2014 NFL Prop Bets: Tim Tebow catching Passes

tim-tebow-patriotsAs we’ve discussed before, the New England Patriots went from being one of the deepest and most talented teams at the tight end position, to having a myriad of question marks. They quickly dropped Aaron Hernandez just before he was arrested for first degree murder. And this may not have been such a huge blow to the position, had Rob Gronkowski not been sidelined with back surgery.

There’s still no timetable for Gronk’s return and he’s currently on the PUP list. And with one star tight end gone and another still injured, media members have continually pushed the idea of Tim Tebow playing tight end. And these rumors have launched a series of 2014 NFL prop bets regarding Tebow, including some off-and-on-again wagers offered by GTBets.eu.

At first the tight end rumors were all but laughed off by Bill Belichick, who’s insisted that he had little interest in using Tebow at this spot. However, training camp has brought a different answer to the question of the Florida product’s future position since he was seen catching passes. Albert Breer, who’s covering the Patriots for the NFL Network, tweeted the following:

Tebow just a caught a ball from Mallett in a weird new drill I’ve never seen before. #AlertTheRubberneckers

tim-tebow-patriots-1Catching some passes on the first day of training camp may not mean that Tebow is destined to see time as a tight end. After all, most experts merely think that New England is taking him on as a project number three quarterback behind Tom Brady and Ryan Mallet. But then again, Tebow has always played a hybrid QB role in the past, so questions are bound to arise now that he’s working with receivers and running backs.

Don’t count on Belichick answering any of these questions though. When asked about the matter, he gave a run-of-the-mill coach’s comment. “I think that we’ll use Tim wherever we feel like he’s best for the team, and I know that’s what he’s committed to doing as well, whatever that is.”

It’s difficult to say who’ll actually suit up for New England at their previously productive tight end position(s) come September. As mentioned before, Gronkowski is most likely out for most of the early regular season. And if Tebow steps in to fill some snaps here, it would definitely boost his production and make NFL prop bets on him a more intriguing endeavor.

Aaron Hernandez released from Patriots – Who’s Left for Brady to throw to?

aaron-hernandez-patriots

EDIT: At the time of our original article, no official charges were filed against Hernandez. Now he’s been charged with murder.

The New England Patriots released Aaron Hernandez after the tight end was arrested this morning in connection with a murder case. The body of semi-professional football player Odin Lloyd was found near Hernandez’s home nine days ago.

Once the death was ruled a homicide, the investigation led police to Hernandez’s North Attleborough, MA. home. Lloyd’s family says he was with Hernandez the night that he died. After questioning the former University of Florida standout, police found that his house had been scrubbed down and security equipment was broken.

At this point, it’s unclear why Hernandez was arrested since no formal charges were filed. All that’s known is he’s no longer a member of the Patriots and could be in major trouble. The Patriots released the following statement after letting the 23-year-old go:

A young man was murdered last week and we extend our sympathies to the family and friends who mourn his loss. Words cannot express the disappointment we feel knowing that one of our players was arrested as a result of this investigation. We realize that law enforcement investigations into this matter are ongoing. We support their efforts and respect the process. At this time, we believe this transaction is simply the right thing to do.

rob-gronkowski-patriotsIn light of this tragedy, New England now has to worry about whom Tom Brady is going to throw the ball to. Last year, the Patriots opened with two outstanding tight ends in Rob Gronkowski and Hernandez. Seeing as how Gronkowski probably won’t be ready for Week 1 after undergoing back surgery, Hernandez was expected to be a huge part of the offense.

However, those plans are out the window and the Patriots will be looking for other players to step up. Obviously Danny Amendola is going to be a big target since New England signed him to a 5-year, $31 million deal this past offseason. The thinking is that Amendola can help replace Wes Welker’s 118 catches from the slot last season. He had a nice 2012 campaign after catching 63 passes for 666 yards and 3 touchdowns. However, there are major injury concerns with Amendola since he’s played just 12 games in the past two seasons.

Former Minnesota Vikings wideout Michael Jenkins has looked good in OTA’s. The 10-year veteran caught a modest 40 passes for 449 yards and two touchdowns last year, but could be in line for a much bigger season if he starts in the Patriots high-powered offense.

danny-amendolaJulian Edelman may have a larger role too after being resigned in the offseason. He only caught 21 balls for 235 yards and three TD’s in 2012, but was really coming on strong before getting injured. Second round draft pick Aaron Dobson is one more guy to watch. The Marshall product recorded a 4.37 forty-yard dash, which at 6’3″ is quite impressive. But he’ll have to be a little more consistent than what he showed in OTA’s to get quality playing time.

