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I'm a pretty active sports bettor and have bet on a few CS:GO matches (with no luck). I had seen lines on Bovada for the CWL last year but never got the chance to bet them. Here are the initial lines for the winner of the event, teams to reach the finals, and one single bet for Team vs. Field...but the only team you can bet on is OpTic. (Meaning this is essentially the same bet as the event winner bet, if you decide to take OpTic, but with worse odds). If I recall correctly, last year Bovada gave action on individual matches, as well. I guess we'll have to wait until the event for those. Personally, the way OpTic has been playing makes me want to take them +150 to win (and perhaps at +135 in the Team vs. Field). However, OpTic at -250 to reach the finals just isn't enough value for me to pull the trigger. Since the bet is about which two teams make the finals, and thus you can win both bets you place on this, I'll likely use the "reach the finals" odds to hedge the OpTic win bet. I think any combination of eUnited at +170, 100T at +200, and Red Reserve at +200 are the best options, but I think Luminosity could potentially be undervalued here at +700 so that looks interesting, too. That being said, who do you have for these? How much would you/are you wagering? What team looks over or undervalued?
NFL teams most likely to go from worst to first in 2020
We have talked a lot about the draft, biggest remaining needs for every NFL team, some breakout candidates and other stuff, so let’s now get back to more of a big picture and look at some teams from an angle of where could they go next season. In this article, I am analyzing those teams that finished fourth in their division this past year and why they could win it in 2020 or land at the bottom once again, plus an outlook where I actually see them. Of course much of this is about these eight teams and how much better or worse I feel about them than the general public, but it was heavily dependent on their three division rivals as well. The top half I could certainly see earn a playoff spot and surprise some people if everything goes right. After that a lot of my faith is more built around the lack of great competition and giving some hope to these respective fan bases. As the cliché goes – everybody is 0-0 right now. https://preview.redd.it/rs90lt6ckf751.png?width=720&format=png&auto=webp&s=3ddfc8945862472b52b5ef8c69076acde904c44c
1. Arizona Cardinals
Why they can win the division: Let’s just start with the main point here – this Cardinals squad has all the ingredients to make a big jump in 2020. I expect Kyler Murray to enter the superstar conversation in year two, after impressing with his arm talent and ability to extend plays in a (somewhat controversial) Offensive Rookie of the Year campaign. Steve Keim managed to unload a bad David Johnson contract and basically acquire an elite receiver in DeAndre Hopkins for a second-round pick. Kenyan Drake now has a full offseason to learn this offense and make himself a major factor once again, following up an outstanding second half of the season once the Cardinals traded for him with Miami. He perfectly fits into this offense with a lot East-West based rushing from shotgun sets and his involvement in the pass game, including those quick throws as an extension of the rushing attack. Arizona’s defense should be a lot better with run-stoppers being added in the draft that fit their 3-4 base front with Utah’s Leki Fotu and LSU’s Rashard Lawrence, since they can stay in those packages against the other teams in their division running a lot of 12 and 21 personnel probably. Add to that a do-it-all player with ridiculous range and overall athleticism in Isaiah Simmons at eight overall, plus all the other guys being in their second year under DC Vance Joseph. I love Budda Baker as a missile from his safety spot and I think some of the other young guys on that unit will take a step forward, like second-year corner Byron Murphy, who I talked about last week. Now let’s get to rest of the West – every other team in that division has some issues. The 49ers are facing the objects of a potential Super Bowl hangover and some limitations with Jimmy G at the helm. The Seahawks have question marks on the edge on either side of the ball with Cedric Ogbuehi and Brandon Shell fighting for the starting gig at right tackle and Jadeveon Clowney still on the open market, with a bunch of draft picks these last couple of years having to step up. And the Rams had one of the worst O-lines in football last season and they lost some pieces on defense. The Cardinals already gave all these teams issues in 2019 and have now added pieces that were clearly missing when last matching up against each other. Why they could finish last again: Most importantly, I am still not completely sold on the Cardinals offensive line, with D.J. Humphries being signed to a rather expensive deal as a below-average left tackle, third-rounder Josh Jones – while earning a late first-round grade from me – still needing an overhaul on his footwork before he can slide in at right tackle and guard Justin Pugh finally having played a full 16 games for the first time since 2015 last season. NFL coaches had a lot of time to study Kliff Kingsbury’s Air-Raid offense, which when you break it down is pretty simplistic in the amount of schemes they run. Yes, he diversified it a little as last season went along, going under center and running some pro-style rushing plays, but at its core, you can learn how to create some issues for all those mesh concepts and spread sets. As far as the Cardinals defense goes, it is more about pieces than proven commodities. Patrick Peterson is seemingly on the decline, they are thin in the secondary and could Chandler Jones follow soon, after he has been one of the most underrated pass-rushers in the league for a while now? You are staring the reigning NFC champs in the eyes, a team that was a few inches away from earning a playoff bye and another squad that went to the Super Bowl just two years ago. This is probably the best division in the entire league. Bottom line: I still believe the 49ers have done enough to repeat as division champs, re-tooling for all the losses they have suffered this offseason. However, I’m feeling pretty good about the Cardinals earning a wildcard spot. While I believe in the Seahawks quarterback and the Rams head coach respectively to not allow their teams to not have throwaway seasons, I also see enough issues with those squads to make me believe the Cardinals could have the second-best year of anybody in the West. To me they are pretty clearly the best of these eight teams, because they have a young phenom at quarterback, stars at pretty much every position, a different type of system around them and what I’d like to call “juice” coming into 2020. https://preview.redd.it/anrr9erfkf751.png?width=720&format=png&auto=webp&s=5655b4452baff2691a0e060e8d70918d58801a4c
2. Detroit Lions
Why they can win the division: Matt Stafford is back healthy and when he was in the lineup last season, this was a team that defeated the Eagles, Chargers and only didn’t finish the job against the eventual Super Bowl champion Chiefs because of some crazy stuff going on late. The veteran QB stood at 19 touchdowns compared to five picks and was playing at a near-MVP type level. However, Detroit’s identity will be built on the run game with re-investments in the offensive line as well as adding D’Andre Swift to form a dynamic one-two punch with him and Kerryon Johnson. Kenny Golladay and Marvin Jones may be the most underrated receiving duo to go with Danny Amendola as a tough guy in the slot and T.J. Hockenson coming into year two as a top-ten pick a year ago, having shown flashes when he was healthy. The defense is finally starting to take shape with third-overall Jeffrey Okudah as an elite corner prospect being added to an underrated secondary, Jamie Collins being a chess piece in the front seven after already having worked well with Matt Patricia and some young guys up front trying to prove themselves to go with the versatile Trey Flowers. Maybe more importantly than the Lions themselves – Nobody else got that much better and none of the other three really stand out to me. Other than the Vikings probably – who had the advantage of making a record-breaking 15 selections – the Lions might have had the best draft within the division. Thanks to that last-place schedule, they get to face the Redskins in the East (instead of Eagles & Cowboys) and Cardinals in the West, who I just talked about taking a step forward, but are still a better draw than the reigning conference champions or possibly having to travel to Seattle. I believe that new regime in Detroit has finally built an identity on both sides of the ball with the heavy investments in the run game and back-seven on defense. Winning ten games might earn you a division title, if everybody plays each other tough. Why they could finish last again: Can these guys finally stay healthy? Matt Stafford to my surprise played a full 16 games in eight straight years before last season, but a lot of that had to do with his toughness to fight through pain and he had major issues with that shoulder early on in his career before basically breaking his back after putting the team on it for the last decade. Kerryon Johnson has missed 14 of 32 possible starts and he has never carried the ball more than 118 times a season. Their receiving corp has been banged up quite a bit too. More glaring even – how will all these additions of former Patriots players work out? Can Matt Patricia build a New England 2.0 in Michigan or is he just bringing in players he knows will listen to him and the way he wants things to be done? Detroit could also rely on a lot of rookies to be immediate impact players – possibly two new starting guards on offense, running back D’Andre Swift probably sharing the load with Kerryon, Jeffrey Okudah having to immediately become their CB1 and Julian Okwara being asked to become a much more consistent player if they give him major snaps. And I recently talked about how their uncertainty at punter could be an issue for their ball-control, defense-minded style of play. They also have an early bye (week five), which I’m never a big fan of, after facing the Bears, Packers, Cardinals and Saints, which probably includes three playoff teams. If Chicago can get any competent QB play, all these teams should be highly competitive. Bottom line: I don’t think any team in this division wins more than ten games. Unfortunately I don’t see the Lions go over that mark themselves either. The Packers won’t come out victorious in so many close games (8-1 in one-possession affairs), the Vikings have lost a few proven commodities and look for young talent to immediately replace those and the Bears still have a quarterback competition going on. So if Detroit can do any better than just split the season series with those three teams, I see them finishing above .500, but ten wins is the ceiling for me. In terms of the competition inside the division, the Lions may be my number one team in this conversation, but I see a much clearer path to things crashing down for Matt Patricia and them having another disappointing season than I do with the Cardinals. No team in this division may finish below that 8-8 mark. https://preview.redd.it/7ivo914ikf751.png?width=720&format=png&auto=webp&s=d029ddd274b78e78f5bc932d00086b8c697a466e
