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Who should Bengals pick in 2021 NFL Draft? Exploring the Penei Sewell vs. Ja’Marr Chase vs. Kyle Pitts decision

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Who should Bengals pick in 2021 NFL Draft? Exploring the Penei Sewell vs. Ja'Marr Chase vs. Kyle Pitts decision

The Bengals don’t have to take a quarterback with a top-five pick in the 2021 NFL Draft.  

They took care of that last year with Joe Burrow, the No. 1 pick who has brought an aura of optimism to a franchise that has the second-worst record in the NFL since 2018.  

The Bengals have options with the No. 5 pick given the first four picks could be quarterbacks. The choice likely will come down to three intriguing prospects: Oregon tackle Penei Sewell, Florida tight end Kyle Pitts or LSU receiver Ja’Marr Chase.  

Sporting News breaks down the pros and cons for each pick and gives our decision:  

MORE NFL DRAFT: Complete 7-round mock | Top 100 big board

Penei Sewell, OT, Oregon  

Sewell allowed one sack in 1,376 snaps in two seasons with the Ducks. The 6-foot-6, 325-pound tackle opted out of his junior season, but he’s regarded as the best offensive lineman in the 2020 class. He played left tackle as a sophomore but was recruited as a guard. 

So, why this even a discussion? The Bengals drafted Jonah Williams in the first round in 2019, and it doesn’t sound like he’s moving inside. Cincinnati also signed Riley Rieff at right tackle. Offensive-line depth is nice – and, yes, it’s a priority given Burrow took 32 sacks in 10 games last season. 

So, would the Bengals ride with those tackles and go for a different impact player?  

(Oregon Athletic)

Ja’Marr Chase, WR, LSU   

Chase also opted of the 2020 football season after a record-setting season with LSU in 2020. He finished with 85 receptions for 1,785 yards – an incredible 21.0 yards per reception – and 20 TDs as Burrow’s favorite target on a national championship team.  

The 6-foot, 208-pound receiver has been out for a season, but he is the prototype WR1 in the NFL game and a natural replacement for A.J. Green – who ranks second all time in receiving yards and TDs in franchise history. Green left for Arizona this offseason. The Bengals still have a 1-2 combination that features Tyler Boyd and Tee Higgins – but those two receivers combined for 10 TDs last season. A true first receiver needs to be a double-digit TD player, and Chase would have that potential – not to mention a previous connection with Burrow.  

That said, Chase didn’t play last season – and Alabama receiver DeVonta Smith and Jaylen Waddle took advantage of that absence. They could be in that discussion as the first receiver taken in the 2021 NFL Draft.  

jamarr chase 062020 getty
Getty Images

Kyle Pitts, TE, Florida  

Pitts, who caught 43 passes for 770 yards and 12 TDs as a junior at Florida last season, could change the entire complexion of the offense. He is already drawing comparisons to Pro Football Hall of Fame receiver Calvin Johnson.  

The measurements are eye-popping. Pitts, who is 6-foot-5 and 245 pounds, has an 83-inch wingspan, runs a 4.44 in the 40-yard dash and has a 33.5-inch vertical. Drew Sample had 40 catches for 349 yards and a TD last season, but he is more of a possession receiver. Pitts is useful both down field and in the red zone, and several teams with top-10 picks are looking to make this move.  

Would this be the first bold play of the first round? The Bengals have tried this move before with Jermaine Gresham (2010) and Tyler Eifert (2013). 

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(Credit: Getty Images)

Verdict  

A quick glance at four notable mock drafts shows that all three picks are a possibility. Mel Kiper and Vinnie Iyer have the Bengals taking Sewell, Todd McShay has Chase, and Daniel Jeremiah has Pitts.  

Pro Football Hall of Fame tackle Anthony Munoz, who spent 13 seasons with the Bengals, endorses the Sewell pick. Sewell could break in while Reiff plays on a one-year prove-it deal, and then be that franchise tackle that protects Burrow for the next decade. He is the safest pick, and Cincinnati could add a receiver like Terrace Marshall Jr. in the second round.  

Sewell doesn’t have to be Munoz. The Oregon tackle just has to be a dependable tackle. 

Pitts would be a splash pick, but there are other teams – including Atlanta at No. 4 – could be in the mix for the tight end. There is no doubt Pitts would be a game-breaking presence in that offense, but there is an inherent risk in taking a tight end with a top-five pick.  

Chase would make more sense than Pitts. He has a connection with Burrow, and that would be a leverage play for the franchise quarterback. This would improve the down-field passing attack, too. SN’s Vinnie Iyer has seven tackles being selected in the first round of the 2021 NFL Draft. There is depth at that position, and Cincinnati could find a starting offensive lineman in the second round.  

Our best guess? Cincinnati should take Sewell, but we won’t be surprised if they take Chase.  

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NFL schedule 2021: When is Tom Brady returning to New England to face the Patriots?

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NFL schedule 2021: When is Tom Brady returning to New England to face the Patriots?

