a pure meritocracy. If you’re a winner, you’re a winner.
Over the long run you can put your money where your mouth is and prove your edge over the market. Of course the industry is full of scams and gimmicks but success in the actual betting market is purely based on merit. My favorite sport to bet on is baseball – highest volume of games, and when betting money lines the team’s incentives are always aligned with you as a bettor, unlike spread betting.
SH: Can you explain how the MLB model works?
BH: First, I have to give a lot of credit to Joe Peta, the author of “Trading Bases.” Much of how the model works is based on his principles. As simply as possible, the model prices each team against one another by projecting how good each team is at run production and run prevention.
There is no simulation of pitches or at bats or innings, it just says “team A is this good and team B is this good.” Once it has that information it can calculate a probability of one team winning the game and compare it with the Vegas line. When there’s a large disagreement between the two, it’s probably worth betting.
SH: How big a factor is the starting pitcher within the equation for each game?
BH: Starting pitchers matter as much as the specific starting pitcher matters. The run prevention number for the team obviously relies heavily on the starter and this is accounted for. Basically it calculates the RA number for the team if that starter pitched every game for them.
SH: What’s the most memorable cover you’ve had this baseball season? Wild ending, walk-off, or otherwise?
BH: The most memorable cover was the White Sox beating Cincinnati in CIN a few weeks ago. Lucas Giolito got rocked for 4 or 5 runs in the first and after spoiling a bunch of chances in extras, CHW eventually won in 12 by a few runs (and covered the run line). Most memorable loss: recently Kris Davis hit a 2-run shot with 2 outs and 2 strikes to win by one. That hurt. The most painful/memorable loss is always the most recent.
SH: Why do you keep the spreadsheet open? Are you interested in the conversation/discussion?
BH: I’m sharing all of this for a few reasons:
#1 and most importantly is I think my process of betting can be helpful for people and encourage them to think more analytically and reject some flawed ideas/myths in sports betting.
#2 I think I can help people win money.
#3 least important, and selfishly, I think it’s a good idea to build a reputation in sports because a lot of my long-term goals are in this space.
SH: What do you have in store for football season? Expect to focus on NFL or CFB or both?
BH: Football: I have models for both college football and NFL but I do not currently plan on making either public. I will share as much as I possibly can though.
(Note: In June, Kieran and his college roommate Jerry launched the podcast “Sports Thoughts” in iTunes (some words about the football model in Episode 7.)
SH: What’s the biggest lesson or takeaway, mathematical or otherwise, you’ve learned from the MLB season wagering?
BH: Biggest takeaway: Really the biggest takeaway is just simply the legitimacy of this model. I was expecting it to do well, but was not at all confident we’d see any season like I’ve enjoyed thus far.
SH: Can you offer some advice for beginners?
BH: I think one common mistake of beginners is not understanding the uncertainty of sporting events. In general, novice bettors are far too confident in their opinions and need to understand that sports are inherently very random and volatile. Typically this means new bettors skew towards betting a disproportionate amount of favorites.
Beginners should also be calculated with their risk allocation and bankroll management. There should be some element of betting more when they are more confident but still the maximum amount they bet should be a small portion of their overall bankroll. It is crucial to preserve and protect the sanctity of future earnings by never risking too much of their bankroll.
The post Meet @Berryhorse, A Compelling New Voice in Sports Betting Modeling And Information appeared first on SportsHandle.