3. Miami Dolphins
Why they can win the division: When you ask the general public, the Buffalo Bills right now are the favorites to win the AFC East, but they haven’t done so since 1995 and they still have to prove they really are that team. The Patriots lost several pieces on defense and Tom Brady of course, which probably leads them to starting a quarterback, who over his four career pass attempts has thrown more touchdowns to the opposing team than to his own. The Jets are still building up that roster, with GM Joe Douglas trying to plant seeds on burnt earth, and they face a BRUTAL schedule. So Miami has a lot of things going in their favor for an organization that I believe in what they are trying to build. Depending on what happens at quarterback, you could have a veteran in Ryan Fitzpatrick, who was by far the best inside the division in several key categories last season and/or Tua Tagovailoa, who had one of the most prolific careers we have seen from anybody in the SEC. They added at least two new starters on the O-line, they now have one of the premiere cornerback trios in the league with the all-time highest paid player at the position in Byron Jones and first-round pick Noah Igbinoghene to go with Xavien Howard and with some added beef up front, they are finally looking a lot like what Brian Flores had in New England. DeVante Parker really broke out over the second half of 2019 and Miami should have a much better rushing attack because of the additions up front and two quality committee backs in Jordan Howard and Matt Breida being added. They have two other young pass-catchers ready to break out this upcoming season in tight-end Mike Gesicki and a UDFA receiver from a year ago in Preston Williams. Whenever Tua’s name is called upon, he will be a perfect fit for Chan Gailey’s horizontal passing game. Why they could finish last again: As much as I like what I see from this entire organization, it is probably just a year too early for Miami. So many young players could be thrown into the fire and a lot of them I look at as needing that experience – 18th overall pick Austin Jackson (USC) is more of a developmental tackle still with his footwork and hand-placement issues, 30th overall pick Noah Igbinoghene (Auburn) has only played cornerback for two years and was bailed out by his athletic tools at times, third-rounder Brandon Jones has to develop more of a feel in deep coverage and at least one more rookie lineman will likely start for them. Even outside of this year’s draft class, they already had several players on their roster that are still moving towards their prime. Whether you look at last year’s first-rounder Christian Wilkins, a lot of second- and third-year pass-catchers or their young linebackers outside of Kyle Van Noy. The Bills are entering year four of that turn-around under Sean McDermott and Brandon Beane, the Patriots still have the greatest coach of all time and will be a tough matchup solely based on that and the Jets at least have people playing for their jobs, plus a very talented young quarterback I still believe in. As much as I doubt Adam Gase, as long as Sam Darnold doesn’t get mono again, the offense should at least be competent, and the defense could potentially have a top-five player at every level with All-Pro Bowl safety Jamal Adams, an 85-million dollar linebacker in C.J. Mosley and my number one prospect in last year’s draft on the interior D-line with Quinnen Williams. Bottom line: As I mentioned before, the Bills are the front-runners in this division for me. As much respect as I have for Bill Belichick, I haven’t seen enough from Jarrett Stidham to make me a believer and he shrunk in some big moments at Auburn. The Jets to me could be a lot better than they were in 2019 and still go 6-10 just because of the type of schedule they are up against. So the Dolphins to me could easily finish anywhere from second to fourth, depending on how some of the players on that roster progress. I wouldn’t bet on them actually making the playoffs, but they could absolutely be a pain in the butt for some of the better teams in the AFC and in 2021 they might be the pick here. https://preview.redd.it/nme3explkf751.png?width=720&format=png&auto=webp&s=3998c6026125c1b9b48438e3fc9afaf9601b116e
4. Los Angeles Chargers
Why they can win the division: First and foremost, this Chargers defense is absolutely loaded with no real hole that you can point to. Derwin James is back healthy after a first-team All-Pro rookie campaign, Chris Harris Jr. comes in to make this secondary one the elite units in the NFL to go with two more Pro Bowlers among it and they have some guys I expect to break out like Jerry Tillery, Drue Tranquill and Nasir Adderley. In terms of having matchup pieces and a versatile pass rush to challenge Kansas City, nobody in the league may be on the same level as these guys. Offensively, Ihave talked about how the left tackle spot is concern for L.A. with a battle between Sam Tevi and Trey Pipkins for the starting job, but the other four spots are as good as they have been in a while, acquiring Pro Bowl guard Trai Turner via trade, signing a top five right tackle in Bryan Bulaga and getting Mike Pouncey back healthy. Tyrod Taylor can steer the ship and even if Justin Herbert is thrown into the fire – which I wouldn’t recommend – they have the skill-position players and willingness to run the ball to take pressure off those guys. While the Chiefs return 20 of 22 starters from a year ago, this wouldn’t be the first time we saw a Super Bowl champion have some issues the following season and as much as we want to hype up the Broncos and Raiders, both their quarterbacks (and other players of course as well) have a lot to prove still. Outside of KC, the Chargers likely have the smallest changes to what they do other than moving on from Philip Rivers and we saw that formula work the year prior, when they challenged Kansas City until the very end for the division crown and the conference’s top seed potentially. While they probably would have liked to bring in Tom Brady over the offseason, the fact they decided against signing Cam Newton to a roster that is ready to win right now, shows you the confidence they have in that quarterback room. Why they could finish last again: I’m not a huge fan of Derek Carr, but the Chargers will probably have the worst quarterback in the division in 2020. And their starting left tackle could be the worst in the entire league. As good as their defense will probably be, you can not consistently win games in which your offense doesn’t put up 20+ points in the league today – especially when all these teams in their division have spent so much on acquiring offensive firepower these last couple of years. I believe all three of their division rivals got better this offseason and the Chargers spent their top draft pick (sixth overall) on a young quarterback, who might not even help them win games this season. As I already mentioned, Kansas City brings back almost their entire starting lineups and they went 12-4 despite Mahomes seemingly having his knee cap facing the sideline while laying on his back. I have uttered my thoughts on Denver several times now, which you can read up on later. As for Las Vegas’ new team, they did start last season 6-4 and just heavily invested into their two major issues – wide receiver and linebacker. And while I don’t like to talk about it – injuries have been a huge issue for this Chargers team in recent years and I don’t really know what it is even, but I can’t assume that they all of a sudden can stay healthy. Bottom line: In terms of talent on the roster outside of the quarterback position, you could make a pretty compelling argument that the Chargers are ahead of all the other teams on this list. That’s the reason they have a pretty high floor of finishing around .500 and if everything works out, they could absolutely be a playoff contender. However, for this exercise in particular, I believe their upside is capped by what they have under center. Tyrod Taylor can be a top-20 quarterback in the NFL this season and in terms of upside, Justin Herbert has all the tools to become a difference-maker once he steps on the field, but they don’t have the explosiveness the Chiefs or the Broncos have for that matter. With so much continuity on a team that has the best player in the entire league, I can’t go against the Chiefs and in the end we are evaluating the chances to actually win the division. https://preview.redd.it/rywropjokf751.png?width=720&format=png&auto=webp&s=ed77a7303af810b862abb2100c4f0b86841a2d38
5. Washington Redskins