As for the currently vacated tight end position, Jake Ballard and rookie Zach Sudfeld should get plenty of chances until Gronk is healthy. Sudfeld, who stands 6’7″ and weighs 255 pounds, had an excellent senior year at Nevada (45 catches, 598 yards, 8 touchdowns). But like many other Patriots receiving options, he has injury issues. As for Ballard, he spent most of 2012 on the PUP list, but had a strong 2011 campaign after catching 38 passes for 604 yards and four touchdowns.

Most of the receiving options for Brady look pretty solid, although they come with question marks. Of course we know that somebody is going to catch the ball for New England and Brady should have another strong year. Last season saw him throw for 4,827 yards, 34 TD’s and just 8 INT’s. However, New England lost to the Baltimore Ravens in the AFC Championship – a defeat that Brady will no doubt be hoping to avenge.

What will the New England Patriots do with Tim Tebow?

tim-tebowJust last month, reports surfaced that New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick “hates” Tim Tebow as a player. Given all of the unwarranted animosity towards Tebow by the rest of the NFL, it didn’t seem like a far-fetched story.

But just days ago, Belichick came out and said that the reports of him hating Tebow’s game were completely false. “I wouldn’t get into the probability of us pursuing any free agent. Every single player has strengths and weaknesses but regardless of that, for anyone to have represented that is the way I feel about Tim Tebow is completely untrue, baseless and irresponsible,” Belichick told ESPN. “It is unfortunate that something so inaccurate was reported.”

Perhaps this statement foreshadowed what was later to come as Belichick and the Patriots signed Tebow to a deal. This is a very interesting move, given that some people wondered if any NFL teams would even want the former New York Jets backup quarterback.

tim-tebow-1The Patriots current offensive coordinator, Josh McDaniels, probably had a lot to do with convincing the New England organization to sign Tebow. After all, McDaniels got Denver to draft the Florida product in the first round. And now that the Patriots have Tebow, the question is what they’ll do with him.

Last year, the Jets claimed that they were going to use number 15 quite a bit in Wildcat packages. But in reality, he rarely saw the field and generated just 75 passing yards and 102 rushing yards throughout 2012. Given what happened in New York, the Patriots aren’t making any guarantees about Tebow’s playing time or role with the team.

Belichick said, “Tim is a talented player, is smart and works hard. We’ll see how it goes.” When asked about what position he’ll play, Belichick added, “We will see.”

One thing that has been revealed about Tebow is how he’s been signed as a quarterback. He’ll compete with Ryan Mallett and any free agent(s) the Patriots bring in for the two backup spots behind Tom Brady. New England cut third-string QB Mike Kafka on Monday, thus giving Tim a better opportunity to make the roster.

Divisional Playoffs - Denver Broncos v New England PatriotsAssuming he makes it, Tebow won’t have to worry about the pressure of fans calling for him to start like in New York. Brady is arguably the NFL’s best quarterback and is completely solid in his role. This is a different story from the Jets’ Mark Sanchez, whose shaky play caused a controversy when some fans thought that Tebow should start.

Since he obviously won’t be starting, some people think that the former Broncos and Jets QB was brought in to handle short yardage duties. However, it’s worth mentioning that Brady has the best QB sneak percentage on both third-and-short and fourth-and-short situations since 2006. He’s converted 97.8% of his attempts, which is far higher than second place David Garrard (91.7%), who retired this offseason.

Another thought is that, given the Patriots’ injuries to the tight end position last year, they could use Tebow here. Sure he has nothing on Aaron Hernandez or Rob Gronkowski because they’re two of the NFL’s top tight ends, But if they were to miss significant time again, some believe that Tebow could step in and provide help.

Belichick isn’t entirely above doing this since he’s used wide receivers Troy Brown, Julian Edelman and Matthew Slater as defensive backs. But making the switch from backup quarterback to tight end is a little more of a leap, and Tebow may not be quite as good as somebody who’s trained for this position their whole life.

In the end, signing Tebow seems like more of a development move than anything. Belichick and McDaniels are great at taking projects and shaping them into usable on-field talent. Tim Tebow is still young enough to where he could be groomed and take over for Brady – or at least be trade bait – if his throwing mechanics significantly improve. And if this doesn’t work out, well then, the Patriots can simply cut their losses like they did with Chad Johnson and Albert Haynsworth.