<p> The end of running back <a href="http://www.nationalfootballpost.com/Marshawn-Lynch-holding-out-from-Seahawks-camp.html" target="_self">Marshawn Lynch’s holdout</a> doesn’t appear to be anywhere in sight with both sides firmly entrenched in their respective positions. The Seattle Seahawks expect Lynch to play under the four-year, $30 million contract (with $17 million in guarantees and additional $1 million in incentives) he signed in 2012
<p> The end of running back <a href=”http://www.nationalfootballpost.com/Marshawn-Lynch-holding-out-from-Seahawks-camp.html” target=”_self”>Marshawn Lynch’s holdout</a> doesn’t appear to be anywhere in sight with both sides firmly entrenched in their respective positions. The Seattle Seahawks expect Lynch to play under the four-year, $30 million contract (with $17 million in guarantees and additional $1 million in incentives) he signed in 2012 while Lynch would like his contract redone.</p> <p> Lynch is subject to a fine of $30,000 for each day of training camp he misses during his holdout. Since Lynch’s holdout reached six days on Tuesday, the Seahawks can also recoup $225,000 of his $6 million signing bonus. 15 percent of the $1.5 million prorated amount of Lynch’s signing bonus became recoverable on the sixth day of his holdout. Another one percent ($15,000) can be recouped for each additional missed day with a maximum of 25 percent of the prorated amount ($375,000) forfeitable during training camp. An additional 25 percent can be recovered if Lynch misses Seattle’s first regular season game. After four missed weeks of the regular season, the Seahawks can recover 1/17th of the prorated amount ($88,235) for each additional week of Lynch’s absence. The most that can be recouped from Lynch’s signing bonus during 2014 is $1.5 million, the entire prorated amount of his signing bonus. Teams will typically reduce or waive the penalties accumulated as a gesture of goodwill once a player ends his holdout.</p> <p> Contrary to reports, Lynch isn’t subject to a fine of one week’s base salary (1/17 of $5 million) for each pre-season game missed, which would be $294,117 per game. This fine is applied to players who signed contracts as unrestricted free agents. Lynch signed his current deal about a week before he was scheduled to become an unrestricted free agent.</p> <p> The Seahawks are content to follow their “Next Man Up” philosophy with 2013 second-round pick Christine Michael and 2012 fourth-round pick Robert Turbin serving as the primary ball carriers during Lynch’s absence. Michael and Turbin are the main components of Seattle’s succession plan at running back. The team was already planning on reducing Lynch’s workload before the holdout. The 28-year-old has a league-leading 901 rushing attempts over the last three seasons as the centerpiece of Seattle’s run-oriented offense. There has been speculation that the Seahawks could release Lynch in 2015.</p> <p> Lynch is adequately compensated by most standards. Although Lynch is currently the NFL’s sixth-highest paid running back by average salary at $7.5 million per year, he ranks third in the NFL in rushing yards (2,847), first in rushing touchdowns (23) and tied for fourth in yards from scrimmage (3,359 yards) since signing his deal. Lynch has the fifth-best cash flow in the first three years of running back deals ($22.5 million). He’s also fifth in compensation for running backs over the last two years with $17 million, ranking behind only Ray Rice ($25 million), Arian Foster ($23.5 million), Adrian Peterson ($19.75 million) and Chris Johnson ($18 million).</p> <p class=”co_image co_image_right inline_right”> <img alt=”Marshawn Lynch” src=”http://cdn.cloudfiles.mosso.com/c1910342/media_center/images/rendered/blog/wysiwyg/lynch3-2286.jpg” />Should Lynch honor his current contract or does he deserve a raise?</p> <p> Lynch is in a different financial situation than Jamaal Charles, <a href=”http://www.nationalfootballpost.com/Chiefs-sign-Jamaal-Charles-to-twoyear-extension.html” target=”_self”>who received an additional</a> $5.1 million over the remaining two years of his deal as a part of a two-year, $18.1 million contract extension signed on August 23. Charles was dramatically underpaid. The $18.57 million Charles made from 2010 to 2013 was $1.57 million less than Lynch earned over the last two years.</p> <p> The Seahawks don’t have any plans to deviate from their position but might be able to quickly end the stalemate by extending an olive branch to Lynch where they attempted to rework his deal within its existing framework. Interestingly, fans are almost evenly split on Lynch’s holdout according to an ESPN.com poll. 51.2 percent are in favor of reworking his contract while 48.8 percent think Lynch should honor his deal.</p> <p> Lynch is scheduled to make $5.5 million this year with a $5 million base salary and $500,000 as a per game 46-man active roster bonus ($31,250 per game). His 2015 salary is $7.5 million consisting of a $5.5 million base salary and $2 million as a per game 46-man active roster bonus ($125,000 per game). Lynch also has a $500,000 incentive in each of these years for 1,500 or more rushing yards.