Why they can win the division: These guys are very reminiscent of the 49ers with their defensive line, in terms of having invested a lot of high draft picks into the unit these last couple of years and now with that second overall pick bringing in a true stud from Ohio State – this time in Chase Young. When you look at all those guys up front – with the Bama boys patrolling the middle, Matt Ioannidis capable of moving around the front, Montez Sweat looking to break out in year two and Ryan Kerrigan still being there as a productive veteran – they will wreak some havoc this season. Ron Rivera could finally bring some structure to this organization and help them turn it around on defense with the addition of an old companion in Thomas Davis, plus some high-upside players like Reuben Foster and Fabian Moreau looking to prove themselves. Quarterback Dwayne Haskins had a very underwhelming rookie campaign, but he clearly wasn’t ready to be out there and found himself in a bad situation in terms of the support system around him. I like a lot of their young skill-position players the front office has surrounded him with, when you look at Terry McLaurin trying to become a young star in this league, who produced despite shaky quarterback play last season, Kelvin Harmon and Antonio Gandy-Golden being two big-bodied targets I liked these last two drafts, Derrius Guice hopefully finally being able to stay healthy to lead this backfield and this year’s third-round pick Antonio Gibson being a chess piece that you can manufacture touches for. Somebody I forgot to mention in this discussion recently is Steven Sims Jr., who is a jitterbug with the ball in his hands. New offensive coordinator Scott Turner will implement a system that should make life easier on his second-year signal-caller as well, while relying heavily on the run game. Why they could finish last again: Haskins is by far the least proven QB of the bunch, with Daniel Jones even being head and shoulders above him in their respective rookie seasons. No pass-catcher outside of Terry McLaurin had any major production to speak. Counting on a 37-year old Thomas Davis to not only be a leader for them, but also make plays on the field, could create issues, and Washington lost some pieces in the secondary. This offseason is a challenge for any team, that is looking to implement a new system on each side of the ball, but I think especially for a motivator like Rivera, who can give his squad a heartbeat and push them to success, not being there in person with those guys will hurt. Most importantly however, this division to me will be a two-man race between the Eagles and Cowboys – as it has been for a while now. They both will likely have top ten quarterbacks, better receiving corps, better offensive lines and more experienced defenses. The Giants may not blow anybody away coming into 2020, but looking at the two matchups from last year between them and the Redskins, Big Blue beat them 24-3 the first time around, when Daniel Jones threw one touchdown compared to two interceptions and then he diced them up for five TDs and no picks in week 16. The one area Washington would have had the clear upper hand was with their front-four, but New York just invested a lot of draft capital into their O-line to prevent that. Just go through the Redskins’ schedule and show me more than six wins. I dare you. Bottom line: These last two sentences really say it all. Even if Philly and Dallas split the season series and Washington can get a game off either one of them, it will be tough to turn around this squad as quickly as this season – with reduced practice time and team activities – to a point where they can finish above both of them. Both of them could easily win double-digit games in 2020 and while I think the Redskins are on the right track if Haskins looks more like the Ohio State version of himself, other than their defensive line, no unit for them is ready to compete for the division quite yet. Just going through their schedule in an objective manner, it is tough to find any lay-ups and say Washington has some baseline of wins they count on. To not have them any lower than this is more due to the respect for Riverboat Ron and how high I was on a lot of the guys they drafted recently. https://preview.redd.it/szpawv9rkf751.png?width=720&format=png&auto=webp&s=62ca5fe882d8155d83eb3328e9bf1f1681a17384
6. Jacksonville Jaguars
Why they can win the division: I was going back and forth between my number six and seven teams, because the Jaguars are projected to pick first overall come next April for a reason – they did lose a lot of pieces. However, to me it came down to the fact that the AFC South might be won at 9-7 or 10-6 and this coaching staff actually has to win to keep their jobs. There is a lot noise about the Colts, but when you go back to last season, Philip Rivers was a turnover machine with serious questions about his arm strength. Bill O’Brien made some very questionable decisions for Houston and Tennessee is counting on a formula that is built on a 250-banger running the ball 25+ times and Ryan Tannehill finally repeating a career year, as they are coming off an AFC title game appearance. As far as Jacksonville goes, Gardner Minshew was the highest-graded rookie quarterback according to PFF and altogether I would have put him second only behind Kyler Murray. D.J. Chark broke out as one of the young star receivers and I had a first-round grade on Colorado’s Laviska Shenault if he can be healthy, because his talent is off the charts. I think the O-line would have benefitted from another tackle to kick Cam Robinson inside to guard, but those guys are some road-graders to make the run game work. Defensively the only real contributor from that Sacksonville group a couple of years ago who actually wants to be there is Myles Jack, but I really like their young duo off the edge in first-rounders Josh Allen last year and now K’Lavon Chaisson (LSU). There are some questions about the back-end, but they were built front-to-back with a lot of zone coverage behind it and depending on the development of ninth overall pick C.J. Henderson, they can roll away from him matching up with the opposing team’s number one receiver. Avoiding some of the better AFC squads altogether is pretty sweet as well, to go with facing no playoff team from last year outside their division until the middle of November. Why they could finish last again: I’m just not sure if all of these players are ready to fight for that coaching staff and organization. Two of their remaining veterans (Leonard Fournette and Yannick Ngakoue) have openly talked about how they want to be traded, they only have a few actually proven commodities on that entire roster and with the way they have unloaded big cap numbers, they have set themselves up for a true rebuild potentially, as they are expected to be in the Trevor Lawrence-Justin Fields sweepstakes come next April. Even if they can get a few breaks and the division is up for grabs, does this organization even want to win this season? If not for the injury to Jacoby Brissett in the middle of the season, all three other teams in that division would have almost certainly finished above .500 and the Colts are actually the team that improved by far the most among them. That Texans, who have actually won the South four of the last five years, including last season, may be the smallest challenge and still sweep Jacksonville. Vegas rarely misses completely and the Jaguars right now are the odds-on favorite to pick first overall come next April, with an NFL-low OveUnder of 4.5 wins on the season. And as favorable as the early portion of their schedule looks like right, check out this eight-game stretch after their week seven bye – at Chargers, vs. Texans, at Packers, vs. Steelers, vs. Browns, at Vikings, vs. Titans, at Ravens. Ouch. They might go winless over that period. Bottom line: The Jaguars to me are a very interesting team, because I believe they have accumulated a bunch of young talent, which gets lost a little when you see all the names that aren’t there anymore. There is a lot to like about this roster, when you look at what these players could develop into, but that doesn’t mean they will have success this year already. The Colts have the best 53 currently in the division (or 55 now), the Texans have the best quarterback and the Titans are coming off an AFC Championship game appearance. Gardner Minshew could make this kind of a tough decision if they end up picking anywhere after first overall and I think some of those other kids will put up pretty good numbers, but they are still pretty clearly fourth in the South as for now. https://preview.redd.it/5myv276vkf751.png?width=720&format=png&auto=webp&s=7fb25f47d0759e9b5a07876ea01787898c6cc817
7. Carolina Panthers
Why they can win the division: Nobody knows for sure what Matt Rhule and his new coaching staff will throw at them. Joe Brady gets to work with Teddy Bridgewater once again, who he already coached in New Orleans – so there will be familiarity for him in this system and they already “speak the same language”. That young receiving corp with D.J. Moore, Curtis Samuel, free agency addition Robby Anderson and even an up-and-coming tight-end in Ian Thomas is pretty underrated actually, plus of course they have one of the truly elite weapons out of the backfield in Christian McCaffrey, who is probably set to break his own RB reception record once again. The Panthers defense-only draft has brought them a monster in the middle in Derrick Brown (Auburn), a really talented edge rusher in Yetur Gross-Matos (Penn State) on the opposite of last year’s rookie stud Brian Burns, a super-rangy safety with linebacker size in Jeremy Chinn (Southern Illinois), what I think is a starting corner in Troy Pride Jr. (Notre Dame) and some other pieces in the secondary. The talent is clearly there and now you bring in a scheme that is probably going to be unique for the NFL level as well, when you look at that 3-3-5 Baylor ran under Rhule and defensive coordinator Phil Snow. As much as we want to praise our legends of the game, the quarterbacks of the two front-runners in this division will be 41 and 43 years old respectively and let’s not forget that Atlanta started out last season 1-7. Why they could finish last again: Especially this offseason, without certainty if there will be anything like training camp or even a real preseason, that completely new staff with new