Denver Broncos Sign Case Keenum to Fill Quarterback Hole

kase-keenum-vikings-playoffsThe Denver Broncos entered the 2017-18 NFL season with Super Bowl aspirations. But what they got was a 5-11 campaign that was mired by bad quarterback play.

General manager John Elway has taken a step to remedy this situation by signing former Minnesota Vikings starting QB Case Keenum. ESPN’s Adam Schefter first broke the news:

Keenum Had a Career Year with the Vikings

Despite setting an NCAA passing record with 19,217 yards, Case Keenum has been an unheralded pro prospect throughout his 5-year NFL career.

He spent two seasons with both the Houston Texans and L.A. Rams to begin his career, starting a number of games with both teams. But he never truly flashed the skills of a franchise QB with either squad.

case-keenum-vikingsKeenum signed with Minnesota in 2017 under the assumption that he’d back up either Sam Bradford or Teddy Bridgewater. But injuries to both players thrust him into a starting role early on.

The 30-year-old never disappointed, having a career season with 3,547 passing yards, 22 touchdowns, and 7 interceptions. He also competed 67.6% of his passes, which is over 7% higher than any other season.

Still, Minnesota failed to make a long-term commitment to Keenum. And with both Bradford and Bridgewater still in the mix, it’s unclear what the Vikings will do moving forward.

Denver Chooses Keenum Over Cousins

As I discussed earlier, the Broncos were interested in Kirk Cousins. But the ex-Washington Redskins QB is also looking for a deal that would involve a short 3-4 year window. Most teams like to lock up franchise quarterbacks for 7 years, with options from years 5-7.

Broncos adviser and former coach Gary Kubiak suggested that Elway should go after Keenum, rather than further continuing in the Cousins sweepstakes.

In an ironic twist, Cousins is going to sign a deal with the Vikings.

Deal Reportedly worth $36 Million Over 2 Years

Keenum may be cheaper than Cousins, but he wasn’t ultimately that cheap. Yahoo Sports’ Charles Robinson reports that the contract is worth $36 million over two years, with $25 million of this guaranteed.

According to 2017 statistics, the top 14 NFL quarterbacks earn an average of $19 million per season. This means that Keenum, at $18 million per year, is around the middle of all starting QBs.

Broncos Solve a Glaring Problem

Last year’s starting QB Trevor Siemian saved the team an incredible amount of money, because he was on a rookie deal that paid less than $700,000. But the old adage that you get what you pay for definitely applies here. Siemian struggled throughout the year and eventually got injured.

Backups Brock Osweiler and Paxton Lynch weren’t any better in his place. And a team that started the year 3-1 and entered Super Bowl conversations ultimately lost 10 of their final 12 games. They also finished last in the AFC West, which few saw coming.

The Broncos are early into what’s expected to be a big market for quarterbacks this offseason. The Cleveland Browns traded for former Bills QB Tyrod Taylor, Minnesota is signing Cousins, and the Redskins traded for former Chiefs QB Alex Smith.

Don’t expect the market to wind down either, because the Bills, New York Jets, and Arizona Cardinals are also actively looking for a signal caller. Each team has the pieces to compete for a playoff spot if they can just get a good starting quarterback.

2018 March Madness Odds: Syracuse vs. TCU

tcu-syracuse-odds-1One of the more-intriguing matchups in the first round of the 2018 NCAA Tournament is No. 6 TCU and No. 11 Syracuse.

The Orange (20-13) barely made it into the 2018 March Madness field. They then beat Arizona State 60-56 in a play-in game to arrive here.

TCU began the year with a 12-game winning streak. But they had an up-and-down Big 12 slate that resulted in a 9-9 conference record. The good news for the Horned Frogs (21-11), though, is that they never had to worry about getting selected for the field.

No. 11 and No. 6 matchups are always tricky from a betting perspective. That said, I’ll break down the odds and discuss both team’s chances of covering in this game.

Syracuse vs. TCU Odds (Friday, March 16 at 9:40pm)

  • Syracuse +4 (-110) / +165 moneyline
  • TCU – 4 (-110) / -185 moneyline
  • Over/under 136.5
  • Odds from GTBets.eu

Why Syracuse will Cover

The Orange are regarded as the last team to earn a selection bid. They beat out fellow bubble schools Oklahoma State and Notre Dame to make the Big Dance. And Syracuse has somewhat justified their inclusion by beating Arizona State. But another win would undoubtedly validate them being here.

syracuse-tcu-oddsThe knock against Syracuse is that they haven’t beaten many quality opponents. Their only victories over quadrant 1 schools include Louisville, Miami, Buffalo, and Wake Forest.

Their losses to 11-20 Wake Forest and 13-19 Georgia Tech are particularly ugly. And their ACC tournament run ended in the second round with a 78-59 blowout loss to North Carolina. That said, you never know what the Orange will bring to the court.

Tyus Battle averages 19 PPG and can come through in the clutch. But as a team, the Orange only score 67.5 PPG and shoot 41.8% from the field. This goes a long way to explaining their inconsistencies.

What Syracuse does do well is defend. They hold opponents to just 64.5 PPG and 39.6% shooting. This strong defense can keep them in almost any game, regardless of how they’re shooting. Expect Syracuse to do their best to make this an ugly and low-scoring scoring affair.

Why TCU will Cover

The Horned Frogs looked like a bonafide title contender in running off 12 victories to open the year. But conference play was mired by a number of losing and winning streaks.

tcu-syracuse-oddsOf course, some of this was attributed to bad luck. TCU had a three-game losing streak in early January, where they lost to Kansas by 4, Texas by 1 in double overtime, and Oklahoma by 5 in overtime. Had things went differently in a couple of these contests, the Frogs might be facing a No. 13 or No. 14 seed in the first round.

TCU’s best attribute is their offensive efficiency since they rank eighth in the nation. They have five players scoring in double figures and share the ball very well. Forward Vladimir Brodziansky leads this balanced attack with 15.1 PPG.

What the Horned Frogs don’t do well is play on the road. They went just 4-7 away from home and have lost three of their last four away contests. It’s also worth adding that their 12-game win streak came in part because these were all home games.

The challenge for them will be performing well on neutral courts during the tournament.

Prediction on Syracuse vs. TCU

Good defense can always help you win games. And this is why Syracuse can’t be counted out in this one. However, the Orange have had their biggest struggles against teams that are efficient on offense. In fact, they’re 0-9 against teams that rank within the top 30 in offensive efficiency.

TCU will be looking to deliver the 10th such loss. The Frogs aren’t perfect, especially when they go on the road. But I like them to win this contest by 6-7 points.

Final score prediction: TCU wins 74-67 and covers their -4 spread.