</p> <p> One easy cosmetic change would be to convert Lynch’s $500,000 roster bonus into base salary to ensure that he earned the money. The per game amount is only payable if Lynch is on the 46-man active roster for that particular game. For example, if Lynch suffered a season-ending injury during Seattle’s fourth game of the season, he would only earn $125,000 of his $500,000 roster bonus. Percy Harvin, Richard Sherman and Earl Thomas <a href=”http://www.nationalfootballpost.com/Breaking-down-Richard-Shermans-57431-million-contract.html” target=”_self”>don’t have per game roster bonuses</a> in their contracts. Per game roster bonuses were a rarity in Seattle contracts when Lynch signed in 2012, but have started becoming more prevalent in their deals. Michael Bennett has $1 million and $1.5 million of per game roster bonuses in the last two years of the four-year contract he signed this off-season.</p> <p> The Seahawks could convert this year’s $500,000 rushing yards incentive into 2014 base salary, if not the entire $1 million in incentives for both years. The conversion would use $1 million of Seattle’s $7.55 million of existing salary cap room (includes Lynch’s $5 million base salary in calculations which isn’t counting while he is holding out). If the Seahawks wanted to spread out the cap hit over two years, the $1 million could be a signing bonus instead. The Seahawks are in good shape cap wise in 2015, with $116.922 million of cap commitments (top 51 players).</p> <p> Another possibility would be to also fully guarantee a small portion (no more than $1 million) of Lynch’s $5.5 million 2015 base salary. As an alternative, the amount guaranteed could be tied to Lynch’s 2014 performance. Seattle would insist on any 2015 guarantees containing an offset so Lynch couldn’t “double dip” (get paid Seattle’s guarantee and the entire amount of his contract with another team) if he’s released next year. Additionally, Seattle could convert Lynch’s $2 million per game roster bonus in 2015 or $2 million of 2015 base salary into a first day of the 2015 league year roster bonus. If Lynch wasn’t a part of Seattle’s plans next year, he would hit the free agent market while teams had all of their cap room available to sign players.</p> <p> Another impediment to reworking Lynch’s deal is that NFL teams are reluctant to establish contractual precedents, especially a precedent of giving into a player’s demands for a new contract through a holdout. Although teams should be able to easily make distinctions based on each player’s particular circumstances, they don’t want to send a signal to the other team members that they could get rewarded by holding the team hostage. Seattle doesn’t want to give Sherman or Thomas ammunition to approach them about renegotiating their deals in a couple of years because of how they handled Lynch’s situation.</p> <p> Seattle did make some changes to Brandon Browner’s contract last year to give him the opportunity to earn an additional $250,008 in the final year of the three-year deal he signed in 2011. Browner received a $125,000 signing bonus and $125,008 as a per game 53-man roster bonus ($7,813 per game). Browner’s situation can be differentiated because he was only making minimum salary in his deal and a portion of the salary increase may have been a reimbursement for him accepting a four-game performance enhancing drugs suspension without pay at the end of the 2012 regular season instead of appealing so he would be available during the playoffs.</p> <p> Outside of a serious injury at running back or extremely poor performance of the rushing attack during pre-season games, it’s hard to envision anything else that could shift leverage before the start of the regular season. Unless Seattle eventually softens its stance, Lynch’s holdout will likely end the same way Maurice Jones-Drew’s did with the Jacksonville Jaguars in 2012. Jones-Drew returned to the Jaguars at the end of the pre-season without getting his contract adjusted.</p> <p> <strong>Follow Joel on Twitter:</strong> @<a href=”http://www.twitter.com/corryjoel” target=”_blank”>corryjoel</a></p> <p> <em><strong>Joel Corry is a former sports agent who helped found Premier Sports & Entertainment, a sports management firm that represents professional athletes and coaches. Prior to his tenure at Premier, Joel worked for Management Plus Enterprises, which represented Shaquille O’Neal, Hakeem Olajuwon and Ronnie Lott. You can email Joel at firstname.lastname@example.org. </strong></em></p>
<p> One interesting observation I made while attending the Chicago Bears’ training camp on Monday was that former Carolina Panther Jimmy Clausen was running ahead of Jordan Palmer in the quarterback rotation during practice. Does this mean that Clausen is the favorite for the backup quarterback job in Chicago? No, it simply means that Clausen