systems they are trying to teach will certainly have some growing pains. Bridgewater has been a top-20 starting QB maybe one year of his career and even when he was applauded for the way he filled in for Drew Brees last season, he finished dead-last in intended air yards among quarterbacks with at least 100 pass attempts. How will that mesh with a lot of vertical targets around him? When he has those guys running free on slants and dig routes, the ball will get there, but will he be willing to throw that deep post or give his guys a chance on go-balls? Defensively they are counting on a lot of young players and they have nobody to even come close to replacing Luke Kuechly, as well as making the switch to an unproven scheme possibly, if they actually use some of those 3-3-5 looks coming over from Baylor. When you look at Rhule’s track-record, it always took him until year two to show improvement and then in that third season is when those teams can really make some noise. And that was in the AAC and Big 12 respectively. Now he is in the NFC South with a team that just went 13-3 in the Saints and a Bucs squad that already was 7-9 and lost six of those games by one score, only because despite finishing fifth in takeaways, they ranked in the bottom five in turnover differential due to easily leading the league with 41 giveaways. That should get a lot better with Tom Brady coming in, who has never even quite thrown half of Jameis Winston’s 30 interceptions in any of his 20 years in the league. Even the Falcons – for as poorly as they started last season – went 6-2 after really coming together and making some changes in their bye week last season. Bottom line: The Panthers are clearly the most unproven team in this division. While new systems that haven’t been scouted yet certainly have an advantage in terms of game-planning early on, especially in this offseason with heavily limited live reps most likely, that might equal a net minus. You have to root for a guy like Teddy Bridgewater and the way he has worked his way up to a starting spot again, but I just don’t look at him as a surefire franchise signal-caller. The other three teams in the South all have top ten quarterbacks in the league in my opinion and much more continuity around them. Until the Panthers finally get to their bye week at the start of December, I don’t see them winning more than four of those twelve games. At that point they may have their eyes on a different goal already, if Teddy B isn’t the clear answer under center. https://preview.redd.it/y7agj2n2lf751.png?width=720&format=png&auto=webp&s=221af0a1f689d3b19d5e250fac0b58a35877edad
8. Cincinnati Bengals
Why they can win the division: We’re not that far away from 2015, when the Bengals won the AFC North with a 12-4 record as the fifth year in a row making the playoffs. Since then this is the first time I feel like there really is change happening with this team. Marvin Lewis was replaced by a young Zac Taylor, trying to prove himself to the league, they drafted Heisman trophy winner Joe Burrow first overall to replace as average a quarterback as we have had over the last decade in Andy Dalton and the front office finally spent some money in free agency. While you would think a quarterback going first overall usually comes into a situation, where he is devoid of talent around him, Cincinnati suddenly has one of the better group of skill-position players in the entire league, assuming A.J. Green is back healthy. Tyler Boyd is a stud in the slot, who will be Burrow’s version of Justin Jefferson, a 50-50 ball specialist in second-round pick Tee Higgins (Clemson) matches perfectly with Burrow’s expertise of winning with ball-placement and if they get anything from former first-rounder John Ross at least as a decoy with his speed, that’s a plus. I expect Joe Mixon to be among the league leader’s in running back receptions and be more effective in space with those receivers around him as well. The signings the Bengals have made on defense gives them a lot more talent and complements very well what they already had. D.J. Reader is one of the most underrated defensive linemen in the league and frees everybody up along the front, they completely overhauled that linebacker group, which was a major issue these last couple of years, they brought in a starting CB2 and nickel from Minnesota to pair up with William Jackson III, who is ready to announce himself as one of the best corners in football, and Von Bell is a great match with the rangy free safety Jessie Bates. Why they could finish last again: As talented as all those guys throwing, catching and running the ball may be, it all starts with what’s happening up front and the Bengals offensive line is still in transition. They could have two of the worst starters in the league at both guard spots and right tackle once again, with the prior ones close to reaching that bust status and Bobby Hart still somehow having a starting job. As great as Joe Burrow was last year at LSU and how clean his evaluation was, how much better than Andy Dalton will he be right away, especially going up against those scary defensive fronts inside his division? Defensively they could easily have six new starters, which obviously can be looked at as a positive sign, considering they allowed 20+ points in all but two games last season, but there is also a lack of continuity and reduced time to fit all those pieces together. Cincinnati’s coaching staff hasn’t really proven anything yet and they will be facing a massacre of a schedule, with three occasions of back-to-back road games and while three of their final four games of the season are at home, they will face the Cowboys, Steelers and Ravens, to go with a trip to Houston in-between. If they don’t beat the Chargers in the season-opener, they probably don’t get that first W until week four against the Jaguars and then they have to hope they can sneak out another one until their bye week. Baltimore is tied with Kansas City for the highest projected win total with reigning MVP coming into just his third season, Pittsburgh is favored to make the playoffs with Big Ben back under center and Cleveland was the offseason favorite in 2019, while fielding an even better roster this year. Bottom line: I feel bad for putting this team last, because I thought Joe Burrow was the top quarterback and definitely worthy of that number one pick and the Bengals finally spent big money in free agency to retool the defense. To me this is less about them than the Ravens, who just were the number one overall seed in the playoffs at 14-2 and haven’t done anything other than get better themselves, a Steelers team that made a run at the playoffs with the worst quarterback play in the league now getting Ben back and a Browns roster that is among the top ten league-wide in most people’s opinion. Still, there is a lot to like about this team at the skill-positions, which is probably behind only Cleveland in terms all the weapons they have, some young standouts on defense and hope that all of this brings a fresh breath of air. If you enjoyed this content, I would really appreciate if you could visit the original piece (with video clips) - https://halilsrealfootballtalk.com/2020/06/16/nfl-teams-most-likely-to-go-from-worst-to-first-in-2020/ You can also listen to my breakdown on Youtube - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R9kCcuPobNU
Tier 1 1 Joe Burrow, QB, 6'2/221, CIN (1.01) Depending on roster need and team makeup, I would be fine taking one of the other tier 1 players above Burrow but Burrow is absolutely worth the #1 overall pick in any year. While he lacks elite arm talent, Burrow has incredible accuracy, poise, and mobility to manipulate the pocket. As a prospect, I prefer him to Kyler Murray from last year by a decent amount. CIN isn't the greatest situation from an organizational standpoint but they've assembled a decent amount of talent around him in AJG, Boyd, Higgins, Ross, and Mixon. 2 Clyde Edwards Helaire, RB, 5'7/207, KC (1.32) Small, bowling-ball shaped runner with incredible contact balance, lateral agility, and pass catching ability. Has decent burst but lacks prototypical long speed and size. Pre-draft, CEH was my RB5 but he moves up here with the landing spot and draft capital. Even as my RB5, I was still a big fan of CEH and in KC he doesn't need to have bellcow type size in order to produce at a high level. His game vs Alabama my be the best game from any RB prospect this year. 3 Jonathan Taylor, RB, 5'10/226, IND (2.09) My RB2 pre-draft, Taylor is right there with CEH in the top tier. Taylor is a huge RB that excels in a power rushing attack where he can use his combo of size and burst to explode into the second level. That's exactly what he gets in IND, the perfect landing spot for his skillset. Potential issues with pass catching usage may limit his ceiling a little but the floor is incredibly high. Tier 2 4 D'Andre Swift, RB, 5'8/212, DET (2.03) My pre-draft RB1 and the #2 RB drafted, Swift is a huge value right now in all the rookie drafts I've done. Even when on the field with Chubb and Michel as a freshman, Swift stood out as the best RB of the three. Ridiculous lateral agility to make defenders miss, great burst, fantastic receiver, and solid contact balance. The DET landing spot doesn't worry me as much as it seems to worry others. It's clearly below KC and IND (otherwise he'd be in tier 1) but he's tied to a very good, reasonably young QB and I like the offense as a whole with Golladay, Hockenson, MJ, and a solid OL. Kerryon does worry me, however, and there is some risk that Swift never take over as a bellcow. 5 Cam Akers, RB, 5'10/217, LAR (2.20) My Predraft RB3 in the same tier as Swift and Taylor, Akers has all the tools you look for in a stud RB - size, violence, burst, contact balance, lateral agility, and pass catching. Moreover, he landed in a great landing spot in LA and received very good draft capital. This time last year people were describing the Rams as the best system for RBs in the NFL. Huge upside here for Akers' usage as a bellcow and he has the best opportunity of any of the RBs this year except for CEH. https://gph.is/g/apb5eq6 https://gph.is/g/aKAbBy3 https://gph.is/g/4bB5Yen 6 JK Dobbins, RB, 5'9/209, BAL (2.23) I really liked Dobbins coming out but had him a tier below Swift, Taylor, and Akers. Very solid runner in all areas but lacks an elite, defining trait. I really like the landing spot in BAL long term but there is concern about this year with Ingram plus I don't see the potential for much receiving usage with LJax. Really like the player and I'd be ecstatic to have him but I don't see him as the consensus RB3 as recent trends suggest. 