NFL Power Rankings for Dec. 13th, 2012

Ever since we began doing NFL power rankings this season, it’s been the Houston Texans or Atlanta Falcons at the top. However, an off-week for both teams has a new team rising above them and into first in our power rankings. This being said, let’s get straight to the number one team.

1. New England (10-3) – The Patriots have been quickly moving up the ranks over the past few weeks. Last week they checked in at number three, but now they’re easily the best team following an obliteration of the previously top-ranked Texans. Tom Brady tossed TD passes to Brandon Lloyd, Aaron Hernandez (twice) and Donte Stallworth during the route. What’s funny is that we didn’t even know Stallworth was still in the league until the 63-yard bomb he caught.

Last Game: 42-14 win over Houston
Next Game: vs. San Francisco 49ers

2. Denver Broncos (10-3) – While Peyton Manning still threw for 310 yards, the Broncos put much of the focus on RB Knowshon Moreno while playing the Raiders. Moreno carried 32 times for 119 rushing yards and tallied 48 receiving yards too. Assuming he can continue at this pace without wearing down, Denver truly has a complete offense.

Last Game: 26-13 win over Oakland
Next Game: at Baltimore Ravens

3. San Francisco 49ers (9-3-1) – Colin Kaepernick appears to have solved the quarterback controversy in San Francisco after throwing for 185 yards and rushing for 53 yards and a touchdown. Aldon Smith is having an outstanding season for the Niners after adding two more sacks against the Dolphins to set a franchise record at 19.5 sacks.

Last Game: 27-13 win over Miami
Next Game: at New England Patriots

4. Houston Texans (11-2) – Last week we discussed how CB Brice McCain will be out for the season following a foot injury. And this certainly put a major dent in the Texans’ pass defense, which was thoroughly exposed against New England. Of course, one blowout to the league’s top team doesn’t erase an 11-2 season.

Last Game: 42-14 loss to New England
Next Game: vs. Indianapolis Colts

5. Atlanta Falcons (11-2) – Carolina QB Cam Newton is no doubt a major talent, but nobody expected him to carry the three-win Panthers over Atlanta. However, 272 pass yards and 116 rushing yards later, Newton pulled off the improbable. At least Falcons QB Matt Ryan came out of his mid-season funk after throwing for 342 yards and two touchdowns.

Last Game: 30-20 loss to Carolina
Next Game: vs. New York Giants

6. Green Bay Packers (9-4) – For now, we put the Packers at number six; however, this could change greatly when they get Clay Matthews, Charles Woodson and Jordy Nelson back. Plus they pulled undrafted running back DuJuan Harris out of nowhere and watched him run for 31 yards and a score against the Lions.

Last Game: 27-20 win over Detroit
Next Game: at Chicago Bears

7. Seattle Seahawks (8-5) – Seattle is another team with tremendous upside since Russell Wilson has evolved into a legitimate starting quarterback while the defense has been outstanding. Of course, anybody who saw the 58-0 dismantling of Arizona already knew this. Watch out for this team in the playoffs!

Last Game: 58-0 win over Arizona
Next Game: at Buffalo Bills

8. Indianapolis Colts (9-4) – Defying all preseason prediction logic, the Colts are on the verge of making the playoffs. All they need is one win in their last two games. Of course, this will be easier said than done when you consider that they play the Texans in two out of the last three games. But with how the Colts have played this year, you can definitely expect them to win at least one more regular season game….if not the AFC South with a couple victories against the Texans.

Last Game: 27-23 win over Tennessee
Next Game: at Houston Texans

9. Baltimore Ravens (9-4) – It’s hard to have much confidence in Baltimore right now after they fired offensive coordinator Cam Cameron. And it’s difficult to see a scenario where the offense is better with quarterbacks coach Jim Caldwell suddenly thrust into the play-calling role. Taking all of this into account, we have trouble seeing the Ravens making it very far in the playoffs.

Last Game: 31-28 loss to Washington
Next Game: vs. Denver Broncos

10. New York Giants (8-5) – Over the past few years, the Giants have traditionally come alive at playoff time. And they looked pretty good during a recent route of the Saints. But we’re not ready to throw our full support behind New York just yet since they’ve won just two out of the past five games. Plus a tough road game against the Falcons looms ahead.

Last Game: 52-27 win over New Orleans
Next Game: at Atlanta Falcons