<p> One interesting observation I made while attending the Chicago Bears’ training camp on Monday was that former Carolina Panther Jimmy Clausen was running ahead of Jordan Palmer in the quarterback rotation during practice. Does this mean that Clausen is the favorite for the backup quarterback job in Chicago? No, it simply means that Clausen got more reps on Monday.</p> <p> While in Carolina, Clausen struggled with his decision making and had that proverbial “deer in the headlights” look in game situations. That was not evident in practice on Monday. Clausen looked poised, was able to go through his progressions and consistently made good decisions.</p> <p class=”co_image co_image_right inline_right”> <img alt=”Jimmy Clausen” src=”http://cdn.cloudfiles.mosso.com/c1910342/media_center/images/rendered/blog/wysiwyg/Clausen1-2538.jpg” /><span>ICON</span>Former Panther Jimmy Clausen looks to catch on in Chicago.</p> <p> In the two minute drill that concludes practice, Clausen led the second unit to a touchdown in four plays, completing every throw including a touchdown pass. Palmer, on the other hand, looked indecisive with his decision making. He was slow finding an open receiver and often just threw to a check down.</p> <p> Rookie David Fales looked good. He made quick decisions, got the ball out of his hand quickly and was accurate. Being that Monday was only the second day in pads, it’s still way too early to say that Fales will challenge for the backup quarterback job. But Monday’s practice sure didn’t hurt his chances.</p> <p> <strong>Checking in with the backfield</strong></p> <p> Obviously, Matt Forte has a firm hold on the starting running back jog. But the question is who will serve as Forte’s primary backup? Second-year man Michael Ford has good run skills and can catch the ball out of the backfield. The concerns about him are whether or not he can pass block and produce on special teams. We won’t find out about that until the pre- season games start in another ten days.</p> <p> The same holds true for draft choice Ka’Deem Carey. On Monday, Carey was quick to the hole and made some nice cuts. He also caught the ball very well and was able to get up field quickly after the catch. As with Ford, Carey is going to have to prove he can be trusted in pass protection during the pre-season games.</p> <p> <strong>The receiving unit</strong></p> <p> Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffery are clearly the top two receivers. The question that has to be answered in camp is who will serve as the third receiver? Through the first part of camp, second-year man Marquess Wilson is the favorite. Wilson added strength in the off-season and looks to have improved his route running. He catches the ball cleanly and has good run after catch skills. At over 6’3”, Wilson gives the Bears another big target to line up with Marshall and Jeffery.</p> <p> Two others who jumped out at me were former Canadian league star Chris Williams and veteran Eric Weems. Williams doesn’t have much size, but he is both quick and fast and finds a way to get open. He has also caught the ball very well in camp.</p> <p> Weems doesn’t have the speed and quickness that Williams has, but Jay Cutler seems to have confidence in him, as he threw Weems a number of passes during team work on Monday.</p> <p> <strong>In the trenches</strong></p> <p class=”co_image co_image_right inline_right”> <img alt=”Lamarr Houston” src=”http://cdn.cloudfiles.mosso.com/c1910342/media_center/images/rendered/blog/wysiwyg/lamarr-4551.jpg” />Houston notched 6.0 sacks with the Raiders last season.</p> <p> This might be the most talented Chicago defensive line I have seen in years, as all the new free agents jumped out at me. Lamarr Houston is a lean 280 pounds with a quick first step. He plays the game with an aggressive attitude.</p> <p> Former Detroit Lion Willie Young has very quick hands and an explosive punch. He shows a consistent ability to jolt the blocker with his punch. With his length, Young seldom lets the blocker into his body.</p> <p> Jared Allen was impressive with his initial quickness, fast hands and redirect skills. Like Young, Allen does an excellent job keeping blockers off his body.</p> <p> The two defensive line draft choices also stood out. Ego Ferguson is a load inside. He is strong and powerful and consistently gets penetration to disrupt. Will Sutton has a quick first step, stays low and uses his hands well for a rookie.</p> <p> If practice is a good indicator, the Bears have eight players they can use in a defensive line rotation. That will only help their performance, as key players will get ample opportunity to rest and stay fresh.</p> <p> <strong>Follow Greg on Twitter:</strong> @<a href=”http://www.twitter.com/greggabe” target=”_blank”>greggabe</a></p>
<p> In 2012, the Kansas City Chiefs finished the regular season with a 2-14 record, good for worst in the National Football League. Under new head coach Andy Reid and general manager John Dorsey in 2013, the Chiefs turned that lackluster effort around and improved to 11-5.</p> <p> Critics will say it was the easy