7 Tua Tagliovola, QB, 6/217, MIA (1.05) If you really need a QB I'm fine moving Tua to the top of this tier. Like Burrow, Tua lacks ideal arm talent but wins with his mobility and accuracy. While Tua has a longer track record than Burrow, he never put up a season like Burrow did last year. The injuries scare me and there are some question marks about how well Tua can go through his progressions - at Alabama there were a lot of first read throws. The situation in Miami is ok, I like the OL picks that MIA made but this is still a rebuilding team with a ton of holes. Tier 3 8 Jerry Jeudy, WR, 6'1/193, DEN (1.15) The best separator in the class, Jeudy reminds me of Stefon Diggs. Very pro ready WR with advanced releases off the line and route running. Phenomenal YAC ability with the ball in his hands. Knows how to manipulate his speed to set up defenders. Not a very physical WR and you won't see him making many contested catches. Situation isn't great with Sutton next to him but Lamb is in a similar touch squeeze so I'll take my preferred talent. 9 CeeDee Lamb, WR, 6'1/198, DAL (1.17) The best playmaker in the class. Much better ball skills than Jeudy but lacks the quick twitch and ability to separate. Plus he faced easier competition and didn't have to deal with a lot of press coverage. While he's competing with a locked in WR1 in DAL, Lamb landed in an explosive offense with a young QB. Think he can be very productive as Dak's #2 target. 10 Jalen Reagor, WR, 5'11/206, PHI (1.21) Loved Reagor pre-draft and he received premium draft capital in my favorite landing spot. Reagor immediately stands out when watching him. Extremely twitched up and explosive, Reagor separates as well as defenders struggle keeping up. Provides a deep threat but has also flashed the ability to make tough contested catches and good sideline footwork. PHI was my favorite WR landing spot in the class as I'm a big fan of that offense and Wentz and they have a huge hole at WR. https://gph.is/g/4w8d3Lx https://gph.is/g/4L5bpev https://gph.is/g/ZPm5zPX 11 Justin Herbert, QB, 6'6/235, LAC (1.06) I don't like Herbert as a player but this is the value play in superflex. Herbert has great arm talent and mobility but he had lots of easy reads at Oregon and consistently disappointed. Struggles out of rhythm and a little robotic as a player. Still, the Chargers situation is great and the top 10 draft capital should guarantee him a starting role for a while. Great value in drafts if you can get him at the end of the 1st. Tier 4 12 Brandon Aiyuk, 5'11/205, WR, SF (1.25) One of my favorite players pre-draft. Can win all over the field in a variety of ways - explosion out of breaks, YAC ability, deep speed, or physicality. Has the rare ability to come out of his breaks without losing any explosion. Love the draft capital and the landing spot is ok. I trust Shanahan and that should be a productive offense for a long time. Issues arise given the run first nature of the offense and competition with another great young WR in Deebo. Watch the Oregon game if you want to get excited. https://gph.is/g/Zd75D5D https://gph.is/g/4zqY3DK https://gph.is/g/4AjblvO https://gph.is/g/Z2mbxg7 13 Justin Jefferson, WR, 6'1/202 MIN (1.22) The safest WR after Jeudy and Lamb, Jefferson should be able to step into the slot immediately and produce. If you want to lower your risk then pick Jefferson. He's very quick out of his breaks, creates consistent separation from the slot, very good YAC ability, and flashes contested catch ability. I don't see him playing outside and he's not as dynamic as other WRs in this class. Very good landing spot in MIN with Diggs' departure. Watch the Oklahoma game if you want to get excited. 14 Henry Ruggs, WR, 5'11/188, LVR (1.12) The first WR drafted, Ruggs could be a great value where I have him ranked. Still, I love the WRs above him and I wasn't a big Ruggs fan coming out. Incredible speed and flashes some toughness and decent route running as well. Think he struggles with physicality and didn't separate as much as he should because he's a long strider rather than a compact, twitched up player. I think Gruden is going to feed him a ton of targets and thus could be very productive early on. 15 Laviska Shenault, WR, 6'1/227, JAX (2.10) Absolutely love Shenault. Comp is Sammy Watkins. Great combo of size, physicality, explosivenes and YAC. Needs refinement but it'll be hard to keep his playmaking off the field. Biggest concern is injuries. His 2018 games vs Nebraska and game vs USC this year are great. https://gph.is/g/apbqw33 https://gph.is/g/Z7ge57R https://gph.is/g/46vO5Dd https://gph.is/g/ZrdDloG 16 Tee Higgins, WR, 6'4/216, CIN (2.01) Big WR with huge frame to extend himself for difficult balls. Timed speed was disappointing but had the ability to threaten deep at Clemson. Fantastic hands and advanced footwork. Risky as he struggles with physicality (he'll see a LOT more of that in the NFL) and not a great separator. Love the situation with Burrow and the draft capital. 17 Michael Pittman, WR, 6'4/223, IND (2.02) Decent speed and explosion for his size, some YAC ability, fantastic jump ball catcher, huge frame which he uses to shield defenders. Landing spot in IND is good for the next few years with Rivers but some worries once Rivers leaves. Has a clearly defined role as the X WR and complements Hilton and Campbell very well. 18 Jordan Love, QB, 6'3/224, GB (1.26) Probably the best value in SF leagues of all the rookies. I'm a big Jordan Love fan (especially at his price). Has jaw dropping arm talent and extremely mobile. Unlike Herbert, Love was asked to make extremely difficult plays and delivered. His issues aren't with accuracy but moreso decision making. He'll lock onto his first read at times and make incredibly stupid throws. I'm ok with the landing spot as I trust GB as an organization, however, he'll probably sit for a few years. Huge upside here. https://gph.is/g/aKAgJje https://gph.is/g/Z5YbQ36 https://gph.is/g/4L5bqK0 https://gph.is/g/aQO5gDA 19 AJ Dillon, RB, 6/247, GB (2.30) Like Love, he's another amazing value in drafts this year given the depth and quality of the class. In any other year, a 2nd round RB with his size, athleticism, and production would be a top 5 pick but you can get him in the mid/late 2nd consistently. I didn't love the player coming out, but I recognized that he has the ability to be a big time producer if put in the right type of offense and that's exactly what happened in GB. I think his production this year has been undersold and with Aaron Jones' contract expiring next year, he'll likely take over as the RB1 in 2021. Tier 5 20 Antonio Gibson, RB, 6/228, WSH (3.02) Big upside low floor pick. Gibson is one of the most exciting players to watch in this class with his big play ability, size, and explosion. At Memphis he played mostly slot WR but he was a pretty shitty WR and his upside lies at RB. He has a lot of work to do as he doesn't know what he's doing yet as a RB but the traits are really exciting - contact balance + burst. Could be David Johnson if things hit right. Don't love the landing spot as I'm still very high on Guice plus there is still a question mark regarding how Washington plans to use him. If he's used as a Wgadget guy then I don't have much interest in him. https://gph.is/g/ZOk5mNj https://gph.is/g/EGgbr8M https://gph.is/g/aeA5wDX https://gph.is/g/aXJ53nR https://gph.is/g/aKAb9z9 21 Denzel Mims, WR, 6'3/206, NYJ (2.27) I was never as high as others on Mims and didn't get the round 1 hype. However, his combination of athleticism and ball skills are very exciting and worth betting on here. He's a very boom/bust type of prospect. Landed in a very good spot with a young, good QB in Darnold lacking a #1 WR. 22 Bryan Edwards, WR, 6'3/212, LVR (3.17) Absolutely loved Edwards pre-draft and had him in my top 50 overall players. He's big, physical, explosive, versatile, and has fantastic ball skills. Landing spot is ok - the Raiders have a long term need at X WR but the team drafted Ruggs first so I think Gruden is going to prioritize Ruggs. Could be a few years before Edwards pays off. https://gph.is/g/EJYbRne https://gph.is/g/a99bdlP https://gph.is/g/EGgb9Ml https://gph.is/g/aRW5N7w 23 Zack Moss, RB, 5'9/223, BUF (3.22) Very similar player as David Montgomery. Excellent contact balance, toughness, pass catching ability, plus some wiggle but lacks juice. If there is a crease it takes him too long to hit it. Still, pretty good value to get a David Montgomery level player at 2.12. Landing spot is ok and your feeling about it is dependent on how you feel about Singletary. I love Singletary so I'm not high on the landing spot but its very possible that BUF doesnt see Singletary as a lead back. 24 Ke'Shawn Vaughn, RB, 5'10/214, TB (3.12) Didn't like Vaughn pre-draft and I was very surprised when he went this early. Vaughn is a solid all around RB that should be able to produce if given volume but I don't see any dynamic traits. Very much a replacement level RB. Still, TB has a potential opening at RB and the team spent good draft capital on him. Tier 6 25 KJ Hamler, WR, 5'9/178, DEN (2.12) Could easily have Hamler at the end of tier 5. Immediately stands out on film with his twitchiness and speed, defenders simply cannot hang with him. Don't see a huge difference between him and Hollywood Brown purely as prospects coming out. Effortless separation with his quickness and speed. Could be more valuable in real football than the NFL. Don't like the landing spot for fantasy as he's stuck behind two great, young WRs. 26 Chase Claypool, WR, 6'4/238, PIT (2.17) Freaky player with his combo of size and athleticism. Great draft capital to a team that has consistently developed WRs. Massive player with explosiveness to put CBs on their heels quick. Biggest asset right now is his YAC - should immediately be a weapon on screens and crossers. Flashes ability to box out defenders but is not natural attacking the ball and lacks overall smoothness to his game. Landing spot is odd with JuJu and Diontae already in place, however, if JuJu leaves a lot of opportunity opens up. Watch the Iowa St game to get excited. 