POUNDING THE ROCK

Marc Lawrence — As we hopefully head in to the 2020 season, Pro Football Focus has done a fine job of ranking NFL position units. As is always the case with running backs, their production is very dependent on the situation around them, from play calling to run blocking to the quality of the passing attack. Because of this, an individual’s rushing production can fluctuate quite a bit from year to year. With it the Cleveland Browns rank atop the best backfields in the NFL heading into 2020. Nick Chubb has the highest overall grade (91.5) and rushing grade (92.1) among running backs over the past two years. He’s been excellent at both maximizing his run blocking and creating big plays. Chubb ranks just 47th with 1.04 yards before contact over the past two years, but he’s second in yards after contact (4.04). Chubb has also forced 0.32 missed tackles per reception, fourth-best during that time. Chubb has become one of the most difficult runners to tackle and may be the best pure runner in the NFL. He s complemented by Kareem Hunt, another back who is difficult to tackle. Hunt led the league with 61 forced missed tackles as a rookie in 2017 and has two top-seven finishes as a runner in his three NFL seasons. Hunt is also an effective receiver, forcing 41 missed tackles while hauling in 11 touchdowns on 119 career receptions. It’s a five-way race for the No. 3 spot, led by Dontrell Hilliard, who has 51 career carries, but this unit is all about Chubb and Hunt one of the best combinations in the NFL. To see a complete breakdown of each team, and how their running backs rank, click here.

Trending Today

The 12-member MAC is the first Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) conference opting not to play this fall. On Wednesday, UConn, an independent, became the first FBS school to announce it would not play this year. The MAC intends to try to play in the spring, sources said. The decision was reached after Northern Illinois president Lisa Freeman, a former research scientist at the University of Rochester School of Medicine, indicated her school would not play this fall because of the health and safety concerns, sources said. “The league didn’t like the look of NIU going out on their own and not playing,” said a source, explaining the MAC’s non-vote. The question now is this: Will other FBS leagues follow suit and cancel their seasons? “A Group of Five league canceling would make our presidents more nervous in an already nerve-racking time,” a Group of Five athletic director said. Look for the dominoes start to fall on college football this fall, beginning with the Group of five conferences.

Grinding Out The Profits

From the PLAYBOOK ADVANTAGE for August – Free to all Coffee Club members: The return of future HOF Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger will certainly be tantamount to extending head coach Mike Tomlin’s 13-year streak of never having had a losing season in the NFL. Big Ben led the NFL in passing yards in 2018 with 5,128. With it, Pittsburgh will face the second-weakest SOS based on opponent’s regular season win-loss record last season .447 (117-130). All surely important numbers to consider when looking at Pittsburgh’s 2020 season win total.

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