<p> In 2012, the Kansas City Chiefs finished the regular season with a 2-14 record, good for worst in the National Football League. Under new head coach Andy Reid and general manager John Dorsey in 2013, the Chiefs turned that lackluster effort around and improved to 11-5.</p> <p> Critics will say it was the easy fourth-place schedule that served as the catalyst for Kansas City’s quick turnaround. I disagree. Having known John Dorsey for almost 25 years and having worked with Reid for one year, I know better. Both are outstanding leaders and did what was necessary to bring confidence to an already talented roster.</p> <p> The Chiefs got to the playoffs a year ago, but blew a 28-point lead in the second half of their wild card game at Indianapolis and wound up losing by a point. A loss like that can either demoralize a team or motivate them. I am betting that the loss will motivate the Chiefs to try and equal or surpass what they did a year ago.</p> <p> <strong>Quarterback </strong></p> <p> Alex Smith struggled for a good part of his time in San Francisco. Many labeled him a “bust” as Smith didn’t live up to being the first player picked in the 2005 NFL draft. Be that as it may, Smith still played very good football last year in Kansas City. He has matured as a player and become a good leader. While Smith isn’t in the same category of quarterbacks like Manning, Brees, Brady and Rodgers, he is a solid winning NFL quarterback.</p> <p class=”co_image co_image_right inline_right”> <img alt=”Alex Smith” src=”http://cdn.cloudfiles.mosso.com/c1910342/media_center/images/rendered/blog/wysiwyg/chiefs-4439.jpg” />Smith threw a career-high 23 touchdown passes last season.</p> <p> For the season, Smith completed 308 of 508 passes for over 3,300 yards, 23 touchdowns, with only seven interceptions. With 2014 being Smith’s second year in Reid’s system, I expect him to show improvement in all areas. Being that he is only 30-years-old, his best football is still in front of him.</p> <p> In Chase Daniel, the Chiefs have one of the best backup quarterbacks in the NFL. Daniel is capable of winning any time he steps on the field. In the fifth round, the Chiefs stole Aaron Murray from Georgia. Had it not been for a torn ACL, Murray would have gone much higher in the draft. 2014 will be strictly a developmental year for him.</p> <p> <strong>Running back</strong></p> <p> <a href=”http://www.nationalfootballpost.com/Chiefs-sign-Jamaal-Charles-to-twoyear-extension.html” target=”_self”>Armed with a new contract extension</a>, Jamaal Charles is ready to continue as one of the premier running backs in the NFL. While Charles isn’t one of the league’s biggest backs, he is one of the fastest and most explosive players in the game. He is a threat to make a big play any time he touches the ball.</p> <p> Rookie De’Anthony Thomas from Oregon is a smaller version of Charles. He has great breakaway ability and is very reliable catching the ball. Knile Davis and Cyrus Gray are two talented, but unproven backups.</p> <p> Fullback Anthony Sherman doesn’t get much publicity, but he is excellent at what he does. Sherman is a premier run and pass blocker and while he only touches the ball about once a game, Sherman averages almost eight yards per touch.</p> <p> <strong>Receivers and tight ends</strong></p> <p> The Chiefs need more production from their wide receiver unit. Dwayne Bowe had the most receptions among wide receivers last season with 57. Next was Donnie Avery with 40 catches.</p> <p> Bowe has reportedly lost weight and is in excellent shape. He needs to up his production by at least 20 percent and Avery needs to nearly double his production. Former 49ers wideouts Kyle Williams and A.J. Jenkins need to come on as the third and fourth receivers. If Jenkins doesn’t improve, his days in the NFL could be over. Junior Hemingway is a good special teams player and has excellent hands, but needs to develop his route running.</p> <p> At the tight end position, injuries just about wiped out this group in 2013. Anthony Fasano, the top tight end, missed seven games. When healthy, Fasano is a reliable receiver who can also block. Last year’s third-round pick in Travis Kelce missed most of last year with a knee injury. He functions like a big wide receiver and can create mismatches.</p> <p> The blocking tight end, Sean McGrath, retired and the Chiefs will need to find a strong blocker to replace him.</p> <p> <strong>Offensive line</strong></p> <p> The offensive line is a position group that is in transition and line coach Andy Heck has his work cut out for him. The Chiefs lost some players on the O-Line during free agency. That will hurt the depth, but perhaps not the efficiency.</p> <p> Last year’s first overall draft pick in Eric Fisher moves over to left tackle. While Fisher struggled some on the right side as a rookie, he is a natural left tackle and after a year in the league, knows what is expected of him.</p> <p> The right tackle will be Donald Stephenson, who was the third tackle a year ago. This is Stephenson’s third year and he is ready to be a starter. There will be a battle during training camp for the third tackle spot between Ryan Harris and J’Marcus Webb, who have both been starters in the league and have had their moments. The winner will be the one who can play both tackle spots with consistency.