27 Van Jefferson, WR, 6'1/200, LAR (2.25) I had a 3rd round grade on Jefferson pre-draft so I like the player. Projects as an NFL-ready slot WR with quickness and route running nuance. Got the best of LSU star freshman CB Stingley this past year. Odd landing spot as the Rams already have Kupp in the slot and I can't see either moving outside. Tier 7 28 Darrynton Evans, RB, 5'10/203, TEN (3.29) One of the most explosive players in this class, Evans is a threat to break off a big run at any time. With his lack of physicality and size, I don't see him projecting as a starting RB even if Henry leaves next year. Likely a career committee back. 29 Anthony McFarland, RB, 5'8/208, PIT (4.18) Really fun, explosive player that should get on the field immediately. Like Darrynton Evans, I struggle seeing him taking over a feature back but should have a long term role given his explosivness. 30 Cole Kmet, TE, 6'6/262, CHI (2.11) Not a very flashy or exciting player but projects as a solid starting NFL TE. The draft capital really helps and has a decent floor given his ability as a blocker. Think Kyle Rudolph type of career if he hits. 31 Adam Trautman, TE, 6'5/255, NO (3.41) Big, physical TE that dominated small school competition and can win in traffic and over the middle of the field. Isn't especially fluid out of his breaks and doesn't project as a potential top tier TE. Really like that NO traded so much for him and I trust Sean Payton. 32 Devin Asiasi, TE, 6'3/257, NE (3.27) If any TE in this class develops into a top tier fantasy TE, I wouldn't be surprised if it was Asiasi. Former high recruit that transferred to UCLA and didn't produce until his last season. He's smaller than Kmet and Trautman but he's just as good of a blocker and he's way more fluid than both. Really like the landing spot and draft capital as well. 33 Joshua Kelley, RB, 5'11/212, LAC (4.06) This could be too low as the situation is phenomenal and draft capital is decent but I'm not high on the player. He's solid and can produce if given volume in a good situation (both very possible in LAC) but doesn't have any standout trait and looks like a replacement level player to me. 34 Lamical Perine, RB, 5'11/216, NYJ (4.14) A better version of Joshua Kelley to me but in a worse situation. Very solid all round back that is a very good receiver. Lacks juice or standout qualities but solid overall. If Bell declines, leaves, or gets injured I think Perine could step in and surprise. Some worry about the Frank Gore signing. 35 Devin Duvernay, WR, 5/10/200, BAL (3.28) Slot WR with strong hands and great ability with the ball in his hands but struggles to create separation out of his breaks. Should be great on screens and special teams. 36 Gabe Davis, WR, 6'2/216, BUF (4.22) Big body WR with great physicality and decent speed/explosion for his size. Project player with some upside. 37 Joe Reed, WR, 6/224, LAC (5.05) Really love the player, Reed is a twitched up YAC guy with RB type of size and ability with the ball in his hands. 38 JaMycal Hasty, RB, 5'8/208, SF (UDFA) My favorite 3rd down/satellite back in this entire class, Hasty is lighting quick and explosive with great pass catching ability. If any team can turn a UDFA into a star it's Kyle Shannahan and there is a ton of opportunity in SF. 39 Darnell Mooney, WR, 5'10/176, CHI (5.28) Deep ball threat with good production and CHI has a clear need for that type of deep threat. 40 Mike Warren, RB, PHI, 5'9/226, PHI (UDFA) Not sure that I would actually draft him here but I wanted to get his name on the list. Really fun player to watch, he's like a 95% version of Zack Moss. Great size, awesome power, surprising wiggle and pass catching ability but lacks the requisite explosive qualities. I actually really like the landing spot in PHI as they do not have a bigger back to complement Sanders. NOTICE THAT JALEN HURTS IS NOT ON THIS LIST. He'd probably be around #35 but I have him low enough to where I probably won't every draft him so I didn't include him on the list.
[Guide] A Deep Dive Into The Sleep Mechanism, And How To Stack The Odds In Your Favor
Preface Over a month ago, a guy by the name u/Fueboomer did a series of BV runs with his Troublemaker 1 Ramos, including a 0-damage-taken BV Hall 30 run with Blue as the striker. He was the first person to recognize the potential of sleep, and more importantly he had the guts to invest in an underused 3-star boomer sync pair to test out a yet-to-be-proven strategy. Fast forward to June 30, a higher being named Serena graced us with her presence. Her brokenness not only comes from her AOE sleep and accuracy buff, but also the fact that she's perfectly functional at 1/5. With her help, a skilled player like Fueboomer can clear the entire BV without taking any damage. The Sleep Mechanism Sleep is similar to flinch in many ways:
The affected target cannot queue attack moves for a period of time
If Hypnosis disrupts a queued attack move, the target will immediately queue a trainer buff if it has one
A target that's already asleep cannot be hypnotized.
The middle mon wakes up after its sync move
There is a degree of randomness to the status duration, unless the target has Lessen Sleep 9. We will discuss sleep duration in detail in the next section.
The AI can actually queue its move BEFORE the icon disappears, which means you can't chain sleep by simply watching the icon and waiting. Instead, you need to queue at least one other move and follow with Hypnosis before the target awakes. We'll revisit this topic later in more details.
Knowing the similarities, we must also remember the major differences:
Sleep cannot coexist with other statuses. Burned, paralyzed, poisoned, frozen targets cannot be hypnotized.
Flinched targets CAN be hypnotized but will lose the flinch status.
Hypnosis and Sleep Powder have a success rate of 75%. The rate is increased to 93.75% if you have Troublemaker 1.
Sleep Duration As mentioned above, sleep duration is somewhat random. The only visual signal we have is the sleep status icon. Therefore knowing how to read the icon is the key to success. As we know, the icon blinks when the target is preparing to wake up. Based on my observation, the blinking speed doesn't seem to be a linear function. Rather, it is divided into 3 phases, each with a different speed: Phase 1: "I don't blink! Why are you staring at me!" In this phase the icon doesn’t blink at all. This means the target isn't waking up anytime soon. It's worth mentioning that targets with Lessen Sleep 5 or above
Sometimes the target(s) completely skip this phase.
Even if hypnotized at the same time (i.e. by Serena's AOE hypnosis), different units will still have different (and random) sleep duration. (credit to u/El_Gabbar in the comment section)
Phase 2: Twinkle Twinkle Little Star This is the most important phase. The icon blinks at moderate speed. You need to keep a close eye on it. As u/u/Red1003493649 points out in this post, (and credit to u/zzladerp in the comment section), when no move is queued, the icon will blink exactly 16 times (Video recording: https://youtu.be/gJZoKWMB47w, watch Chandelure from 0:21 to 0:31). The duration of 16 blinks seems to be exactly 10 seconds. However, during a real battle, the duration is extended by certain animations that happened in-between (we will discuss this in detail in a later section.) However, if the target skipped Phase 1 completely, then the duration can become less, and the extent is completely unpredictable. Phase 3: Fast and Furious The icon blinks rapidly. It will blink exactly 5 times, for a duration of roughly a little less than 2 seconds, and then the icon disappears. For demonstration you can scroll to 2:55 of this video - https://youtu.be/jHtffgV1E6g and watch the icon on Gengar. But don't bother, because you don't need to remember anything about this phase. Why? Because the target can actually queue its move at the BEGINNING of this phase, not at the end when the icon disappears. That sounds awful. So what now? So here we are, the third phase is useless, and the second phase can sometimes be unpredictable (if Phase 1 is skipped). If you used to beat yourself up for messing up Hypnosis' timing, now is the time to treat yourself with a delicious cupcake because it wasn't your fault. Dena intentionally made it unpredictable so that we can't abuse this mechanism easily. However, this isn't the end. In fact, there are a number of things we can do to turn the tide in our favor:
Instead of staring at 3 flashing icons and betting which unit would wake up first and queue the next move, we can instead tell the AI who should move next by KO'ing one unit. The next Pokémon to enter the field will 100% be the one to queue the next move, even if another unit wakes up during the field-entering animation. And if you are familiar with AI's action order, you know where this is going - we can KO all the Pokémon on one side, one by one. Then we hypnotize the middle Pokemon again because it's usually hard to KO. And then we proceed to clear the other side. Here's a demo: (https://youtu.be/mrTVx-fA8TE). Alternatively, if say you can't KO the next-in-line Pokemon, you can still attack it and follow up with Hypnosis. Check out this 0-damage-taken Hall 25 run by Fueboomer: https://youtu.be/3lh2ftC4q-4
Take advantage of enemy units' trainer moves. Trainer moves are sort of a double-edge sword - they allow the enemy to reduce sync move countdown while sleeping, which sucks for us, but at the same time the buffs' animations are a blessing. If a unit wakes up during their own animation time, it'd have to wait for the animation to finish before it can queue a move. Poor little thing has to sit there while you move your finger over to the Hypnosis button. Ah, cruel fate!