For the first time in his 21-year NFL career, Tom Brady is going to get a chance to play against the Patriots. Because of the way the NFL’s rotating schedule works, the teams from the NFC South will be playing all four of the teams from the AFC East this year.

That, of course, means that Brady’s Buccaneers will be taking on Bill Belichick and the Patriots during the 2021 campaign. Needless to say, the stakes will be high in that game as both members of the long-time coach/quarterback duo will look to out-duel one another on the field.

By virtue of the 2021 NFL schedule release, we now know when Tampa Bay is traveling to New England for the contest. And luckily, fans won’t have to wait long to see a game that many never thought we’d see.

MORE: Full Buccaneers schedule for the 2021 season

Here’s everything to know about Tom Brady’s return to New England, including the date, time and TV channel for the contest.

When is Tom Brady playing against the Patriots?

  • Date: Sunday, Oct. 3
  • Kickoff Time: 8:20 p.m. ET
  • TV Channel: NBC

Tom Brady will be returning to New England to play the Patriots in Week 4 of the NFL season. The Oct. 3 game will be shown on NBC’s “Sunday Night Football” and will be one of the marquee matchups of the season.

It won’t just be Brady’s return to New England either. Tight end Rob Gronkowski also will be in action against his former club for the first time in ’21. That will mark two likely Hall of Famers who are set to suit up against New England for the first time. Belichick will certainly cook up some plays in an effort to slow them down.

It’s unclear who the Patriots will be starting at quarterback by that point in the season, but it seems likely that it will either be Cam Newton or Mac Jones. If it’s Jones, then the first-round rookie will have a chance to endear himself to Patriots fans early if he can beat the team’s former star and earn Belichick and the Patriots some bragging rights.

The Buccaneers will be on the second game of a two-week road trip and will have just taken on the Rams in Los Angeles before this contest. It may not be easy for them to go coast-to-coast for this matchup, especially given how tough an opponent the Rams may be. Meanwhile, the Patriots will be coming off a home game against the Saints, which should be easier for them to bounce back from in the post-Drew Brees era.

No matter what happens in this game, it’s sure to be great. Brady and Belichick are two of the NFL’s ultimate competitors, and this could be the only time they face off as they enter the twilights of their careers. They’ll each be sure to bring their A-games to this matchup of all-time greats.

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Broncos schedule 2021: Dates & times for all 17 games, strength of schedule, final record prediction

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Broncos schedule 2021: Dates & times for all 17 games, strength of schedule, final record prediction

The Broncos, despite finishing 5-11 and falling into last place in the AFC West last season, are giving coach Vic Fangio a chance to redeem himself in 2021. Denver hasn’t made the playoffs since 2015 — the season which ended with the team winning Super Bowl 50.

John Elway hired a GM, George Paton. But the Broncos, much to everyone’s surprise, didn’t go all in trying to replace third-year second-rounder Drew Lock at quarterback, settling to bring Teddy Bridgewater in the mix (for now). While the offense is hoping to perform better with the many talented pieces it already has around the QB, the defense continues its rebuild for Fangio.

Here is a complete breakdown of the Broncos’ 2021 schedule, including dates, start times and analysis.

NFL OFFSEASON 2021:
Team-by-team draft grades | Latest power rankings

Denver Broncos schedule 2021

Week Date Opponent Kickoff time  TV
1 Sept. 12 at Giants 4:25 p.m. ET Fox
2 Sept. 19 at Jaguars 1 p.m. ET CBS
3 Sept. 26 vs. Jets 4:05 p.m. ET CBS
4 Oct. 3 vs. Ravens 4:25 p.m. ET CBS
5 Oct. 10 at Steelers 1 p.m. ET Fox
6 Oct. 17 vs. Raiders 4:25 p.m. ET CBS
7 Oct. 21 at Browns 8:20 p.m. ET Fox/NFLN/Amazon
8 Oct. 31 vs. Washington 4:25 p.m. ET Fox
9 Nov. 7 at Cowboys 1 p.m. ET Fox
10 Nov. 14 vs. Eagles 4:25 p.m. ET CBS
11 BYE
12 Nov. 28 vs. Chargers 4:05 p.m. ET CBS
13 Dec. 5 at Chiefs 1 p.m. ET CBS
14 Dec. 12 vs. Lions 4:05 p.m. ET Fox
15 Dec. 19 vs. Bengals 4:05 p.m. ET CBS
16 Dec. 26 at Raiders 4:25 p.m. ET CBS
17 Jan. 2 at Chargers 4:05 p.m. ET CBS
18 Jan. 9 vs. Chiefs 4:25 p.m. ET CBS

The Broncos looked up to everyone in the division last season. The Chiefs are still daunting and the Chargers have some worthy buzz. Las Vegas provides the slight opening for Denver to get out of the cellar.

Outside of the AFC West six games, the Broncos join those rivals in also playing all of the AFC North and NFC East. The Jaguars and Jets are the extra last-place games in the AFC. The depleted Lions are a helpful simliar reprieve as the 17th opponent, from the NFC North.