</p> <p> The fourth tackle will be rookie Laurent Duvernay-Tardiff, who played his college football in Canada. Laurent has the physical traits, but is raw and will need a year to develop and get used to the speed of the NFL. The Chiefs have to keep him on the 53-man roster because of his talent and upside.</p> <p> At left guard, Jeff Allen returns. While he had some games where he struggled in 2013, he is very talented as well as athletic and will settle down in 2014. Who plays right guard will be determined in training camp. Right now, three players are fighting for the job. Rishaw Johnson started the final game last year and had his moments. Rookie Zach Fulton is strong and looked good during OTA’s and camp to date. Free agent Jeff Linkenbach, who the Chiefs signed away from Indianapolis, can play guard or tackle and will be a valuable reserve if he doesn’t start. The player with the most upside is Fulton.</p> <p> The center position is in good hands with steady Rodney Hudson, the Chiefs’ second-round pick from 2011.</p> <p> <strong>Defensive line</strong></p> <p class=”co_image co_image_right inline_right”> <img alt=”Justin Houston” src=”http://cdn.cloudfiles.mosso.com/c1910342/media_center/images/rendered/blog/wysiwyg/houston-5865.jpg” />Linebacker Justin Houston has notched 21.0 sacks over his last 27 regular season games.</p> <p> People questioned the Chiefs when they selected Dontari Poe in the first round of the 2012 draft. The good news for Kansas City is that they are laughing last, as Poe has turned into the best nose tackle in football. While most nose tackles can only stop the run, Poe can also rush the passer. What the Chiefs need is a solid backup so Poe can come off the field. He played 95 percent of the defensive downs last year.</p> <p> The starting ends should be Vance Walker and Mike DeVito. Walker, who was a free agent signee from the Raiders, has better pass rush skills than last year’s starter Allen Bailey. DeVito also is strong versus the run, but has to get better rushing the passer.</p> <p> To play in the rotation, the Chiefs have Bailey and second-year man Mike Catapano. Catapano has put on 20 solid pounds and is more ready to play and it is hopeful he can provide some pass rush. Two others who figure into the rotation will be Kyle Love and Jaye Howard. Love started 25 games while with New England and could be the guy who gives Poe a break.</p> <p> <strong>Linebackers</strong></p> <p> This is one of the stronger units on the club. Inside is Derrick Johnson, who has been a steady player for ten years. In free agency, the Chiefs signed Joe Mays away from the Texans. While pass coverage is the best element of Mays’s game, he is also a sound run defender. Nico Johnson, a fourth-round pick a year ago, also figures into the equation inside.</p> <p> Outside, the Chiefs are very good. On one side is consistent Tamba Hali, who still is strong in his ninth year, with 11 sacks a year ago. The starter on the other side is Justin Houston, who is also an excellent pass rusher. Houston missed five games yet still notched 11 sacks in 2013.</p> <p> In the first round of May’s draft, Kansas City added Auburn defensive end Dee Ford. Ford will convert to linebacker, but will still be playing down in pass rush situations. He was one of the top pass rushers in college football last year and is easily athletic enough to play on his feet.</p> <p> <strong>Secondary</strong></p> <p> The Chiefs recently decided it was time to part ways with long-time starting corner Brandon Flowers. Flowers signed with San Diego and will be a huge upgrade for the Chargers at the position.</p> <p> With the Chiefs wanting to play a lot of press man coverage, the need is for tall corners. The man who is in good position to replace Flowers is Marcus Cooper, who is in his second year from Rutgers. Cooper is 6’2” and has the press skills that the Chiefs are looking for. The other corner will be veteran Sean Smith, who is also a tall and long athlete. His specialty is press coverage.</p> <p> A rookie who will get a long look will be Phillip Gaines from Rice. Gaines is long and can run and like the others, can play press. Ron Parker will also get a look and played well in OTA’s. Chris Owens, a free agent who was with the Dolphins, can play inside on the slot. This group is young and inexperienced and needs to step up to the plate if the Chiefs are going to be successful.</p> <p> At safety, Eric Berry is one of the best in the business. He can cover like a corner and is excellent in run support. The other safety will be Husain Abdullah, who gets his chance to start after being a backup last year. He replaces Kendrick Lewis, who was not a fit in defensive coordinator Bob Sutton’s scheme. Jerron McMillian and Sanders Commings should be the primary backups.</p> <p> <strong>Outlook</strong></p> <p> With the Chiefs winning 11 games a year ago, a lot is expected entering the fall. Kansas City has some question marks in that the offensive line and the defensive backfield have a lot of new faces and they have to come of age very quickly.</p> <p> Still, Andy Reid is one of the best in the business and he will have his team ready to play come the first week in September. Having worked with Reid for one year and played against him for many, I know you can never sell his team short. They come to play every week.</p> <p> My feeling is the Chiefs may not have enough to beat Denver for the division, but should once again be a wild card team. The key will be how they perform during the season series with rival San Diego.</p> <p> <strong>Follow Greg on Twitter:</strong> @<a href=”http://www.twitter.com/greggabe” target=”_blank”>greggabe</a></p>