Intentionally allow the least threatening enemy sync pair to queue moves. For example, in Bewear's stage, Chandelure's Shadow Ball hits a lot harder than the two side mons' attacks. Therefore, you can aggressively chain sleep on Chandelure while ignoring the two side mons. Let them attack so you have time to observe Chandelure and put it to sleep when it wakes up.
Queue Serena's move at the very last second. This is more of an extension to #2 and #3. The idea is to take full advantage of enemy attack/buff's animation time.
Count your moves. Generally speaking, if an enemy just transitioned from Phase 1 to Phase 2, you can still safely queue about at least 2-3 moves. It's not absolute and it depends on how long your move's animation is. As mentioned above, you have 10 seconds + animation time to queue and execute moves. So you can do something like this: Striker attacks -> Striker attacks -> Striker attacks -> Tank queues a move -> Serena queues Hypnosis. This way, even if the target wakes up during your 3rd attack, it'll still be put to sleep before it moves. The risk is that it might also wake up during or right after your Hypnosis, which will break your sleep chain. However, do not attempt this, or at least be more conservative if the target skipped Phase 1 completely.
Use moves and passives such as King's Shield and Endurance to tell the AI that all its struggles are futile.
Extending Sleep Durations (Added on 7/12 based on conversation with u/zzladerp in the comment section) Based on u/zzladerp's findings (see comment section), if the enemy experienced Phase 1, then it's Phase 2 duration can in fact be calculated. The formula is:
10 seconds + total remaining move animation times - (remaining last move animation time * (triggerpassive? + 1)mod 2) Where, total remaining move animation times is the time taken for rest of the move animations after 10 seconds of sleep. In scenario 1 and 2, this is just the remaining last move animation times since only 1 move will finish after the 10 seconds of sleep. remaining last move animation time is the time taken for the rest of the last move animation after 10 seconds of sleep. For scenario 3, since the whole last move is going to be executed after the 10 seconds of sleep, then it’s just last move animation time triggerpassive? is 1 if a passive skill(s) such as MGR, MPR, Recuperation, etc. will activate after the last move and 0 if not.
In other words:
If only one move is queued by player (hence it is also the last move), and it doesn't trigger any passive, then it doesn't extend the sleep duration at all. Duration = 10 seconds
Same conditions as above except the move does trigger a passive, then it extends sleep duration by its remaining move animation time
If more than one move are queued by the player, the total remaining animation time of all moves before the last move will be added to sleep duration. The last move will follow the two principles above
Therefore, in theory, we can maximize Phase 2 duration by queuing 3 moves at the end of the first 10 seconds, and the 3rd move should preferably be able to trigger a passive. This way the target will only wake up after the 3rd move's attack animation finishes. To put it into perspective, say our team is Torkoal/Lucario(with VW MGR)/Delphox, from the moment Phase 2 begins we can:
Let Torkoal or Lucario attack several times, but make sure all animations finish in 9 or 9.5 seconds, and then
Torkoal queues Ember -> Delphox queues Fire Spin -> Lucario queues VW with guaranteed MGR -> (After Ember's animation finishes) Torkoal queues another Ember -> (After Fire Spin animation finishes) Delphox queues Hypnosis
This way when the target wakes up it gets hit by another Ember and then gets hypnotized again. In other words, we can squeeze in 4 additional attacks 4 attacks (Ember, Fire Spin, VW, another Ember) in addition to the ones queued in the first 10 seconds, without breaking the sleep chain. About Lessen Sleep 9 This only happens in LA, and I'll simply quote what u/Parallaxal said in this post:
As it turns out, the secret to chaining sleep vs an enemy with Lessen Sleep 9 is to be patient with re-queuing Hypnosis/Sleep Powder. You have to wait until just before the animation of the move following your sleep attack finishes. In this fight I looked for the shield animation of Entei's Light Screen to give me the signal to queue my next Hypnosis.
About lessen sleep 9 for Entei I used Heat wave -> bullet seed -> hypnosis or Heat Wave -> Hex -> Sleep Powder, and at the end of Heat Wave's animation I could use hypnosis and it works 100% of the time.
About Lessen Sleep 8 (Added on 7/15. Credit to u/Red1003493649. See more details in the comment section) In regards to targets with Lessen Sleep 8, I'll quote what Red1003493649 said in the comment section:
for lessen sleep 8 it is the worst : between 4 and 16 ! The only solution that I found is to use 3 moves and wait the end of the animation of the second move before to use hypnosis, for my Serena's team I use fire spin and heat wave for the two first move so the animation is long enough to sleep at 100%
By now, hopefully these techniques have cheered you up and restored your faith. But before we conclude there's one more thing I'd like to talk about. I call it gaining more by doing nothing: If your team has move gauge issues, you can benefit from waiting when all enemies are asleep. Do this when:
All enemies are still in Phase 1 or just transitioned to Phase 2, and
You're positive that you can OHKO a target (so you can dictate their action order), or
You know exactly when the target will wake up, check out this Sleep Chain Guide by Zinfogel https://youtu.be/MVxfimExXqo, notice at 15:55, he intentionally waits a few seconds for gauge refill before using another Blast Burn.