MORE: Strength of schedule for all 32 teams in 2021

Broncos strength of schedule

The Broncos, on paper, have the sixth easiest schedule in the NFL, tied with the Dolphins. Denver’s opponents combined to go 127-143-2 last season, or a .471 winning percentage. A lot of that comes from Jacksonville, the two New York teams and Detroit.

Despite that, the Broncos still face returning playoff teams in six of their 17 games.

Toughest tests: The Broncos’ road schedule is brutal with trips to Cleveland and Pittsburgh offsetting a date in Jacksonville. They also have to play in Dallas and go to the Giants.

It’s a little different at home, where the Chiefs, Ravens and Washington represent the Broncos’ three toughest games out of nine total.

Biggest breaks: The Broncos get the “earned” breaks of the Jaguars, Jets and Lions, three teams in simliar situations. There also are the Bengals, Eagles and Raiders coming to Denver.

Bottom line: The Broncos are a mixed bag with offensive limitations and defensive overhauling. Fangio needs to win now after being saved despite his team’s dismal performance in 2020. 

If the QB situation changes dramatically, then it would be OK to consider the Broncos doing a complete 180 into contention. But in the current state, there’s little from Lock’s or Bridgewater’s recent play that inspires.

Record prediction: 6-11

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Giants schedule 2021: Dates & times for all 17 games, strength of schedule, final record prediction

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Giants schedule 2021: Dates & times for all 17 games, strength of schedule, final record prediction

The Giants are hoping for a breakout third season with quarterback Daniel Jones in 2021. New York finished second in the NFC East at 6-10 under new coach Joe Judge last season, an improvement from 4-12 the previous season.

With better health, led by running back Saquon Barkley, and upgrades in personnel all around, the Giants are more confident that they can jump into first place in Year 2 with Judge. Here is a complete breakdown of the Giants’ 2021 schedule, including dates, start times and analysis for all 17 games.

NFL OFFSEASON 2021:
Team-by-team draft grades | Latest power rankings

New York Giants schedule 2021

Here is the New York Giants’ complete schedule for 2021.

 

Week Date Opponent Kickoff time TV
1 Sept. 12 vs. Broncos 4:25 p.m. ET Fox
2 Sept. 16 at Washington (Thursday) 8:20 p.m. ET NFLN
3 Sept. 26 vs. Falcons 1 p.m. ET Fox
4 Oct. 3 at Saints 1 p.m. ET Fox
5 Oct. 10 at Cowboys 4:25 p.m. ET Fox
6 Oct. 17 vs. Rams 1 p.m. ET Fox
7 Oct. 24 vs. Panthers 1 p.m. ET Fox
8 Nov. 1 at Chiefs (Monday) 8:15 p.m. ET ESPN
9 Nov. 7 vs. Raiders 1 p.m. ET CBS
10 Nov. 14 Bye
11 Nov. 22 at Buccaneers (Monday) 8:15 p.m. ET ESPN
12 Nov. 28 vs. Eagles 1 p.m. ET Fox
13 Dec. 5 at Dolphins 1 p.m. ET Fox
14 Dec. 12 at Chargers 4:05 p.m. ET Fox
15 Dec. 19 vs. Cowboys 1 p.m. ET Fox
16 Dec. 26 at Eagles 1 p.m. ET Fox
17 Jan. 2 at Bears 1 p.m. ET CBS
18 Jan. 9 vs. Washington 1 p.m. ET Fox

The Giants have an interesting slate beyond their six division games against the Cowboys, Eagles and Washington. The other complete NFC division is the South, while the interconference rotation brings up the AFC West.

As a second-place team, the Giants also get the NFC wild-card Rams and Bears on top of the Super Bowl 55 champion Buccaneers. From the AFC, the Dolphins are the 17th opponent.

MORE: Strength of schedule for all 32 teams in 2021

Giants strength of schedule

The Giants, thanks to their weak division, are tied for the eighth-easiest schedule in the NFL with the Bills and Colts. New York’s 2021 opponents had a combined 2020 record of 128-142-2, a winning percentage of .474.

The two games against Washington lead the contests against returning playoff teams. The Rams, Bears, Chiefs, Saints and Buccaneers make it seven out of 17 games.

Toughest tests: The Giants get the Chiefs, Buccaneers and Saints on the road. The Bears, Chargers and Dolphins round out the nasty non-division away slate. Of the home games, the Rams are easily the toughest foe.

Biggest breaks: The NFC East should be better, but the division still provides their most favorable games. The Falcons, Panthers, Raiders and Broncos are a welcome quartet of contests to soften the blows at home.

Bottom line: Jones has everything around him to be more successful winning games. The Giants’ defense is in the next stage of its rebuild. Should Jones raise his passing and running, New York will have a real chance at an NFC playoff berth, either as East champs or fringe wild card.

Record prediction: 8-9

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