<p> The Tennessee Titans finished a disappointing 7-9 last year and, as a result, changes were made. Head coach Mike Munchak was let go after he refused to make adjustments to his coaching staff. Now at the helm is former San Diego offensive coordinator Ken Whisenhunt and the hope is that Whiz can get the
<p> The Tennessee Titans finished a disappointing 7-9 last year and, as a result, changes were made. Head coach Mike Munchak was let go after he refused to make adjustments to his coaching staff. Now at the helm is former San Diego offensive coordinator Ken Whisenhunt and the hope is that Whiz can get the Titans back to being a consistent playoff contender.</p> <p> Also gone is running back Chris Johnson, who ran for over 1,000 yards in each of his six seasons with the Titans. Over the last few years, Tennessee had over-relied on Johnson to be their main offensive weapon. Whisenhunt will implement a more diversified system.</p> <p> Ray Horton, who worked well with Whisenhunt in Arizona, will be the defensive coordinator. Horton has always coached an attacking style of defense, so don’t expect anything different this year.</p> <p> The main difference on defense will be the scheme. The Titans have been a 4-3 unit for years but now will be more of a 3-4 hybrid scheme. How the players react to the change will have a lot to do with their win/loss record in 2014.</p> <p> <strong>Quarterback</strong></p> <p> Jake Locker was selected during the first round of the 2011 draft to bring stability to the position. Now in his fourth year, the jury is still out as to whether or not Locker is a winning NFL quarterback.</p> <p class=”co_image co_image_right inline_right”> <img alt=”Jake Locker” src=”http://cdn.cloudfiles.mosso.com/c1910342/media_center/images/rendered/blog/wysiwyg/Locker3.jpg” /><span>ICON</span>This season looks like it’s now or never for Jake Locker in Tennessee.</p> <p> Locker had problems with accuracy in college and that has carried over to the NFL. The hope is that Whisenhunt, who has a reputation of working well with quarterbacks, can get Locker moving in the right direction.</p> <p> The Titans don’t have much behind Locker. Former Charger Charlie Whitehurst is the veteran backup, but he hasn’t thrown a pass during the regular season in three years. The Titans drafted LSU quarterback Zach Mettenberger in the sixth round. I was not a fan of Mettenberger’s in college and I don’t see him becoming more than an adequate backup-type in the NFL. One of Mettenberger’s biggest flaws is he has virtually no mobility and, coming off an ACL injury, may now have even less than before.</p> <p> <strong>Offensive line</strong></p> <p> The key to winning football games is to have a productive quarterback as well as strong offensive and defensive lines. While Tennessee can’t say they have a top quarterback, they do have a very good offensive line.</p> <p> The left tackle spot in Tennessee has been held by the same player for years. Michael Roos, now in his tenth season, has been the epitome of consistency. During free agency the Titans signed Michael Oher away from Baltimore to play right tackle. Oher has trouble with pass protection at times but is an outstanding run blocker.</p> <p> Last year’s first-round pick in Chance Warmack played every snap in 2013 and should come on even strong in his second year. Andy Levitre, a big free agent signing in 2013, did not play as well as anticipated last year, but is still an upgrade. The center is second-year man Brian Schwenke, who is as tenacious as they come.</p> <p> What will be interesting to see is where first-round pick Taylor Lewan lines up. Lewan is a big, athletic and talented guy who will start somewhere. With this being Roos’ final year under contract, could he be traded if Lewan is ready to play right away? I can also see Lewan or Oher moving inside to guard if Levitre doesn’t play any better.</p> <p> <strong>Receivers and tight ends</strong></p> <p> Tennessee’s top three wide receivers are good, but this group lacks depth. Kendall Wright is going into his third year and is the main man, having caught 94 passes a year ago. Veteran Nate Washington holds down the other spot. He finished 2013 with 58 receptions.</p> <p> 2013 second-round pick Justin Hunter is the third receiver. While Hunter is an excellent deep threat, he needs to improve his route-running. He spent much of the off-season trying to get stronger, which will enable him to do a better job of getting off of jams. For depth, there is the well-traveled Brian Robiskie and oft-injured Marc Mariani.