Some Closing Thoughts: Personally, I think it's a good thing that the sleep mechanism is complicated. Even for skillful players, it presents a challenge that's not easy to overcome. I find it very rewarding when I achieve a perfect run by using various techniques to incrementally increase my odds, and I hope this guide could help you achieve the same. Thank you for reading this big wall of text. It took me a great many hours to put this together, but I owe many of my inspirations to many Reddit posts and YouTube videos, including but not limited to:
No, they do not allow cell phones in the afterlife. In fact, what I am doing right now is extremely “illegal”. But I figured, I’ve had my share of fun here, why not gift you all with my knowledge? Besides, you’ll be thanking me when you inevitably end up here, and don’t die instantly. Sound confusing? Great. Let’s start from the beginning. Rule #1: Always know your bearings. If you don’t know where you are, it makes it way easier for them to find you. This first rule was one told to me by a dear friend, a rule that I wasn’t aware of when I first woke up in a one bedroom apartment. In fact, I wasn’t very aware of anything for a while, not until I started to remember. I woke with a startle, as I choked on my own drool. It only took me seconds after I sat up before memories started flushing through my head. I was forced to recount all my wrongdoings, every little thing I had done wrong in my life, leading up to those final moments. The fight. The car crash. Emily. I felt a sense of dread run down my spine as I struggled to grasp what was fully happening at the moment. With a jolt, I jumped out of bed and quickly realized that I was naked. I needed to make sure Emily was okay, but a man also needed to have some dignity. I quickly scrambled around the bedroom to see if I could find any spare clothes lying around. Surprisingly, I almost instinctively reached for a closet handle to the left of me. At the time, I found it weird that I seemed to subconsciously know the place, but later I learned that you always woke up in your place of birth, so this crappy apartment had been where I was conceived. Thanks, mom. Many people told me they thought that that was very poetic and symbolic, but I believe it’s just one of the many ways the universe fucks with you after death. It’s an artifact from a past life, one you’ll never get to go back to. But anyways, I got dressed and walked outside my apartment, looking for any signs of people so I could understand what was happening. I quickly spotted the stairs and decided my best bet would be to try and sprint down the stairs. Kids, if you haven’t tried sprinting down a set of stairs, I wouldn’t recommend the experience. Just imagine your favorite cartoon character, and the gag of where they fall down the comically long set of stairs, hitting each step with a bonk! Except there was no bonk, no background noise at all, just the muffled shouts of your lovable character as they hit every step with pain, barely able to get up in the end, noticeable blood on their face as they stares at the camera in their pain. Yeah, I’ve been advised never to have children. But anyways, you get my metaphor, I tumbled down the stairs with no bonk, and ended up with a bloody nose. At the moment that didn’t bother me, though, and I quickly found my way to the front exit, while proceeding to stumble my way out. As soon as I left the building, I got a very strange vibe from the area. It looked like a cliche New York/Las Vegas city, full of many different and unique buildings, all stuck next to each other on busy intersections. Except there was nothing busy about these intersections. In fact, there wasn’t a single person in sight, I appeared to be the only one in the city I started my walk down the road, and noticed that most of the buildings in this city were vacant, and the ones that weren’t seemed like they had been abandoned abruptly. I couldn’t tell you how long I walked down that seemingly never ending city, as I past by building after building, vacant or abandoned. I was starting to really wish I had tended to my broken nose before I left the apartment building, as I was leaving a trail of blood, and my nose was pounding profusely. I tried entering some of the empty buildings to treat my wound, but it seemed every door was locked. I was pretty shaken up from the situation, and I swear I could see things out of the corner of my eye, but I kept on walking, with blind hope that I would find Emily. After what seemed like forever, I finally saw a building with people in it, a building with the word, “HELP” in bold letters above the entrance. Everything inside and outside the building was completely white, and it gave off a dreamy, futuristic feeing. I entered the building and recognized the people to be standing in line, waiting for someone at the front desk. I decided to try and cut to the front, so I could explain to the desk lady what was happening. Wait, what was happening? I felt surreal in that moment, but decided to shake it off, promising myself that I’d get to the bottom of this, if only to find Emily. The guy in the back of the line immediately noticed me trying to cut, and spoke up. “What d’you think you’re doing?,” he questioned. “I...I” I tried stuttering out “You nothing my friend, now get to the back of the line and wait like the rest of us” “I need help... right now,” I finally replied, pointing to my broken nose. Before he could reply, I started hearing a loud bang on the glass door behind me. I turned around to see men in completely white tuxedos banging loudly on the door, trying to get our attention. “What are those people doing?” I asked “Those “people” are monsters” the man spat, without even looking back I thought it was awfully rude to refer to people like that, especially when the man hadn’t even seen who they were. “What did they do to become monsters?” I asked politely. “They didn’t “become” monsters, cadet. Have you even listened to training? These things are meant to kill you, designed to kill you, and they have evolved overtime.” He explained. As he talked, I looked ahead of the line, and noticed that the people would talk to the lady behind the front desk for a minute or two, and then walk behind one of two doors. “I’m sorry, “Cadet?”, I don’t know what you’re getting at here, but I don’t like how you speak to others, more rather, how you REFER to others. Now could you please explain what is going on here.” I used to be a very calm and thoughtful person. USED to be. We moved moved up in the line as he spoke again. “Buddy, you and me both know what’s going on here, and it ain’t pretty”, he chuckled, “Those monsters out there ain’t getting inside as long as we ignore them.” By the time I spoke, we were almost at the front of the line. “You can’t just call these guys monsters because of what you assume they are. I don’t care what you think, those are people too” The man seemed infuriated now. “For the last time, I-“ He thought for a second, turned to face the door with the people still banging, and I could see realization and shock appear in his eyes. “A mimic, this close to base?” He mumbled to himself, “that doesn’t make any sense, unless-“ Even though he was next in line, the man stopped dead in his tracks. It was around the time that I noticed the clothes he was wearing. A white tuxedo, just the same as the men outside. Strangely, I was just then realizing that something was off. Before that my conscious had put me in a dream like state, where I accepted what happened around me to be true, but I kinda just let things happen that shouldn’t without questioning them. Correlating that man to the people outside was what made reality slap me in the face, and I remembered to ask the question any sane person would need to know right then. “Mister, what the hell is going?!?” The man ignored me, and as the lady up front called his name, he spoke to me quietly and calmly. “Listen to me closely boy, do you know what APA stands for?” I could feel myself registering the situation more and more in my brain, and as it rendered more for me, I began to shout. “I DON’T EVEN KNOW WHERE I FUCKING AM!” A look of shock appeared on the mans face, and without skipping a beat, he pulled out a gun from his jacket, turned to the lady at the counter, and shot her in the chest. It was my turn to be in shock, as I tried to process what had just happened. Before I got a chance to do that, though, I noticed something rising from where the lady had been shot. Whatever rose up from that desk, was not a lady. I could go into gruesome details that would make you throw up, as I almost did just looking at the creature. It looked about 10 feet tall, with a slim build to rival slenderman himself. It’s torso seemed incomprehensible, with the number of arms and legs always changing. The limbs were always long and thin, like a shadowy mist that would crawl towards you if you stared for too long. It’s face was the worst part. It had eyes that were just like yours or mine, except for the fact that they were completely black. I felt as if I was staring into an eternal darkness as I glimpsed into its eyes for a single second. The one feature I will never forget will be it’s mouth. This type of mouth is common on monsters, but the mouth in this creature left the biggest impact on me. It’s mouth was a simple slit, but somehow stretched into an inhumane smile, as it sensed it’s next prey. This wasn’t a punchable-face, shit-eating grin type of smile either. This was the smile you would see on a madman, ear to ear, as if it could tell you, I will do everything in my power to murder you in the most gruesome way possible. The type of smile you knew you were dead if you saw. And in that moment, when I was staring at that creature, I felt dead. Every part of me wanted to cry out in fear, to scream at the top of my lungs, but my body simply would not move, and I was stuck staring at this creature. I was transfixed with horror, as they would say, as I looked upon a what would surely be a swift death. Luckily, I was not stuck in horror for that long, as my fight or flight instincts kicked in after a couple seconds. As you can guess, I chose flight. As I tried running to the exit, I could see the men in white suits, now frantically trying to bash the door open, and I was almost free. Suddenly, the door was blocked by another one of the creatures, and as I turned around, I noticed my helpless situation. I was cornered on all sides by these creatures, and they slowly advanced on me, I decided to curl up in a ball, and have my life end on a low note. I suddenly remembered the guy from before, and as I turned to look at him, I noticed that he was holding something up to these creatures, and they seemed to be... afraid of it? This next part was a little hazy, because I’m pretty sure I was falling in and out of consciousness the whole time. I guess the man had remembered I was there at the same time I remembered he was, because he started running towards me, holding the object up like a lantern, which drew the creatures away. I could feel the creatures placing thoughts into my head. They were dark, violent thoughts, thoughts that no human should ever have. Before those thoughts consumed me, though the man had reached where I lay, and, while holding me and the object with incredible strength, bolted out the door. Barely making it to safety as the creatures appeared trapped inside of the building. By the time I had come too I was sprawled out on the ground, feeling like the worst kind of shit. I could barely make out the group of men having a hushed conversation right next to where I laid. “Goddammit Frank! The signs were staring you in the face, we even tried stopping you, but you ignored us? “You know our protocol, do not engage with monsters unless absolutely necessary.”, Frank said, “I swear, they’re getting smarter by the day.“ “That’s not important right now”, another voice butted in, “the new arrival, is he agent material?” I could only assume they were talking about me, as I was apparently new and had arrived at.. wherever I was? “Hell no, I wouldn’t trust that twerp with a water pistol, we just gotta send him back on to where he should have gone.” Frank said I’ll admit, I was a little taken aback by this. Sure, I had shown immeasurable amounts of cowardice inside of that building, but was I really that bad? “Alright then, you get the man straightened away, then we’re gonna a long talk about your track record.” “You got it, boss” After the other men had wakes away, the man I assumed to be Frank walked over to me and picked me up, straightening my body so that I would stand up on my own. Immediately questions started spewing out of my mouth. How did I get here? What was going on? Would I ever see my family again? “Relax, relax, I’m not the guy who explains this to you, you’ll understand much better once we send you their way.” “But-“ “No buts. You’re already lucky enough to survive your first monster encounter, now stay safe, and have a good trip.” I still had so many questions, but the man clarified something to me before I got the chance to ask. “Oh yeah, and a little beginner’s tip,” he shifted his glance left and right before telling me, “Always know your bearings. If you don’t know where you are, it makes it way easier for them to find you.” And with that, the man pulled out a bright red syringe, and before I had time to react, plunged it into my arm, until I fainted onto the ground. That was my first encounter with the APA, and the horrific creatures from the afterlife. I will continue to update if I choose to, but for now, I gotta be on the move, they watch me. What happened next.
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