</p> <p> At tight end, the lead man is former 49er Delanie Walker. Last year in his first season with the Titans, Walker notched 60 receptions and six touchdowns. Standing 6-1, Walker is better off as a move type tight end. The blocking or “Y” tight end is Craig Stevens, who can be a good receiver, but wasn’t used in that capacity a year ago.</p> <p> <strong>Running back</strong></p> <p class=”co_image co_image_right inline_right”> <img alt=”Bishop Sankey” src=”http://cdn.cloudfiles.mosso.com/c1910342/media_center/images/rendered/blog/wysiwyg/bishop.jpg” /><span>US PRESSWIRE</span>Rookie Bishop Sankey has the chance to win the starting gig during training camp.</p> <p> With Johnson gone, there will be a new lead back in Nashville. Looking at the roster, I can see a rotation featuring second-round draft pick Bishop Sankey from Washington and 2013 free agent signee Shonn Greene. Greene is an inside banger but had injury woes last year. Sankey lacks great size at 5-10 – 210, but he is an excellent all-around back who can run inside and outside as well as catch out of the backfield.</p> <p> The player signed for spot duty is Dexter McCluster, who was with Kansas City last season. McCluster can be used as a running back or a slot receiver, but he lacks the size and durability to get more than 10-12 touches a game. That said, he has the talent to make some big plays with those 10-12 touches.</p> <p> <strong>Defensive line</strong></p> <p> With the scheme being changed from a 4-3 to a 3-4, Ray Horton has to get everyone lined up in the right positions.</p> <p> The leading candidates to play on the nose are Sammie Hill and Antonio Johnson. They have the size and girth to occupy blockers and be disruptive. Another candidate for the position is free agent Al Woods, who comes over from Pittsburgh. While Woods is primarily a nose, he can also play as a 5-technique.</p> <p> The ends should be Jurrell Casey and Ropati Pitoitua. Casey is a natural 4-3 tackle but can play the 5-technique. There are many pro scouts that feel he can be an outstanding player. For depth there is last year’s fifth-round pick in Lavar Edwards, who is very athletic, and this year’s fourth round pick DaQuan Jones. Jones can play inside or outside and moves well for a 320-pound man.</p> <p> <strong>Linebackers</strong></p> <p> With the scheme change, some players who were defensive ends are now outside linebackers meaning their primary job will still be rushing the passer, although they will have to drop into coverage at times.</p> <p> Going into camp the starters look like Derrick Morgan and Kamerion Wimbley. Wimbley has experience on his feet. The position will be new to Morgan, but he has the athletic traits and instincts to make the switch.</p> <p> The backups at the outside positions should be Akeem Ayers, who also has experience playing on his feet, and Shaun Phillips, who is a proven pass rusher.</p> <p> Inside, free agent Wesley Woodyard, who was with Denver last year, will be one of the starters. The other could be Zach Brown, who has been inconsistent during his career to date. For depth, there is Moise Fokou and Colin McCarthy. Both have starting experience but may not be perfect fits in the new scheme. A player to keep an eye on is second-year man Zavier Gooden. Gooden is a rare athlete, but his instincts are questionable.</p> <p> <strong>Secondary</strong></p> <p> The big loss in the secondary is cornerback Alterraun Verner, who signed with Tampa Bay during free agency. He will most likely be replaced by Coty Sensabaugh, who was the nickel back in 2013. The other corner is steady James McCourty. The nickel corner goes to second-year man Blidi Wreh-Wilson who is very talented, but raw. He should really come on in 2014.</p> <p> The strong safety is Bernard Pollard, who is very physical, and the free is Michael Griffin. Griffin is a rangy player with good ball skills. Rookie Marqueston Huff from Wyoming can play safety or corner. He is a talented kid who will work his way into the lineup.</p> <p> <strong>Outlook</strong></p> <p> The AFC South is without question the weakest division in the AFC. Indianapolis is head and shoulders better than Houston, Tennessee and Jacksonville, who are all in rebuilding mode. The key to Tennessee having a good season will most likely be related to how well Jake Locker plays. With Locker going into the final year of his rookie contract, he has to come on strong or the Titans will be looking for a quarterback in next year’s draft.</p> <p> If Locker plays well, I can see Tennessee improving to 8¬-8, but I doubt they make a run at the playoffs. With a new defensive scheme and players in new positions, this is a tough team to handicap. We will all have a much better feel after the first month of the season.</p> <p> <strong>Follow Greg on Twitter:</strong> @<a href=”http://www.twitter.com/greggabe” target=”_blank”>greggabe</a></p>
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